City Desk

Accused Georgetown DMT Makers in ‘Criminal Hell’

The lawyer for one of two college students arrested for manufacturing DMT, G. Allen Dale, points out that the accused aren't "thugs." He tells City Desk: "We've got some very young kids from good families, who've done some good things." (Which, clearly, means they shouldn't be treated the way most other accused drug dealers in D.C. are.) Dale points out, for instance, that his client, John Perrone, is an honor student who has worked at a homeless shelter, and has participated in a walk against hunger for the last ten years. So, he explains, "Our first step is to get them out."

Later today, at a detention hearing, Dale will try to do just that. He'll argue that his client, denied bail at an earlier hearing, should be released. "Get him home," Dale says. "Let him get his head straight." Pointing out Perrone's youth and small size, he calls his current incarceration a "criminal hell."

Dale is pretty confident Perrone will be released following the hearing. As for what he'll do on his client's behalf afterward, that hasn't been decided yet. "We're not certain that a crime has been committed," Dale says. Media reports say cops searched the Georgetown University dorm room where his clients were found because they suspected synthetic marijuana was being sold there. Dale says that might be significant, if the reports are true: "How do you have probable cause to search the room if it wasn't an illegal substance?"

D.C. attorney David Schertler will represent Perrone's co-defendant, Georgetown University freshman Charles Smith. Schertler also believes the arrested aren't exactly hardened criminals: "They're just terrific kids." Schertler says he'll be handling his client's defense "one step at a time." As for the probable cause issue, Schertler says he needs more information about what happened before he can speculate.

Whatever happens going forward, the "good families" Smith and Perrone come from are playing hardball. Both Dale and Schertler are  big guns. Schertler, for one, is used to pulling off the impossible. You might remember him from a certain high-profile murder case.

UPDATE: The students have been released under the condition that they live with their parents in Massachusetts, submit to electronic monitoring, and keep an 8 p.m. curfew. They'll need to report to U.S. Pretrial Services in Boston, and surrender their passports.

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  • Mr. Bigglesworth

    Karma's a bitch, and when someone enables bad people avoid justice for their crimes, no amount of income can justify the negativity that is being put forth.

  • SmokinginDC

    “How do you have probable cause to search the room if it wasn’t an illegal substance?”

    Because there is no right to privacy in a dorm room. You don't need probable cause if the University allowed the search or requested it.

  • Rick Mangus

    No these privileged white boys aren't "thugs" there stupid morons who think they are above the law, and as far as this choir boy image, I say, cry me a river!

  • Biggie

    "They’re just terrific kids." - Who set up a DMT Lab in their dorm room which put the whole building at risk. Just because your family has money doesn't mean you can't be a low life

  • Pingback: Vox Populi » Smith and Perrone released to parents, trial set for January

  • esquire

    How DO you get probable cause from a legal substance? Fair question.

    And have you been in DC jail? Calling it hell is a compliment.

  • imaginethat25

    If you have ever gone to sleep at night, your brain has released DMT.If you have ever had an orgasm, your brain has released DMT. If you were born, then your brain has released DMT. A DMT session lasts only about ten minutes tops. It is harmless to our bodies and can show you the most spiritually powerful experiences of your life. Everyone who ever lived has DMT receptors in their brain. Don't believe me? Read "DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Dr. Richard Strassman. Do your own reasearch and open your eyes and your mind.

  • Rick Mangus

    'imaginethat25' your basing your information on Strassman who is a know as a fraud in the medical community, come on, "Timothy Leary's is Dead"!

  • SmokinginDC

    These guys represent the Great White Hope for the criminal justice system. It is only until white, and milddle/upper class, begin to join the 2.5 million in our nation's prisons that we will get some reform of our modern day slave state. I would like to thank Perrone and Dale for stepping up and taking one for the team.

  • imaginethat25

    Strassman is no fraud, he describes in detail every last step in the process of obtaining the right to experiment on humans with DMT. It took him over ten years to just obtain the rights to do it. Please tell me why DMT is a schedule 1 drug if you are so sure about yourself. Enlighten me, if you will. Have you ever experienced DMT?

  • imaginethat25

    I'm basing my response off of scientific research and not just Strassmans book, please do a little research and timothy leary never had anything to do with DMT. Research.

  • Rick Mangus

    'imaginethat25', no I have never taken DMT, I don't even drink, I like to keep my mind sharp and focused. As far as Strassman I don't believe that he is teaching anymore at UA and NIMH have debunked part if not all of his studies.

  • imaginethat25

    I've never heard of years of his scientific research, his book, his documentary or the testimonies of his subjects being de-bunked by anyone. Anyone credible anyways. But to each his own. The kids were stupid for doing that in a dorm.

  • ScienceEducator

    Rick, it seems that you like to keep your mind "sharp, focused" and uninformed.

    Imaginethat's information is solid and well documented in the scientific literature--and while Strassman does make some pretty far out conjectures in his book, his actual research isn't out of the mainstream. Go to ScienceDirect or any of the other major science abstract services for many references. (Or just go to Wikipedia.)

    The fact that DMT is found in the human body has been established science for some time, and although many have speculated about its function (it looks strikingly like a neurotransmitter), its purpose remains obscure. Some speculate that it's just a breakdown product of other biochemical processes, but nobody disputes that it's a normal component of body's tissues (and the tissues of a great many other animals and plants as well).

    If you're interested in educating yourself, here are a couple of journal articles to get you started:

    Mandel LR, Prasad R, Lopez-Ramos B, Walker RW (January 1977). "The biosynthesis of dimethyltryptamine in vivo". Res. Commun. Chem. Pathol. Pharmacol. 16 (1): 47–58.

    Barker SA, Monti JA, Christian ST (1981). "N, N-dimethyltryptamine: an endogenous hallucinogen". Int. Rev. Neurobiol. 22: 83–110.

    This one's online (
    Wallach JV (January 2009). "Endogenous hallucinogens as ligands of the trace amine receptors: a possible role in sensory perception". Medical Hypotheses 72 (1): 91–4.

  • ScienceEducator

    Some brilliant person posted this comment on a similar article:

    "You know what's really criminal about these stories? The nutjobs that come out of the woodwork spouting the same old BS about drugs that they either learned from DARE or some dopey crime drama and their lack of a decent command of the written English language. But of course to those people, if you demonstrate any amount of knowledge about evilbad drugs, you're some loser that's ready to rape their family and steal their TV set. It's just that it's so hard for them to communicate their fears to you, which makes them angrier which causes them to lash out more. It's really funny to watch sometimes. Grab a bag of popcorn if/when legalization happens. The Internets will be one entertaining place when it comes to arguments in regards to drugs."

  • Mitchell

    The *real* irony is that with the way drug laws are written ANYONE could be arrested and charged with possession of their own body weight in DMT (any mixture or container, remember?).

  • ScienceEducator is an AIDS denier

    Uh, Medical Hypotheses isn't recognized in the scientific community as purveryor of accepted scientific research in the scientific community.

    MH publishes crackpot theories, AIDS deniers, discredited scientists, and the rantings of lunatics with science backgrounds.

    MH also doesn't practice PEER-REVIEW, a common practice in the scientific community.

    synthetically produced DMT is dangerous.

  • ScienceEducator is an AIDS denier

    Medical Hypotheses is a forum for ideas in medicine and related biomedical sciences. It will publish interesting and important theoretical papers that foster the diversity and debate upon which the scientific process thrives. The Aims and Scope of Medical Hypotheses are no different now from what was proposed by the founder of the journal, the late Dr David Horrobin. In his introduction to the first issue of the Journal, he asks 'what sorts of papers will be published in Medical Hypotheses? and goes on to answer 'Medical Hypotheses will publish papers which describe theories, ideas which have a great deal of observational support and some hypotheses where experimental support is yet fragmentary'. (Horrobin DF, 1975 Ideas in Biomedical Science: Reasons for the foundation of Medical Hypotheses. Medical Hypotheses Volume 1, Issue 1, January-February 1975, Pages 1-2.). Medical Hypotheses was therefore launched, and still exists today, to give novel, radical new ideas and speculations in medicine open-minded consideration, opening the field to radical hypotheses which would be rejected by most conventional journals. Papers in Medical Hypotheses take a standard scientific form in terms of style, structure and referencing. The journal therefore constitutes a bridge between cutting-edge theory and the mainstream of medical and scientific communication, which ideas must eventually enter if they are to be critiqued and tested against observations.
    Submitted manuscripts will be reviewed by the Editor and external reviewers to ensure their scientific merit. All reviewers will be fully aware of the Aims and Scope of the Journal and will be judging the premise, originality and plausibility of the hypotheses submitted.

    In other words, this publication is a forum for junk science.

  • ScienceEducator

    Wow, overplay your hand much? Whatever misgivings you may have about Medical Hypotheses have zero bearing on the bulk of peer reviewed scientific journals that have published information about endogenous dimethyltryptamine. Or do you think all of psychopharmacology is "junk science" and on what do you base such an opinion?

    Yes, Medical Hypotheses is a journal dedicated to scientific conjecture--not all of which I agree with. No, I am not an AIDS denier just because I cite a journal that may have published such a paper at one time (no doubt they have also published mainstream opinions on HIV/AIDS, and probably on DMT as well). Name-calling is infantile and perfectly illustrates the sort of behavior mentioned in the quote I posted above.

    So, if you still think I'm wrong about this subject, what do you have to say about the other two journals I cited above? Would you be interested in a longer list of citations?

  • ScienceEducator

    By the way, I agree that DMT (and any other object in the universe) can be dangerous if used poorly. This fact is true whether it is synthetically produced or organically extracted as the Georgetown kids did.

  • ScienceEducator

    CORRECTION: While Medical Hypotheses did not have a conventional peer-review process at the time of publication of the Wallach paper, it has since adopted a more stringent peer-review process.

  • Rick Mangus

    Medical hypotheses are right up there with carnival acts on the midway and snake oil salesmen!

  • ScienceEducator

    So Rick, by implication you're accepting the findings of the other journal articles I posted? Or do you have such piercing criticisms of those as well?

  • ScienceEducator be honest, I'm pleasantly surprised this crowd has even heard the term "peer-reviewed" :D

  • ScienceEducator is an AIDS denier

    You actually think that science is like mathematics? You're a damn fool if you think the discoveries in articles written in the mid 70's to early eighties haven't been drastically revised.

    Post some current articles from peer reviewed journals, specifically those dedicated to neurochemistry and make whatever point you tried to before.

    You have no standing with what you've posted so far.

  • Mithridates

    Eh...Rick Strassman's studies took place from 1990 - 1995...not something from the 70's.

    And so far as I have seen, they have not repudiated in any meaningful way...of course, if you have a Source for that information, please send it my way...

    As has already been said, the students were Extracting DMT, NOT synthesizing it...Extraction requires chemicals that are found in most any American home and garage...and they could only be considered dangerous to others if you were throwing lye in people's eyes or forcing them to inhale chemicals for long periods of time.

    DMT is not a party drug. It's not a drug that you can sell in any quantity...most people have never even heard of it! As has been said already, it IS produced naturally, and has been used by indigenous cultures since before the European Conquest of the Americas. DMT is in MOST ORGANISMS!

    As Terence McKenna said once, "You're not going to experience this, but you'll carry on a pogrom against it? You're not willing to invest fifteen minutes to find out what this is all about? What kind of scientist are you?"

    The people who use this substance aren't "hooligans"...You don't take DMT and go mug people, knock down mailboxes, or even go to a sit in a comfortable place, and explore your experience. I agree that it is foolish to produce this substance in a dorm room, but only because THIS can happen - suddenly we have a story in the news where the substance and experience are demonized by people who, prior to this incident, had likely remained ignorant to its existence entirely (not particularly this article, but I've seen another that describes the experience as "horrific" - If it was horrific, WHY would people DO IT WILLINGLY?)

    There is NO evidence that this substance has any harmful effects whatsoever, unless taken in prodigious amounts which would be impossible in practicality. The worst you can get is a tummy ache.

    Anyway, I would continue my ramblings, but I must go. I may respond with more when I get back. Of, and ScienceEducator is an AIDS denier, change your name and show some respect, m'kay?

  • noob

    ScienceEducator is an AIDS denier: "Post some current articles from peer reviewed journals, specifically those dedicated to neurochemistry and make whatever point you tried to before."

    Bad news, you clown. The government restricts studies of said drugs under the pretense that they are controlled substances. Have you ever wondered why there aren't more conclusive studies in the United States regarding long-term marijuana use?

    Also, in regards to your neurochemistry reference, you have also taken a blatantly naive stance on the issue. Could you please tell me the mechanism of action through which SSRI's function? I didn't think so. That's because it is not known.

    P.S. I have smoked DMT around 15 times. Aside from this one basketball size tumor on my face I have no lingering effects. Yes, this is anecdotal.

    Sources: Horrendously boring PharmD program

  • J

    quote: "No these privileged white boys aren’t “thugs” there stupid morons who think they are above the law, and as far as this choir boy image, I say, cry me a river!"

    Yeah, I guess no one gives shit if lives get destroyed. Your attitude represents a horrible state of the world. People just want to punish and punish no matter how severe, as if punishment is going to do anything. I agree they were stupid for doing this in a dorm, but we don't know what they think as far as "above the law". You have no idea how scared they probably are for facing 20 years in prison. But, as you say, who gives a shit, right? It's just the virtual death of two young people, who surely would have gone on to be perfectly productive members of society. But, for some reason, the law says that anything to do with dmt is a crime punishable by 20 years in prison. The chemicals those guys used can be bought at any hardware store, and are appropriate for domestic use. This could have happened anywhere, it's just unfortunate they did it in a dorm where privacy is low.

  • ScienceEducator

    If anyone cares, here are some more recent citations from the scientific literature. A relevant quote follows each citation. [Note that the Wallach paper (and Strassman's work) is cited by peer-reviewed authors below, so it can't be considered too "out there".] If you want more, a search of the ScienceDirect database brings up over 100 matches for "endogenous dimethyltryptamine".

    2010. V. Cakic et al. Dimethyltryptamine (DMT): Subjective effects and patterns of use among Australian recreational users. In: Drug and Alcohol Dependence 111 (2010) 30–37

    Quote: "Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is an endogenous hallucinogen with traditional use as a sacrament in the
    orally active preparation of ayahuasca."

    2010. T-P. Su et al. The sigma-1 receptor chaperone as an inter-organelle signaling modulator. In: Trends in Pharmacological Sciences xx (2010) 1-10.

    Quote: "Identification of N-alkylatedtryptamines, such
    as DMT,as endogenous agonists for the Sig-1R based on the
    loss of DMT-induced hypermobility responses in the Sig-1R
    homozygous null knockout (KO) mouse has additionally
    added to the knowledge of agonist pharmacology at the Sig-

    2010. J.A. Fishback et al. Sigma receptors: Potential targets for a new class of antidepressant drug. Pharmacology & Therapeutics 127 (2010) 271–282

    Quote: "The endogenous ligand(s) for sigma receptors have yet to be conclusively identified. However, a number of candidates have been proposed including some neuroactive steroids, sphingolipids (Su et al., 1988; Ramachandran et al., 2009), and most recently N,Ndimethyltryptamine (DMT) (Fontanilla et al., 2009)."

    2010. B.A. Killinger et al. Salvinorin A fails to substitute for the discriminative stimulus effects of LSD or ketamine in Sprague–Dawley rats. In: Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 96 (2010) 260–265.

    Quote: "Endogenous hallucinogenic neurochemicals, in particular N,Ndimethyltryptamine (DMT), have recently been shown to activate a small subgroup of receptor sites called the trace amine associated receptors (Wallach, 2009)."

    2010. M. Lee et al. Decreased plasma tryptophan and tryptophan/large neutral amino acid ratio in patients with neuroleptic-resistant schizophrenia: Relationship to plasma cortisol concentration. Psychiatry Research xxx (2010) xxx–xxx.

    "There are two main pathways for the metabolism of the amino acid, tryptophan: the serotonin (5-HT) and kynurenine pathways. Of these, the 5-HT pathway has received the most attention in studying the pathophysiology of schizophrenia (SCH), initially, by formation of an endogenous hallucinogen, e.g. N,N-dimethyltryptamine, a 5-HT2A receptor agonist (Strassman et al., 1994)"


  • Waltthizzney

    ^ that