Archive

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Researchers at John Hopkins University have found that the active-ingredient in magic mushrooms (psilocybin) causes positive lasting changes in personality. The trait enhanced is ‘openness’ which “encompasses aesthetic appreciation and sensitivity, imagination and fantasy, and broad-minded tolerance of others’ viewpoints and values.”

The change towards openness was most noted in subjects who reported ‘mystical experiences’ as a result of the trial. Of the 51 participants, 30 had mystical experiences confirmed by a standardised means of assessing mystical experience.

“The mystical experience has certain qualities,” MacLean said. “The primary one is that you feel a certain kind of connectedness and unity with everything and everyone.” People also reported feelings of joy, MacLean said.

The study participants completed two to five eight-hour psilocybin sessions, with consecutive sessions separated by at least three weeks. Participants were informed they would receive a “moderate or high dose” of the drug during one of their sessions, but neither they nor the session monitors knew when.

“The remarkable piece is that psilocybin can facilitate experiences that change how people perceive themselves and their environment,” said Roland Griffiths, a study author and professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Johns Hopkins University of Medicine in Baltimore.

Griffiths believes psilocybin may have therapeutic uses and is currently studying whether the hallucinogen has a use in helping cancer patients handle the depression and anxiety that comes along with a diagnosis. It is also being studied for possibly aiding longtime cigarette smokers overcome their addiction.

“There may be applications for this we can’t even imagine at this point,” he says. “It certainly deserves to be systematically studied.”

The research, approved by Johns Hopkins’ Institutional Review Board, was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Magic mushrooms grow in the wild in the UK. The season for ‘Liberty Caps’ (the native variety of magic mushrooms) is just starting, they are most commonly found in sheep fields. They have been used for thousands of years for personal development, but  Labour made them completely illegal in 2005.

It’s a class-A drug with some of the lowest risks/harms when compared to other drugs. It’s a class-A drug which therapists want to use to treat alcoholism, opiate-addiction and depression. Research has indicated again and again that it can be of great help to those dealing with the fear and anxiety of terminal illnesses. It’s most well-known effects are to encourage feelings of unity and love in relation to fellow man, to encourage religiosity and spirituality.

When we look at the motives people have for taking LSD, it should seem obvious that imprisoning them is a perversion of justice. People take LSD for spiritual revelation and healing, to bring about positive transformation in their lives. Whether or not this is a sensible approach to reaching those goals is an open question: but it should be clear that they have committed no moral wrong.

We are taking mystics and locking them up with murders and rapists. For what? Where are the winners in all of this? A deterrent? Yet no one is deterred by the law, people may be deterred by drugs education and the greatly over-stated mental health risks associated with LSD, but it seems the very act of criminalising a drug simply turns it into a forbidden fruit and encourages use.

An individual LSD user need only posses two tabs to be accused of having an “intent to supply”, but two tabs is generally viewed as a single (quite weak) dose. In effect, if an individual possesses ANY amount of LSD, the current system assumes they are drug dealers: this is nonsense.There is a massive moral difference between an individual having LSD for personal use and intending to supply it: for in the latter case he is putting others at risk, in the former only himself.

The average sentence for possession of LSD is just under two years, but in terms of future prospects every prison-sentence is, to some extent, a life-sentence: 6 out of 10 employers refuse to hire an ex-convict out-rite, the individual cannot accrue employment experience or education in the two years he is locked away. Long-term prospects are severely damaged.

Whilst the individual psychedelic user has committed no moral wrong, the state’s position is morally dubious. Firstly, the psychedelic user commits no harm to others, the state imposes a harm on the individual by imprisoning them and thoroughly derailing their lives. It justifies this action by claiming that it is “making an example of the users so as to deter others”, in doing so it objectifies that individual, it uses them as a means to an end in an unconscionable way.

Even if the laws worked as a deterrent (they don’t) a clear social harm is done. The individual psychedelic user, who may well have been in employment and paying taxes or en route via education to being in such a position, has had their prospects derailed: society suffers. Not to mention that the way the state has treated the individual will breed anger, hatred and contempt, and make them less likely to harmoniously work with society in the future. Aside from this, the tax-payer has to foot the bill for this total waste of time, over £35,000/year per inmate, then there are the court costs, the law enforcement costs etc. The financial burden on the mental health service are only exacerbated by laws which force production underground: making quality and dosage dangerously unpredictable to individual users. The basic goal of protecting individuals isn’t achieved.

In the background, scientists struggle to gain access to the drug which may have revolutionary treatment potential in various mental health applications. The research the government ought to be basing its policies on is thoroughly stifled by the laws as they stand. Early research suggested could result from correct application of LSD in the treatment of  alcohol and drug addiction, depression and other mental health conditions will never been explored whilst it remains illegal. These conditions cost society vast sums of money, and they are ills that may well be treatable with this remarkable substance.

The current laws on drugs are symptomatic of the general trend of overcriminalisation in this country: instead of punishing moral wrongs, criminal law is used to “solve” every problem, punish every mistake (instead of making proper use of civil penalties), and coerce citizens into conforming their behavior to satisfy social engineering objectives. Under Tony Blair’s government over 3000 new laws were created, almost a new law for each day they ruled, this 85,000 strong prison-population continues to boom (a 66% increase in the last decade), do we really want to continue in this direction?

Possession of LSD for personal use should not be a crime. Large scale unlicensed dealing of LSD should be a crime. Researchers, scientists and clinicians should be allowed to thoroughly investigate the chemical, its risks and its potential clinical applications. Given that its risks are seemingly no higher than other prescription psychoactive medication, LSD should be available to those it can help through the NHS. Licenced psychotherapists and psychiatrists should be allowed to use the chemical for treatment of patients if they see fit.

Those wishing to use the substance for spiritual and religious development should be encouraged to do so under the supervision of a trained and licensed psychotherapist.

Since research indicates both genetic and mental-health correlates in individuals who are susceptible to the negative effects of LSD, it is plausible that physicians could test individuals to ensure safety: individuals could then get LSD via paid prescriptions.

One of the key advantages of this is that the quality, purity, and dose of the LSD would be controlled by experts, making it much safer than the present system. Further: LSD would lose much of its allure, it would no longer be seen as a rebellious act: any more than going to the doctor to pick up Prozac is seen as a rebellious act, illicit use would drop.

Originally posted by knowdrugs.net

Lucas is the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, and the Green Party’s first and only Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. She was elected for the Brighton Pavilion constituency at the 2010 general election.

The Green Party are committed to decriminalisation of drugs. You can read their policy on drugs here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/policypointers/ppdrugs.pdf

“The prohibition of drugs doesn’t work. It does not protect society in any way, and makes it more difficult to minimise the harm caused by drug use. Addicts are treated as criminals, rather than patients in need of treatment. Every year, tens of thousands of people are put through the criminal justice system, needlessly paralysing the resources of the police, courts, and prisons. Families are torn apart, and people are made jobless and homeless just because they are criminalised by outdated laws. Drug barons are profiting from prohibition and using that money to corrupt those individuals and institutions that should protect society.”

Following the announcement that the Lib Dems would debate the possibility of changing the current drug policy at their party conference, it was decided by the party that an independent panel should consider legalising cannabis as part of a wholesale review of drug laws.

The motion was passed with only one or two votes against, according to Andrew Wiseman, the chair of the Lib Dems’ federal policy committee. The experts will consider whether possession of any currently illegal drug should remain a criminal offence. The panel would carry out an impact assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to evaluate, “economically and scientifically”, the legal framework prohibiting drugs.

The motion was passed by the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham as a senior lawyer told activists that current drug policy is not working.

Caroline Chatwin, an expert in drugs policy at the University of Kent, said the Lib Dems’ motion represented “an important and positive step forward in the recognition that the harm caused by drug policy can be greater than the harm caused by drugs themselves”.

“Every year, many people, particularly young people, are criminalised for the possession of drugs when, apart from their drug use, they are otherwise law abiding citizens,” she said.

“This is a state of play that causes harm to both individuals who are criminalised and society in general, which suffers the consequences of large numbers of disaffected and marginalised members. […] It is particularly damaging that particular groups, such as disadvantaged black males, are disproportionately stopped by the police on suspicion of minor drug offences, breeding disaffection and alienation amongst whole communities.”

Alistair Webster QC, a crown court recorder and chairman of the Lib Dem lawyers association, told the conference:

 “I have practised in the courts, both as an advocate and judge, for over 30 years and it’s plain to anybody who has spent time in that way that the drug policy which we have followed since 1967 is not working.”

Ewan Hoyle, from South Glasgow, proposed the policy and told the conference that politicians had not tackled the issue because of “cowardice” in the face of a potentially hostile backlash in the press. He said:

“The war on drugs is not working, but it’s essential that we keep fighting. Drugs are harmful, they can take young people to places that are every parent’s worst nightmare: insanity, disease, destitution, prostitution, death. […] We have to keep fighting in the best way we can to stop young people from all walks slipping into lives of misery and early graves. […] We are still fighting a massive 21st century drug problem with 20th century methods.”

Mr Hoyle called for cannabis to be sold in pharmacists where it could be regulated.

“The motion calls for models of cannabis regulation to be investigated. I personally favour sale from pharmacies. […] If we want to send a message that cannabis is harmful – and we should how better to do so than through a health professional at the point of intended purchase? […] No pharmacist is going to suggest the customer progresses to the use of heroin or crack. And no pharmacist would sell to a child.”

Mr Hoyle said in Portugal and Switzerland they had followed expert advice to treat drug use as a medical rather than a moral or criminal issue. In the UK, political cowardice has resulted in a £6 billion illegal drug market. Hoyle said:

 “It isn’t taxed and the vast majority of the profits go into the hands of organised criminal gangs. This includes millions of pounds to the Taliban in Afghanistan, with which they can purchase the bombs and bullets that murder our brave soldiers.” and accused the current policy of “enriching criminals.”

George Miles told the conference: “Taxation of cannabis could net £2 billion a year, says one estimate, which would build hospitals instead of funding terrorists.”

Any money made available by these reforms would be used for education, treatment and rehabilitation.

Cognitive Liberty UK would like to express gratitude to those politicians who are brave enough to honestly explore and examine the issue. The Lib Dem conference decision is a victory for common-sense and a big step forward in adequately protecting the cognitive liberties of British people.

1. Consumerism depends on discontent. If you were content, you wouldn’t feel the need to buy all the pointless stuff on offer: if every one was content the system would break. Adverts are designed to produce discontentment, simple as that. All forms of true spirituality work towards contentment and therefore pose a threat to consumerism and the capitalist system. The myriad forms of spirituality all warn against selfishness, greed, envy and desire: spirituality and consumer-capitalism are thus diametrically opposed.

2. Psychedelics can cause spiritual insights about the nature of the self and the illusory nature of the “material” world. They are known to bring about states of ego-death, i.e. self-less-nes, the same goal of many of the major religious and mystical traditions. The endless pursuit of consumer-capitalist goals, with all the greed and selfishness that is entailed by that pursuit, is challenged by the insights provided by psychedelics. Psychedelics can show individuals how insignificant the accumulation of material wealth is.

3. Psychedelics may offer insights that make people less willing to “work the jobs they hate for shit they don’t need” (thanks Tyler). The option to not comply with the games of consumer-capitalism is excluded from the mass-media, the establishment, and the discourses it presents.

4. Psychedelics are more rewarding than the socially constructed goals that the system depends on the population striving for. They produce experiences whose value far outreaches the experiences possible in the realms of the five-senses. They are cheap (sometimes free) to produce, are difficult to incorporate into the system of money trading, and thus provide an inadequate incentive to keep people working. Psychedelics are thus problematic to a capitalist system.

5. Psychedelics allow people to see through the constructed and artificial power hierarchies that protect the privileges of small minorities: the status quo and the wealthy. In short, they show people the unreality of power and authority. Guess what? those who claim power and authority would rather people believe they have it. Power is socially and psychologically constructed: The “Prime-Minister” only has power because enough people believe he has power, if no one in the country believed he has power, he would not have power.

6. The smooth-running of the economy, the expansion of consumerist capitalism, the progress of the military-industrial machine, and the protection of the wealth and privileges of the small elite (in terms of wealth distribution) that control these systems, is aided by a set of delusions, assumptions, and games, that the status quo would rather went unquestioned and unchallenged. Examples of such games/delusions are: that little bits of paper have “value”, that humanity is divided into “nations”, that laws have some kind of reality to them outside the heads of those who believe in/enforce them, that being a soldier is admirable, that we are all in competition, that you need a load of pointless shit to be happy. Psychedelics allow people to see through these systems of control and thus present a threat to the present power-structures.

7. The state understands progress mainly in terms of economic progress. Psychological wellbeing and spiritual developement are not priority: especially where they conflict with economic progress.

8. Much of the drug-legislation we work under, finds its genesis in attempts by the US government in the 60s to control left-wing radicals who: firstly,could be arrested and silenced under the pretense of drug-laws (because they often used drugs) and secondly, often used drugs, particularly LSD, to raise political awareness and show people the truth of what was (is) going on. Edgar Hoover, the then First Director of the F.B.I. wrote in a top-secret FBI memo:

“Since the use of marijuana and other narcotics is widespread among members of the New Left, you should be on the alert to opportunities to have them arrested on drug charges […] Any information concerning the fact that individuals have marijuana or are engaging in a narcotics party should be immediately furnished to local authorities and they should be encouraged to take action.” (Lee and Shlain, 1985)


Conclusion

Psychedelics were never banned for the sake of you as an individual, they were banned to maintain a particular type of social order.

Those who currently have power desire only one thing of you: that you keep working to make them more wealthy; any other goals or liberties that do not tie in to that project can be discarded: this is why your cognitive, spiritual and religious liberty is simply not a part of the government’s agenda.

An excellent historical overview of the relationship between psychedelics and the Western establishment can be found in:

Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond is available to read at Erowid: http://www.erowid.org/library/books_online/acid_dreams.pdf

 

%d bloggers like this: