Psychedelics

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Drug Scare: Kids in Florida are Getting High by Sniffing Feces

You can urine test them. You can take away their financial aid for college. But you can't stop the kids from getting high. Some people will try anything, and I don't think arresting them is going to help:
Information Bulletin
New Drug – JENKEM

On 09/19/07 Cpl. Disarro received and email from a concerned parent regarding a new drug called “Jenkem”. The parent advised their child learned about this drug through various conversations with several students at Palmetto Ridge High.

Jenkem originated in Africa and other third world countries by fermenting raw sewage to create a gas which is inhaled to achieve a high. Jenkem is now a popular drug in American Schools. Jenkem is a homemade substance which consists of fecal matter and urine. The fecal matter and urine are placed in a bottle or jar and covered most commonly with a balloon. The container is then placed in a sunny area for several hours or days until fermented. The contents of the container will separate and release a gas, which is captured in the balloon. Inhaling the gas is said to have a euphoric high similar to ingesting cocaine but with strong hallucinations of times past. [Snopes]

This doesn't sound like a good idea. But what shall we do about it? You can't pop people for poop possession, or piss-test people for piss sniffing. Should we launch a massive public education campaign warning kids that fermenting their excrement and breathing in the resulting fumes will get them wasted? That could backfire.

So I don't know what the solution is. For starters, we should wait to see if this is a real problem or just another hysterical response to a couple gross, though isolated, incidents. If there really is a rising trend of Florida youths sniffing fermented feces, maybe it's just an overreaction to the Miami DEA Chief's recent claim that marijuana will kill you.

Update: The rumor site Snopes, from which this story emerged, has updated the accuracy status of this rumor from "undetermined" to "false." It's unclear what prompted the change, but it looks like this whole story might just be a crock of...

Location: 
United States

In Memoriam: Dr. John Beresford

(courtesy Gaia Media Foundation and Erowid)

Dr. John Beresford died on September 2, 2007 in a hospital in Canada. British-born John Beresford began his psychedelic research interests in 1961, when he resigned his post as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the New York Medical College and founded the Agora Scientific Trust, the world's first research organization devoted to investigating the effects of LSD. In contrast to Leary's invitation to "tune in, turn on and drop out," Beresford wanted to keep LSD in proper perspective as a tool of scientifically trained specialists.

He spent the next several decades working in psychiatry until 1991, when he resigned and founded the Committee on Unjust Sentencing, a group focused on the cause of people imprisoned on psychedelics-related charges. Beresford testified in front of the US Sentencing Commission and spoke out on his passion in many forums. In his later years he lived in Canada and continued to correspond with psychedelic prisoners.

At the international LSD Symposium in 2006, at the occasion of the 100th birthday of Albert Hofmann in Basel, Switzerland, Beresford presented the talk "Psychedelic Agents and the Structure of Consciousness: Stages in a Session Using LSD and DMT." Beresford was known for his outspokenness and persistence on many topics, and is fondly remembered for his tireless devotion to the causes he championed. He laid in state for four days, untouched, a Buddhist tradition, and was cremated later. His ashes mixed with rose petals and rice will be given to the river that flows through the Tibetan monastery he was closely affiliated with, as he asked.

Beresford, who described the discovery of LSD as possibly the most critical event in human history, remarked: "Take it once and you know that all you've known about consciousness is wrong." (From The Acid Queen, Robert Hunter, Chapter 7 of The Storming of the Mind, McClelland and Stewart Ltd., ©Robert Hunter, 1971)

Visit http://www.erowid.org/culture/characters/beresford_john/beresford_john.s... to learn more about Dr. Beresford.

Bans on hallucinogen spark drug debate

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Politico (VA)
URL: 
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0707/4889.html

Chronicle Book Review: "Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom," by Andy Letcher (2007, Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers, 360 pp, $25.95 HB.)

Phillip S. Smith, Writer/Editor, Drug War Chronicle

British historian (and psychedelic folk band member) Andy Letcher has produced a charmingly written, carefully researched, revisionist history of psychedelic mushrooms. While his findings may disappoint the most severely committed mushroom spiritualists, the journey is an eye-opening pleasure for anyone with an interest in matters psychedelic.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/shroomcover.jpg
In the past half-century, thanks to intrepid psychedelic adventurers like banker-turned-mystic Gordon Wasson, anthropologist-turned-shaman Michael Harner, and myco-promoter Terence McKenna, a wonderful and powerful mythology has grown up around the fantastic fungus.

It goes something like this: Through sacred use of the magic mushrooms, shamans from Siberia to Mexico were able to see visions, heal the sick, and talk with the gods. Santa Claus himself, with his gnomic appearance and red and white attire, is a symbolic representation of the amanita muscaria, or fly-agaric, mushroom. The mushroom was the mystery in ancient Greece's Eleusinian Mysteries, it was the soma of the Riga Veda, it -- not bread and wine -- is what Jesus ate at the last supper. The Druids used it at Stonehenge. The magic mushroom is the basis of religion, and evidence of its hidden cult can be found on everything from medieval Catholic church doors to ancient rock-paintings in the African desert.

There's more: Mushrooms are actually a "machine consciousness" representing a different dimension… or something like that. I get a little fuzzy on the finer arcana of myco-mythology.

Letcher, historian that he is, takes these claims on one by one, examines them, and, sadly for the myco-cultists, finds them lacking in historical substance. "There is not a single instance of a magic mushroom being preserved in the archaeological record anywhere," he writes. "We really do not know, one way or the other, whether the ancients worshipped the holy spores of God. If they did, they left not a single piece of evidence of having done so."

There is little evidence of sacramental, shamanic mushroom yet except for isolated tribes in Siberia, and even there, the evidence suggests that mushrooms were as much to be partied with as to be worshiped. Also in Mexico, where Gordon Wasson famously met Mazatec curandera (shaman) Maria Sabina and ate the "flesh of the gods" in 1956. As Letcher notes, Maria Sabina was hardly the primitive priestess of myth, but mythic she became, especially after Wasson ushered in the beginning of the psychedelic age with his publication of an article in Life magazine about his experiences.

That was certainly a seismic shift in Western attitudes toward the magic mushroom. Up until the mid-20th Century, magic mushroom intoxication was rare, almost always accidental, and almost always considered as poisoning. Man, how things have changed! While interest in psychedelic mushrooms, particularly the psilocybes, took a back seat to LSD in the tripped-out 1960s, the relatively milder mushrooms have remained popular among the psychedelic set ever since.

Although they are illegal in the US, aficionados here can legally purchase "idiot proof" spore kits (which contain no psilocybin, the prescribed ingredient), and the shrooms themselves remain fuzzily legal in some European countries. England banned the sale of and possession of mushrooms in 2005, as did Japan, but there is little evidence Bobbies are out chasing down mushroom-pickers.

Still, while it appears the magic mushroom is here to stay, it is decidedly an acquired taste. Most people who try them try them only once or twice; only a relative handful become serious shroom-heads. And while Letcher tries resolutely to stay clear of politics, the relative rareness of mushroom use and the lack of demonstrated harms leads him to criticize the British prohibition as "heavy-handed, motivated more by political concerns than any sensible evaluation of the evidence." Indeed, Letcher writes, "prohibition may prove to be a retrograde step in terms of harm reduction," as hapless users pick the wrong mushrooms, are sold substitutes, or are afflicted by a criminal justice system more harmful than the shrooms themselves.

Shrooms is a cultural history worth reading, rigorous in its analysis, incisive in its reporting, and enticing with its descriptions of bemushroomed reality. It makes me want to go out and order one of those "idiot proof" kits myself.

Remedial Psychedelic Ethics 101: Don't Dose People

You wouldn’t think people who are prominent members of the psychedelic community would need a reminder about elementary decency, but, sadly, that appears to be the case. Psychedelic drugs, like mushrooms, peyote, and LSD, are not candy. They can be deeply disorienting and disturbing, even for veteran psychonauts, and for people with no experience with or knowledge of them, they can be absolutely terrifying. It would seem to be a fundamental of psychedelic ethics that you do not inflict the experience on people against their will or without their knowledge. To do so is not only disrespectful of the consciousness of the victim of such a stunt, it is also disrespectful of the psychedelic substance that inner consciousness explorers claim to hold in such reverence. But some people just don't get it. Last night, I received a call from an old friend who reported being dosed by someone who was part of the entourage of an elite clique who were putting on an event in a large Eastern city. Now, my friend was fortunate enough to have some experience with psychedelics, so the experience was not absolutely terrifying. But it was most unpleasant. And that's should be no surprise. For at least 40 years, people have been talking about the importance of "set and setting" in determining how a person will respond to psychedelics. Set refers to the person's mental state—what the person knows and expects of psychedelics, whether that person has underlying psychiatric problems, whether that person is prepared for the experience. Setting refers to the physical/notional location of the experience—is it a soothing place, does it take place within some ritual or another, is it loud and noisy and chaotic?—that, along with set, has an impact on the psychedelic experience. Dosing someone with psychedelics without his or her knowledge wreaks havoc with set. People need to prepare themselves for taking drugs like these; to have them inflicted on you even if you like them is unethical. Being dosed also prevents the victim from having any say in setting—here you are, your mind is melting, and that's that. Dosing people is thus double-plus ungood. No names are being named at this point. There are efforts afoot to see if the perpetrators will make proper amends. The most positive outcome is that the people involved will be educated about things they should already know and understand intuitively. For the rest of us who are inclined to dabble with such substances, let's try extra hard to be respectful of each other and these very special substances.
Location: 
United States

LSD as Therapy? Write about It, Get Barred from US

Location: 
Vancouver, BC
Canada
Publication/Source: 
The Tyee (Canada)
URL: 
http://thetyee.ca/News/2007/04/23/Feldmar/

Salvia Divinorum: Vermont Town Gets Fight Over Sales Ban

Last week, Drug War Chronicle reported on an escalating campaign to criminalize salvia divinorum, the fast- and short-acting hallucinogenic Mexican member of the mint family whose use has seeped into the popular consciousness among North American psychonauts in the past decade. The story opened with the town of Middlebury, Vermont, declaring a public health emergency to stop a local tobacconist from selling the potent herb.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/salvialeaves.jpg
salvia leaves (photo courtesy Erowid)
Now, the store owner is fighting back. The day our story ran, James Stone, proprietor of the Emporium Tobacco and Gift Shop, announced he will appeal the order and has hired an attorney to fight it. "If they had come to me first, I would have worked with them," Stone said.

But that's not what happened. The town council acted on the matter without notifying Stone, who only learned of the ban when a reporter called him the next day. The council acted after Police Chief Tom Hanley reported that the town school resource officer had become aware that teenagers were using salvia. While Hanley could not name any cases where anyone had suffered any adverse effects from ingesting the drug, he urged the council not to take that chance. "It's a tragedy waiting to happen," he said.

Hanley also made the odd claim that the hallucinogenic effects of salvia, which last for less than 20 minutes, can be extended for several hours if the user is drinking alcohol. "You can't have kids with developing brains putting this stuff in their bodies," Hanley warned. "The effects are different for different individuals and you just don't know what's going to happen."

But the Middlebury ban is not just against sales to minors. It is a total ban.

Salvia has been a "substance of concern" for the DEA for several years, but remains legal under federal law. Five states and a handful of municipalities have criminalized it, and similar efforts are afoot in seven other states this year. But Middlebury is unique in having chosen the public health emergency route.

That's raising eyebrows among civil libertarians. "It sounds very arbitrary and very broad and very subjective," said Allen Gilbert, executive director of Vermont's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "How does one person make the determination that something is a danger?" Gilbert said.

Feature: The War on Salvia Divinorum Heats Up

Middlebury, Vermont, this week declared a public health emergency to prevent a local business from selling it. It's already illegal in five states -- Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Delaware -- and a number of towns and cities across the country, and now politicians in at least seven other states have filed bills to make it illegal there. For the DEA, it is a "drug of concern."

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/salvialeaves.jpg
salvia leaves (photo courtesy Erowid)
It is salvia divinorum, a member of the mint family from Mexico, where it has been used by Masatec curanderos (medicine men) for centuries. Within the past decade, awareness of its powerful hallucinogenic properties has begun to seep into the popular consciousness. Now, it is widely available at head shops and via the Internet, where it can be purchased in a smokeable form that produces almost instantaneous intoxication and a freight train of a trip lasting a handful of minutes.

As law enforcement and politicians stumble across it and the phenomenon of its recreational use, they are reacting in the classic fashion with moves to outlaw it. In Delaware, grieving parents of a teenager who committed suicide after using salvia managed to push a bill through the legislature. In Ohio, police who stumbled across it while investigating counterfeit goods raised the alarm, even though they had never had any problem with it. The cops responded predictably. "It's something we feel should be outlawed," Lorain County Drug Task Force Capt. Dennis Cavanaugh told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

But researchers say the while salvia's effects on consciousness may be disquieting, the plant has not been shown to be toxic to humans, that its effects are so potent is unlikely to be used repeatedly, and its active property, salvinorin A, could assist in the development of medicines for mood disorders. While action at the state level would unlikely affect research, a move by the DEA to put it on the controlled substances list could.

Salvia is a popular item at the Urban Shaman Ethnobotanicals in downtown Vancouver, and media attention only spurs sales, according to proprietor Chris Bennett. "We're selling about 50 grams of the 10x every couple of weeks," he told Drug War Chronicle. "It's mainly young people -- although we don't sell to anyone under 18 -- but it's not limited to them. Whenever I get quoted in the media about salvia, I get a slew of new middle-aged customers who want to try it."

Once or twice is usually enough, said Bennett. "It's very powerful -- you can forget you even smoked it -- very intense, and the onset is very rapid," he explained. "There is also a lot of variation from person to person. Four people can be sitting in a room taking it, and one would be laughing, one would be afraid the world was ending, one would feel like he was two-dimensional, and one would say that everything seems to be made out of Legos. I hear a lot of people say that one."

Like many other purveyors of salvia, Urban Shaman provides an information sheet with each purchase. "We tell people they should have a sitter. If you're on salvia and end up on the balcony, you might think you can get downstairs by jumping," said Bennett. "You want to have someone there with you; it's irresponsible to use it by yourself," he said. "We also recommend a quiet environment. The experience can be influenced by background noise, which can be distorted or misinterpreted. Setting is important."

There are hazards to messing with hallucinogens, one expert was quick to point out. "It's an hallucinogen and while its hallucinogenic actions are different from those induced by LSD and other hallucinogens, it has the liabilities that hallucinogens do," said Bryan Roth, a professor of pharmacology at University of North Carolina's School of Medicine, the man who isolated salvinorin A. "When people take it, they are disoriented. If you don't know where you are and you're driving a car, that would be a bad experience."

Still, said Roth, while it may make you freak out, it isn't going to kill you. "There is no evidence of any overt toxicity, there are no reports in the medical literature that anyone has died from it. The caveat is that there have been no formal studies done on humans, but the animal data suggests that it doesn't kill animals given massive doses, and that's usually -- but not always -- predictive for human pharmacology."

"I'm unaware of any studies suggesting that salvia is toxic," said Thomas Prisinzano, assistant professor of medicinal and natural products chemistry at the University of Iowa. "Unlike other hallucinogens, it acts by stimulating opioid receptors, and basically produces an hallucinogenic experience that peaks in less than 15 minutes. It produces a subpopulation that finds it very unpleasant and never wants to do it again."

Nor, because of its intense effects, are you likely to get strung out on it. "There doesn't appear to be much potential for dependence or addiction, although no one has investigated this in any detail," Roth said. "The typical person I talked to didn't like the experience; it is too intense for someone looking for a mini-LSD-like experience. It's very rapid in onset and very intense, so it's not normally considered a party drug."

Even Bennett, whose clientele could be expected to contain some serious psychedelic adventurers, confirmed that it is not a drug that most people come back to again and again. "Even those who are interested in it don't use it very often, maybe once a week to explore head space, but those salvianauts are few and far between," he reported. "Most people try it once or twice and have no desire to try it again. It is the ones who use it with a purpose or for a spiritual quest or vision that seem to find it most useful," he said.

"There is a subpopulation using it for spiritual rather than recreational purposes," agreed Roth. "That seems to be the cohort that is using it more than once or twice."

While the DEA did not return Chronicle calls for comment on the current status of salvia, it has moved slowly. It has classified the plant as a "drug of concern" for several years now, but has yet to act to place it under the Controlled Substances Act. The plant's limited potential dependence could be one reason. Another could be that it is still relatively rare and unlikely to ever develop into a drug with a mass following.

That's fine with the scientists, who could see regulating salvia, but not prohibiting it. "The distribution of salvia should be regulated," Roth said. "We regulate nicotine and alcohol, and the effects of those compounds on human consciousness and perception is quite modest compared with salvia. That this is available over the Internet to young children is a bit irresponsible. They could engage in some dangerous behavior while taking it. We don't sell alcohol over the Internet."

But while Roth called for salvia to be regulated, he didn't want to see it added to the list of drugs proscribed by the Controlled Substances Act. "I'm against making it a Schedule I compound," he said. "Once you schedule something, it makes scientific research more difficult, and there is considerable potential for derivatives of the active ingredient to have great medical utility. Scheduling it makes it more difficult for those of us trying to relieve human suffering."

If salvia were prohibited, his work would suffer, said Prisinzano. "This would hurt clinical researchers more than me, and there is an effort underway to do clinical trials on humans before a review board now," he said. "But it would make it more difficult for me to get leaves. Right now we get them from head shops on the Internet."

Perhaps legislators in states like Iowa, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and Texas, where prohibition bills are on the table, should calmly reassess the scope of the salvia menace and place such legislation on the back burner where it belongs. Or replace them with reasonable regulatory measures. But that's probably asking too much.

Mexican drug gains U.S. following

Location: 
Boston, MA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Reuters
URL: 
http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=inDepthNews&storyID=2007-02-28T130642Z_01_N24424552_RTRUKOC_0_US-DRUGS-SALVIA.xml&WTmodLoc=NewsHome-C3-inDepthNews-2

Lecture: Entheogens, Enlightenment, and Experimental Humanities

Entheogens, Enlightenment, and Experimental Humanities with Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Northern Illinois University and Author of Psychoactive Sacramentals. Presented by the Templeton Research Lectureship Program on the Constructive Engagement Between Science and Religion (2005-2008) in Association with the Spirituality, Religion, and Health Interest Group. For questions, please contact 215-614-0332 or go to www.mindreligion.com. Pizza will be provided after the lecture.
Date: 
Wed, 02/07/2007 - 10:00am - 12:00pm
Location: 
3400 Spruce Street 1st Floor Maloney
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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