SLU professor is authority on drug that landed him in jail

WWNY SLU professor is authority on drug that landed him in jail

CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - A St. Lawrence University professor literally wrote the book on the drug that landed him in jail.

Steven White is accused of having 2 kilograms of a drug called dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. It’s a key ingredient used in a hallucinogenic brew.

“Obviously, it’s against the law to possess. It’s a dangerous drug. It can hurt or kill people,” said St. Lawrence County Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe.

The brew is called Ayahuasca. White is an authority on Ayahuasca in literature. He helped write a book, ‘Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine,’ about the brew. He also gives talks on its use in South America. That’s where police allege the drug came from.

“It’s a unique case in a way, but it’s still against the law,” said Bigwarfe.

Police allege the drug was mailed to White at St. Lawrence University. They allege he also received ecstasy and magic mushrooms there my mail.

Then it’s alleged he brought the drugs to his apartment in Canton. That’s all now a focus of the investigation.

“Something we are obviously going to look into pretty seriously - his interaction with students, community members. So St. Lawrence University Security is assisting us in the investigation,” said Bigwarfe.

Former students said they knew White was eminent in his field of modern languages. But they said he often centered his classes in film or language on the drug trade in South America. He would ask them what they thought.

SLU said White, who was co-chair of the modern languages department, has been placed on administrative leave.

White’s next court date will be in county court. There, a judge will decide if he should be released to await trial. He’ll also decide on any conditions of that release, including bail.

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