Skip to main content

Shrooms and dying

As per my earlier post on Terry Pratchett's wrenching, moving documentary, here's Dr. Stephen Ross on the end of life:
Today I want to talk about a project of ours at NYU using psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to treat end-of-life distress in people with cancer. I also want to talk about where Americans die—generally, I think we die in the wrong place in this country—and about the domains of palliative care and what that means. Additionally, I want to discuss spirituality and the phenomenology and prevalence of end-of-life distress and the link between spiritual states as potential buffers against end-of-life distress and psilocybin as a potential modality for increasing spiritual states in patients coping with such distress.
This is via Bob Jesse, a researcher on psilocybin, who posts over at the RBC.  I find it interesting how that is Mark Kleiman's home as well—for those of you don't know, Kleiman is sort of the resident drug policy concern troll, a reliable anti-anti-drug war voice who is nevertheless fairly well-informed about the issues.

I suspect there's some room for commonality here.  Most of the action in the drug policy reform community is on the big-time drugs: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, maybe ecstasy; and rightly so, because that's where all the money, crime, and violence is.  The psychedelics, on the other hand, have never been more than a fringe topic by comparison.  They'll simply never be as popular as the big-time drugs, for the simple reason that the average person finds the experience at least unsettling, and probably rather unpleasant, especially if they're not prepared.  Psychedelics aren't the kind of drugs you do on a whim without any experience.

Yet they're jammed in Schedule I as some of the "most dangerous" drugs (note that both cocaine and meth are Schedule II, a less restrictive category), a classification that is self-evidently preposterous, flies in the face of all experience and research on the subject, and really undermines the whole classification scheme of the Controlled Substances Act.  It's obvious to anyone who looks at the issue for five minutes that the DEA has been flagrantly abusing their emergency scheduling power to jam all sorts of newer psychedelics into Schedule I regardless of effect.  I think (hope) even someone like Kleiman should be able to get behind a proposal to set psychedelics aside into their own special category where they could possible be prescribed, especially in light of all the recent studies.  As Dr. Ross notes:
There has been an unexpected renaissance in the long-taboo field of psychedelic research, highlighted by an ongoing study at John Hopkins University which recently concluded that a single dose of psilocybin (still a Schedule 1 substance in the U.S.) brought about “a measureable personality change lasting at least a year… in the part of the personality known as openness, which includes traits related to imagination, aesthetics, feelings, abstract ideas, and general broad-mindedness.” 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

On Refusing to Vote for Bloomberg

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg is attempting to buy the Democratic nomination. With something like $400 million in personal spending so far, that much is clear — and it appears to be working at least somewhat well, as he is nearing second place in national polls. I would guess that he will quickly into diminishing returns, but on the other hand spending on this level is totally unprecedented. At this burn rate he could easily spend more than the entire 2016 presidential election cost both parties before the primary is over. I published a piece today outlining why I would not vote for Bloomberg against Trump (I would vote for Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, or Biden), even though I live in a swing state. This got a lot of "vote blue no matter who" people riled up . They scolded me and demanded that I pre-commit to voting for Bloomberg should he win the nomination. The argument as I understand it is to try to make it as likely as possible that whatever Democrat wins t

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves tha