Is Cannabis Addiction a Treatable Medical Condition?

Is cannabis addiction a treatable medical condition? According to one doctor, “cannabis addiction is a real and treatable medical condition.” She claims the “cannabis legalization movement” has successfully pushed back against this narrative due to the drug war. Fortunately, Dr. Salwan is not one of these old-school drug warriors. She knows cannabis doesn’t turn people into criminals and that cannabis prohibition has led to the mass incarceration of peaceful (mostly black) Americans. Dr. Salwan represents the new school of drug […]

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US Cannabis Legalization in the 2024 Election

US cannabis legalization in the 2024 election? Will Joe Biden and the Democrats make cannabis reform a significant part of their re-election platform? With the potential rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule I to III, pot stocks have risen. Investors are hopeful that banking reform may pass Congress. Voters are anticipating the end of cannabis prohibition. But how much of this is hype versus reality? How likely is it that cannabis legalization will be a 2024 U.S. election issue?  For answers, […]

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B.C. Court Dismisses Cannabis Retail Lawsuit

A British Columbia (B.C.) court dismissed a lawsuit from owners of licensed cannabis retail shops. Last year, this group of cannabis retailers sued the province for not enforcing cannabis regulations. While licensed cannabis retailers jump through bureaucratic hoops and pay excessive taxes on the faulty premise that this contributes to “public health and safety,” the B.C. Bud market of “illicit” retailers doesn’t face these same hurdles. Particularly on Indigenous Reserves, where the plaintiffs claim damages of at least $40 million […]

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Weed Isn’t Legal If You Can’t Smoke It

One of the worst things happening during this wave of cannabis reform across America is the poor being left on the beach without a mechanism to legally smoke a little weed. 

The biggest factors contributing to this are bans on consumption besides anywhere but a private residence. Furthermore, sometimes you can’t consume in a multi-unit building even if you owned the whole thing and required incoming tenants to be cool with it; in certain municipalities they could still screw.

A bit over 65% of Americans own a home, so from a certain school of thought, one could certainly argue that that data means cannabis is only legal for 65% of Americans.

How did we get here? Shitty policymaking of course. 

I put the lack of legal consumption right up there with the other biggest problems the cannabis market has faced post-legalization. Others include how screwed-up equity programs seem to be in every state, leading to the programs being scapegoated and not the people who screwed them up. Another mega factor? Permit stacking in California. This is what created Mega Farms five years early. One of the main guys that lobbied for that crashed and burned out of the industry because he sucked at growing weed. So in the end, literally everyone lost, even the greedy fucker. 

So that’s the scale of the problem for me, I put it up there with the worst cannabis has to offer.

The most immediate remedy to provide legal access to consumption is lounges. Any legalization plan moving forward that doesn’t accommodate some type of social use cannabis businesses where you can puff with your friends is garbage. Add to how much more difficult it’s getting for the middle-class and lower-income communities in recreational states to own a home, and one might say cannabis is getting less and less legal depending on your income bracket. 

The obvious argument against my disdain is people just smoke in their yard or go somewhere and figure it out if it’s not cool at home. But 99% of the time they aren’t supposed to smoke wherever they end up. I think the general argument is that in a society where cannabis is legal, there should be at least some way or mechanism for people to consume it. And we aren’t talking about woofing down some distillate gummies. 

Fake lounges are also now a problem. If you can’t burn one down it’s not a lounge. I’ve recently seen a wave of vapor-only lounges opening up. And we’re not even talking quartz, I mean “let’s sit in chairs and hit vape pens” kind of shit. Or maybe you want to have a 10mg edible and sit on this couch while you wait for it to kick in. I’m offended just explaining the situation. 

One of the things adding salt to the wound? How social an experience cannabis can be when the situation is curated properly. There are few places pulling it off In America, shoutouts to West Hollywood, for real consistent social experiences more akin to a bar with weed than a sesh.

Europe has been doing this great, even Bangkok is pulling it off well. It makes it that much crazier that even in the birthplace of cannabis reform in California, the lounge scene is garbage. It provides no support to the communities that actually need it and the lounges we have seen tend to be in higher income communities where they are serving less need than they would in places you can’t even puff. 

In the end, the thing that will probably change the game is regulators realizing the dollars lost to underground cannabis things that let you socialize.

Even when they do start to give people a little room though, regulators tug the chain back. This is the case in Sacramento right now. The city’s flagship legal social use space is dealing with new pressure from the city. One of the better facilities the state has seen for this format in some time and they were playing by the rules. If people like that can’t make lounges a reality, how are lower-income people ever supposed to smoke together legally?

Only adding to the madness of the lack of places we can smoke weed together are the over 13,000 Americans that die every year in car crashes that involve alcohol. When you get too stoned you’re too lazy to drive until you’re not too stoned anymore. There is no real logic that justifies a bunch of people getting shitfaced and driving home and treats cannabis like some kind of plague on the roads. The most dangerous part of having weed in your system or vehicle is getting caught with it in a lot of places. 

So just remember, anyone who is trying to prevent lounges is trying to prevent legal consumption for the poor.

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Study: Medical Cannabis Reduces Neuropathic Pain

A recently published retrospective study suggests medical cannabis reduces neuropathic pain without serious side effects. Algea Care, Europe’s leading telemedicine platform for medical cannabis, conducted the study in cooperation with the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. Published in the journal Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, CLN sat down for a chat with the CEO of Algea Care, Dr. Julian Wichmann, who was also instrumental in the study’s design.  “While the study looked at it retrospectively,” says Dr. Wichmann, “Does [medical cannabis] work […]

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Is Tilray Too Dangerous?

“Tilray is too dangerous,” said CNBC’s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer. “It is a spec stock that is losing money, and we don’t recommend stocks that are losing money.” Cramer isn’t the only one shying away from the Canadian cannabis producer. Kerrisdale Capital called the company a “failing cannabis player” in a recent report. We are short shares of Tilray Brands, a $2.4bn failing Canadian cannabis player running a familiar playbook for unsuccessful businesses trading in the public markets: given […]

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Stephen Marley Discusses New Album ‘Old Soul’ with Clapton on Guitar, Bob Weir, Jack Johnson, and More

Stephen Marley dropped his new album Old Soul Friday, featuring guest appearances by legends Eric Clapton, Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Buju Banton, and Slightly Stoopid.

It weaves a texture of unplugged jam sessions, including original compositions as well as classics, some recorded by Ray Charles (“Georgia On My Mind”), Frank Sinatra (“These Foolish Things”), and The Beatles (“Don’t’ Let Me Down”). The album’s available via Tuff Gong Collective, UMe, and Ghetto Youths International, or scoop it up on Stephen Marley’s website. It comes as a limited edition double vinyl, CD, or digital download.

The album’s acoustified jam of “I Shot the Sheriff” features a stunning riff in true Clapton fashion, while “Winding Road” creeps into jam band territory with Weir at the helm. “I’m an old soul, living in the body of a 9-year-old,” Stephen Marley sings in the title track, recalling pivotal shifts in his youth. “Guess I’ve been here before.” Catch him on tour at Old Soul Tour Unplugged 2023 running through Oct. 22, with special guest Mike Love at select stops.

Nearly all members of the Marley family inherited strong musical gifts, but Stephen Marley in particular shines as a producer, working with artists like Lauryn Hill, Steven Tyler, Erykah Badu, and others under his belt. He’s won eight Grammy Awards for his numerous contributions to reggae and hip-hop music. The first singles trickled out beginning last April 20, with new singles dropping now. Stephen Marley discussed with High Times his intentions on making the new album, cannabis, and the early days of reggae with the first to embrace it.

Photo by Stephen Lashbrook

High Times: You just dropped your first full-length solo album in seven years. I’m curious: What’s the meaning behind the title Old Soul?

Stephen Marley: It has a broken down, indie, and kind of jamming feel, y’know. And the thing that is subtle is me speaking about my life and paying homage to the songs I [love], y’know. So that’s all of the thoughts behind the name of the record and the feeling of the music. There are a lot of old songs in there, so that added to the feeling of the record.

How did the album’s intimate, unplugged vibe come about? Did you want to switch things up this time?

Not really. I didn’t really want to switch things up. But when we went to record the album, I didn’t even start out with the intention of recording an album, but you know, we were in the thick of a pandemic and there were no flights. Everybody was stuck where they were and everything was closed down. So my regular access to musicians, my regular way of going about making music and the album kind of changed. And this is what I came up with. That’s all I had to work with to make a record under those conditions.

Do you produce your own songs? What’s your process?

I mean [it depends] when I’m making music. You know what I mean? So what is the process? There is no particular process. I make those songs day by day. You have a concept and you begin to work with the concept and try to keep things within context. You have the concept and you put out the body of work that you are inspired to put out. That’s all. That’s it.

You’re using a range of instruments like binghi drums and a flute. Does this help produce a more colorful sound you’re looking for?

Yeah, to have a healing feeling. I mean it gives me that type of feeling. It takes me places in my head and the feeling brings a healing component. I guess that I want to share that kind of healing feeling that it brings.

Eric Clapton’s cover of “I Shot the Sheriff” was a big deal—his only no. 1 single in the U.S.  So he must’ve recognized reggae’s greatness early on. Is his guitar work on the new album version new material?

Yes. That’s him and my guitar as well. It is both of dem ‘tings.

Photo by Stephen Lashbrook

So by revisiting the song you’re recognizing his efforts to help reggae cross over.

I didn’t revisit the song; I was jamming the song and recorded the jam. I didn’t really come with intentions of that in the beginning. We recorded everything and it sounded good. I thought maybe we can get Eric to put something on it. We got a riff and Eric liked it. 

Several other impressive artists such as Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir are on the album, on “Winding Roads” I believe. Why such a diverse range of genres?

So “Winding Roads” was a song that I had a while back that didn’t make my first album which was Mind Control. So I had “Winding Roads” way back then. It didn’t make that body of work. When we were recording “Winding Roads” and we liked it. We jammed a few songs. So we recorded some jams with some great musicians and “Winding Roads” was one of those songs. Bob is a musical legend.

Do you think rock ‘n’ roll possesses a similar rebel spirit compared to reggae?

Indeed. I mean, in the ‘70s, it was actually punk rock that first embraced Rasta music and the Rastas. Y’know, with all of these dreadlocks. That’s why in England and in Europe it was the first place to catch on. Y’know there was that big punk rock hair on dem as well. It was a dual relationship. 

So that was The Clash, The Damned, and so forth that embraced it first, right?


I’ve read that your family used herbal medicine, as opposed to pharmaceuticals very often. Do you think some of these secrets are lost in Western medicine, when there are natural herbs that work better?

Well, first of all, we Jamaicans, y’know, Africans and Caribbean people—we use herbs for the healing of the body, not just our family. And y’know, everything was for the purpose to heal. If you seek, you will find it. Was this knowledge lost? I think once upon a time that narrative [was true]. But I think nowadays most people know the truth about medicines. 

Do you have any cannabis brands you’re working with?

Well we have our own brand Marley Natural. Damian has [Ocean Grown and Evidence] and Rohan has Lion Order going on right now. So those are the brands we’re working with right now.

Photo by @dullahvision

Spliff or blunt?


Not mixed with tobacco, right?


What do you think the cannabis industry needs the most right now?

What does it need? We want herb to be free across the board, y’know. We want it to be free to smoke. I don’t know about the cannabis industry, but we want herb to be free everywhere. I don’t follow the industry. It’s a plant and herb that I like to smoke.

Do you have any daily routines you practice in order to stay positive?

I personally roll up a spliff when I wake up in the morning and maybe make some herbal tea–thyme or rosemary or echinacea or whatever. I put my thoughts together before the day and reflect. That’s my only kind of ritual. And y’know, because I’m a musician, sometimes I wake up in the evening. [Laughs] You know what I mean?

How do you want people to feel after they listen to your music?

I want people to feel rejuvenated. I want people to feel a sense of healing that can help them get through the day, in that sense. For me, myself, that’s what music is for me.

Are you currently on tour?

Yeah. I just came across the border from Canada and now I’m back in America.

Courtesy Stephen Marley

How much time do you spend during the year, working in the studio?

Well, I live in the studio. My home is actually a studio. So every day if I’m not working on the road, I’m in the studio. Sometimes during the day, sometimes at night. It’s called The Lion’s Den. 

Do any other artists record there as well?

Yeah, my family records in there. It’s not open to the public, but the ones who qualify do come in to record. 

Do you have any other announcements right now?

There’s the new record out that I want people to hear and there’s a component in there that can inspire them and heal them.

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What is Public Health?

What is “public health?” Since 2020, the term has entered the mainstream, but public health was around long before covid. Canadian politicians crafted cannabis legalization with “public health” goals in mind. Instead of the traditional argument for legal cannabis, which is that you have a right to your body. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Like most things in life, let’s apply the 80/20 rule. 80% of “public health” are hapless bureaucrats who believe they are improving […]

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How MDMA Got Sassafras Banned

You might be familiar with the sassafras plant. You’re also probably familiar with the drug MDMA, even if you only know it by name and not experience. What you probably don’t know, is that MDMA is the likely reason that the otherwise innocent sassafras plant, was banned in the US and beyond.

A little on sassafras

The first thing to know about sassafras is that its not a psychoactive plant. It doesn’t make a person high or euphoric, it doesn’t bring on hallucinations, and it was never used in either of these capacities. However, it has a powerful ability as a medicinal plant, and its history is mainly as this.

Sassafras originated in Cherokee territory, and entered European culture by way of European settlers. Beyond North America, there are two species of the plant that originate in East Asia. The North American version is classified as Sassafras albidum. The whole plant is an aromatic plant, and the roots, in particular, are used to make oil. Sassafras oil contains at least 80% safrole, which is the compound most associated with its medical benefits.

Cherokee traditions use the oil for a number of issues, including venereal diseases, skin ailments, rheumatism, diarrhea, appetite suppression, colds, as a vulnerary wash, for blood purification, and enhancing other herbal concoctions. It’s used as an abortifacient, perfume, natural insect repellent, as a natural pain reliever, to treat lice, and to soothe insect bites, as well.

The Cherokee harvest only young plants with red stems. According to local traditions, the red-stemmed plants are considered medicine; while the alternate white-stemmed plants, are considered poison. This idea may or may not be related to how the plant is viewed today. And it might shine a light on the idea that knowing how to prepare something, is the difference between safe and dangerous.

Sassafras plant

Sassafras also used to be an ingredient in root beer. In fact, sassafras was responsible for much of the taste. However, because of its current illegal standing, other artificial ingredients now replace sassafras, changing the taste of the soda. Some say, for the worse. If you crush or tear a sassafras leaf, you’ll get that great root beer smell.

A bit on MDMA

You might have forgotten while reading through about sassafras, that this is actually an MDMA-related article. MDMA is a psychostimulant, which acts similarly to classical psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT), in that it acts as an agonist at 5-HT serotonin receptors, forcing the brain to release more serotonin, and blocking re-absorption to force more into the brain.

MDMA, or 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine is often referred to as ecstasy, although this term sometimes simply denotes an impure product. It also goes by the name Molly, which is short for ‘molecular.’

It was created in 1912 by Merck Pharmaceutical. It wasn’t used or understood much at this time; and essentially sat on a back shelf until the 1970’s, when Alexander Shulgin found a new way to synthesize the drug. He subsequently tested it out with his therapist friends; who began using it in their practices along with assisted therapy. It was found that MDMA reduced fear and anxiety in at least some people, while also increasing feelings of empathy and overall connection between people.

Though it seemed to work well in psychiatric practice, the drug was nonetheless made illegal by the US federal government in 1985, by way of the previously installed Comprehensive Crime Control Act from the year before. This law allows the government to immediately ban a substance it deems dangerous; and was used at its onset to make LSD and magic mushrooms illegal.

Much like its psychedelic cousins, and other hallucinogens like ketamine; MDMA came back into prominence in the last few years. Cannabis legalization has softened the public’s feelings toward some drugs, and compounds like MDMA have been able to gain more traction than they were in decades prior. In the case of MDMA, particularly for its ability to help with PTSD reactions; something that can be seen in EEG and fMRI research.

Colorado was the first state to legalize medical MDMA, contingent on a US approval. Australia was the first country to pass a medical legalization. Currently, the company MAPS has an MDMA drug for PTSD which received ‘breakthrough therapy’ status from the FDA; indicating a desire to get this product to market quickly.

How MDMA got sassafras banned

We’re now talking about a psychostimulant compound that acts like a classic psychedelic in many ways, including producing hallucination experiences; and a plant with a long history as a medicine for many ailments, but no psychoactive response. What is the connection between the two; and how did MDMA cause sassafras to get banned?

Chemical formula for MDMA
Chemical formula for MDMA

MDMA is a purely synthetic drug, which might make you wonder why sassafras is involved at all. Now consider that LSD, also a completely synthetic drug, is synthesized using the ergot fungus which grows on tainted rye plants. When getting into pharmaceuticals, you’ll find that a large proportion of pharmaceutical drugs are synthesized using plant material.

Despite the fact sassafras was used for tons of purposes by different Native American tribes over hundreds of years, the FDA decided that safrole is carcinogenic, and banned the oil’s use in food products. In fact, a Science Direct article actually makes the statement: “Because of toxicity, carcinogenicity, and lack of therapeutic benefit, the use of this plant cannot be recommended under any circumstance.”

And yet it had been used medically for hundreds of years, making this a strange statement. After all, its not uncommon for a plant oil to be dangerous in high amounts. Think of mint, or cinnamon, or oregano oil. Yet they weren’t banned. So perhaps this banning has more to do with the fact that safrole is a building block for creating MDMA.

Basically, sassafras oil is used to make illicit MDMA. According to a DEA notice meant to inform the public, “individuals and businesses handling safrole and essential oils rich in safrole, such as sassafras oil, “brown” camphor oil 1.070, also referred to as Chinese sassafras oil, that they are sometimes used in the manufacture of MDMA. MDMA is also known as ecstasy, and is often spelled XTC. MDMA is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law.”

It goes on to try to illicit a little fear, warning “Criminals are always searching for sources of safrole and essential oils rich in safrole,” and that “handlers of safrole need to know their customers so as not to become an unwitting supplier to a clandestine MDMA laboratory.” As per this idea, the DEA then requires that any provider who uses sassafras compounds to report to the DEA information related to moving large quantities, unusual payments, or anything that the provider might think is suspect.

It’s also required to report if working with anyone known to the DEA, or if the plant material inexplicably gets lost, especially when in high amounts. The DEA then goes on to confirm “It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess or distribute safrole, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, the safrole will be used to manufacture MDMA.”

The inconsistent story of how and why this happened

The new way to synthesize MDMA started in the 1970’s with Alexander Shulgin. Prior to this time, there is not much written about issues with sassafras, though MDMA wasn’t used or known about. It had been found decades earlier, but wasn’t a part of the medical or psychiatric world. So, no MDMA yet, and no complaint or issue with sassafras. Or last least, no confirmable issues. There are stories about studies from the 50’s, but I can’t find any. I did see one reference from 1950, in this article; but nothing else.

In the 1970’s, MDMA started appearing more, and this brought it to the attention of US authorities. In 1979 (according to some sources), the FDA subsequently banned sassafras because of a study with rats that used insanely large doses to draw the conclusion that sassafras causes cancer in rats; and therefore might in humans. To be clear, this problem didn’t actually come up in humans, and all talk of cancer and poisonings don’t match general history. Its good to remember, sassafras oil and tea were widely used. Yet somehow, the plant was banned on the premise of a danger that was never seen.

Recreational ecstasy use

As tends to be the case in fear-mongering articles meant to make the public think a particular way; sassafras has not subsequently shown any similar danger to humans, as it did to rats. Though the plant is banned, the danger has not been backed up. In fact, it’s rather difficult to follow the research/policy chain, as the story changes according to different sourcing, and is wildly inconsistent.

For example, in some publications, like here from McGill University, it speaks of the FDA banning sassafras due to research showing carcinogenic effects and oxidative damage in mice. But the study it links to, is from 1999, and doesn’t mention the FDA or a ban. However, in this article, it mentions the FDA ban following research in 1979. It does not link to any article or research paper. Go to Wikipedia, and it says that the FDA banned sassafras oil in 1960 – which would then be well before MDMA, and give credence to a lack of connection between the two. It goes on to say the tea was banned in 1977, but that that ban was lifted in 1994.

Wikipedia links to an NIH article entitled Botanical Dietary Supplements Gone Bad from 2007, which mentions the date 1960. However, the articles it links to in support, are from 1983 and after. And its statement about banning by the FDA is attached to a 1994 study. Perhaps this was a re-banning. The article makes this troubling statement: “These experiments confirm the genotoxic effects of safrole and thus justify the restrictions made by the FDA and other health authorities.”

Whether the date is 1960 (a couple sources give the date, but with no confirming evidence), or 1977-1979 (much more likely); the implication is that this was done without any corroborating evidence. To the point that the NIH article makes it sound like subsequent research backed up a ban that was put in place before research was available. Of course, as its not backed up in life; it appears the research was done as a substantiating measure for something put in place for other reasons.

Moving on, this Science Direct article, which mentions that the FDA prohibits sassafras in food products, attaches to nothing explaining why, or the date the ban happened. And Medicine Net? It specifically says the FDA banned sassafras tea in 1976, though that might only account for tea. There is no attached information. gives the date of 1976 for the FDA ban as well.

According to EatThePlanet, a ban was put in place in 1960 due to research from the 1950s indicating safrole can cause cancer in rats. Once again, nothing is attached to back this up. Between all sourcing taking place after 1960, and given its clear affiliation with MDMA; this date is questionable, though I cannot rule it out. As I cannot find hard backing for the other dates given either, its impossible for me to say when this actually happened, or why. And this in and of itself, is a very strange thing.


The result of this investigation is that I cannot find one source that gives a definitive date for the sassafras ban, a law or piece of regulation attached to it, or any information on study results prior to the 1980s. We’re not talking about 500 years ago, either, we’re talking about the last few decades; which makes these discrepancies very unusual. This is compounded by the differing information from nearly every different publication, and that sassafras is used to create an illicit drug. It seems the line that sassafras is carcinogenic, is likely just a guise to try to stop illicit MDMA production.

Welcome everyone! Cool that you’re with us at; where we report on the happenings of the growing cannabis and hallucinogen spaces. Join us when you can to keep on top of updates; and get yourself subscribed to the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter, so you’re never late to get the news.

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Women & Psychedelics: How Estrogen Alters Psilocybin’s Effects

The numerous benefits of psychedelics have been coming to light in recent years, and women are taking notice. With little options in the way of pharmaceutical drugs, especially when it comes to treating mental illness and hormonal imbalances, it’s no surprise that women are experimenting with hallucinogens to see what can actually help. And better yet, a recent study found that psilocybin can help regulate menstrual issues. Let’s dig deeper into how and why psychedelics are so valuable for the fairer sex.

Women and psychedelics 

The psychedelic renaissance is in full swing, and women are at the heart of it. After decades of prohibition and condemnation (following a brief period of them being studied and used medicinally), the western world is finally starting to reexamine the many therapeutic benefits of these substances. LSD, Ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin have been undergoing various clinical trials to see how they can be utilized to address a growing mental health crisis in the United States.  

Jennifer Gural, a psychotherapist from Los Angeles, California, commented about how hallucinogens have helped change her life, and how she began using them to help her female patients as well. “It shifted the focus of my life,” she stated. “It really helped me to tackle how my brain works and how I was thinking … It was such a profoundly life-changing experience. I have done ayahuasca and I’ve done psilocybin. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again, but I’m open to that if it’s needed—which I think is how we should use psychedelics.”  

While there seems to be a recent influx of ladies trying psychedelics, self-medicating is nothing new for women. This could stem from frustrations with our existing health-care system, and how it has been historically geared toward treating men and either dismissing our issues or over-medicating us.  

As women – daughters, mothers, sisters, grandmothers, wives, friends – we have many struggles that we are often forced to face alone. Women are more likely to suffer from PTSD than men – particularly women of color, transgender, and gender-diverse individuals. Women also deal with depression and anxiety more often, and one in seven women have postpartum depression after childbirth.  

New studies have found that even a couple experiences with psychedelics, especially when combined with talk therapy, can lead to lifechanging, psychological developments. As a matter of fact, MDMA and psilocybin have been labeled as “breakthrough therapies” by the FDA, a designation given to “promising drugs proposed to fill an unmet need”. With so many pharmaceutical antidepressant and antianxiety drugs on the market, and the number of mental disorders still rising, we can clearly see that treating our troubled human minds is that unmet need.  

Is this the beginning of a brighter, more beautiful future for women’s healthcare? One where common mental illnesses, chronic pain, and hormonal conditions are treated successfully with psychedelic trips, rather than a lifetime of pharmaceutical medications? It seems quite promising.  

The new research on psilocybin and estrogen 

Although no clinical trials have been conducted, researchers from John Hopkins University have been looking over case files and anecdotal reports on women and psychedelics, and how estrogen can change the effects of psilocybin specifically. We know that estrogen can impact binding at serotonin receptor sites, and because most hallucinogens interact with serotonin receptors as well, experts believe that our cycles can influence how psilocybin works in our bodies, and vice versa, the psilocybin itself can have an impact on our hormones.  

Based on the aforementioned case studies, researchers discovered that psilocybin seemed to help regulate menstrual cycles. One of the women studied had premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is a very severe form of PMS, and she used psilocybin to help regulate it. In another case, a woman suffered from polycystic ovarian syndrome and was having irregular periods. At one point, menstruation completely stopped for a while, but after taking psilocybin, it came back.  

“Our menstrual cycles occur along the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, so as one hormone kicks off, it tells another hormone what to do in this feedback loop and that’s the trajectory of our menstrual cycles,” says Jennifer Chesak, author of The Psilocybin Handbook for Women. “We also have the axis that manages our stress response, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. These two axes sort of overlap, and so they each impact one another. When we use psilocybin, we are at doing something along that stress response along the HPA axis.” 

Chesak added: “We already know from research outside of psychedelics, that these two axes do impact each other: our stress response can impact our cycle, and our cycles can impact our stress response. So, it’s not a stretch to think that when we are using psilocybin, that something is going on with our stress response that then impacts the menstrual cycle” 

Although we only have these few case studies and anecdotal reports at the moment, the results are telling. And it begs the question of when we can see a real clinical trial on this topic, so we can better understand the mechanisms of how it works from a scientific perspective. 

Aside from medical benefits, do women experience psychedelics differently than men? 

Honestly, who really knows? Obviously, no studies have been done on whether women trip differently than men. But it’s possible that because women tend to be more emotional, empathetic, and receptive to spiritual experiences – this could be beneficial to producing better and more positive, even more therapeutic highs.  

Historically, statistics indicate that men use more drugs than women – and this across the board, from illicit drugs to legal substances like tobacco and alcohol. And since most research is still conducted on male subjects, female drug use patterns and their subsequent experiences remain somewhat of an enigma.  

However, we do know that in general, psychotropic drugs impact women differently than men, but sex-based responses to medications are often overlooked. It wasn’t until the 1990s that women were even allowed to participate in clinical trials in the United States, and many studies are still done using a larger number of male participants.  

Despite this, women are twice as likely as men to be prescribed psychotropic medication (back to that overmedicating issue), and recent research shows that factors like different hormones, body composition, and metabolism can cause different drug-reactions. For example, the sleep medication Ambien was found to be twice as potent for women.  

Additionally, experts claim that women are “between 50 and 75 percent more likely to experience side effects”. An analysis of existing clinical trials published June 5, 2020, in the journal Biology of Sex Differences, authored by Prendergast and Irving Zucker of UC Berkley, they noted 86 drugs which presented “clear evidence of sex differences in how the body broke down the drug.” They found that “For nearly all of these drugs, women metabolized them more slowly than men, leading to higher levels of exposure to the drug; in 96% of cases, this resulted in significantly higher rates of adverse side effects in women.” 

Final thoughts 

To reiterate, because the foundation of modern medicine is structured around research performed almost exclusively on men, most of what science tells us about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illness may not be applicable to women. With so much of our population feeling like they are not understood by healthcare professionals, it’s no surprise that a growing number of women are self-medicating with cannabis, psychedelics, and other natural, alternative solutions.

As we learn more about how psilocybin and other hallucinogens interact with female hormones, we can better understand how to use these incredible products to improve our health, and our lives.  

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