Enter a long, strange trip into the mind of a genius. Elon Musk—who on September 27 became the world’s richest person, surpassing Jeff Bezos—said people should be “open to psychedelics” at a CodeCon event on Tuesday.
Ronan Levy, executive chairman of Field Trip Health hosted conversation with Musk during an interview at CodeCon 21, a celebrated tech development event, confronting him about whether or not he supports psychedelics for therapeutic purposes.
“I think generally people should be open to psychedelics,” said Musk. The session continued.
“You’ve spent a lot of time talking about outer space, and I want to ask you about inner space. What role do you think psychedelics may have in addressing some of the more destructive tendencies of humanity?” Levy asked Musk.
“A lot of people making laws are kind of from a different era,” Musk replied. “As the new generation gets into political power, I think we will see greater receptivity to the benefits of psychedelics.”
Field Trip Health provides psychedelic-assisted therapies. In an August 31 press release, Field Trip announced new programs, including one that gives eligible therapists the ability to provide ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) to their patients at Field Trip Health Centers. They will use Field Trip’s medical teams for screening, prescribing and administration of ketamine.
Field Trip’s programs will also provide both didactic and experiential training to therapists and medical professionals on KAP. Therapists who complete Field Trip’s training programs will automatically become eligible to join the KAP Co-op program.
It’s not the first time that the SpaceX founder and multibillionaire has spoken in favor of psychedelics.
On November 14, 2020, Musk tweeted three statements: “You can’t win; You can’t break even; and You can’t stop playing,” then tweeting in the thread, “Unless you’re on DMT.” Twitter couldn’t handle the statement, and commenters guessed whether it was an admission that the billionaire had tried ayahuasca or DMT.
Why is this important? Because so much weight is often put on Musk’s opinions—given his stratospheric wealth and influence. Musk’s powers are evident in the way his comments significantly influenced and tipped the value of Dogecoin and Bitcoin.
Elon Musk on Cannabis
Cannabis—itself a mild psychedelic—is also a recurring theme in the billionaire’s life. In 2019, Musk smoked a blunt on The Joe Rogan Experience—and High Times’ asked if it was “the most expensive blunt of all time?”
Few people in the world are as scrutinized as deeply as Musk when it comes to personal habits like smoking pot. Smoking a blunt live set off a firestorm.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned Musk. There was an active petition to get Twitter to deplatform him—and pop stars even dragged him on Instagram. Even Musk’s SpaceX assets were not safe. NASA investigated Musk also, after his debacle on the podcast. According to three unnamed sources who spoke with the Washington Post, NASA launched a safety review of SpaceX shortly after his spot on The Joe Rogan Experience.
Given the level of investments that NASA pours into SpaceX, to them, smoking a blunt was a big deal. At the time, NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs did not comment on whether Musk smoking a blunt was what triggered the review. But he did mention the importance of SpaceX adhering the rules of a drug-free workplace.
The only inevitable thing in life, is death. Many fear it, while others embrace the possibility of moving on to another realm. The truth is, none of us really know what happens after we die. What we do know, is that sometimes those remaining days/weeks/months on earth can be challenging. Luckily we do have some resources available to help provide comfort and dignity during death. As psychedelics gain momentum in the field of therapeutics, particularly for treating depression and trauma, the question of using them to alleviate end-of-life symptoms is coming up with more regularity.
Psychedelics are incredible. The therapeutic potential is staggering and the market is steadily growing. By far, the most popular psychedelic is still THC. For more articles like this one, and for exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other legal THC products, make sure to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter, your top-source for all things cannabis-related.
End-of-Life: Physical Care and Spiritual Needs
Every person experiences death in a unique way, and as such, a person nearing the end of their life has many specific needs – typically in the areas of physical comfort, emotional obligations, mental stimulation, spiritual issues, and practical tasks.
Some people pass quickly while others face a more gradual decline, but almost universally, those who have a least a little bit of foresight into their deaths will go through some type of introspective, spiritual experiences.
If you have a loved one nearing departure from this world, your job is to provide comfort, reassurance, warmth, and understanding. Figuring out how exactly to do this is where it gets tricky. As the body diminishes, the spirit awakens… but unfortunately, our current healthcare system only addresses the former. However, imminent death is known to push the consciousness into new and heightened dimensional levels.
Sometimes, the transition is easy, but other times it can be more difficult and the need for treatment options that help our loved ones navigate the emotional and spiritual journey of death are just as important as medications for decreasing their physical symptoms. Sadly, when it comes to dealing with these types of complexities, modern medicine has always fallen short.
What Are Psychedelics?
Psychedelic drugs, also referred to entheogens, are a subset of hallucinogens which contain compounds that can alter perception. The term entheogen come from Greek and can be roughly translated to mean “building the God within”. The high produced by these types of drugs is known as a ‘trip’, and can include various types of visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations. The intensity of a trip can vary dramatically based on the specific compound and dose consumed. Sometimes, a user will experience no hallucinations at all, but rather a sense of general well-being, spirituality, and euphoria.
If you’ve ever heard someone mention a ‘bad trip’, this means they had some type of negative side effects or maybe even scary hallucinations. Physical symptoms of a bad trip can include but are not limited to: irregular heartbeat, nausea, chills, sweating, and anxiety. Dosing and setting, among other factors, can significantly impact a psychedelic trip, so you want to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to ensure an uplifting and beneficial high.
Psychedelics can be naturally-derived like psilocybin, or manmade like LSD; and they are generally regarded as safe. According to the results of a Global Drug Survey that polled 120,000 regular drug users, magic mushrooms were the safest recreational drug, along with cannabis. Their method at determining user safety was by comparing the drug used to the amount of required emergency room visits. Only 0.2% of the nearly 10,000 mushroom users surveyed had ever required emergency care, compared to the 1.0% of those using harder drugs like ecstasy or cocaine.
What’s interesting about psychedelics is that often times, the high can produce effects comparable to a near-death experience (NDE). Both, NDEs and psychedelic trips are very complex and subjective experiences, and many similarities between the two have been observed.
Parallels between these states of mind can include feelings of universal understanding, transcendence of space and time, communicating with angels, dead relatives, and various other entities, and questions that are insightful and pensive in nature (for instance, trying to figure out your purpose in the world).
DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) in particular is known for producing these occurrences, but anecdotal evidence suggests that other psychedelic compounds can cause them too. According to a recent, placebo-controlled study, researchers found “significant relationships between the NDE scores and DMT-induced ego-dissolution and mystical-type experiences, as well as a significant association between NDE scores and baseline trait ‘absorption’ and delusional ideation measured at baseline.”
Simply put, researchers found such substantial overlap between DMT-induced trips and near-death experiences that they believe it warrants further investigation to gauge the true medical potential of this discovery.
Psychedelics in Palliative and End-of-Life Care
For several reasons, the use of psychedelics in end-of-life and palliative care has been a hot topic of discussion for some time now. Terminal patients, or even those who are on a natural decline, often face significant feelings of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, perceived burdensomeness, and overall existential distress.
Although alleviating these symptoms should really be at the core of palliative care, currently, there are no pharmacologic options for helping end-of-life patients who need to find emotional peace. Yes, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs exist and are prescribed to dying patients on a regular basis; but numerous studies show that these medications have demonstrated absolutely no superiority over placebos.
Enter psychedelics. According to Ross and Reiche et al., “psychedelic-assisted therapy for patients facing life-threatening illness appears to be a safe and potentially highly efficacious intervention for psychological and existential distress associated with such conditions. Contemporary double-blind placebo-controlled trials of psychedelics for depression and anxiety associated with cancer have produced very promising results.”
The two most recent and noteworthy studies on this subject were both completed at well-known, prestigious facilities: John Hopkins University and New York University (NYU). Both also were published simultaneously with nearly a dozen editorials from experts in palliative medicine, psychiatry, and international drug policy.
In the John Hopkins study, a crossover design was used to monitor 51 patients who received both an experimental high dose of psilocybin (22 mg or 30 mg/70 kg) and a standard low dose (1 mg or 3 mg/70 kg) which served as an active placebo control. At NYU, a randomized trial was used to study 29 patients receiving either psilocybin or the active placebo niacin.
During both trials, participants received pre and post treatment therapy sessions to determine their current state of mind and be able to make a reasonable assessment after administration of psychedelics. Also, both treatment groups included subjects with a wide range of both physical and psychiatric disorders including life-threatening cancers, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
And most importantly, both studies looked very carefully at the longevity of the results post-treatment, as well as safety profile of the prescribed active treatment. Across the board, there were both acute, immediate benefits as well as long lasting ones that were observed more than 6 months after use of psychedelics. Safety profiles were good in both trials and no serious adverse medical or psychological outcomes were reported.
Overall, the results were very promising. Participants claimed to experience reconciliation with death, emotional detachment from their diseases or ailments, reconnection with life, reclaimed presence and sense of self, and increased confidence.
“Those findings are consistent with published work about the safety and risk profile of psychedelics, which can be appropriately mitigated both with careful screening of subjects who have an underlying risk of psychosis and with appropriate support by the psychotherapy team,” says Daniel Rosenbaum from the Department of Psychiatry at University of Toronto. “These landmark studies from Johns Hopkins University and NYU also suggested a central role of the psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience, which correlated significantly with therapeutic outcomes based on ratings using validated scales.”
Mystical-type experiences can be characterized by many different qualities including but not limited to feelings of unity, a sense of experiencing “ultimate reality”, sacredness, positivity, and connectedness. In short, using psychedelics can make the experience of dying a more positive and spiritual one, rather than being scary, confusing, and depressing.
For many obvious reasons, death is a very sensitive subject. Of course, pain, physical ailments, and practical matters need to be addressed, but when is someone is nearing the end of their life, there is so much more going on beneath the surface. What needs to be discussed more is the need for treatment options that deal with the nonsecular symptoms of moving on to another realm, and psychedelics might be one of the most promising ways to accomplish this task.
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Oxford-based startup Beckley Psytech in the United Kingdom announced August 15 that it raised $80 million to ramp up clinical trials and research using a pharmaceutical formulation of 5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine), a powerful compound produced endogenously by Sonoran Desert toad venom, to treat depression.
The Series B financing was initially set at $50 million—but was upgraded to $80 million due to “overwhelming interest” from investors to support accelerating the clinical development of its psychedelic medicine research pipeline.
Clinical studies using psilocybin show huge potential to battle treatment-resistant depression, under the guidance of a therapist. But while a psilocybin experience can last five to eight hours, a 5-MeO-DMT session will last just one hour, which could radically reduce the cost of treatment. “Requiring a therapist to sit with a patient for the entire duration of a psilocybin, MDMA or LSD experience which is, say, six to eight to 10 hours long, is going to be resource intensive and expensive,” CEO Cosmo Fielding Mellen toldSifted.
From Psychedelic Toad Venom to Medical Research
The toad’s psychedelic venom is a natural defense tool, but with limitless potential in medicine. Vice Media’s Hamilton Morris documented the Sonoran Desert toad in detail—calling the toads’ secretion the “most potent psychedelic toad venom on Earth,” which also makes it ideal for medical research.
As previously reported by High Times, the Sonoran Desert Toad—also known as Colorado River Toad—was discovered to contain DMT-like compounds in 1965. This particular toad genus, Bufo alvarius, is known for high levels of 5-MeO-DMT, which is otherwise very rare in the animal kingdom. Though many other toads in the Bufo family produce bufotenine, the active tryptamine, the Sonoran Desert Toad has an enzyme that converts bufotenine into 5-MeO-DMT.
The compound is believed to be useful in several ways, including for psychedelic-assisted therapeutic purposes, and can be synthesized in a lab. The company’s CEO agrees. “My life’s passion has been to unlock the therapeutic potential of psychedelics as I believe these compounds could help millions of people around the world,” Fielding Mellen said in a press release.
Mellen continued, “The progress Beckley Psytech has made in attracting exceptional talent to the team and advancing our ambitious clinical development programmes over the past two years has been tremendously exciting. As we embark on our next phase of growth, our strong syndicate of expert investors will support us in bringing much-needed innovative treatments to patients suffering from neurological and psychiatric conditions.”
Beckley Psytech will use the proceeds to complete the ongoing Phase 1b trial with low-dose psilocybin in patients suffering from SUNHA, a rare and debilitating headache condition estimated to affect 45,000 people in the US and Europe. The proceeds will also go to initiate a Phase 1 dose-ranging study on a novel formulation of intranasal 5-MeO-DMT before starting a Phase 2 trial in Treatment Resistant Depression. The funding will also support the expansion of the company’s pipeline with new, unique and proprietary psychedelic compounds.
“Cosmo and his dedicated team at Beckley Psytech have created an exceptional research and development platform,” said Jay Newmark, general partner of Integrated. “Their highly differentiated approach, which treats not only large indications such as depression but also rare indications such as SUNHA, is allowing accelerated access to market. We deeply appreciate our value alignment with this team and eagerly anticipate their progress in improving access to these medicines.”
Just like cannabis gradually became a regular part of the mainstream conversation during the last decade, over the next few years we can expect to hear much more about psychedelics – everything from medical benefits to legalization efforts, societal views to current studies, and beyond. Given the safe and natural element to using these types of compounds, it’s no surprise that psychedelics are following the same path as cannabis: decriminalization and eventual re-legalization on the basis of scientific research and cultural acceptance.
Psychedelic research and legalization is a hot topic right now, and of all the psychedelics, THC is still the most popular one. For THC users who have a problem with the anxiety or experience paranoia, delta-8 THC might be preferable. If you think you could benefit from this altered version of THC, take a look at our awesome delta-8 THC deals, and try it out for yourself.
What are Psychedelics?
Psychedelic drugs are a subset of hallucinogens. They contain psychoactive compounds that are capable of altering a person’s mood, perception, and cognition; sometimes permanently. The active compounds are usually found in nature, like psilocybin or mescaline, but they can also be manmade, like LSD.
Psychedelics are known for causing ‘trips’, which is what the high is referred to. When a person is tripping, they may have altered perceptions of the world around them. Many people believe this is limited to visual and auditory hallucinations, but it can also include feeling, tasting, and smelling things that are not real, as well as a heightened sense of connection and understanding, and greater feelings of introspection.
The trips that people most commonly associate with these types of the drugs are the ones in which a state of hallucinogenic delirium is reached, but that is not always the case. Many times, it is more of an experience than a trip, and something can be learned and achieved psychologically with every small dose.
The word itself, ‘psychedelics’, was first used in 1957 to recognize substances that were said to open the mind, however, the more scientific term for them is ‘entheogens’. This term was adopted, not necessarily for the sake of being scientific, but rather to allow the field to operate without the stigma attached to psychedelics from the smear campaigns of the 1960’s. The term entheogen comes from Greek where it means ‘building the god within’.
Different psychedelics produce different trips. For example, with DMT you can expect a short high lasting less than 1 hour, whereas LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline trips can last up to ten hours. Some hallucinogens are more potent than others, like mushrooms vs acid. The active compounds are different in each drug so there is a lot of variation to the effects that can be felt.
Some people experience bad trips in which negative, or even scary, hallucinations are experienced, and/or a rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, disorientation, and fatigue occur. There is indication that the majority of these symptoms can be controlled through proper dosing. This is why most modern-day, therapeutic users of psychedelics consume the drugs in micro-doses.
Medical Research on Psychedelics
Just like cannabis, legalization and normalization of psychedelic drugs would be impossible if there weren’t some type of medical benefits to show on paper. Luckily, the research does exist, especially in the field of mental health. A study published just last month in the journal Nature Medicine found that MDMA-assisted therapy could be “a potential breakthrough treatment” for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Other studies have looked at psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, as a possible treatment option for clinical depression, and the results were incredibly promising. Additional research is underway to determine the effectiveness of numerous other psychedelics as well, including LSD and ketamine.
Most psychedelics are serotonergic, meaning the affect the serotonin receptors in our bodies. Many antidepressant drugs involve some type of serotonin signaling, although there are numerous different ways that substances can interact with these receptors. Using pharmaceuticals often leaves the patient with many unwanted side effects, whereas natural compounds are typically considered safer, when used correctly.
Psychedelics had a brief stint in modern medicine in the 1950s and several psychologists at the time were utilizing them to treat patients with depression and addiction, LSD in particular. They found it to be especially helpful in curbing alcoholism, which can be proven by this study in which it was reported that even 1 full year after treatment, subjects were still off the booze.
Known as ‘psychedelic therapy’ in the U.S. and ‘psycholytic therapy in the U.K., it was really catching on. However, when these compounds were added to the Schedule 1 narcotics list in both countries, the ability to research psychedelics, let alone utilize them in treatment plans, came to a screeching halt.
In recent years, we’ve seen a massive shift in the way the public, as well as healthcare and government agencies, view this class of drugs. The FDA itself has deemed both psilocybin and MDMA (magic mushrooms and ecstasy) as “leading breakthrough therapies” for depression and PTSD. This means that we can anticipate a rush in research and development for products containing these active ingredients in the very near future.
Psychedelic Legalization Efforts
The heavy regulation of psychedelics began in 1966, just as these drugs started making their way in the realm of recreational use. At the time, ‘recreational’ use of psychoactive substances was rooted in their ability to expand one’s consciousness. Psychedelic activists of today could very well be driven by similar motives, but the focus of their public campaigns is ‘safe, natural, alternative healthcare’ – a topic that many people have been showing greater interest in over the last decade.
Looking at it from a purely legal perspective, it not only makes sense, but it seems like the only logical way to tackle a subject like this one. Pushing for full legalization of highly intoxicating substances is already a pretty tall order, but if using the argument that our collective consciousness is suffering and in need of expansion, you can imagine that the movement wouldn’t gain much traction (regardless of how true sentiment that actually is).
Psychedelic legalization will undoubtedly face many of the same challenges we have seen time and time again in the fight for cannabis legalization. We know medical research fueled by cultural mainstreaming makes for a remarkably effective weapon against outdated regulations. But despite how far we have come on both of those fronts in the cannabis industry, it remains federally prohibited. And when looking at our current administration, we know that Joe Biden really has a bug up his you-know-what about cannabis, so it seems incredibly unlikely that we will see any kind of turnaround with psychedelic regulations on his watch.
Nevertheless, we know it’s in the cards and by the end of this decade it will be a booming industry. Numerous, cities, states and countries have relaxed their laws surrounding possession and use of psychedelics drugs.
Cultural Views on Psychedelic Legalization
Compared to cannabis, psychedelic have the unique advantage of being carrying less social stigma. Many advocates of psychedelic drugs are healers themselves, dedicated to conserving cultural traditions regarding the healing of pain and trauma through rituals that include psychedelic use – and this will be a huge contributing factor to eventual legalization.
From their initial emergence into the mainstream discussion, psychedelics have been positioned as a therapeutic drug, rather than recreational; as compounds that you use in micro doses to get only the psychological benefits without any of the psychoactive side effects; and as compounds that will soon be utilized in some of the most cutting-edge therapy sessions, by the most progressive practitioners.
Stigma still exists, as is the case with any intoxicating compound, but much of this stems from completely irrelevant fear; and luckily it’s nowhere as commonplace as it has been in years prior. Most people, even those who generally lean conservative, are adopting more liberal views when it comes to the use of certain substances, especially those that are found in nature. Plant-based healing is a much more popular concept now that in has been in our nation’s recent past.
In a big move for the psychedelic industry, a bill was recently passed by a second California Senate committee which would legalize the possession of numerous different forms of psychoactive drugs in the Golden State. The legislation, which was sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener (D), advanced through the Public Safety Committee earlier this month, followed by a pass from the Health Committee one week later. If this bill fully passes, an extensive list of psychedelics including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD, and MDMA would be legalized for adults aged 21 and older.
Additionally, the bill would call for the expungement of prior convictions for possession of psychedelic drugs, the same way the state is trying to expunge cannabis convictions; as well as redefining what paraphernalia will be lawful to possess and use with these newly legalized substances.
If this all sounds vaguely familiar it’s because California was also the first state to legalize medical cannabis use back in 1996, long before it was a frequent topic in any political discourse. The golden state is also the birthplace of most cultural cannabis trends over the last few decades. California has been at the forefront of cannabis legalization efforts since the early 1970s and is one of the first states to begin expunging prior cannabis-related convictions after Prop 64 passed in 2016.
“The war on drugs has been an abject failure because it is based on the false belief, the false notion, that criminalizing people, arresting them, incarcerating them for possessing, for using drugs, will somehow deter use and improve public safety,” commented democratic Senator Scott Wiener. “It has done neither.”
Oregon, Washington and Colorado are also very liberal states that have been working to change the national narrative on drug use, particularly cannabis and other psychedelics. Oregon became the first state in the United States to decriminalize the possession of all drugs. Possessing heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other intoxicating substances for personal use is no longer a criminal offense in Oregon. Those drugs are still against the law, as is selling them. But possession is now a civil – not criminal – violation that may result in a fine or court-ordered therapy, not jail.
The path to drug legalization can be bumpy, and taking psychedelics from illegal to medical-use-only to legal for adult-use will take some time. But based on current patterns, we can expect this will happen relatively soon. Just like cannabinoids, psychedelic compounds are the medicine of the future and when legalization does occur, there will be an industry boom like we’ve never seen before.
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Most people have heard the names LSD, magic mushrooms, and ecstasy before. But not everyone has heard of, say Bufo toads. Yet, even without it being a part of popular culture, or a well-known drug, it is a possible premise for a popular long-running fairy-tale. And perhaps it is this fairytale that helps explain why kissing psychedelic toads, can help treat mental illness.
Medical psychedelics are getting more popular everyday, and the most popular psychedelic drug is still THC! If you’re the kind of person that prefers your THC to be less intense and cause less anxiety, then you’re probably more of a delta-8 THC person. If you haven’t tried this addition to the THC family, check out our awesome delta-8 THCdeals to see what it’s all about.
There are different versions of this story around. The most well-known of which was published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm, called the Frog Prince. In the story, a princess is playing with a golden ball by a spring. When she misses the ball, it falls into the spring and she cannot retrieve it. She is very sad, stating out loud how she would give up everything to get the ball back. A frog hears her and comes over. He tells her he will get her the ball if she will be his friend, which apparently in this context means living with her, sleeping on her pillow, and eating from her plate.
The princess, of course, agrees, but upon receiving her ball back, she runs off with it, ignoring her promise. The frog follows her home, and the princess runs off to consult her father the king, who tells her to respect her promises in life. So she lets the frog in and allows him to eat off her plate, but when he asks to sleep on her pillow, she refuses. When the frog threatens to tell the king that she is refusing, she picks up the frog and throws him against the wall, thus turning him back into a prince and breaking the witch’s spell he was under.
This version seems to be standard, however, in another standard version, the princess kisses the frog in order to change it into the prince. In yet another version, the princess simply allows the frog to be her friend, thereby ending the spell. It’s a kind of trippy story no matter how you look at it. Talking frogs, witch’s spells, and animal/human transformations. Even without considering the possible link between the story, and actual psychedelics, it’s kind of psychedelic anyway.
However, it just so happens, that because a popular version of the story entails the princess kissing the frog in order to break the spell, it brings up a possible tie between the story, and a species of toad that might actually make a person think another person has changed species.
What are psychedelic toads?
Well, for one thing, they’re toads and not frogs, so if there is a tie between the story and the animal, a general mistake was made in categorization. However, it’s the same as confusing a rabbit and a hare, and does little to change the idea of the connection.
In short, psychedelic toads, are toads that contain psychoactive compounds within their skin known as bufotoxins, or a compound called 5-MeO-DMT, that when smoked, or eaten, can cause a psychoactive experience, complete with hallucinations, feelings of connection, euphoria, and so on. Psychedelic drugs are themselves a subset of hallucinogens, which are a class of psychoactive drugs. Psychedelics are known for producing these effects, as well as increasing feelings of spirituality, overall wellbeing, and increasing or distorting perception.
Most well-known psychedelics come from plants like peyote or magic mushrooms, or are made in a lab like LSD. However, the compounds 5-MeO-DMT, and/or bufotoxins like Bufotenin – 5-HO-DMT, can be found in the skin of a living animal. When looking at the chemical structure, you can see that DMT is involved, and in fact, is a related cousin to these compounds, with 5-HO-DMT being 4-6 times stronger than DMT.
5-HO-DMT is a schedule I compound. So are both MDMA and psilocybin, both of which have been earmarked by the FDA as ‘breakthrough therapies’ for different forms of mental illness. This designation essentially means the drugs are being fast-tracked through medical research trials, so as to get products onto shelves. This implies that scheduling of such compounds will likely change quickly when products are available, and this could include 5-HO-DMT and other psychedelics, as well.
There are several different species of toads that have these compounds, with the most well-known species being the Incilius alvarius, or Bufo alvarius (Colorado River Toad/Sonoran Desert Toad). Usage of toads in this way dates back to the Olmec period in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, from around 1,200 BCE to approximately 400 BCE.
5-MeO-DMT, or 5-Methoxy- N,N-dimethyltryptamine, is a compound found in different plants, as well as the Bufo variety of toads. It has been used since ancient times, and it more recent scientific investigation it was found that it can assist with spiritual exploration, that it’s not addictive, and that it might be good psychotherapeutically. Effects of 5-MeO-DMT can be felt within a second of inhalation, and trips last anywhere from as short as seven minutes, to as long as 90 minutes.
Psychedelic toads and mental illness
If you thought psychedelic toads weren’t studied for mental illness, you’d be mistaken. In 2018, a study came out about the unintended anxiety-reducing and depression-reducing effects of 5-MeO-DMT. The study examined people using the drug for spiritual or recreational reasons, and found self-reported improvements on both fronts. Respondents completed an anonymous survey, which found that 80% of those who responded who had been diagnosed with depression, felt improvement, and 79% of respondents who had been diagnosed with anxiety, also saw improvement in how they felt. Few felt unchanged, and a small amount felt worse than before by a very small margin.
In another study from 2019 about psychedelic toads and mental illness, the effects of inhaling 5-MeO-DMT vapor on affect and cognition, were measured. 5-MeO-DMT comes from the parotoid glands of the Bufo alvarius toad. The goal of the study was to investigate the semi-immediate and long-term effects of inhaling this secretion. The study participants were measured before the inhalation to establish a baseline measurement, within 24 hours of it, and again a month later. Trials were conducted in different parts of Europe, and participants were given just a single inhalation of the secretion.
The results of the study showed an increase in life satisfaction ratings and convergent thinking within 24 hours after inhalation, and was maintained a full month later. Mindfulness ratings actually went up over time, and at four weeks reached a statistically significant level. Depression, anxiety, and stress ratings all went down immediately after inhalation, and also reached a statistically significant level at four weeks. Those who experienced ego dissolution or ‘oceanic boundlessness’ – a measure of the spirituality aspect experienced, reported higher levels of satisfaction, and lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety.
In a comparison study concerning spiritual intensity, between 5-MeO-DMT and psilocybin – the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, it was found that the two substances produce spiritual experiences that are comparable. 5-MeO-DMT was administered to 20 participants who received 50 mg vaporized of the compound. The results of this were compared to a previously conducted psilocybin study, where participants received 30 mg of that compound, and the general spiritual intensity was found to be the same.
The main issue with extracting a drug from an actual living being, is that you generally kill, or harm, that actual living being. For the same reason its often frowned on for elephants to be killed for their tusks, the same can be said for indigenous toad populations, which have been affected by their capture and use as a psychedelic drug. This is one place in life where a synthetic answer is most definitely preferable to the killing of a whole species.
As research into different psychedelic compounds continues, psychedelic toads will likely come to the forefront of mental illness treatment, especially synthetic versions. Given the shorter duration time (much like DMT), and the reported positive benefits, something as strange to think of as a psychedelic toad, might actually be one of the best weapons against anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental illness.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a medical professional, I have no formal legal education, and I’ve never been to business school. All information in my articles is sourced from other places, which are always referenced, and all opinions stated are mine, and are made clear to be mine. I am not giving anyone advise of any kind, in any capacity. I am more than happy to discuss topics, but should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a professional in the relevant field for more information.
I have conversed with several individuals who have skydived into their own psyche with DMT. These conversations have allowed me to realize this psychedelic drug brings a wealth of insight into the universe. However, that never explains what the DMT experience truly is. It makes sense, to me, when the chemical DMT is described, metaphorically, […]
Drug addiction is a major issue in the modern world with sky-high numbers for deaths due to drugs throughout the world each year. Very little in the standard medical world has provided an answer to the question of how to break a drug addiction, and recidivism rates for addicts have always remained high. New research into the medical properties of ayahuasca indicates it might be an answer in the fight against drug addiction.
Psychedelics are becoming popular once again, and THC, which is often considered a psychedelic, is one of the most in-demand.These days there are options when it comes to THC. You can go with standard delta-9, or opt for less psychoactive effect and less anxiety with delta-8 THC. Want to give it a shot? Check out these great Delta-8 THC deals, and try the ‘other’ THC.
The US drug overdose issue
Some people will attribute any use of drugs to there being a drug problem. Consider that for decades, marijuana smoking was treated the same as heroin use, though today it’s clear that it doesn’t deserve that treatment. Trying to determine who has a drug issue is moot in the end, as it almost doesn’t matter. One of the ways to judge a drug issue is by the problems that come out if it, with the biggest ones being drug-related violence and deaths. So rather than worry about how many people are using drugs in a way that might be defined as problematic, let’s instead look at drug deaths to gauge the issue.
There are plenty of different national and international reporting agencies about drugs, often with different numbers coming out, though they tend to be in the same direction. It’s also hard to get full global statistics, so sometimes the best possible option is to investigate particular locations to see trends.
According to the CDC, the first three months of 2020 saw approximately 19,416 drug overdose deaths in the US alone. The same period from one year earlier had about 16,682, nearly three thousand less. In the CDC’s US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics report from October of 2020, the agency also approximated 75,500 overdose deaths between March 2019 and March 2020.
The grand majority of overdose deaths in the US are related to the opioid crisis, the massive widespread addiction to synthetic opiate drugs which has been increasing to incredible heights, particularly because of over-prescription, and the inclusion of new drugs like OxyContin and fentanyl. Even the CDC itself says the initial wave of the opioid epidemic started “with increased prescribing of opioids in the 1990s, with overdose deaths involving prescription opioids (natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone) increasing since at least 1999.” The CDC goes on to say that the second wave began in 2010 and was related to heroin overdoses, and that the third wave starting in 2013 with an increase in synthetic non-prescription opioid use.
The CDC likes to claim this is related to illicit fentanyl, but this undermines the fact that while the CDC also likes to claim a decrease in prescribing rates in 2019, this decrease still amounts to over 153 million opioid prescriptions doled out that year at an average rate of 46.7 prescriptions per 100 people.
To be clear, when going through the numbers for specific counties, also put out by the CDC, there are actually plenty of individual counties where there were over 100 prescriptions written per 100 people. So, I think it suffices to say that any recent issues with opioid deaths are just as much at the hands of pharmaceutical companies (and the US governmental agencies that allow this to happen) as the illicit market that sprouted from this pharmaceutical one. Regardless of who is responsible, this is now the situation.
If it was only about opiates, that would be problem enough, but it’s not. According to Statistica, regarding US deaths related to cocaine poisoning from 2009-2019, the number has gone up from approximately 3,822 deaths in 2009 to about 15,883 in 2019. This, of course, does show a large increase that cannot be attributed to pharmaceutical companies at all. It also brings up the question of how much these deaths are related to additives rather than cocaine itself, as the drug is often cut with other drugs like methamphetamine.
Drug overdose issues worldwide
Drug addiction is hardly a US invention (even if the US has done well to dominate the field). Take this article from December 2020 from the BBC concerning Scotland. According to the article, Scotland is actually the epicenter of the European drug crisis with the most deaths on average in Europe. The article stipulates the issue with underreporting in some countries, and makes the statement that of reported numbers, Scotland is highest. The 2018 reports had already put the drug issue as a public emergency, with 2019 numbers coming out late due to corona and other issues. The 2019 numbers show a 6% rise to 1,264 deaths.
If this number sounds small, consider that the population of Scotland is approximately 5,463,300, which brings the death rate to .023%. That’s actually slightly higher than the US! There were about 75,500 deaths from March to March, 2018 to 2019, and approximately 330 million people in the US, making for an overdose rate of .022%. While Scotland also attributes the majority of overdoses to opiates, it registered a growing amount of benzodiazepine overdoses, and multi-drug overdoses as well.
Then there’s Canada, where in three months of 2020, April-June, there were 1,628 opioid-related deaths. This is a 54% increase from the same months in 2019, and a 58% increase from January-March of the same year. If we were to take that number and multiply by four to get a rough yearly estimate for a year at those rates, we’re looking at 6,512 deaths out of a population of about 37,590,000, or .017%. From January to June 2020, 86% of overdose deaths in Canada happened in British Colombia. 75% of overdose deaths in general in Canada in that same time period were related to fentanyl.
Much like with Scotland pointing out multiple drugs used in overdose scenarios, it was also found in Canada that 52% of accidental overdoses involving opiates, also involved a stimulant. Between January to June of 2020, 70% of deaths related to stimulants involved cocaine, while 48% involved methamphetamines. In that same time period, 84% of the deaths related to stimulants, also involved an opiate.
In a place like Australia, which as of yet hasn’t been hit as hard, the 2018 drug-related overdose death toll was 1,740 out of a country of approximately 25.2 million people that year, making for a rate of .0069. This is way lower than the other countries mentioned, but it should be noted that 2/3 of these over-doses were related to opiates. However, when looking at the drug class that showed up most often – whether by itself or in combination – it was not opiates, but benzodiazepines. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, “Over the past decade, drug-induced deaths were more likely to be due to prescription drugs than illegal drugs, and there has been a substantial rise in the number of deaths with a prescription drug present.”
On a broader scale, according to OurWorldInData, which uses the UN’s Global Burden of Disease report, over 750,000 deaths worldwide were attributed to illicit drugs in 2017. And this with underreporting from many countries. As a comparison, this number is nearly twice the global homicide rate which sits at about 400,000, although this number is also likely to be way off.
Of course, just to mess with those numbers a bit, it’s also estimated that approximately three million deaths a year are attributable to alcohol use. This encompasses more than just overdoses, but is highly significant in that alcohol is considered a leading risk factor for early death and disability for those 15-49, and is responsible for as much as 10% of deaths in this age group. This makes the opioid epidemic look like nothing. Yet we barely talk about it at all.
What is ayahuasca?
Standard methods of drug addiction therapy have not proven terribly effective. One of the ways we know this is by the sheer number of people with addictions, which indicates new cases being added with few being deleted. There also wouldn’t be a massive market for addiction medicine specialists, rehab centers, or drug maintenance if these things were not a part of an expansive field that also brings in a lot of money.
So, if you’re reading a report telling you that talk therapy, rehab centers, and group counseling are useful, consider that the addiction rehab industry was worth approximately $42 billion in the US alone last year, and is growing quickly. Does it really sound like these methods are working, or just working to bring in money?
And this brings us to medical psychedelics, and the use of ayahuasca. Though the background story of ayahuasca is a bit hazy, it has been used plenty both in history and today, and has been reviewed in medical testing. Ayahuasca is a tea made from the combination of two plants: Psychotria viridis and the Banisteriopsis caapi vine.
Though both plants have their own effects, when put together the DMT from the former and the beta-carbolines in the latter (also known as MAO inhibitors, which stop the DMT from being broken down), trigger a powerful psychoactive response. Though the use of ayahuasca might not match all the stories told at ayahuasca retreats, it was certainly used in different places in history. In today’s world, the user ingests the tea, and has a hallucinogenic experience, often with the help of a guide.
So, how is ayahuasca useful in the fight against drug addiction?
Ayahuasca in the fight against drug addiction
Ayahuasca is not the first psychedelic to be looked at for addiction, as many studies were performed on LSD for alcoholism last century. The best way to get an idea of how ayahuasca can be used for drug addiction, is to see how it performs in medical testing. The following is a list of general research related to ayahuasca for drug addiction:
In 2013, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) published this study about ayahuasca-assisted therapy for problematic drug addiction, in rural British Colombia. The results found were that: “…participants may have experienced positive psychological and behavioral changes in response to this therapeutic approach, and that more rigorous research of ayahuasca-assisted therapy for problematic substance use is warranted.”
In Chapter six of Ayahuasca and the Treatment of Drug Addiction, from 2014, the authors state that more systematic studies must be done with improved methodology, but that long term studies have shown the ability to discontinue drugs among users in Brazil, and that therapy centers using ayahuasca claim to have higher success rates.
In the 2019 systematic review: Ayahuasca: Psychological and Physiologic Effects, Pharmacology and Potential Uses in Addiction and Mental Illness, the study authors found that “Research into medical use of ayahuasca indicates potential as a treatment in addictions, depression and anxiety , with a variety of other possible medical uses, though these require more research”
In the book Psychedelic Medicine by Dr. Jacques Mabit, there is a section called ‘Ayahuasca in the treatment of Addictions’, and not only does Mabit make the case for ayahuasca use for addiction therapy, but he points out regarding the two plants used to make the tea, “This specific symbiotic action, which modern science identified just a few decades ago, has been empirically known for at least 3000 years by the Indigenous groups of the western Amazon, according to archaeological evidence (Naranjo P., 1983)”, reminding us that while these topics are fought over in modern medicine today, ancient populations seemed to understand them just fine.
That there is a massive drug problem in the world is by now a fact, so long as a person considers unnecessary deaths related to drug use as a problem. This is seen in overdose deaths worldwide, with growing issues related to opiates, and a long-standing issue with alcohol.
As the drug-addiction therapy industry grows exponentially, signaling major issues with both over-prescription and recidivism, new avenues should be explored to get people the help they need. In light of cannabis making its way from ‘hated’ to a ‘medical darling’, its no surprise that psychedelics are following suit. With a host of new research, and plenty of historical evidence, ayahuasca is being looked at as the new weapon in the fight against drug addiction. With the current and growing dilemma with opiates, this is one of the most promising things to come along.
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As the battle for cannabis legalization continues globally, the re-acquaintance to its medical use has reopened the door for other drugs that have also been labeled as narcotics, or scheduled so that people have no access to their medical benefits. One of the major classes of drugs that has shown great promise therapeutically, is psychedelics. With a greater level of liberal acceptance, there has been a recent rise in the medical use of psychedelics.
What’s one of the most widely used psychedelic compounds on earth? THC! And not just the standard delta-9 THC that most people are familiar with. With the addition of delta-8 THC, users can choose how they want their experience to be. Want less psychoactive effect and less anxiety, then check out our Delta-8 THC deals and give the other THC a try.
What are psychedelics?
A psychedelic is a drug containing psychoactive compounds capable of altering a person’s mood, perception and cognition. This can include naturally occurring and man-made substances. Examples of psychedelics include: mescaline, which can be found in San Pedro cactus and peyote; DMT, one of the main ingredients in ayahuasca; LSD; and psilocybin, which is what makes magic mushrooms so magical.
Psychedelics are known to produce life-altering experiences, wherein the user can find insights into life and consciousness. It are these attributes that have been the main instigator for the recent rise in research of medical psychedelics.
Psychedelics, much like cannabis (which is technically a psychedelic), occur naturally in different plants around the globe, and have been used for millennia in different ceremonial, religious, and medical practices throughout history. Unlike cannabis, they were not all outlawed together in one sweeping move, but rather, became illegalized over time. In the US, the criminalization of psychedelics started in 1968 with the Staggers-Dodd bill which specifically illegalized LSD and psilocybin.
The word itself, ‘psychedelics’, was first used in 1957 to recognize substances that were said to open the mind, however, the more scientific term for them is ‘entheogens’. This term was adopted less to be scientific, however, and more to allow the field to operate without the stigma attached to psychedelics from the smear campaigns of the 1960’s. The term entheogen comes from Greek where it means ‘building the god within’.
History of illegalization
When it comes to the illegalization of cannabis, it is becoming understood more widely that there was more to it than a fear for public safety. The entire movement to illegalize was spearheaded in the government by Harry Anslinger, with media giant William Randolph Heart pushing the anti-hemp movement from outside, in an effort to kill the enemy of his paper industry.
Some might see it as a similar manner of business, when psychedelics were demonized in the 60’s and70’s, as when cannabis was in the 1930’s onward. In the case of psychedelics, much of the news, controversy, and general story around them, took place during the Vietnam war, and served as a good distraction from the horrible ridiculousness of that mess and the unnecessary violence and deaths that came from it. Think about what actually came out of that war. The nothingness that was accomplished in the face of the massive death toll that was taken. How easy is it to get your population to go along with such antics? And would focusing on the truth of it have made it a harder sell?
In 1970, the US congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act which enforced stricter measures for pharmaceutical companies, requiring stringent reporting, and better security of drug stocks. These aren’t bad things, of course, but they led to the current model of drug scheduling, which has, essentially and with much bias, ruled many drugs out.
The Single Convention on Narcotic Substances is a treaty that was formed out of international discussions concerning drug controls in 1970. This was followed up with the Convention on Psychotropic Substances in 1971, a similar treaty which also orders drugs into classes based on their potential level of harm and usefulness. In both treaties, schedule I is associated with the most dangerous drugs with no medical benefit, but a high addiction possibility, and schedule IV denotes safer drugs with medical purpose. Psychedelics took the schedule I spot in 1970, ruling out their use as medicines.
Putting psychedelics in this scheduling category seems to have been the result of industry issues, much like with cannabis. During the discussions for the treaties, bigger and more developed countries with bigger and more developed pharmaceutical industries, pushed for the illegalization of these natural compounds, whereas countries with less development, and which didn’t have competing industries, were not for their illegalization. As with cannabis, the bigger, stronger countries won out, and forced these decisions on everyone else.
In fact, in 1994, John Ehrlichman, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under Nixon, made this statement about the war on drugs that was fought under Nixon, highlighting an alternate reason for pushing anti-drug measures at that time:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
And then it got worse. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan’s administration put out the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which allowed for emergency banning of drugs by the government. This was put into effect the following year when the subject of MDMA came up, and was used to immediately illegalize it. And this despite a judge’s decision to schedule it as Schedule III, and allow it for medical use. This action entirely stymied any research progress into the drugs, and slowed the rise of medical psychedelics to a halt.
Psychedelics in history
As with anything else, putting together the history of psychedelic use in antiquity, is dependent on ancient texts, findings, and rituals. While there is a current rise in the use of medical psychedelics, this does not imply that they were used for the same exact purpose back then, as they are today.
One of the interesting finds related to psychedelics, is the discovery of a pouch in southwestern Bolivia, dated to a thousand years ago. The pouch contains traces of several psychedelic compounds including harmine and DMT (dimethyltryptamine) which denote the use of ayahuasca, bufotenine (from toad skin), and psilocin – another psychedelic constituent of magic mushrooms. The pouch also contained traces of cocaine and its metabolite benzoylecgonine, which would have likely come from coca leaves.
The discovery came from the Sora River Valley. The pouch – made of three fox snouts – was part of the contents of a leather bag, which mass spectrometry carbon dating has put between the years of 900-1100 CE. It is thought that because of the dating period, that the pouch likely belonged to a member of the Tiwanaku, which pre-dated the Incas. The use of ayahuasca denotes the earliest evidence of it that has been physically found.
The reason this part is interesting is because the two compounds that were found that ayahuasca is made from, come from two separate plants that work in combination to produce the effects. This means that the ancient population this comes from, was putting two plants together to gain a psychoactive effect that wouldn’t be felt if they were used on their own. Another interesting aspect of the find is that the plants used to make ayahuasca were not from that area, so whoever procured them, had to go out and find them somewhere else.
According to this study, Mayan culture is associated with the drinking of balché, a drink consisting of Lonchocarpus bark extracts that create a mildly intoxicating effect, which is strengthened through the use of honey. This was used in group ceremonies to reach intoxication. Peyote for mescaline, hallucinogenic mushrooms for psylocibin, and ololiuhqui seeds for lysergic acid amide (a precursor to LSD), were used by the Mayans, Aztecs, Olmecs, and Zapotecs.
During the period when the Olmecs were around, it was also customary to use bufotoxins which come from the skin of the Bufo spp. toad. At the same time, wild tobacco, Jimson weed, Salvia divinorum, and water lily were used for psychoactive effects. And while the exact use is arguable, mushroom stones dating back to 3,000 BC have been found in the Mesoamerican region in religious/ritual contexts which could indicate the use of mushrooms that far back. Archeological evidence of the use of peyote goes back as far as 5,000 years.
Mesoamerica isn’t the only location where psychedelic remains have been found. Researchers into psychedelic use in the near-East have turned up botanical remains in the form of residues, pollen, fibers and fiber impressions, and carbonized seeds. Where were they found? Traces of Blue Water Lily extract, a potent narcotic plant, were found in none other than Tutonkamen’s tomb from the 14th century BC. And in the late bronze age temple Kamid el-Loz in Lebanon, a storage jar containing 10 liters of Viper’s Bugloss was found, which is a very strong hallucinogen.
Things to consider…
One thing to take into account, is that there is a great amount of controversy over whether something like the use of ayahuasca can actually be traced back through history, with a lot of evidence pointing to confusing stories that come more from Western tourism, than actual history. Researchers into the topic have continually found a mesh of newer ideologies masquerading as old-school folklore as a means to sell a product. In fact, the whole idea of how ayahuasca is used today to treat mental illness, is not how it seems to have been used in history, when shamans took it to contact the supernatural, and battle evil beings.
Does this mean that psychedelics weren’t used in history? Of course not, but it does shed light on the idea that what we consider real history, might have been altered because of tourism. It should also be remembered that there are a lot of kinds of psychedelics that would have factored into different cultures and time periods. For example, the aforementioned study into hallucinogenic drug use in pre-Colombian Mesoamerica, which has findings based on archeological, ethno-historical, and ethnographic evidence, found plenty of indication of hallucinogenic drug use in that area, for that time period.
Rise of medical psychedelics
There is quite a bit of medical research into psychedelics, as well as historical evidence to its uses, going back thousands of years. According to the more recent medical research, psychedelics have shown a possible ability to aid in depression, PTSD, and with addictions. It should be remembered that cannabis itself is considered a psychedelic drug, with research into a multitude of categories including: insomnia, depression, neurodegenerative diseases, spastic disorders, inflammatory diseases and so on.
Psychedelics have not just been touted as a treatment for different mental illness. They have shown strength in dealing with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, and have even shown possibility in treating autoimmune disorders. If these benefits prove consistent over time, it will likely help boost the current rise in medical psychedelics.
However, despite all the relevant research into the useful benefits of these compounds, the DEA has continuously rejected information, and stood in the way of scientific progress. Kind of makes a person wonder what the agency is even there for. The report highlighted found that the DEA has continuously slowed down scheduling decisions, while increasing speed on banning drugs, in order to restrict all access.
It took an entire 30 years in all to respond to requests to reschedule marijuana, with gaps of 16 years, five, and nine in between requests and responses. The DEA even overruled its own judge to illegalize MDMA by putting it in schedule I. This, of course, has never gotten in the way of military testing of these compounds, which seems to be perfectly okay with the same agency.
With cannabis opening the door into the medical (and recreational) use of drugs like marijuana, the rise in medical psychedelics is sure to keep going. Just like with cannabis, it will likely be found over time, that the notions we have related to these drugs are way more attached to long-lasting smear campaigns, than the actual dangers they pose. And that just like cannabis, they can offer incredible medical benefits that have been suppressed for quite some time now.
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There are a lot of negative stigma surrounding psychedelic drugs. A large portion of the population and the government condemn these substances to be dangerous, addictive, and illegal. Although, that may be true when it comes to opiates or stimulants (such as heroin or cocaine). As they are, indeed, physiologically toxic and addictive. Psychedelics, on […]
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