ASHLAND — Ashland police want the public to be aware of DMT, a new-to-Ashland hallucinogenic drug that has popped up recently.
Ashland police detective Kody Hying pointed to a case involving Stephen Messier, recently convicted and sentenced for the manufacturing and trafficking of the psychedelic.
Messier, 40, of Polk, is now serving a prison term of up to 14 years for manufacturing dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a hallucinogenic and psychedelic drug that is naturally found in a number of animals and plants.
Court records show Messier changed his plea to guilty on July 14. Judge Dave Stimpert sentenced him three days later.
In April 2022, police searched Messier’s house and seized 6,000 grams of the raw product.
That equates to around 13 pounds, Hying said. He said detectives also seized two “corner bags,” several Ziploc bags filled with the drug, evidence of drug manufacturing and trafficking, and a shotgun.
According to METRICH case files dating back to 2000, Ashland County has not encountered the substance. Hying said he had to contact detectives in Mansfield’s METRICH unit to learn about the drug and to have their lab test it.
What is DMT?
Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is the psychoactive ingredient in ayahuasca, a drinkable drug typically used by indigenous peoples of South America, according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF).
It is also found in a variety of other plants. Making it involves combining a plant containing DMT with a plant containing monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), reads an ADF article.
Hying said Messier used the mimosa root to make the DMT, a product available to purchase online.
When produced synthetically, DMT is a white crystalline powder or slightly less pure forms appear yellowish-pink.
The drug can be vaporized or smoked, drunk, snorted, injected, or swallowed as a pill, according to WebMD.
It produces a brief, intense visual and auditory hallucinogenic experience — earning it the “businessman’s trip” nickname. DMT is illegal to manufacture, buy, possess or distribute.
Experts say it has a high potential for abuse, no government-recognized medical use and a lack of accepted safety parameters for its use.
Despite its unlawful status, some people use the drug in religious ceremonies.
How prevalent is DMT?
At first, Messier gave away his finished DMT product.
“He was giving it away to people at one point, for people to try, because it was so new to people around here,” Hying said.
The detective learned Messier eventually sold it in half-gram bags for about $40 to $50 apiece.
A study published in October 2019 in the American Journal on Addictions found DMT use is rare. Although, use increased among users of various other drugs by 273% between 2007 and 2014.
Seizures of the substance have ramped up in recent years here in the U.S.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Laredo, Texas seized 61 pounds of DMT on July 27, a CBP press release stated.
In March 2022, a CBP field office in Memphis reported seizing over 635 pounds of the drug since October 2021. At the time, the city’s field office was on track to seize more than they did in 2021, which was 865 pounds. The year before that, CBP officials seized 1,158 pounds there.
“Express consignment allows the delivery of DMT containing bark to the front door of virtually anyone in the U.S. Couple that with some online extraction instructions, the recommendation of a popular podcaster, and you’ve got the ingredients for possible chemically-induced schizophrenia,” said Michael Neipert, Memphis Area Port Director.
“My officers enforce U.S. drug, environmental, and trade laws, and no matter how safe some website tells you something is, if it is illegal, it is not coming in.”
Hying said DMT has showed up twice since Messier’s case.
“And I know for a fact that the DMT came from (Messier) in at least one case since then,” Hying said.
The APD detective encouraged folks to be on the lookout for the drug as investigators continue to work to keep it off the streets.