Was James Holmes Creating His Own Psychiatric “Designer” Drug?


Heather Blagg Davis

Many PhD science students, especially those studying at medical schools, spend a lot of time in laboratories. Someone studying for a PhD in Neuroscience could have easily had the means to purchase the weaponry for a shooting like the one in Aurora, Colorado when student loans get distributed at the beginning of the semester. PhD students can often borrow up to $50,000/year for their studies and there are no limitations about how those funds get spent. The question in my mind then, is not how he got these supplies, but what drove him over the edge?

His degree is the key here. A Neuroscientist studying psychiatric and neurological disorders could very easily be working on an experimental drug in the lab. In my career at Florida State University, there were a number of very hardworking, honest PhD students, but in some of my classes, there were always a few dreaming of creating the next LSD.  Neuroscience as a major isn’t far off from someone who would have the capabilities to create such a drug.

Synthetic “designer,” drugs are an issue that is flourishing in the black market economy among students with a lot of science education, a lot of debt, and no appropriate jobs to turn to. Was James Holmes experimenting with his own designer drug? If you have any chemistry background, you know just how easy it can be for a science savvy individual to create their own high with common goods.

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