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In The Far-East, the nations of North and South Korea are locked in a stale-mate. In the North the isolationist, totalitarian, communist regime stubbornly defend the nation’s borders whilst the South flourishes under a capitalist system.

Soldiers and military forces are posted on each side of the border between North and South Korea to maintain an uneasy truce. On occasion, the soldiers of South Korea hold up banners for their brothers in the North. On one occasion, a group of South Korean soldiers held up a banner which translated as:

“COME HERE AND SEE FOR YOURSELF”

Perhaps they realised that no amount of debating, reasoning, or discussion could convert the North Koreans to their side: nothing would convert them other than seeing the benefits that come with the alternative ideology, they simply had to take a trip and see it for themselves. This situation is much the same with psychedelics.

LSD: a psychedelic that must be understood in terms of its effects on experience.

Any one who has tried a substance like LSD knows what it is in a way that no outside observer could ever understand. No amount of words and concepts can describe the ineffable experience itself. The language imposed upon psychedelic experience (“hallucinations” and “visual distortions” for example) always seems inadequate at truly reflecting its nature. It seems clear to me that the only way to truly know and understand it, is to try it.

Prior to experiencing the effect of the chemical, all one can have is words, concepts and beliefs. Most of these beliefs are given to people by individuals who have no first hand experience of their own: they are simply repeating what they have been told. Many of the words disseminated on such matters have their origins in people who have vested interests in you not deciding for yourself. Most individuals who have used LSD come to feel that it is a deeply misunderstood drug.

The current ruling class have, it would seem, had very little first hand experience with psychedelics: consequently, they simply do not understand what psychedelics are. Moreover, their views are the product of the previous governments’ propaganda and misinformation, their views are the product of a massively biased cultural conditioning against psychedelics.

I say, to you as a citizen and to our leaders: “come here and see for yourself”. Make up your own mind about psychedelics, but only after you have been informed by nothing less than the experience itself. Until you have had the psychedelic experience, you literally do not know what you are talking about, and would do better to remain silent on the issue. Any leader who would try LSD and still hold that it should be banned: their’s is a position I would respect.

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Drug laws attempt to control what you can do with your mind and what experiences you are allowed access to. Drug laws are, quite literally, attempts at mind control.

Cognitive libery is much more than freedom of thought. To believe in cognitive liberty is to believe that the individual is absolute sovereign over their own consciousness. It is an extension of the concepts of freedom of thought and self-ownership. It is a reaction against the prevailing assumption that other people have the right to tell you what you can do with your mind and body in situations that carry only a personal-risk.

Terence McKenna writes:

“We’re playing with half a deck as long as we tolerate that the cardinals of government and science should dictate where human curiosity can legitimately send its attention and where it can not. It’s a preposterous situation. It is essentially a civil rights issue, because what we’re talking about here is the repression of a religious sensibility. In fact, not a religious sensibility, the religious sensibility.”

When we elect authorities we do so not to place limitations and controls on what we can do with our minds; they are meant to be guardians of our freedom, increasingly their focus has been the paternalistic infringement of basic liberties in the name of protection. Where the exercise of cognitive freedom doesn’t trespass on the freedom of others, as in the case of the freedom to use psychedelics, denying such a freedom is unjustifiable.

Almost all activitees bring with them an element of risk. Driving a car, for example, is a dangerous activity, but it is permitted because it serves an economic uility, joining the army is a dangerous profession, it is permitted because it serves the state’s interests. In short, you are allowed to keep the freedoms that are compatible with the needs and interests of the state and economy: protecting the individual has nothing to do with it. If we continue down this path, there will be a time where the human mind will be limitted to merely working and consuming.

People have been using psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms for thousands of years; in 2005 they were made illegal by Tony Blair. We need to seriously question the motives behind this move and analyse the arguments that justified it. Media analysis of the issue was scant, the “bigger issue” of civil liberties, cognitive, spiritual and religious freedom, was never discussed by simplistic media coverage. Users of psychedelics will always be a minority, our interests are simply not represented in the current political landscape, but they are legitimate interests.

We’re locking up hippies and mystics for activities that harm no one. My over-arching suspicion is that these laws are actually about controlling a form of political dissidence and a will to be a part of a social change. Psychedelic drugs often cause people to question the nature of our industrial/consumerist society and the constructed power-hierachies within it. Psychedelics can potentially present an individual with alternatives to the materialist mentality, with all its discontents, that the smooth-running of our economy depends on.

This movement is about returning to you the power to do with your mind and body what you see fit. You never consented to have such rights taken away, these laws came about largely through though misinformation, circumstantial historical/political interests,  and ignorance. They did not come about through a democratic process, nor are they reinforced by scientific evidence or practical reason. Claims that these totalitarian laws serve a social benefit are flawed.

Psychedelics cause spiritual experiences. They show people insights about their own nature and the nature of reality that the unaffected mind simply cannot imagine. There are realms of experience waiting for you: beautiful, glorious, sometimes terrifying, usually divine. The historical process by which these experiences became off-limits to you is one I implore you to investigate: you will see how little your interests were ever anything to do with it.

Join us. Now is the time for change.

Cognitive Liberty UK has set up a petition in order to force a debate on the decriminalisation of psilocybin mushrooms. If the petition gets 100,000 signatures, parliament will be forced to debate the issue: we have 12 months to achieve this, the deadline is 17/08/2012.

An easy way for you to help us reach this target is to post the petition or this article on your Facebook/Twitter and encourage others to do the same.

The petition requests that:

“possession and use of psilocybin containing mushrooms, in both fresh and prepared forms, is to be decriminalised. ”

To sign the petition click here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/7956

We feel that, of all psychedelics currently banned, the strongest case can be made for decriminalising magic mushrooms since:

1. According to >scientific research< , magic mushrooms are the amongst the least harmful of all banned substances. Harms and risks associated with them are a fraction of those associated with alcohol and tobacco, they even safer than cannabis. Despite this, they are currently ‘Class-A’ controlled substances.

2. Research indicates potential therapeutic value of psilocybin mushrooms.

3. Unlike some other psychedelics, magic mushrooms have been used for thousands of years, for religious and mystical purposes, all over the world. Evidence suggests that humans have been using magic mushrooms since around 5000 BC, they have been implicated in some of mankind’s earliest artistic works. Since they grow all over the world, including in the UK, they can be said to be a part of our cultural heritage and birth-rite. Despite this ancient tradition, the Blair regime fully criminalised the possession of psilocybin mushrooms in 2005. We hope that the law being not-long-established, will make it easier to overturn.

4. Unlike other banned substances, the role of magic mushrooms in producing religious, spiritual and mystical experience is incontrovertible.

5. Since the mushrooms grow in the wild and on unknowing-peoples’ property, the law is impossible to enforce.

6. Due to the nature of the psychological effects of magic mushrooms they present a very low risk of abuse.

Please feel free to post your views on why psilocybin mushrooms should be decriminalised below. We view the decriminalisation of psilocybin mushrooms to be the first important step in recognising the rights of UK citizens to use consciousness-expanding drugs and an important victory for cognitive liberty.

To sign the petition click here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/7956

To view other petitions relevant to cognitive liberty click here.

Please spread the word!

The author of ‘A Prophecy of A Declaration of Independence’ is believed to be Allen Cohen. It was read to a few thousand people who attended ‘The Love Pageant Rally’: a protest/party that took place in San Francisco on October 6th, 1966 – the day LSD became a controlled substance in The United States…

“When in the flow of human events it becomes necessary for the people to cease to recognize the obsolete social patterns which have isolated man from his consciousness and to create with the youthful energies of the world revolutionary communities of harmonious relations to which the two-billion-year-old life process entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind should declare the causes which impel them to this creation .

** We hold these experiences to be self-evident, that all is equal, that the creation endows us with certain inalienable rights, that among these are: the freedom of body, the pursuit of joy, and the expansion of consciousness ** and that to secure these rights, we the citizens of the earth declare our love and compassion for all conflicting hate-carrying men and women of the world.

We declare the identity of flesh and consciousness; all reason and law must respect and protect this holy identity.”

LSD was criminalised amidst a torrent of misinformation and fear-mongering media hysteria. Its ascocaition with radical left-wing politics during the 1960s hints at the true motivation for its criminalisation: the control of dissident groups and the repression of political will. The truth, scientific evidence, or reason, were never a part of the equation.

Amidst massive economic strain, countries seek to dispense with unnecessary and wasteful services. In this spirit, Greece has decided to call a cease-fire on its war on drugs; following the success story of Portugal’s complete decriminalisationof drug use Greece is to become the second EU nation to re-instate its citizen’s cognitive liberty to use recreational and psychedelic drugs.

 “Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannoupresented to the Greek Parliament the basic ideas of a new law concerning drugs. He announced that, for the first time, drug use will be fully decriminalized in Greece, on the condition that the drugs used harm only the behavior and the condition of the user. However, the Minister noted, the possession and supply of drugs and cultivating of cannabis remain punishable actions.

Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine, Intoxication, Hedonism and Ecstacy was said to be "Overjoyed" by the news. Revival of Eleusinian Mysteries expected.

The Minister explained that these actions would be now regarded as misdemeanors, as long as it effects only the user and no others. Minister Papaioannou noted that the law had to be changed because of the minor danger of specific actions. In this way, police will have the ability to deal more quickly and easily with more severe issues. The Minister stressed that the law has a therapeutic approach to the issue and every drug user will be treated as an addicted person who needs help rather than punishment.” (Source)

Greece will, no doubt, enjoy boosts to its tourist industry as members of other nations visit to make use of its new liberties. Aside from this, in the long run Greece stands to reduce its rather expensive prison population by one third. Many of those who would be imprisoned can now become contributing, tax-paying, members of society, whilst continuing to use drugs. Vast amounts of man-power can be put to better things now that burdensome drug laws no longer need to be enforced. Cognitive Liberty UK hopes that UK politicians will see the good sense in Greece’s new strategy, and will consider it as an addition to our own austerity measures.

As more and more nations seek to retreat from the war on drugs, the global project becomes more and more onerous and expensive for the nations who continue to fight it. We predict that by 2020, at least five more EU nations will decriminalise personal drug use.

Where the placebo effect refers to a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition that results from a simulated medical intervention, the nocebo effect refers to the opposite.

The nocebo effect shows us that, even when no real drug or cause for harm is present, negative beliefs and expectations can lead to negative physiological, behavioural, emotional, and/or cognitive consequences. It demonstrates the very real effects of conditioning and negative suggestions.

The general consensus amongst clinical psychologists is that psychedelic drugs can cause damage when the user undergoes an extremely emotionally negative or traumatic experience as a result of them.

The purpose of this article is to suggest that the dominant discourses around psychedelics in the both drugs education and the mass-media condition individuals to have negative experiences whilst using them where they otherwise might not.

Both the mass media and the prevailing approaches to drugs education emphasise the risks of using the substances and the potential, worst-case scenario, negative consequences. Consequently, users (especially first-time users) are primed to expect negative emotions, to be preoccupied with fears, anxieties and doubts. A self-fulfilling prophecy is set in place: the individual user suffers as a result.

This effect is made especially strong by the unique effects psychedelics have on the minds of many users: making them more sensitive and vulnerable to such negative influences. Seasoned users know the value of a ‘bad trip’, working through such experiences can often be a highly profitable exercise, they can teach you a great deal about yourself: media hysteria has people believing these fleeting emotional experiences are the beginning of the end, that they are en route to the permanent loss of their sanity. According to ‘Acid Dreams, The Complete Social History of LSD’ (download for free at library.nu) the number of ‘bad trips’ recorded by researchers increased during the anti-LSD political-media maelstrom of 60s & 70s America.

Good trips aren’t newsworthy, only the bad experiences and consequences associated with psychedelics ever make it to mainstream journalism. At the Breaking Convention earlier in the year I happened to meet some of the script writers for one of the UK’s leading soap-operas ‘Hollyoaks’: they told me that Channel 4 have a policy whereby any story involving drugs cannot have a happy ending: it occurred to me that I have never seen a story on mainstream British television, fictional or otherwise, that involves psychedelics having a positive effect on some one. Presumable other media outlets have similar policies. Such policies equate to a grotesque censorship of an important truth: many psychedelic users feel their experiences were good for them, caused positive transformations and showed them important insights.

The combined effort of the government and the mass-media can be viewed as a form of propaganda and mind-control. Psychedelics have political implications: they know it, that’s why they try to suppress them.

The battle sometimes seems unwinnable when we look at the size and power of the organisations that work against us: but we have an invincible ally, the truth. The truth will persist despite all efforts to cover it up: the truth will continue to show itself through open-minded personal experiences of psychedelics and through the hard work of academics and scientists around the world.

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