Boris Johnson Open to Consider Legalizing Psilocybin Therapy in UK

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is open to the idea of legalizing psilocybin for therapeutic purposes in the UK, according to a recent conversation. By downgrading psilocybin’s classification to Schedule 2, the mushroom would be available for medical use and research.

BBC News reports that Tory MP (Member of Parliament) Crispin Blunt urged Johnson to review the country’s law to allow more research into the psilocybin’s potential as a therapeutic during Prime Minister’s Questions. Blunt said it has “exciting potential” for the treatment of mental health conditions such as depression, trauma and addiction.

Under current law, psilocybin is currently listed under Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, sharing the category with drugs such as LSD, DMT, MDMA and mescaline—in a similar manner to the way it is classified in the United States. Most people in the UK cannot legally possess psilocybin, unless a Home Office license is used in research.

Advocates hope to move psilocybin to Schedule 2 with restrictions to prevent false prescriptions and to promote medical and scientific research.

Blunt pressed the prime minister to allow psilocybin to be reclassified. “I can say that we will consider the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recent advice on reducing barriers to research with controlled drugs such as the one he describes, and we will be getting back to him as soon as possible,” Johnson said in response to Blunt’s question.

“There is no record anywhere that a substance that has come out of ‘schedule two’ and gone into the criminal supply chain,” Johnson told BBC News.

It’s not the first time Blunt has called to reclassify psilocybin. Blunt is also the president of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, a policy forum which promotes informed debate on drug policy reform.  Last month, Blunt said, “This delay is significant. In the 110 days since the prime minister gave his go-ahead, nearly 2,000 people have taken their own lives, most of them probably avoidable when this research is translated into treatment.”

Policing minister Kit Malthouse told MPs on October 18 that although he liked the idea of battling mental illness—the scheduling of psilocybin was a responsibility for the drug regulation agency.

“There are ongoing trials and research into psilocybin taking place in the UK and while the medicine has yet to be licenced by the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency, if and when it is, we will consider rescheduling it,” he said.

Psilocybin as a Therapeutic Medicine

Ongoing clinical research shows that psilocybin, combined with conventional therapies, can help to treat people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The substance is also being explored as therapy for depression and end-of-life treatment, among other mental conditions.

City and statewide efforts to decriminalize psilocybin use have spread throughout the United States, including measures in Denver, Colorado and other cities. California cities such as Oakland and Santa Cruz took things further, decriminalizing other psychedelic substances. 

In November 2020, Oregon voters approved Measure 109, which will allow the use of the psilocybin in regulated facilities. However, the program won’t be operational until 2023, and there’s a lot to be sorted out. Oregon’s Psilocybin Advisory Board is currently learning about the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treating a variety of mental health conditions. 

Last year, Canada announced that four patients who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer will receive therapy from psilocybin. It came as a response to a plea from patients with the government. Finally, the plea for medicine was approved by Patty Hajdu, who serves as minister of health in Canada. It was the first exception to the rule for psychedelic treatment since 1974. 

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How Can Psychology Improve the Effects of Cannabis?

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

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

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

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

Cannabis and the Brain

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

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

Get the Snacks Out: Food and the ECS

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

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

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

Set the Mood: Music and Dopamine

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

Watch Those Lights: Sight, Colour, Taste and Experience 

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

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

Changing up Your Environment 

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

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

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

Being Around Others: Socialising and Dopamine 

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

Conclusion – Combining Cannabis and Psychology

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

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Elon Musk Embraces Potential of Psychedelics at CodeCon

Enter a long, strange trip into the mind of a genius. Elon Musk—who on September 27 became the world’s richest person, surpassing Jeff Bezos—said people should be “open to psychedelics” at a CodeCon event on Tuesday.

Ronan Levy, executive chairman of Field Trip Health hosted conversation with Musk during an interview at CodeCon 21, a celebrated tech development event, confronting him about whether or not he supports psychedelics for therapeutic purposes.

“I think generally people should be open to psychedelics,” said Musk. The session continued. 

“You’ve spent a lot of time talking about outer space, and I want to ask you about inner space. What role do you think psychedelics may have in addressing some of the more destructive tendencies of humanity?” Levy asked Musk.

“A lot of people making laws are kind of from a different era,” Musk replied. “As the new generation gets into political power, I think we will see greater receptivity to the benefits of psychedelics.”

Field Trip Health provides psychedelic-assisted therapies. In an August 31 press release, Field Trip announced new programs, including one that gives eligible therapists the ability to provide ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) to their patients at Field Trip Health Centers. They will use Field Trip’s medical teams for screening, prescribing and administration of ketamine. 

Field Trip’s programs will also provide both didactic and experiential training to therapists and medical professionals on KAP. Therapists who complete Field Trip’s training programs will automatically become eligible to join the KAP Co-op program.

It’s not the first time that the SpaceX founder and multibillionaire has spoken in favor of psychedelics.

On November 14, 2020, Musk tweeted three statements: “You can’t win; You can’t break even; and You can’t stop playing,” then tweeting in the thread, “Unless you’re on DMT.” Twitter couldn’t handle the statement, and commenters guessed whether it was an admission that the billionaire had tried ayahuasca or DMT.

Why is this important? Because so much weight is often put on Musk’s opinions—given his stratospheric wealth and influence. Musk’s powers are evident in the way his comments significantly influenced and tipped the value of Dogecoin and Bitcoin.

Elon Musk on Cannabis

Cannabis—itself a mild psychedelic—is also a recurring theme in the billionaire’s life. In 2019, Musk smoked a blunt on The Joe Rogan Experience—and High Times’ asked if it was “the most expensive blunt of all time?”

Few people in the world are as scrutinized as deeply as Musk when it comes to personal habits like smoking pot. Smoking a blunt live set off a firestorm.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned Musk. There was an active petition to get Twitter to deplatform him—and pop stars even dragged him on Instagram. Even Musk’s SpaceX assets were not safe. NASA investigated Musk also, after his debacle on the podcast. According to three unnamed sources who spoke with the Washington Post, NASA launched a safety review of SpaceX shortly after his spot on The Joe Rogan Experience.

Given the level of investments that NASA pours into SpaceX, to them, smoking a blunt was a big deal. At the time, NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs did not comment on whether Musk smoking a blunt was what triggered the review. But he did mention the importance of SpaceX adhering the rules of a drug-free workplace.

On another episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Musk suggested that most CBD experiences are “fake” and mostly hype. Rogan immediately schooled him, scolding him for dismissing the compound as a benefit for people around the world.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, January 5, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Illinois Governor Announces Half A Million Marijuana Expungements And Pardons (Marijuana Moment)

// Illinois Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Surge 15% in December to End First Year at $669 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Incarcerated Patients Have A Right To Use Medical Marijuana New Mexico Judge Rules (Marijuana Moment)

These headlines are brought to you by MJToday Media, publishers of this podcast as well as our weekly show Marijuana Today and the most-excellent Green Rush Podcast. And check out our new show Weed Wonks!

// Steve DeAngelo Parts Ways With Harborside (Green Market Report)

// Recreational use of marijuana now legal in Montana (KBZK 7)

// AZ Dispensaries Likely to Begin Cannabis Sales Before April (AZ Marijuana)

// Lack of standards dubious business practices threaten to upend cannabis testing industry (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Farmers lose hope – and money – in race to build Maine’s hemp market (Portland Press Herald)

// Best Music Playlists For Psychedelic Therapy Are Explored In New Johns Hopkins Study (Marijuana Moment)

// Veterinarians Can Consult On Marijuana And CBD Therapy For Pets Under Michigan Governor-Signed Bill (Marijuana Moment)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Matthias Muller/Flickr

Migraines and Cannabis – Introducing Beauty and the Beast

Not all of us have suffered a serious headache and even fewer have experienced the power of a severe migraine. That faint sense of disorientated nausea begins to emanate from an uncomfortable pressure throughout the forehead. This familiar warning of the impending threat brings forward a panic of defenses. Once the episode has been realized […]

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Israeli Researchers Find Cannabis Therapy Reduces Fibromyalgia Pain

Cannabis could be a treatment option for fibromyalgia,  one of the most common chronic pain conditions in the world, according to a new Israeli study. 

Characterized by widespread musculoskeletal aching, fatigue, poor sleep quality, and cognitive difficulties, fibromyalgia has no specific causes and no known cure, but  a prospective observational study, “Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Fibromyalgia,” has given fibromyalgia patients some hope. The researchers found significant improvement in pain intensity and fibromyalgia‐related symptoms among patients after six months of medical cannabis therapy.

“It’s commonly accepted that chronic pain can be treated with cannabis, but there has been less evidence to support the role it plays in specifically treating fibromyalgia,” said Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, one of the lead authors on the study and head research scientist at the Tikun Olam research department in Tel Aviv, Israel, where it was conducted.

Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, lead author of an Israeli study, found that medical cannabis was an effective treatment for multiple symptoms of fibromyalgia. (Courtesy photo) 

“Our data indicates that medical cannabis could be a promising therapeutic option for the treatment of fibromyalgia, especially for those who failed on standard pharmacological therapies. We show that medical cannabis is effective and safe when titrated slowly and gradually,” concluded the study, published in June 2019 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine

Cannabis as a Promising Option

Dr. Iftach Sagy, co-author and researcher at Soroka’s Clinical Research Center, explained that the study found significant improvement in pain intensity, fibromyalgia-related symptoms and overall quality of life after patients received six months of medical cannabis.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first and largest trial to use herbal cannabis in fibromyalgia patients,” Sagy said. Nearly 80% of the study participants were female, a proportion that corresponds to the general population of fibromyalgia sufferers.

Dr. Iftach Sagy, co-author of a study on fibromyalgia and medical marijuana, found that cannabis holds promise as a therapy for the disease that affects mostly women. (Courtesy photo)

Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. and an estimated 3% to 6% of the world population. The National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) calculates that 75% to 90% of patients are women.

The study, which involved 367 fibromyalgia patients, found:

  • 81.1% reported overall treatment success;
  • 73.4% reported improved sleep;
  • 80.8% reported improved depression‐related symptoms;
  • 61.9% reported improved “quality of life” components including appetite and sexual activity.

“We also witnessed an improvement in depression‐related symptoms, sleep problems, improvement in appetite and sexual activity,” Bar-Lev Schleider said.

Patients in the study were treated with science-backed varietals developed by Tikun Olam, Israel’s largest cannabis producer and research organization.

Cannabis: No Significant or Negative Side Effects

Eighty-one percent of the participants reported moderate improvement with no adverse side effects.

“The implications of these findings for fibromyalgia patients are that they may now have an additional treatment option,” Bar-Lev Schleider told Weedmaps News. “The study adds a piece of information on safety and efficacy of medical cannabis to treat their symptoms.”  

Bar-Lev Schleider noted that 59.7% of the participants were taking opioids for pain at the beginning of the study. A follow-up survey of participants after six months found that 22% stopped or reduced their opioid and benzodiazepine usage.

“There are patients who have or will in the future stop taking pharmaceutical drugs and their sole treatment will be medicinal cannabis,” Bar-Lev Schleider said.

Few Effective Treatments Available

Fibromyalgia sufferers are generally limited to a combination of pain medications, antidepressants, and sleep aids. Commonly used first-line medication brands such as Cymbalta and Lyrica tend to provide insufficient relief from fibromyalgia symptoms. Patients often complain of side effects associated with these medications.

Medical marijuana has been the subject of other studies on treatments for fibromyalgia. In a 2018 retrospective review study, co-author Dr. George Habib also found medical cannabis was an effective alternative treatment for fibromyalgia.

“In general, the impression [from the study] was that this type of [cannabis] medication is more effective than pregabalin and duloxetine,” said Habib, a rheumatologist in Netanya, Israel. The former drug is prescribed to treat nerve and muscle pain, the latter depression.

In addition to prescription drugs, the NFA also recommends lifestyle adaptation involving exercise, diet, physical therapy, and psychological support.

Patients as Doctors

With few mainstream and effective treatment options for fibromyalgia, sufferers default to experimenting with different methods for managing their pain and symptoms.

“That’s what I did. I researched cannabis for two years,” said Tonya Sanders of Dennison, Ohio, who has suffered from fibromyalgia and lupus for most of her adult life. “Only one doctor out of dozens I’d been seeing mentioned it once for two seconds then swept it under the rug,” she said.

Tonya Sanders suffers from fibromyalgia but found that cannabis relieved many of her symptoms. The Ohio mother is now an educator on the use of medical marijuana. (Courtesy photo)

Sanders, a mother of two daughters, had to leave her nursing job because of her illnesses.

“My pain was so bad, I couldn’t even stand the feel of clothing on my body. Prescription medications were ruining my life as much as my illnesses were,” she said. “At first I tried CBD oil in a dropper but needed something more. It was the full entourage effect that finally helped. The first time I smoked cannabis and my horrific symptoms faded, I took off my last fentanyl patch.”

It took six to eight weeks to fully withdraw from all pharmaceutical medications, she added. “I’m in full remission from lupus and have no fibromyalgia pain or symptoms now,” said Sanders, who volunteers with the Green Nurse Group, a no-profit organization comprising professionals and nurses who educate the public on the safe use of medical cannabis in states where it is legal.

Sanders also is involved with the International Women’s Cannabis Coalition.

“I’m finally able to live my life, function as a nurse, a mom, and a wife. All things I couldn’t do for all those years until I started using cannabis to treat my illnesses,” Sanders said. “Now I am trying to educate people.”

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