Indian Ravers Get High on Cobra Venom

By McCarton Ackerman 02/17/12

Pills made from cobra venom are popular with partygoers in India—but not with wildlife activists.

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Hundreds of snakes are killed to make the
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Partygoers in India have fueled a rapid increase in the sale of K-72 and K-76—party pills which contain cobra venom, reports the country’s Narcotics Control Bureau. The cobra venom is processed into a powder that can also be mixed with alcohol, enhancing sensations and boosting energy so that ravers can dance for longer periods of time. While party drugs like ecstasy typically cost 2,000-5,000 rupees ($40-$100) per pill in India, a pinch of K-72 or K-76 can set you back as much as 20,000-25,000 rupees ($400-$500). “After they drink, they get such a high that they don’t know where they are or what they are doing,” says Sourbah Gupta, an activist for animal welfare organization People For Animals. The cobra venom craze has met with protest from wildlife activists because cobras are classified as highly endangered in India. To extract a half-liter of venom as many as 100 snakes have to be killed—in violation of India's Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and its Wildlife Act. Police are starting to take action, seizing a half-liter of cobra venom and five live cobras in New Delhi over the past week.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.