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Sunday, November 14, 2010


Mary Jane is, actually, the English version of Mari Juana.  Magic mushrooms (this is the way this is supposed to look if you took some...remember Alice, above?) have to do with various hallucinogenics.  These are considered to be soft drugs, unlike heroin and cocaine, covered in my blog of 30October2008.

Marijuana, the most widely used (162 million people) illicit substance, is prepared from the female Cannabis plant, where the major (there are something like 66 other, actually) active ingredient is THC.  The resinous form is hashish.  THC itself was only isolated in 1964 by Israel scientists, but there is evidence of first use as early as 3000 BC.

Could MJ be a gateway drug?  Studies have shown that smoking plain tobacco is worse, and the Dutch actually have a lower incidence of hard drug usage than most European Union countries.

Positive medical effects of MJ:  ameliorates nausea, stimulates hunger for patients on chemotherapy, lowers eyeball pressure for those with glaucoma, relieves pain, prevents certain types of cancer and reduces psychological depression.  It also has been used as a truth serum.

There are only a few negatives, and one is that it can, conversely, cause depression.  So it depends on the person.  It you do a lot of smoking MJ, use a vaporizer, then there are no lung problems.  But like ethanol, don't drive.  In any case, very little Federal funds are allowed for research.  You all have seen Reefer Madness, of course, a 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film, except it is truly a terrible film and an hour long.

The price the world over is in the range of $10 to $20 per gram.  This gram can make from one to ten joints, depending on the potency and person.  Thus, an ounce converts to 28-280 smokes, usually around 50 to 100.

The Netherlands has become an interesting test case.  First of all, the smoking and drinking age begins at 16.  However, both the coffee shops (which sell marijuana, and you usually smoke it there) and smart shops (for magic mushrooms, which you usually take elsewhere) are illegal.  It is just that they are tolerated, with exceptions now and then.  Cultivation is also against the law, except that no one gets arrested for up to five plants, as long as the authorities don’t know about them.  If they stumble across your plot, the plants are confiscated.  However, there is no attempt to seek out small growers.

Californians failed to approve Proposition 19 to further liberalize MJ, but the state today treats an arrest of an ounce or less like a traffic fine:  $100 and nothing important on your record.  That's Arnold on the right.

So where is marijuana legal?  Nowhere, really, but Honduras, Russia and Uruguay might be less intolerant.  Many countries allow medical marijuana, so much so that California growers of MJ funded NO on 19 because they were making a considerable profit already and were afraid that the major ag companies would enter the picture.  California and 13 other states allow MJ for health reasons.

Now about hallucinogenics, which don’t result in any hallucination, but, rather, a distortion of perception.  These compounds have probably been in use since the beginning of man, usually for religious and related purposes.

Datura is particularly interesting because I’m sure that was the plant grown at road sides during my Kenyan safari.  The guides indicated this was a very poisonous plant, and it is, but they contain tropane alkaloids, scopolamine and atropine, all associated with psychedelics, like LSD.  The datura fruit is to the right.  Surely you've seen them.  The chemist now needs to carefully extract the “useful” parts, where fantasy and amnesia can occur.  
The most popularized of these mind benders is LSD (lysergic acid dietlhyamide), first synthesized by Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist, in 1938.  Aldous Huxley wrote about his experiences in the 50’s and actor Cary Grant endorsed psychedelic therapy with LSD in the early 60’s. Harvard lecturer Timothy Leary then began experimenting, got fired and was named by President Richard Nixon as “the most dangerous man in America."  Leary’s “turn on, tune in, drop out,” slogan resulted in total suppression of research.  The Beatles in 1967, while perhaps on this drug, wrote and performed Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (note the LSD--click on it for a minor psychedelic experience--PLACE ON FULL SCREEN AND TURN YOUR VOLUME REALLY HIGH), which influenced the Donald Johanson team team in 1974 to call their Ethiopian find Lucy.  Not too long ago, almost a million Americans annually tried LSD for the first time annually, while this figure today is closer to 400,000.

But about magic mushrooms, the active ingredients are psylocin and psylocybin.  There must be a hundred different kinds and you can actually grow them.  In addition to the illegalities, there are other serious dangers.

By the way, the most effective products now in smart shops are not mushrooms but truffles.  The Psilocybe Galindol is the latest.

So armed with the above, I explored the scene in Amsterdam.  Maybe tomorrow I might report on my experience...then again....

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