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Discredited story about date rape drug posted on Facebook by Ulster County Sheriff's Office

Discredited story about date rape drug posted on Facebook by Ulster County Sheriff’s Office

KINGSTON >> A long-discredited warning about predators targeting women at gas stations by handing them business cards infused with a date rape drug was posted on Facebook by the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday and remained on the department’s page for about half an hour.

During the time the post was visible — roughly 11 to 11:30 a.m. — it was shared more than 300 times and drew numerous comments from people noting the tale was an urban legend. Many commenters posted a link to a Snopes.com article about the information being bogus.

Some Facebook users wrote scathing comments, criticizing the Sheriff’s Office for distributing false information, while others thanked the department for passing along the warning.

Reached just as the post was taken down, Sheriff Paul VanBlarcum said he was unaware of it.

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“I’ll have to find out how it got posted and why it got posted,” he said.

VanBlarcum said the Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page is overseen by Undersheriff Michael Freer, or by a lieutenant in the undersheriff’s absence.

Versions of the business card tale, attributed to a sergeant with the “Louisville [Kentucky] Metro Department of Corrections,” have been circulating on the Internet since about 2007, according to Snopes, a website that researches and debunks urban legends.

The post claims a drug called burundanga is applied to business cards that are given to unsuspecting women, who then become dizzy and disoriented.

Burundanga/datura is real, and it can be used as a “date rape” drug, according to Medscape.com. The drug is a hallucinogen used to treat motion sickness and as “an adjunct to anesthesia to produce sedation and amnesia,” Medscape says.

Women who take the drug, which works within 15 to 30 minutes and can last up to three days, experience “amnesia, submissive behavior, hypnosis, hallucinations and confusion,” and the drug can cause an “anticholinergic syndrome … leading to coma, seizures, and death,” according to Medscape.

Medscape is affiliated with WebMD and “provides clinicians and other healthcare professionals with the most timely comprehensive and relevant clinical information to improve patient care,” the website states.