San Francisco City Leaders To Consider Psychedelics Decriminalization Measure

City leaders in San Francisco will consider a proposed ordinance to decriminalize the use of natural psychedelics including psilocybin and ayahuasca when the Board of Supervisors returns from recess next month. The measure, which was introduced by San Francisco Supervisors Dean Preston and Hillary Ronen on July 26, would also encourage the state of California to reform its psychedelic drugs policy.

If adopted by the Board of Supervisors, the ordinance would call on the San Francisco Police Department to make enforcement of laws banning the possession, use, cultivation and transfer of entheogenic plants and fungi including psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca and their active components by adults “amongst the lowest priority for the City and County of San Francisco,” according to the text of the proposal.

The ordinance also requests that city resources not be used for “any investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law regarding the use of Entheogenic Plants listed on the Federally Controlled Substances Schedule 1 list.”

Preston has been critical of the SFPD’s recent increase in enforcement of laws criminalizing drug use. But he noted that decriminalizing natural psychedelics is a different matter.

“We’re not talking about addictive substances here. Around this particular category, I would hope that even folks who disagree around the best approaches to dealing with opioids and other drugs prevalent in San Francisco would agree with deprioritizing enforcement around entheogenic plants,” Preston said, adding that research has shown psychedelics have the potential to treat several serious mental health issues including substance abuse.

The Evolution of Psychedelics Policy

Preston noted that the measure would bring San Francisco policy in line with the movement to look at psychedelics in a new light after decades of stigma and criminalization.

“The law hasn’t evolved at all since then, and these substances are treated the way they always have been,” Preston said. “At the same time, the scientific community has been expanding their study and research into their therapeutic use.”

Michael Pollan, a co-founder of the Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics and the creator of a recent Netflix documentary series on the drugs, said that entheogenic plants can be used therapeutically, but warned they should be used with caution.

“These substances have enormous potential, but they are not for everyone and they carry serious risks when used improperly,” Pollan said at a recent news conference. “The shift from destroyer of young minds in the ’60s to effective medicine in the 2020s is as sudden as it is confusing to many people. So we want to address that confusion and that curiosity with solid, credible information from a trusted source.”

“Not many people were doing basic science, trying to understand how it is that psychedelics have the effects they have and why they’re effective in the treatment of various mental disorders,” Pollan added. “We want to figure out what psychedelics might teach us about things like perception, predictive processing, belief change and brain plasticity.”

If the psychedelics decriminalization ordinance is approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the city would become the largest municipality to enact such a measure. Denver was the first city in the nation to decriminalize psychedelics in 2019, and since that time others including Oakland and Santa Cruz, California, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Easthampton, Massachusetts have adopted similar ordinances. And two years ago, voters in Oregon approved groundbreaking legislation to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use.

“One of the striking things about the Oregon experiment, which passed by ballot initiative in 2020, is that it will make a guided psychedelic experience available to anyone over 21, regardless of diagnosis,” said Pollan. “I do think that the use of psychedelics will not be restricted to the medical system. It’s not now and won’t be in the future.”

Dr. Markus Roggen, the president and chief science officer of psychedelics and cannabis research and development firm Delic Labs, said he supports the intent of the San Francisco psychedelics proposal.

“I welcome decriminalization from a philosophical point, as criminalizing ‘drug’ possession/use has brought many costs and pains to the country,” Roggen wrote in an email to High Times.

But he added that he does not believe decriminalization goes far enough and that past harms caused by the criminalization of psychedelic drugs need to be righted. He also said that decriminalization should include regulation, noting the thriving illicit psychedelics industry in the Netherlands.

“There the use is legal but production illegal,” said Roggen. “The government handed this whole industry to the cartels and mafia.”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will take up the psychedelics decriminalization measure when it returns from recess in September.

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Normalizing Psychedelics: An Interview with Matthew X. Lowe

Over the past few years, psychedelics are finally becoming more normalized, but for the most part, that just means psilocybin. LSD is still considered, even by many who are interested in the world of mushrooms and cannabis, to be a taboo substance. Unlimited Sciences and Matthew X. Lowe would love to change that. We chatted with him about the moves he’s been making to change the culture and bring psychedelics access to those who need it.

What is the history of the company, and how are you aiming to change these stigmas?

Unlimited Sciences is a fairly new company. We were officially launched in 2018. Most of what we’ve been doing until now is psilocybin research. We just concluded that study recently with Johns Hopkins University of 8,400 individuals enrolled, making it the single largest longitudinal study in the world on psilocybin. We started to analyze the data, and we are seeing some very promising results with reductions in depression and anxiety.

We’re looking at multiple different metrics including risks and safety profiles, dosages, and set and setting. We also have our ayahuasca study that we’re running this summer, and then we’re also looking to create a general registry of feedback about psilocybin. That registry will also include LSD, so we’re kind of expanding our research and exploring more ways that we can bring awareness about the risks and the benefits.

What are you doing to specifically change the way LSD and other more blacklisted substances are seen?

We all heard the horror stories and we kind of grew up with those stories and stigma. So really, on that front, the biggest thing we’re aiming to do is to raise education and awareness, not just about the benefits of these substances, but also about how to mitigate risks. And that’s one of the most important things that’s often overlooked.

On [one] hand, yes, we want to push this legislation through as quickly as we can, but it’s super important to not only understand the benefits and what they can bring, but also mitigate those risks, because as we know, there can be significant risks if you’re under- or uneducated about what could go wrong.

To help with that, we have a free call center where individuals can phone and ask questions, often related to how they can mitigate risks around cannabis use. And we want to do the exact same thing for psychedelics. The plan is to develop a call center where you can call in and ask questions about how much you should take. It won’t be medical advice, but it will be based on data-driven research. We’re trying to get as much data as we can, and the psilocybin studies have contributed significantly to that.

We’re also continuing to do outreach, and we write articles and present them at scientific conferences. We’re working extensively with psilocybin and then plan to delve into LSD. We aim to talk about and raise awareness on these topics through data-driven efforts so that we can provide objective, unbiased feedback.

How would you like to see people think about psychedelics 10 or 20 years from now?

Personally, I see it as a mix of more information, medical legalization, and some recreational legalization, to a certain extent. I can imagine substances such as psilocybin, for example, being treated very much like cannabis in the coming years. So, for substances where there have been far fewer documented risks, and where risk of an overdose is low, I can see those being recreational.

But for the majority of substances that I’m talking about, I would see them strictly as controlled within the medical space, and that’s because some of them can have quite a few risks. When you talk about things like psychosis, if you have a predisposition to that or a family history, even usage of cannabis can trigger that. So for things like ayahuasca and LSD, I see that being more in the medically regulated space.

What are some of the biggest benefits that you think humanity can get from these substances?

Personally, I think it’s endless. The most immediate ones are of course mental health. We have a mental health crisis, and the systems and medications and treatments we have today are failing for many. Up to a third of individuals suffering from depression have treatment-resistant depression. I hope that in the future, psychedelics won’t just be the last line of defense for mental health issues, but one of the first lines.

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Oregon Psilocybin Rules Set To Be Finalized in December

The Oregon Health Authority’s Oregon Psilocybin Services Section is currently working on finalizing a regulatory framework to manage psilocybin legalization. While currently partnering with the Psilocybin Advisory Board, these rules are expected to be released by Dec. 31, 2022, as license applications will open up starting on Jan. 2, 2023.

The culmination of regulating psilocybin is two years in the making, according to Angie Allbee, a Section Manager for Oregon Psilocybin Services. “Ballot Measure 109, otherwise known as the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, was passed by Oregon voters in November of 2020,” Allbee told KGW8. “What it did was create a licensing and regulatory framework for the production of psilocybin products and the provision of psilocybin services in Oregon. This is available to individuals 21 years of age or older, that would like to access psilocybin services. It does not need a prescription or a referral from a provider.”

These rules will be the first of its kind in the country, and could serve as a template for other states who follow suit.

Allbee clarified that under these rules, patients can’t just take home psilocybin as medication, but they will consume it in a controlled environment while being monitored by licensed practitioners. “Psilocybin products will be sold to the clients, and that’s where the psilocybin services, the actual journey takes place,” Allbee said.

Psychotherapist Tom Eckert, who has long been a psilocybin advocate, has been an integral part of supporting psilocybin services for Oregon patients. KGW8 mentioned that he and his late wife have campaigned for access since 2015.

Eckert explained that the process is unique. “Most of the action is internal and that can be different for different folks because we come to this experience with our own stuff,” said Eckert. “So that’s kind of the neat thing about psilocybin and the experience of psilocybin as a therapeutic agent, it kind of goes where it needs to go.”

Ultimately, Eckert believes that the success of the entire program hinges on specialists who can help treat the individual needs of each patient. “I’ve always thought that the beating heart of this whole program is the practitioners, the facilitators,” Eckert said, “We need competent, trained practitioners to really understand this specific modality.”

While officials finalize these details, there are some cities in Oregon that do not want to allow psilocybin services. The Clackamas County Commissioners voted in July to temporarily ban psilocybin, and voters in Linn County will be able to vote on an approval to also ban psilocybin later this year in November.

 On a larger scale, “Right to Try Clarification Act” was recently introduced by Sen. Cory Booker and Rand Paul. If passed, restrictions for substances that are included in the Controlled Substances Act would not apply to psilocybin and MDMA, as long as a Phase 1 clinical trial has been completed. In action, this would allow terminally ill patients the opportunity to use these substances for medical treatment. “As a physician, I know how important Right to Try is for patients facing a life-threatening condition,” Paul said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the federal bureaucracy continues to block patients seeking to use Schedule I drugs under Right to Try. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation with Sen. Booker that will get government out of the way and give doctors more resources to help patients.”

Psilocybin, like cannabis, is quickly being accepted as a medical treatment alternative. Numerous studies have released, and suggest evidence that psilocybin can act as an anti-depressant. Another study from July claims that it can boost “mood and health.” Another study based on South Africa in June found that it was especially effective in women with HIV and depression.

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Poll States 28% of Americans Have Tried At Least One Psychedelic Substance

The poll asked 1,000 adults to answer questions online between July 22-25, which revealed that 28% of Americans have used at least one of the seven psychedelic drugs included in the questionnaire. In order of most used to least used, the list of substances included LSD (14% of participants), psilocybin (13%), MDMA (9%), ketamine (6%), DMT (6%), and salvia (5%).

The poll notes that psychedelic acceptance is increasing, and more legislation is being proposed. “Recent shifts, both in policy and public opinion, suggest the tide in the United States may be turning toward increasingly favoring psychedelic drugs,” YouGov states. “In the past few years, a number of cities across the U.S., such as Oakland, California, have decriminalized psilocybin, also known as psychedelic mushrooms. This November, Coloradans will vote on whether to legalize the drug state-wide, and by January 2023, Oregon is expected to begin allowing its use for mental-health treatment in supervised settings.”

According to the poll, 42% percent of those who have tried psychedelics at least once have a family income of $100,000 or more, while only 34% have an income of $50,000 to $100,000, and 23% reported having an income of $50,000 or less. Forty-two percent also said they had earned a postgraduate degree, with 26% having graduated with an undergraduate degree, and 24% who have a high school degree or less.

In terms of age, 39% of participants who have tried psychedelics range between 30-44 years old, whereas 35% range between 18-29 years of age, and only 14% were over 65. Thirty-four percent of participants who have tried a substance identified as men, while 22% identified as women.

Regionally, the pattern of acceptance follows areas that have enacted psychedelics-related legislation. Thirty-seven percent of participants who have tried substances live in the western United States, with 34% in the Northeast, 23% in the South (other regions were not specified). Those who have experimented with psychedelics often live in cities (36%), compared to those who live in suburbs (26%), and rural areas (19%).

Other categories of definition explored people from different religions, those who live in other regions of the country, age, and other identifiers such as “very conservative,” “conservative” or “liberal.” The poll data shows that those who are liberal, which is defined by the 52% of participants, said that they have tried at least one psychedelic drug.

However, many of the participants still showed opposition to decriminalizing of some of these substances. Forty-four percent oppose decriminalization of psilocybin, 53% oppose decriminalizing LSD, and 53% oppose MDMA decriminalization. Overall, those who have tried one of these substances are more likely to agree that it should be decriminalized. “And while support for legalizing psychedelic drugs is relatively low among Americans overall, it’s much higher among people who have personal experiences with the substances—especially in the case of people who have used mushrooms.”

Those who have tried these substances also expressed support for medical initiatives that promote psychedelics as a medical treatment. “Recently proposed bipartisan amendments to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, suggested by Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, relax federal restrictions on research into psychedelic-assisted post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment for veterans,” YouGov wrote. When participants were asked about their support of research such as that initiative, 54% said they supported it and 18% said they were opposed. Sixty-three percent of those who hold a college degree supported research efforts for at least one psychedelic drug, but 49% of those without a college degree also support research. Sixty percent of participants who aligned as Democrat said they were more likely to favor psychedelic research, versus 54% of Independents and 45% of Republicans.

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Bipartisan Senate Bill Would Give ‘Right to Try’ Protection to Psilocybin and MDMA

Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, introduced bipartisan legislation on Wednesday to extend federal Right to Try protection to the psychedelic drugs psilocybin and MDMA. Under the bill, titled the Right to Try Clarification Act, restrictions of the federal Controlled Substances Act would not apply to Schedule I Drugs for which a Phase 1 clinical trial has been completed. The new provisions would apply to doctors and patients with life-threatening medical conditions using Schedule 1 controlled substances under the federal Right to Try Act.

“As a physician, I know how important Right to Try is for patients facing a life-threatening condition,” Paul said in a statement about the legislation from Booker’s office. “Unfortunately, the federal bureaucracy continues to block patients seeking to use Schedule I drugs under Right to Try. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation with Sen. Booker that will get government out of the way and give doctors more resources to help patients.”

The Right to Try Act allows patients who have been diagnosed with life-threatening diseases or conditions for which traditional therapies have not been effective to use certain treatments that have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In most cases, a drug is eligible for Right to Try use after a Phase 1 clinical trial has been completed for that drug but before the drug is approved or licensed by the FDA for any use. Under the provisions of the Right to Try law, states have the option to permit or prohibit Right to Try use under state law.

The senators noted that two drugs, MDMA and psilocybin, show promise as treatment for a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The success and safety of the drugs exhibited in Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials has been so encouraging that the FDA has classified both substances as “breakthrough therapies,” indicating that they show a substantial improvement over currently approved therapies.

“Recent studies suggest that MDMA and psilocybin could represent an enormous advancement in mental health and psychopharmacology,” said Booker. “Unfortunately, many eligible patients who urgently need care do not currently have access to these promising therapies. This legislation will put the patient first and help ensure access to life-changing and life-saving drugs.”

Companion Measure To Be Introduced in the House

A bipartisan duo of members of the House of Representatives who support federal cannabis policy have already signed on to support Booker and Paul’s bill and will introduce companion legislation in the House. Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who has long supported reforming the nation’s cannabis laws, and Representative Nancy Mace, a first-term Republican who introduced a bill to legalize cannabis last year, expressed their support for the change to Right to Try legislation.

“Oregon has a long legacy of ensuring that end-of-life patients have access to the full spectrum of treatment options to alleviate their condition and improve their quality of life. Patients and doctors deserve to discuss treatments—including psilocybin—that researchers find provide immediate and sustained relief from pain, anxiety, and depression for people battling terminal illness,” Blumenauer said. “Federal restrictions have obstructed access to end-of-life care for too long, this legislation will change that and ensure that all patients have the Right to Try. I appreciate Senator Booker’s leadership, it is timely and important.”

“Advances in science and technology are often made when we think outside the box and try new things,” said Mace. “This legislation gives patients the power to choose alternative options like psilocybin or MDMA when facing a life-threatening condition. We know these chemicals have the potential to save lives, and today is an important step forward in medical progress. I want to thank Senators Booker and Paul for their bipartisan work to bring these exciting new options into the mainstream medical world.”

The Right to Try Clarification Act was introduced in the Senate only one day before Booker, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon introduced a long-anticipated bill to legalize cannabis at the federal level. Shane Pennington, an attorney with the law firm Vicente Sederberg, said that he is “happy to see Congress paying attention to psychedelics issues, particularly those that affect the veteran community. Vets shouldn’t have to go to other countries to access therapies that evidence has shown to be safe and likely effective.”

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Fruit Fly Study Shows Psilocybin Produces Long-Lasting Antidepressant-Like Effect

A recently published study has found that psilocybin can have a long-lasting effect similar to antidepressants in fruit flies, bolstering evidence that the psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms may one day be used to treat serious mental health conditions in humans.

Charles D. Nichols, a professor of pharmacology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and one of the study’s authors, said that research with fruit flies can support investigations into other animal organisms including mammals.

“I have been studying fruit flies since my Ph.D. dissertation work, and have looked at the effects of psychedelics and serotonin receptor drugs in them as part of my overall research program ever since,” Nichols told PsyPost.

“Serotonins and their receptors in flies are involved in several key behaviors shared with mammals and humans, including many aspects of social interaction, and learning and memory,” Nichols added. “Fruit flies represent a powerful genetic model to elucidate mechanisms of drug effects and behaviors at the cellular level, and allow for more rapid discovery than in mammalian systems.”

Previous research has shown that psilocybin seems to have an antidepressant effect. A study published in 2020 showed that psilocybin can be an effective and quick-acting treatment for major depressive disorder. Most participants showed a substantial decrease in depression after treatment, and more than half were considered to be in remission from depression four weeks after treatment. Among the 24 patients, 67% showed a more than 50% reduction in depression symptoms after one week, and 71% showed similar progress at four weeks.

“The magnitude of the effect we saw was about four times larger than what clinical trials have shown for traditional antidepressants on the market,” said study co-author Alan Davis of Johns Hopkins University.

No, Fruit Flies Don’t Get Depressed

To conduct the new study, the researchers employed the forced swim test, a commonly used animal model to assess antidepressant effects by recording the behavior of rodents facing inescapable adversity. The scientists adapted the test for use with Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, which have neurotransmitter systems similar to mammals and have been widely used for genetic research. Although fruit flies and humans are very different, the research could be relevant to humans.

“Fruit flies likely don’t get ‘depressed’ (for that matter mice or rats don’t either — depression is a human disorder),” Nichols explained. “We are limited to studying how a drug alters neural physiology relevant to a specific behavior, not a psychiatric condition. For example, the forced swim test in and of itself does not measure a specific behavior seen in humans, but the forced swim test in rodents is highly predictive of antidepressant efficacy in humans. Nevertheless, fundamental processes are conserved, and the study of fruit flies has led to insights into human biology in several areas.”

Nichols’ team found that repeated doses of the antidepressant drug citalopram reduced immobility in fruit flies during the forced swim test.

“This is similar to SSRI effects in humans, where chronic dosing is necessary to produce an antidepressant effect,” the researchers noted.

Psilocybin Had Antidepressant Effect

Psilocybin was found to have an antidepressant effect on fruit flies during the forced swim test. Just a single dose of psilocybin administered several days before the swim test reduced immobility in fruit flies.

“The ability of a single exposure to psilocybin to alter neural biology and behavior long-term in a similar manner to SSRI antidepressants indicates that the effects of psilocybin (and likely other psychedelics) are highly evolutionarily conserved,” said Nichols. “This means that we can perhaps use fruit flies in rapid and powerful genetic experiments to identify key mechanisms underlying how psilocybin alters behaviors similar to antidepressants. Knowing how psilocybin alters neurobiology at the molecular and genetic level will hopefully lead to development and refinement of the use of psychedelics to treat psychiatric disorders.”

Nichols noted that using fruit flies can help speed research because they have short life spans and reproduce rapidly. In contrast, studies that use mammals for research can take considerably longer.

“We previously developed rat models where just one dose of psilocybin has very long-lasting antidepressant-like effects,” Nichols said. “These models are laborious and take several months from start to finish.”

“The first author on the study, Dr. Meghan Hibicke, designed and ran the experiments and leveraged her expertise in rodent behavioral pharmacology and models of depression to make this study a success,” Nichols added.

The researchers called for continued research with fruit flies to help determine how psilocybin might one day be used to treat depression in humans.

“Open areas for further research include determining which neurotransmitter receptor(s) are mediating the effects of psilocybin, and if other receptors that activate this target have similar effects, identifying other behaviors in the fly relevant to antidepressant effects in humans that may respond to psychedelics, and finally determining the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying the effects of psilocybin to alter behaviors relevant to the study of depression in humans,” said Nichols.

The study, “Validation of the forced swim test in Drosophila, and its use to demonstrate psilocybin has long-lasting antidepressant-like effects in flies“, was published last month by the journal Scientific Reports.

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How ‘How to Change Your Mind’ Will Change Your Mind About Psychedelics

Netflix has no shortage of documentaries about psychedelics. In 2016’s The Last Shaman, a severely depressed actor ventures into the Amazon rainforest in the hope that a cup of ayahuasca can keep his suicidal thoughts at bay. Ram Dass, Going Home (2017) follows the last days of the eponymous psychologist, who was once ousted from Harvard for using drugs in his research. In Have a Good Trip (2020), A$AP Rocky, Anthony Bourdain, and other celebrities—both dead and living—share the stories behind their wildest psychedelic trips.

To these entries the streamer recently added How to Change Your Mind. Based on a 2018 book of the same name by the journalist and New York Times best-selling author Michael Pollan, this docuseries follows Pollan as he researches (and uses) 4 different psychedelic drugs: LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and mescaline. Unsurprisingly, the series quickly became a huge hit, trending in the streaming service’s top 10 ever since its release on July 12.

How to Change Your Mind is a captivating watch, even if you’re not remotely interested in psychedelics. This is largely thanks to Pollan, who is not only a likable host but a talented writer. Pollan began his career reporting on the relationship between people and plants, focusing mostly on the food industry. His beat eventually led him from ordinary plants to mind-altering plants, starting with insidious examples like coffee and tea and ending with full-blown psychedelics.

In the opening scenes of the first episode, Pollan refers to himself as a “late bloomer.” Born shortly after the infamous Summer of Love, his understanding of psychedelics was limited to the terrifying and exaggerated stories he’d been told by agents of the U.S. government. Later in life, journalism taught him to think for himself. Viewers now find Pollan, approaching his 70s, sitting cross legged in a field while a ceremonial leader shoots concentrated doses of tobacco up his nostrils. The journalist, quivering and groaning as though his body has been set on fire, tries his best to remain composed; he knows his trip is only just beginning, and the worst (or best) has yet to come.

The first episode of How to Change Your Mind is dedicated to the “first” psychedelic: LSD. Lysergic acid diethylamide, Pollan explains, was first synthesized in 1938 by Albert Hofmann. Hofmann, a Swiss chemist under the employment of pharmaceutical giant Sandoz, unknowingly synthesized the psychedelic while breaking down ergot, a fungus that commonly grows on rye. Hofmann suspects the substance must have accidentally entered his bloodstream through his fingertips, causing him to undergo the first acid trip in European history. The initially terrifying but ultimately pleasant experience motivated Hofmann to experiment further, ingesting quantities of LSD that would intimidate even the most seasoned psychonauts.

Unsure what to do with the new substance and curious about its pharmaceutical potential, Sandoz started an open research and development program, shipping LSD to any chemist, neurologist, and psychoanalyst interested in running experiments. These experiments continued into the sixties, until the U.S. government interfered. Detecting a link between the eye-opening drug and conscientious objection to the Vietnam War, Washington declared LSD a schedule 1 narcotic. Other countries including Switzerland followed suit, and all research was shut down.

Mainstream media, which previously covered LSD with unbridled enthusiasm, now presented the drug as a dangerous and addictive substance. News coverage focused exclusively on “bad trips,” presenting them as the only kind of outcome one can expect from LSD. Crying teenagers are unable to distinguish between reality and hallucination. Their panic attacks are so severe they have to be restrained by police or medical personnel. Though LSD is non-lethal and non-toxic, there is indeed a slight danger to it. For people prone to mental illness, warns Pollan, dropping acid might trigger their first psychotic break.

That’s not to say LSD is a shortcut to schizophrenia. For the majority of psychonauts, the drug causes a myriad of exciting, pleasant sensations. They say the only way to understand a trip is to experience one for yourself, but Pollan and the people he interviews actually do a pretty good job describing what they see and feel. Hofmann recalls that the Swiss landscape morphed into “kaleidoscopic” shapes and that acoustic perceptions were translated into visual ones. (How to Change Your Mind uses some cool CGI to show what this might look like). The Canadian psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond initially took LSD to better understand his psychotic patients, only to realize that acid trips were more mystical than maddening. Everything around him, the psychiatrist explains, acquired a profound sense of beauty and intrigue, so much so that he could spend all day contemplating something as unremarkable as a flower. Pollan agrees, adding that LSD makes you look at the world as though you are seeing it for the first time, the way you did when you were a child.

Indeed, many find that taking LSD puts them back in touch with lost or suppressed memories. One young man participating in a modern-day clinical trial in Zurich says he remembered being inside his mother’s womb where, the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around his little neck, he was forced to decide whether to survive or give up. This predicament, though strange, is hardly unique; from war veterans to sexual assault survivors, people say psychedelics allow them to confront—and, crucially—move past their traumatic experiences, healing themselves in ways that conventional psychiatry and medication cannot.

It is interesting that individuals from all walks of life use the same basic language to describe the emotional significance of their trips. They say LSD makes them feel “connected” to the world around them. Starstruck by the beauty and awe described by Osmond, they suddenly realize that they are but one small part of a much larger organism. This realization leads them to the conclusion that if they hurt someone else, or hurt nature, they are also hurting themselves—a train of thought which may explain why love plays such a central role in the psychedelic movement, and why so many young Americans ended up refusing to participate in the Vietnam War.

It is only in retrospect that we recognize the influence psychedelics have had on society. Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, did not quit drinking until he was given a dose of LSD. According to Wilson, the drug changed his perspective on addiction and awakened his capacity to himself. To this day AA remains a deeply spiritual organization, and that spirit can be traced back directly to psychedelics.

Psychedelics also gave us the personal computer. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, famously referred to a college LSD trip as “one of the most important things in my life.” Like other entrepreneurs and artists who came of age during the Summer of Love, Jobs used drugs to unwind and open his mind to new creative possibilities. Pollan says it’s no coincidence that Jobs and other future tech titans took a liking to LSD, as both psychedelics and digital technology are all about dissolving boundaries and connecting people that would have otherwise been separated by space and time. Times haven’t changed that much either. If life on Wall Street continues to be defined by its normalization of cocaine use, Silicon Valley is still a place where employees can release their inner psychonaut without fear of being sacked by straight-laced superiors.

Today, research into LSD and other kinds of psychedelics is gradually resuming. Between the War on Drugs being unmasked as the witch hunt that it was, and the legalization of other previously persecuted substances like cannabis, researchers are once again able to legally handle their test subjects. How to Change Your Mind spotlights a number of contemporary studies, several of which are happening in Switzerland: the very country where Hofmann discovered LSD all those years ago. One team is looking at whether or not psychedelics could improve the mental state of terminally ill cancer patients. Another is finding out, once and for all, which areas of the brain are stimulated when an acid trip kicks in (one of these, spoiler alert, is the area of the brain that regulates our sense of self).

Once you finish the first episode of Pollan’s documentary, chances are you’ll stick around for the other three. Though they are all qualified as psychedelics, each substance influences the brain in different ways. Whereas LSD toys with our sense perception, its cousin MDMA straight up fills our heads with serotonin. The popular party drug does not cause us to see outlandish visuals, but feel an unprecedented amount of love. While LSD allows you to look at the world from a different perspective, MDMA enables you to see and accept yourself for who you are—yet another fascinating prospect for medical researchers. As for psilocybin and mescaline, you’ll simply have to watch How to Change Your Mind for yourself.

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Legal Psychedelics – What Can You Buy in the United States?

Despite growing mainstream popularity, and unlike cannabis which was always widely available – psychedelics are much harder to find if you don’t have a connection. You shouldn’t be incredibly hard-pressed to track down a mushroom or MDMA dealer in your area, if you’re diligent; but stuff like LSD, DMT, and mescaline often pose a greater challenge.  

With the rise of internet psychonaut communities, that too has become much easier, but then you’re left with questions of legality, and whether what you’re buying could possibly get you into trouble. Although the actual drugs themselves are 100% illegal to buy and sell online, there are still numerous products you can purchase that contain these compounds – and they are perfectly legal!  

Check out our list of legal psychedelics and related products below, and to stay current on everything important happening in the industry, subscribe to The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter. Also, it’ll get you premium access to deals on cannabis flowers, vapes, edibles, and much more! We’ve also got standout offers on cannabinoids, like HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC, which won’t kill your bank account. Head over to our “Best-of” lists to get these deals, and remember to enjoy responsibly!


Legal status of psychedelics in the U.S.  

The federal laws regarding psychedelics are pretty cut and dry: they are overwhelmingly prohibited. So far there is only one exception – ketamine/esketamine – two different versions of essentially the same drug (esketamine is an isomer of ketamine) that have received FDA approval for a handful of regulated medical uses. Other psychedelics, even those that are undergoing clinical trials like LSD, MDMA, and psilocybin, are all still on the list of Schedule 1 Controlled Substances.  

Like cannabis, psychedelic drugs were not always illegal in the United States. Throughout the 1940s and 50s they were studied somewhat extensively for their ability to treat mental health disorders that were proving resistant to standard pharmaceutical medications. Eventually, when the FDA banned entheogens, the research came to a screeching halt and patients were once again barred from these innovative treatments.  

However, in recent years there has been a renewed public interest in the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy. Both MDMA and psilocybin have received ‘breakthrough therapy’ designations by the FDA for PTSD and severe depression respectively, for which both are undergoing trials. This means a US federal government agency is pushing for the research and development of compounds with Schedule I listings. And this indicates that laws could be changing very soon. 

So, what can you buy? 

While you can’t legally buy psychedelic compounds themselves, you can purchase the products that are used to make these drugs. For example, psilocybin is illegal, but mushroom spore syringes are not. This is because the spores don’t contain any psilocybin yet, so they are legal by default. Also available are some psychedelics that are less common in this area, and so they aren’t well-known enough for regulators to start making laws against them.  

First, let’s take a look at what the DEA has to say about psychedelic compounds:  

“Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another 
schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation, which 
contains any quantity of the following hallucinogenic substances, 
or which contains any of their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers 
whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers 
is possible within the specific chemical designation: 
(1) 3,4-methylenedioxy amphetamine. 
(2) 5-methoxy-3,4-methylenedioxy amphetamine. 
(3) 3,4,5-trimethoxy amphetamine. 
(4) Bufotenine. 
(5) Diethyltryptamine. 
(6) Dimethyltryptamine. 
(7) 4-methyl-2,5-diamethoxyamphetamine. 
(8) Ibogaine. 
(9) Lysergic acid diethylamide. 
(10) Marihuana. 
(11) Mescaline. 
(12) Peyote. 
(13) N-ethyl-3-piperidyl benzilate. 
(14) N-methyl-3-piperidyl benzilate. 
(15) Psilocybin. 
(16) Psilocyn. 
(17) Tetrahydrocannabinols” 

That leaves us with numerous products that are legal by default, and countless others that are not quite legal, but also not heavily regulated. For example, some psychedelic (or psychedelic-adjacent plants) you can find easily online are:  

  • San Pedro and Peruvian Torch cactus (both contain mescaline)  
  • Egyptian Blue Lotus (said to have MDMA-like effects at high doses)  
  • Salvia Leaf (contains opioid-like compounds that can produce hallucinations and synesthesia)  
  • Banisteriopsis Caapi (used to make ayahuasca, paired with Chacruna Leaf)  
  • Hape Ritual Snuff (sacred shamanic tobacco snuff)  
  • Kratom (used as a natural pain reliever and mild stimulant)  
  • Kanna (contains mildly psychoactive alkaloids)  
  • Hawaiian Baby Woodrose (AKA Elephant Creeper, seeds contain LSA [d-lysergic acid amide])  
  • Mimosa Hostilis Bark (contains DMT)  
  • Ergine (AKA morning glory, seeds contain LSA [d-lysergic acid amide])  
  • Kava (mildly psychoactive and depressant properties)  
  • Damiana (mildly psychoactive, relaxing and helps with sleep)  
  • Mexican dream herb (Calea zacatechichi, said to induce lucid dreaming) 

Additionally, you can buy a lot of ancillary products and supplies such as grow kits, mushroom spore prints, psilocybin spore syringes, liquid culture vials, reagent kits/drug testing kits, and so forth. What you can purchase depends on what state you live in, so you will have to look up regulations in your area for more specific details on what psychedelics are legal for you.  

DMT-source plants  

Legality is a funny concept, and understanding whether DMT containing plants – such as Mimosa Hostilis Bark, Chacruna Leaf, and Acacia confusa – are legal or not has become quite the topic of debate in the psychonaut community. Some believe it’s legal by technicality, falling into a sort of regulatory limbo, while others claim the FDA explicitly bans these products. So, which is the correct answer? 

If we take the above statement: “… any material, compound, mixture, or preparation, which 
contains any quantity of the following hallucinogenic substances…”, it seems relatively clear. But if we dissect the legal text a little bit more, some questions surface. Take into consideration how widely DMT is found in nature – it’s produced my countless animals (including humans) and thousands of plants, even some very common ones like the leaves of lemon and orange trees. There are even some plausible theories floating around that every living thing produces at least trace amounts of DMT. With that in mind, in would be impossible to regulate “any material” containing “any quantity” of DMT.  

Overall, I think it’s safe to say that this definitely falls under a legal gray area. Although the government would probably like all DMT-containing plants to be illegal, and they may even go to the extent of regulating a few select ones, it would be extremely difficult to do on a larger scale, especially for a compound that has relatively low statistical use. But that doesn’t mean they are not trying. For example, shipments of Mimosa bark and other products used to extract DMT are often intercepted. And it’s illegal to own Bufo alvarius (or Incilius alvarius, the Colorado river toad, used in the production of 5-MeO-DMT) as a pet.  

But if any material which contains any quantity of DMT is considered a Schedule I drug, then quite possibly, nearly all living things would be Schedule I – from your own lungs and brain to the citrus trees growing in your backyard. The law is unenforceable as it is currently written, and it would be hard to imagine someone getting prosecuted for possession of one of these plants (assuming they have a decent lawyer and there was no intent to distribute).  

Keep in mind that although no law expressly bans all these plants and products, local law enforcement may still look at items of this nature unfavorably. Individual buyers are not likely to be targeted by federal law enforcement for small purchases, but local law enforcement could be a wildcard. Avoiding raising any suspicion from postal service workers, nosey neighbors, and local law enforcement is key to staying above board with these things.  

Final thoughts on legal psychedelics

The psychedelics product market isn’t raging just yet (at least not domestically), but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on some fun, interesting and legal products still. From mescaline-producing cacti to DMT-containing bark to psilocybin mushroom spores, there is no shortage of plant products to trip on; and if you know where to look, most can be found with relative ease.  

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New Study Shows Mood, Mental Health Improved by Microdosing Psilocybin

A study published in Scientific Reports on June 30 has presented evidence that psilocybin mushrooms have a noticeable effect on the mood and mental health of participants.

The study, called “Psilocybin microdosers demonstrate greater observed improvements in mood and mental health at one month relative to non-microdosing controls,” analyzed 1,133 subjects between November 2019 to May 2021. Baseline assessment was conducted at the beginning of the study, and then again between 22-35 days later.

Researchers analyzed the results of psilocybin microdosing combined with either lion’s mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus, or abbreviated as HE) or niacin (vitamin-B3) to identify “small- to medium-sized improvements in mood and mental health that were generally consistent across gender, age and presence of mental health concerns … improvements in psychomotor performance that were specific to older adults.” The study refers to these combinations as “stacking.”

The study abstract notes that combining psilocybin with HE or B3 “did not impact changes in mood and mental health,” however, older participants did experience psychomotor improvements through either just psilocybin, or psilocybin and HE.

The research was written by numerous authors including Paul Stamets, as well as Joseph M. Rootman of University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychology. According to an interview with Forbes, Rootman is certain that the work being conducted now will help lead to more revelations in the future. “This study is an extension of our earlier manuscript published in the same journal, and we have further publications in preparation that are based on this same study,” said Rootman. “Our team has also been working hard to develop the next version of the study which will be used to generate findings related to psychedelic microdosing for years to come.”

Rootman also clarified that the study did not require just one type of mushroom variety. Rather, researchers simply observed the patient’s recorded experiences, which ranged between low, medium, or high microdosed amounts of mushrooms (0.1 grams, 0.1-0.3 grams, or more than 0.3 grams, respectively). “We found that about 10% of our microdosing sample in this study reported high dosages, 72.6% reported medium dosages, and 16.8% reported low dosages,” Rootman added.

The study description shares the authors’ collective belief that this is one of the first studies of its kind, but requires more research in order to build up a foundation to showcase how psilocybin can benefit human participants. “Further research with control groups and large samples that allow for the examination of potential moderators such as mental health status, age, and gender are required to better appreciate the health consequences of this emerging phenomenon,” the authors concluded. “In the present study, we aim to extend this literature by examining prospective changes associated with microdosing psilocybin as compared to a non-microdosing control group on domains of mental health, mood, and cognitive and psychomotor functioning. To our knowledge, this is the largest prospective study to date of microdosing psilocybin, the first to distinguish between microdosing admixtures (i.e., stacking), and among the few prospective studies to systematically disaggregate analyses according to age and mental health concerns.”

Gradually, more evidence is being collected in studies such as this one. However it is not yet enough to convince those who oppose the use of medical psilocybin. At the end of June, Linn County, Oregon announced the approval of a voter’s initiative to ban psilocybin therapy and treatment centers (even though the rest of the state will embrace the voter-approved psilocybin therapy program that is slated to begin in 2023).

Earlier last month, a South Africa-based study found that psilocybin can help treat women with HIV and depression. Another study from April also discovered that psilocybin has potential as a treatment for depression. In May, activists from Right to Try organization recently protested outside of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s headquarters in Virginia to bring attention to patients who could use psilocybin to improve their quality of life.

The post New Study Shows Mood, Mental Health Improved by Microdosing Psilocybin appeared first on High Times.

Veterans Affairs Researchers Embrace Psychedelics for Military Vets

According to The New York Times, the last time that Veterans Affairs (VA) explored psychedelics as a medical treatment was in 1963. This was around the same time that the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Army was testing LSD as a way to “mind-control” enemies. Many decades later, these four researchers are bridging the gap between veteran mental health and psychedelic-assisted therapy. These studies are being conducted by VA clinicians, and the results could lead the way to more studies in the future.

Dr. Shannon Remick, is conducting a study with 10 veterans in a VA clinic in Loma Linda, California. She became one of the first doctors since the 1960s to be allowed to use psychedelics as a treatment in that clinic, which is overseeing the progress of combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each volunteer will experience three sessions using MDMA as a way to explore their condition, and begin each session with calming activities (such as breathing exercises or poem readings). Sessions are led by the patient, but assisted through the process with the help of a therapist who mainly listens, rather than directs.

“We are alongside and with the patient as they are exploring a kind of excavation site,” Dr. Remick said. “Ultimately, it’s not for us to point and say, ‘Hey, look at that,’ because what I’m seeing may not be the same from their angle.”

Dr. Rachel Yehuda actually delayed her retirement to dedicate herself to psychedelic-assisted therapy. She sought out permission to help PTSD sufferers with MDMA, and began the study earlier this year in January. Her study is examining the effects of MDMA on PTSD patients, specifically to determine whether two or three sessions are more beneficial overall.

Yehuda herself participated in an MDMA trip in 2019 for therapist training. “It made me really understand what it is you’re supposed to be doing in psychotherapy,” Dr. Yehuda said. “I’ve never quite understood what it means to have a breakthrough.” She also noted the importance of doing such a process with “the right therapists.”

Dr. Leslie Morland has over two decades worth of experience with PTSD therapies, and is also exploring how MDMA could help veterans after they return home from duty—specifically as a way to make couples therapy more successful. Her clinical study is expected to begin at the end of 2022, and will study eight participants and their respective partners in San Diego.

“A lot of our military learn to emotionally disconnect in order to be effective in combat,” Dr. Morland said. “And then we’re bringing them back and saying: Now we need you to open up with our talk therapy.” With the help of MDMA, Morland hopes to see an increase in bonding and empathy in her patients. “How do they work together to really sustain the improvements that have been achieved in therapy?”

Finally, Dr. Christopher Stauffer has previously explored the effectiveness of psilocybin as a way to combat substance abuse. One of his studies will review how psilocybin can assist 30 veterans who are addicted to methamphetamine. Half of them will receive conventional therapy plus two psilocybin therapies, and the other half will only receive conventional therapy.

Another study led by Stauffer will review how MDMA can help group therapy sessions for veterans. “[MDMA is] brand-new to a lot of people and yet it’s been around longer than most of our psychiatric medications have been around,” Dr. Stauffer said. “But it feels like we’re approaching it this time with a lot more knowledge and a lot of more rigorous research practices that didn’t really exist back in the ’50s and ’60s.”

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