In Safety and Efficacy of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-Assisted
Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With
Life-threatening Diseases, a new paper published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, a Swiss psychiatrist named Peter Gasser and his colleagues report on the first controlled trial of LSD in forty years. Gasser used LSD therapeutically to treat 12 people nearing the end of their lives, and concluded that their anxiety "went down and stayed down."
Many psychopharmacologists believe that psychedelics such as LSD have therapeutic benefits that could be realized if the strictures on them were loosened. David Nutt, the former UK government drugs czar, called the ban on psychedelics in therapeutic settings "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo". He devotes a whole chapter to psychedelics in his brilliant book on drug policy, Drugs Without the Hot Air. If you only read one book about drug policy, read that one.
Gasser's trial is positioned as a major move in the struggle to end the damage the War on Some Drugs has wrought on legitimate medicine. It used a randomized double-blind protocol to dose some dying patients (most with terminal cancer) with LSD as part of an anxiety-reduction strategy. The results were dramatic and positive. In a NYT story, some Gasser's patients relate their experiences with the therapy:
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Toronto Mayor Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford flew to Los Angeles for an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show. What followed was more than a little awkward. Kimmel is a great pains to hide his dislike of Ford, but he's not entirely successful. The hardest part comes at the end, when Kimmel confronts Ford with the fact that he is an out-of-control alcoholic, whose blackouts, binges, abuse and dangerous behavior are putting him, the city, and the people he loves at risk. Ford's total denial is genuinely pitiable. Joey Davilla has a very thorough writeup of the appearance, with links to the other parts of the video.
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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford declared yesterday to be "Bob Marley Day." It's hard to read the tea-leaves on this one: is it a wink-wink reach-out to the stoner vote from a mayor who admitted to smoking crack and who has been accused by his staff in sworn affidavits of both smoking weed at work and offering weed as a ransom in exchange for the return of his lost mobile phone? Is it a charm offensive aimed at Toronto's large Jamaican/West Indian population, many of whom were offended by the mayor's drunken impression of an angry, ranting patois-speaker? Is it a totally non-ironic celebration of a great musician and great political thinker (albeit one whose politics ran totally contrary to the mayor's own)?
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There's not much stigma attached to meth use in harsh North Korea, writes Los Angeles Times reporter Barbara Demick, interviewing North Koreans in China.
Some take it to treat colds or boost their energy; students take it to work late. The drug also helps curb appetites in a country where food is scarce. It is offered up as casually as a cup of tea, North Koreans say. "If you go to somebody's house it is a polite way to greet somebody by offering them a sniff," said Lee Saera, 43, of Hoeryong, also interviewed in China. "It is like drinking coffee when you're sleepy, but ice is so much better."
More: LA Times.
Kyle from Bumperactive writes, "On February 2, Washington and Colorado, the first two States to legalize recreational marijuana, compete in... The Smoke-A-Bowl! Bumperactive is celebrating the historic event with a special edition of three Smoke-A-Bowl IVXX tees, and a sticker set. $5.00 from the sale of every tee, and $2.00 from every sticker pack, benefits the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). 'Cause it ain't just about feelin' groovy. It's also about ending half a century of disastrous and inhumane drug control policy. We're 4% of the way there. Orders ship via USPS next business day!"
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Texas Governor Rick Perry has endorsed the idea of decriminalizing marijuana
. Note that this is not Colorado/Washington-style legalization (which would give Texas access to a flood of tax-dollars from a legal industry), rather, it's decriminalization, which means that you will get a ticket if you get caught with small amounts of pot. That deprives the state of tax revenue, but saves the state some money on the prison system, and allows police the all-important discretion to disproportionately hassle brown people and anyone they find suspicious. (via Reddit
More on yesterday's story about a nasal-wedged maggot scare in Portsmouth, RI's middle school (refresher: the Portsmouth Middle School sent parents a terrifying letter warning of a student Smartie-snorting epidemic and predicting that children would end up with maggots in their noses that feasted upon the sugar residue).
John McDaid, the investigative blogger who broke the story, tracked down Dr. Oren Friedman, Associate Professor, Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Pennsylvania, who was quoted in the letter the school sent home as warning that "frequent snorting could even rarely lead to maggots feeding on the sugary dust wedged inside the nose."
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Parents in Portsmouth, Rhode Island got a letter from the Portsmouth Middle School warning them that students may be snorting and smoking ground-up Smarties candies. The letter warns of risks of cuts, lung infections, nasal passage scarring, nose-wedged maggots (!), and future cigarette and drug use. John McDaid, a writer and local investigative blogger, got a comment from Portsmouth School Committee chair Dave Croston, who stated "I can say only that this behavior raises troubling issue of modeling."
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"This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others." — Harry Anslinger
, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (an early predecessor of the DEA).
In September, Ryan Lee Carroll won a national contest to watch the Breaking Bad finale with the cast of the show. On Tuesday, Carroll, 28, was arrested on drug charges when police raided his Fort Myers, Florida home. According to CNN
, Caroll "was reportedly taken into custody on felony charges of alleged possession of synthetic narcotics and a misdemeanor charge of allegedly keeping a shop or vehicle for dangerous drugs." Hopefully he had Saul McGill's number on him.
In America, more under-6 kids go to the emergency room from accidental overdose than from car-accidents -- they get hold of medicine and drink the whole bottle. Since 2007, epidemiologist Dr Daniel Budnitz has campaigned for the use of flow-restrictors in children's medicine bottles, which dramatically reduce the likelihood of an OD; manufacturers started adding restrictors to acetaminophen in 2011, but stopped there.
Flow restrictors have not been added to bottles of antihistamines, ibuprofen, and cough and cold preparations -- even where they contain the same concentration of acetaminophen as plain acetaminophen tinctures. These other medicines account for about half of all overdoses by small children.
In a long, investigative piece, Pro Publica and Consumer Reports exhaustively document the effectiveness of restrictors, the intransigence of bottom-line-focused pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the real risks of children's medicine overdoses.
An FDA mandate would solve the problem of liquid overdose at the stroke of a pen, but the FDA refuses, preferring a voluntary approach that is demonstrably not working -- and putting kids at risk. The incidence of overdose in small children is not only widespread -- it's rising. Flow-restrictors are cheap, effective low-hanging fruit. Restrictors were invented to improve dosing and reduce spills in adult medicine, and are thus of benefit to everyone, not just parents.
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My friend Erik Vance lives in Mexico City and writes about science. But, in the past year or so, his work covering ocean fisheries has brought him into contact with some of the fallout from the cocaine trade. That overlap lead to a recent piece for Slate
, where he writes that "there's no such thing as cruelty-free cocaine". If you care about sustainability, fair trade, and the power of consumer choice to change industry practices in fishing, then you should care about those things when it comes to drugs, he writes. More provocatively, Vance likens buying coke today to donating to the Nazi party in the 1930s.
Pot became legal in Colorado today and the AP is on it, with a slice of life piece showing different perspectives on the new marijuana industry's first day on the job. Particularly interesting was a short interview with the proprietor of a "marijuana concierge" service, which (for a hefty fee) will shelter older smokers uncomfortable with their own desire to try weed from both the younger, rowdy "stoner" crowd and public scrutiny. Around $300 buys you a three-hour tour in a tinted-window limousine, help choosing your buds, and breakfast at Whole Foods.
Image: CC licensed. Some rights reserved by cannabisdestiny
A BBC nature documentary crew has captured footage of young dolphins passing around a pufferfish. They characterize the activity as "careful manipulation" and speculate that the dolphins are getting a small dose of the pufferfish's neurotoxin in order to enter a "trance-like state." The documentary was produced by John Downer, a highly nature documentarian, and a zoologist on the crew also confirms the "dolphins get high" hypothesis.
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Berlin-based artist Sarah Schoenfeld dropped tiny bits of various psychoactive drugs on exposed film where they reacted with the chemicals on the negatives and then made very large prints of the images. Above, Crystal Meth. At right, Ecstasy. "All of the substances behaved very differently: the shapes and colors that appeared showed unique characteristics and revealed unique internal universes," she writes. You can see the images in the series here: "All You Can Feel." And here's an interview with Schoenfeld in Kaltblut Magazine. (Thanks, Jason Tester!)