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Category Archives: Psychedelics

How Mushrooms Became Magic – The Atlantic

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 4:17 am

If you were an American scientist interested in hallucinogens, the 1950s and 1960s were a great time to be working. Drugs like LSD and psilocybinthe active ingredient in magic mushroomswere legal and researchers could acquire them easily. With federal funding, they ran more than a hundred studies to see if these chemicals could treat psychiatric disorders.

That heyday ended in 1970, when Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act. It completely banned the use, sale, and transport of psychedelicsand stifled research into them. There was an expectation that you could potentially derail your career if you were found to be a psychedelics researcher, says Jason Slot from Ohio State University.

For Slot, that was a shame. He tried magic mushrooms as a young adult, and credits them with pushing him into science. It helped me to think more fluidly, with fewer assumptions or acquired constraints, he says. And I developed a greater sensitivity to natural patterns. That ability inspired him to return to graduate school and study evolution, after drifting through several post-college jobs. (They are not for everyone, they entail risks, theyre prohibited by law in many countries, and only supervised use by informed adults would be advisable, he adds.)

Ironically, he became a mycologistan aficionado of fungi. And he eventually came to study the very mushrooms that he had once experienced, precisely because so few others had. I realized how pitifully little we still knew about the genetics and ecology of such a historically significant substance, he says.

Why, for example, do mushrooms make a hallucinogen at all? Its certainly not for our benefit: These mushrooms have been around since long before people existed. So why did they evolve the ability to make psilocybin in the first place?

And why do such distantly related fungi make psilocybin? Around 200 species do so, but they arent nestled within the same part of the fungal family tree. Instead, theyre scattered around it, and each one has close relatives that arent hallucinogenic. You have some little brown mushrooms, little white mushrooms … you even have a lichen, Slot says. And youre talking tens of millions of years of divergence between those groups.

Its possible that these mushrooms evolved the ability to make psilocybin independently. It could be that all mushrooms once did so, and most of them have lost that skill. But Slot thought that neither explanation was likely. Instead, he suspected that the genes for making psilocybin had jumped between different species.

These kinds of horizontal gene transfers, where genes shortcut the usual passage from parent to offspring and instead move directly between individuals, are rare in animals, but common among bacteria. They happen in fungi, too. In the last decade, Slot has found a couple of cases where different fungi have exchanged clusters of genes that allow the recipients to produce toxins and assimilate nutrients. Could a similar mobile cluster bestow the ability to make psilocybin?

To find out, Slots team first had to discover the genes responsible for making the drug. His postdoc Hannah Reynolds searched for genes that were present in various hallucinogenic mushrooms, but not in their closest non-trippy relatives. A cluster of five genes fit the bill, and they seem to produce all the enzymes necessary to make psilocybin from its chemical predecessors.

After mapping the presence of these five genes in the fungal family tree, Slots team confirmed that they most likely spread by jumping around as a unit. Thats why theyre in the same order relative to each other across the various hallucinogenic mushrooms.

These genes seem to have originated in fungi that specialize in breaking down decaying wood or animal dung. Both materials are rich in hungry insects that compete with fungi, either by eating them directly or by going after the same nutrients. So perhaps, Slot suggests, fungi first evolved psilocybin to drug these competitors.

His idea makes sense. Psilocybin affects us humans because it fits into receptor molecules that typically respond to serotonina brain-signaling chemical. Those receptors are ancient ones that insects also share, so its likely that psilocybin interferes with their nervous system, too. We dont have a way to know the subjective experience of an insect, says Slot, and its hard to say if they trip. But one thing is clear from past experiments: Psilocybin reduces insect appetites.

By evolving the ability to make this chemical, which prevents the munchies in insects, perhaps some fungi triumphed over their competitors, and dominated the delicious worlds of dung and rotting wood. And perhaps other species gained the same powers by taking up the genes for those hallucinogens. Its not clear how they did so. Some scientists think that fungi can occasionally fuse together, giving them a chance to share their DNA, while Slot prefers the idea that in times of stress, fungi can soak up DNA from their environment. Either way, the genes for psilocybin have spread.

Much of this is speculation, based on circumstantial evidence. Since psilocybin is still a controlled substance, Slot cant legally make it in his lab, which means he cant prove that the gene cluster he identified actually produces psilocybin in mushrooms. Still, his team have done as much as they can, says Jennifer Wisecaver, an evolutionary biologist from Purdue University who studies fungal genes. Given the other evidence they provide, I’d say the hypothesis is very compelling, she says.

This work is part of a resurgence of psilobycin research. Just last week, a German team led by Dirk Hoffmeister identified four enzymes that can produce the drug, paving the way to manufacture it without growing shrooms. Other scientists have shown that psilocybin could have potential for treating depression, helping smokers to quit, and relieving the anxiety felt by cancer patients. The science thats being done on [magic mushrooms] has taken on more of an air of respectability, says Slot.

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How Mushrooms Became Magic – The Atlantic

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Using Mushrooms and LSD to Enhance Creativity – How to Use …

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:26 pm

Psychedelics (specifically LSD and Mushrooms) can be extremely helpful to artists or anyone working on creative projects. Because psychedelics help us to see and think without our usual defenses, the artist’s ideas are able to sidestep their normal defensive filters (anxiety, competition, fear) resulting in truer, freer, creation. Simply put, the artist is able to hear their own voice more clearly. They know more immediately when they are being real, or being false.

Psychedelics allow us to think outside of the normal framework of time, space, language and the sensory. We may see sounds, or feel colors etc. This opens a new way of thinking about and communicating emotions and ideas. The artist is essentially given a new language. Psychedelics may also bring forth a new understanding of an individuals psyche, the physical world, emotional world, spiritual world, and the artists role in all four.

For creative work we recommend lower doses, so that you are able to focus. Wed suggest LSD doses at or under 50 mcg, and mushroom doses under .5 grams (roughly 2 small caps or an equivalent amount). As everyones sensitivity differs, you may need to experiment to find the right amount for you. When working on a low-dose your goal is not to trip but to open yourself to your own ideas.

Because you may be sitting unmoving for long periods of time as you work, your body may be very stiff toward the end of the day. To reduce stiffness or water retention drink plenty of fluids and try to take several stretching breaks. You may even want to work at a makeshift standing desk for short periods of time. Have snacks or light meals readily available. If you havent eaten all day and still dont feel hungry, eat a banana anyway — keep your energy up! Hunger affects the mood of your psychedelic experience.

Psychedelics have been misunderstood and misrepresented for decades. That’s changing. Please help us share safe, responsible information on using psychedelics by sending this page to friends, and posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

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Using Mushrooms and LSD to Enhance Creativity – How to Use …

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LSD – Psychedelics

Posted: August 16, 2017 at 6:29 pm

Commonly known as acid, LSD is an illegal drug that produces potentially dangerous hallucinogenic effects in its users.

LSD is a psychedelic drug that is commonly referred to as acid. This is one of the most common hallucinogens and has been widely abused since the early 1950s when it was thought that LSD may have beneficial uses in the clinical field. This psychedelic drugis also known as a hit, dose, microdot or sugar cube on the streets referring to the various methods of which the liquid form of the drug is placed on elements for consumption.

LSD is a drug that is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye plants. When the fungus is chemically compounded and manufactured it is made into lysergic acid which can produce a powerful euphoric effect which includes both a body high and a mind high.

LSD is odorless and colorless which means that it can be placed on just about any food or drink or anywhere to be consumed. It is often placed on heavy paper with a distinct image on the paper. The paper is called blotter paper and it is absorbent. When divided into pieces and sold individual as hits LSD is often named for the type of paper that it is on.

No matter how LSD is taken, whether its placed on paper and swallowed or dropped into a drink or absorbed through the skin the powerful effects are quite similar. Some users will drip LSD into the eyes in hopes of creating a strong effect and producing more hallucinations but there is no scientific evidence to support this nor is there evidence that suggests such a practice is safe for the users eyes.

The effects of LSD, like other psychedelic drugs, are unpredictable and dangerous. The effects that a user will experience depend on the individual user, the amount of LSD that was taken, the surroundings of the user while under the influence and the mindset of the user when he or she takes the drug.

Most of the effects of LSD will wear off after a few hours of taking the drug but if a user takes LSD repeatedly or for a prolonged period of time the effects of the drug may persist of stick around even when the drug is not being used. Some people report seeing trails or visual lines that extend when colors are moved even after they have stopped using LSD. Flashbacks are also a common outcome when LSD has been used repeatedly. A flashback occurs when a user experiences a similar situation in which they experienced while under the influence of LSD in the past. Flashbacks can occur a few days, weeks or even years after the last use of LSD.

Although LSD is not considered an addictive substance it can lead to some mental instability problems. Most people who take LSD will not repeatedly take the drug due to the rapid increase in tolerance that develops with each subsequent use of the drug. Generally speaking, LSD will not lead to addictive behavior such as drug seeking or adverse reactions when the drug is not being used.

Unfortunately, using LSD can have an adverse effect if you are not careful. Because there are no regulations on the drug that can pinpoint the amount of LSD that is being consumed with each dose, there is no way to regulate how it will affect you if taken. Likewise, the unpredictable nature of the high associated with LSD use makes it difficult to know how you will react from one use to the next. Even people who have taken LSD many times in the past are likely to suffer from adverse effects of the high in certain situations which cannot openly be determined upfront.

Like other psychedelic drugs, LSD also has a risk of causing underlying mental instabilities to come to the surface and cause problems for the user. People who already suffer from anxiety or schizophrenia are likely to experience heightened effects associated with these mental illnesses if they use LSD. For some, there is no underlying evidence of the mental instability until the drug is used and symptoms later come out as a result of the drug usethis is where the greater danger tends to come into play.

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This Philosopher Thinks Psychedelic Drugs Lead to the Truth of Experience – Big Think

Posted: at 6:29 pm

Philosopher Chris Letheby believes that psychedelic drugs are a legitimate way to achieve a spiritual and therapeutic transformation. His doctoral research at the University of Adelaide was the first systematic attempt to relate psychedelic experience and 21st century philosophy of cognitive science. He argued in his thesis that psychedelics can be rightfully regarded as bringing a deeper understanding of our selves and the world around us. In fact, he says, the use of psychedelics is very much consistent with philosophical naturalism and our current scientific knowledge.

While using psychedelics, Letheby maintains, subjects gain knowledge of their own psychological potential and the fact that their selves are constructed. He expanded on these ideas in his recent interview with the 3:AM Magazine.

Letheby says that as recent scientific evidence shows, psychedelic sessions can lead to the reduction in the symptoms of anxiety, addiction and depression. Since these activities prevent people from engaging with the world, our normal way of gaining knowledge, psychedelics provide what Letheby calls epistemic benefits – allowing the patients to get reconnected and be able to once again take in information.

Chris Letheby.

The philosopher described his philosophy as physicalism or materialism that basically says the mind and consciousness emerge from the complex organisation of non-minded, non-conscious things. He thinks that from that standpoint, psychedelic states can allow the subjects to gain genuine knowledge of psychology.

Specifically, I think psychedelic subjects gain what philosophers call knowledge by acquaintance of their own vast psychological potential, says Letheby. They become directly acquaintedbecause it becomes manifestwith the modal or dispositional fact that there are vastly many, often very unusual, possible ways that their minds can be.

This is why, he claims, many spiritual seekers of the 60s ended up dedicated to meditation to expand upon the potential they realized existed while tripping.

He also thinks psychedelics can illustrate to people that the self is constructed. He thinks the drugs can offer a quicker path than meditation to having a transformative ego dissolution experience.

To those who criticize psychedelics as not providing a true experience since its not grounded in reality, Letheby says such drugs can really lead to real knowledge.

My claim is not just that psychedelic experience involves meaning, but that psychedelic transformation does, expounds Letheby. I mean something very specific by this: that the causal process leading from psychedelic ingestion to psychological benefit (be it therapeutic or cosmetic) essentially involves phenomenally conscious mental representations. This is important because it is a way of making precise the claim that psychedelic transformation is a distinctive type of psychopharmacological intervention.

In a Matrix-like twist, the philosopher also argues that psychedelic experiences can show that the ordinary waking perception is actually a controlled hallucination. What psychedelics do is disrupt this illusion and could draw peoples attention to the constructed or simulated nature of the reality in which they live. The drugs can show that the entire world they inhabit is produced by and exists within their consciousness.

Check out the full interview here, with a fascinating discussion of other topics like the role of neuroscience and antidepressants in our lives.

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Can Psychedelics Treat Bipolar Disorder?

Posted: August 13, 2017 at 2:25 am

Rachaels teenage years were dominated by her addiction to stimulants. It was her fiance at the time who introduced her to psychedelics It was crazy to experience a drug that didnt numb me. Since that first trip, Rachael took psychedelics regularly. After a few years, she had a profound experience that laid out the patterns of behavior that caused much of the pain in her life.

It was then that Rachael realized she needed help for her mental instability. She sought treatment and continued self-medicating with psychedelics to help battle her demons. Now theyre vital to my survival.

Rachaels friends and family were initially skeptical about her use of psychedelics. Many just assumed she was misusing substances again. It was particularly hard to talk to her father, who had helped her recover from her drug addiction. However, she managed to convince people that psychedelics were showing her how to break free of her addictions and showed her that the underlying cause for her substance misuse was an attempt to self medicate a disease she wasnt even aware she had.

Rachael only recently discovered microdosing and was instantly attracted to the idea of psychedelic medicine as an alternative to the prescription medication she was suggested to take. Ive been microdosing for two months now and havent had a severe episode this is unusual for me. Before, Rachael would rely on a high-dose experience every month, which was exhausting. Now, she microdoses 17ug every three days and it reduces her symptoms dramatically. Ive felt generally normal for two months and that hasnt happened to me since I was 12 years old.

Click here to read more about psychedelics and mental health

Rachael hopes that more research will be done on the potential of psychedelics for Bipolar Disorders and Personality Disorders. Everyone Ive spoken to with a mental illness is afraid to use psychedelics. If research can show theyre safe and effective, more people would be willing to take the leap. Even if psychedelics take you somewhere dark, I cant see it going somewhere that wont benefit you. They will show you what you need to see, negative or positive.

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Can Psychedelics Treat Bipolar Disorder?

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The foundation of Western philosophy is probably rooted in psychedelics – Quartz

Posted: at 2:25 am

In the 1960s, intellectuals such as Aldous Huxley were fascinated by the effects of LSD, but today most professors are far too worried about respectability and tenure to investigate psychedelics themselves. Which is somewhat ironic, given that the field of Western philosophy has a huge debt to psychedelics, according to Peter Sjstedt-H, a philosophy doctoral candidate at University of Exeter who has written a book on the philosophical significance of drugs. In fact, one of Platos most-cited theories may have been a direct result of hallucinogenics.

In Platos Phaedo, the philosopher says he was inspired by the Eleusinian Mysteries, an ancient religious ceremony where participants took kykeon. Its widely believed (thought cannot be definitively proven) that kykeon was a psychoactive substance, which would explain the visions that participants experienced during the ceremony. Sjstedt-H notes that Plato references the Mysteries and seeing that his body is but a shell, which one can escape through these experiences, before he introduces his landmark notion of substance dualism: Namely, the idea that body and soul are distinct.

Under psychedelic experience, you can completely lose the link between you, yourself as a body; and you, yourself as the person that you think you are, including your memories, says Sjstedt-H. Theres this loss to the self, and the self is often associated with the body, so I can certainly see why a psychedelic experience would incline one towards a more dualistic view of the world.

If the Mysteries did indeed involve psychedelics, Sjstedt-H says we can credit them with inspiring some of the greatest and most influential thoughts in history.

[Alfred North] Whitehead famously said, Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. If Plato was inspired by psychedelics, then the whole of the Western canon is unwittingly inspired by these experiences, Sjstedt-H adds.

More than 2000 years later, Sjstedt-H believes that its absolutely essential to understand psychedelic experiences in order to develop a thorough philosophy of how the mind functions. You havent fully explained the mind until youve explained all facets of it, he says.

Psychedelics create a peak type of mind, a peak type of experience and, as such, theyre a valuable consideration in certain philosophical mysteries, like understanding the relationship between the brain and the mind. Research has shown that parts of the brain are less active during psychedelic experiences, which is the inverse of what one might expect for a period of heightened consciousness. This finding highlights the complexities of explaining how the mind and brain relate, which is one of the great philosophical challenges, known as the hard problem of consciousness.

But even among non-philosophers, Sjstedt-H believes that a lifetime without trying psychedelics is unnecessarily narrow. Experientially, it would be a pity to live ones life without having experienced the potentials of the human mind, he says. Its a bit like living in the same country all ones life and not going on holiday, not seeing the rest of the world. Its a loss. By having this experience, one experiences more reality because the mind is part of reality.

He adds that psychedelics can open your mind to new beliefs, increase appreciation for nature, and lead to completely new feelings. As well as being intellectually stimulating, Sjstedt-H says that psychedelics can be a sublime aesthetic experience.

Despite the potential benefits, Sjstedt-H does not believe that everyone should take psychedelics. Nor does he insist, as was common in the 60s, that doing so would lead to world peace. When I told Sjstedt-H that I was too afraid of my own mind to risk exploring its suppressed depths, he agreed that was a valid concern. Bad trips are a serious risk, and more troubling for some than others. Those who are religious (and so would be more profoundly affected by visions of devils, for example), are especially anxious, or have suffered serious traumas, could well find psychedelics to be harmful rather than enlightening.

We have no clear idea of how psychedelics produce their effect; but its thought that changes in brain activity create an altered state of consciousness. For those who are able to have a positive experience on psychedelics, Sjstedt-H says taking the drugs can be as profound as reading Nietzsche. Both the philosopher and the substance lead to questioning ones cultural values and societal rules, he notes.

Arguably, taking psychedelics can also enhance the experience of reading philosophy; Sjstedt-H points to the psychologist and philosopher William James, who claimed to only fully understand Hegel after taking nitrous oxide. (Though drugs havent improved Sjstedt-Hs own reading of Hegel.)

Though other philosophers are interested in hearing about his work and experiences with psychedelics, Sjstedt-H acknowledges that few are prepared to try the drugs, at least for now. Many are worried about the psychological risks, put off by their illegality, or simply dont want to mess with their brains.

But Sjstedt-H hopes that growing acceptance of the drugs will allow for a study of how psychedelics could shape the opinions and outlooks of great contemporary thinkers. They were good enough for Plato, after all.

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Psychedelic drugs saved my life. So why aren’t they prescribed? – Wired.co.uk

Posted: August 8, 2017 at 4:20 am

Mike McQuade

The world is in the throes of a mental-health crisis, as depression and dementia afflict spiralling numbers of people.

In March 2017, the World Health Organization declared that depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people are living with it, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015. But help is at hand – if we can reach out and grasp it.

A group of drugs long considered taboo is poised to transform the way we treat mental health. Recent research suggests that psychedelics – once regarded as a relic of the hippy-dippy 60s – could prove powerful tools not only to treat, but also potentially cure, many mental health problems regarded as chronic.

Psychedelics do something that our current go-to psychiatric drugs cannot: transform hardwired neural patterns to reroute the very architecture of the brain, sometimes in a single dose. Roland Griffiths, a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, has likened psychedelics’ ability to bring about neural rerouting as akin to a “surgical intervention”.

Take psilocybin, better known as magic mushrooms. A single dose of the drug can do “in 30 seconds what it takes antidepressants three to four weeks to do”, according to David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.

A study published in the Journal of Psycho-pharmacology on people with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness suggested that LSD-assisted psychotherapy was successful in almost 70 per cent of subjects, with the positive effects lasting more than a year and causing no lasting adverse reactions.

Given the overwhelmingly positive results of these and other trials, one would think the clinical use of psychedelics would represent a sea change in our approach to mental-health treatment. But, sadly, outdated societal prejudice against psychedelics is proving a formidable handicap, hampering research and keeping many in need from reaping the benefits.

Strict anti-drug legislation that still criminalises the use of such substances has pushed psychedelic-assisted treatments underground: unless you are among the lucky few accepted into a clinical trial, your only options are to find an unlicensed practitioner, attempt to do it yourself illegally or travel to places where the compounds are legal.

Growing numbers of people are doing just that, and in recent months, there has been flurry of articles on the topic which have stoked curiosity about the potential of psychedelics. In April of this year, the Psychedelic Science Conference in California was attended by more than 3,000 people who travelled from across the globe to learn about recent advances. Although it’s heartening that more people are finding relief, ad hoc experimentation is not the way to go. We must bring this research into the mainstream, guarantee adequate funding and shield well-intentioned facilitators from criminal prosecution.

I should know. I was once the victim of a violent robbery, which left me shattered. Out of desperation I turned to psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. It helped saved my life.

Mental-health practices around the world are in desperate need of an overhaul, and psychedelics could be just the hack we need to achieve such fundamental – and indispensable – change. I believe mental health to be a human right, and as such it is nothing short of our duty to follow, and fund, the science.

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Psychedelic drugs saved my life. So why aren’t they prescribed? – Wired.co.uk

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Daniel Greig, Canadian Drug Policy, Responsibilities, and Psychedelics – The Good Men Project (blog)

Posted: August 6, 2017 at 5:19 pm

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I interview friends, colleagues, and experts, on harm reduction and its implications in Canadian society, from the theory to the practice, to the practical. I am a Member-at-Large for Outreach for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy and writer for Karmik, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, and the Marijuana Party of Canada. Here I interview Daniel Greig, part 1.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen:How did you get and interest in Canadian drug policy?

Daniel Greig:My interest is predominantly in the realm of psychedelics. I have, first and foremost, an academic and ethical interest in studying these because they have [a] potential for healing people [that] current medications dont. So, we should be studying these substances.

I am in Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy on the side [as part of this project]. Thats how I got involved.

Jacobsen: If this is on the side, and now more in the main for you, what are your main set of responsibilities?

Greig:My main responsibility is research on psychedelics.

Jacobsen: What does the main research state on the therapeutic effects of psychedelics?

Greig:For psilocybin, there are a whole bunch of studies. There was one that has earned a lot of press. It finds lasting personality change from the transcendental/mystical experiences.

There s a measurable difference in peoples personalities in the domain of openness after a single use of the substance. The paper that this is in mentions the only comparable finding was 3 months spent meditating in the mountains.

That was the only comparable experimental manipulation to produce a measurable change in personality. It is good compared to other medications, which dont show [nearly as profound] changes in peoples personality or behaviour.

There are [palliative] medications [that focuses on symptoms]. Psychedelics are not used [in this way and] produce measurable differences, rather than [effectively making people] drugged up all of the time. Thats a good thing. People can [heal and] get off them.

Jacobsen: That makes me think. First, thats remarkable. Second, many Canadians and more Americans dont believe in evolutionary theory. Of course, evolution happened to produce us. An argument could be made that mind-altering substances could have a co-evolution with human beings.

Maybe, 10,000 years ago with the foundation of the agricultural revolution, even further with the Aboriginal Dreamtime narratives from 40,000 years popping up.

Could there be a decent argument made from the obvious showcase of changes equivalent to three months of meditation with psilocybin, and that were almost wired up for these experiences?

Greig:Definitely, the psychedelic experiences are as much a part of the properties of the brain and [our] physiology as [they are of] the drug. People have engaged in ritualistic alterations of consciousness, which have produced similar hallucinations and benefits.

People used psychedelics back in the day. As far as that having some purposeful connection, or humans being wired to take them, you get into a [difficult philosophical problem that isnt really necessary to consider]. Maybe, it is an interface for human consciousness with the planet, which is a legitimate theory [presented] for co-evolution.

It might be an entailment of [developing] theories, [but] I dont think that its relevant, for or against, the uses of these things in general. The bottom line, they [may] have wonderful effects for the mind.

Jacobsen: What do you consider the core principle or value of CSSDP?

Greig:I will talk about psychedelics first and then the [organization]. It is a new field. There will be more people doing the research in the future. [CSSDP] is good for networking students. It is good for building these longer-lasting networks of [similarly interested] people.

There are a lot of people in the organization like Evan Loster, Gonzo Nieto, Andras Lenart, and Michelle Thiessen. [who are] all interested in psychedelics. It is a good network. We have been able to connect and contribute ideas to each other.

[It is also beneficial to facilitate the advocacy of] youth voice[s] [on issues that effect them]. They are listened to the least.

[When it comes to drug policy], people [often] say, What about the kids, man?! Who isnt for the kids? Advocacy for the youth is another important aspect.

Jacobsen: Where do you hope CSSDP goes into the future?

Greig:I hope it continues to grow. That more networks happen[ing] with other drug policy groups. [Like] MAPS [a growing number of] harm reduction groups. I hope the branches extend [and] I hope [that] facilitate[s] quicker reform for drug policy [as much is desperately needed]

Original publication on http://www.cssdp.org.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. He works as an Associate Editor and Contributor for Conatus News, Editor and Contributor to The Good Men Project, a Board Member, Executive International Committee (International Research and Project Management) Member, and as the Chair of Social Media for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, Executive Administrator and Writer for Trusted Clothes, and Councillor in the Athabasca University Students Union. He contributes to the Basic Income Earth Network, The Beam, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Check Your Head, Conatus News, Humanist Voices, The Voice Magazine, and Trusted Clothes. If you want to contact Scott: [emailprotected]; website: http://www.in-sightjournal.com; Twitter: https://twitter.com/InSight_Journal.

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THE FUTURE OF PSYCHEDELICS: Are LSD and Mushrooms The New Prozac? – Dope Magazine

Posted: August 5, 2017 at 6:29 am

Magic mushrooms cant cure cancer, but they can alleviate the anxiety and existential dread that come along with the disease.

At least, thats the apparent conclusion from a pair of studies published in late 2016, wherein participants who had been diagnosed with both cancer and clinical depression or anxiety were administered psilocybin mushrooms within a controlled, living room-esque environment.

The psychological effects of psilocybin were not only positive, but enduring. Most participants ranked the experience among the most meaningful of their lives, and six months after taking the dose, 65 percent had almost fully recovered from their depression, and 57 percent from their anxiety. In contrast, antidepressants have been observed to help only 40 percent of terminal cancer patients in past studiesmaking them about as effective as a placebo.

However, as with other psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin remains a Schedule I drug, deemed by the federal government to have a high potential for abuse and no medical value whatsoever. Yet that hasnt stopped researchers from administering more than 2,000 doses of the much-touted magic mushrooms in clinical settings since the early 90s, during which time no participants have reported any lasting medical or psychiatric issues.

Instead, most studies seem to confirm what recreational users have suspected for some time nowthat psychedelic drugs can help us, at least if taken under the right circumstances, and with this new wave of advanced psychedelic research, were beginning to understand why.

Both mushrooms and LSD, or acid, can reliably inspire religious or otherwise transcendental experiences in users, often resulting in a detachment from worldly concerns and a loss of self-identity called ego death. Another 2016 study suggests LSD accomplishes this by increasing global connectivity in the brain, thus removing perceived boundaries between ones inner and outer world.

Additional studies provide evidence for the drugs effectiveness in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcoholism and other addictions, though the effects dont typically last more than six months after dosing. Perhaps more impressive are the findings that psilocybin can actually alter peoples personalitiesusually thought to be set in stone during adulthoodby making them more open, a trait associated with broad-mindedness and creativity.

Theres a sacredness or a reverence to [the] experience, noted Roland Griffiths, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who authored one of the studies. Although the effects of the drugs are gone by the end of the day, the memories of these experiences and the attributions made to them endure.

Indeed, the lasting effects of psilocybin and LSD, as observed in Griffiths study and others, can help anyone, not just those struggling with cancer or clinical depression. Neither drug has much potential for addiction, and the only significant associated risks are from accidents or anxiety attacks, which can be particularly damaging for users with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Researchers screened participants for such risk factors and provided a safe, encouraging environment for their trips.

Thanks to an increased understanding of these controversial hallucinogens and a groundswell movement of pro-psychedelic advocacy groups, it isnt farfetched to imagine a future where mental health patients can drop acid or mushrooms outside of a research setting, perhaps under the supervision of a doctor or other trained professional.

It will no doubt take time for government policy to catch up with these illuminating findings, meaning legal psychedelics will still take yearsor even decadesto hit shelves. But if the research keeps progressing, how long can we ignore the science? Under this administration, that may remain to be seen.

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THE FUTURE OF PSYCHEDELICS: Are LSD and Mushrooms The New Prozac? – Dope Magazine

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Gonzo Nieto, Drug Policy, Medical and Psychological Effects – The Good Men Project (blog)

Posted: August 3, 2017 at 10:29 am

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I interview friends, colleagues, and experts, on harm reduction and its implications in Canadian society, from the theory to the practice, to the practical. I am a Member-at-Large for Outreach for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy and writer for Karmik, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, and the Marijuana Party of Canada. Here I interview Gonzo Nieto, part 1.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you become interested in being involved in drug policy in Canada?

Gonzo Nieto:My interest with drug policy began with my own use, which started with cannabis as a teen. A lot of my peers were using drugs, both in high school and university. That all began to get me interested in the phenomenon of drug use in general.

What really caught my interest was psychedelics, after I had my first experience with psilocybin mushrooms. I began to educate myself pretty extensively about psychedelics. I would spend hours listening to lectures and talks by various people, reading books, and browsing forums and seeing what was there in terms of other peoples experiences.

This got the ball rolling as I began to discover how large and diverse the field of drug policy is, and I fell further and further down the rabbit hole.

Jacobsen: With respect to personal use, how much knowledge did you have beforehand about medical and psychological effects?

Nieto:Not very much, I didnt come into drug use in a very informed way. It was youthful curiosity and blissful ignorance that led me to try cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms. These experiences stoked my curiosity, and then I got to educating myself more. When I started smoking pot, I didnt know much other than that my friends were using it.

When some of my peers were using psychedelics in high school, I mostly recall hearing myths and lies about psychedelics. I remember hearing kids at school say that magic mushrooms make your brain bleed, and thats why you hallucinate. Silly stuff like that. I remember others saying it was a fun trip, describing psychedelics like the next level up from pot, which I came to learn is not the case theyre completely different.

But like most people, I wasnt very well educated about drugs prior to encountering and trying them. I didnt have good drug education at my school, at least good by my standards what we got was police officers come to our school to scare us about the scourge of drugs.

Jacobsen: How did you get involved with Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy?

Nieto:After I graduated university, my partner motivated me to start writing a column on drugs using the knowledge I had amassed during the previous five years of my undergrad. I began writing a column in the student newspaper, which I calledTurning Inward.

The column went really well. Pretty much every time I published an article, it became one of the most read articles in the student newspaper for that week. I continued writing articles regularly for about seven months.

One of the articles that I wrote was calledMDMA: A Guide to Harm Reduction. I wrote it because several friends that previous week had asked me questions about MDMA that, to me, were fairly basic because of what I had been learning and reading about. I realized this sort of stuff wasnt common knowledge for most of my peers.

CSSDP shared my article on Twitter. I contacted CSSDP to thank them for sharing it and to ask how I could get involved. They responded that I should try to attend their conference coming up in Toronto. At the conference, they were electing new members to the organizations board, so I decided to put my name in the hat.

Jacobsen: What do you consider the core principle of CSSDP?

Nieto:Primarily, I would say the core value is the idea that drug use should not be treated as a criminal justice issue, but rather as an issue of public health and social cohesion.

Jacobsen: Two philosophies compete with regards to how to deal with issues like youth drug use, the zero tolerance approach, and the harm reduction model. Which do you prefer, and why?

Nieto:I stand by the harm reduction model, without question. In the debates around drug use, these two models are sometimes presented as though they are equally valid in some sense, but I think theres a strong case to be made that the punitive approach is in denial of reality.

That perspective is based on the assumption that some set of actions could be taken which would result in total abstinence across the board. Thats just not true, as demonstrated by the decades that precede us.

Drug use appears to be a core component of the human species. To say that human drug use dates back tens of thousands of years is probably a conservative estimate. Any recorded history of humans shows humans using drugs. Its not a new phenomenon. What is relatively new is outlawing and punishing drug use, and theres an argument to be made that the punishments in place for drug crimes cause far more damage to the individual and society than the use of drugs does in the first place.

The harm reduction model recognizes that, no matter how refined the attempts at prevention may be, some people will still choose to use drugs, and there needs to be education and services in place that help reduce the preventable harms associated with that drug use.Harm reduction meets people where they are rather than telling them what they should or should not do. It says, If you do use, heres some information and services to ensure your safety and to help minimize preventable harms.

Harm reduction meets people where they are rather than telling them what they should or should not do. It says, If you do use, heres some information and services to ensure your safety and to help minimize preventable harms.

Original publication on http://www.cssdp.org.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. He works as an Associate Editor and Contributor for Conatus News, Editor and Contributor to The Good Men Project, a Board Member, Executive International Committee (International Research and Project Management) Member, and as the Chair of Social Media for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, Executive Administrator and Writer for Trusted Clothes, and Councillor in the Athabasca University Students Union. He contributes to the Basic Income Earth Network, The Beam, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Check Your Head, Conatus News, Humanist Voices, The Voice Magazine, and Trusted Clothes. If you want to contact Scott: [emailprotected]; website: http://www.in-sightjournal.com; Twitter: https://twitter.com/InSight_Journal.

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Gonzo Nieto, Drug Policy, Medical and Psychological Effects – The Good Men Project (blog)

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