I am facing a golden-sugar beach, a low pink hotel, a thatched palapa baking in the heat. To my left, a long crescent stretch of bay, a cradling arm around a basket of blue. To my right, a stone jetty. Beyond it, a port full of oceangoing tankers and the cliff-hugging city of Manzanillo. Behind me, the limitless Pacific. All around, pelicans loitering in the swells, which lift and gently drop me, my arms out, toes brushing velvet sand.
Alexander Shulgin is the world’s foremost “psychonaut.” The 82-year-old chemist has not only created more of the 300 known consciousness-altering (or psychoactive) compounds than anyone living or dead, he has, by his own account, sampled somewhere between 200 and 250 of them himself—most of them cooked up in the musty lab behind his home in the hills east of Berkeley, Calif., where he has shared many a chemical voyage with his wife of 26 years, Ann.
Could Ecstasy, LSD and magic mushrooms one day be legitimate prescription medicines? It sounds unlikely, but doctors and researchers in the US and across Europe believe it is possible and that new science will prove the case. Second chances are rare in science. In the Fifties and Sixties, hallucinogenic drugs, such as LSD, were hailed as the magic bullet to everything from alcoholism to migraine. But they became caught in the crossfire of the cultural wars of the times.
It goes by many names: Salvia divinorum, Diviner’s Sage, Maria Pastora and Sally-D. But, whatever you call it, this hallucinogenic herb from the mint family, used by Mexico’s Mazatec Indians for centuries, is fast becoming a “drug of concern” for the Drug Enforcement Administration and many states across the country – which may actually serve to make the drug more popular.
On Tuesday, January 29 — three days prior to the publication of a forthcoming study assessing marijuana use and cancer — Reuters News Wire published a story under the headline: “Cannabis Bigger Cancer Risk Than Cigarettes.” Mainstream media outlets across the globe immediately followed suit. “Smoking One Joint is Equivalent to 20 Cigarettes, Study Says,” Fox News declared, while Australia’s ABC broadcast network pronounced, “Experts Warn of Cannabis Cancer ‘Epidemic.'”
Some folks in Arizona contacted me recently, wanting to use a column that I wrote a while back for a crime prevention magazine. I pulled up their website and looked at the December 2007 issue of Arizona Crime Prevention Association News. Right there in front of my eyes read the following headline: “Toad Smoking”—A New Way to Get High.
Coca leaf is widely consumed in both countries, both as a part of daily life and in indigenous religious ceremonies. The leaves have a mild stimulant effect similar to coffee. In the above places, there is no abuse of the plant whatsoever; the abuse happens when it is extracted and made into cocaine; a phenomena that swept the USA, but has never been practiced in cultures that use the coca leaf like coffee.
High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week. Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.
William F. Buckley, Jr., conservative intellectual–and supporter of drug policy reform–passed away February 27, 2008. He is remembered by Ira Glasser, president of DPA’s board and former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
State legislatures around the nation have avoided approving medical marijuana laws — mostly out of fear they would be labeled as soft on crime. Yet it’s pretty clear the public has sympathy for those who truly need marijuana to treat diseases such as glaucoma or to ease the suffering caused by cancer. As a result, voters in 10 states — including Washington and Oregon — have taken the law into their own hands and approved medical-marijuana initiatives.
For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults are behind bars, according to a new report. Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million, after three decades of growth that has seen the prison population nearly triple. Another 723,000 people are in local jails.
Scratch a pothead and ask them why marijuana is outlawed, and there’s a good chance you’ll get some version of the “hemp conspiracy” theory. Federal pot prohibition, the story goes, resulted from a plot by the Hearst and DuPont business empires to squelch hemp as a possible competitor to wood-pulp paper and nylon.