First-Ever Study on Psilocybin Therapy for Gambling Addiction To Launch This Fall

Psilocybin therapy to treat addiction is far from a new topic, as a number of recent studies have noted that the emerging psychedelic treatment could help folks struggling with substance use disorders including alcohol and nicotine addiction.

The compound comes from the aptly named “magic” mushrooms, and we’re continuing to uncover its broad potential in treating a number of mental health conditions… But could psilocybin have a role in treating gambling addiction? A team of British scientists are about to find out.

A Historic First: Psilocybin to Treat Gambling Addiction

The clinical trial, and government-funded study, is the world’s first clinical trial of its kind, exploring the possibility of psilocybin to treat gambling addiction, according to a Mirror report. The study could help to develop a treatment that would later become available on the National Health Service (NHS), England’s publicly funded healthcare system and one of four in the U.K.

The research will be carried out by four top neuropharmacologists. Study leader Rayyan Zafar nodded to its historic nature, calling it a “pioneering move.”

“We’re super excited,” Zafar said. “We’ve been wanting to do this work for quite a while. “We’ll be starting from October onwards. Initially there will be five patients and then from next year onwards we’ll obviously ramp that up.”

Curbing Addiction Beyond Substance Use

When it comes to alcohol addiction and psilocybin, results are promising.

A 2022 study found that participants with alcohol use disorder who received psilocybin saw a 51% reduction in heavy drinking. Eight months after the first dose, 48% of the participants who took psilocybin had stopped drinking altogether, versus 24% of the placebo group.

Another study published in June 2023 found that psilocybin helped those with alcohol use disorder to overcome a number of stressors. Specifically, the treatment “increases the malleability of self-related processing, and diminishes shame-based and self-critical thought patterns while improving affect regulation and reducing alcohol cravings,” according to authors.

Zafar nodded to these trends, suggesting that if psilocybin can work to treat substance addictions, it may have “equally beneficial results” when it comes to gambling addiction. According to Zafar, gambling addicts share similar brain characteristics seen in people with other additions, like alcohol or heroin. 

“The rise of gambling addiction in the U.K. is horrendous and gambling addiction is now recognized as a medical diagnosis,” he added. “But only about 3% of individuals who have got a gambling addiction actually receive professional treatment in the U.K., and there’s no approved pharmacological interventions — licensed drugs or therapies — available. There’s a massive area of unmet clinical need so we’re hoping that psilocybin therapy may one day be used in the NHS to treat individuals with gambling disorders. It is an area which needs a lot of innovation.”

A Potentially Shrinking Stigma and Hope for the Future

The study will be funded with money awarded by Imperial College London out of U.K. government funding, which Zafar said on its own is a sign of progress when it comes to the broader stances on psychedelic medicines.

“Historically with psychedelic research in the U.K. there’s been very little institutional or government-backed funding so this is a really positive sign,” he said. “Maybe it’s a sign times are changing. It’s becoming more of a priority area and it’s no longer a fringe science.”

While psilocybin shows promise in treating addiction, we’re continuing to examine what these results look like in the long-term and if some individuals may be more likely to benefit from such treatments than others. As psychedelic-assisted therapies continue to emerge in healthcare settings, high costs are also a barrier for many.

Still, the potential behind psilocybin therapy continues to grow, as it addresses more than simply a chemical dependency. As we know from the rapid changes over the past decade regarding the evolving cannabis industry, we’re likely to see a number of major shifts in the coming years when it comes to psilocybin- and psychedelic-assisted therapies.

The post First-Ever Study on Psilocybin Therapy for Gambling Addiction To Launch This Fall appeared first on High Times.

Doctors To Begin Trial For Psilocybin Therapy To Treat Cancer-Related Anxiety, Depression

The mental toll from a cancer diagnosis can be as debilitating as the disease itself. A group of medical doctors from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston will soon explore a psychedelic remedy for the trauma.

The doctors, writing in a commentary published this month by International Journal of Gynecological Cancer, specifically highlighted the experiences of women: “[Women] with gynecologic cancers face various physical and psychological challenges throughout their treatment journey.”

“Late stages associated with poor prognosis, along with chronic side effects of treatment, often leave women with existential uncertainty stemming from unpredictable disease trajectory and continuous fear of death,” they wrote, noting the recent case of a patient in her late-30s (identified in the commentary as “JN”) with end-stage ovarian cancer who was seen at their facility in Houston.

“JN has two children and was diagnosed only a year ago with advanced ovarian cancer, and now has multiple sites of bowel obstruction,” they wrote. “‘Her fear for her future was real and overwhelming. Despite the various successful meaning-based work that has been done to address distress in cancer patients, as well as the more conventional gold standard cognitive behavioral therapy, much of it requires significant time commitment to change old habits, and JN does not have the time or stamina for that kind of work.” 

“JN is not alone, as up to a quarter of ovarian cancer patients report depression, anxiety, and death anxiety,” the doctors added. “This is not limited to ovarian cancers, as many gynecologic cancers are unfortunately diagnosed in young women where the burden of anxiety and fear is even greater, often related to the fact that young children may lose their mother.”

Beginning next year, those doctors said they will begin a trial at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center “examining the effects of psilocybin for patients with controlled advanced cancer on maintenance therapy experiencing challenges with mental health.”

“Psychedelics, specifically psilocybin, have shown promise in treating various psychological symptoms including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and end-of-life distress,” the doctors wrote. “Although a study focusing on gynecologic cancers has not yet been completed, the studies with mixed cancer diagnosis are encouraging.”

Although psychedelics “modulate brain activity and have been associated with therapeutic effects such as increased neuroplasticity and modulation of reward pathways, not dissimilar to the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic mechanism of conventional anti-depressants,” they said that research with psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy “suggests lasting benefits from just one to two sessions, compared with the chronic use that is needed with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.”

A recent study published by the Cambridge University Press found that psilocybin-assisted therapy could be a “cost-effective” option relative to other forms of therapy.

“Psilocybin was shown to be cost-effective compared to the other therapies when the cost of therapist support was reduced by 50% and the psilocybin price was reduced from its initial value to £400 to £800 per person. From a societal perspective, psilocybin had improved cost-effectiveness compared to a healthcare perspective,” the researchers wrote. 

Another study released in the spring found that psilocybin mushrooms could be an effective treatment for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“There is preliminary evidence from studies in patients that psilocybin can help patients with OCD. But psilocybin induces a psychedelic trip and this requires special management. We think that psilocybin could help patients with OCD without the trip. How do we achieve this?” said Bernard Lerer, a psychiatry professor at Hebrew University and an author of the study. “We have shown in a different study that the medication, buspirone, which is used to treat anxiety, blocks a mouse equivalent of the psychedelic trip and another researcher has shown that it does so in humans. We wanted to find out whether psilocybin would be effective in a mouse model for anti-obsessional effects – marble burying – and whether it would do so even in the presence of buspirone, which blocks the trip.”

The post Doctors To Begin Trial For Psilocybin Therapy To Treat Cancer-Related Anxiety, Depression appeared first on High Times.

President Biden Is ‘Very Open-Minded’ About Psychedelics For Medical Treatment

President Joe Biden’s youngest brother said the president has been “very open-minded” in their conversations about therapeutic psychedelics, AP reports. During a phone interview with The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM Wednesday, Frank Biden opened up about his brother’s views. 

“He is very open-minded,” Frank Biden responded when probed by Smerconish about discussions with his presidential brother about the medical benefits of psychedelics. “Put it that way. I don’t want to speak; I’m talking brother-to-brother. Brother-to-brother,” Frank Biden said, hinting that the general public has more of a regressive attitude than the President. “The question is, is the world, is the U.S. ready for this? My opinion is that we are on the cusp of a consciousness that needs to be brought about to solve a lot of the problems in and around addiction, but as importantly, to make us aware of the fact that we’re all one people and we’ve got to come together.”

The phone call with Frank Biden came shortly after the host, Smerconish interviewed a journalist for the Wall Street Journal who recently wrote a viral article about how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and workers, and the tech industry in general, use psychedelics without stigma not just because it’s fun but because it makes them better at their job and leads to breakthroughs. 

People are more curious than ever about President Biden’s views on psychedelics, as the issue is gaining traction with people of all political backgrounds, from socialists to libertarians and Democrats and Republicans. In Congress, both leftist Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York and far-right Republican Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida have proposed similar bills regarding the role of psychedelics in treating veterans. Ocasio-Cortez introduced an amendment promoting future studies on psychedelic substances such as MDMA, psilocybin, and ibogaine. Gaetz filed an amendment to explore the therapeutic potential of magic mushrooms and MDMA for military service members. 

Last week, the FDA issued the first-ever guidance for clinical studies on psychedelics for therapeutic purposes. In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved a spending bill including an amendment allowing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to recommend medical cannabis for their patients in legal states. Even traditionally Republican states such as Utah and Missouri are considering commissioning studies to investigate the role psilocybin could play in treating veterans with PTSD. Earlier this year, Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to legalize the adult use of psilocybin, while last year, Colorado’s voters decriminalized psilocybin, and more states are sure to follow.

But PTSD isn’t the only medical condition that psychedelics can treat. Both ketamine and DMT show great promise in the treatment of depression. Newly published research suggests psilocybin could be an effective treatment option for individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). And, while many out-of-touch Americans may still associate psychedelics with the “Just Say No” era catastrophic warnings, plenty of research shows that they could actually treat addiction. Studies show that psilocybin could positively impact the treatment of alcoholism (and in case you didn’t know, the founder of AA even believed that LSD could cure alcoholism). 

The research on addiction is especially important to Frank Biden, who also said in his interview that he had “done a great deal of research” on the issue “because I’m a recovering alcoholic for many, many years.” President Biden does not drink either, stating during the 2008 campaign with Obama that “There are enough alcoholics in my family.” 

The Biden administration has already provided funding to the National Institutes of Health and other agencies studying psychedelic drugs’ therapeutic potential. While the White House did not respond to a request for comment to the AP’s story, Frank Biden’s words offer hope that psychedelic descheduling and even legalization could be more than a pipe dream. 

The post President Biden Is ‘Very Open-Minded’ About Psychedelics For Medical Treatment appeared first on High Times.

Psychedelic Conversations at Madame ZuZu’s Emporium

In the 19th century, French revolutionaries gathered in salons to talk politics and philosophy. In 2023, a group of Chicago medical professionals meet at Billy Corgan’s whimsical tea salon, Madame ZuZu’s Emporium in Highland Park, IL., to talk psychedelics. 

Once a month, over cups of exotic tea and plant-based pastries, Madame ZuZu’s is abuzz with conversations about ketamine therapy, psilocybin treatments, dosing, trip-sitting, legislation, and more. The Chicago Med Psychedelics Group (as they call themselves) are a spirited bunch of practitioners whose health backgrounds zigzag across mainstream medicine and beyond: the group counts nurse practitioners, psychotherapists, internal medicine specialists, university medical directors, and cannabis pharmacologists among its nine core members. 

Like any good grassroots movement, the Chicago Med Psychedelics Group came into being to kickstart change at a local level.

“Psychedelics hold a lot of potential benefits and pitfalls in helping push healing to the next level. However, we still have much to learn,” says Leslie Mendoza Temple MD, Medical Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the NorthShore University HealthSystem and Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. 

“I knew there was a community of early adopters, and I felt we should put our heads together to help promote a rational, balanced way to share knowledge on the science and logistics of this large class of substances.”

Summer 2022 saw Mendoza Temple browsing the MAPS website and connecting with David Schwartz, a fellow Chicagoan, licensed clinical professional counselor and psychedelic integration psychotherapist. They met, hit it off, and began inviting others to join them.

“We started growing the group because I just wanted to know, who am I going to refer to [with questions about psychedelic medicine or treatments]?” explained Mendoza Temple. 

“I want to know where I’m sending patients. That’s an integral part of all of this: who do you trust, and who can be a space holder for these experiences? The psychedelic community is being built from the ground up by microcosms like ours.”

Members are drawn to join the close-knit community for a number of reasons. All want to connect with other like-minded professionals; some hope to expand their awareness of psychedelic medicine, and others want to merge firsthand psychedelic experiences with their professional expertise to support patients. 

For Katie Sullivan, a family nurse practitioner and founder of Modern Compassionate Care, a life-changing psilocybin experience crystallized her desire to become an advocate of psychedelic treatment. Sullivan became a widow when her husband, a U.S. Marine, died at age 30 following exposure to burn pits during service in Iraq.  

“Coming out of that experience, I was a young mother of a 3-year-old who was deeply traumatized and living with a significant amount of survivor’s guilt,” she explains.

Sullivan tried therapy, support groups, meditation and EMDR to help manage her grief and PTSD. While they helped reduce some of her pain, a deep well of grief persisted. So she turned to psilocybin.

“I spent time consciously preparing for my solo trip and then went on a journey inside to meet the pain that I couldn’t release.” 

Sullivan reflects that her psilocybin journey provided catharsis and a new perspective that allowed her to let go of the burden of guilt she’d been carrying. It’s now been six years since that single transformative trip. Sullivan describes it as one of the most significant moments of her life, spurring her to become involved with psychedelic advocacy. She counts the support she receives from the Chicago Med Psychedelics Group as invaluable, since she now offers ketamine therapy treatments in her clinic.

“I really wanted to be part of a community of providers and clinicians that I could turn to. This is a new space, and I want to be ethical, safe, and provide really good education for people,” she says.

For David Schwartz, involvement in the group was another step towards embracing a psychedelic-friendly professional persona.

“In my public-facing role now, I’m open about providing preparation and integration for psychedelic therapy, ” he explains. “So that’s one way I’ve decided to step out of the psychedelic closet.” 

Schwartz is also happy to speak with curious clients about his personal experiences with psychedelics. 

“I think it’s an important part of this type of work and advocacy to also normalize the benefits of these medicines,” he said. ‘I eventually decided that my psychedelic experiences mean that I have a responsibility to be a source of information and conduit for people who want to talk to someone openly.”

When the group descends upon Madame ZuZu’s for their monthly meeting, it’s high vibes with everyone chatting enthusiastically about new research findings, events, conferences, and personal or professional experiences. 

“There’s so much conversation going on and so much excitement,” said Schwartz. “Everyone just wants to talk, share, ask questions, and connect.”

Special guests occasionally join in, ushering their unique area of expertise or perspective into the fold. Last month Billy Corgan stepped out from behind ZuZu’s tea counter and sat down with the group to debate whether U.S. society was ready to handle complete psychedelic legalization. 

Other meetings have included guests such as Jean Lacy, founder of the Illinois Psychedelic Society, Anne Berg of the Psychedelic Pharmacists Association, and Rachel Norris MD, the owner and operator of ketamine-focused clinic Imagine Healthcare in Chicago. The airy art-deco emporium of Madame ZuZu’s is the ideal space holder for this eclectic, knowledge-hungry bunch who are pumped to meet with like-minded individuals. 

However, beyond the thrill of connecting and learning, there’s also an awareness of contributing to the changing legislative landscape in Illinois. In January 2023, Illinois legislator La Shawn Ford introduced the Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens Act, or the “Illinois CURE Act”. If passed, this act would regulate and license the provision of psilocybin products in Illinois. At this stage, while the bill is still under consideration, events promoting debate and education around psychedelics can help to play a role in promoting awareness. 

Some Chicago Med Psychedelics Group members have become involved with sister groups, such as the Illinois Psychedelic Society, to share educational resources and further the cause. Leslie Mendoza Temple, Lisa Solomon, and Karolina Mikos MD will participate and present in panels at the Illinois Cannabis and Psychedelic Symposium in late September. Other group members have lined up to join in discussions at the upcoming Illinois Psychedelic Society Summer Networking Mixer, which will welcome 300 people. The last mixer the group was involved with sold out within 48 hours. 

While involvement in these larger events is meaningful, at this stage, the prevailing sentiment among Chicago Med Psychedelics Group is to keep their gatherings at Madame ZuZu’s intimate, informal, and supportive.

“I like keeping it small,” comments Mendoza Temple. ”I don’t know that we’d even have a vision or mission statement as that makes it very formal, then you start to invite more people, and you need an agenda…Don’t we have enough of those big, formal groups already?”

“Tend to the part of the garden you can touch,” reflects Schwartz. “Personally, I’m just thrilled to tag along for the ride as everything evolves with legislation and things like that, but what really interests me is actually changing the culture from the bottom up.”

Photo from far left, clockwise:

Maerry Lee MD ACEP, Joseph Friedman RPh MBA, David Schwartz LCPC, Anne Berg PharmD (guest), James T. O’Donnell PharmD MS FCP, David Schwartz LCPC, Leslie Mendoza Temple MD ABOIM, Lisa Solomon, Clinical Education Council Co-Chair of the Illinois Psychedelic Society, Karolina Mikos MD, Luba Andres RPh (guest)

Absent Chicago Med Psychedelics Group members: Katie Sullivan, APRN, FNP-C, David Kushner MD DO FASAM FACP, Rebecca Abraham RN BSN.

The post Psychedelic Conversations at Madame ZuZu’s Emporium appeared first on High Times.

Woman’s Breast Cancer Returned Immediately After Dropping Treatment With Cannabis, Shrooms

One woman is living proof that medical cannabis and psilocybin-assisted therapy work. According to a case report published September 22, a woman’s breast cancer returned after stopping treatment with cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms.

LAD Bible reports that an anonymous woman in the U.K., 49, was living with advanced stages of metastatic breast cancer and stopped traditional drugs to treat it with medical cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms. The reasoning was due to the woman’s grim prognosis: her cancer metastasized and spread to her bones, liver, and lymph nodes.

Doctors told her to immediately launch a ketogenic diet and undergo a 26-month regimen of chemotherapy.

However, the woman also embarked on a journey including psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, using psilocybin in microdoses to repair her emotional wellbeing. She also took high doses of cannabis rich in THC and CBD.

When she combined THC/CBD and psilocybin microdoses with the chemotherapy—the cancer went into remission. At first, the results were astounding: After a five-month treatment period, researchers found no evidence of metastatic disease, and her chemotherapy treatments were canceled. The woman remained disease-free for 18 months while treating it with cannabis and psilocybin. But when she got confident and drastically lowered her cannabis in psilocybin intake, scans revealed that the cancer returned quickly.

The Woman’s Personal Testimony

The woman provided a personal testimony of how well cannabis and psilocybin work compared to conventional drugs like chemotherapy.

“In September 2018, I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer,” the woman wrote in a personalized perspective included in the study. “My first thought was, ’what am I going to tell my mother?’”

In September 2019, scans indicated that the cancer didn’t return, and the patient lowered her cannabis regimen. However by June 2020, tests revealed the cancer was back.

“This brings up the possibility that withdrawal of the cannabinoid and psychedelic therapies may have contributed to the return of the cancer,” researchers wrote in the case study.

The woman continued, “I immediately began incorporating cannabis into my daily treatment plan. By January 2019, I was found to have no evidence of disease according to my scans. This was absolutely unexpected. When one is diagnosed with cancer, the mental, physical and emotional events which consume and slowly chip away at one’s humanity become a daily routine.”

“Everything changes in a heartbeat, and suddenly death becomes your daily counterpart. It’s dehumanizing, demoralizing, and just plain horrific. Cannabis changes all of this. It will ease the suffering of so many, as it eased mine. Cannabis provides hope. It provides help when you feel you can’t go on. I was able to eat. I was able to sleep. The nausea was almost non-existent. I could function. I could work. I was no longer slave to my disease. Imagine a world that embraces cannabis as a true medicinal plant that heals those afflicted with illness. That is the hope cannabis provides. It heals. It restores. It gives life. And access should NEVER be in question.”

Researchers appear to agree with the woman:

“The overall picture of the case presents the strong possibility that cannabinoids and psychedelics have played an important modulatory or additive role to standardised treatment, which warrants further exploration,” researchers concluded.

The case study provides a rare glimpse into what happens when people living with cancer start and stop cannabis and psilocybin-assisted therapy.

Fortunately, there’s a happy ending to this story. After the woman learned that her cancer returned, she immediately reintroduced psychedelics and raised the dose of her cannabis regimen, which doctors say stabilized her condition.

The post Woman’s Breast Cancer Returned Immediately After Dropping Treatment With Cannabis, Shrooms appeared first on High Times.

Veterans Affairs Researchers Embrace Psychedelics for Military Vets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Veterans Affairs Researchers Embrace Psychedelics for Military Vets appeared first on High Times.

Oregon Unveils Rules For New Psilocybin Therapy Program

Regulators in Oregon have released the first round of rules governing the state’s new voter-approved psilocybin therapy program.

The rules, released last week by the Oregon Health Authority, detail various manufacturing requirements and safety procedures, as well as the permissible types of psilocybin products.

According to The Oregonian, those are “just the first set of rules for a program set to go into effect in January 2023,” while “rest of the rules will be considered in the fall and adopted by Dec. 31.”

Oregon Psilocybin Services, a division within the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division’s Center for Health Protection charged with implementing the new law, provide some context on the new rules in a letter to the public last week.

The agency said that it “received approximately 200 written and verbal comments during the public comment period that took place April 1-22, 2022 and relied on these comments to further refine the final rules.”

“In some cases, public comments were incorporated in the adopted rules and in others they were not. OPS weighed competing priorities and viewpoints that were received throughout the rulemaking process when making revisions, while considering equity, public health and safety,” the letter said. “In addition, OPS considered the statutory authority of the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act and the scope of current rulemaking. OPS received numerous comments that may be relevant to future rulemakings but were not related to the content of the proposed rules in this subset of rules. It is important to note that this letter does not address every change to the draft rules. Instead, it responds to the most frequent themes observed from the public comment period.”

Chief among the newly unveiled rules was the decision to allow manufacturers to cultivate one type of mushroom: Psilocybe Cubensis.

“OPS received comments requesting that the rules allow additional species of mushrooms and use of additional substrates. The Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board recommended limiting cultivation to Psilocybe Cubensis and prohibiting substrates that may pose a risk to health and safety. To avoid the risk associated with deadly, poisonous look-alikes and the potential for wood lover’s paralysis and animal-borne pathogens, OPS has upheld this recommendation in final rules. That said, although raw manure is prohibited, finished compost is allowed. OPS looks forward to consideration of additional species in the future through continued dialog with the public and recommendations from the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board,” the letter said.

In 2020, voters in Oregon passed Ballot Measure 110, which legalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin and decriminalized all drugs.

The successful passage of the proposal was widely hailed as a major breakthrough for the drug reform movement.

“Today’s victory is a landmark declaration that the time has come to stop criminalizing people for drug use,” said Kassandra Frederique of the Drug Policy Alliance, one of the groups that pushed for Ballot Measure 110. “Measure 110 is arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date. It shifts the focus where it belongs—on people and public health—and removes one of the most common justifications for law enforcement to harass, arrest, prosecute, incarcerate, and deport people. As we saw with the domino effect of marijuana legalization, we expect this victory to inspire other states to enact their own drug decriminalization policies that prioritize health over punishment.”

“While drug decriminalization cannot fully repair our broken and oppressive criminal legal system or the harms of an unregulated drug market, shifting from absolute prohibition to drug decriminalization is a monumental step forward in this fight,” Frederique continued. “It clears the path toward treating drug use as a health issue, restores individual liberty, removes one of the biggest underpinnings for police abuse, and substantially reduces government waste.”

The post Oregon Unveils Rules For New Psilocybin Therapy Program appeared first on High Times.

First Psychedelic Drug Trial Firm Opens in London

In what is absolutely a sign that the new interest in psychedelic drugs has landed on the other side of The Pond, a new commercial facility has opened for trials in London.

Clerkenwell Health, a British start-up, will begin trials of psilocybin to help terminal patients manage the anxiety caused by this kind of diagnosis starting in August. The intent is to support trial participants through the end of palliative care. The facility will be located near Harley Street—a famed address globally for attracting doctors and firms offering state-of-the-art medical treatments and therapies. The firm will be working in cooperation with North American firms in both Canada and the United States which focus on treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

The move is not unexpected and indeed is likely to be just the next step in a widely anticipated trend. Biotech firms of all kinds, including for psychedelics starting with cannabis, have been eyeing the U.K., post-Brexit, as a haven for this kind of experimental research. This is because Britain is no longer bound by the rules and regulations of the European Medicines Agency and other regulatory bodies necessary to approve such research on a regional basis.

Beyond this, of course, other psychedelic drugs—and psilocybin in particular—are beginning to have a new renaissance in the research community globally. It is undeniable that this is due, in part, to cannabis reform. In many ways it is the ending of Prohibition globally, more than Brexit, which has opened these doors.

Regardless, there is great interest now in exploring all kinds of psychedelic drugs to treat mental health conditions ranging from mood disorders and PTSD to addiction.

The policies of the War on Drugs made research of all of them highly challenging. Getting both approvals and funding was next to impossible everywhere. Indeed, the only reason that Israel developed into a hub of cannabis research is that the U.S. was willing to fund research overseas that was specifically banned at home.

The Great Irony About British Psychedelic Research

As much as this development is certainly a step forward for this kind of treatment, there are multiple ironies present. The first is that the most widely used psychedelic drug involved in such reform discussions—namely cannabis—remains an illegal substance in the U.K. Further, despite efforts on the part of advocates, which at this point include the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, recreational legalization has caused a backlash in his own party.

As a result, widespread medical reform is in a strange place here. Despite the U.K. being the largest exporter of medical cannabis in the world, legal access to cannabinoid-based medicine is still out of reach for the average British patient.

It may well be that the first recreational reform in Britain will happen first, if not even more ironically, just off its coast.

Where Drug Reform Is Headed in the U.K.

Given the political climate, it is clear that drug reform politically in the U.K. is not following science but rather profit. GW Pharmaceuticals led the commercial development of cannabis-based drugs outside of Israel for almost 20 years. During this time, the company’s drugs treated more global patients than domestic ones. Indeed, that is one of the reasons why the entire medical cannabis discussion became so heated over the last several years. When GW’s drugs did not work even on children, parents had to import alternatives from abroad.

Tragically, the current divisions in the Labour Party over drug reform will probably split the party, causing the need for a partisan discussion about drug reform, but also slowing it down even further.

That matters little to biotech firms now eyeing a regulatory environment outside of global norms and regulations and a whole new class of drugs to develop and roll out.

There clearly needs to be a general fast forward on these kinds of drugs and the U.K. is poised to be a center of that. But if the British insist on being the Island of Dr. Moreau for the benefit of a few firms, and to the detriment of the vast majority of its citizens, there is nothing to stop them. 

The post First Psychedelic Drug Trial Firm Opens in London appeared first on High Times.

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. 

The post Boris Johnson Open to Consider Legalizing Psilocybin Therapy in UK appeared first on High Times.

How Can Psychology Improve the Effects of Cannabis?

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

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

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

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

Cannabis and the Brain

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

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

Get the Snacks Out: Food and the ECS

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

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

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

Set the Mood: Music and Dopamine

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

Watch Those Lights: Sight, Colour, Taste and Experience 

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

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

Changing up Your Environment 

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

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

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

Being Around Others: Socialising and Dopamine 

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

Conclusion – Combining Cannabis and Psychology

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

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

The post How Can Psychology Improve the Effects of Cannabis? appeared first on CBD Testers.