The "Green Fairy" may have led Van Gogh to cut off his ear, but don't expect newly legal absinthe to cause anyone to do the same, reports Time magazine. New federal regulations allow the anise-flavor liquor only a trace of thujone, the chemical from wormwood that supposedly causes hallucinations. Scientists accusing absinthe retailers of "playing pretend" say the original version contained 25 times that amount.
Absinthe reputedly caused an epidemic of psychosis in 19th Century France. Some say that's hype, though research suggests thujone blocks the brain’s nerve impulses. Even without the chemical, today’s manufacturers warn of dangers: “If you drink three bottles, you are going to do something stupid.” Two European firms now sell the drink in Boston and New York for $50 to $60 a bottle.