Is the Flakka Scare Just a Bunch of Hype?

In the 1930's, propaganda flicks like Reefer Madness tricked a significant part of the American population into believing that smoking marijuana turned one into a blood-hungry rapist who, after smoking a joint, went on the prowl for clean-cut victims.

We know know that's bullshit. So could the same one day be said for flakka?

Sure, that one guy impaled himself trying to jump over a police fence. Then that other guy ran around the streets naked. And that other guy beat-up an old lady. But can we really blame that on flakka, which the Broward Sheriff's Office has literally started an action plan to fight against? Probably not, argues columnist Jacob Sullum.

Writing for Playboy, Sullum lists five qualities of a drug story to tell if it's just a lot of hype. And turns out that flakka stories arguably contain all five — which shouldn't encourage you to do the drug, but just question the sudden hysteria.

Those five qualities: it's irresistible; makes you violent; gives you superhuman strength; makes you crazy, and is “the worst thing ever” have all been associated with flakka, but could also be associated with a bottle of vodka.

“People do all kinds of crazy and violent things while they're drunk, but we take that for granted,” Sullum tells New Times. “We don't assume the liquor made them do that. There's something about less familiar drugs that's almost magical in how they're described.”

As Sullum points out, drug scare tactics have been used as far back as 1914, when cocaine was thought to be a "southern menace" that gives users a  "resistance to the ‘knock down’ effects of fatal wounds.”

Even marijuana users were thought to have “enormous strength,” so that “it will take several men to handle one man.”

Nobody knows all the details about flakka, including the police, who have made arrests for "flakka" that included a mix of heroin and/or cocaine. Also, at least two of the attention-grabbing flakka incidents were about men who were schizophrenic, including the man who impaled himself on a police fence. 

But that hasn't prevented BSO from going full-force with the idea that flakka is going to nab kids from minivans as soccer moms scream helplessly. 

In the meantime, you probably shouldn't do any flakka, even if the hysteria is hype.