Travel Smart: How to Bring Cannabis Anywhere in The World

Well, anywhere might be a bit ambitious. There are numerous countries I can think of just off the top of my head where I would NEVER bring any cannabis products. That said, when traveling domestically or to a country that’s relatively pot-friendly, I see no harm in bringing a few items along for personal use. The challenge, of course, lies in how exactly to pull this off without getting caught… but fear not, because this is something I have a bit of expertise in and I’m excited to share some new tips and products I’ve learned about recently that can help on your voyages as well!

Traveling is fun, but it can be very daunting. Why make the experience worse by leaving your medicine behind? Check out our tips for how to travel safely with cannabis, and make sure to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products. Save big on Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!


Wandering Weedless

Traveling is a fun, exciting way to learn about different people, cultures, and customs. Even if you’re just exploring your own country of residence, there are so many things to see and discover. I personally love to travel. I haven’t been to many different countries, but I have traveled extensively throughout the United States by personal vehicle, airplane, and public transport like trains and buses.

My main grievance when it comes to wandering the earth are the frustrating limitations faced when trying to travel with cannabis products. In the land of the free, why is it so terrifying to drive though certain areas or hop on a plane with a natural, harmless, therapeutic plant? And it’s not just flowers that pose difficulties. Vape products, concentrates, and even edibles can raise problems, especially if you’re traveling by plane or through an especially restrictive state like Indiana or Texas.

To clarify, I’m not normally an advocate for blatant law-breaking, and I am in no way trying to promote the trafficking of illegal products. But I will always be an unapologetic supporter of safe and fair access to marijuana products, and when people who use cannabis regularly (especially for medicinal reasons) are so limited on where and how they can travel… that is no longer fair and tows line of discrimination against an entire group of people, a group that’s growing larger and more diverse each and every single day.

Hitting the Open Road

When it comes to traveling with cannabis products, especially raw flower, driving is generally regarded as being the easiest option. I agree with this to an extent. Yes, you can bring more stuff and you don’t need to go through any type of security screening, but there are certain caveats to consider before choosing this route.

For instance, where are you traveling from, where are you going, and what license plates does your car have? I’ll give you a quick example from my own personal experiences to provide some clarification as to why all this even matters. Years ago, in 2012, I was taking a trip across the southern states when I got hemmed up in Texas. I was pulled over for going only 1 mile over the speed limit; however, the police officer admitted that this was simply an excuse to stop me and the real reason he was initially suspicious was because I was driving a car with California license plates.

The reason, as he explained it, was that it is very common for people to transport cannabis, various illicit drugs, and even weapons from California to the Eastern US. “The product goes east, and the money goes back west,” he commented. Anyway, I was pulled over, they searched my car and found about a half ounce of weed. I was subsequently arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. I had to fly back to Texas months later for a court hearing, complete a probationary program, and pay thousands of dollars in fines… all for a small amount of personal-use pot.

Worst of all, this was not my first marijuana-related arrest in the great state of Texas. A couple years prior I was stopped at a freeway checkpoint near El Paso/Juarez, Mexico, and a police K9 detected a small personal stash in my car. After an entire day spent in a border patrol holding cell, I was eventually let off with a warning. This was the reason that I took a different route on my next trip through the south, which clearly did not work out any better for me.

If you’re traveling only through legal states, driving is golden. When you get to states like Texas, things can get a bit hazy, legally. This is why it’s so important to plan your route and take as many precautions as possible, more of which I will get into shortly.

Take to the Sky

Flying with weed can be a bit more intimidating, but it some ways, I find it less stressful than driving. When you’re on the road driving through the wrong area, you really never know what minor infraction may lead to you getting pulled over for, which could end in a search and then you’re screwed. If you’re flying, all you have to do is make it through TSA and you’re in the clear.

TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration, and it’s the agency of the United States government tasked with overseeing the safety of public transport. Put bluntly, the main purpose of the TSA is to ensure that another 9-11 never happens again; they are not police officers looking for drugs in your luggage.

According to a statement released by TSA representatives a couple years ago, “TSA officers DO NOT search for marijuana or other illegal drugs. Our screening procedures are focused on security and detecting potential threats. But in the event a substance appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product, we’re required by federal law to notify law enforcement. This includes items that are used for medicinal purposes.”

It’s a bit conflicting. They are basically saying they don’t care if you fly with weed, and some people could misconstrue this message as meaning that it is actually allowed, which it is NOT. Even if you’re flying from legal state to legal state, and even if you’re flying over only legal states in the process, air space is considered federal territory and thus, cannabis – as a Schedule 1 narcotic – is illegal to bring on a plane.

I will say this though, it really is completely situational and some TSA agents will simply look the other way if you bring only a small amount of weed with you. Again, I have a personal story from my vault to reference. Shortly after cannabis was legalized in Colorado, I flew out there to do 420 fest and work at a nearby convention that was going on at the same time. Because of the recent legalization and the fact that it was April 20th, pot was literally everywhere. While at my hotel, a commercial came on TV talking about how you could now fly (occasionally) with cannabis out Denver International Airport and all you needed to do was contact TSA and discuss it with them. So naturally, my curiosity piqued and I did just that.

I called TSA and they told me to bring my products with me and show them to agents upon arrival. Needless to say, I was nervous but figured it was worth a try. Once I reached the airport security area, I approached the TSA agents and explained my situation. I told them that I was traveling back to my home state of California, where I had a medical cannabis card, and that I had about a quarter ounce of weed in my bag that I could show them if they needed to see it. They did not and just waved me through the line.

It was quick, easy, and not at all problematic. Unfortunately, the next time I asked to bring cannabis they told me no, so it really depends on your luck that day and who you talk to. My story is not particularly common, so if you’re trying to travel by plane with cannabis products and you’re not too keen on the possibility of throwing them away should you get denied by TSA, you’ll need to be a bit craftier.

Smell-Proof Containers and Luggage

Now, when I say craftier, what I mean is that you will need the right supplies. In today’s market you can find so many different products that can help conceal your cannabis wherever you go. Some of my personal favorites are smell-proof bags and luggage, and stash cans.

When it comes to simple, ziplock-style odor-trapping bags, there are many different brands to choose from. A few of my favorites are: Smelly Proof, Stink Sack, and Interplanetary Development. When I got arrested in Texas, the police found most of my weed EXCEPT the small amount that I had hidden in a Smelly Proof brand bag. And they did use K9s so that speaks to their effectiveness.

If you want to be extra discreet, you can put your weed products in a smell proof bag, then put the entire bag in a stash can. Stash cans are designed to look like everyday items – soda cans, household cleaners, water bottles, bug spray, etc. – but each can is fitted with a false bottom where you can hide whatever it is that you want to hide, be it weed products or valuables that you need hidden.

I have also had good experiences with smell proof luggage, which I’ll detail further in the next section. And if you don’t feel like spending money on either of the above options, or need something at the last minute, a basic vacuum sealer can at the very least help you conceal any smell. You can buy a cheap vacuum sealer and bags from Walmart for about $45 total, I have used this method before and it works.

Leaving California with Abscent Design Bags

I wanted to expand more on the smell proof luggage I mentioned earlier, and I believe it warrants its own section. During MJBizCon, I had the privilege of learning about an exciting and innovative brand: Abscent Designs. This California-based company specializes in odor-trapping luggage, and they make everything from travel pouches, to duffel bags, and even full-sized smell-proof suitcases.

On my last flight, I used The Banker, a basic, 11×6 inch pouch with dual Velcro seals and carbon packed seams. It doesn’t look like much but trust me when I tell you this small bag is amazing. Using The Banker I was able to safely bring cannabis flower and concentrate with me through the TSA checkpoint, past the K9s, and onto the plane with no problems whatsoever.

According to Ryan Wileman, CEO of Abscent Designs, “Concealing odor is our top priority, which is why every one of our bags are made with multiple layers of carbon, waterproof zippers and water resistant fabrics to ensure each one is smell proof. Every one of our bags is designed to be ultra-durable and conceal the toughest odors. Every bag goes through multiple levels of testing to make sure that odors stay inside while standing up to the roughest conditions.” Check out this video of their product testing procedures, Banker design featured.  

A few tips when using Abscent Design luggage. First, make sure you don’t bring too much of the same product. Just because the entire bag is smell proof that does NOT mean you should pack it full… it does still need to go through a scanner. Plus, if you bring more than what can be considered a reasonable amount for personal use, it can look like you’re trafficking drugs. Also, make sure to wash your hands between handling your weed and handing your bag so no remnants of your pot get rubbed onto the outside of the bag. Package the cannabis products properly, then wash your hands BEFORE touching the outside of your luggage and sealing everything up. That way you won’t transfer any unwanted odors to the outside surface of the travel bag.  

Travel with Cannabis – Final Thoughts

Keep in mind, simply putting a baggie of weed into your smell-proof luggage might not be enough in every scenario. You have to put a bit of thought into how you pack everything. I personally find prerolls, carts, and other small cannabis items to be very discreet and easy to travel with, for obvious reasons, but of course you’ll need to figure out exactly what method and products work best for you.

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Anthocyanins and the Therapeutic Potential of Purple Weed

We all love purple pot strains. They look beautiful, smell amazing, and often have some of the best flavors you could imagine. But have you ever wondered what actually makes your buds produce those rich, deep violet tones? Common knowledge is that growing in colder temps is an attribute; and while this is true, the real answer is a bit more complex than that.  

Aside from cold temperatures – which I’ll discuss in more detail later as – the biological reason cannabis ends up being purple is because of a class of pigmented flavonoids known as Anthocyanins. These compounds are responsible for the fruity/berry flavor profiles and those beautiful purple, blue, and magenta tones we see in a lot of top-shelf flower strains.

Some well-known and very popular purple strains are Grand Daddy Purps (GDP), Purple Haze, Mendocino Purps, Purple Kush, C4-Matic, and Dark Karma. Most purple strains are indicas or indica-dominant hybrids. Purple Haze is of the few exceptions to that rule; haze strains, like lemon haze and silver haze, are usually straight sativas.

Purple weed is amazing, but when it comes to high-quality flower in general, we love it all! To learn more about strains and products, and for exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and so much more, make sure to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter… your top source for all things weed-related!


What are Anthocyanins?

The word “anthocyanin” is derived from two Greek words – Anthos meaning Flower and Kyanos meaning blue. Although we typically refer to cannabis with anthocyanins as “purple”, they can actually present in a variety of colors from deep reds to purples and even blue tones. For the sake of uniformity in the article, we will refer to this entire range of colors as “violet”.

Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigment molecules belonging to a larger class of compounds known as Flavonoids. So far, there are over 400 types of anthocyanins that have been identified. They are not found in all plants, but in the ones in which they are present, they occur throughout the entire plant. This includes the leaves stems, roots, flowers, and fruits.

Anthocyanins come from anthocyanidins when excess sugar is produced by the plant, which becomes trapped as nutrient transport slows down. Although this only happens when temperatures drop slightly, sunlight is still a necessity to achieving the vibrant color that anthocyanins are famous for. Freezing temps will destroy the pigment, but when temps are hot or too warm, plants will have excess chlorophyll, giving them those vibrant, green summertime tones. So, in other words, the conditions need to be just right for anthocyanins to flourish. Think fall colors – when it’s hot the trees are green but if it’s too cold, the leaves fall off completely. For the beautiful colors, you need to find that sweet zone.

Anthocyanins are known to be beneficial for human health but they also have a specific purpose within the plant, which is to protect photosynthetic tissues from different types of light stressors. It blocks certain intensities and spectrums that could harm the plants, basically acting as natural sunblock.

It’s also believed that anthocyanin attracts pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, while simultaneously deterring unwanted insects from laying eggs on the leaves. Pollinators are known to associate vibrant colors with healthy flowers, while other, unwanted insects will notice the dark pigments and think the plant is dying.

Making Pot Purple

Ah, yes… “purple pot”. People LOVE “purple pot”, me included. While the immediately noticeable effects aren’t much different than what you would feel from other strains of the same caliber, they do have some amazing flavor profiles.  

Just like any other plant in nature, violet cannabis is created by cultivating certain strains in the correct environment. You can’t just take any strain, grow it in the cold, and have “purple buds”. You need certain strains, those containing anthocyanins with the predisposition to turn violet, and they need to be exposed to just the right level of cool temps at the correct point in the flowering stage. Cool enough that the purple and blue tones are enhanced without being so cold that the plant dies.

The pigment can also travel through plant, into the trichome stalks and even into the trichome head itself. Because of the potency of these pigments, cannabis only needs to product a minimal amount of Anthocyanins to get a noticeable, deep violet color.

What are the Health Benefits?

Since we humans have a symbiotic relationship with the world around us, even the background compounds like flavonoids can have major benefits for our health. When it comes to “purple foods” containing Anthocyanins, many are already categorized as “superfoods” with a slew of different therapeutic uses.

Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that inhibit the production of cell-damaging free radicals. In addition, these compounds are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antibacterial, and anti-tumoral benefits. According to a 2017 study, “Anthocyanins are the value-added colorants that can be used for preventing several diseases, including CVDs, cancers, diabetes, some metabolic diseases, and microbial infection.”

Substances rich in anthocyanins have been used for centuries to treat many different conditions relating to the blood vessels, including high blood pressure and diabetic retinopathy. Because of their anti-viral and antibacterial properties, they’re also used to treat flus, colds, and urinary tract infections. Anthocyanins have also been linked to increased longevitycardiovascular healthcancer prevention and dementia.

One especially interesting use for anthocyanins, is to improve vision. “Visual acuity can be markedly improved through administration of anthocyanin pigments to animal and human subjects, and the role of these pigments in enhancing night vision or overall vision has been particularly well documented,” stated a 2004 study.  

Other Plants Containing Anthocyanins

Although cannabis strains with Anthocyanins have quite a loyal following, it’s only one of many plants containing this pigmented flavonoid. Anthocyanins are a type of dietary flavonoid also found in berries, red onions, black soybeans, kidney beans, pomegranates, grapes (and wine), tomatoes, acai, bilberry, chokeberry, elderberry, tart cherries, black rice, and many other plants with the violet pigment.

Anthocyanins are found in the highest concentrations in flowers and fruits, in the call vacuole. They are also found in leaves, stems, and roots, however. In those plant parts, Anthocyanins will mostly be in the outer layers which is why you may see violet tones over the entire plant.

There are numerous different types of Anthocyanins, and the ones that are most frequently found in nature are the glycosides of cyanidindelphinidinmalvidinpelargonidinpeonidin, and petunidin. During photosynthesis, 2% of all hydrocarbons are converted into flavonoids and their derivatives. Not all plants have flavonoids that will develop into Anthocyanins. In cacti, for example, the hydrocarbons turn into betalains. Anthocyanins and betalains have never been found in the same plant.

Final Thoughts

To quickly sum it all up, purple buds are ah-maz-ing! Strains that are rich in Anthocyanins have great flavor profiles, usually earthy with hints of berry, they have numerous different health benefits, and the icing on the cake is that they look good and always impress.

Thank you for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Remember to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles and other products.

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Smoking Weed And Your Rights – A BC Cannabis Consumption Lounge Crossword

In Canada, you can legally buy a joint but there are few places where you can smoke it. At first glance, the issue might seem like a low priority when in fact it’s actually anything but. Smoking weed indoors is a luxury for some and a necessity for others. Clean air bylaws, strata councils and […]

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How Can Psychology Improve the Effects of Cannabis?

We are in the age of self-help, the era of improvement and being the best you can be and it can get a little tiring. It’s hard not to sometimes shrug at the suggestion that psychology can help improve our experiences and the way we interact with the world, but we’re here to hopefully change that view.

Psychology has a reach so far that all aspects of our lives have been dissected and studied by men in white lab coats holding clipboards. A surprising amount of research has also been done into how to improve day to day experiences, such as eating, drinking and relaxing to get the most out of them. Of course the experience that I’m going to investigate in this article is cannabis and psychology. Could it be possible that Psychology and the findings from the science could be used to improve the effects of cannabis on the brain and in general?

In this article, I’ll be looking at how we can use our senses (Sound, taste, sight), sociality and context to get the most out of the drug we love, both recreationally and medically. Our brain, and its ability to be influenced by its surroundings, is fascinating and we will be looking at how we can affect it through internal and external changes.

Both psychology and cannabis are hot topics of discussion lately, because both are holistic approaches to ailments that affect millions of people across the globe. It only makes sense at this point that we combine the two for ultimate healing results. Make sure to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other legal products.


Cannabis and the Brain

Before we look at how to improve the effects of cannabis, we must first discuss how it affects the brain. Cannabis works on the brain and body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is an intricate system of neurons in the brain that seems to control the release of multiple neurotransmitters. It was discovered in the 1990s and seems to be linked to many processes in the brain and body, including appetite, learning and memory and sleep.

Both CBD and THC, two cannabinoids found in Cannabis, activate the ECS and seem to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to reward and pleasure in the brain. This is the neurotransmitter that creates the euphoric high associated with Cannabis. If we can find ways to increase the production of this neurotransmitter Dopamine or find ways to affect the interaction of cannabinoids on the ECS, then perhaps this will have a wholly positive effect on the experience of getting high.

Get the Snacks Out: Food and the ECS

It has long been known that food tastes better after smoking cannabis, in fact studies on rats have shown that cannabinoids increase the senses of smell and taste, but there is also new emergent research suggesting that some foods can actually increase the effect of these same cannabinoids. According to a fascinating list created by NMJ Health, Mangoes, Chocolate and black Tea all have properties that increase the effect of Cannabis for recreational and medical purposes. Mangoes contain natural chemicals that actively help cannabinoids interact with the body’s ECS mentioned above.

By eating Mangoes before inhaling or injecting marijuana products you increase the levels of these chemicals (terpenes) that allow for this interaction. This means that the effects of the cannabis will set in a lot quicker, that they’ll be stronger and that the effects will last longer.  With Chocolate, it appears that the cannabinoids in cannabis that produce the euphoric effects are naturally occurring. Studies have even shown that a chemical in chocolate called

Anandamide binds to cannabinoid receptors mimicking and heightening the effect of Cannabis. Not only is this research incredible as it shows that chocolate can increase the overall effects of cannabis, but the practical applications for the use of medical marijuana and dosing cannot be overstated. Black tea and broccoli also seem to improve the experience of Cannabis. Black tea by producing longer and more sustained feelings of peace and relaxation. It is clear to see from this rather eclectic set of foods and the research behind them that we can change the effects of Cannabis through changing what we eat. 

Set the Mood: Music and Dopamine

Another avenue for increasing the experience that cannabis can offer through psychology and psychological research is to look at the effect sound and music has on a high. Music has long been associated with feelings of pleasure and relaxation, but recent research has shown that listening to music that gives you chills actually produces the neurotransmitter dopamine (a neurotransmitter linked to cannabis and the ECS. It seems then that listening to music you enjoy and instrumental music (the study found) leads to an increased amount of dopamine. This combined with the high levels of dopamine released when using cannabis can only result in a more pleasurable experience, again highlighting another way that psychology and the environment around you can influence your experience of cannabis.

Watch Those Lights: Sight, Colour, Taste and Experience 

This next paragraph may come as the most surprising to readers. Vision may be one of the most powerful senses when it comes to changing our experiences of the world. Being in a room with a certain colour scheme or using particular lights can influence our mental states and how we feel. To create a more calm and relaxed experience while using cannabis, a recent study has shown that blue lighting is best. The same study also showed that red light and yellow light increases heart rate, so perhaps should be avoided unless you want to induce a potential panic attack.

 There are ways that we can use our vision to influence our experiences of things like taste and smell too. Studies by Charles Spence, an Oxford researcher have shown that the colour of crockery used when eating actually changes the subjective experience of flavour. Red dishes increased perceptions of sweetness in some popcorn and blue seemed to increase perceptions of saltiness. What this means is that a particular coloured skin or vape could actually alter the taste of the cannabis inhaled. If you prefer a sweeter experience, perhaps using a red vape might do this for you. Again, this research highlights how we can use psychology to generally increase our cannabis experience. 

Changing up Your Environment 

One of the biggest factors that can reduce the enjoyment of cannabis is tolerance. A tolerance to a certain chemical just means that it takes more to achieve the same effect. From a neuro-chemical point of view, it just takes a greater amount of cannabinoids to activate the ECS. Tolerance arises due to frequent use of the drug. Can psychology be used to help us with tolerance? An incredible study actually seems to suggest it can, and the way one can overcome a tolerance seems to be through altering context.

Context just means the environments around you. It has long been studied in psychology as animals and humans seem to have powerful associations between context and memory. If you revise in a certain context (classroom) your results in a test done in that same context will be higher than if you alter it. Here’s where tolerance comes in: If you smoke cannabis in the same environment, your body associates that context with cannabis and will actually build up a tolerance that is context specific. In a fascinating review by Siegel et al the preparation and expectation of taking a drug can lead to the body preparing itself and therefore reducing the effects. When dogs were conditioned into taking adrenaline in a specific context, just placing the dog in that room was enough for their bodies to prepare to counter the high blood pressure, even without injecting anything.

The core study by Siegel was conducted on heroin users and it was found that the opposite is true as well. If a user of heroin takes the drug in a context they are not used to they are more likely to require medical treatment as it seems their tolerance is not there. The body was not prepared because it was not in the context associated with the drug. The very same principle of association and context can be applied to cannabis use. If you use the drug in the same context over and over again, the tolerance will be associated with that specific location, so to increase the effect, change up where you light up.

Being Around Others: Socialising and Dopamine 

A final way that cannabis can be improved is through being around others. It seems obvious to say, but being around others is good for the brain. It increases feelings of happiness and can relax us as well if we are around people we love, but it may be surprising to learn that socialising also increases dopamine levels, giving us a little high. This increase in dopamine is theorised to be a reward for being around others and evolutionary psychologists have argued that socialising and bonding with others is heavily linked to the reward areas of our brain and dopamine production. So perhaps combining socialising and cannabis will create a huge boost of dopamine and increase the euphoria of cannabis experiences.

Conclusion – Combining Cannabis and Psychology

I hope that from the list above you find even one thing to use to make your experiences of cannabis even better. I hope it’s also clear that any method can be useful but they are only suggestions and sometimes just sticking to what you know and enjoy is more than enough to have a great time. Cannabis is a fascinating drug and the mechanisms underlying it are still intriguing to psychologists. It affects so many areas of the brain that it isn’t surprising that the changes listed above can affect how it works. But what do you think?

Thank you for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Remember to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other legal products. For the best Delta 8Delta 10THC-PTHC-OTHCVHHC and even Delta 9 products subscribe to the Delta 8 Weekly newsletter.

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KETAMINE: What Is It?

The world of new drugs and drug fads move quicker than anyone can keep up with. In fact, if you even tried to understand what ‘the kids’ are taking these days, you’d probably end up both confused and intoxicated quite quickly.

There used to be a time where cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy was all anyone spoke about. However, nowadays, the world of drugs has opened up excessively. The likes of GHB, M-CAT, ketamine, mushrooms, acid, crystal meth and unlimited others are all being taken around the world. Each drug has its own story and its own positives and negatives. So what about Ket, K, or Ketamine? The horse tranquillizer that many people have decided to take, despite not being horses. What is it and what does it do? Let’s delve into the world of ket. 

Ketamine is a drug with a very interesting history and reputation, but, like many other mind-altering compounds, it does have a place in both the worlds of the therapeutics and recreation. To learn more about cannabis and psychedelics, make sure to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one, as well as exclusive deals Delta 8Delta 10 THCTHCVTHC-OTHCPHHC and even on legal Delta-9 THC!


What is Ketamine?

Ketamine, like most drugs, has many different names: ket, wonk, donkey dust, K, Klein and many others. There are unlimited names for most drugs as often all it takes is for someone to invent a new one whilst they’re high, and usually it will stick. Ketamine, or often shortened to just ‘ket’, is an anesthetic that is used by both doctors and veterinarians. The reason why most people refer to ket as ‘horse tranquillizer’ is because it technically is. However, ketamine is also used as anesthetic for most animals. The reason why it is especially popular with horses is because doctors find ketamine to be a helpful way to deal with larger animals. 

Most people would say that all drugs have to sit in one of two categories: uppers and downers. Whilst ecstasy would be described as a stimulant or upper, alcohol would be considered a depressant or downer. Ketamine is part of the latter category: the downers. That is because it is literally anaesthetizing the user. Whilst there are also feelings of euphoria, the overarching feeling is weighty and thus it is a depressant, not a stimulant. But what does this drug look like? 

What Does It Look Like?

Although Ketamine can be used as a clear fluid by those in the medic world, on the streets – Ketamine is most commonly found as a white powder. It looks very similar to cocaine, but don’t be fooled, they are very different drugs. They are also very different in their potencies. In fact, if you were to take a line of ketamine with a cocaine amount, you’d most definitely be surprised by the strength. It wouldn’t be a good idea, that’s for sure. Ketamine is most commonly sniffed either through a note, or by using a key. Due to its strength, it is often ‘keyed’ because the amount you can place on a key and sniff is usually enough. 

Although Ketamine can resemble cocaine, it’s important to remember that they both smell and taste different. For those who are well versed in the worlds of drugs, the differences are pretty obvious. Plus, cocaine can sometimes be sold in rocks, which means you have to crush it first. Ketamine will never be sold in rocks, always in fine powder. However, the similarity between the two substances is definitely something to keep an eye on. Getting the two mixed up will most likely lead to something not very nice. In fact, it could lead to the infamous ‘K-Hole’. Don’t worry… we’ll get on to that later. 

The History of Ketamine

The history of Ketamine is a surprisingly interesting one. In 1956, a drug called Phencyclidine was found to be a very good anesthetic for monkeys. It was so useful that doctors then began using it on humans. However, there was a problem. The problem was that those using this drug were beginning to experience side effects. With an ideal anesthetic, the patient will wake up and feel normal after. However, with Phencyclidine, patients were waking up with loss of sensations in their limbs and other senses. This was of course an issue. In conclusion, Phencyclidine was considered to be a bad anesthetic, despite the initial successes. It was then that Dr. Calvin Lee Stevens decided to mess about with the substance, with the aim of synthesizing a better alternative. One without the bugs, but with the positives. Reset Ketamine speaks about what happened next: 

“The compounds he synthesized were sent to pharmacological testing in animals, and one compound in particular was found to be a successful, short-acting anesthetic. Selected for human testing, it was titled CI-581 and is what we now call ketamine. Ketamine was named because of the ketone and the amine group in its chemical structure”

After the creation of this new substance, Ketamine took off and was used for a variety of different things. Obviously it was used as an anesthetic on all types of animals and humans. But not only this, Ketamine was found to have euphoric and antidepressant qualities. In fact, Ketamine was used on injured soldiers during the Vietnam War. This is because it was known to help with short-term pain. In addition, Ketamine was being used in small doses to deal with mental health issues like schizophrenia and depression. The use of this drug in dealing with mental issues was seen was a huge breakthrough. However, like all substances, there was of course the recreational side. People were finding ways of making Ketamine and selling it on the black market. This is perhaps where Ketamine gets a negative reputation from. 

Ket: How Does It Make You Feel?

Now you understand the history of Ketamine, what it is, and what it might be used for, the question still remains: what does it feel like? Ketamine is a hugely popular drug both in the medic world and recreationally. When used recreationally, ketamine lasts around 30-60 minutes, and takes about 10 minutes to kick in. 

Positive Effects

  • The feeling of euphoria
  • Positive dissociation
  • Slows down time 
  • Allows you to concentrate
  • Physical pains subside 
  • Mental pains subside 
  • Funny and elaborate thoughts 

Negative Effects

  • Agitation 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Short-term or long-term memory loss 
  • Negative dissociation 
  • Can become addictive 
  • Can feel depressed without it 
  • You can feel invincible, which could lead to harming yourself
  • K-holing 

The K-Hole 

Anyone who knows about ketamine will have heard of the infamous ‘k-hole’. Now some people enjoy the k-hole, whilst others fear it. It’s sort of like the ‘whitey’ in the world of cannabis. A k-hole occurs when someone takes too much Ketamine. Due to the strength of Ketamine powder, it’s very easy to take too much or become unaware of how much you’ve taken due to anesthetic feeling of the drug. Therefore, k-holes are actually a lot more common than you’d think. The feeling of a k-hole is peculiar. All of those feelings of being outside your body, unable to move freely, and feeling slow, all become extremely strong and sort of paralyze you. It usually feels like it’s lasting hours, when actually it only lasts 30 or so minutes. Ultimately, It isn’t a very pleasant feeling. However, if you’ve got someone around you that you can trust then you should be fine. 

Is Ketamine Legal?

Ketamine, much like the majority of drugs, is used in medicines and in doctor’s practices but is illegal to use recreationally. In the UK, it is a Class B drug, which is the same as cannabis. In the US, ketamine is also illegal and is a Schedule III substance under the Controlled Substances Act. 

According to the DEA, Ketamine is illegal because it has the potential for abuse. But, on the positive side, in 2019 the…

“FDA approved…Ketamine nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression”

This is a potential positive. Whilst Ketamine is illegal in most major countries, research is definitely being done into how it can be used to help people with mental conditions. 

Ket: My Own Experiences

I always like to include my own experiences of the drugs I write about in this series, just so it doesn’t sound like someone who hasn’t himself had his own dealings with Ketamine. I always hate reading about drugs on websites where I know, quite clearly, that that person has never touched a drop in their life. So what do I think about Ketamine? 

Well, university was when I had my first dealings with Ketamine; or ‘Ket’ as everyone called it. I was drunk at a very un-cool club night and someone gave me a bag full of white powder and told me to go take a ‘key’ of it. At the time, I didn’t actually know what a ‘key’ was. I imagined you just placed as much powder on a key as you could. I also didn’t want to risk asking and seeming inexperienced. Oh the wonders of peer pressure! So I snuck into the bathroom, got out the baggy, got out my key, and put the key inside. I placed, what I thought, was the right amount of Ket onto the key (which ended up being far far too much) and tried my best to snort it up my nose. I then went back on the dance floor, unaware that my nose now had a huge amount of white powder quite blatantly stuck to it. 

For about 30 minutes I felt nothing, and continued to drink and dance with my friends. However, as the minutes went past, I began to feel heavier. I felt amazing. The music slowed down, I slowed down, everyone slowed down. My limbs began to feel like warm pillows and all the negative thoughts in my head left me. It wasn’t the same euphoric feeling of ecstasy, but I still felt good.

However, after a while I realized I’d obviously taken too much. Time didn’t just go slow, it basically stopped. That’s when I remember thinking ‘I’m gonna die’. Which, to be fair, was a classic thought I had when I took most drugs at that age. I then don’t really remember much. It felt like I was stuck in time for hours, but it later turned out to only be about 20 minutes. I just remember sort of regaining consciousness outside in the smoking area, with my friend chatting to me about the price of plastic bags. A very odd experience. I then continued my night and just had very elaborate, comical thoughts. It was definitely a mixed first experience. Although I will add, that now I know how much Ketamine to have, I do find it a very amusing drug; and one with the least negative sides. 

What’s Your Opinion?

So, what do you think? Do you think Ketamine is a drug that deserves more research and consideration? Or is its recreational abuse proof that it should be regulated forever? As always, we want to know what you think, drop us a line in the comment section below. Make sure to keep up to date with the rest of the articles in this series as we go through all of the most popular street drugs. Until next time.

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Isreali Nextage Explores Effective Delivery of Psychedelic Compounds

Israel is one of the leading countries for medical cannabis research and has held this title for decades; since the 1960s to be exact. Now, they’re joining efforts to study the benefits of psychedelics in a clinical setting as well.

Of the main areas of focus is using psychoactive compounds to treat clinical depression and other psychiatric disorders. One Israeli company, Nextage Therapeutics, is looking specifically at utilizing ibogaine, along with their own patent delivery system, to better treat people with these conditions.

When it comes to treating psychological disorders and minimizing the risk of side effects, psychedelics are the way of the future. Check out our newsletter, The Delta 8 Weekly, to learn more about these incredible compounds as well as gain access to exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products.


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 accurate term for them is ‘entheogens’. This term was adopted, not necessarily for the sake of being scientific, but rather to allow the sector to operate without all the stigma attached to psychedelics from smear campaigns and restrictive policies throughout history. 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.

Nextage Pharmaceuticals and MindMend

According to Nextage Founder and CEO Abraham Dreazen, “there has been a shift in the last decade. The US Food and Drug Administration, for example, is starting to see quality of life as a factor in evaluating medicine, opening the door to these drugs.”

Earlier this year, Nextage signed a collaboration agreement with industry trailblazer Mindmend, to use their proprietary new technology known as Brain Targeting Liposome System (BTLS) – a delivery system Dreazen claims will “optimize the delivery of drug products based on noribogaine, and ultimately other ibogaine derivatives.”

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in Apocynaceae plant family in Gabon, a small coastal country in central Africa. Although minimal research exists, a handful of clinical studies found that Ibogaine and its derivatives can be used to combat addiction, and it was looked at particularly for the treatment of opioid addiction, for which the results were promising.

Unfortunately, when used at high doses over a longer period, there are potential side effects. In a recent press release, reps from MindMend explained that, “orally administered ibogaine and noribogaine present unacceptable safety risks due to their torsadogenic effects at high systemic concentrations.”

Simply put, there’s a moderate risk of heart attacks when using noribogaine. However, Dreazen believes that if the drug is administered using certain methods that better permeate the blood-brain barrier, so more of the drug actually reaches the brain rather than going to other parts of the body, including the heart. He described it as “the winning lottery ticket.”

Permeating the Blood-Brain Barrier

When it comes to treating psychological and neurological disorders, or really any other disease or condition affecting the brain, the main challenge is permeating the blood-brain barrier. The purpose of the blood-brain barrier is to protect the brain from foreign substances, and as such, can prevent up to 95% of molecules from reaching the brain.

So far, the most common way to work around that is by giving prescribing these drugs at extremely high doses, and that, needless to say, can have numerous unwanted and severe side effects. Using a more effective model, The BTLS platform, licensed from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, has been making use of a “liposomal vehicle with a unique targeting complex” that allows for blood-brain barrier permeation at much lower doses of various pharmaceutical agents.

This is a relatively well-known concept, but according to Dreazen, Nextage took it a step further and attached a “small arrow of seven amino acid peptides – essentially a very small protein – which is part of a much larger protein that is native to the brain and has a way of actively transporting the liposomal capsule through the blood-brain barrier. Once the capsule is drawn into the brain with the arrow, it gets lodged there and starts dissolving, facilitating release of the active material – the drug.”

What the Future Holds for Nextage

Nextage has been working in the drug delivery sector for 14 years and their daughter company, IMIO, is focused solely on psychedelics. The company completed most of required preclinical worked needed to determine the potential efficacy and generality of their new patent technology. They have already worked with CBD and THC-based medications and Nextage/IMIO plans to explore the potential of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Dreazen says LSD “is a really promising drug.” Its challenge is that when taken, people can “trip” for 15 to 17 hours, making it very unfeasible as a chronic treatment. But just like with ibogaine, he believes that if the dose can be reduced and the least amount possible gets into the body as opposed to the brain, “you could potentially get the same therapeutic effect without the longevity of the trip.”

“In the US, the psychedelic movement has exploded in the last 12 months,” Dreazen added. “I think psychedelics in Israel are just emerging, and we are the first public company to really put our teeth into it. Israel has always been in the forefront of research and development and we are committed to spearheading this industry.”

Final Thoughts

As you can see, conversations surrounding the use of psychedelics to treat mental health and neurological disorders is reaching nearly every corner of the globe, and the countries that have been more accepting of cannabis are also spearheading the medical psychedelic revelation. Psychedelics are here to stay, and in the very near future, we can expect to see a lot of these compounds being safely used in clinical and therapeutic settings.

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Where’s It From? The Specifics of Germany’s Cannabis Import Market

As the global cannabis industry expands, different markets are emerging around the world as the biggest contenders in the overall global market. When it comes to Europe, Germany reigns supreme, with a quickly growing, and quickly evolving, medical cannabis industry. Since opening up its list of import countries, this market has grown even further. Here’s a look at the specifics of Germany’s cannabis import market today.

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Important points about cannabis and Germany so far

First and foremost, cannabis is illegal in Germany for recreational use. Possession of the plant can garner up to five years in prison. When it comes to use, ‘small amounts’ have been somewhat decriminalized, though the term ‘small amount’ is actually not specific, and can vary between provinces, ranging from about 6-15 grams. Strangely enough, there’s no specific mention of cannabis use in the German Federal Narcotics Act, which regulates cannabis in the country. So as long as a first-time offender is caught with just a ‘small amount’, there is generally no criminal punishment for use, though this does not necessarily extend to a further offense.

Sale, supply, and cultivation are all illegal in Germany. Such crimes can be met with prison sentences of up to 15 years, depending on extenuating circumstances, though they can start as low as one year. Extenuating circumstances can include things like children being around, or sold to; the amount in question; and if weapons were involved; among other factors.

Germany does have a comprehensive medical cannabis program for its residents which started in 2017. This expanded on a previous legalization from 1998 when Dronabinol was first legalized, and opened up an allowance for more disorders, also creating a regulated market. In 2019, this was expanded on further with the institution of an import/export market. Germany’s cannabis import and export markets are some of the largest in the world at the moment, and this without a recreational legalization.

cannabis in Germany

In terms of how many patients are being treated with medical cannabis in Germany, there has been no exact number released. In an answer to questions from political party Die Linke (the Left) to officials in parliament, on March 4th, 2020, BfArM – The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, which regulates the cannabis industry in Germany, stated that survey results by the agency showed 13,343 complete records. What does this mean? The market intelligence firm that wrote about it, Prohibition Partners, estimated that about 128,000 residents currently receive medical marijuana yearly in Germany.

Back in 2019, Germany was already making its place at the top of the European cannabis world, as the top importer and exporter of cannabis oils for that year. It was actually 2nd in the entire world of oil imports, with $240 million worth imported, and 4th in the world for exports, with $230 million worth of oil exported. At that time, Germany would have only been importing from a couple different countries. As a basis for comparison, in the import category, the US was 1st in the world, importing $893 million worth. And in the export category, China ruled the roost, exporting just under $1 billion worth of cannabis oil.

So how big is Germany’s cannabis import market?

Germany’s medical cannabis import market has been growing by leaps and bounds, with a large part of it due to opening up for imports from more countries. Prior to Germany updating regulation in 2019, all the cannabis used for medical purposes in the country was imported, and from mainly only the Netherlands and Canada. Since 2019 this has been changing, with new numbers showing just how much Germany is importing, and how much from each country.

In the last quarter of 2020, Germany imported 3,264 kg of cannabis flower into the country. Not only did this mark the highest quarter for imports at that time, but it brought the import total for the year up to 9,249 kg. Germany has had 100% year-over-year increases in imports between 2018-2020. The cannabis imported today is now coming from at least 17 different countries, including Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, Israel, and Australia, just to name a few (although a full list of import countries has not yet been released.)

What was released, however, was a response by the federal government to a question posed by Dr. Schinnenburg, a former member of parliament, along with the Free Democratic Party of Germany, which he represented. The response was in reference to 2021 cannabis import quantities into Germany and the countries of export. According to this response, Germany’s cannabis import market saw an 80% increase in just the first half of 2021 in comparison to the same time frame the year before.

Germany imported 8,966 kg of cannabis flowers in the first two quarters of 2021. The first two quarters of 2020 saw imports of about 4,946.3 kg. These numbers relate to cannabis flower to be sold or used as flower, whether for customers or scientific research. In terms of cannabis flowers imported for extract production, Germany imported approximately 980.4 kg in the first two quarters of 2021, whereas the year before it was about 820.3 kg imported for this purpose during the same period. This is a 19.5% increase in the flowers imported for extract production.

cannabis import

Who contributes what, to Germany’s cannabis import market?

So now we know Germany’s got a pretty big cannabis import market, but where is this weed coming from? And which are the leading countries in getting Germany’s business? The information from the government was published here by cannabiswirtschaft, and then reinterpreted a bit more clearly, here by Vice President of Investment Analysis, Alfredo Pascual, of Seed Innovations Ltd.

According to the breakdown, the two biggest exporters into Germany’s cannabis import market, are still the Netherlands and Canada, which were responsible for 22% and 32% of Germany’s imports respectively. Denmark showed itself to be a major contender, however, contributing 19% to Germany’s imports, and Portugal wasn’t far behind either, exporting out 13% to Germany.

Other countries showed lower levels, but have still been getting in on the game. Australia contributed about 5%, Uruguay about 4%, Spain exported out about 2% of what Germany imported, and Austria also provided about 2%. Another 1% came from the combination of several other countries, including Poland, Malta, Lesotho, and Israel.

In terms of what amounts these percentages relate to, here is a list of what the top exporting countries contributed to Germany’s cannabis import market in the first half of 2021. These numbers reflect both flowers imported for sale and use as flowers, and flowers imported for use to make extracts.

  • Canada – 2,998.8 kg
  • Netherlands – 1,989.4 kg
  • Denmark – 1,732.4 kg
  • Portugal – 1,583.1 kg
  • Australia – 746.2 kg
  • Uruguay – 358.2 kg

What’s next for Germany’s cannabis import market?

Germany is interesting because it’s a country with an already huge medical cannabis industry, which is also in the middle of undergoing some pretty intense political changes. In the 2021 Bundestag elections last month, the incumbent party and former leader of the last coalition government, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU/CSU), lost seats. This time around it came in second to the Social Democratic Party (SDP), 25.9% to 24.1%. This means the SDP won 206 seats, and the CDU/CSU only 196.

Germany parliament elections

Not only that, but there was an overall strong showing of left leaning parties, with the Green party taking 118 seats, the Free Democratic Party taking 96, and the Left party winning 39. This means that whatever coalition government is built, is likely to made up of at least some parties that are for cannabis legalization. As such, as Germany puts together its new government, its ability to expand its current medical cannabis industry, into an even bigger recreational one, has become a very viable possibility.

It should be remembered that the CDU has been the top party since 2005, forming coalition governments over the years with different parties, but mainly with the SDP. These partnerships affect voting, which means, when Germany shot down a recreational cannabis bill last year, it wasn’t because there weren’t technically enough parliament members who supported it, but more because the SDP voted against it along with the CDU as part of its coalition partnership, even though the SDP generally supports legalization. Without that voting partnership, a future vote of the same nature, could turn out very differently.

Conclusion

Germany has certainly become one of the main countries of interest when it comes to the world of weed. Not only are Germany’s cannabis import and export markets some of the biggest in the world, but with new elections and a new government forming, it could be the first country in Europe to legalize as well.

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s sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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VA Still Punishes Veterans for Using Medical Cannabis

One of the reasons John Penley moved out to Nevada from his native North Carolina last year was for the legal cannabis, which he uses to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to his military service in the 1970s. 

He didn’t anticipate that his use of state-legal cannabis could result in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cutting off the pain killers that he also needs.

“Here I don’t have to worry about getting arrested for using medical marijuana,” Penley tells Cannabis Now, “but it could cause me to lose all my veterans’ benefits.” 

Pain Killers Cut for Medical Cannabis Use

Penley’s chronic back pain started to come on about 10 years ago, and it continues to get worse. He’s been diagnosed with spinal stenosis which the VA designates as a “nonservice-connected disability.” The agency has been sending him a codeine-acetaminophen mix to control the pain.

“I’m taking one a day to make ’em last,” he says. “I won’t get any more till I stop using cannabis, test again and come back clean for THC.”

The pills arrive by mail, but Penley must check in personally at the VA hospital in Las Vegas once month to have his urine tested. He says he believed this was just to monitor levels of the blood thinner Warfarin, which he also takes now following a heart attack, and to make sure his prescription was at the appropriate levels.

But after his last test in early Sept., he received a call his VA doctor’s nurse—informing him that he had tested positive for THC and his pills were being cut off until he tested clean.

“It took me by surprise,” he says. “I’ve been open with my VA doctors about using medical marijuana.”

Penley worries that cutting off opioids could drive vets to the illegal market where they face the threat of an overdose from fentanyl. He points out that the Las Vegas area is currently witnessing an explosion of fentanyl-spiked painkillers on the illicit market. Last month, local health officials reported five overdose deaths related to street sales of the synthetic opioid over a 24-hour period.

Cannabis Eases Nuclear Nightmares

In addition to his back pain, Penley suffers from PTSD, which he says is related to his service in the Navy from 1972 to 1976. Working as an air traffic controller at the Souda Bay base on the Greek island of Crete, he was responsible for aircrafts carrying nuclear weapons. During the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the base served as a “forward operating airfield” for U.S. operations in support of Israel. 

“I was extremely worried about a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Russia, which were backing opposite sides in the war,” Penley recalls. “The whole area was swimming with Russian submarines, and Nixon put the U.S. on the highest nuclear alert ever. I was afraid I was gonna get nuked in that control tower.”

Nonetheless, he made petty officer second class before his honorable discharge. But Penley says he still has nightmares about being back in the control tower. And cannabis is what prevents the memories from haunting his waking life.

State-Federal Disconnect

Penley takes oral doses of THC oil to manage both the PTSD and back pain. Although he still needs the codeine-acetaminophen mix, he believes cannabis use obviates the need for the far more powerful oxycontin—or surgery. “I’m considering a back operation that I don’t really want to get, but I can’t take the pain,” he says.

Ironically, Penley had just been just re-approved for codeine earlier this year after having been cut off during the VA’s crackdown on prescriptions in response to the opioid epidemic a few years ago.

In the intervening years, he had no alternative but to take large quantities of over-the-counter acetaminophen. “I was taking too much acetaminophen, a 500-milligram pill three times day,” he says. In contrast, the combination pills he received from the VA contained just 300 milligrams of acetaminophen, and he only has to take one twice a day. Penley was recently diagnosed by the VA with kidney damage, which he attributes to overuse of acetaminophen during the last period when his codeine had been cut off.

“I don’t like the fact that they’re treating me as a criminal,” Penley says. “Why should testing positive for cannabis affect the medicine I’m getting from VA—especially in a state where it’s legal?”

And he points out another irony. “I receive a discount for veterans at the dispensaries here in Las Vegas,” he said. “You have the VA punishing veterans for using medical marijuana in the same states where vets are getting a discount.”

Illusion of Progress?

The VA has been under growing pressure on this question, but there has actually been some recent progress—at least on paper.

The Missouri Independent reported earlier this month that VA policy does not allow discrimination against veterans who enroll in state medical marijuana programs—although they must do so with their own resources, outside the purview of the VA’s Veterans Health Administration

In Dec. 2017, the VA issued Directive 1315, which states: “Veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of marijuana use.”

The Missouri Independent quoted Derek Debus, an Arizona attorney and Marine veteran who specializes in VA benefit issues. “I’ve had clients in the past that, if they admit to medical marijuana usage, won’t get any medication at all through the VA,” Debus said. “I’ve had clients that have gone to the VA for acute injuries like kidney stones, or even a broken arm, who were denied pain medication because they tested positive for cannabis and or have a state medical marijuana card.”

The VA website touts an April 2021 study from its own National Center for PTSD noting “growing interest and concern” over increased cannabis use among veterans, as more states legalize. The study states that “research to date does not support cannabis as an effective PTSD treatment, and some studies suggest cannabis can be harmful, particularly when used for long periods of time.” 

Yet there certainly seems to be plenty of countervailing research. For instance, a 2015 study of veterans in New York City, conducted by scholars at New York University, found: “Veterans’ comparisons of cannabis, alcohol, and psychopharmaceuticals tended to highlight advantages to cannabis use as more effective and less complicated by side effects. Some participants suggested that cannabis can be part of an approach-based coping strategy that aids with introspection and direct confrontation of the sources of personal trauma.”

Contacted by Cannabis Now, VA public affairs specialist Gary J. Kunich offered this explanation for how vets can still be cut off from receiving prescription meds for medical cannabis use despite Directive 1315: “Veterans will not lose access to VA financial or medical benefits because of medical marijuana use, but it may affect clinical decisions about other prescriptions, including those for pain management. These are clinical decisions that practitioners make according to a medical evaluation and are not determined by VA policy.”

In any case, Penley says he is not enrolled in the Nevada medical marijuana program because he is a relatively new arrival in the state, and cannabis is available freely on the adult-use market. If enrolling in the state program was necessary to keep his painkiller prescription from the VA, “nobody here advised me of that,” he says. “Not even in the orientation when they prescribe your opiates. You’d think they would have informed me.”

Veteran Organizations Embrace Right to Medical Cannabis

In 2009, New Mexico became the first state to make PTSD sufferers eligible for medical marijuana. The condition has since been included in most state medical marijuana programs.

The effort to get the VA to take a more tolerant stance got another boost in 2016 when the American Legion, a veterans organization of 1.8 million members known for its conservative politics, urged Congress to remove cannabis from the federal list of prohibited drugs and allow research into its medical applications. Lawrence Montreuil, the organization’s legislative director, told Stars & Stripes, “I think knowing an organization like the American Legion supports it frankly gives [lawmakers] a little bit of political cover to do something that they may have all along supported but had concerns about voter reaction.”

The organization Disabled American Veterans (DAV), which actually donated the vehicle that picks up Penley for his VA doctor appointments, has also embraced exploring “medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids for veterans.”

A Legislative Solution?

In recent years, The Veterans Equal Access Act has repeatedly introduced legislation to facilitate medical cannabis access for military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions. This bill would allow VA doctors to recommend cannabis under state medical marijuana programs and assure that vets do not lose any benefits for enrolling.

This April, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) joined with Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dave Joyce (R-OH) to introduce another version of the bill, the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act.

But as the cannabis advocacy group NORML notes, Congressional conservatives have repeatedly blocked such efforts despite the growing evidence of the medicinal value of cannabis for PTSD sufferers.

NORML points out that a 2014 retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found a greater than 75% reduction in Clinician Administered Posttraumatic Scale (CAPS) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.

Vets Stand Up

John Penley has been a part of the activist effort around this issue.

On Veterans Day 2018, he was among a group of vets who camped out at the national offices of the VA to demand access to medical marijuana. 

He was also arrested for crossing police lines while protesting lack of action on veteran suicides at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. 

In July 2014, when the Veterans for Peace national convention was held in his hometown of Asheville, NC, he pushed for a resolution which was adopted, stating that “it is the right of any Veteran to discuss with his/her health care provider any and all possible treatment options…including the use of medical cannabis, without the threat to the Veteran or provider of disciplinary action, regulatory loss of privilege and/or benefits, or criminal sanctions.”

As for the response to his own cut-off of painkillers, Penley affirms: “They say it’s federal policy and they don’t have a choice in the matter, but the feds shouldn’t be punishing people for using medical marijuana.” 

“I should be able to get medical marijuana from the VA,” he said. “I think the vet suicide rate would go down if they supplied it.”

The post VA Still Punishes Veterans for Using Medical Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Psychedelics are Changing End-of-Life and Palliative Care for the Better

They say you fly when you die…”

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.

Furthermore, new research suggests that certain psychedelic substances can help relieve anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction and numerous other mental health disorders. “The biggest misconception people have about psychedelics is that these are drugs that make you crazy,” says Michael Pollan, author of the new book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. “We now have evidence that that does happen sometimes — but in many more cases, these are drugs that can make you sane.”

Psychedelics and Near-Death Experiences

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 Research

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.

Final Thoughts

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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Albert Hofmann: The Finding and Self-Experimentation of LSD

The psychedelic boom is just beginning, with legalizations occurring, and new bills working their way through local governments to provide more psychedelic freedom. For those still unaware, psychedelics have been proving to be a valuable medicine in the fight against mental illness. When looking back in the history of medical psychedelics to where it started, it all comes down to one man, Albert Hofmann, and his discovery of LSD.

Albert Hofmann sure started something big when he discovered LSD, but it might be a while longer before LSD is legalized. If psychedelics continue like the cannabis industry, it should happen eventually. Luckily, for now we’ve got cannabis, and all its great medicinal and recreational compounds, like delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC, and a range of other minor cannabinoids like THCV, THCP, delta 10, HHC, THC-O and more. You can go ahead and check out our weekly deals.

What are psychedelics?

Psychedelics are drugs that contain chemical compounds that cause a psychoactive reaction in a user. Such reactions include experiencing hallucinations, which means hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, and smelling things that aren’t there. Psychedelics are also associated with creating spiritual experiences and can promote feelings of connectedness between the user and others around. Users experience euphoria, relaxation, and well-being, while also experiencing mystical sensations. Psychedelics can alter mood, perception, and cognition, though different drugs can cause different effects, and the amount taken is important.

Psychedelics are a subset of hallucinogenic drugs, which themselves are a subset of psychoactive drugs. They can be found in nature, like magic mushrooms or peyote, or made in a lab like LSD or PCP. Though psychedelics have been found generally safe in testing, getting the dose correct is important. This is the same with any type of medication, and is not specific to psychedelics. A person who takes too much oxycontin might overdose and die, a person who takes too much LSD might have a bad trip.

‘Bad trips’ are characterized by negative, or even scary, hallucinations. Users can experience feelings of dysphoria, anxiety, and panic, as well as physical symptoms like dizziness, irregular heartbeat, numbness, vomiting, and sweating and chills. Bad trips have not been known to result in death, but can certainly be a negative experience for the user, and back up that careful dosing is very important.

Many psychedelics are serotonergic, meaning they interact with serotonin receptors in the brain. This will usually cause a rush of the neurotransmitter, followed by blocking reuptake to allow for more absorption. The neurotransmitter serotonin is responsible for many functions in the human body, from mood regulation and involuntary muscle control, to transmitting signals throughout the brain.

Historical use of psychedelics

Though we treat psychedelics like we don’t know much about them in mainstream life, there is plenty of evidence they’ve been used for thousands of years, although the context they were used in, may have been different from how they’re used today. Information that we do have was obtained from ancient texts, findings, and rituals.

For example, in the Sora River Valley of Southwestern Bolivia, a pouch was found containing traces of different psychedelic compounds including both harmine and dimethyltryptamine – used to make ayahuasca; bufotenine, a psychedelic compound found in toad skin; and psilocin, a psychedelic compound of magic mushrooms. The pouch is said to be from around 900-1100 CE according to mass spectrometry carbon dating. This is the earliest finding to show the use of the plants that combine to make ayahuasca.

Other research has pointed to use of psychedelics in Mesoamerica by the Mayans, Aztecs, Olmecs, and Zapotecs. The Mayans were known for drinking balché from Lonchocarpus bark extracts, which together with honey produces a psychoactive effect (the bark can itself, but is milder without the honey). It was used for group ceremonies to get intoxicated. The cultures mentioned used the peyote plant for mescaline, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and ololiuhqui seeds, which contain lysergic acid amide, a relative to LSD.

The near-East has also been a hotspot for ancient psychedelic findings. Several artifacts have been made in that region including residues, fibers, pollen, and carbonized seeds. In fact, traces of Blue Water Lily extract, a strong narcotic, were found in Tutonkamen’s tomb which dates back to the 14th century BC. In Lebanon, 10 liters of Viper’s Bugloss was found in a storage jar in Kami del-Loz temple from the late bronze age. Viper’s Bugloss is a very strong hallucinogenic compound.

What led up to Albert Hofmann finding LSD

History is all fine and good, but in today’s world we study things in labs. In modern times, the practice of studying psychedelics began in Switzerland with a chemist named Albert Hofmann. Born in 1906, in Baden, Switzerland, Hofmann finished his chemistry degree at the University of Zurich in 1929. Immediately after graduation, he began working for the chemical company Sandoz.

When Sandoz hired Hofmann, the company had only opened a pharmaceutical department a few years before in 1917, even though the company was founded in 1886. The pharmaceutical department started with the isolation of a compound called aotamine from a fungus called ergot, which can be found in tainted rye. Ergot has been used in natural medicine traditions for many, many years, since in small doses, it has been known to quicken child birth, as well as help with the bleeding after. However, when found in tainted rye, ergot can cause incredible illness. The scientist who isolated the compound, Arthur Stoll, wanted to isolate the part that caused the constriction that allowed for the medical advantages only.

He was able to do it, isolating the compounds ergotamine and ergobasine, which enabled the ability to dose very precisely, and without other compounds from ergot getting in the way. Within the next few years, researchers at the company were able to elucidate the chemical structures of different compounds of ergot thought useful, all of which share a common nucleus. This point at which all the compounds start, is named Lysergsaure (in German), or lysergic acid. These discoveries made a lot of money for Sandoz, and helped launch a pharmaceutical department for further research and development. This is the climate that Hofmann walked into when he was hired in 1929.

Albert Hofmann and the unexpected finding of LSD

When Albert Hofmann entered the picture, the Sandoz lab was busy studying ergot, and the compounds within. Hofmann was able to establish a synthetic process to build the ergot compounds using the chemicals that make them up. He was able to synthesize active components of ergot, along with similar compounds from other plants, that were thought to be possible for medical use. Hofmann did a lot of experimentation, combining lysergic acid with other compounds to see what kind of results occurred. He did this about 24 times before something big happened.

Hofmann had been trying to find a combination that could stimulate circulation and respiration. On the 25th occasion of combining lysergic acid with another compound, Hofmann used diethylamine, a derivative of ammonia. The compound it created, was called LSD-25 at the time, or lysergic acid diethylamide. Though it did not meet the needs specifically of what he was looking for, it was noted that the created compound caused excitability in animals during testing. At the time, LSD-25 was put on the backburner, but Hofmann couldn’t forget about it, saying it was “a peculiar presentiment—the feeling that this substance could possess properties other than those established in the first investigations.”

Five years later, he felt the urge to recreate this compound again, and this time, something very strange happened. He started feeling strange. It was a Friday, so he left the lab early and returned home. When he came back into the lab the following week, he wrote this to Stoll, who was his boss at the time:

“I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dream-like state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted steam of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors.”

What did he do next?

When Albert Hofmann first discovered the effects of LSD, he didn’t know what caused them. First, he thought he had been exposed to some kind of chloroform solvent, but when he intentionally breathed in fumes, he didn’t get the same response. It finally occurred to him that he might have actually ingested some of the LSD-25 he was working with, despite the fact that the only place he had made contact, was his fingertips. As it was understood ergot compounds could be toxic, a lot of measures were taken for safety. Upon realizing it might have been the LSD-25, Albert Hofmann did what any good scientist would do, he began experimenting on himself.

On April 19th, 1943, Hofmann dissolved 250 millionths of a gram of lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate (the crystalized version of LSD-25), and drank it down. He did this without giving a heads up to anyone at Sandoz except his lab assistant, and he didn’t expect anything to happen. He had taken such a small dose – with the intention of slowly increasing to find the right amount, that he hadn’t expected the response that he got. After about 40 minutes, he wrote this:

“Beginning dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh.” Due to his condition, he had to have his lab assistant take him home, which due to wartime restrictions, meant riding on bikes. One can only imagine how funny that bike ride must have been! He later said this about the experience:

“Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had traveled very rapidly. Finally, we arrived at home safe and sound, and I was just barely capable of asking my companion to summon our family doctor and request milk from the neighbors.”

Though the symptoms were frightening, as they were unexpected, a doctor’s visit confirmed that nothing was actually wrong with Hofmann. When he had calmed down, and could speak clearly about his experience, he said this: “Everything glistened and sparkled in a fresh light. The world was as if newly created. All my senses vibrated in a condition of highest sensitivity, which persisted for the entire day.”

Hofmann continued experimentation with himself and a couple close friends. He found the setting to be a very important factor in how the trip played out. Hofmann went on to introduce this new compound to psychiatrists in the mid-1900’s like Humphry Osmond and Ronald Sandison. Osmond conducted the Saskatchewan trials in Canada. In the studies, alcoholics were given LSD to quit drinking, and according to the studies, an entire 40-45% were able to do so for at least a year after only one dose. Sandison operated out of the UK, doing his own experimentation with acid. One of his experiments included using 36 psychoneurotic patients, all of whom were cured or showed improvement after using LSD, save for two. Both doctor’s developed their own strategies for the emerging psychedelic-assisted therapy, all based on Hofmann’s experiences.

Albert Hofmann LSD

Conclusion

The story of acid is obviously much longer than this, but this is how it started, with Albert Hofmann and his self-experimentation of LSD. Though LSD is currently Schedule I in the US, both psilocybin and MDMA have been designated by the FDA as breakthrough therapies, and Oregon has already legalized psilocybin for medical purposes. On top of that, esketamine, a close relative of ketamine, is already approved for depression and suicidal thoughts, and is in use in clinics all over America.

LSD is a synthetic psychedelic compound, though it has roots in the ergot plant. While it was the most commonly used medical psychedelic in the mid-1900’s, it was illegalized and demonized shortly after, only now gaining attention once again for its medical benefits. With the impending legalization of other psychedelics, one can only imagine that LSD will be coming soon too.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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