Ch-Ch-Changes: The History of Psychedelics and Decriminalization

By: Eli Smeds, Megan Delehanty, and Alexandra Andrade

History of Psychedelic Use

Psychedelics have been used ceremoniously and spiritually for centuries. Many psychedelic substances originate in plants, animals, and fungi. Such as Salvia Divinorum containing salvinorin a, Psilocybe Cubensis containing Psilocybin (metabolized into Psilocin), Mimosa Hostils bark containing N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, Bufo Alverious containing 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin, Ergot of rye containing the precursors to LSD, morning glory seeds containing LSA, and even sassafras bark containing MDA just to name a few we’ve discovered (fascinatingly there is strong evidence to show there are more naturally occurring psychoactive substances that exist in life underwater that we’ve not yet discovered). 

Psychoactive substances occur naturally around the world, and we have been aware of these substances and their profound effect on human consciousness for centuries before us. Many of the substances listed above have we’re used ceremoniously as entheogens (meaning “becoming divine within”) in spiritual and religious ceremonies to unlock the users inner spirit and sense of spirituality. These substances have a unique effect to give the users feelings of connectedness, nothingness, loss of ego and sense of self and visualizations of entities. Through these experiences tend to be intense they are also incredibly life changing and influential to the person taking the substance.

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Alternatives to the War on Drugs.

By Luis Chavez – Sanchez and Klerissa Zolciak

These are the sources Klerissa and I used during our week of responsibility. We choose these sources because we felt like they provide good and valid information on why the War on Drugs has failed and continues to fail so many people and provides valid information for creating alternative policies. Essentially, they acknowledge the War on Drugs as hurting millions of people within this country and internationally and provide substantial evidence on what can be done to promote new alternatives to the war on drugs.

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The Physiology Ethics and Economics of Study Stimulants

By Fernando Espinal – San Miguel, Avery Myers, and Rocio Ramirez Castro

We opened the conversation about study stimulants with two videos about ADHD medications, Ten facts about adderall (Youtube) and How does Adderall work? (Youtube Video 3 min). Stimulants help ADHD stimulate the brain to release dopamine, this surge of dopamine keeps the person from having to find stimulation in other things such as distractions and thus paves the way for the person to have a more focused attention span.  From there we explored the side effects inherent to stimulants, and specifically amphetamine, medications, which can be found at the American Addiction center: Adderall side effects. The main side effects of adderall are common to all stimulants and include: loss of appetite, increased susceptibility to depression,fast heartbeat, and insomnia.  After establishing this baseline knowledge, we divided the implications/ramifications/complications of “study drugs” into three categories: physiological, ethical, and economic. 

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Stigmatization & Conditional Acceptance

By Garland Hanson and Olympia Fulcher

https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2015/01/13/08/38/game-figure-598036_960_720.jpg

Our acceptance of drug users is conditional, similarly how our acceptance of drugs is conditional. We promote the use of antidepressants, go out to bars on the weekends, and praise recovering drug addicts. We stigmatize non-prescription amphetamines, and ‘hard’ drugs – the stuff we cook, the stuff we inject. Throughout the 1990’s, the dangers of marijuana commercials plagued our T.V.s, depicting marijuana users as lazy, useless, and addicted. A couple decades later, we’ve almost normalized marijuana use. Now marijuana is often described as a non-addictive, pain relieving, anti-emetic medication, prescribed to people that suffer from anxiety to those going through chemotherapy. Changes in state laws have led to changes in our norms and stigmas surrounding marijuana use.

Looking at the transformation in reputation marijuana and marijuana users have had, might we consider that other drugs and other drug users may be unnecessarily demonized and stigmatized as well?

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Psychedelic Harm Reduction at Music Festivals

A piece of art typically associated with psychedelics.

What is the Zendo Project?

The Zendo Project is an organization that attends festivals, music events, and other large gatherings to provide a space for those who are undergoing difficult psychedelic experiences, or trips. Their presence is of high value, as they hold the tools necessary to address these kinds of situations (Flemming, 2016). They provide guidance, safety, and resources that guests need in order to make the most of their experiences by encouraging exploration and open mindedness. Each team member is given training in order to act according to what any given situation presents and are typically paired with each other when helping individual guests. A significant message that their presence conveys is that safe and productive psychedelic experiences are possible without the need for law-enforcement based policies, with their more positive outcomes standing as proof of this idea. They also provide education on drug use so that fewer individuals find themselves making poor decisions as a result of not being exposed to information that could benefit them.

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TED talk: Johan Hari:Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

The TED talk by Johann Hari titled “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong” is very informative. One of the most influential moments is when the presenter says that connection is the opposite of addiction, not sobriety as so many people believe. He presents many different studies that promote this point of view. For example, he cites the country of Portugal, along with their decriminalization of drugs the country also made sure that each person had something that connected them back into society; providing immediate jobs for people who knew trades. Instead of stigmatizing and criminalizing them, which is actively done in the United States. It is important to remind people that they are human and deserve human connections regardless of their choices. Hari mentions that telling the “addicts in his life” that he loves them and will always be there for them. He reminds the audience that substance abuse often times spreads from a larger issue and actively reassuring them is a great way to show support to someone who is struggling. Honestly, I really liked this narrative because it humanizes substance users and substance abusers. Instead of stigmatizing and criminalizing these people, they accept their decisions and accepts that they should have the ability to reconnect to society. Instead of pushing these people to the sidelines, they should be encouraged to participate in society and form connections. Hari says, that the absence of this is often the cause of addiction because your body searches for connections within a substance. This was a very informative video and could be used to push and create new and change current drug polices within our country. Policies that actually help these people instead of criminalizing them.

Opiods : A Deep Crisis

For the past 20 years opiods have been a big crisis in the United States. Prescription rates for opiods have been falling since the year 2011. The factor that really alarmed me when I read this is that the number of opiod-related deaths kept rising exponentially.Deaths involving opioids are now responsible for more deaths in the United States than car accidents or gun-violence incidents. For a lot of years the death toll related to opiods was at the same rate as the opiod prescriptions but the same cannot be said for the last few years. Thanks to the addictions the opiods cause due to their strength it has opened the way for huge underground illegal market. It has also helped create a market for stronger and more dangerous illicit drugs such as heroin , which is an opiod often cut with fentanyl or any other drug the vendors can mix it with ao they gain more profit for less.After a sharp rise in deaths caused by heroin overdose ,those linked to fentanyl are skyrocketing. Before , opiod addictions usually started out with prescriptions , but as the prescription rates stopped increasing in 2011 many people progressed to illicit opiods like heroin. Since 2011 the number of opiod addictions that started thanks to heroin has been rising intensely. Opioids can provide strong pain relief, or analgesia, but they are also extremely addictive. The benefits and risks of taking prescription and illicit opioids arise from the activation of a signalling system used by the brain to regulate numerous functions.

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Medical Cannabis: A Review of Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, and Implications for the Acute Care Setting

By Margaux Albiez

Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, and Implications for the Acute Care Setting by Mary Barna Bridgeman and Daniel T. Abazia underlines the complex and confusing nature of legalizing medicinal cannabis use. According to the World Health Organization, marijuana is the most commonly cultivated, trafficked and abused illicit drug worldwide. Evidence shows that marijuana has a long history of use. It was widely used in the U.S. in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was first restricted by the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act and was fully criminalized by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, in which it was declared a Schedule I drug, defined as “having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medicinal use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety data for use of the treatment under medical supervision.” California was the first state to allow legal use of medicinal cannabis with the Compassionate Care Act of 1996.

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