Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law on May 23 that established a regulatory framework for psychedelic substances.
SB23-290, also called Natural Medicine Regulation and Legalization, was signed just a few weeks after it was approved in the Senate with House amendments. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Steven Fenberg and Rep. Judy Amabile, and is set to take effect starting on July 1.
The Colorado Times Recorder spoke with Tasia Poinsatte, director of the Healing Advocacy Fund of Colorado, last month about the bill’s potential. “Our state is facing a mental health crisis, and our current system has been unable to meet the needs of those who are struggling, including the many veterans in our state who are at a high risk of suicide,” said Poinsatte. “Colorado voters agreed with the passage of Prop. 122 that we need to open new, innovative pathways to healing for those who are struggling with mental health conditions.”
The law doesn’t place limitations on personal possession for any psychedelic substance, ranging from dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline, ibogaine, psilocybin, or psilocin. Psilocybin and psilocin will be administered at “healing centers,” but it does allow other substances to be added later.
The bill also states that anyone under 21 who possesses or consumes a natural medicine product will only be subject to a fine of $100 or less, and a maximum of four hours of “substance use education or counseling.” More than one offense results in the same fine and education requirement, with an added 24 hours of “useful public service.”
The cultivation of natural medicine is permitted if it’s happening on a person’s private property within a 12-by-12-foot space. However, anyone who is not licensed and “knowingly manufactures [a] natural medicine product using an inherently hazardous substance” is committing a level 2 drug felony. An “inherently hazardous substance” refers to solvents such as butane, propane, and diethyl ether.
The bill also includes protections for consumers, stating that a person using a natural medicine doesn’t solely constitute as child abuse or neglect, is not grounds for being denied health coverage, doesn’t disqualify a person to be discriminated against if they’re eligible for organ donation, and “must not be considered for public assistance benefits eligibility.”
A person with a natural medicine conviction is also eligible to have the conviction record sealed “immediately after the later date of final disposition or release from supervision.”
The bill calls for the creation of a natural medicine advisory board to examine “issues related to natural medicine and natural medicine product, and making recommendations to the director of the division of professions and occupations and the executive director of the state licensing authority.” It also requires the creation of a division of natural medicine to be established within the department of revenue to regulate licensing for “cultivation, manufacturing, testing, storage, distribution, transport, transfer, and dispensation of natural medicine or natural medicine product between natural medicine licensees.”
Colorado voters passed Proposition 122, also referred to as the Natural Medicine Health Act, by 52.64% last November to decriminalize psychedelics. “This is a historic moment for both the people of Colorado and our country,” said Natural Medicine Colorado coalition director Kevin Matthews. “I think this demonstrates that voters here in Colorado are ready for new options and another choice for healing, especially when it comes to their mental and behavioral health.”
The initiative took effect in December 2022. “Coloradans voted last November and participated in our democracy,” said Polis. “Officially validating the results of the citizen and referred initiatives is the next formal step in our work to follow the will of the voters and implement these voter-approved measures.”
Coverage from Westword shows that advocates aren’t happy with the law, stating that it’s too restrictive. According to sponsor Amabile, the bill is solid but won’t make everyone happy. “My takeaway from the testimony is that ballot measure 122 is controversial,” Amabile said at a meeting in late April. “It has a lot of aspects that some people like. It has aspects that the people who like some parts of it don’t like. It has parts that nobody likes.”
California is one step closer to legalizing psychedelics. A State Senate committee approved a bill that legalizes possessing certain psychedelic substances. The bill looks to legalize the “possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, as specified, or transportation” of small amounts of psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline for personal use. LSD and MDMA will remain illegal due to an appeal to nature. While earlier versions of the bill included them, some felt LSD and MDMA are synthetic and thus not genuine plant-based […]
Two bills were filed in Massachusetts to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, mescaline, and ibogaine. The bills would end the prosecution of psychedelic substances in the Bay State.
The Boston Heraldreports that companion bills were filed in the Massachusetts House and Senate. The House bill, “An Act relative to plant medicine,” or Bill HD.1450, was filed by Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa. The Senate bill, titled “An act relative to plant medicine,” Bill SD.949 was filed by Sen. Patricia Jehlen.
Adults ages 18 and older would not be prosecuted for personal amounts of psychedelics.
The bill would decriminalize “the possession, ingestion, obtaining, growing, giving away without financial gain to natural persons 18 years of age or older, and transportation of no more than two grams of psilocybin, psilocin, dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, and mescaline.”
The bills would amend the state general law’s Section 50: Entheogenic Plants and Fungi.
The bill however does not allow for the sale of psychedelics: “‘Financial gain’ shall mean the receipt of money or other valuable consideration in exchange for the item being shared,” the bill adds.
“Mushrooms are life changing,” James Davis, co-founder of Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, said in a statement. “From depression to addiction to painful cluster headaches, they are a tool that people should use in a caring community.
“There’s no better way to promote intentional and mindful use than to decriminalize minor amounts for home growing and sharing without enabling commercial sale,” Davis added.
“Humans have used psychedelic plants and fungi, non-addictive by their nature, for spiritual relief for more than 13,000 years: from Northern Africa and the Americas—to Greece and the Middle East,” Bay Staters for Natural Medicine states on their website. “President Nixon banned these plants as Schedule One “drugs” through the Federal Controlled Substances Act without scientific basis to purposefully criminalize Black Americans and anti-war protesters. We work to reverse these policies and stop for-profit corporations from monopolizing the facilitation market to needlessly charge desperate people thousands of dollars.”
The statewide move comes after a handful of cities decriminalized psychedelics at the city level. Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton, for instance, voted to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and other entheogenic plants.
The reasons to decriminalize are growing: The global market for psychedelic drugs including psilocybin, ketamine, and LSD is expected to grow to nearly $12 billion per year before 2030, according to data from a recent market analysis. In a report released last Thursday, Brandessence Market Research revealed that the psychedelic drug market is anticipated to reach a valuation of $11.82 billion by 2029, growing from an estimated $4.87 billion in 2022.
Psychedelic-assisted therapy is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. Belief that psychedelics could help control the opioid epidemic is growing. A 2017 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study, involving 44,000 participants, found that psychedelic use was associated with a 40% reduced risk of opioid abuse. A more recent study that suggested an even stronger reduced risk—55%.
Meanwhile, Tryp Therapeutics signed a letter of intent earlier this month with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, to fund and conduct a Phase 2a clinical trial. The team of researchers will be investigating the effects of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of patients aged 21 and older who are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
More states are moving to loosen laws surrounding psychedelic use for therapeutic purposes. Colorado and Oregon decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms.
Psychedelics including psilocybin are now officially decriminalized in Colorado, where voters decided last month to end criminal penalties for possessing the drugs. Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued a proclamation on Tuesday declaring that Proposition 122, also known as the Natural Medicine Health Act, had passed muster with the voters in last month’s election.
“Coloradans voted last November and participated in our democracy,” Polis said in a statement from the governor’s office. “Officially validating the results of the citizen and referred initiatives is the next formal step in our work to follow the will of the voters and implement these voter-approved measures.”
In his proclamation, Polis noted that Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold had certified on December 12 that Proposition 122 “was approved by a majority of the votes cast.” The ballot measure received more than 53% of the vote in the midterm election, garnering the approval of nearly 1.3 million voters on November 8.
The Natural Medicine Health Act creates a state-regulated therapeutic system for adults to access natural psychedelic medicines, such as psilocybin mushrooms, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline not derived from peyote. The measure decriminalizes the possession, cultivation, and sharing of the naturally occurring psychedelic drugs, and establishes a system for controlled distribution by licensed professionals in a therapeutic setting.
Psychedelics will be available under the guidance of a licensed and supervised facilitator at designated healing centers and healthcare facilities such as hospice centers. The medicines are prohibited from leaving the facilities, and no retail sales are allowed in any form.
“Prop. 122 puts the wellbeing of patients and communities first, removing harsh criminal penalties for personal possession and employing a multi-phase implementation process that will allow time to develop an appropriate safety and regulatory structure,” Josh Kappel, who co-authored the proposition and led the campaign for the successful ballot measure, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Under Colorado law, ballot measures approved by the voters do not go into effect immediately. The state constitution requires the governor to issue a proclamation declaring the majority vote for the proposition no later than 30 days after the state canvasses the election results.
Psilocybin And Mental Health
Psychedelics such as psilocybin are receiving renewed interest in the potential of the drugs to treat a wide range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. The Food and Drug Administration has designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” but has not approved the use of the drug.
With the Natural Medicine Health Act now officially Colorado state law, the governor has until January 31, 2023, to appoint 15 members to a new Natural Medicine Advisory Board, which will advise the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies on implementing the measure. The board’s first recommendations are due by September 30, 2023. Recommendations on a facilitator training program for the medical use of psilocybin mandated by the measure are due on January 1, 2023. Regulated access to psilocybin should become available from authorized therapists by late 2024.
Kappel said that with the proclamation from Polis, implementation of Proposition 122 can now begin.
“Our goals include creating an accessible and balanced facilitator training system, an effective equity program, a first-of-its-kind ESG screen, and safe access to natural psychedelic therapies,” Kappel said. “In the meantime, adults in Colorado can begin to have more open and honest conversations about these medicines with their doctors. Adults who can benefit from these substances will finally be able to engage in psychedelic therapies without fear of arrest and prosecution.”
Research into a Nazca ritual site in Peru has determined that a child sacrificed more than a thousand years ago as part of a religious ceremony had consumed the psychedelic drug mescaline prior to execution. Scientists made the discovery by analyzing a single hair from the head of a child whose head had been severed at the neck and fashioned into a ritual trophy.
The preserved head was one of 22 human remains from the ancient Nazca civilization, which inhabited southern Peru from about 100 B.C. to 800 A.D. The remains, which included 18 mummies and four trophy heads from a child and three adults, had been buried in southern coastal Peru more than a thousand years ago and were recovered as part of an archaeological program known as the Nazca Project.
Analysis of a single hair taken from the head of the child, whose sex and age at the time of death are unknown, revealed that the victim had ingested San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) at some time prior to death, perhaps as part of a religious ceremony. San Pedro cactus contains the natural psychedelic drug mescaline and is known to have been used by South American indigenous cultures for medicinal and religious purposes.
“The trophy head is the first case of the consumption of San Pedro by an individual living on the southern Peruvian coast,” study lead author Dagmara Socha, a doctoral candidate in the Center for Andean Studies at the University of Warsaw in Poland, told Live Science. “It’s also the first evidence that some of the victims who were made into trophy heads were given stimulants before they died.”
Further analysis of hair samples taken from the other remains determined that many of the deceased individuals had taken psychedelics or stimulants prior to death. Through toxicological analysis, the researchers found that in addition to San Pedro cactus, the researchers discovered traces of Banisteriopsis caapi, the main compound of the psychedelic brew ayahuasca, a component of the ritual ceremonies of some South American indigenous cultures. Additionally, many had ingested coca leaves, the source of the stimulant cocaine.
“It was quite interesting to see how many people had access to [these plants],” Socha said. “We also wanted to discover the route of the trade of some of these ancient plants. For instance, the coca leaves were not cultivated on Peru’s southern coast, so they had to be brought there from either northern Peru or the Amazonian region.”
Archaeological Artifacts Discovered at Nazca Site
In addition to the human remains, the researchers discovered other items from the graves including ceramic pots, textiles, tools for weaving and a bag used for holding coca leaves known as a chuspa. The researchers determined that the drug use by the individuals found at the archaeological site occurred between 100 B.C. to A.D. 450.
“We can see this transition of the plants was beginning early and we can actually trace the trade network,” Socha said. “Our research shows that these plants were extremely important to different cultures for medical or visionary effect. Especially since there’s no [written record] from this time period, so what we know about Nazca and other nearby cultures is from archaeological investigations.”
Rainer Bussmann, a professor in the Department of Ethnobiology at the Institute of Botany at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the head of botany at the State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart in Germany, published a study in 2006 that examined the usage of medicinal plants by indigenous communities in northern Peru. His research also explored the trade routes for different cultivated plants in the area.
“There was always a little trade going on in this region, with plants being traded from the Amazon up and down the [Peruvian] coast,” said Bussmann, who was not involved in the new study. “These plants were traditionally used for ceremonial or medicinal purposes, and [were] sometimes combined. I’ve never seen any reports of recreational use. For these cultures, there was always a specific purpose.”
Although evidence indicates that the plants were used for medicinal and ceremonial reasons, Socha noted that the researchers have not determined the scope of their use among the Nazca culture.
“We actually don’t know how often these [plants] were being used,” she said. “In the case of San Pedro, it’s not well preserved in an archaeological context, and in the case of the coca leaves and Banisteriopsis caapi, they were never found to be growing in this region during that time period.”
The results of the study will be published in the December 2022 issue of the Journal of Archeological Science.
A Toronto-based biotech company is researching a new psychedelic drug as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, noting in a recent announcement that it has received approval from regulators in Argentina to commence a Phase ll clinical trial of the company’s novel psychedelic compound, BMND08.
“As we continue to move forward with our efforts in identifying indications where we can provide significant improvement in patients suffering from mental health, we are more than pleased to announce the approval of a Phase II clinical trial for our BMND08 novel drug candidate which may allow us to address a new line of development to attenuate depression and anxiety states in patients with Alzheimer’s-type cognitive impairment,” Alejandro Antalich, CEO of Biomind Labs, said in a statement from the company.
Biomind Labs is a biotech research and development company that is studying novel drugs and innovative nanotech delivery systems for a variety of psychiatric and neurological conditions. Using its technology, the company is developing new pharmaceutical formulations of the main psychedelic molecules, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, 5-MeO-DMT, and mescaline for the potential treatment of a wide range of therapeutic indications, with a focus on providing patients access to affordable and groundbreaking treatments.
“Since our inception, neurodegenerative diseases were on the list of indications we wanted to tackle. We can now address such indications using a novel approach that uses a fast-acting psychedelic molecule capable of providing relief to certain mood states when Alzheimer’s disease first appears in patients,” said Antalich. “After a thorough analysis on the potential benefit of using a psychedelic molecule to alleviate certain symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients, we concluded that the most suitable candidate from our portfolio was BMND08, an oral formulation of 5-MeO-DMT.”
Nearly Six Million American Seniors Live with Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes brain cells to atrophy and die. Nearly six million people in the United States aged 65 and older live with the disease, according to information from the Mayo Clinic. The disease is the most common cause of dementia, a continuous decline in cognitive function and social skills that affects the ability to function independently. Although medications may temporarily improve or slow the progression of symptoms, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. In advanced stages of the disease, complications from significant loss of brain function such as dehydration, malnutrition or infection result in death.
“Given the significant morbidity rate associated with Alzheimer’s disease such as agitation, apathy, sleep disturbances and anxiety, it became clear to us that novel approaches to treat Alzheimer’s-type cognitive impairment are urgently needed,” Antalich said. “The Phase II clinical trial will test Biomind’s psychiatry intervention-based model, allowing a rapid and feasible merge of fast-acting psychedelic medicines into clinical practices already in existence.”
The research is studying whether BMND08, a drug based on the natural psychedelic compound 5-Methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (also known as 5-MeO-DMT or simply DMT), is effective as a treatment for the depression and anxiety commonly found among patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The Phase ll clinical trial will be conducted in Argentina, where regulators gave approval for the study in May.
Previous studies have shown that more than 60% of patients with Alzheimer’s disease have also been diagnosed with depression. Treating a patient’s depression may also help treat or delay other symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. An unrelated study showed that the antidepressant called imipramine may be effective in treating cognitive decline in patients with the condition. Although some research has studied cannabis as a possible treatment for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, Biomind’s study is believed to be the first to test a psychedelic like DMT.
“While the current practice guidelines consistently refer to the management of symptoms as central to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, the lack of established effective treatments continues to motivate us to generate novel therapeutic solutions,” said Antalich.
Laws are definitely good a lot of the time, because society would go a little crazy without them. But that doesn’t mean all laws are good, or that they make sense. That’s where loopholes come in. Sometimes the only good thing about a law, is the way to get around it. Such is the case with the mescaline loophole. Here’s what you need to know.
Mescaline isn’t known as the most popular psychedelic, but perhaps the mescaline loophole will increase popularity in time. This cannabis and psychedelics publication focuses on breaking news and ongoing stories in these new and burgeoning industries. We also put out theCannadelics Weekly Newsletter for readers to access updates on stories, as well as obtain product promotions for all kinds of stuff like vapes and other smoking paraphernalia, edibles, and cannabinoid compounds including the ever-popular Delta 8 & HHC. You can find more info in our ‘best of’ lists, so check them out, and please only purchase products you feel comfortable using.
With all the talk on psychedelics recently, magic mushrooms, DMT, and LSD have sure gotten a lot of attention, along with dissociatives like ketamine. One of the classic psychedelics that gets slightly less attention, is mescaline. However, of all the classic psychedelics, mescaline is the only one that comes with a handy little loophole in the form of the San Pedro and Peruvian Torch cacti.
Mescaline (3,4,5-Trimethoxyphenethylamine) is a psychedelic compound that occurs naturally, like psilocybin from magic mushrooms and DMT. This is unlike MDMA and LSD which are only made in a lab. It’s most well-known association is with the Peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii), although it’s also found in the Peruvian Torch cactus (Echinopsis peruviana), San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi), and in the Cactaceae plant and Fabaceae bean families. It belongs to the phenethylamine class of drugs, and like the rest of the classic psychedelics, it exerts its biggest effect on serotonin receptors.
Mescaline produces a number of effects, including intense hallucinogens, with both open and closed-eye visuals; distortion in time, sound and vision; an increase in introspective and conceptual thinking; the loss of ego; and feelings of euphoria. It’s often considered gentler than other psychedelics with less negative come-down, while possibly producing greater insight than these other compounds. It’s the subject of a growing body of research for its potential medical properties.
Users should be aware that psychedelics can produce anxiety, paranoia, delusions, and psychosis in some users, though only temporarily. Mescaline, like the other psychedelics, has never shown to be an addictive or toxic substance. It’s lesser popularity in the world of psychedelics is probably related to its long growing time, and greater cost of production. Much of the time its bought off the street, its not real mescaline, but a synthetic derivative like 2C-B.
Peyote has a rich history, particularly in MesoAmerica, going back as far as 5,700 years. Mescaline cacti are generally found as far north as the south of North America, and throughout Central and parts of South America. It’s been used for spiritual and religious purposes in different native communities through this time, and still today.
In terms of more recent history, its entrance to Western science came in 1897, when German chemist Arthur Heffter first isolated the compound from the Peyote plant. In 1919 it was synthesized for the first time by Ernst Späth. It was Aldous Huxley’s 1954 essay entitled “The Doors of Perception” that helped mescaline gain prominence in the mid-1900’s.
How the mescaline loophole works
The mescaline loophole is similar to the two magic mushroom loopholes. The first magic mushroom loophole concerns the seeds. As the seeds contain no psychoactive components, they are usually legal to buy and sell, though growing the mushrooms is illegal. The second mushroom’s loophole relates to how mushrooms themselves were never scheduled by the Convention on psychotropic substances in 1971, though their components psilocybin and psilocin were. The loophole is that the plant itself it legal in many places outside the US, while what’s in it, is not.
This is similar to how it works with the mescaline loophole. Mescaline itself is a Schedule I compound on the Controlled Substances list. The plant Peyote also resides on that list specifically. But the San Pedro cactus does not, and neither does the Peruvian Torch cactus, or any other mescaline-producing plant. Much like magic mushroom seeds, its perfectly legal to buy, sell, and grow these cacti, but it’s technically not legal to harvest them for mescaline. This is the same with mushroom seeds, and mushrooms themselves where the loophole applies. The seeds can be sold and purchased, but you’re not supposed to grow the mushrooms.
As Peyote is the only specifically-listed mescaline containing plant on the Controlled Substances list, this mescaline loophole applies to any other plant that produces mescaline. According to the US government, these cacti are legal for religious purposes across the board (possession, sale, and transport), and are legal for cultivation without rules.
In terms of Peyote, its not even completely illegal like other Schedule I substances. As of 1994’s American Indian Religious Freedom Act amendments, harvest, possession, consumption and cultivation of peyote are protected for religious ceremonies. Though the Act was originally made only for Native American use when instituted in 1978, this was expanded in 1991 to include anyone using Peyote for religious purposes, through the US vs Boyll ruling. As of right now, Idaho and Texas are the only states that bar the religious use of Peyote by non-native-American, non-enrolled people.
Does this make sense?
No, not really. But a lot of laws don’t make sense. In this case, the loophole is in favor of the people. Such loopholes happen quite a bit in the world of drugs, where laws don’t always match up. The magic mushroom loopholes are a couple of examples, but there are still more.
Consider that in some places like Thailand cannabis with THC levels over .2% is decriminalized, but not legal. Yet growing hemp is perfectly legal, making for the industrial hemp loophole. Not only is it not illegal in a place like Thailand to grow hemp, but it’s actually encouraged for the general population to do so. So much so that the government handed out one million free cannabis plants to residents upon instituting the decriminalization policy. This same concept is seen elsewhere in places like Slovenia, Argentina, and Iran.
Sometimes a loophole isn’t even a real loophole, but still acts that way. Like delta-8 THC. The compound undergoes synthetic processing for creation, meaning it doesn’t fall under the definition of hemp, and is technically illegal, even if its sourced from hemp. However, it also falls into the no-one-will-do-anything-about-it loophole. The US fought such losing wars on drugs (and still is) that to go after any compound (natural or synthetic) related to a drug on the cusp of federal legalization, is so non-financially viable, and so unwanted, that it would only lead to negative consequences for the government. And so there is essentially no legal reaction to the industry.
Even delta-9 falls into that same loophole, when its made from CBD derived from hemp. Sure, it undergoes processing that no longer qualifies it as ‘hemp’, but at a time when half the country already lives in places where high-THC cannabis is legal, going after it, isn’t going to happen. Or at least, it hasn’t yet.
Ketamine is another fantastic loophole example. While it was never approved for use with pain or psychological disorders, it is approved as an anesthetic. In the US, doctors are allowed to prescribe any approved medication for any use they see fit. This has spawned a large gray-market ketamine industry whereby the ketamine is prescribed by a doctor at a clinic, and treatment is given for unapproved purposes.
The world of loopholes is an interesting place, though sometimes it can work against the general population. Take Malta, for example. Malta recently legalized cannabis, becoming the first EU country to do so, but prior to this, it operated off a strange loophole. That loophole came about because Malta legalized home-growing for personal use, but only one plant, without any specification for weight or size. Which means if a person had two plants the same size as one, even for medical use, it no longer fell under the personal use allowance, making it illegal. A person could have three plants that equaled less weight than one big plant, and the same would’ve still applied.
How did this happen?
The US sure likes to illegalize drugs, right? So, how did it allow such a loophole to happen? Probably for the same reason as yet another loophole, the amanita mushroom loophole. Amanita mushrooms are considered ‘poisonous mushrooms’ and not ‘psychedelic mushrooms’ based on a different mode of action that centers around GABA rather than serotonin. They haven’t shown to be deadly, and are simply another form of hallucinogenic mushroom. Unlike their psilocybin counterparts, they were never illegalized.
In both the case of amanita mushrooms, and mescaline-producing plants like San Pedro, they’re less commonly found and used in the US. Amanita mushrooms are found mainly in places like Siberia, whereas some mescaline plants are found more in Latin America. Mescaline also comes with the detraction of a much longer production time, making it less popular than other drugs. When drug laws were made, these compounds/plants either never came up, or were passed-over since they weren’t popular enough in the US at the time. As Peyote showed up more often, it was made illegal, while its less common counterparts, were not.
This does make sense. Countries don’t tend to make laws for things they don’t deal with. The US thought it was outlawing mescaline by making it and Peyote illegal, and it didn’t consider the lesser-known mescaline-producing plants. Just like, it left out amanita mushrooms, because they weren’t known about by anyone in the US at that time. As plant-based hallucinogens grow in popularity and acceptance, it makes it harder for the US to come in now and change things, meaning these loopholes will likely remain until they’re replaced by legalizations.
It’s not my job to tell anyone what to do or not to do. As mescaline is illegal, I’m definitely not telling anyone they should go out and find a San Pedro or Peruvian Torch cactus. And I’m unquestionably not telling anyone that just because they found one, they should tend to it and grow it. And I’m 100% certainly not telling anyone to take that tended-to plant, and then extract the mescaline from it. And I most assuredly am not telling anyone to take that extracted mescaline, and use it. But…for anyone looking for the experience, its sure nice to know that such a mescaline loophole, does, in fact, exist.
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There’s something embedded in our brains from a time before, something instinctual, that urges us to collect. We can likely trace this all the way back to hominids, who would collect fruit or seeds and hide them for a hungry day. As time has continued and we have evolved into homosapiens, the things we save have vastly expanded from just seeds hidden in the hole of a tree.
Along that path of evolving (about 16,000 years ago) we started domesticating things. Domestication in short is the act of collecting similar plants or animals, then breeding them to present the desired characteristics of the collective into one. Some of the first things we domesticated were dogs, goats, wheat, and barley. Flash forward to the present, the need to domesticate has waned, but that desire to collect has flourished. Most people today collect something. From computer files, literature, images, plants, glass, or art, it could be as innocuous as a jar of rocks, or maybe it’s as in your face as a greenhouse full of different varieties of one type of plant.
My Own Experience
I have always had an infatuation with plants, I remember as a kid planting and growing birdseed, just to see what would grow. After high school I went to culinary school in Northern California, and this was my first real introduction to foods produced on a small farm. I grew up in Southern California, so the thought of a commercial farm that grew fruits and veggies you won’t find in stores was a foreign concept, but one I welcomed. This inspired me to try and grow all those cool things that I had never known about. As someone that partakes in cannabis, you know I had to grow some of that as well.
About eight years ago a friend of a friend was moving and couldn’t take a cacti graft with him. Knowing that I had both Peruvian and Bolivian torch, he asked me if I wanted it. I obliged, and I received a pot with a San Pedro root base and a round cacti slightly larger than a golf ball with a little one coming out the side attached to that. It lived on my porch for about a year while the main graft got bigger, and so did the little guy on the side. One day I went to the Orange hardware store, and they had a row of San Pedro in a variety of sizes, and I knew what I needed to do. Later that day I tried my first graft. With the help of a search engine I found some basic videos and gave it a shot. Low and behold, it worked. Every time a new one was big enough, it got grafted. Eventually I traded grafts, and the variety grew. Unconventional grafts are a favorite lately. (An unconventional graft is one that has multiple cacti grafted to one rootstock.)
Plants are a special thing to collect, as they’re not just items – they’re silent living beings, something not for everyone.
I am not throwing shade here, today it takes different strokes to move the world. About a hundred years ago almost everyone had to interact with plants or animals, because that was your food. In today’s day and age you can be a computer programmer that only drinks meal replacements. This person might go years without interacting with, or consuming, an unprocessed plant, and that’s fine… I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for everyone to have a relationship with plants. Just as I’ll bet that the programmer mentioned above would love for everyone to have a relationship with programming.
But I feel plants truly reciprocate the energy you give them. Now when I say energy I mean any amount of care that you give them; watering, fertigating, culling. That’s energy you’re giving – or spending – on these living things. What you receive in return are larger, more robust plants, some with flowers, and almost always bearing some sort of bounty, be it fruit, roots, or seeds.
Cacti are en Vogue
Everyone that’s into plants has different plants that interest them for different reasons. Lately cacti have been gaining popularity, especially in the cannabis culture, as people like lotcomedy and Hamilton Morris are influential, and regularly sharing information about their plant addictions. While this is helping to popularize this ‘hobby’ with the next generation, the act itself is an age old practice.
Outside of succulents, Dragonfruit is one of the most popular of the cacti. Native to Central America and some surrounding areas, it was introduced to Vietnam in the 1800’s by the French. It’s easy to grow, develops fast, and the blooms are always large and vibrant. Obviously, the fruit is amazing, which is why the cacti bears the fruit’s name.
A close second is the Trichocereus cacti. They have a similar bloom to the Dragonfruit, but the Alkaloids they contain make them valuable to the shamanic world. To be clear, it is completely legal to grow any type of trichocereus. The line in the sand of legality is when you harvest and process it to consume. For about 8,000 years shamans in South America have processed a piece of San Pedro or Peruvian Torch into a tea to extract the mescaline. This tea is given to a group of people with ailments from depression to alcoholism, under the supervision of the shaman.
The Most Infamous Cacti
There’s one specific spineless cacti that is just too neat to consume that has really made a resurgence, as a houseplant. It’s name rhymes with keyote, and I’m sure you could figure it out. It’s a slow, deliberate plant that is never in a rush. One that almost forces you to slow down with them. Interestingly, it’s regarded the same as cannabis in the eyes of federal law (it’s a Schedule 1), but for some people, that’s part of the allure and fun. One of the coolest parts of this particular cacti is that the flower’s stamen moves when touched. It’s a reaction called thigmonasty and it only happens in a few plants. These cacti are getting so popular they have been seen for sale at farmers markets and in sponsored advertisements on platforms like Instagram. They look very similar to Astrophytum (a fully legal cacti), however you want to play that to your advantage.
The Joy of Plants
One thing that really does it for me is that blooms are always fleeting. You can’t pick them, nor do they last a week like they do with Dahlias. Each variety of cacti has different blooms, and they vary widely. Some are pure white and the size of a dime, others are a vibrant fuchsia, and the size of a funnel. A few only open at night.
The economic adage “a rising tide lifts all boats” somewhat applies here. I have watched this play out multiple ways. Usually you get a plant you think is neat, but then you see a variegation (variation of color), or a crested (abnormal growth) graft. Maybe it’s a rare type, or wild. You say to yourself “I need one of those.” Since you are already caring for one, what’s a few more? Some people, like me, end up getting more than a few.
Just like any living thing, it isn’t rainbows and unicorns all the time. Cacti get sick, and they die too. However, if you “listen to the plants,” like lotcomedy has coined, and have access to a search engine, you can troubleshoot most issues.
In the end, we need the oxygen plants produce, and they need the CO2 we exhaust. We eat plants, and the animals we consume eat plants, but they also absolutely consume our decomposed matter, so who is really farming who here? It’s a chicken or the egg paradox, but maybe they’re really farming us.
Common genetic variations in a particular serotonin receptor could be responsible for the varying effects psychedelic drugs have on different individuals, according to a recently published study from researchers at the University of North Carolina. The study, which comes at a time of reinvigorated research into the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs, could shed light on why the substances seem to have dramatically positive effects for some patients with serious mental health conditions while others find little therapeutic value in the drugs.
Bryan Roth, MD, PhD, led a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) to complete the study. The goal of the research was to explore how variations in this one serotonin receptor changes the activity of four psychedelic therapies. The laboratory research in cells showed that seven variants uniquely and differentially impact the receptor’s response to four psychedelic drugs—psilocin, LSD, 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) and mescaline. The researchers believe that the in vitro research could be useful for determining appropriate mental health therapies for patients.
“Based on our study, we expect that patients with different genetic variations will react differently to psychedelic-assisted treatments,” said Roth, who leads the National Institutes of Health Psychotropic Drug Screening Program. “We think physicians should consider the genetics of a patient’s serotonin receptors to identify which psychedelic compound is likely to be the most effective treatment in future clinical trials.”
Psychedelics and Mental Health
Research published in 2020 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a quick-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. A separate study published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. And last year, researchers determined that psychedelic users had less stress during lockdowns put in place to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior research has also determined that psychedelic drugs stimulate serotonin receptors in the brain. The 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor, also known as 5-HT2A, is responsible for mediating how a person reacts to psychedelic drugs. However, there are several naturally occurring, random genetic variations that can affect the function and structure of the 5-HT2A receptor. Much of the research into the effect that psychedelics have on mental health is inspired by the effect the drugs have on serotonin receptors, which bind the neurotransmitter serotonin and other similar molecules to help regulate mood, emotions and appetite.
Although they show great promise, psychedelic drugs do not seem to be effective as a treatment for everyone. Dustin Hines, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience in the department of psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who was not involved in the UNC study, said the research could shed light on why psychedelic therapies work well for some patients while others find little therapeutic benefit from the drugs.
“Genetic variation in this receptor has been shown to influence the response of patients to other drugs,” Hines told Healthline. “While psychedelic therapies can provide rapid and sustained therapeutic benefits for multiple mental health concerns, there are a proportion of patients who fail to respond.”
Hines also noted that differences in mental health conditions from person to person could also contribute to how well patients respond to both psychedelic and more traditional treatments.
“Some individuals with depression may have a genetic predisposition that increases the likelihood that they will experience depression in their lives,” Hines said. “Other individuals facing depression may have more situational or environmental contributions.”
The researchers at UNC noted that the study could help provide insight to clinicians considering psychedelics as a treatment for their patients and called for further investigation.
“This is another piece of the puzzle we must know when deciding to prescribe any therapeutic with such dramatic effect aside from the therapeutic effect,” Roth said. “Further research will help us continue to find the best ways to help individual patients.”
When most people think of mescaline, peyote cactus is what generally comes to mind. Peyote, which was somewhat popularized in the 1970s (think Jim Morrison tripping in the desert), is illegal to cultivate, possess, or consume in the United States, unless you’re a member of the Native American Church.
Luckily, many other plants contain mescaline, and one of the more popular alternatives to peyote is yet another species of cactus from Peru that also has thousands of years of cultural and historical use under its belt: the San Pedro cactus.
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What is San Pedro Cactus?
San Pedro (Trichocereus/Echinopsis pachanoi) is a tall, thin flowering columnar cactus that hails from the Andes Mountain region of South America. It is also referred to as aguacolla, cardo, cuchuma, gigantón, hermoso, huando, and Peruvian torch. It grows well in the Southwestern US, as far north as Colorado, although it truly thrives in California and Arizona, where it can be seen with regularity in residential areas and shopping centers.
San Pedro contains mescaline, but unlike peyote, it’s not very strictly regulated – in the United States or globally. Additionally, it’s one of the longest-studied psychedelics, as well as the first cactus to be labeled with the term (psychedelic). San Pedro has a long history of use in various indigenous cultures – for both spiritual and medicinal aims. Traditionally, San Pedro can be consumed either on its own or mixed with other plants in a psychedelic, ceremonial brew called cimora.
Today, San Pedro can be obtained with relative ease, regardless of where you are in the world. You can buy it online from websites that ship to numerous countries (including the United States). In South America, particularly Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador from where the plant originates, San Pedro can be found at “witches’ markets”, also known as El Mercado de las Brujas and La Hechiceria.
More About Mescaline
Mescaline is a naturally occurring, plant-based psychedelic protoalkaloid belonging to the phenethylmine class. It’s known for its powerful hallucinogenic properties, comparable to those of LSD and psilocybin. In addition to Peyote, mescaline can be synthesized from a few other cactus species as well such as the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi), the Peruvian torch (Echinopsis peruviana), and others.
A common dose for mescaline is roughly 200 to 400 mg, depending on the person’s size, level of experience with the compound, and other factors. Traditionally, San Pedro dosing is calculated at roughly 3.75 mg/kg of weight. However, potency can vary wildly from cactus to cactus, so it can be quite difficult to get consistency in dosing. For example, 50 grams of powdered cactus can have anywhere from 150 mg to 1,150 mg of mescaline. Factors such as where and how the cactus grew (the plant’s terroir) and access to water and sunlight can influence the plant’s potency.
Mescaline binds to virtually all serotonin receptors in the brain but has a stronger affinity for the 1A and 2A/B/C receptors. It’s structurally similar to LSD and often used as a benchmark when comparing psychedelics. Proper brain function is dependent on accurate signaling between these receptors.
Some History About San Pedro
San Pedro cactus has a long history of use that can be traced back to the pre-Columbian Chavin culture that developed in Peru between 1300 to 200 BCE. This is evidenced by numerous stone carvings depicting mythical beings holding San Pedro cacti, the oldest of which was discovered in an old temple at Chavin de Huantar in the northern highlands of Peru. Numerous other artifacts from the region bore San Pedro symbolism as well, and perhaps the most concrete proof of its use are the 3,000-year-old cactus cigars found in the same cave as the carvings.
San Pedro has been used therapeutically and ceremoniously throughout South America for over 3,000 years and can be obtained at stores, farmers markets, and “witches’ markets” in the region. Originally, it was known as Huachuma, but European settlers renamed it San Pedro, after Saint Peter who is believed to guard the entry to heaven.
What’s interesting about this, is that the name implies that even the European missionaries knew the plant had healing and spiritual properties, despite their over-regulation of indigenous San Pedro use. But because of their strong contempt for native culture, they were very negative in their reporting of plant therapies and ceremonial traditions, and thus, very harsh laws developed against the cultivation and possession of psychedelic plants – San Pedro included.
Regardless, while knowledge and documented information on other plants like peyote and mushrooms was nearly wiped out in many regions, San Pedro managed to stay relatively lowkey and was able to fly under the radar for centuries. A handful of shamans and other spiritual healers continued conducting ceremonies with Huachuma, and in recent years, it has gained popularity in Europe and US as the psychedelic renaissance flourishes in the west.
How to Prepare San Pedro
The standard native preparation of San Pedro consists of boiling slices of the stem for a few hours, then simply drinking the cooled liquid. It was sometimes mixed with other psychoactive plants such as coca, tobacco, Brugmansia, Datura, and Anadenanthera; but more often it was used on its own.
The basic technique has remained comparatively the same over the years, meaning the most effective and common way to prepare San Pedro for consumption is by making a tea. Below is one of the most common methods:
Step 1: Estimate your dose – As previously mentioned, this isn’t always easy to do with entheogens, but based on the somewhat standard measurement of 3.75 mg/kg of weight, you can get a rough estimate of how much cactus you’ll need. A recommended beginner dose is around 200-300 grams of fresh San Pedro.
Step 2: Prepare the cactus – First you will need to remove the spine, but make sure to leave as much flesh intact as possible. Then peel the waxy, translucent outer layer off the cactus, again, leaving as much flesh as you can. Once you do that, you can continue to remove the lighter colored flesh, leaving only the dark green part of the cactus. This isn’t a requirement, but some people believe it helps to prevent nausea. The final step is to break the cactus down into small chunks, either by chopping or using a food processor.
Step 3: Make your tea – Place the cactus bits into a saucepan or slower-cooker. Fill will three times as much water as there is cactus, and cook on low heat for a few hours (6ish). Some people like to add lemon juice to the boil, claiming that it helps with the mescaline extraction. Although this is somewhat common practice, I couldn’t find any solid sources to back up this theory.
Step 4: Remove the bulk and reduce volume – After simmering for some hours, use a strainer or cheesecloth to remove any excess plant material. Then continue simmering for a few more hours to boil out some of the extra water, this will leave you with a more potent final product so you don’t have to drink a ridiculous amount of tea to feel the high.
Step 5: Enjoy or store your tea – Whatever you don’t use right away, you can store in the fridge for up to one week. After that, you can separate it into doses and put it in the freezer, but make sure to split it up first so you’re not defrosting more than you need at one time. You don’t want to defrost and refreeze your San Pedro brew too many times.
How it Feels
Let me start by mentioning that I have not had the opportunity to try it myself (but plan to in the very near future, now knowing how easy it is to obtain San Pedro). That said, it’s described as a powerful empathogen (or entactogen) which can increase feelings of empathy benevolence, overall connectedness with others.
The effects take roughly 15 to 40 minutes to kick in, and usually peak in about 3 hours. San Pedro highs are very long – anywhere from 10 to 16 hours – so make sure to prepare mentally and physically. You can do this by getting in the right set and setting (you don’t want to enter an all-day or all-night psychedelic high being in the wrong state of mind), and making sure to eat a light, healthy meal at some point before your trip (a few hours preferably). Additionally, San Pedro leaves a “lasting afterglow”, similar to psilocybin, so it might be difficult to sleep after you come down – something to prepare for as well.
In higher doses, San Pedro will produce visual distortions that can include flashes of light and color, auras and ghostly outlines around people, and the infamous kaleidoscope effect that is almost standard with these types of substances. One common thread I noticed in the way people describe mescaline, is that many were surprised at how different it felt from other psychedelics that they were familiar with.
Something unique about San Pedro, it that despite a potent high, users till feel very “in control”. Take this person who described their high on Reddit: “It was like all the best effects from all the drugs all put into one… the great body feeling and incredible empathy and understanding of ecstasy… the focus and energy and drive of acid… the journey effect that I always enjoyed from shrooms… It was the soberest we had ever felt in our life.”
All of this often culminates what is most commonly described as “a clear and connected thought, self-realization, empathy, and euphoria.” However, “bad trips” and dysphoric symptoms may still occur, and are more likely to happen in people who have a history of mental illness and those who don’t pay attention to set and setting.
If you’ve been wanting to try mescaline, but finding peyote has been a challenge (as it typically is) then consider San Pedro as an easy to access and legal alternative. It’s potent and easy to prepare, and you’ll be able to stock up on it much more easily than you could peyote and other sacred plants.
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