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BZ
Basics
by Erowid
DESCRIPTION #
BZ (3-quinuclidinyl benzilate, commonly known as QNB in scientific literature) is a potent synthetic deliriant that strongly resembles scopolamine and atropine, but lasts considerably longer (approx. 72 hours). Beginning in 1960, BZ was investigated by the US Army at Edgewood Arsenal for its possible use as an incapacitant, or chemical weapon able to neutralize enemy forces without causing physical injury.

Fueled in part by the scarcity of accurate information on the compound in the public domain, BZ gained notoriety as an ultra-powerful hallucinogen rumored to have either fantastic or horrific effects. This notoriety was fueled by its brief treatment in Shaitlin and Lee's widely-read Acid Dreams, and by its use in the fictional film "Jacob's Ladder".

"Jacob's Ladder" depicts the US Army administering a powerful hallucinogen to soldiers in the field during the Vietnam War. The text crawl preceding the end credits states that the events in the film were inspired by US Army use of BZ. There is no strong evidence that BZ has ever been operationally-deployed in the field, however, and there is no evidence whatsoever that BZ was administered to American soldiers in the field. Such use would contradict the Edgewood Army research and common sense, as the effects of BZ intoxication are characterized stupor and long-lasting delirium.
BZ is highly potent, with a dose on the order of 500 ug causing profound physical and mental symptoms for several days. Numerous dose-response trials conducted at Edgewood Arsenal established that IV 7 ug/kg is a reliable incapacitating dose; i.e. would produce strong symptoms for 60-70 hours. Doses below 5 ug/kg were found to never cause complete incapacitation, while doses at or above 7 ug/kg always did.
Price #
Owing to the generally undesirable nature of its effects, BZ has no reported history of black market sale.
BZ is controlled under the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 (Schedule 2). According to U.S. Chemical Weapons Convention guidelines, the activity threshold for declaration and reporting of BZ is 1 kg.
3-Quinuclidinyl Benzilate is a synthetic glyolate anticholinergic compound.
Pharmacology #
Pharmacology Summary Needed.
Production #
Production Summary Needed.
BZ was first synthesized as a possible ulcer remedy in 1952 by Hoffman-LaRoche. The US Army began exploring BZ in 1960 for its possible use as an incapacitating agent. Over the next several years, hundreds of experiements were conducted at Edgewood Arsenal on human volunteers exploring BZ's pharmacology. In 1965, Edgewood conducted experiments on volunteers recruited from Holmesburg Prison. BZ was stockpiled in large quantities until the late 1960s, when it was concluded that it was not appropriate for operational use. In 1993, the Chemical Weapons Convention listed BZ as a Schedule 2 controlled chemical.
Terminology / Slang #
The Substance:
BZ.
The Experience:
No common terms known.
Subjects alternate between delirium and slumber, experiencing hallucinations similar in character to those produced by datura and belladonna. During periods of wakefulness, subjects are deeply disoriented and often immersed in fugue-like waking dreams. Frank hallucinations are common and are taken in stride by subjects, who typically accept the logic of the bizarre worlds in which they find themselves. If asked for explanations of their bizarre behavior, subjects will frequently give answers that are perfectly logical, assuming that one truly is being harassed by a 4-foot long rabbit.

Physical symptoms also occur, such as dryness of mouth, pupilary dilation, loss of coordination, a feeling of weakness, and blockade of sweat glands.
Onset #
Symptoms become apparent at around one hour, and grow steadily for about 3 more hours. Most subjects enter a stuporous slumber by the fourth hour.
Duration #
BZ primary effects typically last from 60-70 hours.
Visual Effects #
Visuals Summary Needed.
PROBLEMS #
BZ produces a variety of physical and mental symptoms that could easily be life-threatening in the absence of close supervision. Subjects are profoundly disoriented but fully-active for long periods of time, and could easily harm themselves or others. Subjects administered BZ in the Edgewood Arsenal experiments sometimes became violent, thinking that they were in combat situations, and had to be restrained for their own safety. It is unclear to what degree this was a function of the setting (i.e. the tests were conducted on an army base).

Presumably the experience of "recreational" users of BZ in an uncontrolled environment would be similar to the experiences of persons who ingest datura and belladonna, only with effects lasting for several days. Given the large percentage of extremely negative Experience Reports associated with those two substances, it is hard to imagine any good coming of a BZ experience. Erowid has not received any reports of recreational use of BZ, and owing to the factors described above, it is hard to imagine that any will be forthcoming. However, it is worth noting that many volunteer subjects who took BZ at Edgewood Arsenal re-volunteered for multiple trials.
Contraindications #
According to the research conducted at Fort Bragg and Edgewood Arsenal, Erowid recommends not attempting any of the following activities while under the influence of BZ:
  • Do not attempt to assemble, disassemble, clean, or repair firearms.
  • Do not attempt to assemble a tent. If you are in the field, be sure to bivouac BEFORE being sprayed with BZ.
  • Do not attempt complex field maneuvers. Platoon field cohesiveness may be impaired.
Addiction Potential #
BZ is believed not to be physically or psychologically addictive.
Long Term Health Problems #
Long Term Health Problems Summary Needed.
Risk of Death #
Risk of Death Summary Needed.
CAUTION & DISCLAIMER #
Erowid Basics pages are summaries of data gathered from site visitors, government documents, books, websites, and other resources. We do our best to keep this information correct and up-to-date, but the field is complex and constantly changing. Information should always be verified through multiple sources.