A Tampa lawyer and pharmacologist explain why it's too early to point fingers in LSD case

TAMPA, Fla - A Tampa lawyer and a local pharmacologist say it's too early to place blame in a case of LSD-tainted meat that hospitalized a family.

Dr. Daniel Buffington, who has testified in multiple federal cases involving pharmaceuticals, told ABC Action News Friday that even an extremely small amount -- an eye drop full -- can be a potent dose of LSD.

Buffington said that as of right now, there is no way to tell how much LSD this family ingested or at what point they were exposed to the illicit drug.

"Not being commercially prepared, you have no idea the intensity or the concentration of what you are taking," he added.

Buffington said each batch of LSD made is not exactly the same. He compared it to individuals following a recipe and how there can be variations of ingredients used. So what one person illegally manufactures could be completely different than the LSD another person manufactures.

Before blame can be placed, more testing must be done to determine the point of origin of the LSD because it could have come from a multitude of places, according to Buffington.

"LSD could be a residual and it could have been on a salad, on part of the vegetables. It could've been on other items," he said.

For instance, if you shook someone's hand who handled LSD and had traces of the illicit drug left on their hand it could transfer onto your hand. And should you prepare the meat with your hands, that LSD could transfer on to the meat, contaminating it.

With LSD being odorless, colorless and tasteless, Buffington added you would not even know the transfer happened.

"You could have LSD placed in a variety of food products or substances and the effects would be able to be sustained for some time unless there is a chemical that would break down the LSD," Buffington said.

In other words, LSD, whether a solid, liquid or even just residual, does not lose its potency.

What about the heat from the oven? Buffington said it could have altered the LSD or changed its effects or potency.

However, he added you cannot definitively know the impact unless you know how long the meat was cooked, at what temperature it was cooked and the method of cooking.

The effects of LSD are hard to predict. Depending on the dosage, hallucination, a heightened perception of color and an altered mental state can occur. The side-effects reported by the family included hallucinations and a difficulty breathing that required tracheal intubation.
 
Hillsborough County deputies did take items from the family's kitchen including their stove. They plan to test everything for LSD.

Additionally, Walmart has willingly handed over meat products on their shelves to be tested.

Investigators say those results will take at least two weeks and will likely reveal how and where this happened.

With all these possibilities, the case may not point back to Walmart.

"A singular package is not foreseeable by Walmart that it would be tampered with," said Jeffrey Swartz, a law professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School. "It may be an issue with the packaging house and there may be other packages out there."

Swartz told ABC Action News he finds it hard to believe this is an isolated incident.

"It is hard to imagine, other than some person who walked into Walmart and purposefully tainted the meat themselves, that someone in a packaging house, in a packaging business would pick just one particular package of meat and fill it full of LSD," he said. "There is something to me very suspicious about the fact that there is only one package so far."

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