On Sunday, the White House grounds were evacuated after an initially unidentified item was found. A United States Secret Service spokesperson confirmed the event, saying:

U.S. Secret Service Uniform Division Officers located an unknown item on the White House complex.

As a precaution, the White House grounds were evacuated, and the DC Fire Departments Hazmat team responded.

A hazmat team responded to the area of 18th St and Pennsylvania Ave, and the Secret Service blocked roadways around the White House. All roads have re-opened since, according to the spokesperson.

D.C. Emergency Medical officials later deemed the item to be “non-hazardous.” The substance is reported to be cocaine hydrochloride.

Emergency respondents were photographed behind the gates near the West Wing of the White House.

A Radio clip from D.C. Fire Hazmat reporting the testing result as cocaine hydrochloride was published on the internet.

Some media outlets and social media users have informed audiences that cocaine hydrochloride is a local anesthetic agent used by doctors in nasal mucous membranes prior to surgery… which is true — two FDA-approved products Numbrino and Goprelto, are nasal sprays in liquid form.

Since the reports coming from the White House don’t seem to indicate a lot of nasal spray was found, well before prepared into a solution, the substance comes in its solid form, and under those circumstances, cocaine hydrochloride is the technical name for… cocaine. In less formal settings, this may be called “a bag of coke.” 

Even if the “medical product” story didn’t have the glaring issue that powdered cocaine doesn’t actually have FDA approval, the legal drugs available on the market are rarely used. The Drug Enforcement Administration published a fact sheet in 2020 stating that the FDA approved drugs are less effective than other products on the market and rarely used:

Which drugs cause similar effects? Other stimulants, such as amphetamine and methamphetamine, cause effects similar to cocaine that vary mainly in degree. What is its legal status in the United States? Cocaine is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and has an accepted medical use for treatment in the United States. Cocaine hydrochloride solution (4 percent and 10 percent) is used primarily as a topical local anesthetic for the upper respiratory tract. It also is used to reduce bleeding of the mucous membranes in the mouth, throat, and nasal cavities. However, more effective products have been developed for these purposes, and cocaine is now rarely used medically in the United States.

However, more effective products have been developed for these purposes, and cocaine is now rarely used medically in the United States.

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