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Suspected Georgetown drug lab... Wait, what is DMT?

Jenna Johnson

Two students were arrested Saturday on suspicion of manufacturing an LSD-like drug, DMT, in a freshman dorm at Georgetown University. (Read the latest details of the case, here.)

So, what is DMT?

This morning I called Rick Strassman, author of "DMT: The Spirit Molecule," who has done years of research on the drug.

Strassman said DMT has been around for decades, but its intensity has kept it from gaining as much popularity as other psychedelic drugs, such as LSD or mushrooms. The drug is usually smoked or injected, he said, and it starts to take affect "within a few heartbeats."

For several minutes, people on DMT experience an intense experience of bright lights and fast-paced thoughts. Some people have out-of-body experiences. Their pulse and blood pressure increase, as if they had suddenly sprinted 100 yards.

"It can be quite startling," he said. "You're just lying there... and all of a sudden you are thrown out of a cosmic cannon."

But within about 30 minutes, most people are back to their normal selves, Strassman said. The fast, intense experience has earned DMT the nickname "the terror drug," he said. It also is sometimes called "the businessman's trip" because "theoretically, I suppose you could smoke it at lunchtime," Strassman said.

Usually DMT is extracted from plant matter but it can also be made synthetically using chemicals. Strassman doubts the drug will ever become wildly popular -- mostly because it's just too intense. Serious users usually start with small doses and work their way up.

"It's just too much for most people to handle," he said.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  | October 26, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags:  Georgetown University  
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