Category: decriminalization

Carl Hart: Drug Use for Grown Ups (Book Review)



Having enjoyed Michael Pollan’s “How to Change Your Mind” on psychedelics (in particular psilocybin), I was intrigued by a book that goes much broader on drug use: Dr. Carl Hart’s “Drug Use for Grown Ups.” Hart is a professor of psychology at Columbia and is basing this book on both his research and his extensive personal experience. While I have one criticism (more on that later), the book makes a very strong case that drugs should be decriminalized broadly: not just marijuana, but everything, including drugs with such terrible reputations as meth and heroin.

Here are three insights I came away with: First, the majority of drug related deaths come from drug interactions (e.g. people drinking a lot of alcohol and then also taking a drug) or from accidental overdoses due to much higher potency of mixed in / substituted drugs (e.g. heroin stretched with fentanyl). So if you can be responsible on drug interactions, and well-informed on what you are consuming, you can dramatically reduce risk. Same goes for getting started slowly on dosage on anything you don’t yet have a tolerance for.

Second, the existing drug laws and their enforcement are terribly racially skewed. I sort of knew some of that but the total amount of evidence provided by Hart makes that case forcefully. For example, at one point the mandatory sentencing threshold for crack was a hundred times lower (5 mg) than that for cocaine (500 mg), despite these being the identical drug just (Read more...)

Carl Hart: Drug Use for Grown Ups (Book Review)



Having enjoyed Michael Pollan’s “How to Change Your Mind” on psychedelics (in particular psilocybin), I was intrigued by a book that goes much broader on drug use: Dr. Carl Hart’s “Drug Use for Grown Ups.” Hart is a professor of psychology at Columbia and is basing this book on both his research and his extensive personal experience. While I have one criticism (more on that later), the book makes a very strong case that drugs should be decriminalized broadly: not just marijuana, but everything, including drugs with such terrible reputations as meth and heroin.

Here are three insights I came away with: First, the majority of drug related deaths come from drug interactions (e.g. people drinking a lot of alcohol and then also taking a drug) or from accidental overdoses due to much higher potency of mixed in / substituted drugs (e.g. heroin stretched with fentanyl). So if you can be responsible on drug interactions, and well-informed on what you are consuming, you can dramatically reduce risk. Same goes for getting started slowly on dosage on anything you don’t yet have a tolerance for.

Second, the existing drug laws and their enforcement are terribly racially skewed. I sort of knew some of that but the total amount of evidence provided by Hart makes that case forcefully. For example, at one point the mandatory sentencing threshold for crack was a hundred times lower (5 mg) than that for cocaine (500 mg), despite these being the identical drug just (Read more...)

The History of Psychedelics (Part 2 of 2)


This post is by Katie Jones from Visual Capitalist


The following content is sponsored by Tryp Therapeutics.

High-resolution version

The History of Psychedelics (Part 2 of 2)

In part one of this two-part series, we unearthed the story behind the prohibition of psychedelic substances, and how strict regulations resulted in a hugely stigmatized industry.

Over the last decade however, new breakthroughs proving the untapped therapeutic potential of medicinal psychedelics are coming to the fore, leading many to believe that restricting them may have in fact been premature.

The graphic above from Tryp Therapeutics is the last in a two part series that explores how psychedelics have evolved over the last 6,000 years.

The Psychedelic Renaissance

After decades of being labeled as illegal narcotics, the industry reinvented itself as a viable solution for treating hard-to-treat illnesses in a safe and controlled way.

“Psychedelics, used responsibly and with proper caution, would be for psychiatry what the microscope is for biology and medicine or the telescope is for astronomy.”

—Stanislav Grof

This unprecedented comeback has sparked a global medicinal psychedelics movement, with the U.S. leading the way in decriminalizing these powerful drugs.

YearMilestoneRegion
2017
(Aug)
The FDA grants MDMA-assisted psychotherapy Breakthrough Therapy StatusU.S.
2018
(Aug)
COMPASS Pathways receives Breakthrough Therapy Status from the FDA for a psilocybin synthetic derivativeU.S.
2019
(March)
Esketamine is approved in the form of Spravato by the FDA, followed by European Commission approvalGlobal
2019
(June)
Denver, Colorado and Oakland, California vote to decriminalize psilocybin mushroomsU.S.
2019
(Nov)
The world’s first microdosing (Read more...)

Supporting the Other Decriminalization: Sex Work



New York State finally passed a bill that legalizes marijuana and justly releases people serving time for the kind of drug crimes that now are no more. The enforcement of the drug bans were always super racially skewed, primarily targeting people of color. Carl Hart’sDrug Use for Grownups” really drives home just how misguided the war on drugs has been.

There is another less discussed area where criminalization has led to similar issues and that is sex work. In sex work too law enforcement skews heavily towards minorities and marginalized groups. And much as with drugs it is motivated by a kind of moral panic based largely on preposterous exaggeration of the actual data (such as ridiculous statistics about sex trafficking associated with the Super Bowl). Let me be clear: coercing people to do anything is a crime and should be persecuted — whether that is for farm work or sex work or anything else for that matter. And of course we have laws that make various forms of coercion, such as blackmail, illegal.

I first became interested in this issue when the state attorney generals bandied together to go after the Craigslist adult services section. I am pretty sure that there were cases of sex trafficking that involved Craigslist. Nonetheless, thinking that the way to solve that problem is by getting Craigslist to shut down that section of the site portrays either a deep misunderstanding about how the internet works or simply grandstanding on an (Read more...)

The History of Psychedelics (Part 1 of 2)



The following content is sponsored by Tryp Therapeutics.

The History of Psychedelics (Part 1 of 2)

Due to their counterculture connotations and rigid legal status, psychedelics were once considered a highly stigmatized topic.

Over the last decade however, a steady stream of groundbreaking research has proven that these powerful substances have the potential to safely treat a wide range of diseases.

Today, attitudes toward the industry have changed, and capital is flowing—resulting in a market that analysts predict could eventually be worth $100 billion.

The graphic above from Tryp Therapeutics is the first in a two-part series that explores how psychedelics have evolved over the last 6,000 years.

From Ancient Antidote to Breakthrough Medicine

Before we dive into the history of psychedelics, it’s important to understand what they are and how they work.

Psychedelics are drugs that alter cognitive processes and produce hallucinogenic effects. Broadly speaking, there are two categories that psychedelic substances fall into: entheogens, and synthetic drugs. Entheogenic psychedelics are derived from plants, while synthetic psychedelics are created in a laboratory.

Here are some of the most well known psychedelic substances explained:

history of psychedelics supplemental

Certain psychedelics work by binding to serotonin receptors in the brain which produces psychoactive effects. Research suggests that when this happens, the structure of the brain changes—such as the number of connections between neutrons. This means that psychedelics could have the potential to rewire or repair circuits in the brain, hence their reputation for having healing powers.

Ancient Times

While the science behind (Read more...)