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  1. Phungushead
    As weed goes mainstream, hallucinogens are making a scientific and cultural comeback.

    Cannabis has passed the tipping point toward widespread social acceptance (and probable legalization). Even prominent judges in states where marijuana is illegal are coming out as users and advocates. And now, if pop culture and scientific inquiry are any indicators, it would seem that psychedelics are re-entering the national dialogue with a marked separation from their perceived hippie past—and that’s probably a good thing.

    Today, scientists throughout the country are delving into the trippy world of psychedelics to finally provide some concrete data and potential uses for the long-illegal drugs. Most notable, perhaps, is the work of Charles Grob at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, which was recently profiled in the New York Times Magazine. Grob has been administering psilocybin, the active chemical in magic mushrooms, to terminal cancer patients, with the hope of alleviating their understandable end-of-life anxiety. And it’s been working.

    Harvard’s John Halpern conducted recent research that indicates LSD is an effective treatment for debilitatingly painful cluster headaches, even at sub-psychedelic doses. He started a company, Entheogen Corp., around manufacturing and distributing a non-trippy LSD derivative known as BOL-148 to treat the disorder.

    Even Oprah Winfrey’s mag wrote up a story last year detailing a doctor’s use of MDMA, Ecstasy’s main ingredient, as a treatment for PTSD in rape victims. Results from that study indicate that some 83 percent of subjects felt that the use of MDMA helped them overcome their traumas. The same doc is also behind the most recent round of MDMA testing on Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans suffering from the disorder. LSD has also been used to treat the disorder as recently as last year.

    Even pop culture’s getting on board. Recently on Mad Men, Roger Sterling’s LSD adventures portrayed a fairly even-handed, hysteria-free experience. Comedians like Joe Rogan, Doug Stanhope and others have come out in support of the use of psychedelics for personal growth and creativity. Even Steve Jobs, hero to millions of geeks and businessmen around the world, gushed about his love for LSD in his recent authorized biography, saying dropping acid was “one of the most important things” he ever experienced.

    Of course, humans have used psychedelics essentially since the dawn of humanity to treat a host of medical, mental and spiritual ailments. Noted scientist and philosopher Terence McKenna’s “Stoned Ape” theory even posits that the addition of low doses of foraged psilocybe cubensis mushrooms into the Homo erectus diet was a prominent force behind the evolution of Homo sapiens and modern society due to the vision enhancement, sexual stimulation and empathy increase caused by low doses of the drug.

    It wasn’t really until the early 1960s that psychedelics, specifically psilocybin and LSD, began to be demonized en masse. Timothy Leary’s initially admirable attempt to spread information about psychedelics devolved into cult-of-personality-based recreational drug use. The Leary contingent’s rabble-rousing from their Millbrook, NY estate, coupled with Leary’s egotistical quest to become a countercultural icon (remember “turn on, tune in, drop out”?), ultimately helped to contribute to the poor perception psychedelics have faced historically by providing reference material for the Drug War propaganda machine.

    Prior to the Leary Hour in psychedelic history, scientists enjoyed years of unfettered study and experimentation with drugs like LSD, mescaline and psilocybin. With the discovery of LSD in 1938 by chemist Albert Hoffman and its subsequent mass production by Sandoz Laboratories in 1947 as a psychiatric drug, the psychedelic study floodgates opened. Scientists examined psychedelics as treatments for everything from alcoholism and addiction to anxiety and depression. So popular was the study of hallucinogens that throughout the ’50s and ’60s, scientists administered psychedelics to some 40,000 patients across 1,000 clinical studies.

    By 1970, however, many psychedelics were named Schedule I drugs by the DEA, meaning that they have a high potential for abuse and no real medical value. Federal funding subsequently dried up, and the drugs themselves were made nearly unattainable if funding did exist, which led to the essential dissolution of science’s look into psychedelics’ effects on humans for decades afterward. Psychedelics, as a result, were not studied properly enough to develop concrete therapeutic processes behind their use.

    The psychedelic faucet began to drip again in 1991 with the start of Rick Strassman’s famous Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) study at the University of New Mexico, which served as the first human trial of any psychedelic since they were made Schedule I. From there, the full-blown psychedelic renaissance that we now find ourselves in began to develop.

    These “serious, sober scientists,” as Grob says in the NYT article, are doing important work that will give us a better idea of how to use these substances effectively in a medical capacity in the future. The undeniable lack of extremist views and pseudo-science in today’s psychedelic research will speed hallucinogens’ acceptance into the general public sphere, thereby getting treatment to those who need it faster.

    The notion that altering one’s consciousness is inherently wrong has apparently reached its final days, if this rekindled medical and cultural interest is to be taken seriously. The Drug War is losing its grip, making mistakes and running out of “reasons” for the illegality of a number of otherwise-beneficial drugs in a society that prides itself on personal freedom. Perhaps rationality has finally taken center stage over fear mongering, paving the way for the U.S.’s first sustained, honest look at psychedelics—not as instruments of rebellion and madness, but as viable treatments for a number of problems we as individuals, and indeed as a society, face today.

    May 18, 2012

    Nick Vadala


  1. hookedonhelping
    I believe some psychs make a person more susceptible to changing the error of their ways. This ultimately leads to the person maturing faster and wiser. Is this always a good thing? Maybe not, but for the vast majority in my very random clique of friends, most are very intellectual people and all enjoy the same deserts as many here.

    I can attest for knowing someone who lost their mind on lsd, after being attacked by kids who were tripping on the same dose. The attack was provoked when the victim started acting funny, curling up in a ball and saying, "everyones gay, god god god, everyones gay" over and over.. I had to be careful with these guys when I intervened on their attack. The kid, who is still is my friend, has never been the same since that day.. We were 15 at the time.. 15 years later the dudes still not there =(

    So are they safe? No. Anything can happen. You have to pay to play. The rules are unspoken, and no one is going to have you sign a waiver freeing them of any wrong doing in the event a switch gets flipped off.. you might be left with the reality that your power is out for good.

    Now.. The odds of such a thing are probably very low, that something traumatic could happen to you mentally, while on your trip, that could leave you worse off. This is no different a risk, then say stepping onto an airplane. You realize there is a chance you could die, and you take that risk based on the numbers. The same is with humans and drugs. We all know that despite hundreds upon hundreds of doses of LSD, you will not become a "carrot" or whatever vegetable you find dumbest.

    Instead of worrying about risks, worry about your environment, and whether or not is meshes well with your trip. If it's safe, then you can focus on what you came here for, enlightenment.

    And don't use psych's as frequent as a cannabis users smokes.. thats not how the title of this thread is supposed to be interpreted. Doing so may result in the first documented case of a human carrot. And even then, it's unlikely.
  2. kumar420
    very interesting read, however i think we are still a fair way from psychedelics (and even marijuana) being socially acceptable. This notion that an altered consciousness is wrong is stupid, especially when alcohol is the legal DOC for so many people and it has some of the nastiest side effects and behavioural effects of any drug on the market (not to mention its addictive potential)
    look at the incidence of alcohol as a date rape drug, and compare those statistics with recreational drugs. alcohol will win in the violence, sexual assault and also general dumb-assery (drunk driving, doing dumb shit whilst drunk and getting injured/injuring someone else, theft and so on)
    even if the two were compared with the respective usage rates in mind (alcohol being widespread and drugs being more of a counterculture kind of thing) alcohol would most likely be infinitely worse than most street drugs (including 'hard drugs' such as methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin)
    hopefully this kind of thinking will win out in the end, despite the naysayers and drug nazis doing whatever they can do delay the movement.
    more power to the people.
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