Originally posted on Psychedelic Press UK:

The following article was written by Ido Hartogsohn. He is an Israeli writer and psychedelic activist. His first book ‘Technomystica: Consciousness in the Age of Technology’ was published (Hebrew) in 2009. Hartogsohn is currently writing his Ph.D. on the role of set and setting in the psychedelic research of the 1950s and the 1960s.

Psychedelics and Entheogens are two names for the same group of psychoactive compounds (usually referred to as ‘psychedelics’). These two terms delineate two very different perspectives on the proper way to use these psychoactive compounds.

Psychedelic is a term that was invented by the British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in 1957, during a correspondence with Aldous Huxley, as the two were trying to find a new designation for the psychopharmacological group of substances which included compounds such as mescaline, LSD, and the psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms). The new name was supposed to replace terms such as…

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Originally posted on Psychedelic Press UK:

September 27-30, 2012

(www.psychedemia.org)

A conference in which professionals, academics, and visionaries from across the sciences, cultural studies, medicine, visual arts, and music are convening at the University of Pennsylvania campus to discuss the place of psychedelics in academia.

Psychedemia is a conference currently being planned by graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania, a member of the Ivy League and one of the premier institutes of the higher learning in the United States. Psychedemia (a portmanteau of Psychedelia and Academia) is dedicated to opening an informed and progressive discussion about how to responsibly and effectively integrate into academic and mainstream culture the recent renaissance of academic research into psychedelic experiences. The conference will attract devoted psychedelic scientists, philosophers and enthusiasts who seek the ultimate psychedelic cultural experience–the opportunity to interact with renowned thought leaders in a gorgeous Ivy League setting.
 
Psychedemia will coalesce decades of interdisciplinary…

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Originally posted on DavidCrews:

IntoANewLand-border
“Psychedelics are not suppressed because they are dangerous to users; they’re suppressed because they provoke unconventional thought, which threatens any number of elites and institutions that would rather do our thinking for us.”

Some thoughts from Dennis McKenna, ethnopharmacologist and brother of the late Terence McKenna, bard of modern psychoactive literature and thought. This is from his interesting new book, “The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss,” detailing his life with his famous brother and how their adventures affected their lives and influenced many thousands more.  Dennis goes on to say:

“Historically, those in power have always sought to suppress free thought, whether bluntly or subtly, because it poses an inherent challenge to their rule. That’s no less true today, in an age when corporate, political, and religious interests form a global bloc whose interests threaten all earthly life, including human life.”
[Dennis McKenna, The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss, North…

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Originally posted on Schreiner Achievement Showcase 2013:

Student: Rheachel Ferguson

This research is aimed at drawing a correlation between Ayahuasca (naturally occurring plant found in Ecuadorian region) and heightened states of awareness while dreaming (lucid dreaming). The presentation will demystify the ancient tribal psychedelic as well as explain what lucid dreaming is, share how the ceremonial substance is conducive to reaching lucidity in sleep, as well as explain the reasons for wanting to achieve such a state of dreaming.

By using personal accounts from people who have participated in the consumption of Ayahuasca, sharing the history and new findings concerning the use of the herbal brew, and bringing in the new age use of Ayahuasca, I hope to dispel common reservations about the use psychedelic plants that are naturally occuring, Southern American culture and the growing desire to heal through the use of dreams.

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What is drugs education really about? If drugs education were really about harm-reduction then we would objectively compare what science tells us about the effects of various substances since scientific research is undeniably the best method of determining the relationship between various causes and their effects. In this article it is argued that most drugs education in Britain fails to accurately communicate the truth about drugs by becoming unknowingly embroiled in a highly questionable, ambiguous, and complex mission of moralistic social engineering. Drugs education is dishonest, it misleads people, it is biased, and fails to represent the complex histories and realities that surround the issue of the individual’s relationship to mind-altering substances.

For the most part: drugs education, as it stands, works under a very different modus operandi than simply educating young people about the scientifically demonstrable facts about the effects of drugs. Drugs education as it is currently practised is the result of a complex set of interacting dynamics: the socially constructed taboo surrounding drug use and altered states of consciousness, the fact that many of the teachers will be largely ignorant to the realities of drug use, many of the teachers will have a knowledge-base largely gained through their own (frankly, limited) drugs education secondary education, many of teachers will themselves have used recreational drugs in the past and are not at liberty to be honest about it (due to the aforementioned taboo), an increasingly questioned overarching paternalistic political agenda encapsulated in the somewhat revealing term “The War of Drugs”, the endless double-standards surrounding what substances and activities (legal or otherwise) are deemed “too harmful” to be permitted, the list could go on. The elephant in the room undermines much of these drives though, and that elephant is the scientific research about the harms (and benefits) of various drugs.

In illustrate the extent of these conflicting factors, I would like to ask you to have a look at the graph below.

Graph clearly depicting the objective harms of controlled substances

Source: Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs

 

Now the source of this graph is none other than the government’s own scientific experts: Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, November 2010. It illustrates clearly a number of truths that are somewhat unpalatable to many drugs educators in Britain:

  • Alcohol is, seemingly, more harmful than all other drugs: yet it is a drug that is socially accepted and most of the teachers themselves have used.
  • Cannabis is safer than alcohol or tobacco
  • Both the status of a given substance’s legality or illegality and current drug classification system(Class A, B, etc.) have virtually no bearing on the scientifically demonstrable harms of the substances in question.

Now each of these points is worthy of great exploration and thought: but let’s focus on the last one. If a student with much intelligence about them were to see and understand this graph, the graph showing scientific research, they would instantly see the arbitrary nature of current drug laws. That simple question “why?”, “for what reason?”: it would be enough to thoroughly undermine a “just say no” approach to this issue.

And there are other truths that drugs educators tend to be shy of broaching:

  • Many of the controlled substances have been shown to have medicinal properties, most notably cannabis and some of the “psychedelic” drugs.
  • When compared to high risk non-drug activity there is a clear double standard. The great Professor Nutt was, of course, fired from the aforementioned committee, for (amongst other things) stating that ecstasy is safer than horse-riding! Deaths from peanut butter allergies compared with deaths from cannabis use also serve to demonstrate this double-standard very clearly.
  • There is a clear double standard about attitudes to legal pharmaceuticals, psychoactive or otherwise, in terms of their harms (the P.R. term is “side-effects”) and the likelihood of those harms occurring. Compare, for example, the long list of side-effects for Fluoxetine (the anti-depressant better known as Prozac) to the effects of the responsible use of “magic mushrooms”: decide for yourself which seems more harmful!
  • That there is a difference between drug use and drug abuse.
  • That most drug users do not have their lives destroyed or seriously derailed in any meaningful way by it.
  • People take drugs to have fun.
  • Many of the teachers may have, at some point in their past, used a controlled substance. Their experiences may not have all been bad.
  • The fact that pretty much every one in our society is a “poly-substance user” when considering clearly how people use  alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, sugar, and psychoactive pharmaceuticals.
  • The history of the use of the drugs that are now illegal (“He who controls the past, controls…”?)

o   The use of “entheogens” and “psychedelics” in the students’ ancestors shamanic traditions

o   The potential spiritual significance of altered states of consciousness

o   The use of mind-altering substances by eminent peoples and thinkers of the past and their role in human creative enterprise.

  • The political and historical origins of our drug laws.
  • The complex political nature of drugs prohibition, related concepts such as “Freedom of thought”, “The Harm Principle”, or “cognitive liberty” are never really discussed in the context of drugs education.
  • The political nature drugs education as an agent of socialising and social-engineering.

 

To further challenge our current “just say no” drugs education practices is the vast sea of conflicting evidence students will increasingly be exposed to: drug information from “unapproved” drugs education sites, vastly more access to positive accounts of drug experiences, peer communications, wider access to “legal highs”, potentially enlightened parents, a culture of increasingly normalised drug use, and frequent positive depictions of drugs and “drug cultures” in films which, compared to two decades ago, seems to have massively infiltrated modern cinema at a somewhat suspicious rate.

Let’s face it, “The War on Drugs” is becoming increasingly controversial for a number of reasons; not least of all the recent American states that have ended cannabis prohibition thus rightfully claiming an enormous tax bounty in return! Far be it for teachers to perpetuate a political agenda that should be the subject of rigorous analysis and scrutiny. Far be it for teachers to tacitly comply with the deeply troubling political scheme that is drug prohibition.

If you are an educator, and you want to show your students the truth about drug harm, you should start with the chart shown above. Explore the harms and benefits or drug use fully, be honest about its history, encourage debate about the myriad political issues surrounded in both “The War on Drugs” and the purposes of drugs education. If you are a truly responsible educator, when a student says “I don’t think I’ll ever drink alcohol, instead I’ll occasionally use mushrooms and cannabis because the scientific research demonstrates reduced harm in that choice.” You would leave it be.

Originally posted on Ayahuasca and Depression:

an excerpt from DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Dr. Rick Strassman (published by Inner Traditions)

“Do you think,” I offered, “that the pineal might produce psychedelic compounds? It seems to have the right ingredients.  Maybe it somehow mediates spontaneous psychedelic types of states-psychosis for example.”  I was hesitant to get much deeper than this and avoided mentioning my more controversial ideas about the pineal-that it played a role in more exotic states, such as near-death or mystical experiences. Dr. K stopped in his tracks and turned on his heels.  His brow furrowed and he peered at me intently through his glasses.  A palpable menace glinted from his eyes.  “Oops,” I thought.

“Let me tell you this, Rick,” he said very slowly and firmly.  “The pineal has nothing to do with psychedelic drugs.”

That was the last time that year I said the words pineal and psychedelic in…

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