http://www.amazon.com/Buzzed-Straight-Abused-Alcohol-Ecstasy... (not an affiliate link)
However, MDMA should certainly not be taken more than a couple of times a year. It's not something you mess around with, we don't know enough about how it affects brain chemistry yet.
There are those who find those two sentences a bit curious, and those who do not.
Mountain climbing, rock climbing, skydiving, scuba diving, and even just walking across the street all risk serious bodily injury, brain injury, and death. Yet most people won't freak out if you choose to engage in one of these activities.
But if you dare to swallow a pill every now and then, you're treated as a reckless, immoral madman.
It's because people understand what can go wrong and how it goes wrong in all of the activities you listed above. However I'll wager that many illegal drug users don't know what goes on at all and have no clue what can go wrong. Even when they do, I think it's pretty smart to acknowledge that brain chemistry is far more complicated than car crashes, and it's harder to figure out the unexpected / long term effects of one than the other.
I'm not really sure that knowledge of what can go wrong explains much about the different attitudes society at large has towards drug users vs people who engage in other risky activities (including simply riding in a car).
Most people know that if you ride in a car you could get in to a car accident and you could be maimed or killed or wind up a vegetable. How does knowing these potential effects explain the differing attitudes towards car drivers vs drug users?
With rock climbing or driving or scuba diving, it's an "It might happen to you, but if you avoid these extreme situations it won't" situation whereas with taking drugs you can't really avoid pitfalls, other than taking care not to take too large a dose.
With drugs it's likelier to be "you get smaller amounts of damage if you take smaller doses" or plain "we don't know what the fuck this thing does".
I agree that it doesn't explain much about the attitudes. The default attitude should be ambivalent until we know more, not hostile.
Except that there are no such guarantees. It could still happen, and it does happen all the time. These are not risk-free activities, even when performed with all reasonable care. Of course, there are more and less extreme ways to engage in these activities, just as there are more and less extreme ways to use drugs.
You could, for instance, drive really recklessly, speed, or drive drunk. You're exposing yourself to more risk this way. Likewise, you could dive in more dangerous waters, and expose yourself to more risk. There are also known dangerous drug combinations, like mixing opiates and alcohol and going swimming. (In fact, mixing most any drug with alcohol is probably a bad idea, but there are some that are more dangerous than others.) And just as there are safer ways to drive or scuba dive, there are safer ways to use drugs.
Saying "we don't know what the fuck this thing does" is not really true for most drugs. Most drugs do have rather well defined effects. Of course, when you're dealing with black market drugs, the risk is greater that you won't get the drug you're expecting, or that it'll be cut with some other drug you weren't expecting, or that the dose will be different from what you expected, but there are ways to mitigate these risks. And not all illegal drugs need come from the black market. There are legal sources of illegal drugs, paradoxical though it may sound.
The other interesting thing is that not all drugs that are illegal in one place are illegal in all other places (or times, for that matter). And there are plenty of legal and yet quite dangerous drugs (like alcohol and nicotine, not to mention a plethora of prescription and even over-the-counter drugs). So the legality or illegality of a given drug need not have much to do with the its danger. In fact, the scheduling (ie. "illegalization") of some drugs has often driven people to use more dangerous legal drugs.
Of course, this doesn't disprove other legitimate studies. The interview you link took place well after that scandal.
That said, for those who are interested, here is the paper that the article is referring to:
Griffiths, R.R., Johnson, M.W., Richards, W.A., Richards, B.D., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (in press). Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: Immediate and persisting dose-related effects. Psychopharmacology.
... and here is the previous study he did:
Griffiths, R.R., Richards, W.A., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2006). Psilocybin can occasion mystical experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology, 187, 268-283.
...which was the study related to the aforementioned interview:
There are a few (DOB?) which have safety factors around 2-4x, which is really unsafe.
erowid.org is probably a much better source of info on this topic than hacker news, though.
I spy a repeat...
> It should also be added that when consuming raw nutmeg, only 5-15% of the mass consumed is an essential oil fraction, of which only roughly 4% is myristicin, indicating the amount present overall in the nut is from 0.2-0.6%.
> Symptoms usually appear three to six hours after ingestion of 1-3 whole nutmegs or 5-15 gm of the grated spice.
Abnormally large quantities of a substance may be poisonous? Surprise! There is no WAY anywhere even close to that amount gets in anything we give to children. It takes my family several years to get through a single nutmeg. Myristicin is also part of anise, dill, carrot, fennel and black pepper.
"This is just pure bullshit."
Followed by a list of information about the dangerous psychoactive compound in nutmeg.
5-15 grams (on the low end) is not a lot of food item.
A teaspoon = about 4grams.
A tablespoon = about 14 grams.
Here's 64.9 grams for less than $5.
"Ingestion of five or more grams of nutmeg causes acute nutmeg poisoning, which includes giddiness, hallucinations, and feelings of depersonalization. Symptoms usually appear three to six hours after ingestion of 1-3 whole nutmegs or 5-15 gm of the grated spice. Recovery usually occurs within 24 hours. Nevertheless, duration of action may extend beyond several days and even include death. /Nutmeg/ [Green RC, Jr; JAMA 171 (10): 1342-4 (1959); Painter JC et al; Clin Toxicol 4 (1): 1-4 (1971)] PEER REVIEWED"
So basically, somebody trying to repeat the cinnamon challenge, but with nutmeg, and ate a heaping tablespoon of the stuff would introduce a lethal dosage of the substance into their body.
So your argument is, because you personally only tap a little on your eggnog once a year, it's suddenly not a lethally toxic psychoactive substance in doses not much above the range that people might use in cooking?
http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blspice3.htm (recipes that all use at least 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg)
A gram is a unit of weight. A teaspoon is a unit of volume. A teaspoon of some things might be 4 grams, but not your average grated nutmeg.
Now even if I generously took your large overestimation as fact, and by my sheer lack of luck some person ate a whole pie by themselves, the amount of nutmeg is below even the lower end of that range (5 to 15 grams, by the way, not 0.05 to 0.15 grams).
Finally, you conveniently ignored the last part of my previous post. There are many household substances that you can take undue amounts of. This does not make them more dangerous than most hard drugs. How many nutmeg deaths have there been recorded? How many hard drug deaths have there been recorded? I think number of deaths is a good enough metric of danger. I'll let the jury decide this one.
If you care about making a proper argument, at least use acetaminophen. That's a substance that has actually taken a significant number of lives. And for the record, it wasn't me who downvoted you.
EDIT> ... but it won't matter since their scales will be calibrated. If you use a scale you're measuring weight, not mass.
Probably some of the most bizarre arguments I've ever seen. If it wasn't for the downvotes I'd think you both were agreeing with me.
Specifically to your points, thought you haven't refuted the specific dangers of the two psychoactive components of nutmeg.
"(5 to 15 grams, by the way, not 0.05 to 0.15 grams)"
The smaller figure is the amount of myristicin required to induce death in a grown adult, using your own math.
Most pie recipes I've seen use about 1/4 to 1/2 of a teaspoon of nutmeg powder (I linked to some recipes since you didn't notice).
"There are many household substances that you can take undue amounts of. This does not make them more dangerous than most hard drugs. "
Sure, I could drink a gallon of bleach, or drink water until my blood thins out and I die (it happens) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16614865/ns/us_news-life/t/woman...
Is that your hangup? That a tablespoon is more than most people would consume? Really? Wow...pedantic.
Did I not even link to a study of ER visits where the only cause was nutmeg consumption? Are you even clicking the links I provided?
Just because most people don't do a thing doesn't make it dangerous. Most people don't consume gasoline either.
"based on what specifically?"
"you're just wrong!"
Common HN, we're above that kind of childishness...let's get specific.
Either nutmeg contains Myristicin, which is deadly at about .15 grams of the substance, which occurs in natural concentrations in nutmeg or it doesn't. (it does) We're not talking about car loads of the stuff.
A dosage of about a tablespoon of nutmeg contains a lethal amount of Myristicin, or it doesn't. (it does)
We appear to be in violent agreement about the percentages, dosages and other particulars, so what parts of my statement appears to be the problem?
For fun, I looked up some more:
Comprehensive Review in Toxicology for Emergency Clinicians, Bryson, P. D.
"The chemical agents which are thought to give nutmeg its psychoactive effects are myristicin and elemicin, which are amphetamine-like compounds similar to MDMA...The ingestion of as little as 1 to 2 tablespoonsful, which may contain 5 to 10g in each tablespoon, is capable or producing psychoactive effects described as hallucinations, euphoria, and other distortions of reality as well as many undesirable effects.
The symptoms begin 3 to 6 hours after ingestion and generally resolve in 24 hours. The first CNS effects are giddiness, tingling, dizziness, apprehension, anxiety, and a generalized feedling of excitement. Later, euphoria, visual hallucinations, distortions in time and space, reality detachment, sensations of limb loss, and fear of death may occur. This may progress to extreme drowsiness and lethargy that persist for a day or more."
And another from Emergency Medicine News
"The study itself conducted a retrospective chart review of the California Poison Control System electronic database for cases of isolated nutmeg exposure during the years 1997 – 2008. The authors identified 119 single-substance exposures, collected descriptive data, and compared intentional recreational abuse (86 cases) with unintentional exposures (33 cases)."
On Elemicin, the other psychoactive component of nutmeg.
"One study found it to comprise 2.4% of the fresh essential oil."
So nutmeg is probably toxic in slightly lower doses than I've been claiming, but it's hard to find specific toxicity studies that isolate both compounds.
Psilocybin, marijuana, and LSD should be decriminalized and approved for medicinal use across the US. Control, quality, and safety would be much improved over the recreational and black market dealings we are left with today--thus, invalidating much of the "war on drugs" and taking a huge cost off the taxpayer and turning it into much needed revenue. Law enforcement would then be freed of significant resources to focus on the more insidious drugs (crack/heroin/meth).
Spores do not contain psilocybin.
Here is one seller: http://www.thehawkseye.com/ that I remember.
*by pet, I mean animals
I'm particularly skeptical of medical research. An ex-girlfriend was a student at Harvard Medical School and worked in three different labs on drug development. Two of the three studies all the labs published in a year contained data that was either pruned or simply misreported to exaggerate the effect of the drug. I know that's anecdotal evidence, but there's a lot of grant money floating around in medical research and all the incentives are skewed towards positive results, which often leads to bad science. I fear this may be yet another example (speculating, admittedly).
I haven't read this study yet, but I know that Johns Hopkins is doing another study where one of the groups actually takes meditation lessons for six months before taking the drug. These studies are mostly meant to validate the methodology and to demonstrate that they can be used safely in a well chosen population when done under professional supervision. It's not really meant to accurately measure what percentage of the population at large would be able to safely achieve ego death and/or have a primary religious experience.
Also, I agree with you that medical studies are generally sketchy, but these aren't medical studies. These studies might eventually be used by a drug company in convincing the FDA to grant a new drug investigation permit, but probably not for at least another 5 - 10 years.
The ideal study, I believe, would consistent of a statistical cross-section of a particular culture/society. It's highly unlikely that the more socially conservative elements in said culture would participate in such a study. This may, in part, explain the somewhat shared nature of the remarks by the participants.
Sometimes, it's not even a matter of preparation. A friend and I decided that we wanted to experience a psychedelic. We spent the year prior to our experience reading trip reports and literature, listening to lectures, etc. and had seemingly done everything within reason to prepare. Yet when the moment came, my friend fought it with every ounce of his being and is still recovering from the anxiety this experience caused nearly two years ago.
The fact is, psychedelics are NOT for everybody. To get the positive effects this study reports requires a good deal of preparation, a proper set and setting, and a trusted sitter who can help right the ship if anxiety starts to creep in. Even then, there are those among us--like my friend--who are unable to let go of control and surrender themselves to the experience.
Certainly one can make the argument that legalization/regulation could provide greater controls over who swallows the pill and who doesn't, but I'm not sure that is true. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that something that can be so beneficial to an individual can at the same time be so destructive (referring to the legal consequences this time). But, the way it stands now, someone who is serious about pursuing this experience can grow the mushrooms themselves for relatively little cost and at relatively little risk (provided they don't sell to others).
The current situation (with perhaps some softer penalties against possession) of limited medical research and legally available spores seems to me satisfactory. Is it ideal? No, certainly not. But is it optimal, given the reality of politics, law, and our attitude towards "drugs"? Perhaps.
I'd say you overdid it.
> The fact is, psychedelics are NOT for everybody.
Neither is alcohol. But if you are over 18, this should not be for the government to decide.
That is certainly possible. I've often thought that was true for my friend (who would read worst case scenario trip reports so he could know what he was "dealing with"). The year of preparation wasn't intentional actually, we were just unable to get our hands on any and weren't in a position (living on campus) to be growing ourselves.
>if you are over 18, this should not be for the government to decide.
In an ideal world, I would agree with this. But I think the reality of the situation is that, unless it accompanied some broader systemic change, if psychedelics alone (or just mushrooms) were legalized and nothing else changed, they would be immediately abused and the media would cover sensational stories of people hurting themselves, driving under the influence, freaking out, etc. Take salvia as an example.
Again, I agree with you in principle. I just think pragmatically it's not that simple. Perhaps legalization would be better, perhaps not.
It would be interesting to see this experiment repeated with more "mainstream" subjects or something like 30 Wall St bankers.
Just to confirm what Alex3917 said, they did ask us to follow a meditation program before the first of either 2 or 3 sessions(I ended up with 3).
I don't know all of their selection criteria, but for the study I was in they were looking for people with existing "spiritual practices" and little or no previous psychedelic experiences.
For business, you surely do want to make selling legal. And comfortable.
You have to actively kick the thing out of the door in order to bootstrap a psych tourism business.
However, it's not a problem since there are no police on the island.
(technically the netherlands only decriminalized marihuana; practically use and possession of user quantities go nearly always unpunished)
Except... it wouldn't because these people only required 4 doses, each a month apart, and then had better results 14 months later than every "take daily for life" psych drug on the market today
Psychedelics require preparation, and active cooperation on the patients side. If you think you can be depressed and suicidal and eat a mushroom and have it all gone you are in for a world of bad trip, that will have consequences after the bad trip: insanity, panic attacks, anxiety, and symptoms of PTSD. Basically, psychedelics aren't an immediate fix, they require preparation before and taking actions after the trip.
Psychonautics requires learning; experienced and knowledgeable people can guide their mind to benefit greatly from a bad trip, but most people are not be able to handle it, and delve even deeper into depression or whatever. Some killed themselves afterwards or during. Some have peed their pants while crying and shaking throughout the trip but came out better. Some had absolutely wonderful experiences with psychedelics.
From personal experience, your set and setting will determine whether you discover the wonders of the universe or hallucinate a penis staring at your face, thinking you are being raped for 8 hours. I am not joking.
People like immediate fixes, hence why psychedelic therapy doesn't get much attention.
Sadly, the immediate fixes are not as sure fire as they are made to sound. Most people I've known on medications for depression and anxiety are juggling prescriptions and dosages to retain the benefits of the drugs. While SSRIs may not give you a "bad trip", they can have paradoxical effects as well as a host of terrible side effects, and withdrawal can be long and difficult. Benzodiazepenes are still widely prescribed and tolerance and addiction build rapidly in most people. For many people these work great but for many they do not, or never completely.