Criminalizing peaceful people who use psychoactive drugs to deepen their spiritual life is criminal itself, some groups are arguing. A new front has opened in opposition to the war on drugs–a religious front. Several newly formed groups are contesting our prohibitionist, anti-drug strategies because they restrict religious freedom and “cognitive liberty.”
Jesus was almost certainly a cannabis user and an early proponent of the medicinal properties of the drug, according to a study of scriptural texts published this month. The study suggests that Jesus and his disciples used the drug to carry out miraculous healings.
A member of an American Indian tribe wants to be able to give peyote to his 4-year-old son during spiritual ceremonies. It’s a matter of religious freedom, he says. Jonathan Fowler, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, belongs to the Native American Church of the Morning Star, where the hallucinogen plant is taken as a sacrament.
Marc Emery may not have made it to the mayor’s chair, but the head of the B.C. Marijuana Party has plenty of other ventures to keep him busy. Besides running a seed-distribution business, the peace and pot activist has started a new project that he’s especially passionate about, one he says can cure cocaine and heroin addiction at a low price.
In the name of science, the United States Forest Service has proposed the experimental logging of half a million acres in two forests in the Sierra Nevada to see how it will affect the habitat of the California spotted owl and the ferocity of forest fires. But skeptical environmentalists are saying the real purpose is simply to give timber companies a chance to cut more big trees on some of the nation’s 190 million acres of public land.
The Liberal government is preparing to move ahead in the new year with legislation to decriminalize marijuana, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon said yesterday. “If we’re talking about that question of decriminalizing marijuana, we may move ahead quickly as a government,” he said.
The young flowers of E. berteroana are eaten as vegetables in Guatemala and El Salvador. If large amounts of the flowers are consumed, sedation occurs and the individual will sleep deeply. The tree is often cultivated as a living fence, and in the past, the branches were crushed and used as a fish poison.
In November 2001, the German Federal Drug Agency announced that 24 cases of liver toxicity and one death associated with Kava (also known as Kava kava or Piper methysticum) had been reported. On December 19, 2001, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a letter to U.S. Health Care Professionals that stated, “The agency is investigating whether the use of dietary supplements containing kava is associated with liver toxicity.”
Members of the Byeri group of the Fang in Gabon, a precursor to today’s Bwiti tribe, once consumed large amounts of the root of A. floribunda, which they call alan, as part of initiatory rituals. It is said that the effects are weaker and not as long lasting as those of iboga (Tabernanthe iboga), the entheogen which the Byeri now regularly use in initiations. During such a ritual, the initiate is be shown the skulls of his or her ancestors, and the alan root assists them in communicating with the spirits of these invidivuals. A. floribunda is still used today by the Byeri alongside iboga for ritual purposes, and alone as an aphrodisiac.
The Mixo of Oaxaca, Mexico believe that the plant spirit of D. stramonium is an elderly wise woman. When they harvest the seeds of the plant they offer pebbles and branches to her, and pray that she may heal the illness of the individual for whom the seeds are being harvested. The seeds are then consumed ritually in a manner similar to Psilocybe mushrooms. Men take doses of 27 seeds and women take 21. The Mapuche, meanwhile, use a D. stramonium beverage to alleviate mental illness brought on by evil spirits, as well as to discipline and education misbehaving children.
In ancient times, Aconitum napellus was a highly feared poison that was associated with the mythical witch Medea, known from the tale of Jason and the Argonauts. It was said to have first come from the saliva of Cerberus, along with henbane. Both plants were known as plants of Apollo. Another legend suggests that A. napellus sprung from the blood of Prometheus when he was disemboweled as part of his eternal punishment.
B. suaveolens has been used in South America for rituals and medical treatment since pre-Columbian times. The species is still used in Mexico, where is is known as a plant that induces shamanic visions. Due to its beautiful scent and attractiveness, it is the most commonly cultivated species of Brugmansia.