That feelingly persuade me what I am.’
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
I would not change it. - Shakespeare
The Colorado River toad, Bufo alvarius, also known as the Sonoran Desert toad, is a psychoactive toad found in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. Its skin and venom contain 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin.
The toad’s primary defense system are glands that produce a poison that may be potent enough to kill a grown dog. These parotoid glands also produce the 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin for which the toad is known; both of these chemicals belong to the family of hallucinogenic tryptamines. These substances, present in the skin and venom of the toad, produce psychoactive effects when smoked.
The toads received national attention after a story was published in the New York Times Magazine in 1994 about a California teacher who became the first person to be arrested for possessing the venom of the toads. The substance concerned, bufotenin, had been outlawed in California in 1970.
In November 2007, a man in Kansas City was discovered with a B. alvarius toad in his possession, and charged with possession of a controlled substance after they determined he intended to use its secretions to get high. In Arizona one may legally bag up to ten toads with a fishing license but it could constitute a criminal violation if it can be shown that one is in possession of this toad with the intent to milk and smoke its venom.