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For the record: State Department Report, NYC ODs drop, Guatemalan Top Cop & Head Narc Busted, Salvia Banned in Wisconsin

Even though there was no Chronicle last week--due to your editor's death-battle with a vicious Mexican bug; I only returned to the land of the living on Friday--things continued to happen anyway. Here are a handful of items that would have been in the Chronicle had there been one last week: On Monday, the State Department released its annual state on the world on drugs report. The report, called the 2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy, was going to be the subject of a feature story last week before I got sick. I may still go with it this coming week. Also on Monday, the New York City Health Department reported overdose deaths fell in 2008 to the lowest level since 1999. OD fatalities fell from 874 in 2006 to 666 in 2008. Increased use of naloxane, an opioid agonist used to undo overdoses may get some of the credit. On Tuesday, Guatemala's national police chief and its head narc were arrested for links to drug traffickers and for the murders of five policemen. Police Chief Batlazar Gomez and anti-drug head Nelly Bonilla were arrested during an "investigation into a drug robbery (in April 2009) in Amatitlan, which those detained today are believed to have participated in", said Attorney General Amilcar Velasquez. Five police officers were killed during the robbery. The pair currently face charges of conspiracy, breaking and entering, abuse of power, making illegal arrests, drug trafficking, obstruction of justice, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. On Thursday, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law a bill banning salvia divinorum. That makes Wisconsin the 19th state to move against Sally D. A few states have limited its sale to adults, but most of those states have simply banned salvia. The Wisconsin bill, AB 186, bans the manufacture, distribution, or sales of salvia—although not its possession—and backs it up with a $10,000 fine. I'm back at it now, and that means the Chronicle will be back on Friday. In the meantime, I'll most likely post a story or two in the blog just to see if you're paying attention.

Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century Conference

Open to physicians, healthcare professionals, and the general public, this is an international conference offering continuing medical education (CME) credits. Featuring dozens of world-renowned presenters including: Stanislav Grof, M.D., co-founder of transpersonal psychology Michael Mithoefer, M.D., principal investigator for MAPS flagship US MDMA/PTSD study Alex and Allyson Grey, visionary artists Andrew Weil, M.D., integrative medicine proponent (by video) David Nichols, Ph.D., medicinal chemist and pharmacologist Charles Grob, M.D., UCLA psilocybin researcher Robert Jesse, founder of Council on Spiritual Practices (CSP) Roland Grifiths, Ph.D., principal investigator for CSP's Johns Hopkins psilocybin study Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., consciousness researcher and psychotherapist Earth and Fire Erowid, founders of Erowid.org Rick Doblin, Ph.D., founder and executive director of MAPS And dozens of other experts discussing ayahuasca, ibogaine, LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, and salvia divinorum. Plus a special banquet to honor the lifetime of achievements of psychedelic luminaries Sasha and Ann Shulgin. Psychedelic Science will bring together international experts to present on psychedelic research and psychedelic psychotherapy topics for the largest conference dedicated solely to psychedelics in the U.S. in 17 years. There will be three full days of programming with concurrent tracks exploring clinical and spiritual applications, issues relevant to healthcare professionals, and social and cultural issues surrounding the therapeutic and recreational uses of psychedelics. Psychedelic Science will offer pre- and post-conference workshops with Stanislav Grof, M.D., Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Michael Mithoefer, M.D., Annie Mithoefer, B.S.N., Alex and Allyson Grey, David Nichols, Ph.D., Franz Vollenweider, M.D., Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., and Annie Oak, Mariavittoria Mangini and Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia of the Women's Visionary Congress. ***Register Now! Late registration rates begin on March 15, 2010.*** For more information, see http://www.maps.org/conference/.
Date: 
Thu, 04/15/2010 - 9:00pm - Sun, 04/18/2010 - 4:30pm
Location: 
1740 North First Street
San Jose, CA 95112
United States

Ibogaine Pioneer Howard Lotsof Dead at Age 66

Ibogaine advocate Howard Lotsof, 66, died January 31 in Staten Island, New York. Liver cancer killed him. In 1962, Lotsof, a Bronx native, was strung out on heroin when he ingested a sample of the West African psychoactive substance ibogaine. Rocked by the hallucinatory experience, Lotsof was even more stunned when he realized that after ibogaine he no longer felt compelled to use heroin. For 20 years after that, Lotsof went about his life in the television and movie business, but when an accident cut that career short, he returned to ibogaine and began working to make it available as an addiction treatment. In 1986, he founded a company, NDA International, and began treating clients in Amsterdam. Lotsof originated numerous patents for ibogaine in treating addictions and provided data to the National Institute on Drug Abuse that laid the groundwork for still ongoing research on ibogaine and its use as an anti-addictive substance. More than 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers on ibogaine have been published so far. Thanks almost entirely to Lotsof and his supporters, including Dana Beal and Cures Not Wars, an international network of ibogaine clinics is now in place and treating addicted clients. Lotsof was not a doctor or scientist—his college degree was in film—but an outsider who still managed to bring ibogaine in from the cold and win it academic and scientific respect. He will be missed.
Location: 
New York City, NY
United States

Europe: Russia Bans Salvia, Hawaiian Woodrose, Blue Lotus Flowers, Synthetic Cannabinoids

The Russian government announced Thursday that it has added a number of substances to its controlled substance list and banned their sale. The substances include salvia divinorum, Hawaiian wood rose, Blue Lotus flowers, and 23 different synthetic cannabinoids. Many of the substances are used in "smoking mixes" by users seeking psychoactive effects.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/salvialeaves.jpg
salvia leaves (photo courtesy Erowid.org)
The ban had its genesis in a proposal by the Ministry of Public Health and Social Development last month. The ministry proposed tightening controls over the sale and consumption of smoking mixes and submitted its proposal to the government for coordination.

Salvia is already banned in a number of countries, including Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Sweden. It is not illegal under US federal law, but its sales have been banned or restricted in about a dozen states. Synthetic cannabindoids, marketed under names like "K2" and "Spice" have been banned in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. A move is afoot in the Kansas legislature to ban them there.

Europe: Czech Government Announces Decriminalization Quantities; Law Goes Into Effect on New Year’s Day

The Czech cabinet Monday approved a Justice Ministry proposal that sets personal use quantity limits for illicit drugs under a penal code revision that decriminalizes drug possession in the Czech Republic. The law and its quantity limits will take effect on January 1. The Czech government had approved the decriminalization law late last year, but failed to set precise quantities covered by it, instead leaving it to police and prosecutors to determine what constituted a “larger than small” amount of drugs. The resulting confusion--and the prosecution of some small-scale marijuana growers as drug traffickers--led the government to adopt more precise criteria. Under the new law, possession of less than the following amounts of illicit drugs will not be a criminal offense: Marijuana 15 grams (or five plants) Hashish 5 grams Magic mushrooms 40 pieces Peyote 5 plants LSD 5 tablets Ecstasy 4 tablets Amphetamine 2 grams Methamphetamine 2 grams Heroin 1.5 grams Coca 5 plants Cocaine 1 gram Possession of “larger than a small amount” of marijuana can result in a jail sentence of up to one year. For other illicit drugs, the sentence is two years. Trafficking offenses carry stiffer sentences. Justice Minister Daniela Kovarova said that the ministry had originally proposed decriminalizing the possession of up to two grams of hard drugs, but decided that limits being imposed by courts this year were appropriate. "The government finally decided that it would stick to the current court practice and drafted a table based on these limits," Kovarova said. The Czech Republic now joins Portugal as a European country that has decriminalized drug possession.
Location: 
Prague
Czech Republic

Europe: Czech Government Decriminalizes Up To Five Marijuana Plants, 15 Grams

Beginning January 1, possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana or up to five marijuana plants will not be a punishable offense in the Czech Republic. Likewise, people will be able to possess up to 40 hallucinogenic mushrooms. The limits were announced Tuesday after they were decided on by the cabinet.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/oldtownsquareprague.jpg
Old Town Square, Prague, Czech Republic
Late last year, the Czech parliament approved a new penal code that specified no punishment for the possession of "small amounts" of drugs. But the code did not specify just what constituted a "small amount," with the result that police sometimes charged people, especially home pot growers, with more serious offenses. The task of formalizing those limits has been taken up by the Justice Ministry, which submits its proposals to the cabinet.

The ministry has also proposed setting the "small amount" limits for ecstasy at four tablets and for hashish at five grams. Similarly, people could possess up to two grams of methamphetamine without fear of punishment. The cabinet will consider those proposals in two weeks.

Possession of amounts greater than "small amounts," but less than those assumed to indicate drug trafficking, will result of prison sentences of up to one year for marijuana and up to two years for other drugs.

According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction's latest annual report, Czechs are among Europe's leading pot smokers. Among young Czechs (age 16 to 34), 22% toke up at least once a year. The European average was 16%.

Europe: Czech Government Decriminalizes Up To Five Pot Plants, 15 Grams

Beginning January 1, possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana or up to five marijuana plants will not be a punishable offense in the Czech Republic. Likewise, people will be able to possess up to 40 hallucinogenic mushrooms. The limits were announced Tuesday after they were decided on by the cabinet. Late last year, the Czech parliament approved a new penal code that specified no punishment for the possession of “small amounts” of drugs. But the code did not specify just what constituted a “small amount,” with the result that police sometimes charged people, especially home pot growers with more serious offenses. The task of formalizing those limits has been taken up by the Justice Ministry, which submits its proposals to the cabinet. The ministry has also proposed setting the “small amount” limits for ecstasy at four tablets and for hashish at five grams. Similarly, people could possess up to two grams of methamphetamine without fear of punishment. The cabinet will consider those proposals in two weeks. Possession of amounts greater than “small amounts,” but less than those assumed to indicate drug trafficking, will result of prison sentences of up to one year for marijuana and up to two years for other drugs. According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction‘s latest annual report, Czechs are among Europe’s leading pot smokers. Among young Czechs (age 16 to 34), 22% toke up at least once a year. The European average was 16%.
Location: 
Prague
Czech Republic

Feature: At the Statehouse -- Salvia Banned in Four More States This Year

Hysteria over salvia divinorum, the fast-acting, short-lived psychedelic member of the mint family, continued in state legislatures this year. Although after five years, the DEA has not found a reason to add salvia to the federal list of controlled substances, that hasn't stopped state legislators from trying. This year, four more states joined the list of those that have criminalized it, while bills to do the same were introduced in seven others.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/salvialeaves.jpg
salvia leaves (photo courtesy Erowid.org)
Next week, we will conclude our review of drug policy-related issues in state legislatures with a look at sentencing reform, drug testing, meth-related measures, and some odds and ends.

Salvia Bills That Passed

Nebraska: Salvia Divinorum became a Schedule I controlled substance in February, after LB 123 passed the unicameral legislature on a 44-0 vote that same month. The governor quickly signed the bill.

North Carolina: A bill to prohibit the use, possession, sale, or manufacture of Salvia Divinorum, SB 138, passed the House on a 45-0 vote in May and the Senate on a 96-15 vote in August. It was signed into law that same month and went into effect December 1.

Ohio: Salvia Divinorum became a Schedule I controlled substance in April, 90 days after Gov. Ted Strickland (D) signed a bill banning the plant that passed the legislature late last year.

South Dakota: Possession of less than six ounces of salvia divinorum became a misdemeanor and possession of more became a felony after HB 1090 passed the House 67-2 and the Senate 34-0 in February. Gov. Mike Round (R) signed the "emergency" legislation in March, and it went into effect immediately. Curiously, the bill does not criminalize salvia sales.

Salvia Bills That Did Not or Have Not Passed

Alabama: A bill to make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance, HB 475, was introduced in February. It was assigned to the Judiciary Committee, where it has been sitting since May.

Kentucky: A bill to make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance, HB 228, passed the House on a 99-0 vote in February and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where no action has since occurred.

Maryland: A bill to make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance, HB 8, died in March after being reported unfavorably out of the House Judiciary Committee. A companion bill, SB 9, died without any action being taken.

Michigan: A bill to make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance, HB 4849, was introduced in April, referred to the Committee on Health Policy and promptly went nowhere. Its companion measure, SB 570, met a similar fate.

New Jersey: SB 2436 and its companion measure, AB 1323, would make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance. Both were both introduced at the end of 2008 for the 2009-2010 legislative session, and neither has gone anywhere.

Pennsylvania: A bill to make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance, SB 769, was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee in April. It hasn't moved since. A companion measure, HB 2037, was introduced in October and sits before the House Judiciary Committee.

Texas: A bill that would make it a crime to provide Salvia Divinorum to minors, SB 257, was introduced last November. It was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 30-1 vote in April. In the House, the bill was approved by the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee in May, and has done nothing since. Another bill, HB 126, which would make Salvia a controlled substance in Penalty Group III (along with LSD and pentobarbital, among others), was introduced last November, referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee in February, and allowed to die there in March.

TeleSeminar Series: The Future of Psychedelics: Exploring Their Potential for Insight and Healing

Join Daniel Pinchbeck, bestselling author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl and Breaking Open the Head, on a 4 - part journey of discovery and illumination, exploring a deeply controversial and mysterious subject that has profound implications for the future of the self (yes, you), our society and our world. This first Reality Sandwich Intensive will explore promising, fascinating, liberating and often taboo possibilities of psychedelic substances, such as LSD, mushrooms, iboga, ayahuasca and peyote. October 28th teleseminar: Ever wonder who is doing the hard research on the therapeutic value of pscychedelics, MDMA, medical Marijuana, etc? Have you wanted to get beyond the rumors and the propaganda? Well, Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is exactly the man you want to talk to, and you will, in this live call. Bringing almost 25 years of research to our discussion, Rick will explore… * How psychedelics are valuable tools with specific roles and breakthrough potentials at different points throughout the life span. * Why non-profit psychedelic and medical marijuana drug development is a sensible, practical -- and essential -- practice today * Why psychedelics are one of the most important paths to healing the trauma of war and ameliorating anxiety associated with end-of-life. * Why even in this seemingly boundary-less world of psyedelic exploration, . scientific methodology is king -- and what each of us has to learn from that. * What the non-experimental world needs to know about psychedelics, and how you can be an ambassador of truth and transformation. About Rick: Rick founded the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in 1986. His dissertation (Public Policy, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) was on "The Regulation of the Medical Use of Psychedelics and Marijuana," and his master’s thesis (Harvard) focused on the attitudes and experiences of oncologists concerning the medical use of marijuana. His undergraduate thesis (New College of Florida) was a twenty-five year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment, which evaluated the potential of psychedelic drugs to catalyze religious experiences. He has also conducted a thirty-four year follow-up study to Tim Leary’s Concord Prison experiment. Rick studied with Stan Grof, M.D., and was in the first group to become certified as holotropic breathwork practitioners. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise "healthy" people, and to also become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist. He resides in Boston with his wife and three children. www.maps.org ----------------------------------------- How Do Psychedelics Heal? Repressed and reviled since the 1960s, these substances are now getting a second look in many areas. Researchers around the US and abroad are completing groundbreaking studies on the value of psychedelics for treating depression, mental illness, for alleviating the fear of death in terminally ill cancer patients and healing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Iraqi Vets. The US Supreme Court recently awarded legal protection for the sacramental use of ayahuasca, a visionary drink from the rainforest, to the Unaoi do Vegetales, a religion founded in Brazil. Meanwhile, thousands of Western spiritual adventurers have been going to Central and South America to take plant-based psychedelics with tribal groups and Mestizo shamans -- including many in our Reality Sandwich and Evolver Communities. You Will Speak Directly To Thought-Leaders and Psychedelic Pioneers… During, this, our first Reality Sandwich Intensive, a series of four intimate conference calls, we will speak with thought-leaders and researchers at the forefront of discovery in this exciting and edgy field. When you join the series, you will have the chance to ask your questions and share your concerns with our experts. The series will include ancillary material and a live forum on our companion social network, Evolver.net so you can connect with others, both newbies and edge-walkers, in our community -- to deepen your insight, knowledge and human connections with like-minded people. Together, we will explore the following questions: * What is the value of the psychedelic experience for people in our society? * How can we frame this value in a powerful new language that can help pave the way for more powerful discussion and transformation? * What are the true dangers of psychedelics? Some people have had "bad trips." What are the most effective ways to address the psychic and emotional scars that can accompany the sometimes shocking illuminations produced by visionary substances? How can you assist someone who is in the throes of a negative experience? * While most psychedelics remain illegal in the US, it is possible to have legal experiences with visionary plant-based psychedelics in South America, Africa, and elsewhere. How can one find a trusted shaman or native guide for these explorations? * What is the connection between psychedelic use and innovations in fields ranging from art and music to biology and software development? * Is there any connection between psychedelics and the world's mystical traditions, such as Hinduism, Gnosticism, and Qabala? * Why were psychedelics suppressed and demonized in the past? Are there reasons to think that our society is prepared to reconsider them today? If so, what can we do to advance that evolution? To guide us through these fascinating and illuminating discussions, we have gathered some of the world's leading thinkers and spiritual explorers. You Can Be A Part of This Intensive… Participation in this important and landmark series is only $50. As an active participant, you will… Participate in each of the live calls and have the opportunity to have your most pressing questions and challenges answered by our guest teachers. Receive a recorded copy of each of the calls for download once the call is over, for your review and audio library (and, in case you have a scheduling conflict). Participate in our new exclusive "EvolverIntensives - Psychedelics " online forum where you can meet the other participants, share ideas, tips, tools, questions and knowledge. We created the Evolver Intensives to bring you the best, most useful and most inspiring thought leaders alive today to help you prepare for, and thrive in, a time of radical change. We deeply appreciate your support and your ideas, and hope you join us for this series. Once you register, we will send you all the information on how to join the calls and the online forum. For more information, see http://www.evolverintensives.com/Psychedelics/register.htm.
Date: 
Wed, 10/28/2009 - 10:00pm

TeleSeminar Series: The Future of Psychedelics: Exploring Their Potential for Insight and Healing

Join Daniel Pinchbeck, bestselling author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl and Breaking Open the Head, on a 4 - part journey of discovery and illumination, exploring a deeply controversial and mysterious subject that has profound implications for the future of the self (yes, you), our society and our world. This first Reality Sandwich Intensive will explore promising, fascinating, liberating and often taboo possibilities of psychedelic substances, such as LSD, mushrooms, iboga, ayahuasca and peyote. How Do Psychedelics Heal? Repressed and reviled since the 1960s, these substances are now getting a second look in many areas. Researchers around the US and abroad are completing groundbreaking studies on the value of psychedelics for treating depression, mental illness, for alleviating the fear of death in terminally ill cancer patients and healing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Iraqi Vets. The US Supreme Court recently awarded legal protection for the sacramental use of ayahuasca, a visionary drink from the rainforest, to the Unaoi do Vegetales, a religion founded in Brazil. Meanwhile, thousands of Western spiritual adventurers have been going to Central and South America to take plant-based psychedelics with tribal groups and Mestizo shamans -- including many in our Reality Sandwich and Evolver Communities. You Will Speak Directly To Thought-Leaders and Psychedelic Pioneers… During, this, our first Reality Sandwich Intensive, a series of four intimate conference calls, we will speak with thought-leaders and researchers at the forefront of discovery in this exciting and edgy field. When you join the series, you will have the chance to ask your questions and share your concerns with our experts. The series will include ancillary material and a live forum on our companion social network, Evolver.net so you can connect with others, both newbies and edge-walkers, in our community -- to deepen your insight, knowledge and human connections with like-minded people. Together, we will explore the following questions: * What is the value of the psychedelic experience for people in our society? * How can we frame this value in a powerful new language that can help pave the way for more powerful discussion and transformation? * What are the true dangers of psychedelics? Some people have had "bad trips." What are the most effective ways to address the psychic and emotional scars that can accompany the sometimes shocking illuminations produced by visionary substances? How can you assist someone who is in the throes of a negative experience? * While most psychedelics remain illegal in the US, it is possible to have legal experiences with visionary plant-based psychedelics in South America, Africa, and elsewhere. How can one find a trusted shaman or native guide for these explorations? * What is the connection between psychedelic use and innovations in fields ranging from art and music to biology and software development? * Is there any connection between psychedelics and the world's mystical traditions, such as Hinduism, Gnosticism, and Qabala? * Why were psychedelics suppressed and demonized in the past? Are there reasons to think that our society is prepared to reconsider them today? If so, what can we do to advance that evolution? To guide us through these fascinating and illuminating discussions, we have gathered some of the world's leading thinkers and spiritual explorers. You Can Be A Part of This Intensive… Participation in this important and landmark series is only $50. As an active participant, you will… Participate in each of the live calls and have the opportunity to have your most pressing questions and challenges answered by our guest teachers. Receive a recorded copy of each of the calls for download once the call is over, for your review and audio library (and, in case you have a scheduling conflict). Participate in our new exclusive "EvolverIntensives - Psychedelics " online forum where you can meet the other participants, share ideas, tips, tools, questions and knowledge. We created the Evolver Intensives to bring you the best, most useful and most inspiring thought leaders alive today to help you prepare for, and thrive in, a time of radical change. We deeply appreciate your support and your ideas, and hope you join us for this series. Once you register, we will send you all the information on how to join the calls and the online forum. For more information, see http://www.evolverintensives.com/Psychedelics/register.htm.
Date: 
Sat, 10/24/2009 - 4:00pm

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