Forest Lawn Cremating Drugs Investigation

    Recently I heard a rumour that Forest Lawn Crematorium had been used to destroy (via cremation) drugs by police.  Below I outline why I think this otherwise minor story is getting traction.

    Basically I don't know if this is true or not, but I think it is a good idea.  The crematorium is ideal for this type of thing, as it will do no harm to the cremator or cremation process.  It could also save police time and money to use a close crematorium than a distant incinerator.  Personally I view this as a good idea, and a nice way for InvoCare to support the local community.

    The story itself is not noteworthy to me.  I see it as harmless and a positive thing that we should look into doing more.  However, two things about it are quite interesting to me.  The first is the absence of 'InvoCare' from many stories.  From what I see most stories talk about Forest Lawn but not InvoCare (who own and manage it).  Some even have quotes from InvoCare staff but refer to them as Forest Lawn staff.  Despite the fact InvoCare owns and operates Forest Lawn it has been relatively overlooked.  InvoCare is not one to take the spotlight, especially in this sort of instance.  But it is interesting how so many do not realise who really owns and operates the place.

    The second thing is why this is a story at all.  As I said, it isn't even noteworthy to me.  Yet it has appeared on a couple of foreign or international blogs and is on many internet news sites.  Search the topic and there are a lot of hits on google.  I got 463,000 hits when I searched "Forest Lawn Crematorium drugs" and almost all of which were about this topic.  Really, this would not be that common an occurrence and it does no harm.  I see no way this could influence the cremation process before or afterwards.  If anything it is saving the police time and money.  Yet it is a news story and "being investigated".  To me we should rethink this, and perhaps consider making it more common.  Not 'investigate' it or look at it negatively.

    Physically this would have no negative impacts that I can think of.  But the objections and investigations do not come from physical impacts or rational considerations.  Many would find this idea unpalatable and unsavoury.  I believe there are two key reasons for this:

    Firstly, the drugs are entering the same place as people.  We have strong 'transference' and 'contamination' beliefs even when it makes no sense at all.  For example a study found most people would not wear a shirt if they thought the previous owner had been a murderer.  Their refusal rate was about the same as when they thought the previous owner had HIV.  We think properties of people, and substances, can be transfered and contaminate what they interact with.

    Secondly, that the drugs are being "destroyed" at the crematorium.  We never say bodies are 'destroyed', we say 'cremated'.  There is a huge importance placed on rhetoric and correct language.  Undertakers do not 'move' or 'pick up' bodies, they 'collect' or 'transfer' them.  This is the same with cremation.  I noticed on all tours of crematoriums they were very careful of language, not once did they say the body was 'burnt'.  To talk about drugs being destroyed in this exact same machine undoes all this careful language.  It is actually quite confronting in a way.  Suddenly the cremator is destroying, like an incinerator, not cremating like a cremator.  This same machine and process is now seen and talked of in a different way.

    For these two reasons I find this story fascinating and will most likely refer to it again as a case study in the future.  Unfortunately the story is still new, so there are few comments or reactions yet.  I will certainly be keeping an eye out to see what people think about this.

For the story:





  1. Do you happen to know if this Forest Lawn is affiliated with the Los Angeles, CA Forest Lawn? I don't think so, but curious. I was also looking for a link to follow this blog but could not find one.

    1. The two aren't related anything past the same. Forest Lawn (Australia) is owned and operated by InvoCare, the largest Australian funeral company. This company was SCIA, an American company, in the 1990s but it isn't anymore. The names are just a happy coincidence.

      As for the following thing, there's an RSS button down in the far bottom left :) Maybe I will add a 'follow this blog' or something later.


  2. Anonymous9/1/13 19:32

    thanks for share.

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