Nevada Lawmakers Introduce Psilocybin, MDMA Research Bill

A pair of Democratic state senators in Nevada introduced a bill last week to allow for research into psilocybin, or psychedelic mushrooms, as well as MDMA, drawing inspiration from states like Oregon and Colorado where such substances have been legalized.

The proposal, per the measure’s official legislative summary, would establish “procedures for a research facility to obtain the approval of the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct certain studies involving certain controlled substances; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving psilocybin and MDMA if conducted in connection with and within the scope of an approved study; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving 4 ounces or less of fungi that produces psilocybin or psilocin; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

In more plain English, per the Las Vegas Sun, it would “decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and MDMA for the purpose of studying their effects on an array of behavioral health disorders” and “allow the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to begin accepting applications from research institutions to use the drugs to treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and addiction.”

The bill was introduced by Democratic state Sens. Rochelle Nguyen and Fabian Donate, both of whom represent Las Vegas. 

The bill also has two co-sponsors in the state House of Representatives: Max Carter and Elaine Marzola, also both Democrats. 

Las Vegas Weekly reported last fall that Nguyen had “filed a draft request for the 2023 Legislative Session for a bill that ‘revises provisions governing controlled substances’ and deals with matters of decriminalization, regulation and research on psychedelics,” and she said at the time “that it could potentially help with the growing mental health crisis.”

Psychedelics like mushrooms and MDMA have emerged as a new focal point for drug reform advocates, with scientists and medical professionals increasingly drawn to their potential therapeutic benefits. 

Las Vegas Weekly reported that Nguyen specifically highlighted the example of Oregon, which legalized psilocybin in 2020. 

Late last year, the Oregon Health Authority finalized rules for the new psilocybin law, with special consideration for access, affordability, and public safety.

“The final rules on duration of administrative sessions have been revised to create a new tier for subperceptual doses. These doses are defined as products containing less than 2.5 mg of psilocybin analyte. After a client’s initial session, the minimum duration for a subperceptual dose of 2.5 mg of psilocybin analyte or less is 30 minutes,” the Oregon Health Authority said at the time.

Last year, voters in Colorado approved a measure legalizing psilocybin. 

That might have sparked a trend in the mountain west region. In addition to last week’s proposal in Nevada, activists in Utah have likewise mounted an effort to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for medical purposes. 

Luz Escamilla, the Democratic leader in the Utah state senate, introduced a bill last month that would allow individuals aged 21 and older with qualifying conditions such as depression or anxiety access to a psilocybin-assisted treatment directly from a psilocybin therapy provider. 

“Cannabis has given us a really good opportunity to understand that we can use other natural things … to help us. Now, we have to be careful, and I think we have really good safeguards,” Escamilla said.

“This is not a free-for-all,” Escamilla added. “This is not for everyone, but if it’s for someone that is desperate (for help) with their anxiety, depression and PTSD—that’s pushing many, unfortunately, to suicide, I want them to have access in a way that’s safe, that we can regulate.”

The post Nevada Lawmakers Introduce Psilocybin, MDMA Research Bill appeared first on High Times.

Twins Study Busts Cannabis Gateway Theory

Legal access to recreational cannabis has no effect on increasing the probability of disorders using alcohol or illicit drugs, according to a recent study of twins.

In a recent report published by the journal Psychological Medicine, researchers observed data gathered from observing twins living in Colorado and Minnesota. They found no link to legal access to marijuana with the likelihood of developing substance abuse problems. 

“Cannabis legalization was associated with no other adverse outcome in the co-twin design, including cannabis use disorder,” researchers found. “No risk factor significantly interacted with legalization status to predict any outcome.”

“We found mostly a lot of nothing, which I think is personally interesting,” lead researcher Stephanie Zellers added. “I think this is a case where we don’t find much is actually more interesting maybe than finding a bunch of results.”

The study also noted that residents living in legal cannabis states didn’t appear to show an increase in problems associated with mental health, relationships, work and finances.

“Recreational legalization was associated with increased cannabis use and decreased alcohol use disorder symptoms but wasn’t associated with other maladaptations,” researchers wrote. “These effects were maintained within twin pairs discordant for residence. “Moreover, vulnerabilities to cannabis use were not exacerbated by the legal cannabis environment.”

Access to Legal Market

Zellers and her research team observed 240 pairs of twins where one lives in the legal state of Colorado while the other lives in Minnesota, where cannabis remains prohibited. Now aged 24 to 49, the participants have provided data on their personal use of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and several illicit drugs, as well as measures of “psychosocial health” since adolescence.

“This co-twin design automatically controls for a wide range of variables, including age, social background, early home life and even genetic inheritance” that can influence health outcomes, said co-researcher John Hewitt, professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU Boulder. “If the association holds up, it provides strong evidence that the environment, in this case legalization, is having an impact.”

“There’s lots of things that could explain why one person is behaving one way or why people of one state behave one way compared to another,” Zellers said. “But with twins, we were able to rule out so many of those alternatives—not everything, but a lot of them.”

The recent study acted as a follow-up to prior research that found an increase in adult cannabis use where states have allowed recreational use. Despite the rise in use, however, the team found no relationship to a spike in cannabis abuse or addiction.

“Obviously the cannabis use increases, but we didn’t see an increase in cannabis-use disorder, which is a little surprising,” Zellers said. “We didn’t really see changes in how much people were drinking or using tobacco. No large personality or workplace or IQ differences or anything like that.”

But while cannabis use increased in legal situations, twins living in such areas were also less likely to drive drunk or develop alcohol use disorders.

“You’re combining drinking with something that could be physically unsafe,” Zellers said. “The residents of legal states do that less, which is interesting and maybe something a little unexpected.”

Disproving the Cannabis Gateway Theory

The findings also reject the gateway drug theory that using marijuana only leads to using stronger substances.

“We asked in the last 12 months have you tried or used heroin, prescription opiates, cocaine, methamphetamine, hallucinogens—kind of the whole 11 or 12 categories of illicit drugs,” Zellers said. “And there’s no difference there. People living in a state with legal cannabis, they’re not necessarily transitioning on to more illicit drugs.”

The results are quite promising but are far from an absolute conclusion. The study does have several limitations, as it focuses on adults, and few of whom consider themselves as heavy users.

“Our sample is an adult community sample broadly characterized by low levels of substance use and psychosocial dysfunction,” the researchers wrote. “This limits our ability to generalize relationships between legalization, outcomes and risk factors for the individuals at greatest risk.”

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MDMA Couple’s Therapy: The New Frontier of Relationship Counseling

This Valentine’s Day, don’t let the spark go out. Maintaining a relationship is tough, and for some couples, staying together means going the extra mile. Recently, investigation opened back up into MDMA as an aid in couple’s therapy, something it was used for last century. Read on to find out more about it, and if it could benefit you and your partner.

What is MDMA?

MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxy​methamphetamine) is a drug in the psychostimulant category, along with a range of other compounds including cocaine, methamphetamine, and even caffeine. It has the chemical formula C11H15NO2. It’s often lumped together with psychedelics because of a similar mode of action, which includes forcing a large increase of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Like psychedelics, it causes sensory hallucinations, but with a peppier affect.

It was first synthesized by Merck Pharmaceutical in 1912, however, it was essentially shelved until the 1970’s when chemist Alexander Shulgin came across a new way to produce it. He did what doctors of that time did frequently, and tested the drug on himself and his psychotherapist friends. Upon understanding it to have therapeutic effects, it was employed in the treatment of psychiatric disorders in the mid-1900s, as a part of psychedelic-assisted therapy; the coupling of psychedelics (or similar) drugs, with psychotherapy.

This went on for some time, with MDMA proving to be a useful tool in psychotherapy. However, the US government had it out for pretty much any drug, and illegalized it in 1985 via the newly instated Comprehensive Crime Control Act. This law allows the government to ban drugs if its determined to be an emergency. And this even with a judge’s ruling that it doesn’t belong in Schedule I.

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Today it still sits in Schedule I of the DEA’s Controlled Substances list, as well as Schedule I of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, a global treaty on the regulation of different compounds. One state, Colorado, has legalized medical MDMA with a pre-emptive bill; however, that legalization is dependent on the US federal government passing a measure first. MDMA is promoted by the FDA through a ‘breakthrough therapy‘ status, which was given to an experimental drug made by the organization MAPS.

MDMA often goes by the names ecstasy, and molly, though these names often imply a more impure version. Though it’s a synthetically made entheogen, its produced from safrole oil; something that in turn led to the complete illegalization of the sassafras plant.  

MDMA couple’s therapy – a framework

In 2021, Frontiers in Psychology published this theoretical paper entitled Couple Therapy With MDMA—Proposed Pathways of Action. The paper seeks to explore:

“The neurobiological and neurochemical effects of MDMA in a relational context, the emotional, behavioral, cognitive and somatic effects within a dyadic frame, and how empathy, communication, perception of social connection/support, non-avoidance, openness, attachment/safety, bonding/social intimacy and relationship satisfaction, are all impacted by MDMA, and can be harnessed to facilitate systems-level and interpersonal healing and growth.”

The paper pulls on the previous research and psychotherapeutic work done with MDMA, much of it before the drug was illegalized in the 1980s. In fact, MDMA was used in couple’s therapy during its time of legal use; this was one of its first applications. Author Anne C. Wagner points to two studies performed in 1986 and 1998 by G R Greer, and R Tolbert, which both take a look at multiple MDMA therapy cases, including with couples.

One of the things to come out of the studies was that MDMA coupled with therapy “demonstrated improvements in fear of emotional hurt and improved communication and introspection.” Earlier reports by Alexander Shulgin and his wife Anne from the 1970s, go into how MDMA is beneficial for couples; highlighting how its “an excellent tool for communication and to navigate relational issues.”

MDMA for couple’s therapy

Wagner points out that “MDMA’s empathogenic qualities have made it a prime candidate as an adjunct to psychotherapy. When considering the couple therapy context, understanding the neurochemical experience related to romantic love illuminates this potentially catalytic combination.”

She also sets up a model for MDMA therapy which follows the general model of psychedelic assisted therapy. It involves counseling sessions before the MDMA experience, in which the therapist gets to know the couple and their issues. These are followed by sessions involving MDMA; which are followed by integrative sessions which come last, and are meant to help the couple navigate their experience with MDMA, and what it all means.

How does MDMA affect sex drive?

If you’ve ever hung out with someone on MDMA, you know they get really excited by the feeling of your sweater… or really, any sweater. MDMA affects the senses, causing users to experience a heightened response to tactile stimuli. Things feel different on MDMA, and lets be honest, while some of this is merely intimate, a lot of it is downright sexual. Does this mean that MDMA can increase a person’s sex drive? If so, this could be an important part of MDMA centered couple’s counseling.

Mind Cure Health Inc., a life sciences company out of Vancouver, Canada, launched a research initiative into this question in 2021. The project specifically focuses on female hypoactive sexual desire disorder. As in, its looking into how MDMA affects women with low sex drive. The project is aptly titled, the Desire Project; and consists of clinical research focused on treating this lowered sexual desire in adult women, with the help of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

Female hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is actually recognized officially as of 1950, and is said to affect approximately 14% of the female population. This number could be as high as 40%, though, as that’s the percentage that self-rated themselves as having a lower sex drive, as per 2018’s Incidence and Knowledge of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder and Its Treatment: A Survey, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

It’s thought that HSDD isn’t connected to age-related hormone decreases, and affects the women in question, through their entire lives. This disorder, while certainly not deadly, is linked to “lower health-related quality of life, lower general happiness and satisfaction with partners and more frequent negative emotional states.” The reluctance of women to speak about it often means no chance of treatment.

Female hypoactive sexual desire disorder
Female hypoactive sexual desire disorder

The goal of the study isn’t to administer MDMA and expect all problems to disappear. Rather, it’s to “utilize MDMA-assisted therapy to target underlying issues contributing to a lack of female sexual desire and orgasm and eventually develop a training and licensing model to distribute therapeutic protocols to clinics.”

According to the company’s own website, “MINDCURE’s research into  female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD)  brings together a team of experts in sexual disorders and psychedelics to drive clinical outcomes and promote female sexual desire using MDMA.” This project is still in motion, and we don’t know the outcome yet.

This MDMA study is not directly about couple’s therapy, but seeks to attack one of the many issues that can cause problems in a relationship – simply not wanting to have sex. Though not wanting to have sex can be a symptom of unhappiness in a relationship, it can also be tied to other factors like depression or PTSD, that may be helped by using MDMA.


MDMA gets dubbed the ‘love drug’ for good reason. And perhaps we can use its abilities to really drive up the love. As research into MDMA increases, its place as an aid in couple’s therapy may rival its place as a treatment for PTSD.

This Valentine’s day, if you’re having trouble with your partner, and not sure what to do, consider the options. If you’re both cool with it, maybe try taking an MDMA trip together, to see if that helps. It’s not an official industry yet, so you’re on your own as far as treatment. But if you and your partner are comfortable, you can use it on your own. As always, please do whatever you choose to do, responsibly.

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Updates to Israel’s Medical Cannabis Program: Reduced THC Levels for New Patients

Israel is known for being at the forefront of medical cannabis research and treatment. The country has a long history of using marijuana for medicinal purposes and has made significant advancements in developing new and innovative ways to use the plant for medical purposes. Recently, the Israeli Ministry of Health has made some changes to the medical cannabis program that will impact new patients.

THC Reduction in Israel’s Medical Cannabis Program: What Patients Need to Know.

One of the main changes to Israel’s medical cannabis program involves reducing the THC levels for new patients. Delta-9 THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive component of marijuana and is responsible for the “high” feeling associated with its use. The Ministry of Health has decided to reduce the amount of THC available to new patients (defined as those receiving treatment for less than three months) to 10% or less. This is a significant decrease from the previous limit of 20%.

In addition, under the new changes to Israel’s medical cannabis program, new patients can only receive a maximum of 20 grams of dried cannabis flower (with a THC content of T10 or lower) or 30 grams of oil per month. This regulation is designed to restrict the use of stronger cannabis products among new patients, who are considered more vulnerable to the psychotropic effects of THC. However, as there is no formal research suppoering the reduction of THC for new patients, it might be that the aim of this reduction is not only to limit the potential side effects of the drug, but also to prevent the potential abuse of medical cannabis…

From what we understand today, this regulation is legally binding and cannot be overridden by a doctor, which means the system won’t allow the Doctor to prescribe flowers with T15 or T20 to new patients.

Another change to Israel’s medical cannabis program involves the process of obtaining medical cannabis. Previously, patients could only obtain medical cannabis through licensed growers and distributors. The new policy now allows patients to grow their own cannabis plants, but with certain restrictions. The patient must have a valid prescription and be authorized by the Ministry of Health. The plants must also be grown in a secure and enclosed area and must not be visible from outside the property. This change was made in order to give patients more control over the quality and purity of the cannabis they use for medical purposes.

Reduced THC levels in Israel’s Medical Cannabis Program

In addition to these changes, the Ministry of Health has also made changes to the medical cannabis treatment protocol. The new protocol requires doctors to provide detailed information about the patient’s medical history, diagnosis, and treatment plan. This information will then be used to determine the appropriate dosage and administration of the drug. The aim of this change is to ensure that medical cannabis is being used effectively and safely for each individual patient.

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CBD is still illegal

The medical cannabis sector in Israel has experienced rapid growth in recent years, and the policy changes aim to sustain this growth and advance the industry while prioritizing the safety and health of patients. Nevertheless, some in Israel argue that the medical cannabis program is not expanding to cover more medical conditions, and that the Ministry of Health is preventing doctors from enrolling more patients, thus hindering its growth.

Despite the new restrictions on cannabis, CBD remains inaccessible to the general public and it is illegal to purchase without a license for cannabis. As a “Pharma state,” Israel continues to regulate all substances, including CBD, by only selling it in pharmacies to those with proper licensing. This is despite widespread support for legalization in Israel, and a law to legalize CBD was written over two years ago but was blocked by political maneuvering.

What is Delta-9 THC

Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC or simply THC) is the primary psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. It is responsible for many of the plant’s effects on the mind and body, including its characteristic “high.” THC acts on the endocannabinoid system, a group of receptors in the brain and body, to produce its effects. It has been used for medicinal purposes, such as to relieve pain and improve appetite, as well as for recreational use, such as THC edibles, THC gummies etc. THC levels in cannabis can vary, and higher levels of THC are generally associated with stronger effects.

What is CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike the primary psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not produce the “high” typically associated with cannabis use. Instead, CBD has been reported to have a variety of potential therapeutic benefits, such as reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and reducing pain and inflammation. CBD has become a popular wellness product and is available in a variety of forms, including oils, tinctures, and edibles (such as CBD gummies). While the exact mechanisms by which CBD produces its effects are not yet fully understood, it is thought to interact with the endocannabinoid system, a group of receptors in the brain and body, to produce its effects.

What are the benefits of Delta-9 THC

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 THC) is the primary psychoactive compound found in marijuana. The potential benefits of Delta-9 THC include:

  1. Pain relief: Delta-9 THC has been shown to have pain-relieving properties, which can be beneficial for individuals with conditions such as chronic pain, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
  2. Anti-inflammatory effects: Delta-9 THC has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for individuals with conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  3. Appetite stimulation: Delta-9 THC can stimulate appetite, which can be beneficial for individuals with conditions such as anorexia or cachexia.
  4. Nausea and vomiting relief: Delta-9 THC has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting in individuals undergoing chemotherapy.
  5. Anxiety and depression relief: Delta-9 THC can help to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in some individuals.

It is important to note that while Delta-9 THC has shown potential benefits in certain medical conditions, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the appropriate doses and methods of use.

Which countries have well-established medical cannabis programs?

While medical cannabis programs are evolving in many countries, there are several that have well-established program, such as the ones below:

  1. Canada – Legalized medical cannabis in 2001 and adult-use cannabis in 2018, making it one of the pioneers in this field.
  2. Netherlands – Has a long-standing tradition of tolerance for medical and recreational cannabis use, making it one of the world’s leading exporters of medical cannabis.
  3. Israel – Considered a leader in medical cannabis research, with a well-established medical cannabis program and a thriving cannabis industry.
  4. Germany – Has a rapidly growing medical cannabis program, with many patients receiving medical cannabis through the national health insurance program.
  5. United States – Although the legality of medical cannabis varies by state, several states have well-established medical cannabis programs and a thriving cannabis industry.

These countries have a strong infrastructure and regulatory framework in place to support the growth of the medical cannabis program and to ensure the safety and well-being of patients.

Is Israel still a Democracy?

Israel was once a leader in cannabis research, boasting the most advanced medical cannabis program. However, its cannabis laws have fallen behind and are now among the least progressive. The needed changes might not take effect soon, as the current government, led by Netanyahu, is attempting to restrict democracy and civil rights by restricting the power of the supreme court (as in Israel there is no constitution, the supreme court servs as the ‘defender of Democracy’ against illegal legistlation done by parlament).

This has sparked widespread protests as the majority of the population opposes these radical and unpopular changes and will not tolerate living in a non-democratic state.

New Changes to Israel's Medical Cannabis Program
New Changes to Israel’s Medical Cannabis Program

Many in Israel now argue that the government, backed by ultra-religious and extreme groups that reject democracy, lacks the legal authority to undermine democracy in the country. Every week, hundreds of thousands of protesters take to the streets, declaring that they will not allow these changes to take place and will take any legal measures against what they describe as an “illegal” and “criminal” government. This is due in part to the government’s recent changes to the law that allow people with criminal records to serve as ministers, as well as the fact that Netanyahu himself is facing numerous criminal charges.

As a result, Israel, which was once the only democracy in the Middle East, is now gradually moving away from that title, against the will of its own citizens.

Learn more about Cannabis and Psychedelics

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Meet Psilomethoxin, the Love Child of Psilocybin and 5-MeO-DMT 

As unbelievable as it may seem, a new hallucinogen is emerging that utilizes magic mushroom mycelium to essentially create an orally active form of 5-MeO-DMT. It’s known as Psilomethoxin, and this novel discovery is not only exciting on the basis of the compound itself, but it also represents a special union of nature, spirit, and science. This could also be a serious game-changer for the future of synthetic psychedelic production.

What is Psilomethoxin? 

Psilomethoxin (4-OH-5-MeO-DMT) is a new tryptamine created in vivo using magic mushroom mycelium. After inoculation, and before the fruiting stage, 5-MeO-DMT is fed into the mushroom substrate, and once the flush comes in, the fruiting bodies contain Psilomethoxin rather than psilocybin or psilocin. It can be made by mixing a pure freebase powder into the substrate, or using a liquid hydrochloride solution. Psilomethoxin is not a scheduled substance, making it federally legal to possess and consume.

4-OH-5-MeO-DMT is an orally active version of classic 5-MeO-DMT (toad venom) with a longer half live. A drug’s half-life refers to the time it takes for the amount of the active substance in your body to reduce by half. Initial reports indicate that the high from psilomethoxin is very different from both 5-MeO and psilocybin.

The high is said to be slightly less intense than 5-MeO (in terms of visual and auditory hallucinations), but the trip lasts much longer. Because it seems like a lot of the psilocybin is canceled out during the cultivation process, the longer high could be simply due to the method of consumption, rather than the addition of mushroom compounds. The effects from cannabis edibles lasts longer than those from smoking as well, so it’s not uncommon.  

The Church of Psilomethoxin and history behind this compound  

Psilomethoxin was initially discovered and synthesized by researchers from the Pasteur Institute, led by Marc Julia, in 1965. The Pasteur Institute, founded in 1887, is French, non-profit center for biomedical research. It was named after Louis Pasteur, who invented pasteurization and vaccines for anthrax and rabies. 

The researchers obtained a patent for psilomethoxin, but due to the passing of the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970s, research came to a screeching halt and the patent lapsed after 20 years. The chemists who work with the compound also claim that the process of synthesizing it is very elaborate and time-consuming, which can explain why it remained uncommon for so long after its discovery.  


Fast forward a few decades to 2005, and a well-known American chemist, pharmacologist, and author – Alexander Shulgin – took an interest in this long-lost hallucinogen. He theorized that psilomethoxin could be more easily produced by introducing 5-MeO-DMT to magic mushroom substrate, although he never put this theory to practice.  

In 2021, entheogen-based spiritual/religious practitioner Ian Benouis picked up where Shulgin’s idea left off. The experiment was successful and Ian, along with his business and research partners Benjamin Moore and Ryan Begin, performed a week-long dieta to learn more about their new substance. Following a successful journey, the group reached out to attorney Greg Lake and launched the Church of Psilomethoxin, with 4-HO-5-MeO-DMT as their sacrament. The Church of Psilomethoxin is a majority veteran-founded organization, and much of its charitable work is directed toward the veteran community with a focus on mental health.  

According to Church officials, they continued to conduct experiments with psilomethoxin, mainly in the areas of safety and effects. Between November 2021 and September 2022, over 500 entheogen-based spiritual practitioners took part in their research project and gave detailed reports about their experiences. With very few accounts of negative side effects, the church felt confident enough to open their doors to the public in September 2022.  

The future of synthetic psychedelics 

After learning about psilomethoxin, the next logical question is whether or not this process would work with other compounds. Imagine growing mushrooms with LSD or mescaline… if that was possible, it would be incredible! Others have theorized about adding kratom to substrate and creating 4-HO-mitragagynine, and the list goes on.

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The reality is, it’s likely to only work with other tryptamine compounds. And while lysergamides are a subset of tryptamines, it’s hard to say if uptake would occur with LSD and if it would undergo the same 4-Hydroxylation that occurrs with 5-MeO-DMT. Mescaline would also be a challenge as phenethylamines likely won’t be taken up by mushrooms. 

But back to tryptamines, which are naturally occurring alkaloids found in numerous plants and life forms around the world. There are actually more than 1,500 natural varieties of tryptamine compounds that have been discovered so far. Consider how many orally active tryptamine substances can be created using the mushroom mycelium method. Some have been tested already, such as DET (N, N-diethyltryptamine), which makes 4-HO-DET, but it remains a relatively uncharted sector of the psychedelics industry.

Final thoughts  

Summarized, psilomethoxin is an edible form of 5-MeO-DMT, and it’s the result of adding 5-MeO to psilocybin mushroom substrate. To clarify, it’s very different than taking 5-MeO and eating some magic mushrooms with it, as the DMT takes over the mushroom and you don’t really get many effects from the psilocybin. What you do get is a slightly milder, yet longer lasting “God molecule” high. It’s very new, so not much is known about it, but as more information becomes available, we’ll be the first to give you all the updates! 

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The Positives and Negatives of Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms, like any substance, can be the best or worst drug to take. It really depends on a variety of factors. It’s sometimes hard to find a nuanced view on recreational drugs – especially when many people want to either berate them or promote them beyond belief. The truth is – like people – drugs have their good sides and their bad. In this article we’re going to go through the positives and negatives of these hallucinogenic drugs, with the hope that with this knowledge you’ll be able to create your perfect psilocybin experience. Let’s go. 

What are Magic Mushrooms?

There are supposedly around 14,000 species of mushrooms in the world, and only 200 of these are considered ‘magic’. To put this into perspective, around 100 of the 14,000 species are also fatal. You don’t want to mix these guys up. The most common of the magic mushrooms are the Cubensis or golden cap. These have a brown top and long white stem. Magic mushrooms, also known as shrooms, are a type of mushroom that contains the psychoactive compound psilocybin.

This compound is converted into psilocin in the body and is responsible for the hallucinogenic effects of the mushrooms. They can produce altered states of consciousness, including visual and auditory hallucinations and changes in perception. Magic mushrooms have been used for centuries by indigenous people in Central and South America for spiritual and medicinal purposes. It is believed that statues dating back to 200CE exist that highlight the communal use and admiration for the magic plant. 


Despite the past, shrooms are now illegal in most of the major nations in the world. In the US, psilocybin is a Schedule I drug and, In the UK, it is considered a class A. These are both on the same level of substances as heroin in regards to severity of sentence and danger. However, in recent years there has certainly been a slow shifting tide. The use of psilocybin in the medical world – specifically in treating mental health issues – has destigmatized the drug. John Hopkins Medicine was heavily involved in these studies and: 

“Researchers showed that psychedelic treatment with psilocybin relieved major depressive disorder symptoms in adults for up to a month. Now, in a follow-up study of those participants, the researchers report that the substantial antidepressant effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy, given with supportive psychotherapy, may last at least a year for some patients.”

The effects of magic mushrooms, when paired with therapy, can seriously help people alter their depressive tendencies. It is these kinds of studies, and the acceptance of the benefits of drugs, that highlights the importance of nuance in the drug conversation. 

Nuance in Drug Conversation

For too long now, ‘drugs’ have been synonymous with ‘bad’. It is time to open up our minds and see the nuance. Substances have the potential to be dangerous if used incorrectly, whilst also fun and beneficial if used right. Nuance is an important aspect of any discussion, but it is especially crucial when it comes to discussions about drugs. This is because they can have a wide range of effects on the human body and can be used for a variety of purposes. Without nuance, it is easy for a conversation about drugs to become oversimplified or misleading.

The War on Drugs, began by Nixon, is responsible for killing any nuance. He successfully demonized the substances, and many other social groups, for his own political gain. This has lasted generations. It is 2023, and now is the time for us to fully throw away any preconceived ideas we once had about illegal substances, and simply look at the data and studies that are being done. Of course, drugs have hurt and killed people, but so have they helped and saved people. Let’s educate the world openly and use these substances to our own advantage. 

Pros & Cons of Shrooms

As we’ve said, nuance is key. Magic mushrooms have the ability to open up people’s minds and fill their lives with joy, but they also can be quite revealing and scary. Hallucinations are not always positive and fun. We’re going to take a look – in a nuanced fashion – at some of the pros and cons of magic mushrooms.

Positives of Magic Mushrooms

Positive side effects of taking magic mushrooms may include:

1 – Creativity

Psilocybin activates receptors in the brain and reduces the energy needed for the brain to switch between activity states. This can increase activity if taken at the right dosage. Many people report feeling more creative and having a greater sense of self-awareness after taking magic mushrooms. This can be helpful for those seeking personal growth or wanting to get something creative done. This is why micro-dosing shrooms have become so popular. Suddenly you’re able to think outside of your usual boxed brain, and can come up with ideas and thoughts that usually aren’t there. Some believe the entire concept of the internet was derived from an LSD trip. 

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2 – Connection

When you take mushrooms, it can Increase the sense of connection to others and the world around you. The borders between these things suddenly vanish, allowing you to realise that we are all one and the same. In other words, ego death. Your individuality no longer matters, you are part of one entity. This can lead to a sense of unity and a feeling of oneness with the universe. It can also seriously improve our relationships with other people in our lives, realising they too are struggling non-egos wandering around this confusing world. 

3 – Mental Health Improvement

It is this ego death that can seriously help with reducing anxiety and depression in people who suffer from this. With therapy too, they can move away from their usual thought patterns, and see that the world is not against them. In fact, there is no ‘them’ and never needed to be. The powers of psilocybin allow us to completely shift our minds, realising that our problems, fears and anxieties are not necessarily as important or crippling as we once thought.

Negatives of Magic Mushrooms

Negative side effects of taking magic mushrooms may include:

1 – Hallucinations

On the other hand, hallucinations and distorted perception can also be a difficult thing to experience. One of the main effects of magic mushrooms is the alteration of perception, which depending on your own set and setting, will either be enjoyable or the complete opposite. If you are not in the ideal mindset or location, it is possible that your visions may become unpleasant. They may become overwhelming or even frightening. This is why set and setting is so integral to any trip embarked on. 

2 – Paranoia

Another negative of this psychedelic drug that can occur is paranoia and anxiety. The unpleasant hallucinations can easily lead to these feelings. Suddenly you become afraid of what might arise in you, or what you might do or say. You no longer feel free and spirited, instead you feel out of control. Being out of control is not something we are used to as people in a constricted and structured world, which is why it’s always good to have a trip sitter with you. They can ensure you stay safe. 

3 – Nausea

Magic mushrooms aren’t the best tasting plants. In fact, it can be quite disgusting eating a few grams of these. They taste like sour soil with a consistency of a mushy potato. Basically not ideal. In addition, when they settle in your stomach, they don’t always agree with everyone. Magic mushrooms can cause nausea and vomiting in some people, particularly if they are consumed in large amounts. The key is to have a drink with you and eat them slowly. 


These were some of the positives and negatives of magic mushrooms, laid out in a nuanced way. This is because magic mushrooms can be amazing, but they can also be dangerous if used incorrectly. It is time for us to understand both realities at the same time. As with any psychoactive substance, it is important to use caution and to be aware of the potential risks. But it’s also vital that we allow these specimens to have the medical and recreation benefits that they’ve been giving us for centuries. It’s time to befriend the shroom, not outcast it. Nonetheless, in 2023, the future of psilocybin is beginning to look bright.

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Arizona Bill Would Provide Grants for Magic Mushroom Trials

Legislation proposed in Arizona would provide millions of dollars in grant funding to expand research into psilocybin––the primary psychoactive component in magic mushrooms––as a potential treatment for certain mental health conditions.

The bill, introduced by a Republican lawmaker and backed by Democrats, “would put $30 million in grants over three years toward clinical trials using whole-mushroom psilocybin to treat mental health conditions like depression and PTSD,” the Arizona Mirror reports

The outlet reports that one of the bill’s biggest backers is Dr. Sue Sisely, an internal medicine physician who believes that psilocybin treatment could be a boon for ailing military veterans. 

“It’s curbed their suicidality, it’s put their PTSD into remission, it’s even mitigated their pain syndromes,” Sisely said of patients she has seen benefit from psilocybin, as quoted by the Arizona Mirror. “It’s shown evidence of promoting neurogenesis (the growth and development of nerve tissue). There’s all kinds of great things that are being uncovered, but they’re not in controlled trials—they’re anecdotes from veterans and other trauma sufferers.” 

According to the Mirror, “so far the only controlled trials on psilocybin to treat medical conditions have used a synthetic, one-molecule version of the substance, which is vastly different from a whole mushroom, which contains hundreds of compounds.”

“These agricultural products are very complex, and that is what people are reporting benefit from,” Sisley told the Arizona Mirror. “Nobody in the world has access to synthetic psilocybin unless you’re in one of these big pharma trials.” 

In the last decade, psilocybin has gone from the fringes to the mainstream, as researchers and policymakers have grown more amenable to mushrooms as an effective treatment for a variety of different disorders. 

It has also become the next frontier for drug legalization advocates, as states like Arizona consider measures that would expand its usage. 

To the north of the Grand Canyon State, advocates in Utah have launched a campaign to push legislators to legalize psilocybin for clinical and academic purposes.

“Numerous robust studies have shown that psilocybin therapy is beneficial in reducing treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health disorders. It is more effective than synthetic pharmaceuticals by a large margin. Psilocybin has also shown effectiveness in easing fear and anxiety in people with terminal cancer. For instance, a groundbreaking study performed by John Hopkins Medicine found that psilocybin reported better moods and greater mental health after participating in a single clinical dose,” Utah Mushroom Therapy, the group behind the campaign, says in a statement.

The group is looking to gin up public support for the treatment after the state’s Republican governor, Spencer Cox, signed a bill last year establishing a task force that will study psilocybin as a mental health treatment.

Utah Mushroom Therapy says that, in the wake of the task force, “legalizing and decriminalizing Psilocybin in Utah is now very likely but still needs public support.”

“The use of mushrooms has been documented in 15 indigenous groups in America and various religious communities in Utah. This petition supports those groups who wish to use psilocybin safely, sincerely, and as a necessary part of their religion. The use of psilocybin does not contradict other Utah cultures and is protected by the first amendment as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This petition is to advocate Utah law to protect the religious rights of Utahns,” the group says

“Psilocybin is a natural, non-toxic substance. Despite this, it is currently a Schedule I substance. Scientists have demonstrated it has profound medicinal value and believe serotonergic hallucinogens assist cognitive processes and should be decriminalized. Psychedelics can change perception and mood, help people soften their perspective and outlook, and process events that may otherwise lead to substance abuse, trauma, and criminal behavior,” it continues.

The post Arizona Bill Would Provide Grants for Magic Mushroom Trials appeared first on High Times.

Understanding HHC, the Latest Contentious Cannabinoid

The cannabis plant naturally produces more than 100 cannabinoids, and the 2018 Farm Bill legalized all but one of them. The ruling paved the way for the dawn of the CBD age and opened the floodgates to hemp farms from coast to coast. The surge in hemp production subsequently created a surplus amount of CBD, which caused commodity prices to crash, sending extractors and processors scrambling to find alternative opportunities to convert the glut into fresh revenue streams.

A loophole in the bill meant that intoxicating cannabinoids, including delta-8, delta-10 and the hot new kid in town, hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), could be created and sold legally in states where adult-use cannabis remains illegal, as long as they contain less than 0.3% delta-9-THC.

Although a relatively new market offering, HHC was created in the 1940s by Roger Adams. The American chemist added hydrogen to the THC molecule, altering its physical properties. The process, called hydrogenation, changes the molecular weight and increases the stability of delta-9 THC by replacing a double bond with two hydrogen atoms. (Cannabinoid synthesis isn’t the only application of hydrogenation; margarine is made from vegetable oil using a similar process.) This means HHC is a synthetic cannabinoid instead of naturally occurring in the cannabis plant. 

To make sense of HHC is cannabis scientist Dr. Markus Roggen, president and chief scientific officer at Vancouver-based Delic Labs. Dr. Roggen has been on the Cannabis Scientist Power List for three consecutive years and is considered one of the leading organic chemists in cannabinoid and psilocybin research.

Dr. Markus Roggen PHOTO Delic Labs.

Cannabis Now: So, what exactly is HHC?

Dr. Markus Roggen: HHC is the reduced form of THC. THC is a tricyclic molecule with a cyclohexene moiety, meaning it’s a six-membered ring with one double bond. If you reduce that, you get a six-membered ring with no double bond, which is HHC. There are two isomers of HHC because the double bond was next to a methyl group. There are two forms of HHC, and there isn’t any literature discussing which one of those two diastereomers is psychoactive, or if both are and in what ratio they’re formed. 

How is HHC made?

The primary source of HHC is CBD, which we know is in extreme abundance. CBD is a bicyclic structure with the same molecular weight as THC, meaning CBD converts into THC, both delta-8 and delta-9, by adding acid, which turns this bicyclic compound into a tricyclic structure. If you play with the acid or the temperature, you can push the balance between the ratio of delta-8 and delta-9. You now have THC, a tricyclic structure with a double bond. To reduce the structure with palladium catalysis—i.e., a transition metal catalyst—you use hydrogen gas and add two hydrogens across the double bond. Now you have a reduced form, HHC or hexahydrocannabinol—which has six hydrons—THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, has four hydrogens.

What do you see as potential issues to watch out for with HHC?

My main problem is that it’s a synthetic cannabinoid—a new molecule, a new drug—not from the cannabis plant. These new “drugs” are similar to the synthetic cannabinoid scene that started with JWH-018, or “Spice,” i.e., compounds developed in academic laboratories to research the endocannabinoid system. And because these synthetic cannabinoids aren’t structurally related to THC, they don’t come up on a drug test. And as we know, synthetic cannabinoids such as Spice have killed people

Humans have used THC and CBD for thousands of years, so we can say that cannabis is considered safe. HHC, on the other hand, was first identified and produced in the 1940s and wasn’t commercially available until last year. So how should anyone know? Some “researchers” making these compounds have no skill in making clean products; they’re just throwing acid on a cannabinoid to try and get people high. 

Companies are making synthetically produced compounds while saying everything is natural and, therefore, everything is great. That’s blindsiding customers. It’s not fair to say, “this product is natural; it can’t be bad because humans have been using it for thousands of years,” and then slip in an intoxicating drug you just made in your basement. I think that’s a bad idea and it’s very dangerous for the cannabis industry that has built itself on “we’re healing people” and “we’re all natural” mantras to then say, “let’s see what my chemistry starter kit can produce.” We don’t even know if the primary product is safe.

The structural formula of HHC.

I’ve found HHC molecules when testing CBN products. To make CBN, hydrogens need to be removed with either iodine, bubbling oxygen or a metal catalyst. When creating a CBN with metal catalysis, you often get small quantities of HHC as a byproduct. The producer of the CBN products in question saw an unknown spot on their analytics. They sent the product to our lab because we have high-precision instruments only universities have. We isolated this unknown spot and did a full workup of the structure—it turned out to be HHC. 

HHC is known, but the pictures, that is, the mass and NMR spectra of the molecule, aren’t publicly available, meaning people aren’t able to visually identify it. I presented this work at the American Chemistry Society [2022] spring meeting and showed the spectra we produced. Our analytics are available on our website for people to identify HHC in their samples.

What are your thoughts on synthesized cannabinoids?

I’m an organic chemist; I have faith in the pharma industry. If pharma wants to make a synthetic analog of a cannabinoid, go ahead. They know how to make them, clean them up and bring a single drug to the market with all the quality controls and oversights needed. There’s a pharmaceutical aspect to cannabinoids, as we see with GW Pharma; Dronabinol is synthetic THC. But GW was founded in the 1990s, so they’ve had a long time to get this right.

How can consumers and businesses educate themselves?

I wrote an opinion piece for MJBiz Daily as a lead into the recent MJ Biz conference titled, “Using science to create a winning marijuana industry.” One point is you shouldn’t ask yourself if you can, but if you should. My example is that companies make products they can make instead of products that the customer wants. 

And one example was the whole CBD situation of synthetic cannabinoids. CBD commodity prices are so low that companies are asking, “What else can we make money with,” instead of asking, “What does the customer need and how do we make those products.” The customer apparently wants to be intoxicated, but are delta-8 and HHC the right path to go down? 

Closing comments?

Suppose you have markets where you can buy delta-9 THC legally, such as Canada, Colorado and California. In that case, products such as HHC and delta-8 don’t have a need—or much of a market. HHC and delta-8 products are for the customer’s needs and the regulatory situation. So, then we ask ourselves, is the problem the customer’s intoxication wants, or the legal slalom that has to be done?

The post Understanding HHC, the Latest Contentious Cannabinoid appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Rising Hash Use in Saudi Arabia Counters Standard Optics

We talk all the time about the growing acceptance of drugs like cannabis and psychedelics in the world today. But we’re not talking about every country, and some countries move slower than others. For some, so little information is released, that all we know are government lines unless another piece of information is provided. A great example: hash in Saudi Arabia. Now, a 2021 study shows us the rising hash use among the younger generations. And it counters the standard image put out by the government.

Drug laws in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia – officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is the largest country in West Asia, as well as the Middle East. It sits north of Yemen, north-east of Oman, east of United Arab Emirates, and south of Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait. To the west side is the South Sea, separating it from Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea. It covers approximately 830,000 square miles (2,150,000 km2). As of about 10 years ago, the population was approximately 26.9 million people.

Saudi Arabia is also one of those countries that is known for being particularly harsh with drugs, even if we don’t have precise information from the country itself. I can’t tell you much of anything about what the specific punishments are, or where the cutoff is between different punishments. But I can tell you that the system as it is, is based on an interpretation of Islamic law, which – in this interpretation – forbids the use of anything that hurts the body, or the general social welfare of the country.

According to a 2018 mini review in The Journal of Alcoholism & Drug Dependence, called Illegality of Hashish Usage in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in the two prior years, usage of hashish skyrocketed 300%. Hash is the most widely used drug in the country. The Saudi General Directorate of Narcotic Control estimated at that time, that about 70% of hash smokers were still in school.

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There’s an interesting statistic from the report. Apparently in 2006, (and as per the UN), the amount of narcotics (including hash) that was intercepted in that year by the Saudi government, was greater than what was intercepted from everywhere else in the world. While this sounds a bit off, it could simply relate to the idea that Saudi Arabia is extremely diligent with drug busts.

Though we don’t know specifics punishments, we do know that anyone related to illicit drugs will have some form of punishment handed down, that this varies depending on who the person is. A user and a trafficker incur two different punishments, but neither gets off the hook. Death is generally reserved for the most severe crime of smuggling. Drugs in general are regulated in the country via The Narcotic Control Law.

There is also variation in punishment depending on how many times a person is caught. Punishment for a first-time offense could be jail time, fines, lashings, or a combination. Second time offenses incur greater punishments, and it’s posited that even dealers can find themselves with death sentences if they’re caught enough times.

Users receive a judgement from the court, which usually involves a jail sentence of about two years. Saudi Arabia does follow UN guidelines when it comes to users, and does prefer to treat them as patients rather than criminals. Users can enter a treatment program to decrease punishment. Students also get lighter treatment, with discipline and monitoring over anything harsher.

What about the death sentences?

Being caught with any illicit drug will mean prison time, fines, lashings, or treatment; but it can go even farther than that with death sentences. And while I can’t stress enough that we have very little confirmable information out of this country, there are stories like this from 2014, about the beheading of four men, all caught smuggling cannabis into the country.

Part of the reason we don’t get a lot of great information, is because the government itself owns much of the media, and that which isn’t owned is highly subsidized and regulated by the government. As per reports on the beheadings, we’re only told the men smuggled in “a large quantity of hashish,” but that’s as specific as it gets. Which is a bit sparse considering the extremity of the punishment. For a year in jail, maybe those words would be enough. But cutting off heads? It’s also said that the confessions of all the men were illicited by extreme torture; meaning we can’t know if they were valid or not.

Saudi Arabia beheads for trafficking hash

In a 2017 report by Amnesty International, an international non-government agency which works for human rights issues globally, between 2016 and 2017, drug-related beheadings increased from 16% to 40% in the country. Saudi Arabia is even pointed to for executing people who confessed under extreme torture, like the story mentioned above. Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, put it this way:

“Despite strides towards abolishing this abhorrent punishment, there are still a few leaders who would resort to the death penalty as a ‘quick-fix’ rather than tackling problems at their roots with humane, effective and evidence-based policies. Strong leaders execute justice, not people.”

Students and hash in Saudi Arabia

As tends to be the case with a lot of illicit drug usage, the greatest percentage of users are young people. This is true in Saudi Arabia as well, despite the harsh consequences of involvement with drugs. In 2021, the journal Crime, Law and Social Change published this paper: Drugs behind the veil of Islam: a view of Saudi youth. “Drawing on the qualitative data, the study tries to shed light on the hidden dimensions of drug trafficking and abuse in the Kingdom through its diversity, complexity and richness.”

To investigate the issue, researchers used documentary methods, in-depth interviews, and literature reviews. They used a snowball method for interviewing students, meaning they used their interviewees to help find new interviewees. All came from Saudi University in Eastern Province. Researchers looked at the backgrounds and hometowns of interviewees to avoid bias since interviewees knew each other from school. A total of 18 students were used, all men. 10 had used drugs previously. Interviews lasted on average 1.5 hours.

Drug trafficking was found to be tied to situations of low economic standing, and it was also found that drug use tends to come from social change. Hash showed itself as the most popular drug in the country. According to one student dubbed Interviewee C, “College students like hashish most because it is not strong and relatively cheap. My friends say you won’t get addicted by smoking hashish.”

Hash use has increased so much in the younger generations, that another student, Interviewee M stated: “It is so popular among youngsters that you may be distanced if you don’t try it with peers. Gradually, you consider it acceptable.” Which means, despite harsh repercussions, there is now a social pressure attached to using it.

Hash is most popular in Saudi Arabia
Hash is most popular in Saudi Arabia

Another thing found is that there wasn’t much different between genders in terms of drug use. Said interviewee G, “girls smoke hashish too. I heard from my sister that her friends meet together and smoke hashish…..Arabs always smoke shisha mixed with hashish. You know, women smoke shisha too; it should be common that they smoke shisha with hashish. But it may not be as popular as it among boys.”

However, there was a bit of a difference between urbanites and those from rural areas. Explained interviewee L “I am from a village, and now study at the second largest city in the Kingdom. Look like drug-taking is more common in the city. But city residents and villagers take similar drugs.”

What else is big in Saudi Arabia?

Second to hash, the next most popular drug in Saudi Arabia is the amphetamine Captagon. In fact, Saudi Arabia is targeted by counterfeit manufacturers, even more so than the rest of the Middle East. This drug is mainly for the young. Interviewee M sheds some light saying, “I think age matters. Unlike old people, young people like to try and accept new things. That is why old Saudis like hashish but young Saudis like Captagon.”

Some even prefer Captagon to hash. Said interviewee O, “Captagon is small. My school mates and I like it more than hashish. Not like hashish, we can buy in tablet……Once we get 25 Riyals from parents, we can buy one tablet and enjoy it.”

It’s said that older people don’t like the drug as much as the young folks, partly for health and social reasons. “Old people have social status and families. They may lose all of them if take amphetamine. But young people have no such fear,” said interviewee H. This was added onto by interviewee D, who said, “drug dealers specialize one or two kinds of drug. Those above middle age stick to their old social circle and don’t have connections with amphetamine dealers.”


Several Middle Eastern countries are secretive about their drug statistics. In such cases, we only know what the governments say, or a little from other small pieces of information that get through. Right now, all available evidence points to a rise in overall drug usage, with hash leading the way in Saudi Arabia.

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Salvia: What the People Have to Say

The plant salvia proposes an interesting situation in that it’s a hallucinogenic plant, that remains legal in the US. As more states and individual locations loosen laws against entheogenic plants, their acceptance, and the ability for a market, gets wider and wider. For something like salvia, no legalization must be made, meaning once producers feel like getting products out there, you can buy them. In terms of what salvia feels like, here’s what the people have to say.

What is salvia?

Salvia divinorum is a plant species that originated in the Sierra Mazateca cloud forests of Oaxaca, Mexico. This climate is perfect for the plant that loves shade and moist conditions. Interestingly, some believe this might not be the actual location of origin, and that it could have been brought over by other tribes, from some other unknown location. At this point, it’s hard to know for sure.

These days it can be found in more places, and is common to many regions of the US. Though it certainly has more name value than other lesser known psychoactive plants, a recent study found that when it comes to salvia, only about 5% of the people of the US say they’ve used it. That was, however, a small scale study.

You might be familiar with the name ‘salvia’ in a different context. Salvia officinalis is the name for the ubiquitous kitchen spice ‘sage’, which is a sister species to the psychoactive Salvia divinorum. Both of these species, as well as others (like Salvia rosmarinus – rosemary), come from the Lamiaceae mint family. Salvia divinorum is not the only one of the family to produce hallucinations, as any other species with the compound salvinorin A will do so.

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The name Salvia divinorum represents these hallucinogenic abilities. ‘Divinorum’ comes from the word ‘divination’, and is translated to “diviner’s sage” or “seer’s sage.” It was used by the Mazatec shamans for hundreds of years in spiritual healing and divination. It was used to induce hallucinations and altered states of consciousness, and is still used in this way today. Shamans use fresh leaves to represent the Virgin Mary, and begin rituals with invocations to her and other saints. It must be quiet to use salvia, as its said Mary speaks with a quiet voice.

Salvia also has medical benefits, and is used in the treatment of diarrhea, anemia, headaches, and rheumatism; as a diuretic; and to treat ‘swollen belly’.

In the US, since it wasn’t around at the time that other hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and magic mushroom were made illegal, it retained legality, much like Amanita mushrooms. In other countries like Estonia, Finland, Iceland, and Norway, its used as a medicine that requires a prescription; while much of Europe has regulation making it illegal. In Russia, the possession is legal, but not sale; and in Chile, France and Spain, the possession and cultivation of the plant is legal, but selling it is not. The US federal government never scheduled salvia, but 13 states did enact legislation to ban it.

The effects of salvia

The plant gives hallucinogenic effects through the compound salvinorin A; which is classified as a diterpenoid. It has a different structure then most other hallucinogens, mainly in that there are no nitrogen atoms. This lack of nitrogen is different from almost all other hallucinogens, which do contain nitrogen atoms. It’s not a psychedelic like LSD, DMT, or mescaline.

Whereas those compounds are known for a strong serotonergic effect, salvinorin A has no power at 5-HT2A (serotonin) receptors; nor does it at NMDA receptors, like the dissociative hallucinogen ketamine. It’s even different from other opioid agonists that exert effects on mu (μ-opioid) receptors. In fact, its most relevant at kappa (κ-opioid) receptors, where its a potent agonist, forcing increased firing from neurons.

Salvinorin A also effects D2 (dopamine) receptors; and these bindings may be related to the hallucinatory effects. Salvinorin A produces short trips of approximately 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Its said to cause effects like: sedation; spatial disorientation; lowered motor control; analgesia; amnesia; delusional thinking; depersonalization; increased appreciation of music; analysis, language, and memory suppression; fits of laughter; distortion in time; slowed thinking; distortions and hallucinations (auditory and visual); increased spiritual feelings; feelings of near-death experiences; and connectedness.

Salvia compound salvinorin A

This can also be accompanied by changes in how gravity feels, called ‘salvia gravity’; making the user feel like their bodily form has morphed or changed, often making users feels like they’re being stretched in two directions; and spontaneous bodily sensations, like pins pricking the skin. Salvia is known for creating intense experiences and enthralling encounters.

Salvia: what the people have to say

When it comes to understanding a drug, its best to know how people actually respond to it. Sure you can look up medical articles, and botany articles, but the idea of the effects is produces, will not always be mentioned, or not accurately. I admit in the few times I’ve come across salvia in life, I didn’t use it right, and didn’t have a mind-blowing experience. But those who did, have a better story to tell. Most admit it’s extremely hard to describe. Here are a few examples of experiences on salvia, and what the people taking it had to say.

In one reddit thread, there were some interesting descriptions. One person says, “It is impossible to describe the feeling. It is impossible. Once you try it you’ll understand. I felt like I was feeling true euphoria. Then I felt like in order to feel the next level, I had to kill myself. My friend felt like he was trapped as a wall and couldn’t ask for help for what felt like ages. The thing about this drug is it’ll make you believe something on every fundamental level you have. It’ll make you believe something different based on what type of person you are, no two trips are the same.”

Another person said, “Salvia makes your movements feel smooth, it can make you feel hot and prickly, like the air is made of razor blades. It can feel like inter-dimensional machinery moving through your body, pulling and twisting on you in ways that you didn’t know were possible. You can feel your entire world rotating about some strange axis. Many people describe the tactile sensations as dysphoric, unpleasant, though I personally adore them.”

The same person continued that “Salvia doesn’t cause euphoria, and yet you can experience intense euphoria while under the effects of salvia. It isn’t the chemical in the plant doing that. You can feel intense tingles that make your body shudder and feel completely loved. You can even get communication, in words or otherwise.”

Yet another explained that it made a “Tickle in the throat then a warm body sensation that starts to feel like your body is constantly shifting like a conveyor belt in every direction. Then I feel the hands on my body, feels like someone is behind me, or under the couch (or whatever I’m laying on). Light visuals, perception distortion. Sometimes can feel like my body is being dragged around, the surface under me changing.”

What people say about salvia high
What people say about salvia high

Another entry went like this: “The first few hits I ever took just felt more like a really strong weed high with uncontrollable laughter. The first trip I had was like this but it felt like there was two of me connected to each other and I started running around screaming (in a fun way). Higher doses are very hard to explain but you can be sitting there taking your hit and in about 20 seconds you are in an entirely different world without even realizing you weren’t there before. These are the doses where you’ll likely experience ego-death, etc. People who have smoked DMT say salvia is the mindfuck.”

How does it do it?

In a Wired article from 2020, staff writer Daniel Oberhaus speaks about a trial he underwent with salvia in which his brain was imaged with an fMRI machine at research hospital Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The goal was to see how salvinorin A affects the brain. As per the writer, “I had just inhaled an unspecified dose of the pure crystalline substance from a hose attached to what one of the researchers characterized as an ‘FDA-approved crack pipe’”.

Speaking of both a pre-study dosing, and the dosing for the study, the writer explained, “My psychedelic experience in the fMRI machine was markedly less otherworldly. On the second round, I saw some colorful pinwheels and felt as though my body had merged with the machine. But I didn’t enter another dimension or dissolve into pure being. This may have been because I received a lower dose. Or it may have been because it’s harder to give in to the experience when you’re inside a giant machine making a racket while it soaks your head in a powerful magnetic field.”

He continued, that of the 12 subjects who took part in this research, the most prominent effect “was a significant decrease in the synchrony of the default mode network” of the brain. He explains, “This network is a mesh of brain regions that is primarily associated with internal thoughts but also plays a role in memory and emotion. It’s activated when we’re thinking about ourselves and others or orienting ourselves in space and time.” And that “When your attention turns inward, the communication between the brain regions in the default mode network syncs up like musicians in an orchestra.”

This is similar to other psychedelics, with researchers noting that results “seem to show that salvinorin A isn’t special among psychedelics when it comes to decreasing activity in the default mode network. It’s an atypical psychedelic in pretty much every way, yet its neurological effects are stronger in the brain network that many researchers think are key to experiencing the effects of classic psychedelic drugs than those drugs themselves.” Accordingly “Some researchers think that the decreased activity between these network connections is part of the essence of what makes psychedelic drugs so psychedelic.”

However, “Considering salvinorin A has subjective effects quite different from classic psychedelics, it certainly doesn’t bode well for the idea that the default mode network is key to their effects,” says research team leader Manoj Doss; making it clear that this is not an open and shut understanding of the drug. Results from the research can be found here. More research on this increasingly popular drug in the future, should hopefully illuminate the topic of how exactly it works, in a more refined way.

Salvia high vs psychedelic high
Salvia high vs psychedelic high


If you want to know how your specific body responds to anything, you need to try it yourself. However, sometimes its good to hear about other peoples’ experiences first. Here, you can see what some basic reactions to salvia are, and what the people who used it had to say. As with any drug, please proceed with caution, and know what you’re getting into.

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