City Paper is not for tourists
When the Washington Post gets it in its head to tell readers about a threatening new drug trend, there’s a general formula a reporter goes after. A good example is Amit R. Paley‘s piece on the region’s (not-so)brewing meth epidemic. Paley has all the necessary elements: hysterical cops, worried public-health officials talking about the drug’s physiological effects, and a former addict to peg the story to.
By those standards, Theresa Vargas, in her B1 story yesterday on teens’ “rediscovery” of morning-glory seeds, goes 0 for 3, yet she managed to put together a 1,329-word story anyway.
Her piece, “A ‘60s Buzz Recycled: Teens Rediscover Morning Glories Can Be Used as a Hallucinogen,” tells us that the seeds were “popular in the hippie era of the 1960s…[and] seem to have sprouted once again.” The seeds may have been popular in the “hippie era,” but Vargas doesn’t give any evidence that they were—or, for that matter, whether they can actually get you high.
And Vargas definitely doesn’t offer any proof that kids swallowing morning-glory seeds ever went away. In fact, I had a friend that was eating them back in the mid-’90s, though I had my doubts about whether he ever actually tripped off them. The closest Vargas gets to a kid who actually tried the seeds is Matt Edelblute, a 16-year-old who said a friend of his has used ‘em.
Vargas didn’t strike out with the cops for lack of effort. After the jump, she reports that “law enforcement officials across the region” weren’t even aware a kid could get high off the seeds, that the Drug Enforcement Administration expressed ignorance, and that the National Institute on Drug Abuse said it didn’t know enough to comment. She even approached Lloyd Johnston, lead researcher for the federally funded Monitoring the Future survey. Johnston has dedicated his life to tracking drug trends among kids, and even he came up blank.
“I am afraid kids are ahead of me in that case,” he told Vargas.