Beware of LSD cartoon "tattoos," parents warned

The Patriot
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
6 April 1989

by Jerry L. Gleason
York Bureau

YORK -- York County officials issued a warning yesterday that the hallucinogenic drug LSD may be reappearing in communities in the form of drug-laced pictures of Disney cartoon characters such as Goofy and Mickey Mouse.

The district attorney's office says the drug "tattoos" may be showing up in area schools.

"Our belief is that LSD is being used as a substitute drug when a dealer of cocaine, crack cocaine or marijuana has a shortage," said John W. Thompson, Jr., first assistant district attorney. "A dealer with a shortage falls back on LSD."

Thompson said the district attorney's office made the announcement to alert parents and school officials to the possible reappearance of the drug.

"We're not saying it is present in any particular community, location or school," he said. "We just want people to know that the possibility exists."

Area school administrators yesterday said they were not aware of the possible problem until hearing of Thompson's announcement. They said there have been no reported problems with LSD in their schools but said that they would advise teachers and staff to be on alert.

Russell Crenshaw, York City School District public-relations director, said there have been no reports of the LSD drug tattoos in city schools.

Dale H. Reinecker, Red Lion Area School District superintendent, said he had no knowledge of the presence of the LSD-laced pictures in the community.

A drug arrest in the York area in the past month involved 44 doses of LSD on such pictures, which are known as drug tattoos, Thompson said. Similar pictures were being circulated in the community about two years ago, he said.

Thompson said LSD is sold by the dose, with each $4 dose being sold on sheets of blotter-type paper. The paper contains pictures of Disney cartoon characters, stars, dots, butterflies, clowns or other pictures similar in appearance to temporary tattoos that are wetted and pressed on the skin.

"Each picture is about the size of a pencil eraser, and each is soaked with LSD, a strong hallucinogen. Each little picture equals one dose and is torn off along perforated edges," he said. "Clear, liquid and odorless LSD is saturated on the paper. The picture can be removed and taken orally, and the LSD can also be absorbed through the skin simply by handling the paper."

Parents should be aware of the symptoms of LSD, which acts very quickly, Thompson said. The symptoms include hallucinations, severe vomiting, mood changes and changes in body temperature.

"LSD is a bait-and-switch drug," Thompson said. "Dealers may sell it or give it to children, then move them on to more dangerous drugs like crack cocaine."

Note from Dave Gross, organizer of the LSD Tattoo collection:

This article is especially interesting to me. Partially because of how many people who should have known better who were totally taken in by the story; partially because of the completely clueless comments of Mr. Thompson, who feels qualified to blather on about LSD dealers giving away their acid ("known as drug tattoos, Thompson said") to children so as to move them along the road to crack; but also because there's an interesting hybrid of factual information about LSD -- the fact that it's distributed in blotter-paper sheets, doses of which are torn off at perforated edges -- and absolute baloney. It is surprising that someone with enough knowledge to come up with the facts wouldn't have noticed the nutty stuff in the flyers.

On April 12th, six days after the above article was printed as the headline on page A-1, the paper printed a page A-10 "retraction" which didn't point out the urban-legend status of the first article, but merely said that it had been called an exaggeration by local drug-treatment professionals, and that the use of "LSD tattoos" was not, after all, on the rise.

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