The man whose violent attack on a homeless man in May began a series of zombie-like cannibalism cases was not high on the drug known as “bath salts”, as previously alleged.
A full toxicology report released by the Miami-Dade medical examiner Wednesday has confirmed that Rudy Eugene, who was shot dead by police while chewing on Ronald Poppo’s face, had only marijuana in his system at the time of the incident.
The case—the first of three other cannibalism cases in Florida, Maryland, and Texas—has been a catalyst for massive condemnation of bath salts, leading Florida governor Rick Scott to sign a bill criminalizing over 90 new synthetic drugs on Tuesday. Congress also quickly passed legislation banning the 28 chemicals used to make the drug, sending it to President Obama’s desk, where he is expected to sign it.
In an editorial piece, Time health writer Maia Szalavitz argues that the case is a result of “untreated mental illness, not drug use alone.” After noting historical incidents that have led to public “hysteria” over many other drugs, including marijuana and PCP, she suggests that police and lawmakers need to concentrate on the “genuine” causes of extreme violence, instead of “sensational claims about what drugs ‘make’ people do.”