LSD THREAT CALLED HOAX
Standard Times (Massachusetts)
by David Rising
NEW BEDFORD - It sounds like every parent's worst nightmare.
Depraved drug dealers are selling LSD to school children in the form of press-on tattoos that sport either blue stars or pictures of Bart Simpson, Superman, Mickey Mouse and other cartoon characters.
But the seemingly nefarious plot to get youngsters hooked on hallucinogens is a hoax. And quite a prolific one, at that.
Commonly called the "Blue Star Hoax," the warning has surfaced in the last 17 years in New York, California, North Carolina, and Texas, to name a few states, and as far away as South Africa, Italy and Germany.
"This Blue Star LSD is a false rumor and it is believed to have started in 1981," said Agent Pamela Mersky of the Drug Enforcement Agency's New England Field Division in Boston.
"Hundreds of incidents of this Blue Star hoax have been documented."
Now there is another one.
Recently, a student at the Campbell Elementary School brought in a leaflet warning of the drug's distribution, and gave it to Principal Mario Jardin.
Alarmed by the message, Mr. Jardin copied the leaflet and sent it home with his students. It seemed like the right thing to do.
"It appeared to be extremely legitimate, and a couple of years ago we had a warning like that as well," Mr. Jardin said. "It's terrible when you can't believe anyone anymore."
He said he will soon be circulating a new memo explaining the situation.
But the Blue Star hoax didn't die at Campbell Elementary.
Yesterday, when informed it was a hoax, the station manager said it would be taken off the air immediately.
The Blue Star-LSD warning is a hoax that plays on people's earnest desire to warn others of great peril -- much like the rampant Internet virus warnings telling people not to open e-mail slugged "Good Times" or the like.
"This is a new way of selling drugs by appealing to young children!" the pamphlet reads.
It tells parents that a form of tattoo called "Blue Star" is being sold to school children. The tattoo is a small piece of paper soaked in LSD, it says, which can be absorbed through the skin through handling.
There are other brightly colored paper tattoos, the pamphlet goes on, that resemble postage stamps and have the pictures of popular cartoon characters.
"If your child gets any of the above do not handle them," the pamphlet reads. "These are known to react quickly and some are laced with strychnine."
The warning is attributed to J. O'Donell of the Danbury Hospital in Connecticut.
A secretary with the hospital's out-patient chemical dependency department said yesterday that the hoax had been around for at least 10 years, and the hospital just wished it would go away.
"The only information I have is that there is no association of a J. O'Donell with the hospital, and there is no validity to the pamphlet," she said.
Like most urban legends, there is a thread of truth to the "Blue Star" hoax.
According to the DEA, LSD has been known to have been distributed on "blotter" paper stamped with Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters.
That LSD is ingested, however, not absorbed through the skin.
As of 1996, no LSD-tattoo incidents had been documented in the United States, Agent Mersky said.