Just Say "NO" To Toad-By Steve Rose

Some folks in Arizona contacted me recently, wanting to use a column that I wrote a while back for a crime prevention magazine. I pulled up their website and looked at the December 2007 issue of Arizona Crime Prevention Association News. Right there in front of my eyes read the following headline: “Toad Smoking”—A New Way to Get High.

With something sounding so utterly stupid and moronic, I was amazed I hadn’t heard of it before.

It seems these toads are called psychoactive toads, named for the psychoactive substances from bufotoxins that can be derived from the toad— not just any toad but the Sonoran Desert toad, also known as the Colorado River toad.

When angered or scared, they secret bufotoxins and as such, provide the toad licker with a psychedelic trip, au natural.

The newest form, smoking the toxins, occurs when the toad smoker collects the bufotoxin, dries it out and then smokes it. The article says the hallucinogenic effect lasts for about twenty minutes.

The article addressed the legal ramifications of toad smoking (or toad licking for that matter) by pointing out that one man was arrested and charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia—the toad. Apparently, in California, it’s a misdemeanor to possess the Colorado River, AKA Sonoran toad. What an idiot! What was wrong with this guy? He had to walk around with the toad in his pocket? I mean, couldn’t he leave the toad at home? Did he have to “bump up” on some toad now and then while he was out?

Being from the South, we don’t rub elbows with many toad smokers so I decided to poll the general area of northwest Forsyth, east Cherokee and south Pickens counties to see if people knew what toad smoking or toad licking was. Some figured it had something to do with getting high although many wondered aloud: “How do they keep the toad lit—bein’ it’s probably a jumpin’ around and such.” Which was the first cheesy thought you had after the words “toad smoker” wasn’t it? We all think alike at times.

Others were sure it was a code name for a sex act and a couple of guys over at the “515 Club” were convinced it was a Ted Nugent song.

Toad smoking and licking stories go back to the 1970’s when it was said that the last of the hippies were licking toads to get high. Some said the Cane Toads were sought in Australia by the Aborigines and Australian hippies. Much of what is written about toad licking is still in question as far as its valid sources but scientist do know much about the process.

The toad has venom glands and to obtain the venom, one must stroke the toad. This is known as “Strokin’ the Toad” and involves rubbing the toad under its chin. The venom is collected and dried and then smoked. Many amateurs, who do not know how to collect the venom, end up with warts. As to how, we won’t elaborate. This procedure does not harm the toad and it takes about a month for the toad to re-stock the ol’ bufos. Many toads report they actually like the procedure.

What does all this toad-smoking nonsense have to do with us? Simple. Most fads start on the west coast and work their way east. Some make it and some don’t. (Remember Pogs?)

By the time most fads get here, they morph to take on characteristics of the local flavor. That, and false rumors may lead to such nonsense such as snipe smoking. It’s hard enough to catch them at night with that paper bag.

Remember kids, say No to Toads!


Reprinted with permission from The Atlanta Journal Constitution