Should psychedelics be legal? Users claim they are ‘life saving’ but ‘traumatizing’

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Mike Tyson loves “smoking toad”.

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The ancient practice, in which users smoke the venom of the Sonoran Desert Toad to produce a short psychoactive journey, was discovered four years ago by the former world champion boxer – and he says it changed his life.

“I ‘died’ during my first visit,” Tyson, 55, told The Post last month wonderlandMiami conference dedicated to psychedelics, micro-dosing and medicine. “In my travels I have seen that death is beautiful. Life and death both have to be beautiful, but death has a bad rep. Todd has taught me that I am not going to be here forever. There is an expiration date. “


He also said that the drug helped him lose 100 pounds in three months, start boxing again, and be reunited with his wife and children.

“I’m fighting for psychedelics to become the drug that you can buy over the counter,” he said. “I’m not finished. I want to do more. I want to be the best in this field.”

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Tyson is not alone on his journey. DJ Diplo and comedian Chelsea Handler have admitted to smoking Toad venom either to assuage their worries or just to get an experience. And actress Kristen Bell has said she used psilocybin — or “magic mushroom” — to help ease the anxiety and depression she’s been living with for more than 20 years. according to a new Global Drug Survey ReportMore recreational drug users began turning to small doses of psychedelics to improve their mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

Once seen as the preserve of the banished hippies, psychoactive drugs are now becoming increasingly acceptable and even legal in many US cities.

Last month, voters in Detroit agreed to decriminalize “personal possession and medical use of enterogenic plants” [like psilocybin mushrooms, saliva, peyote and ayahuasca] As the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority,” Ann Arbor, Denver and Washington, D.C., among other cities, joined in loosening their laws. Oregon also became the first state to legalize magic mushrooms, which Allowed the use of psilocybin as part of supervised mental health treatment.

“Psychedelics are a window, not a door. They can give you a glimpse of what’s possible, into a better way of being. But to feel the benefits they promise . . . you have to work.”
Isaac Miller 2021

As of now, psychedelics and psilocybin – along with heroin and cocaine – are still not legal in New York, remaining on the Schedule 1 list of banned substances.

And that’s probably a good thing, according to Matt Gangloff. After back-to-back tours in Iraq as a combat engineer with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and battling Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the Missoula, Mont. Turned to mushrooms.

At first he helped.

“Psychedelics was the little push I needed to begin the long process of healing and growing,” Gangloff told The Post. “It was the inspiration, the inflection point, the line in the sand where I really committed myself to dealing with my s—t and finding a way that worked for me.”

But Gangloff, 35, doesn’t use them anymore—and he doesn’t recommend them to anyone else. “Psychedelics are a window, not a door,” he said. “They can give you a glimpse of what’s possible, in a better way. But to realize the benefits that they promise … you have to work.

“That thing is hard to do. It happens in the physical world. For me, it was calming down, meditating, fine-tuning my diet, exercising, and getting sleep. You know, all the things that mushrooms.” are much more difficult than munching on.”

It’s a similar story for Philippe Markoff. He first tried magic mushrooms at age 17, opening the “Pandora’s Box” and dabbling in other substances including LSD, mescaline, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), salvia, and ayahuasca. “It was an incredible experience that made me want to try out any psychedelic that crossed my path,” he said.

“I had experience tripping but psychedelics can still go sideways. I can easily see how someone might kill themselves to stop it.”

But he became addicted, calling his addiction “traumatic”.

“I’ve had a full-blown anxiety attack where I was sweating profusely and trembling with fear. I’ve experienced tripping but psychedelics can still go sideways. I easily see someone to stop it How can he kill himself,” he said.

Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser to President George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said the widespread demonetization of psychoactive drugs is driven by one thing: money. “Big business has captured a promising profit plan: sky-high medical claims to sell new and largely unknown mind-altering drugs,” said Sabet, now president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). act as.

“It works with marijuana, call it medicine, and now they’re using the same playbook with psychedelics. We don’t know what these drugs might look like in a for-profit corporate model. We should listen to the scientists.” [about] Drugs, not entrepreneurs. ,

So far, scientists have found that small amounts (microdose) of psilocybin can treat migraines and obsessive compulsive disorder and lead to a “rapid and large reduction” in depression among respondents, according to a Johns Hopkins study last year. Is. Now, funded by a $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins is researching whether psilocybin can treat tobacco addiction. The effects of psilocybin on other conditions – from anorexia nervosa to Alzheimer’s – are also being explored.

Albert García-Romu, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School, said, “We are currently at an exciting time for the field where we look at how psychedelics can be used medically, and how these substances affect the brain. Hope to know more about you.” Medicine’s Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit. “A good deal of preliminary research done since about 2000 … largely backs it up”[s] The idea that they can be effectively integrated as an element of medical and mental health treatment.”

Kirk Rutter, 51, participated in a clinical psychedelics study at Imperial College in London in 2015. Grieved by the death of his mother, the techie had tried various antidepressants and a year of talk therapy, but remained at his lowest level. Reaching the end of the road, he decided to try psilocybin.

“Before I tried it, I was feeling so hopeless, like it was my last chance—I was drowning in quicksand,” he recalls. “And I was nervous too, because I had never taken it before. I watched a lot of videos and read a lot about it and I was worried about ‘you might go crazy and never come back’ There was a great deal of rhetoric surrounding it.”

He emerged from the trial as a changed person.

“The psychedelic aspect was very pleasurable once I got used to and eventually, it helped me change my relationship with grief—it took me out of a hole,” he says. “There was great beauty in the experience, along with the more challenging moments, but the resolutions came from being in the truth rather than in the clouds.”

Kirk Rutter:
Kirk Rutter: “The psychedelic aspect was very pleasurable once I got used to it and eventually, it helped me change my relationship with sadness—it took me out of a hole.”

While psychedelics are generally safe from a pharmacological and medical standpoint — LSD and psilocybin accounted for only 0.005 percent of U.S. emergency room visits, according to federal data published in 2013 — short-term effects can vary from person to person. . Some may experience nausea or tremors, others may experience increased heart rate or sweating. Importantly, however, they have not been found to cause withdrawal symptoms or to be physically addictive. “The most relevant risks, in my opinion, involve the psychoactive effects of psilocybin, which can be unpredictable and sometimes cause intense emotional reactions including anxiety, paranoia, disorientation, and the risk of abnormal beliefs and erratic behavior while under the influence.” can,” said. Garcia-Romu.

“A small number of people may also develop ongoing psychological issues after exposure to psychedelics, although these are thought to be related to pre-existing predispositions such as a personal or family history of psychiatric illness.”

Michael Pollan, best-selling author of the microdosing bible “This Is Your Mind on Plants,” also thinks we should be careful about downplaying psychedelics, which carry more risks than cannabis.

“The psychedelic experience is much more consequential and intense and requires some sort of container to be safe when used at high doses,” Polan said. “By container, I mean a set of practices or rituals, a guide or sitter, a clear intention and a safe space.

“When we understand all that, then we can talk about legalization.”

After leaving Psychedelics, Markoff launched his own drug education YouTube channel (under the pseudonym “CG Kid”), which had over 350,000 subscribers. He also provides support for people struggling with addiction. Shameless, And yet he wholeheartedly supports the criminalization of psychedelics.

The venom of the Sonoran Desert Toad produces a psychoactive hallucination.
The venom of the Sonoran Desert Toad produces a psychoactive hallucination.

“I’m no political expert, but I think the bigger problem we face is whether an older adult should face 5-99 years in prison for possessing a psychedelic drug,” Markoff said.

“We have additives and toxic food items given to kids in school, advertised directly to them in flashy cartoons. Teen suicides are on the rise as a result of social media use… there is porn available for any child with a smartphone and we will let everything happen but arrest people for using psychedelics and compare them to a rapist. Give harsh punishment. ,

At the same time, some perfectly legal drugs are much more dangerous, García-Romu said.

“Alcohol causes approximately 3 million deaths annually worldwide, and tobacco causes approximately 8 million global deaths per year,” he said.

“Still, these drugs are readily available in the corner store.”


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