Acidmath Digest

Chrome Face Masks and Hyperrealistic Oil Portraits by Kip Omolade
August 22, 2019

Chrome Face Masks and Hyperrealistic Oil Portraits by Kip Omolade



Diovadiova Chrome Karyn X, Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 in. All images via Kip Omolade

Brooklyn-based artist Kip Omolade (previously) uses molding, casting, and painting techniques to create detailed masks and large-scale hyperrealistic portraits. Contrasted against vibrant backgrounds, each chrome face appears to rise from the canvas to meet the viewer. Continuing his Diovadiova Chrome series, Omolade’s recent work explores form, connections, and the basics of what makes us human.

Since we last featured his work in 2017, Kip Omolade’s portraits have evolved to include more than one subject. “In my paintings, I previously presented each mask as a singular portrait,” he told Colossal. “In my current work, the faces are now interacting with each other. They are arranged together on large canvases measuring 13-15 feet long. The masks have become mythological characters having conversations about humanity. I see them as deities pondering age old questions about birth, life, death, identity and love.”

He has also included his three children in his work for the first time. Their portraits, titled Diovadiova Chrome Triumph after a Wu-Tang song, represent “life’s ability to survive despite environmental and societal hardships. Reflections of Times Square New York City are captured within their portraits. In a seemingly eternal sleep, they are depicted with their eyes closed…still innocent to the world.”

Kip Omolade is opening a pop-up art show in New York City on September 9. Titled The Diovadiova – Avoid a Void, the show will be open to the public at 520 West 23rd Street. For more upcoming event news and progress shots of his work, give the artist a follow on Instagram.

Diovadiova Chrome Triumph work in progress

Diovadiova Chrome Triumph work in progress

Diovadiova Chrome Kip Triptych III detail, Oil on canvas, 74 x 36 in

Diovadiova Chrome Diana IV, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 in

Diovadiova Chrome Trinity, Oil on canvas, 120 x 186 in

Diovadiova Chrome Tribunal work in progress

Diovadiova Chrome Tribunal, Oil on canvas, 120.5 x 156.5 in

Diovadiova Chrome Joyce IV detail, Oil on canvas, 72 x 34 in

Diovadiova Chrome Kip Triptych I detail, Oil on canvas, 74 x 36 in

Profiled in the video below by filmmaker Jesse Brass (previously), Omolade speaks about immortality, form, universal beauty, and what it means to be a diva.

Read more →

Chart-Like Composite Photographs by Dan Marker-Moore Show the Progression of the 2019 Solar Eclipse
August 22, 2019

Chart-Like Composite Photographs by Dan Marker-Moore Show the Progression of the 2019 Solar Eclipse

Los Angeles-based photographer Dan Marker-Moore (previously) flew south to document the solar eclipse that occurred in Chile on July 2, 2019. While many professional photographers also documented the event, most images capture the singular moment in one image. Marker-Moore decided to break out the progression in orderly chart-like designs. He shares with Colossal that he experimented with over one hundred different format variants before deciding on the final five. Each image contains between 26 and 425 photos of the sun. Read more about Marker-Moore’s trip and the equipment he used here, and find prints of his eclipse series in his online store. The photographer also shares new work on Instagram.

Read more →

There’s already a Company Developing Magic Mushroom Tea and Coffee in Denver
August 21, 2019

There’s already a Company Developing Magic Mushroom Tea and Coffee in Denver

Sträva Craft Coffee is taking Denver’s psilocybin decriminalization law to a whole new commercial level. But is it legal?

In May, Denver became the first US city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Now, just a few months later, a coffee company in the Mile High City is already working on infusing psilocybin into its caffeinated beverages. What a way to start the day, eh?

Sträva Craft Coffee currently offers your typical fancy coffee selections, with ethically sourced beans and single-origin options. They even make CBD-infused coffees, so pushing forward on psilocybin-infused brews is a natural progression. 

“Just as cannabis has been misunderstood and controversial for decades, psilocybin from mushrooms has been equally polarizing, yet proponents of both suggest they each can contribute meaningfully to the human experience,” said Sträva’s CEO, Andrew Aamot, in a press release. “As research is proving, with measured consumption, cannabis and psilocybin can both promote physiological, mental, and spiritual health."

Sträva’s psilocybin-infused coffee and tea lines don’t exist yet. They’re still under development. And Sträva isn’t trying to get latte sippers to trip balls so hard that they’re caught in the throes of a mindblowing, divine experience. Instead, the company plans to microdose psilocybin into their coffees and teas.

What is microdosing, exactly? Scientists don’t entirely agree, but a microdose generally lands somewhere between 5 to 10 percent of a given drug’s recreational dose. In theory, a psilocybin microdose should be just enough to grant some of the fungi’s benefits without triggering a full-on psychedelic experience. Assuming, of course, that you stop at just one serving.

But is infusing psilocybin into beverages even legal? According to Denver’s mushroom decriminalization campaign, no, it’s not. At least, not right now.

Cindy Sovine and Kayvan Khalatbari, who both worked on the reform campaign, told MERRY JANE in May that Denver’s psilocybin bill, I-301, only defunded local authorities from investigating and prosecuting small-time mushroom offenders — in other words, people growing, using, or trading mushrooms for personal use, not for profit. Denver lawmakers and the Decriminalize Denver campaign coordinated the bill’s language so it did not create a licensing system for mushrooms sales, either.

“It’s not legal” to sell psilocybin, Sträva’s Aamot said during a phone call with MERRY JANE. “We are only doing research and development at the moment.” 

The company’s research goals not only include looking into the cognitive and health benefits of psilocybin, but also any potential risks associated with consuming psilocybin, too.

Aamot anticipates that psilocybin decriminalization will eventually pave the road to commercial legalization — just as Denver did with marijuana — but he doesn’t see psilocybin getting the licensing treatment until sometime after 2020.

“Some people feel that it’s reckless, that commercializing drugs is irresponsible,” Aamot continued. “At the same time, sugar, caffeine, and these other equivalencies of drugs permeate our society. We just want to shed some light on things that are commonly misunderstood, and to incorporate them into our thinking and studies.”

Original source : Merryjane.com

Read more →

Scientists find one billion year old Fungi, Earth's Oldest
August 20, 2019

Scientists find one billion year old Fungi, Earth's Oldest

Scientists recently found one billion-year-old fungi in Canada, changing the way we view evolution and the timing of plants and animals here on Earth.

The fossilized specimen was collected in Canada's Arctic by an international team and later identified to be the oldest fungi ever found, sitting somewhere between 900 million and 1 billion years old. The research, published recently in Nature, changes how we view eukaryotes colonizing the land.

The fossilized fungi were analyzed and researchers found the presence of chitin, a unique substance that is found on the cell walls of fungi. The specimen was then age dated using precise measurements of radioactive isotope ratios within the sample.

The previous oldest fossil fungi on record dated back to the middle Paleozoic, about 460 million years old. Finding fungi that lived twice that long ago, 1 billion years ago, is important for the inferences we can make on the rest of the living organisms during that time. Fungi, such as modern mushrooms, mold, and yeast is a member of the group of eukaryotic organisms.

 

 

Eukaryotic organisms are those with cells that have a nucleus within a cell membrane. A couple other key members of eukaryotes are plants and animals. Hence, the importance of this find. If fungi existed one billion years ago, based on the similarities in the domain Eukaryota, it is likely that other plants and animals existed during that time as well.

This finding significantly changes our view on when plants and animals could have existed on Earth. Previous estimates are that the first land plants existed around 470 million years ago and animals around 580 to 500 million years ago.

With this recent finding, distant yet related plants and animals could have existed up to 1 billion years ago. This changes scientists vision of early life on Earth and makes an important point that modern life (plants, animals, fungi) have been around much longer than previously thought.

Breakdown of biomass of different domains on earth.
 PNAS

If you break down the relative abundance of fungi compared to other kingdoms on Earth it is clear they are a major contributor to life on Earth. It is estimated that today the Kingdom Fungi has 2.2 to 3.8 million species, with only about 120,000 documented and described.

Of the estimated 7.7 billion people on Earth, we make up only 1/10,000 of Earth's biomass. By far the largest contributor to biomass is plants, making up 80 percent, with bacteria coming in second at 13 percent and fungi in third at 2 percent.

Original source: Forbes.com

Read more →

THC Crystals: The Purest THC on the Planet
August 10, 2019

THC Crystals: The Purest THC on the Planet

Welcome to the future of cannabis, in a pure, potent and crystallized format. Over the last decade or so, cannabis producers have pushed concentrates far beyond potencies we ever thought possible. From sticky shatters to beautiful butters to the jaw drawing Dragon Ball Z creation. The sky’s the limit when it comes to concentrates. Pure THC crystals are the newest and most exciting trend in extraction technology. With potencies pushing 99.9 percent – it’s not hard to see why.

THC crystals, more accurately known as THCA crystalline, isn’t a product for everyone. You’ve got to be able to handle a powerful experience. If a puff off a joint pushes you over the edge of comfort, you may be best to sit this one out.

But, if getting baked out of your tree is exactly what you are into then let’s dig into the details about what pure THC crystals are, how they are made, and what the high is like. Hold on tight folks; it’s about to get potent.

What Are THC Crystals?

THCA Crystalline

Before a grower harvests and cures their cannabis crop, the plants contain a slightly different set of cannabinoids than what you might expect. Consumers like us are used to THC and CBD, but fresh weed contains the acid-ended cannabinoids. These are the precursors to CBD and THC. Instead of THC, fresh bud has tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), and instead of CBD, it has cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). Both of these cannabinoids also have many beneficial medical benefits, but the properties are less understood than THC and CBD.

Through an advanced extraction process, producers today can pull out the THCA which then crystallizes. Hence the name crystalline, or THC crystal. But we can already hear you muttering in confusion. “You just said THCA is different than THC, but you are talking about THC crystals?” It is confusing, but hear me out.

Technically the product you find at your favorite dispensary is THCA crystalline. It’s a clear to white, crystallized rock or powder. It tends to look like a few more illicit drugs (cocaine, crack) and therefore gets a bad wrap. But, trust me, this is the purest cannabinoid product you can get.

The THCA crystalline remains in its unstable THCA form until the user subjects it to high heat. Incineration, induction, or convention of THCA transforms the molecule and removes the “A.” It’s the same process which occurs to a fresh nug in a pipe, called decarboxylation. When the flower meets flame, the THCA turns to THC. This transformation is why some companies brand their products as THC Crystal. When you smoke it, you are actually consumer THC, not THCA.

Interestingly, before you light up and heat the pure THCA crystals, they are nonpsychoactive. Although there are over a hundred known cannabinoids to date, only THC triggers a psychoactive experience.

What Are The Medical Uses Of THC Crystals?

THCA Diamond

Because of the sometimes extreme potency – THC crystals are medically useful in many ways. It’s like a supercharged hit of THC. Some companies have achieved as high as 99.9 percent THCA, although most on the market hovers somewhere around 80 percent potency. The extraction process removes most, if not all, of the other cannabinoids and terpenes. The product is typically flavorless and has no aroma.

When you smoke THCA crystalline, the high comes almost immediately. Unlike edibles, you won’t have to wait around for hours to feel the effects. This immediacy is perfect for the treatment of acute issues, like sudden pain, inflammation, and headache. Pure THC is an excellent tool for use with difficult to treat pain, chronic illness, and some mood disorders.

What is perhaps more exciting than the smoked, dabbed, or vaped version of THC crystal is the benefits of oral ingestion. Because THCA crystalline is a crystal, it dissolves easily in food. You can take it in a tincture or capsule form. There are so far very few studies specifically on the benefits of THCA. However, the preliminary research suggests the following possibilities:

  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Spasticity
  • Neuroprotection

With more research, there may well be a massive potential for THCA as a therapeutic agent. Considering it’s hard to find (and use) in other types of products, the pure concentration found in THC crystals may make it a desirable medicinal compound.

How Is Crystalline THC Extracted?

THCA Crystalline Health Benefits

According to most cannabis experts, the detailed process of producing a pure THC crystalline concentrate is a well-guarded secret. Few companies are making it, and they don’t want to let their trade secrets out. But with that caveat said, we do know a few things about how it’s made, even if we don’t know the more delicate details.

The first step is the initial extractions. This is done using what we can assume are standard extraction procedures which protect the sensitive THCA molecule. Most producers will use low heat technology, perhaps CO2, to do so.

Once the first extract is obtained, it still contains any number of other compounds. Fats, cannabinoids, terpenes, and the like. These are removed through a series of different washes, using specific solutions depending on the compound. For example, the process may include an acetate wash and a hexane wash.

A second stage called “preparative chromatography” is then performed. Which essentially passes the clarified extract through various mediums, filters, to remove further compounds. The details are fuzzy here, but the preparative chromatography process flushes the extract at variable speeds, through variable mediums until the desired concentration is achieved.

After so much processing, the solution still contains a few lingering contaminants. This final stage of processing is needed to ‘clean’ the solution. This takes out any chemicals not fit for human consumption. Once complete, you’ve got almost 100 percent pure THC crystal on your hands.

What Does The High Feel Like?

Pure THC crystal, when smoked, dabbed, vaped or otherwise heated can make for an intense experience. If you aren’t well versed in potent strains or dabbing, you might want to take it easy. Too much THC leads to what some folks call greening out. This experience, while not dangerous, is definitely not fun.

Take your time dosing THC crystal. Less is more until you know how much you can handle. The high is going to be an experience, to say the least. It’s going to hit fast, and hard. Its an extremely powerful high, one like you’ve never had.

The standard descriptions people use when talking about a pure THC crystal high is it being bright, fresh, and energetic. There are no disruptions from other cannabinoids, like CBD or CBG. No influences from the effects of terpenes. No flavor or aroma. Pure bliss, and a truly spectacular experience. Provided you don’t overdo it.

Of course, if you don’t smoke it, but instead ingest it orally with no heat, there will be no high at all. Remember THCA compared to THC is a much different experience. THCA as a nonpsychoactive substance, won’t have any effects unless of course, you count the potential medicinal benefits.

Have you Tried Pure THC Crystals?

If you are a cannabis enthusiast but haven’t tried pure THC crystals yet, it’s worth a special trip to your dispensary. Considering the advanced technology requirements needed to produce it, it does come with a higher price point. But, arguably well worth the investment. Keep a look for lab-tested brands, to avoid any lingering contamination. In most places today though, the rigorous testing requirements will weed out any problem products. Let us know in the comments below about your experience with THCA Crystalline; good, bad, or maybe even magical?

Read more →

Luxembourg to be first European country to legalise cannabis
August 08, 2019

Luxembourg to be first European country to legalise cannabis

Health minister confirms plans and calls on neighbouring countries to relax their laws.

Luxembourg has called on its EU neighbours to relax their drug laws as its health minister confirmed plans to become the first European country to legalise cannabis production and consumption.

“This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work,” Etienne Schneider told Politico. “Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people … I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs.”

Residents over the age of 18 are expected to be able to buy the drug for recreational use legally within two years. The state will regulate production and distribution through a cannabis agency.

Draft legislation is expected to be unveiled later this year providing further detail on the types of cannabis that will be on sale and the level of tax that will be imposed.

Schneider said the legislation was likely to include a ban on non-residents buying cannabis in order to dissuade drug-tourism. Home-growing is also likely to be prohibited.

Minors aged between 12 and 17 would not be criminalised for possessing five grams or less of the drug, but those who break the more generous laws will be hit with harsh penalties under the plan.

Schneider said he was keen to encourage other EU countries to follow Luxembourg’s path.

A government coalition agreement between the Liberals, the Social Democrats and the Greens provides for legalisation within five years.

If put into action, Luxembourg would join Canada, Uruguay and eleven US states in flouting a UN convention on the control of narcotic drugs which commits signatories to limit “exclusively for medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import distribution, trade, employment and possession of drugs” including cannabis.

Luxembourg has already legalised the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Possession of small amounts for recreational use has also been decriminalised, but its purchase, sale and production remains illegal.

Schneider and Luxembourg’s justice minister, Félix Braz, visited a greenhouse in Smith Falls, Canada, last year to witness the mass production of cannabis by the Canopy Growth Corporation.

Uruguay became the world’s first country to create a legal national marijuana marketplace when it legalised the drug in 2013, and Canada followed suit in 2018.

Canadians are able to order marijuana products on websites run by provinces or regulated private retailers and have it delivered to their homes by post.

Luxembourg will follow Canada in legalising the possession of 30 grams of cannabis. Tax revenues will be reinvested in drug education and addiction treatment programmes.

Two representatives of the Consumer Choice Centre, a US-based NGO, travelled to Luxembourg in April to offer their advice on legislation.

One area of contention is whether to ban the use of cannabis in public, which risks discriminating against tenants and people of limited means. The officials recommended allowing use of the drug in specific public areas.

In the Netherlands, possibly the European country most associated with a relaxed attitude toward the use of cannabis, its recreational use, possession and trade is technically illegal. It has a ‘tolerance policy’, or gedoogbeleid, under which recreational use is largely accepted within bounds.

Cannabis remains illegal to possess, grow, distribute, sell or grow in the UK. Those caught with the drug face a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. Several police forces have said they will no longer target recreational users and those with less than an ounce (28 grams) can be given a warning or on-the-spot fine.

Legalise it: the status of cannabis around the world

Uruguay legalised the recreational use, production and sale of cannabis in 2013. Only pharmacies are allowed to sell the drug and there are fewer than 20 doing so in a country of 3.5 million people. Customers have to register with the regulator and then are limited to buying 10 grams a week. Four different strains are available.

Canada legalised the possession of 30 grams of cannabis, dried or fresh, for those aged 18 or over in 2018. The drug can be bought from a provincially-licensed retailer. In provinces and territories without a regulated retail framework, individuals are able to purchase cannabis online from federally-licensed producers.

Under the Netherlands’ gedoogbeleid, prosecutors turn a blind eye to the breaking of certain laws. Technically the possession, use and trade of the drug is illegal, but the authorities allow licensed coffee shops to sell cannabis from their premises, and to keep 500g on site at any time. The police turn a blind eye to those in possession of 5g or less. Because production remains illegal, however, cafes are often forced to do business with criminal gangs to source the drug.

The UK outlawed cannabis in 1928. Possession comes with a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. Those who are successfully prosecuted for producing and supplying the class-B drug face up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. Police can issue an on-the-spot fine or a warning for those caught with less than an ounce if it is deemed for personal use, but several forces have said they will not target recreational users.

Source: The Guardian.

Read more →

Turns Out, CPR Doll’s Face Is A Copy Of 19th Century Drowned Woman’s Face
August 06, 2019

Turns Out, CPR Doll’s Face Is A Copy Of 19th Century Drowned Woman’s Face

You’d probably be surprised how many everyday objects and common things have ridiculous, bizarre or even hilarious origin stories. Like the stethoscope! This ingenious piece of medical equipment which became an inseparable part of a doctor’s image was actually invented under quite amusing circumstances. Back in the day (the 19th century, to be precise), when doctors would rely on laying their ears on the patient’s body to hear their heartbeat, one physician, René Laennec, felt uncomfortable examining a female patient that close, so he took a piece of paper, rolled it up and, voila! your first stethoscope was created!

“L’Inconnue de la Seine” was a woman whose death mask fascinated hundreds and saved thousands

However, some stories have much grimmer beginnings. “L’Inconnue de la Seine” is a morbid icon in the art world, a death mask that feels uncanny to look at as it combines two things that usually don’t belong together. A portrait of a dead person and an utter sense of peace.

Although the exact origins are unknown, it is widely believed that the unidentified young woman whose death mask fascinated hundreds and saved thousands, was likely a victim of suicide. The story says that her body was pulled out of the River Seine in the late 1880s and showed no signs of violence, thus the suicide claim. Considering the state of her skin and features, some specialists have estimated the girl’s age to be no greater than 16 years. The pathologist at the Paris Morgue was reportedly so fascinated by the female’s beauty, he made a wax death mask.

Image credits: Nicolas Halftermeyer

The pathologist wasn’t the only person charmed by her calmness and beauty as numerous copies of the death mask were created, to the point where many Parisians kept it at home as a fashionable morbid fixture. Some people dwelled on the expression on the girl’s face. Famously, Albert Camus compared the girl’s smile to that of Mona Lisa’s, inviting many speculations about her status, circumstances, and death.

Image credits: Megan Rosenbloom

The image spread widely through history, inspiring many art pieces, stories, and novels. Some historians and scholars even note that “The Unknown Woman of the Seine” was a fashion icon with women trying to model their looks on her.

Image credits: Richard Jonkman

Image credits: George Hodan

Peter Safar and Asmund Laerdal, the creators of the first aid mannequin Resusci Anne, chose the Seine woman’s death mask as the face of the CPR doll. As the mannequin was used for many CPR courses, “L’Inconnue de la Seine” has been dubbed “the most kissed face” of all time.

Image credits: Till Krech

We’re all aware that the CPR mannequin is not alive. But not many realize how actually dead it is. Quite a horrifying thought!

Read more →

Magic Mushroom Coffee and Tea Coming to a Pot Near You?
August 05, 2019

Magic Mushroom Coffee and Tea Coming to a Pot Near You?

One of the biggest challenges of eating magic mushrooms is the eating part, so a Denver coffee roaster wants your dose to come from a cup of joe instead. Anticipating looser regulations around psilocybin and more public acceptance, Strava Craft Coffee just announced plans to sell coffee beans and tea products infused with the psychedelic substance.

The coffee and tea will be designed to help fight anxiety and depression, according to Strava, but don't start boiling water just yet: Strava doesn't anticipate selling the beverages until 2020 at the earliest, banking on a more favorable regulatory environment emerging within the new few years.

"Just as cannabis has been misunderstood and controversial for decades, psilocybin from mushrooms has been equally polarizing, yet proponents of both suggest they each can contribute meaningfully to the human experience," Strava CEO Andrew Aamot says in a statement announcing the new product. "As research is proving, with measured consumption, cannabis and psilocybin can both promote physiological, mental and spiritual health."

When used in small doses, psilocybin has shown promise in treating patients with severe depression as well as those dealing with anxiety, according to several trials and studies. Strava plans on infusing coffee and tea with "microdoses of psilocybin," according to its announcement.

The company already has a little experience with plant-derived substances, as it was one of the first coffee roasters to sell CBD-infused coffee in 2017. Something tells us this effort will be a little bolder, both in flavor and chutzpah.

Original source: Westword

Read more →

New York decriminalises use of cannabis
August 04, 2019

New York decriminalises use of cannabis

New York has decriminalised the use of marijuana – becoming the 16th US state to do so.

The move, which would make possession of a small amount of the drug a violation rather than a felony, was signed into law by governor Andrew Cuomo.

The measure also demands that criminal records of offences linked to low-level marijuana cases either be marked as expunged, or destroyed – an apparent reflection that in the past communities of colour suffered unduly from different application of the law.

“Communities of colour have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all,” Mr Cuomo said in a statement.

In many respects, the decision by politicians in the state capital, Albany, is behind the trend in many parts of the country.

While New York has become the 16th to decriminalise the drug’s use, 11 states plus the Districts of Columbia, otherwise known was Washington DC, have legalised personal use. Its use remains a federal crime.

Those pushing for greater liberalisation welcomed the move, but urged legislators to go further. Some said there were still many negative consequences that come with having marijuana as an illegal violation.

“Police have historically found a way to work around the decriminalisation of marijuana,” said Erin George, of Citizen Action of New York.

People can still face probation violations and immigration consequences under the decriminalisation bill, she said.

The legislation signed by Mr Cuomo will make possession of less than one ounce of marijuana punishable by a fine of up to $50. Possession of two ounces will carry a fine of up to $200

The penalty is $50 for possessing less than one ounce of pot or a maximum of $200 for one to two ounces. It will go into affect in 30 days.

Read the full article here : INDEPENDENT

Read more →

‘Mystical’ psychedelic compound found in normal brains
July 22, 2019

‘Mystical’ psychedelic compound found in normal brains

Summary: DMT, an active compound of the psychedelic Ayahuasca, is naturally occurring in the mammalian brain, researchers have discovered. The study revealed DMT levels increased significantly in the rat visual cortex following cardiac arrest.

Source: University of Michigan

In the past few years, thrill-seekers from Hollywood, Silicon Valley and beyond have been travelling to South America to take part in so-called Ayahuasca retreats. Their goal: to partake in a brewed concoction made from a vine plant Banisteriopsis caapi, traditionally used by indigenous people for sacred religious ceremonies. Drinkers of Ayahuasca experience short-term hallucinogenic episodes many describe as life-changing.

The active ingredient responsible for these psychedelic visions is a molecule called dimethyltryptamine (DMT). For the first time, a team led by Michigan Medicine has discovered the widespread presence of naturally-occurring DMT in the mammalian brain. The finding is the first step toward studying DMT– and figuring out its role — within the brains of humans.

“DMT is not just in plants, but also can be detected in mammals,” says Jimo Borjigin, Ph.D., of the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. Her interest in DMT came about accidentally. Before studying the psychedelic, her research focused on melatonin production in the pineal gland.

In the seventeenth century, the philosopher Rene Descartes claimed that the pineal gland, a small pinecone-shaped organ located deep in the center of the brain, was the seat of the soul. Since its discovery, the pineal gland, known by some as the third eye, has been shrouded in mystery. Scientists now know it controls the production of melatonin, playing an important role in modulating circadian rhythms, or the body’s internal clock. However, an online search for notes to include in a course she was teaching opened Borjigin’s eyes to a thriving community still convinced of the pineal gland’s mystical power.

The core idea seems to come from a documentary featuring the work of researcher Rick Strassman, Ph.D. with the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. In the mid-1990s, he conducted an experiment in which human subjects were given DMT by IV injection and interviewed after its effects wore off. In a documentary about the experiment, Strassman claims that he believed the pineal gland makes and secretes DMT.

“I said to myself, ‘wait, I’ve worked on the pineal gland for years and have never heard of this,'” she said. She contacted Strassman, requesting the source of his statement. When Strassman admitted that it was just a hypothesis, Borjigin suggested they work together to test it. “I thought if DMT is an endogenous monoamine, it should be very easy to detect using a fluorescence detector.”

Using a process in which microdialysis tubing is inserted into a rat brain through the pineal gland, the researchers collected a sample that was analyzed for — and confirmed — the presence of DMT. That experiment resulted in a paper published in 2013.

This shows a brain against a psychedelic background

 

The finding is the first step toward studying DMT– and figuring out its role — within the brains of humans. The image is in the public domain.

However, Borjigin was not satisfied. Next, she sought to discover how and where DMT was synthesized. Her graduate student, Jon Dean, lead author of the paper, set up an experiment using a process called in situ hybridization, which uses a labeled complementary strand of DNA to localize a specific RNA sequence in a tissue section.

“With this technique, we found brain neurons with the two enzymes required to make DMT,” says Borjigin. And they were not just in the pineal gland.

“They are also found in other parts of the brain, including the neocortex and hippocampus that are important for higher-order brain functions including learning and memory.”

The results are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Her team’s work has also revealed that the levels of DMT increase in some rats experiencing cardiac arrest. A paper published in 2018 by researchers in the U.K. purported that DMT simulates the near death experience, wherein people report the sensation of transcending their bodies and entering another realm. Borjigin hopes to probe further to discover the function of naturally occurring levels of DMT in the brain — and what if any role it plays in normal brain functions.

“We don’t know what it’s doing in the brain. All we’re saying is we discovered the neurons that make this chemical in the brain, and they do so at levels similar to other monoamine neurotransmitters.”

Read more →

Is it time to decriminalize psychedelic drugs?
July 22, 2019

Is it time to decriminalize psychedelic drugs?

Psychedelics are having a moment—again.

The Oakland, California city council resolved to decriminalize magic mushrooms on June. 5, becoming the second US city to do so after Denver, Colorado. Though some argue this is not the best approach to increase access, decriminalizing these drugs makes them safer for people who take them for their potential health benefits.

Psychedelics have a long history in clinical research, where they’ve shown an impressive ability to treat addiction, depression, and other mental health issues. The US Food and Drug Administration has designated MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a breakthroughtreatment for PTSD, expediting its approval process. (While it’s not a “classical” psychedelic, MDMA is often considered a psychedelic because of its mind-altering properties.)

Watch the video above for a look at how researchers are rediscovering the value of psychedelics in mental health treatment, and how the drugs are already improving lives.

Click here to see the video.

Read more →

Americans are excited to make psychedelics mainstream once again
July 02, 2019

Americans are excited to make psychedelics mainstream once again


It’s difficult to turn on the radio or open a magazine at the moment without hearing about psychedelics. A quick skim of the headlines might suggest the drugs are imbued with medicinal superpowers and Silicon Valley is collectively on one long trip.

There’s currently promising research on the potential medical uses of psychedelics; though hallucinogens have not been approved for such purposes yet, the public response to the advancing trials has been enthusiastic, suggesting that the drugs will be accepted if they are approved. After decades spent banished to the margins of society, psychedelics are determinedly making their way back to the center.

In recent weeks, further psychedelic excitement has been driven by journalist Michael Pollan’s new book How to Change Your Mind, which explores the potential uses of LSD and psilocybin (the key ingredient in magic mushrooms.)

From a scientific perspective, much of what Pollan covers has been in the public sphere for a while. The scientific studies he chronicles are ongoing, and results to date have been reported on by many mainstream publications. Scientists have indeed conducted credible trials whose results suggest psychedelics are effective at treating depression (especially among those who are resistant to existing treatments) and addiction, as well as anxiety among late-stage cancer patients. Collectively, the surge in psychedelic research after several decades when researchers were largely prohibited from studying the drugs is known as a “psychedelic renaissance.”

What’s striking about Pollan’s book isn’t the medicinal benefits he covers, but the popular response. The book hasn’t just been given major attention by the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Fresh Air, The Guardian, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others, it’s been held up as the latest exploration of something almost de rigueur. “Microdosing is hot. If you haven’t heard—but you probably have,” writes John Williams in his review for the Times. After all Rolling Stone and New York Magazine have recently devoted huge features to the subject. When the Gray Lady thinks microdosing is old news, you know psychedelics are far from the cutting edge.

This public embracement of psychedelics may be heralding the end of a 50-year backlash to such drugs. In the early 1950s (roughly a decade after LSD’s hallucinatory properties were first discovered), psychedelics weren’t seen as particularly taboo. In fact, many believed them to be a potentially major therapeutic tool. At the time there were numerous clinical trials and exploratory treatment methodologies using psychedelics to address PTSD, alcoholism, and depression, among others. Major celebrities such as actor Cary Grant were game to give the drugs a shot, and effusive about the results. In a 1959 issue of Look magazine, Grant praised his LSD-enhanced therapy to resolve childhood trauma and come to terms with the ends of difficult marriages.

Some 40,000 patients were prescribed LSD from 1950 to 1965, up until politicians moved to ban the research. This decision was influenced in part by misconceptions developed in response to rogue Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary, who popularized the phrase “turn on, tune in, drop out,” and infamously gave LSD to students without medical supervision.

Still even after the ban, many respectable figures were in favor of the drugs. “If they [LSD experiments] were worthwhile six months ago, why aren’t they worthwhile now?” Robert F. Kennedy asked the US Food and Drug Administration in 1966, shortly after the research ban was implemented.

Modern research into psychedelics only restarted in 2011. As of 2017, there were at least five early clinical studies on LSD, and five on psilocybin. Relatedly, the FDA has approved a phase three trial on using MDMA to treat PTSD, and around a dozen other MDMA studies. (Though MDMA, commonly used recreational drugs called molly and ecstacy, is not a psychedelic, its growing acceptance as a medical drugs following from years of only illegal recreational use follows a trajectory similar to LSD and psilocybin.)

Psychedelics becoming a mainstream medicinal drug sounds implausible. But, as history shows, it’s not at all. It’s happened before.


Read more →

VA approves psychedelic ketamine for PTSD treatment
July 01, 2019

VA approves psychedelic ketamine for PTSD treatment


 

SARASOTA, Fla. (Tribune News Service)  — This month's decision by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to offer a psychedelic drug to treat post-traumatic stress disorder while marijuana remains off limits is leaving some stakeholders flummoxed amid the ongoing wave of veteran suicides.

Spravato, derived from the family of anesthetic drugs called ketamine and produced by a division of Johnson & Johnson, will be prescribed to VA clients on a case-by-case basis and administered as a nasal spray.

Ketamine variants have made headlines over the decades for their multiple roles as sedatives, recreational hallucinogens and for their impressive track records for mitigating suicidal depression. The Spravato version, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March, requires patients to remain under professional observation for two hours following ingestion.

The addition of a new remedy for lowering military suicide rates at a moment when retired and active-duty personnel are killing themselves roughly 20.6 times a day was hailed as a milestone by VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. "We're pleased to be able to expand options for veterans with depression who have not responded to other treatments," he said in a statement. "It reflects our commitment to seek new ways to provide the best health care available for our nation's veterans."

But for those like Sean Kiernan, an Army veteran who attempted to take his life in 2011, the VA's simultaneous embargo on marijuana is incoherent.

"Ketamine was the most effective drug I've ever taken for suicidal thoughts — but it is not a long-term medicine you should use. I got psychologically addicted to it for four years," says Kiernan, president of the Weed For Warriors Project, which advocates legal cannabis for veterans, with 12 chapters nationwide.

"The danger with ketamine is the side effects, like on your urinary tract and gall bladder. I've had three surgeons telling me I need to have my gall bladder removed. My question is, why are you so willing and eager to accept something that, on the face of it, is the very thing you complain about with marijuana, like THC, which isn't nearly as strong? This is hypocrisy, and it makes no sense."

Catch-22 for veterans

The nation has been struggling with that contradiction since marijuana was classified as a Schedule 1 drug with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

The Herald-Tribune documented the Catch-22 that many veterans find themselves in and the effort of proponents to change the law last year in its "Warriors Rise Up" project.

Despite the fact that more than 2.5 million Americans are legally using medical marijuana for ailments as disparate as fibromyalgia and cancer, all drugs labeled Schedule 1 are regarded as having no medicinal value. Ketamine is a Schedule 2 substance.

CNN reported in February that the military suicide virus is now beginning to sweep the ranks of America's elite warriors, with U.S. Special Operations Command counting 22 self-induced fatalities in 2018. Eight SOCOM operators took their lives the year before. Also, in April, the self-inflicted gunshot death of a 68-year-old veteran in a VA parking lot in Virginia brought to 22 the number of veterans who've killed themselves at VA facilities in the past 20 months.

For researchers like Brad Burge, however, the willingness of establishment medicine to employ psychedelics for the treatment of PTSD and associated psychological issues bodes well for the future of marijuana. "It is good news," he says. "It shows that things are changing in the acceptance of these drugs for mental illness."

Burge is director of strategic communications for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Founded in 1986 by New College alum Rick Doblin, MAPS is establishing scientific and legal foundations for the expanded use of psychedelics and cannabis.

The nonprofit research organization is completing Phase 3 trials on MDMA-assisted therapy. That drug, also commonly known as Ecstasy, is a controversial synthetic stimulant banned in 1985. MAPS is also studying the therapeutic applications of LSD, and it hopes to get funding for investigating Ibogaine- and Ayahuasca-assisted therapy.

Early this year, MAPS completed its first study of medical marijuana on 76 veterans diagnosed for PTSD, and will publish its results before the end of 2019. But until cannabis loses its Schedule 1 status, gaining access to acceptable samples of marijuana for the completion of MAPS' research will be difficult.

"But things are changing," says Burge. "The heads of all these administrative bodies have acknowledged there are limitations that shouldn't be there. They don't want to be put in the position of obstructing legal research."

Grilled by lawmakers in April, conservative Attorney General William Barr described the breach between the states and the feds on marijuana policy as "intolerable," though he remained opposed to national legalization. A bipartisan coalition of House and Senate members is backing the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) Act. STATES would exempt all businesses and individuals engaged in state-licensed marijuana activity from federal law enforcement, but the proposal still falls short of descheduling marijuana. Congress has the ability to change marijuana's status.

For veteran Sean Kiernan, the longstanding government argument against legalizing marijuana becomes glaringly archaic when compared with the mind-altering impact of a ketamine product.

"Cannabis is nowhere near as debilitating and it allows you to function in society," he says from San Diego. "I can safely use cannabis daily for the rest of my life. But hey, if you like to party? You'll love ketamine."

©2019 Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.
Visit Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla. at www.heraldtribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Read more →

University of Maryland Launches Nation's First Medical Marijuana Master's Program
June 30, 2019

University of Maryland Launches Nation's First Medical Marijuana Master's Program


 

The two-year graduate program offers health care professionals, cultivators, retail owners, scientists, researchers, and policymakers a chance to earn a degree in medical marijuana.

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) is now accepting applications for the nation's first graduate program dedicated to the study of medical cannabis. The school's new Master of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics is a two-year program designed to “provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to support patients and the medical cannabis industry, add to existing research in the field, and develop well-informed medical cannabis policy.”

“The MS in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics is an incredibly unique program,” Dr. Leah Sera, a pharmacy specialist and the program's director, said in a statement. “Faculty from the School of Pharmacy who lead courses for the program are experts in both basic and clinical sciences related to the study of medications, and are dedicated to making coursework both interesting and accessible to all students.”

The new program is targeted at a wide range of individuals seeking knowledge about medical cannabis, including health care professionals, cannabis growers, dispensary owners, scientists, researchers, or policymakers. Much of the curriculum for the program will consist of online coursework, but students will also be required to attend an in-person symposium once per semester, where they can meet and interact with industry professionals.

Students will not be required to complete a thesis, but must complete coursework featuring expert seminars, case studies, and discussions. The course will educate students on the basic science, clinical and medical use, and potential side effects of cannabis. Students will also learn about the patchwork of federal and state laws and policies concerning medical marijuana.

“Students who complete our program will have an unparalleled competitive advantage when it comes to pursuing or advancing a career in the medical cannabis industry,” Dr. Sera said. “These individuals will be well-prepared to support patients and the medical cannabis industry with the knowledge and skills gained from their coursework. They will also be able to add to existing clinical and scientific research on medical cannabis, and will be able to contribute to well-informed policies related to medical cannabis.”

There are a number of unaccredited colleges offering cannabis education, as well as a few accredited colleges that offer individual cannabis courses, but the UMSOP's new program is the first fully accredited graduate program on the topic. The University of Maryland attempted to roll out medical marijuana training classes on a smaller scale in 2017, but these classes were cancelled at the last minute under the advisement of the state Attorney General.

The UMSOP will be accepting applications for their medical marijuana MS program until August 15. Classes will begin on August 26th at the Universities of Shady Grove in Rockville, Maryland.


Read more →

‘Mystical’ psychedelic compound found in normal brains
June 29, 2019

‘Mystical’ psychedelic compound found in normal brains


Summary: DMT, an active compound of the psychedelic Ayahuasca, is naturally occurring in the mammalian brain, researchers have discovered. The study revealed DMT levels increased significantly in the rat visual cortex following cardiac arrest.

Source: University of Michigan

In the past few years, thrill-seekers from Hollywood, Silicon Valley and beyond have been travelling to South America to take part in so-called Ayahuasca retreats. Their goal: to partake in a brewed concoction made from a vine plant Banisteriopsis caapi, traditionally used by indigenous people for sacred religious ceremonies. Drinkers of Ayahuasca experience short-term hallucinogenic episodes many describe as life-changing.

The active ingredient responsible for these psychedelic visions is a molecule called dimethyltryptamine (DMT). For the first time, a team led by Michigan Medicine has discovered the widespread presence of naturally-occurring DMT in the mammalian brain. The finding is the first step toward studying DMT– and figuring out its role — within the brains of humans.

“DMT is not just in plants, but also can be detected in mammals,” says Jimo Borjigin, Ph.D., of the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. Her interest in DMT came about accidentally. Before studying the psychedelic, her research focused on melatonin production in the pineal gland.

In the seventeenth century, the philosopher Rene Descartes claimed that the pineal gland, a small pinecone-shaped organ located deep in the center of the brain, was the seat of the soul. Since its discovery, the pineal gland, known by some as the third eye, has been shrouded in mystery. Scientists now know it controls the production of melatonin, playing an important role in modulating circadian rhythms, or the body’s internal clock. However, an online search for notes to include in a course she was teaching opened Borjigin’s eyes to a thriving community still convinced of the pineal gland’s mystical power.


The core idea seems to come from a documentary featuring the work of researcher Rick Strassman, Ph.D. with the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. In the mid-1990s, he conducted an experiment in which human subjects were given DMT by IV injection and interviewed after its effects wore off. In a documentary about the experiment, Strassman claims that he believed the pineal gland makes and secretes DMT.

“I said to myself, ‘wait, I’ve worked on the pineal gland for years and have never heard of this,'” she said. She contacted Strassman, requesting the source of his statement. When Strassman admitted that it was just a hypothesis, Borjigin suggested they work together to test it. “I thought if DMT is an endogenous monoamine, it should be very easy to detect using a fluorescence detector.”

Using a process in which microdialysis tubing is inserted into a rat brain through the pineal gland, the researchers collected a sample that was analyzed for — and confirmed — the presence of DMT. That experiment resulted in a paper published in 2013.

This shows a brain against a psychedelic background

 

The finding is the first step toward studying DMT– and figuring out its role — within the brains of humans. The image is in the public domain.

However, Borjigin was not satisfied. Next, she sought to discover how and where DMT was synthesized. Her graduate student, Jon Dean, lead author of the paper, set up an experiment using a process called in situ hybridization, which uses a labeled complementary strand of DNA to localize a specific RNA sequence in a tissue section.

“With this technique, we found brain neurons with the two enzymes required to make DMT,” says Borjigin. And they were not just in the pineal gland.

“They are also found in other parts of the brain, including the neocortex and hippocampus that are important for higher-order brain functions including learning and memory.”

The results are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Her team’s work has also revealed that the levels of DMT increase in some rats experiencing cardiac arrest. A paper published in 2018 by researchers in the U.K. purported that DMT simulates the near death experience, wherein people report the sensation of transcending their bodies and entering another realm. Borjigin hopes to probe further to discover the function of naturally occurring levels of DMT in the brain — and what if any role it plays in normal brain functions.

“We don’t know what it’s doing in the brain. All we’re saying is we discovered the neurons that make this chemical in the brain, and they do so at levels similar to other monoamine neurotransmitters.”

ABOUT THIS NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH ARTICLE

Source:
University of Michigan
Media Contacts: 
Kelly Malcom – University of Michigan
Image Source:
The image is in the public domain.

Original Research: Open access
“Biosynthesis and Extracellular Concentrations of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in Mammalian Brain”. Jon G. Dean, Tiecheng Liu, Sean Huff, Ben Sheler, Steven A. Barker, Rick J. Strassman, Michael M. Wang & Jimo Borjigin.
Scientific Reports. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-45812-w

Abstract

Biosynthesis and Extracellular Concentrations of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in Mammalian Brain

N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a psychedelic compound identified endogenously in mammals, is biosynthesized by aromatic-L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) and indolethylamine-N-methyltransferase (INMT). Whether DMT is biosynthesized in the mammalian brain is unknown. We investigated brain expression of INMT transcript in rats and humans, co-expression of INMT and AADC mRNA in rat brain and periphery, and brain concentrations of DMT in rats. INMT transcripts were identified in the cerebral cortex, pineal gland, and choroid plexus of both rats and humans via in situ hybridization. Notably, INMT mRNA was colocalized with AADC transcript in rat brain tissues, in contrast to rat peripheral tissues where there existed little overlapping expression of INMT with AADC transcripts. Additionally, extracellular concentrations of DMT in the cerebral cortex of normal behaving rats, with or without the pineal gland, were similar to those of canonical monoamine neurotransmitters including serotonin. A significant increase of DMT levels in the rat visual cortex was observed following induction of experimental cardiac arrest, a finding independent of an intact pineal gland. These results show for the first time that the rat brain is capable of synthesizing and releasing DMT at concentrations comparable to known monoamine neurotransmitters and raise the possibility that this phenomenon may occur similarly in human brains.


Read more →

Illegal drugs less harmful than alcohol and tobacco and should be reclassified, finds major report
June 27, 2019

Illegal drugs less harmful than alcohol and tobacco and should be reclassified, finds major report


‘The current distinction between legal and illegal substances is not unequivocally based on pharmacological research but in large part on historical and cultural precedents’

Illegal substances such as ecstasy and cocaine can be less harmful to individuals and societies than tobacco and alcohol and should be reclassified to reflect their actual risk, a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy has concluded.

Calling for a review of the classification of drugs, the body comprising 14 former heads of state or government criticised the “incoherence and inconsistencies” of laws based on “unreliable and scientifically dubious” methods that punish the use of some substances while ignoring others.

“This de facto prohibition is arbitrary,” the group wrote. “The current distinction between legal and illegal substances is not unequivocally based on pharmacological research but in large part on historical and cultural precedents.

presumed ‘good and evil’ distinction between legal and illegal drugs.”


 

They argue governments must now regulate the market of illegal substances, establishing a new system for classification “adapted to the dangerousness of each drug and based on solid scientific assessments”.

A major study of the overall dangers of the entire spectrum of drugs both to the consumer and wider society ranked alcohol as the most damaging.

The 2010 research, carried out by the former government chief drugs adviser, Professor David Nutt, put it above heroin and crack cocaine.

Tobacco was also deemed to be more harmful than a list of drugs including ketamine and mephedrone.

However, this did not correlate with the scientific consensus around the dangers of these drugs.

For example, LSD and ecstasy are among the lowest scoring drugs for levels of harm, yet globally are subject to some of the strictest prohibitions.

The Global Commission’s report said the “only responsible answer to this complex topic is to regulate the market of illegal drugs, starting by establishing regulations and a new scheduling system adapted to the dangerousness of each drug and based on solid scientific assessments”, as is currently done for food, medications and other products that can pose a risk to health.

“While the international community continues to struggle to find a new consensus, countries should move forward with designing and implementing a more rational policy of scheduling, controlling and regulating psychoactive drugs,” the group said.

 

Source: Independent.co.uk


Read more →

Illinois Officially Becomes the 11th State to Legalize Adult-Use Weed
June 26, 2019

Illinois Officially Becomes the 11th State to Legalize Adult-Use Weed


While the Land of Lincoln isn’t the first state to go legal, it’s the first to ensure social justice came with the total package.

Last year, JB Pritzker ran for the Illinois governor’s office on a promise to legalize weed. On Tuesday, June 25, he made that promise a reality by signing HB 1438 into law.

Illinois is now the 11th state to legalize cultivation, sales, and possession of recreational, or adult-use, cannabis. But it’s the first state to do so through its legislature rather than ballot question left to the voters. (Technically, Vermont is the first to legalize through its legislature, but only for possession, not sales.)

More importantly, Illinois is the first state to guarantee social justice and equity in its legalization program, as well. 

“Studies have shown time and time again that black and white people tend to use cannabis at the same rates, but black people are far more likely to be arrested for possession,” Gov. Pritzker said during a press conference. “Criminalization offers nothing but pain, disruption, and injustice. The legislators and activists standing with me today have heard you.”

So just how did Illinois accomplish what Colorado, California, Oregon, Alaska, Michigan, Washington, and other weed-legal states failed to do with their legalization bills?

One of the bill’s lead sponsors was Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), who already carved her niche among the state’s progressives by championing Illinois’s 2013 marriage equality law and a recent expansion of women’s reproductive rights

Getting weed legalized through the Illinois legislature wasn’t some accident, either. “That was the whole game plan from day one,” Cassidy told MERRY JANE over the phone. “When you have a [voter approved] ballot initiative, you only get a paragraph [of bill text] to work with.” 


By going the legislature route, Cassidy got to sit down with other lawmakers, state agencies, attorneys, and activists to craft the legalization bill from scratch. That meant hours upon hours of impassioned debate, negotiation, and education, not to mention multiple line-item strikes and revisions as the bill was arduously, but ultimately, fleshed out.

“It was one of the first truly collaborative processes I’ve been a part of. We cried together, we laughed together, and we worked our asses off. I don’t think it was easier,” she said regarding legalizing cannabis through the legislature, “but the end result was better.”

How did Illinois’s weed bill turn out “better” than the previous ten states’? HB 1428 includes the usual rules that have become standard by now: no selling to kids, keeping organized crime away from licensed weed profits, potency limits, and strict packaging rules. But while other weed-legal jurisdictions – like California – have approved programs for social equity or expungements, those were post-hoc moves. Illinois lawmakers ensured social justice came with the total package, instead of just another inconvenient afterthought following legalization. 

Under the expungement portion of the bill, Illinois must clear criminal records for the state’s 770,000 low-level weed offenders. That’s good news for residents who’ve struggled to find jobs, housing, or loans because they were convicted of victimless cannabis crimes.

“The mechanics of expungement were a serious concern,” Chris Lindsey, the Senior Legislative Counsel at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), told MERRY JANE during a phone call. MPP is responsible for pushing legalization in several states, such as Colorado and Maine, and Lindsey worked closely with Illinois’s legislators, activists, and state agencies to ensure HB 1438 made it to Gov. Pritzker’s desk. 

“How do you set this up so there’s a feasible way for the state to do what you want? It’s very tricky….There are all these different counties. The [criminal] records don’t go into a massive database where someone can just hit ‘undo,’” he said.

To begin expungements, state officials will need to dig up old court orders, find the records, then remove the records, county-by-county. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen eventually.

“It’s very much a hand-held process,” Lindsey continued. “Getting those pieces to fit together, figuring out how we define what equity means, what benefits are available to people who fall into the equity applicant category…. Basically, how do we ensure it’s fair for everybody else?”

Under the social equity sections of the bill, prospective canna-business owners who live in “Disproportionately Impacted Areas” – in other words, low-income neighborhoods that are often targeted by police patrols – get bumped to the front of the line for the state’s much-coveted cannabis licensing. 

Social equity applicants can also qualify if they have prior weed arrests or convictions, or if they belong to a family that was “impacted” by the drug war. 

“Social equity is certainly the hallmark of this legislation,” Lindsey added.

While it’s going to take time to implement the bill’s social justice provisions, launching legal weed sales is on a tight deadline. By law, the program must be up and running by January 2020. The legislature officially approved legalization on May 31, and although the governor said then that he’d sign the bill as soon as he possibly could, it took nearly a month for HB 1438 to receive his signature. 

Why did the signing take so long? According to Rep. Cassidy, the governor joked that he wanted to hold off on signing it until “Snoop comes to the State Fair.” 

Uncle Snoop is set to perform in Illinois in August, so it’s probably best that Pritzker didn’t wait. 

Follow Randy Robinson on Twitter


Read more →

Oakland Votes Unanimously to Decriminalize Psychoactive Plants Like Ayahuasca, Peyote and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms
June 05, 2019

Oakland Votes Unanimously to Decriminalize Psychoactive Plants Like Ayahuasca, Peyote and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms



Oakland City Council voted Tuesday to become the first U.S. city to decriminalize the adult use and possession of psychoactive plants like ayahuasca and peyote, and the second to make the same move for hallucinogenic mushrooms.

The resolution makes the adult use and possession of all entheogenic, or psychoactive, plants and fungi the lowest priority for police. That means, along with psilocybin mushrooms, it applies to cacti like peyote, the shrub iboga that has been used to treat opioid dependence and a variety of plants used to brew ayahuasca, among other things.

Denver voters in May approved a measure to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms for people 21 and older.

Supporters say entheogenic plants have been used to treat depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Entheogenic plants and fungi are tremendous for helping to enable healing, particularly for folks who have experienced trauma in their lives,” said Carlos Plazola, chair of the advocacy group Decriminalize Nature Oakland. “These plants are being recommended pretty extensively undercover, underground, by doctors and therapists.”

Oakland’s proposed resolution would make the investigation and arrest of adults who grow, possess, use or distribute entheogenic plants, including magic mushrooms, ayahuasca and peyote, one of the lowest priorities for police. No city funds could be used to enforce laws criminalizing the substances, and the Alameda County District Attorney would stop prosecuting people who have been apprehended for use or possession.

In the last five years, Oakland police have recorded 19 cases of suspected psilocybin mushrooms being submitted to the department’s crime lab, according to testimony from a police official at the council’s public safety committee meeting last Tuesday. The official did not have data available for other plants.

Councilmember Noel Gallo, who introduced the resolution, said decriminalizing such plants would enable Oakland police to focus on serious crime.

A tourist shows heads of peyote in the desert near the town of Real de 14, in San Luis Potosi State, Mexico, on July 17, 2013. (Credit: ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP / Getty Images)

A tourist shows heads of peyote in the desert near the town of Real de 14, in San Luis Potosi State, Mexico, on July 17, 2013. (Credit: ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP / Getty Images)

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick declined to comment.

Still, magic mushrooms would remain illegal under both federal and state laws. Entheogenic substances are considered Schedule 1 drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act, which categorizes drugs that have potential for abuse and no medical value.

Skeptics have expressed qualms about the resolution, including Councilmember Loren Taylor, who said it’s important that law enforcement and other community leaders are included in any talks to think through “all possible implications” of the resolution.

“It is something that is valuable in certain settings,” Taylor said at last week’s committee meeting. “It’s a matter of how we deploy it and how we ensure it’s not something that (with) our kids becomes a fad.”

To address such concerns, Gallo said, lawmakers would have to establish rules and regulations about the use of such substances, including what exactly can be used, how to use them and what associated risks are.

Entheogenic plants have long been used in religious and cultural contexts. Gallo remembers his grandmother treating his family members with plants, including entheogenic ones, for a variety of ailments.

“Growing up in the Mexican community, this was our cure,” Gallo said. Hemp oils, mushrooms and yerba buenas — an aromatic plant known for its medicinal properties — “that was our Walgreens. We didn’t have a Walgreens. We didn’t have a way to pay for any drugs. These are plants we have known for thousands of years in our community and that we continue to use.”

Julie Megler, a psychiatric nurse practitioner who spoke in support of the proposal at last week’s meeting, said it could also help people who lack the funds for traditional prescription drugs.

“I believe that the medical model is important, but is limited in the number of people that can access its care,” she said.

Another supporter with Decriminalize Oakland, Gary Kono, identified himself as a retired surgeon. He admitted there is some risk associated with the plants and fungi, “but more people die from taking selfies for their social media than from all of our entheogens combined.”

Tuesday’s vote would be the final on the measure. The council’s public safety committee advanced it last week.

Read more →

Florida Man Arrested After Inviting Police Officer to Smoke a Bowl With Him
June 02, 2019

Florida Man Arrested After Inviting Police Officer to Smoke a Bowl With Him

Another Florida man is under arrest after being too welcoming and inviting toward the police. Bunnell, Florida resident Arthur Carracino just really wanted a pair of Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies to check out his home-grown cannabis plant and smoke a bowl with him. In a body-camera video captured in the wee hours of the morning,
Carracino attempts to get the on-duty officer to join him for a puff. And almost reluctantly, that officer ended up arresting Carracino for growing cannabis, which is against the law in Florida.
“You Gotta Smoke a Bowl with Me Please”
There’s a very lonely, almost plaintive tone in the way Florida man Arthur Carracino invites a police officer to smoke a bowl with him. “You gotta smoke a bowl with me please,” emphasis on the “please.”
Sometimes, you just want to be social. Sometimes, you just want someone to pass the bowl to. Even if they’re a cop—if you’re a Florida man. “I know, you’re on duty,” Carracino said to the incredulous officer, as he nevertheless heads off into the darkness to get his pipe.
The rural town of Bunnell sits on the east coast of Florida, about midway between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. There’s not too much for Flagler County police to do. Residents like Carracino seem like they could use some company, as well.
So when officers pulled up alongside Carracino’s residence responding to a completely different incident, this Florida man decided to do the neighborly thing. According to the deputy’s report, Carracino was smoking weed when they arrived.
Florida Man Requests Starbucks During Late-Night Arrest
The ensuing body-cam footage is heartwarming and ridiculous. It’s the middle of the night, and the chirping crickets almost drown out the voices. But there’s Carracino, scantily clad in a blue speedo and an unbuttoned button-up shirt, rocking a large silver pendant that reflects the beam of an officer’s flashlight.
Since Carracino is smoking a joint, the deputy asks him for his medical cannabis card. Medical use is legal for authorized patients with qualifying conditions in Florida. Carracino responds that “Oh. Yeah. Yeah I do. I’m working on it.”
There’s some laughter at the contradictory response, at which point Carracino just says, “Come on guys, let’s talk.”
But the officers are more interested in the two-foot tall cannabis plant—just one—in Carracino’s yard. “Is that your plant?” they ask. Carricino proudly answers in the affirmative, and the officers ask if he uses Miracle-Gro or just water.
That’s when Florida man officers some sage growing advice. “I thought it was gonna be easy going out to California and learning how to grow pot. The indica strain, the sativa strain and oh boy, you’re looking right at the smallest crystals.”
Just before falling entirely into revery on his plant, the Florida man invites one of the officers to smoke a bowl with him.
The body-cam cuts out for a moment, and picks up with Carracino in the back of the squad car. Police ask him if he knows what’s going on. Carracino says of course, “it’s two o’clock in the [expletive] morning.” The officers point out that its actually a quarter of three in the morning. And it doesn’t look like Carracino is going to be getting much sleep. So he asks for a pick-me-up.
“Okay, I need a cup of Starbucks. Anywhere local we can get one,” Carracino asks, perhaps hoping the deputies would return kindness with kindness.
Unfortunately, the officers say no to this request as well. But they do tell Carracino that he’s under arrest. “For?” Carracino asks. “For growing marijuana,” the officer replies.
“Oh yeah,” Carracino says.

Original Source:

Read more →

Smoking Psychedelic Toad Milk Could Alleviate Depression For Up To 4 Weeks
May 26, 2019

Smoking Psychedelic Toad Milk Could Alleviate Depression For Up To 4 Weeks


 

A study published in the journal Psychopharmacology reported that psychedelic toad milk could be the most powerful depression remedy.

Namely, smoking the milky, psychoactive secretion of the Colorado River toad, or Bufo alvarius, is a powerful and fast alternative for managing depression.

This “toad” is popular for its poisonous secretions that can kill predators and get humans high. The biggest native toad in the United States can reach up to 7 inches in length and has the unusual ability to obtain water by osmotic absorption through its abdomen.

The North American toad excretes a whiteish substance which is rich in a compound called 5-MeO-DMT, a variation of DMT, which is also found in the mild-altering psychedelic brew ayahuasca.

According to researchers, when dried and smoked, the “toad milk” creates a short but potent psychedelic experience, and as the ego dissolves, one supposedly receives mystical insights.

They maintain that a single inhalation of vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) in a naturalistic setting can cause sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, mindfulness-related capacities, and a decrement of psychopathological symptoms.

 

 

Read more →

Repairman working on a 1960s synth accidentally got super high on LSD
May 24, 2019

Repairman working on a 1960s synth accidentally got super high on LSD


 

When working on a standard clean and restore project, you don’t expect to accidentally get super high on 50-year-old LSD. But that’s exactly what happened for one repairman working on a vintage Buchla Model 100 modular synthesiser.

Eliot Curtis was recently given the job of restoring the vintage synth, which had been stored in a dark room at Cal State University East Bay since the 1960s. But after cracking off the front of the unit to give it a clean, he began to majorly trip out.

A Californian repairman cleaning a 1960s synth went on a mega nine-hour trip after accidentally ingesting vintage LSD through his skin.

 

After opening the Buchla, Curtis discovered a crystal-like substance that he attempted to clean off. Spraying it with a cleaning solvent, he then tried to dislodge it with his fingers. Then, around 45 minutes later, the fun really started. His body began to tingle, which then quickly dissolved into an epic nine-hour acid trip.

After testing, it was discovered that the substance was indeed vintage LSD. A researcher also revealed that LSD can lay dormant and potent if stored in a cool, dark place, and that it is possible to ingest it through the skin. So apparently Buchla synthesisers make the perfect storage for your psychedelics. Who knew?

The synth has since been thoroughly cleaned of all LSD and is back on track for its restoration. No say on where the drugs ended up though…

 

 

 

 

Read more →

Marijuana Tampons are treating period cramps
May 23, 2019

Marijuana Tampons are treating period cramps

No one enjoys living in physical pain. 
If there are natural ways to prevent the pain, many of us are interested.
There's obviously been a big trend towards finding more natural ways to cure what ails us. Honey for coughs, turmeric for arthritis pain and now marijuana for menstrual cramps and pelvic discomfort.
Although if you ask Grand Rapids pain expert Dr. Marla Gendelman of Liberate Pain Management, it's not anything new, "Cannabis has been used for PMS literally since pre-biblical times. They burned incense and it was used as topically and orally."
When it comes to treating those painful monthly menstrual cramps, it may be time to put  those other pain killers like Motrin, Midol or Vicodin back in your medicine cabinet and give marijuana a try.   Numerous women face intense pain and muscle cramps during their periods, so they will be delighted to hear that a company called Foria has created “cannabis vaginal suppositories”, designed to help them relieve these symptoms as they are suppositories with cannabis that dissolve inside the vagina.
Foria Relief, currently available only in California and Colorado, has introduced a medicated tampon that the company promises will “maximize the muscle relaxing and pain relieving properties of cannabis without inducing a psychotropic high.”
The  marijuana tampons contain 60mg THC / 10mg CBD.


You can find topicals and oils in area medical marijuana dispensaries. Even Whoopi Goldberg has opened an online shop specializing in pain management for women.
Women who have tried the tampons claim that they are incredibly effective, but in order to purchase them, one needs to join Foria’s collective and depending on the state you live in, she might need to submit an application along with a physician’s recommendation letter. Additionally, a pack of four of these tampons costs $44.
Lake Effect Consulting is a medical marijuana dispensary in Portage. Rachel Fogleson with Lake Effect says they provide a few options for women looking to manage their menstrual pain most of their products are topical or oral, "Each dose is going to be a little bit more specific to what your needs are your pain levels and things like that."
The Foria tampons are not available for sale yet in Michigan, but that could soon change now that recreational marijuana is legal. Fogleson says it's a good thing, "There's a huge market for women, but not a lot of products that are directed towards women."
Dr. Gendelman agrees, stating "I think there's going to be all kinds of things out there." From skin care with claims to reduce your wrinkles to other products Dr. Gendelman says might make you do a double take, "There's even CBD mascara, which I question the need for."
Some products will push the boundaries of marijuana's medicinal claims -- others like the Foria weed tampons, will push the boundaries of your wallet at $11 dollars a suppository. Either way, it looks like women may start to have more choices when it comes to managing monthly pain.
Ingredients Label Is Short:
  • Organic Fair Trade Cocoa Butter
  • Distilled THC Oil
  • CBD Isolate (99.99%) from Organically Grown Hemp
Results?
The product will give your vagina a slightly intoxicated sensation, but the effect won’t travel to your brain. (And it won’t exactly make your vagina high.) According to one happy customer, the product “smells like cookie dough and cocoa butter.”
In October Harvard University announced it is conducting an observational study of 400 women who have agreed to use marijuana suppositories for menstrual pain. The hope for researchers is that this is a first step towards clinical trials that may eventually lead to FDA approval
On the website Racked.com, Sophie Saint-Thomas tested the suppositories and reported her results:
IT WAS LIKE IF ATIVAN MADE A BABY WITH TYLENOL, EXCEPT I HADN’T THRUST ANY NASTY PHARMACEUTICALS INTO MY VAG; JUST CANNABIS AND COCOA BUTTER.
And here’s the science:
THC POSITIVELY AFFECTS THE NERVES AND ASSISTS IN BLOCKING OUT PAIN WHILE ALSO ALLOWING FOR MORE PLEASANT SIGNALS TO BE RECEIVED BY THE BRAIN. CBD WORKS IN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM BY SUPPRESSING THE MECHANISMS RESPONSIBLE FOR INFLAMMATION. CBD ALSO SLOWS DOWN ELECTRICAL SIGNALING TO MUSCLES AND ALLOWS THEM TO RELAX, THEREBY REDUCING CRAMPING.
Is it FDA approved? Nope. Since cannabis is considered a Schedule 1 drug by our federal government, the FDA cannot and will not sanction the medical efficacy of the product. Yet.

Interested in making your own?
Check out this article!

Sources

Read more →

How LSD May Facilitate Communing With Nature
May 21, 2019

How LSD May Facilitate Communing With Nature


 

April 19, 1943, Albert Hofmann became the first known human to drop LSD. The Swiss chemist had synthesized the drug five years earlier as a central nervous system stimulant, not knowing its psychedelic powers. But when he discovered what the substance was capable of, he took a dose and went for a ride on his bike to see what would happen.

What happened is he changed history. Hofmann’s account of that bike ride is not only the first documented report of a full-on acid trip, it’s also the first account of one of the hallmarks of the psychedelic state: a feeling of oneness with nature that lasts long after the drug has worn off.

“Through my LSD experience and my new picture of reality, I became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature, and of the animal and plant kingdom,” he said in an interview in 1984. “I became very sensitive to what will happen to all this and all of us.”

Hofmann became a fervent environmentalist, and since then, similar anecdotes abound from people who have taken psychedelics. Movies and TV shows like The Trip and Six Feet Under are rife with tripping characters talking to trees or getting advice from the personification of Mother Nature, not to mention Birkenstock-clad environmentalists with a penchant for mushrooms.

But beyond the cultural trope, researchers have long suspected there was something real at play here. In a 2009 paper titled “Psychedelics and Species Connectedness,” the psychologists Stanley Krippner and David Luke hypothesized that the consumption of psychedelics creates a greater concern for ecological issues. Several other psychologists have even argued that psychedelic drugs were the catalyst for the environmental movement that sprung up in the late 1960s.

Of course, none of these theories have advanced much since LSD became illegal in the 1960s, leading the FDA to shut down all research into the potential benefits of the drug and others like it. But in the midst of today’s psychedelic renaissance, researchers are reconsidering these drugs’ potential to make us feel one with nature — and how that potential might confer therapeutic benefits.

“Psychedelics cause the boundaries between self and nature to crumble,” says Matthias Forstmann, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University’s Mind and Development Lab. “As a consequence, you ascribe human-like traits and emotions to nature. And as a consequence of that, you feel empathy for nature. This could have beneficial effects for both the individual as well as for the environment.”

It’s likely not the feeling of connection to nature specifically that is driving away depression, but the sense of connection to everything.

Forstmann is the lead author of a recent study that looked at the relationship between people’s past experiences with classic psychedelic substances (such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline) and their self-reported connection to nature. The study found that people who had previous experiences with psychedelics were more likely to feel like a part of nature rather than separate from it.

The general population survey controlled for experiences with other types of psychoactive substances as well as the personality traits that can predict drug consumption and an affinity for nature. Across demographics and life experience, the study showed that psychedelic use correlates to a greater connection to the outside world.

Of course, there is the possibility that rather than psychedelics being the catalyst for an eco-mindset, it could be that people who already have a deeper connection to nature are more likely to take psychedelics. But researchers don’t think this is the case.

“[Because] the relationship we found remained significant after controlling for demographic variables, it is unlikely that the association we found can be entirely explained by a collection of personality traits stereotypically associated with psychedelic users (e.g. being of the ‘hippie’ type),” the study authors conclude.

The side effect of psychedelics that causes this sense of connection is known as ego dissolution. For this reason, some researchers think it also makes psychedelics a viable remedy for treatment-resistant depression. According to Enzo Tagliazucchi, a researcher at Goethe University Frankfurt’s Institute of Neurology, subjects in several studies who responded well to psychedelics as a depression treatment cited the “feeling of moving from a sense of disconnection from the self, from others, and from the world to a sense of connection” as the main factor in their recovery.

“One of the most salient, defining characteristics is the experience of unity with everything,” says Tagliazucchi. “It’s not specific with nature, though it can be a very strong feeling of connection with nature depending on the person, and depending on their prior beliefs.”

In other words, according to both Tagliazucchi and Forstmann, it’s likely not the feeling of connection to nature specifically that is driving away depression, but the sense of connection to everything.

However, Forstmann’s study did find that people who had used psychedelics in the past reported higher levels of pro-environmental behavior — things like recycling and buying products at the supermarket with less packaging — suggesting that such experiences can shift people’s beliefs and practices.

Before there can be conclusions around any of this, however, both Forstmann and Tagliazucchi say more research is needed — including experiments conducted outside the lab and with people without a history of mental illness. But in the meantime, Hofmann’s experience lives on, and as a new generation of psychedelic enthusiasts becomes one with nature, we may see the benefits echo throughout culture.


Read more →

LSD IS HELPING PEOPLE END THEIR ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE
May 21, 2019

LSD IS HELPING PEOPLE END THEIR ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE


 

A newly published study suggests that consuming LSD or magic mushrooms may help people overcome alcohol dependency — yet another exciting development in the burgeoning field of psychedelics research.

“There’s incredible potential here,” Johns Hopkins University researcher Matthew Johnson told Inverse. “So far, it’s a good bet that these tools will be broadly applicable to a number of disorders.”

For the study, which was published Tuesday in The Journal of Psychopharmacology, the researchers used social media and drug discussion websites to track down 343 people who reported a minimum of seven years of problematic drinking prior to having a psychedelic experience.

They then asked the participants — 72 percent of whom met the criteria for alcohol use disorder — to complete anonymous online surveys.

From the surveys, the researchers learned many participants had dramatically decreased the number of drinks they consumed a year after their psychedelic experience. In fact, 83 percent of participants no longer met alcohol use disorder criteria, and 28 percent credited their psychedelic experience for the change in lifestyle

It’s hard to demonstrate a direct link between the psychedelic experience and the decrease in alcohol consumption. However, Johnson thinks it makes sense that mind-opening drugs could have a positive impact on the lives of people battling alcohol dependence.

“When you talk to someone who has managed to overcome addiction, they often talk about [how] they had to answer big picture questions that connect to what’s important in life,” he told Inverse. “Psychedelics prompt those kinds of questions.”

Source: FUTURISM.


Read more →