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Grad student sentenced for morphine-laced homebrew

A Santa Cruz graduate student has pleaded no contest to heroin possession after police said they found morphine-laced beer in his garage.

Chad Renzelman said he used "a handful" of dried poppy pods to flavor a batch of homemade beer in August.

The organic chemistry student at the University of California, Santa Cruz said he extracted opium from the poppies, which he then converted to morphine

So he was convicted for heroin possession, when he had morphine, which seems to have little to do using poppies as a admixture? I'm a bit confused by this. If he was making heroin, shouldn't that be pointed out as a separate aspect of the case?

He said the beer was for home consumption and that he didn't know his actions were illegal.

If he was making heroin, he would have known it was illegal, he couldn't be that dumb, which leads me to again question the heroin charge.

More so, how did they get a warrant to search his homebrewing supplies? It's legal to brew, he's clearly of age (as a grad student), poppies aren't exactly "drug paraphernalia".

Of course given the chance to ask questions I'd like to know what sort of beer recipe he was working from to make a palatable drink, this project has been in my notes for a while and I'd love more input.

Posted By Potter Dee at 2008-10-28 18:15:20 permalink | comments
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geenastarr. : 2009-04-04 03:17:11
Oh i just noticed it said he was convicted and pleaded no contest.. thats sad!!! He should have had better legal advice. Many of these cases (all similar to this one) are easily dismissed when the over confidence of the police actions prove to have been contrary to peoples "supposed" constitutional perogatives!
geenastarr. : 2009-04-04 03:12:22
What matters are the legal facts, whether he seems untruthful about anything is immaterial. Those police or whoever busted him would have definitely required a warrant and even at that there is always the question of how they attained said warrant- on what grounds. Also, the fact that the supposed controlled substance(s) were found in his personal supply of beer means they cannot charge him with anything but possession since nothing points toward him trying to manufacture anything other than for purely personal use! i hope he gets off and i think he will at least according to the facts stated here..:)
fellow organic grad student. : 2008-11-03 03:07:10
Actually, you would need more than acetic acid. You would need an even stronger acid just to get the acetylation to work from morphine to heroin. The conditions would make anything inedible. Not meant to be serious.
social science grad student homebrewer. : 2008-10-31 22:41:17
There's no desirable flavor in a lot of things that go into beer as a flavoring; ever chomped down a handful of black patent malt?

And, org grad student, no one wants acetic acid in their beer, it's a huge glaring obvious flaw in any style!

guest : 2008-10-29 09:55:58
"More so, how did they get a warrant to search his homebrewing supplies?"

Someone snitched on him:


I don't see that he did anything more than throw in some poppy pods during his initial boil. Maybe he did some other extraction beforehand? But a far cry from manufacturing either morphine or heroin...

hungrygrrl. : 2008-10-29 08:24:21
Um, "isolating natrually ocurring psychoactives" seems like just a fancy way of saying "manufacturing drugs." Which is definately illegal. Hell, harvesting and drying some naturally ocurring plants is considered "manufacturing drugs."

I have a feeling the roof is going to cave in on the dried poppy trade soon. There are going to be some sad, sad "floral arrangers" out there soon. All it's going to take is a few more stories like this, particulary if they involve kids, making it to the media and then the authorities will crack down, just like the Salvia thing.

fellow organic grad student. : 2008-10-29 01:16:33
Heroin, really? Does anyone even look a the structure of these drugs anymore. Morphine is a schedule II drug in CA not a schedule I drug like heroin. It's not so much a conversion to morphine as it is an isolation of the compound. It would be like doing an acid-base extraction to get lysergic acid from morning glory seeds. There is no physical way he was going to get heroin in this process (unless he was making beer with high concentrations of acetic acid).
Anyone know of any legal precedent where people were charged for the isolation of naturally occurring psychoactives?
hungrygrrl. : 2008-10-28 20:55:03
I don't think he's being very honest.

First off, there's no desirable flavor in dried poppies. Or fresh poppies...

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