Stoners: Knock It Off with the Conspiracy Theories

When I moved to the U.S. years ago, my first job was as a deckhand on a fishing boat in Alaska. I had to figure a lot of things out fast: how to drive a stick shift, run a crane, sort fish, steer a massive motor vessel. I also had to adjust to American culture, which felt both familiar from a million hours of watching ‘80s sitcoms, and totally foreign at the same time.

I was surprised to learn that my skipper, who was a cool progressive type, was a handgun owner. This was an absolutely alien concept to me. Even the cops didn’t carry guns in the town I grew up in (they were authorized to begin carrying handguns in 1998). Even more surprising to me was why he kept a gun. He didn’t trust the federal government, he said, and he felt the need to keep a gun to protect himself. 

What?! I’d never heard of such a thing. My father was a fisheries scientist who worked for the Canadian government. He loathed bureaucrats, and if he’d had his way he would have blown up every hydroelectric dam in the country, but he’d never said anything about needing to arm ourselves against a possible threat from the authorities, let alone the government! The skipper chuckled at my naivete, and gave me a Cliff’s Notes version of the Second Amendment — the beginning of my education in American distrust.

My next stop was Seattle, where I fell in love with a guy who smoked copious amounts of weed, and was a massive conspiracy theorist, mostly for entertainment’s sake. I was fascinated by the wild tales he told me, of the faked moon landing and the New World Order takeover headquartered under the Denver airport. Don’t trust the stories they want you to believe, he’d say, passing the bowl to me. It goes all the way to the top.

Next, I landed in New York City, where I met the High Times family — which is what they were, at the time. Tight-knit and suspicious as fuck of everyone and everything, the fam gave me an education in how fundamentally fucked up the American government is. From inventing the Drug War to control Black people and hippies, to spraying marijuana crops with paraquat, there was no end to the evil the American government was willing to perpetrate on its citizens. 

I wasn’t a Pollyanna about it, after that. Weed was a gateway drug for me to see that shit was majorly fucked up, and it was fucked up because of the people in charge, who did not want people to smoke weed and question everything. They wanted people to get hammered and forget it all.

So, I understand why people distrust the government, and why they believe in conspiracies. But in 2023, this shit has gone way too far. A dear friend of mine fell into the WWG1WGA world of QAnon and its sect of “conspirituality,” defined as “a rapidly growing web movement expressing an ideology fuelled by political disillusionment and the popularity of alternative worldviews”. There are plenty of these folks in the cannabis world, some of whom I count as friends. They don’t trust the government, scientists, doctors, or the media. Live and let live, I used to think. You’re doing your thing, and I’m doing mine; just don’t send me YouTube links about Covid being a hoax, and I won’t count on you to vote in the primary. I loved my 5G-Covid-hoaxer conspiracist pal; she loved me; we were cool.

My laissez-faire attitude changed when she ignored troubling health symptoms until it was too late, and died within weeks of her diagnosis. She died because she didn’t believe in Western medicine. If she’d seen a doctor and received a cancer diagnosis earlier, I think she’d still be here. And that fucking pisses me off, because she was young and had a whole lot of life left to live as an awesome person who I loved very much.

When she finally did see a doctor, and was given the news that she didn’t have much time to live, she elected to use juice therapy and cannabis oil as treatment. I know how absolutely fucking miserable chemotherapy is, from watching my sister go through it, and so I totally understood my friend’s choice not to do it, especially since her diagnosis was late-stage. 

But there were people who were telling her that she could cure her cancer with cannabis. She asked me if I knew anyone who had done so, and I told her I’d read about thousands of people who have used cannabis to treat cancer symptoms. I told her what I knew about Rick Simpson oil, and how cannabis has been proven to shrink tumors in mice. I told her of all of the incredible people I’ve met and written about who have found relief using medical marijuana. I didn’t tell her it was a cure. Others did.

A few weeks later, another dear friend said to me as we were mourning the news of her death, “I wish she’d fought with both hands.” He meant that her distrust of doctors and Western medicine, together with her belief in conspirituality, had effectively tied one hand behind her back. She lost her fight.

We know that cannabis is medicine. And it’s understandable that some people distrust doctors. But the conspiracy theorists and neo-wellness community need to fuck off when it comes to convincing people to ignore critical diagnoses and modern treatments that could save their lives. Sometimes, you can punch with plant medicine, and knock things out. And sometimes, you have to fight with both hands. Don’t let the conspirituality goons tie one behind your back.

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Freedom Convoy Trial (And Cannabis Lessons)

Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, the crowned “leaders” of the Freedom Convoy, begin their trial this week. The rationale is mischief, but the reality is that the Freedom Convoy is guilty of gaining traction despite not meeting the approval of our wise overlords. Had the Freedom Convoy been about abortion rights or supporting anti-capitalist “green” policies, today’s situation would be very different. Justin Trudeau would be taking selfies with Tamara Lich, calling her a modern-day post-national Canadian hero. But alas, […]

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New Covid Variant: BS 24.7

There’s a new covid variant out of Canada – BS 24.7. Symptoms include loss of self-awareness, emotional de-regulation, lack of empathy toward those perceived as “other,” loss of self-resilience, healthy relationships, problem-solving skills, and basic autonomy. Fortunately, like past covid strains, ample evidence suggests that raw cannabis (particularly CBDa) can prevent infection. So, if you’re immune compromised and have legitimate concerns about new flu viruses, pick up some CBD flower and eat it raw. Meanwhile, the rest of us must […]

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Emerald Mirror Pt. 2: The Money Left the Worm and the Apple

Let go of some of the nuanced or specific issues some of these big box canna brands have. Let go of the spiritual relationship ideology we have with plants. (Honestly most people create romantic mythics around relationships between living things, like humans and plants, while still lacking a detailed understanding of the mechanisms behind them. The order of it all.) The mythos becomes nuanced the more it stands as a placeholder to reality, a shadow on the cave walls. It doesn’t mean that the relationship between human and plant isn’t even more critical, but the early mythos has placed humans above plants in the hierarchy of order and complexity. Does that change the critical role of plants? No, of course not, and in all of our scientismo and mythical stories, plants preceded humans. They are older in existence and because of that fact, they will exist before and after human life, always. Does that make them a god? No. They are an element in the symbiotic order of all life here, in this moment, on this planet. All connected in some way by the life that preceded them. We were and are here to benefit by their position in existence, play our role as caretakers and give them a name. Perhaps go even deeper and reciprocate thought and intention so like us, that form of critical life is also evolved. 

Zoom back in a little. 

What’s going on in the cannabis space?

Here’s my guess. Things were going south prior to COVID. The pandemic created a false world in many industries. Cannabis was one. Operators in the cannabis space are gamblers. It’s in the blood. Every run is a gamble, every sale, every call or meeting. When you clean up the odds it’s an incredible high. Also, like most gamblers, degenerate behavior is concentrated. Some of it we can live with, some of it we can’t. And almost everyone in this space has been guilty of creating terribly muddy deals where the space for ethically faded behavior can thrive and grow. Those two elements collided with the pandemic false world. Now we are back where we were and everyone is scratching their heads like the last three years wasn’t a sugar laced death pill.

If you’ve been on the sidelines just watching and not participating or if you have entered the space in the last ten years it would be easy to think that all of these bad deals are the result of some newly maligned precedent. I can tell you, it is not. It is the same behavior from back in the medical days just amplified by more money and the majority acceptance of the people. That can change. Big time. There are already pushes for that and the current state is volatile. Things are chaotic in the overall world, and new trends or ideas from another world view can easily emerge. 

So if we are watching the old guards’ degeneracy bloom into a self eating parasite, there needs to be a quick shift with whoever is still operating and isn’t planning to sell their company to big pharma, tobacco, AG, beverage, or worse, investment groups like Blackrock. Those of us who still have gas in the tank, still love the craft and have some equity in the industry, we have to bury the hatchet, clean up the mess and move forward with a new mission statement and an evolved order of how we work with each other. 

I’ll provide an example of how this is not happening and the cost. New York is coming online and the clandestine growers of New York are now stepping out. Some of the best weed I’ve ever smoked was grown in New York. What’s happening is that products from flooded markets are hitting New York at flooded prices rapidly reducing the early value that existed in early markets prior. The New York growers are now sitting in the same world as many small growers in California but without the time those growers have to at least make an attempt using early market pricing to build and grow. The resentment is there and it will grow. Another tribe will form. 

The possible value that Cali growers supporting New York growers would have for the overall global market has now been reduced. The advantage lost to territorial pissing. 

On the licensed end it wouldn’t surprise me if some NY conglomerate sues the state of California for utter negligence in managing their program. They have a case. It’s an ugly one. 

So my proposal to everyone is that we at the very least begin to try something else. We can start by letting go of this Pinky and the Brain pursuit and make choices that benefit more of the whole and less for the one. The benefit for the one is also not a good look or flex. In fact if your persona is based on material gain and wealth you are not reading the room well. That is a dead way. So table the degeneracy, the one-upmanship, and the motley-crew-meets-death-row trajectory. Stop practicing the role of the predator and start practicing the role of the caretaker. In service to the people (your customers), the future of the industry and the enjoyment that comes from working with this plant. The drama is tired. It used to have a bit more humor, but it’s hard to laugh because the humor of it all is what’s supposed to initiate the change in behavior. It’s not funny when it doesn’t fire off. This era has fucked all our heads up. It’s becoming a black mirror. 

The garden is the mirror of our actions.

This tech world is a mirror of self-centered illusions. Which isn’t surprising. It was built by nerds obsessed with fantastical superheroes in fit forming tights.

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Brian Posehn and The Rock Sitting in a Tree, T-W-E-E-T-I-N-G

We’re impressed with writer, actor, podcaster, and comedian Brian Posehn, but when we heard that during the pandemic he figured out how to coordinate his weed and food delivery, we needed to learn more. Was the story more impressive than reality? Only if you think you can get the timing down on your first try.   

His newest special, Posehna Non Grata, is out on right now and while the pandemic shook up his original taping date, Posehn used the time to rewrite his hour and to eat some Taco Bell. Hey, we all did some stuff. I’m not sure what the material was going to be for Posehna Non Grata originally, but what came out of his revision is relatable, a little nerdy, and profoundly hilarious. When it comes to Brian Posehn, his resume might be one that hopes and dreams are made of, but off paper, he’s just like us. A junk-food-eating, TV-watching stoner.

Watched and loved Posehna Non Grata. You were all set to tape it, and the pandemic hit. How much of your material did you end up changing between then and now? 

Brian Posehn: Oh, it all got thrown out! The special is all brand new, with the exception of one joke. I do this joke where I talk about weight loss, and this really happened—I scared this woman at one in the morning at the hotel gym. The lights were off where this woman was working out and I walked in, but there was this motion sensor so it turned the lights on. The lights flash on and she sees me in the doorway, and I actually said this to a stranger, “Don’t be scared.” That was the only joke in the special that had been around pre-COVID. Everything else is new. 

The part about The Rock, that just happened recently? 

Yeah, that was the first time I went on stage after COVID, and it just happened that day, where The Rock responded to an old thread from six years ago. The first time I went on stage I brought the phone up like, holy shit! You guys are not going to believe what just happened! The joke just wrote itself from there. I have tags I change with it, but it’s just one of those things where I really have fun doing it, so I just add more jokes to it.  

Have you and The Rock stayed in touch? 

No, not really at all. That was the last response I saw. It could have been just a random person responding or it could be two people because he fired the last guy. I like to think it was really The Rock. 

I like to think that too. Whenever tweets are extra funny, I hope it’s actually him. I like that you kept the screenshot as a trophy. 

The most embarrassing thing is the only reason it became a screenshot for me is because every night before I did the joke, I’d have to go on Twitter before the show and find the old thread. Then I had a younger comedian go, “Hey, you know you can just screenshot that, right?” I was like, yeah totally. How do I do that? I’m so old.

Did you learn to do anything new during the pandemic? Not mentally, but skill-wise. 

No, I just gained weight and watched TV. I watched the same shit I watched my whole life and binged movies. You know, comfort movies. That’s what I turned to a lot, old shows. So no, nothing.

I heard you mastered delivery timing and I think that’s pretty impressive. 

Oh yes! The key is ordering the weed first. Some days the weed guy must be close to me though because sometimes, it gets here in 15 to 20 minutes. I mastered it pretty fast though, like, on the first time. 

Do you think there is any correlation between this skill and some fat shaming you mentioned in your special? 

For sure! I grew up with garbage fast food stuff so I eat more Taco Bell than I care to admit. It’s not even Mexican food, I don’t know what it is. I think it’s Soylent Green. I think we’re eating people! Now I’m losing weight, but I still smoke. People ask me how I get super high and walk and it’s like, I just do. 

You mentioned getting high with strangers and some people are so sketchy…

I think I have a pretty good sketch detector and I’m pretty streetwise. I figure I made it this far. Post-COVID I don’t really smoke with people anymore or if I do, it’s my own stuff. I’ll usually have my own pre-roll with me. It feels like people across the country are reluctant to pass joints, or that’s been my experience. Back then, everyone had something and it was cool. Now people are like, do you wanna suck this? And I’m like, not really. 

Photo by Seth Olenick

Are you doing any mushrooms? They’re all the rage these days. 

I’m not, but it’s funny because I’m finding out that all of these parents are. I wasn’t even aware that it was a huge thing. One of the dads I know microdoses and it changed everything for me. Now I’m looking at him like, dude this guy is high as balls right now! 

He’s probably a better dad. More tolerant like, sure, draw all over the walls; you’re as great as Picasso. 

I’ve never done what everyone is doing so this one is like, ehhh. I got too in my head with acid and shrooms back in the day. I feel like it was more available in California than anywhere probably. Practically everyone I knew tripped in some way. The nerds, the stoners—I would just get too in my head. One time I was at this party and a girl turned me down at a party. So I just walked all the way home, in San Francisco, tripping balls.

I think it’s an age block because we grew up with weed and mushrooms being illegal. Now there are weed stores everywhere, and it’s so great, but mentally I’m like, this is nuts. 

Yes! At first those places would get raided and shut down so even when it went completely legal, I still had this fear of it being raided when I was in the store. I don’t know why but I do think it comes from growing up with it being illegal your entire life. 

I blame Nancy Regan. 

I blame her for a lot of things. I get diarrhea and I blame Nancy, but it was really Taco Bell. 

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COVID Regrets & Cannabis Promises 

The establishment has COVID regrets. Its media, like the Atlantic, has lost tens of millions of dollars. It seems that people would instead rely on the “misinformation” on the Internet than place their trust in the propaganda arm of the military-industrial complex. Thus, establishment mouthpieces like the Atlantic are trying to save themselves. “Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty,” reads a headline by columnist Emily Oster. Oster writes, “We need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the […]

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Making Sense of the COVID Cannabis Surge 

How can we make sense of the COVID Cannabis surge? As reported previously, a pandemic-induced cannabis bubble has now burst. Total market cannabis sales are now in decline but what’s happened is a return to pre-pandemic market conditions. We can answer some pressing questions using real-time sales reporting from Headset Insight. Namely, did we see a more significant decline in transaction volume or transaction size? Which products fared best and worst during the last couple of years? And which customers […]

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Broad spec CBD reduces viral replication via stress, no result for synthetics

After two years, everyone has grown tired – dare we say we’re stressed. But new research does not recommend we sit back and smoke a joint, or even consume cannabis just yet. Fortunately, though, cannabis formulations consumed orally did reduce coronavirus replication in a lab. Cannabidiol (CBD) regulates the stress response which reduces viral replication […]

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Does Cannabis Use Actually Thwart Coronavirus Infection?

A new study this week has potheads gloating, late night talk show hosts snickering and a pandemic-scarred public contemplating a scenario straight out of a stoner comedy: Could cannabis actually stave off Covid?

The truth is, annoyingly, less straightforward than that. 

The study, published in the Journal of Natural Products, found that “cannabis compounds prevented the virus that causes Covid-19 from penetrating healthy human cells.”

According to the authors of the study, “cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid prevented infection of human epithelial cells by a pseudovirus expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and prevented entry of live SARS-CoV-2 into cells,” while “cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid were equally effective against the SARS-CoV-2 alpha variant B.1.1.7 and the beta variant B.1.351.”

A report by Bloomberg helped distill all that for the laymen. 

“The two compounds commonly found in hemp — called cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA — were identified during a chemical screening effort as having potential to combat coronavirus, researchers from Oregon State University said. In the study, they bound to spike proteins found on the virus and blocked a step the pathogen uses to infect people,” Bloomberg explained. “The researchers tested the compounds’ effect against alpha and beta variants of the virus in a laboratory. The study didn’t involve giving the supplements to people or comparing infection rates in those who use the compounds to those who don’t.”

“These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans,” Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center said in a statement, as quoted by Bloomberg. “They have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.”

There are a few details to keep in mind. TheOregon State University in vitro study hasn’t gone as far as human trials, as limits in medical cannabis research continue to be the norm. Futhermore,cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid are converted to other compounds after decarboxylation and/or smoking. So smoking, for instance, probably isn’t an efficient way of gaining these benefits.

Nesas Hemp is maker of “the world’s first living full-spectrum organic CBDA hemp extract.” The company uses living hemp and preserves the plant’s natural molecular structure and naturally occurring CBDA, and other beneficial phytonutrients.

“The recent study done by researchers at Oregon State University, underscores what we’ve known for years—CBDA has medicinal properties. The big takeaway from this study however, is that the compounds that help prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells are cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA, NOT the generic CBD compounds that are found in so many hemp products today,” Nesas Hemp CEO Inesa Ponomariovaite told High Times. “That’s because CBGA and CBDA are produced using raw, living hemp, which ensures the healthy compounds that naturally occur in the plant end up in the final product that is eventually consumed by people. Regular CBD products are often made by burning the plant, which is not only carcinogenic, it also damages the molecular structure of the plant and changes its medicinal properties. In fact, research shows CBDA is often 1,000 times more potent than CBD and helps reduce inflammation, improves digestion, boosts the immune system, improves sleep and stabilizes moods.”

Ponomariovaite continued, saying “currently, most CBD products use extreme temperatures and other harmful processes to extract cannabinoids from the hemp plant to produce hemp extract, also known as hemp oil. This damages the natural cannabinoid acids and the medicinal properties found in the plant.”

The study has gone viral and has also prompted laughs and notes of caution from experts. The revelations proved to be quality fodder for late night monologues.

“This would be interesting. All this time we’ve been listening to the C.D.C., we should have been eating CBD,” cracked Jimmy Kimmel on Wednesday.

“You know, it’s funny—all these crazy cures, I’m like ‘Oh, that’s ridiculous.’ Ivermectin, the horse dewormer; bleach. And then somebody says marijuana prevents Covid, I’m like ‘Oh, really? Do tell,” he said.

Stephen Colbert couldn’t resist either.

“Great news for all the teenagers whose parents find weed in their room: ‘Oh, Mom, I see you found the Covid-stopping compounds that I hid in my sock drawer. Those aren’t mine. No, no. Those aren’t mine. I’m just holding them for my friend, Tony Fauci,’” he said Wednesday.

“In other words, the pot enters the body and asks Covid, ‘Are you a cell? You have to tell me if you’re a cell,’” Colbert added.

Cannabis Use Won’t Replace Coronavirus Vaccinations

Still, this doesn’t mean that you should swap a jab for a joint.

As Chris Roberts explained over at Forbes, what the Oregon State study does show is that “that certain cannabis-derived preparations, given in the right amount, might help people fight off Covid-19,” which he said is “exciting stuff.”

“What this research does not mean is that smoking cannabis helps protect you from the coronavirus, or that ‘weed stops Covid’ (at least in the practical sense), or that the reason why someone got sick with Covid while someone else didn’t had anything to do with cannabis,” Roberts wrote.

Forbes highlighted some other reasons to be skeptical of the study, with Dr. Mikael Sodergren, the head of Imperial College London’s medical cannabis research group, telling the outlet that the findings would still need to be “confirmed in animal models and tested on humans in clinical trials.”

Sodergren told Forbes that the study furthermore provides “no evidence to support the smoking or ingestion of cannabis products to do the same.”

The benefits of hemp and cannabis continue to unfold. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam was ahead of the game, praising the health benefits of cannabinoid acids in 2019.

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Study Shows Psychedelics Users Had Less Stress During Pandemic Lockdowns

A study on the COVID-19 outbreak’s impact on mental health has found that users of psychedelics experienced less stress during the pandemic than those who had not used the drugs. 

Before the pandemic, approximately 8.5 percent of U.S. adults reported being depressed. But as the nation experienced the fear, lockdowns, and isolation associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, the figure spiked to 27.8 percent, according to data published last year. Prof. Sandro Galea, a dean at Boston University School of Public Health, said that the impact on mental health caused by the pandemic is unprecedented.

“Depression in the general population after prior large-scale traumatic events has been observed to, at most, double,” he said after publishing research on mental health aspects of the pandemic last year.

Anxiety levels also increased during the pandemic, with researchers reporting a 14 percent rise in anxiety among residents of the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia.

Psychedelics and Depression

Other research has shown that psychedelic drugs including psilocybin have potential as treatments for mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and addiction. To learn if the use of psychedelic drugs affected the impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on mental health, researchers affiliated with organizations in the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil conducted a study of how previous psychedelic use affected mental health. The study was performed from April through July of last year, when much of the world was under lockdown to help stem the spread of the virus.

The researchers conducted an online survey of 2,974 people, with most respondents living in Spain, Brazil and the United States. Among the participants, 497 said they regularly used psychedelic drugs, 606 were occasional users and 1,968 said they had never used psychedelics. During the study period, most of the United States and Spain were under lockdown, although that was not the case in Brazil.

The survey asked participants about their use of psychedelic drugs including psilocybin, peyote, MDMA, ayahuasca, LSD, San Pedro, and 5-MeO-DMT, both before and after the outbreak began, as well as information about the settings in which the drugs were used. Study subjects also completed a series of questionnaires on psychological distress, perceived social support, post-traumatic stress symptoms, psychological status and measures of personality.

“Psychedelic drug users, especially regular ones, reported less psychological distress, less peritraumatic stress, and more social support,” the authors of the study wrote.

Half of the participants who had used psychedelics said that their previous use of the drugs had a significant positive impact on their ability to cope with the stress associated with the lockdowns. About a third (35 percent) said their past use of psychedelic drugs did not impact their ability to cope, and 16 percent said their experience with the compounds had a small beneficial impact.

Psychedelic drug users also reported having more access to outdoor spaces and spending more time outside. Regular users of psychedelics also reported more engagement with activities including music, meditation, yoga and Pilates, while those who do not use psychedelics said they spent more time doing aerobic exercise, playing video games and watching television, movies and news coverage related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Regular users were also less likely to follow suggested public health measures such as wearing face masks and gloves. In personality tests, people who reported using psychedelics scored higher on scales for novelty seeking and self-transcendence, and lower for cooperativeness.

Correlation or Causation?

The study also revealed other consequences of the pandemic that could have an impact on mental health. Nearly a fifth of participants reported losing their job, while almost half said their income had declined during the outbreak.

The researchers wrote that although psychedelics users reported experiencing less stress during the pandemic, it is unclear if the drugs are responsible for the difference. They called for continued research, noting that other factors including more access to outdoor space, spending more time outside, healthier eating habits, and spending less time viewing or listening to news coverage about the pandemic could also have an impact on mental health.

“Our findings showed that regular users of psychedelic drugs had less psychological stress and some personality differences when compared to occasional users and non-users,” the study’s authors concluded. “This suggests that either the use of psychedelics might be a protective factor itself or people with certain previous traits are more prone to frequently using psychedelic drugs.”

An article on the research, “Cross-Sectional Associations Between Lifetime Use of Psychedelic Drugs and Psychometric Measures During the COVID-19 Confinement: A Transcultural Study,” was published online by the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

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