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Why psychedelics are illegal

Many people crudely think that all illegal drugs are illegal because they are physically dangerous to the user. That is not the case. Different substances have been made illegal at different times and for different reasons.

Some substances are rightly illegal because they are physically dangerous. Heroin, crack and GHB are examples of dangerous substances that pose a very real risk to the user. Ironically though the two most dangerous drugs – alcohol and tobacco – are not illegal.

Other substances are however illegal for very different reasons. Two reasons are very prominent: because they are perceived as dangerous to the status quo and to target and persecute specific groups.

Just the other day I was asked why psychedelics are illegal. They are obviously extremely useful medicines and also very safe when used correctly. Well, there are several reasons for them being illegal and most of them have nothing to do with health, but let us begin with the health issue.

Psychedelics are commonly non-toxic and pose no physical threat even at extreme doses. Most of these substances are not even possible to overdose to the degree that they would be life threatening. But there is one real health risk and that is to the user’s mental health. Psychedelics have the unique capacity of unlocking the doors of the unconscious mind. They can release what has been carefully locked away and repressed. This is of course what makes them such powerful therapeutic tools, but if the person isn’t open to taking care of what comes up the experience can be quite traumatic. The same goes for other kinds of therapy, meditation and contemplation. If you aren’t ready to meet what you have repressed you shouldn’t do or take anything that will uncover what you have buried.

nixon_militaryBut besides this, what were the perceived dangers that made psychedelics illegal? To grasp this one must look at the historical setting. Where did the push to criminalize come from and what is the backdrop? To understand this we need to go back to the USA in the mid 1960’s. Government at all levels were in a cold war state of mind trying to root out possible dissidents within. The Vietnam war had dragged on for ten years, US involvement was sharply rising, as was the death toll. It was a time for hardliners and hawks. JFK had been murdered and the much less diplomatic Lyndon B Johnson took his place. He was then followed by one of the fathers of the War on Drugs – Richard Nixon.

At the same time a very vocal and at times even revolutionary opposition was forming at home. There were many different movements with many different objectives, but when talking about psychedelics the hippies are of course at the focal point. What were they up to? They protested, burnt draft cards, let their hair grow, dressed strangely and promoted free sex, just to name a few things. In the eyes of a person like Nixon, and there were many like him at the time, they were trouble makers who were upsetting the status quo. They were anti-establishment peacemongerers and as such perceived as threatening by the establishment.

At the very core of that opposition was the experimentation with drugs and the one that has forever been associated with the hippie movement is of course the psychedelic LSD. So what was it about LSD that sparked this opposition and backlash towards the establishment? I think the ethnobotanist psychonaut Terence McKenna was spot on when he said that “they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

Photo: DaveHippie by studio muscle on Flickr
Photo: DaveHippie by studio muscle on Flickr

What LSD did was to awaken people from their cultural programming and indoctrination and let them see the world with other eyes. When they did so they could not accept what they had been taught, so they rebelled. They rebelled against violence, militarism and domination and instead sought “peace, love and understanding”.

On a side note both the CIA the American military had experimented heavily with LSD before it found its way to the hippies. One notable side effect was that quite a few soldiers that had been given it laid down their guns and refused to pick them up again.

For a person like Nixon this was all extremely threatening. To him America was losing its youth to a drug culture that was in direct opposition to the establishment. And he certainly had a point. If you want people to follow orders, be aggressive towards one another, go to war and kill people you will not want to give them LSD, because they will start thinking for themselves, refuse to follow orders and will refuse violence.

LSD was not made illegal because it is physically harmful to the person taking it. It was made illegal because it makes people question authority and social injustices and prompts them to do something about it. LSD and psychedelics threatened and still threatens the fabric of domination culture by showing people that another world is possible.

While many believe that our drug laws are there to protect us we have in fact inherited most of them from a time when domination culture was scared of losing control. Our drug laws are in many cases in place to hinder mind expansion and rebellion against the violent domination culture and the status quo, and most certainly so when it comes to psychedelics.

This is a pattern of dominance which is repeating itself.

Today the political establishment are the ones oppressing and persecuting the users of psychedelics. Yesterday it was the church. The brutal persecution of witches, witchdoctors, healers, shamans and anyone seeking other modalities of healing or other ways of reaching the divine was the church’s version of the War on Drugs. The vocabulary surrounding it all was different but still quite similar. Instead of safety and health concerns the church would talk about being in contact with or possessed by the devil or evil spirits.

Witch BurningWhile they might well have believed their own story, just as many do with the story of domineering culture of today, it was ultimately based in a fear of losing control over people. As many, perhaps even most, who work with psychedelics will attest to, psychedelics are often a door to the divine. They break down the limitations of our cultural programming. When it comes to the church there has often been an idea that certain people should act as intermediaries for the rest of us, thus the control over the contact with the divine and the divine will has been hijacked by priests and such. What psychedelics often do in that case is give the user his/her own personal contact with the divine, making the intermediary superfluous. For someone who wants to maintain control over other people this is of course extremely threatening and also provocative to the point where the church would be willing to kill people.

One needs to remember that the greatest threat to the church is that each and every one of us would be able to have our own contact with the divine. If we did have that contact the church would soon be redundant, at least as an interpreter of God’s will,  so it lies in the interest of the individual career makers within and also in the organisations themselves to see to it that people do not have their own contact with the divine.

And that is of course the pattern of domineering that is repeating itself today. A lot of people, organisations and companies stand to lose a lot of money and power when psychedelics are let free. It is in their interest to keep them illegal. If you could solve addiction, PTSD, depression and such with one or a few psychedelic trips the medical and pharmaceutical industry would take a huge dive. If people would stop tolerating violence that would mean the end of the military and the industries that profit from war. If each and every one would be given the tools for connecting with the divine themselves the world religions would lose their strangle hold on the minds of people.

It is in the interest of anyone who wants to dominate someone else that psychedelics are kept illegal and are continually persecuted.

That is why psychedelics are illegal.

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Naysha: Uses of tobacco in shamanism

The image of tobacco nowadays had been severely damaged thanks to the industry of commercial cigarettes and the ego of the business man.

I remember a beautiful experience that was shared with me after an Ayahuasca ceremony. A guy from England told me that the tobacco spirit had talked with him:
– I saw a beautiful black woman crying. She introduced herself as the female energy of the tobacco spirit. She told him that she was so sad for what people are doing with her. “They are putting poison in my leaves and then people believe that I am making them sick. You must tell them this. The traditional way of using my power must be known and people should know the difference between a cigarette and the tobacco itself.”

Why is tobacco used in Ayahuasca ceremonies?

Tobacco is known to be a very powerful spirit which is used for protection, cleaning and also as a vehicle to give energy.

1. For protection it is used to open and create a safe ceremonial area before ceremonies. The shaman uses it to bless the four directions – north, south, west and east – and to call the spirits that will guard the ceremony. Spirits love tobacco; it’s like chocolate to women. When closing the ceremony some shamans like to go to each participant and give them protection against other energies that can disturb the person after the ceremony is closed. When the shaman closes the ceremony again he or she thanks the spirits for the journey by using tobacco.

2. For cleaning. If the space where the ceremony is being held has a kind of heavy or stuck energy the shaman will detect it and blow tobacco smoke to clean it, and it is the same with people. If a person feels that the energies that s/he is seeing during the ceremony are not of a good vibration the shaman can blow tobacco smoke around the aura of the person.

Tobacco also helps with vomiting. If you are struggling to vomit during Ayahuasca, smoking a mapacho will fix the problem. A mapacho is a natural cigarette made from dry tobacco leafs without any additives. It is what the shamans in the Amazon always use.

3. As a vehicle to give energy. When a person feels weakened during the ceremony or is struggling too much with the purge process, then the shaman can transfer a part of his or her energy in the mapacho smoke. This action is known like “ikarar”.

Some shamans like to give tobacco purges before the Ayahuasca ceremony because it helps with cleansing and purifying the energy. It is also good for activating the third eye.

What is a tobacco purge?

The night before one leaves a couple mapachos without the paper in glass of water. Next morning you will drink the water and after a couple of minutes you will vomit. Don’t try to do this if you don’t know how many mapachos you need, because if your tobacco purge preparation isn’t strong enough you won’t be able to vomit and you will just end up intoxicating yourself. Never cook tobacco from mapachos because it’s already a hot plant and if you boil it you are just making a poison. Some shamans likes to cook the Ayahuasca with mapachos and in my experience it just creates distractions for the body. My liver hurts most of the time and it’s an ugly experience. I don’t know why these shamans do it? In my opinion it is pure stupidity. If you want to meet the tobacco spirit it would be better to cook the Ayahuasca with a fresh leaf of tobacco.

The tobacco diet is an important diet for the shamans that need protection for the work they are doing. It’s a hard diet and its follow the same diets rules but you only drink the tobacco/mapacho juice for 3 days.

Can mapachos create addiction?

No, in my experience it does the absolute opposite. Before my training and diets I used to smoke a lot of store bought cigarettes, like 2 or 3 boxes per day. Then somebody invited me to smoke a mapacho and as soon I smoked it I just couldn’t smoke ordinary cigarettes anymore because I immediately react to the poison in the cigarette. I can feel all the chemicals inside the cigarette and it is disgusting. When I moved to Sweden I didn’t even notice that I was not smoking because it’s not possible to find mapachos in regulars stores in Sweden. After having smoked mapachos I didn’t have any problems even not smoking mapachos. After almost two years away of Peru the cigarette smells still make me feel sick.

Naysha Silva Romero

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Naysha: How can you know if Ayahuasca is for you?

Before attending a ceremony it is important to have good information about what are you getting into, especially if you don’t have any experience with visionary plants. Ayahuasca is a tool for opening, cleaning, healing, transforming, diagnosing, revealing and learning. There are several such tools, so how can you know if Ayahuasca is the right tool for you? Ayahuasca is not a magic wand that will solve all your problems. It is very important that you have that understanding in advance so that you are not disappointed with what you get. The plants and the spirit world give you what you need, not what you want.

There are certain things to consider before attending a ceremony.

1. Do you qualify medically to be part of an Ayahuasca ceremony?

If you are taking medication like antidepressants, sleeping pills, antibiotics, or drugs like cocaine, heroin etc. it can be mortal in combination with Ayahuasca, not because of the Ayahuasca itself, but because these substances don’t go together. It’s important that you consult your doctor so that you know how much time your body needs to be free of these chemicals in your blood. There are certain medications that you can avoid 48 hours before a ceremony, but it’s important you check. Chronic heart problems, hepatic and immune system problems should also be considered.

2. Are you mentally ready?

Ayahuasca is not something to mess around with. It is not a recreational drug. It is a strong spirit that will open your perception to the reality. Such information can be difficult to handle for some people – it can blow your mind. It’s very important that you do a ceremony with somebody that has experience working with this plant, like a shaman. If you have mental disorders it is important that you let the person in charge of the ceremony know, because depending on your problem the shaman can better know if Ayahuasca can help you or not. In my opinion people experience mental disorders because:

  • They are too open and and sensitive to everything around then. What they need is to balance the channel or connection again. Shamans for example have learnt how to work with the channel, when to open and when to close it. If you have a mental disorder of this kind Ayahuasca might help, but I haven’t tried it. There are other plants that can help before taking the step of going for an Ayahuasca ceremony. I would personally rather do a ceremony without the person taking the Ayahuasca, just to diagnose the situation and understand how it can be fixed. Most people with mental disorders have an imbalance in the substances in the brain. They have too much or too little, but these substances can be found in nature. Remember that most medications come from plants, some come from animals and some from minerals. Plants help us recover the balance in all senses, physically, mentally and emotionally, because they live in harmony. They are truly connected.
  • Possession. This might sound strange, but in native cultures it is a common belief that people can be possessed by entities of different kinds, because we are living and interacting with different dimensions. This 3D dimension is not the only one. Ayahuasca shows us this. Certain kinds of depressions can be caused by these entities and there are different kinds. There are the ones with a purpose – they don’t manifest or show themselves so much, but they are sucking your vital energy. Their mission is to stop you from your mission in life. They can enter at the moment of birth and it is often easier these days because of all the anesthetics that are used. The well known psychiatrist and hypnotherapist Brian Weiss, who is specialized in regression, has explained that it is at the moment of birth that the soul and the body are truly unified. If the soul is entering a sleepy body under anesthesia, the soul won’t be fully aware about other energies lurking there.

Traumatic situations can also allow entities to enter us, because in traumatic situations you are very vulnerable and open. If you are unlucky you are in the wrong place when you are traumatized and such energies can latch onto you. Other entities can also enter when people play with things they don’t understand, such as Ouija or by taking plants like Ayahuasca without guidance. When you take such plants you open different portals. That is why the shaman does diets as part of their training, because with the diets they get spirit allies or friends that help them in ceremonies. A shaman also learns how to create a safe space and how to hold a ceremony. Most shamans say that taking Ayahuasca without guidance is like going for a swim without knowing how to.

3. Have you tried other tools?

Before attending a ceremony, make sure that your problem can’t be solved in another way. Meditation, yoga and healthy lifestyle choices can help. Remember that you have all the potential to change your life within yourself. The plants help us when we had tried, but can’t change or heal because our blocks are so big. If you feel that you have big blocks that do not allow you to feel or to open yourself to embrace change, then Ayahuasca is something that will really help you. But it is important that you are fully aware that one single ceremony won’t be enough. Sometimes people do not feel or experience anything in the first ceremony, because the first ceremonies are mainly for purging and cleansing the body. It is very important that you do a diet before attending a ceremony, because this will help you clean your body a lot so that the Ayahuasca can work better.

You should also understand that Ayahuasca can help with certain problems, but not all. If the problems you are experiencing in your life come from emotional sources, then ceremonies will help you for sure. But if you want to heal a disease, then you need to take other plants. In that case Ayahuasca can be used to see what the root of the problem is, but because the problem has already manifest physically causing a disease, you will need to diet with other plants. You will also need time to heal. The shaman will know what other plants to do diets with, because in ceremony the spirit of the plants will let him/her know what help is needed.

4. Do you want to learn?

Ayahuasca is definitely a great source of information. It is how shamans manage to know about the healing properties of several plants, because Ayahuasca is a translator for other plants. I call it the Google of the spirits. Ayahuasca has learnt how to communicate with humans. She is the consciousness of the forest talking to us clearly.

Shamans learn about the healing properties of plants trough diets and ceremonies. In the diets the shamans connect with the spirit of the plant and in the ceremonies the plants show the shaman, much in the same way as having a conversation. They look like people, but different, and depending on which part of the plant you want to learn from the spirit appears different. Flowers are always shown as children and it is because they have the highest energy vibration. Roots and barks are shown as adults. They have skin colours and dress themselves with the plants. Chuchuwasa and tobacco spirit, for example, are black and can appear in a female or male energy. Plants have both energy inside, but sometimes one is stronger than the other. Usually the tobacco spirit shows as a black woman or an old man. In some traditions the stories about the first humans explain that they came from a tree and it was a woman. This can explain why the spirits of plants look like humans.

If we are conscious that we are all one, then we can understand that we can experience incarnation as plants, animals, humans and others things during our earth process, since everything that exists has a consciousness.

Ayahuasca help us make our unconscious conscious and through this process we can see, we become observers and thus can find the roots of our problems. With Ayahuasca you will experience death, a small spiritual death where your fears, your ego, your habits and your attachments must disappear so that you can be to reborn again as pure and clean as when you came the first time. Death in this sense only means transformation.

Taking Ayahuasca is a ceremony which begins with the preparation of the Ayahuasca. There are many details that people must know in order to achieve all the benefits of these plants. What do you know about Ayahuasca ceremonies? What you know about ikaros and diets? When the ceremony starts and the shaman starts singing the ikaros, the purging (vomiting) begins and after that come the visions. Visions of your light and your darkness. You will meet your fears, desires and wishes. If you want to grow, to evolve, you must confront them and accept the consequences.

Are you ready?

Naysha Silva Romero

Photo: To Reiterate There Needs to be Artists to Remind Kids that the Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst World is Fucking Bullshit by Surian Soosay on Flickr

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Give me spiritual freedom

People have always searched for the higher meaning of existence. In their search they have had sensations of the highest divine and tried to name that which cannot be named. They have sacrificed to Zeus, thanked Freya, asked Shiva for focus and God for mercy. They have searched inward and outward with dance, prayer, singing, yoga and meditation.

One of the oldest traditions in order to get in touch with the highest divine, and with the other realities that surround us, has been by using plants. In the beginning humans were very close to nature and talked with the sun and the plants, the wind and stones. Nature was a teacher who shared its wisdom, but who also helped humans to be able to get in contact to other realities.

department of truth by new 1lluminati on Flickr
department of truth by new 1lluminati on Flickr

Over time some people have however made the experience more academic than spiritual. While the original spirituality was based on every persons own experience and their own contact with the highest divine, nowadays many people are content to believe in a constructed religion. They do of course overlap, but I’m guessing that most religious people today do not have a personal experience of contact with the highest divine, but are satisfied with believing others’ descriptions of it.

To me there is big group of illegal substances that is intimately connected with spiritual exploration – mostly those we would call natural psychedelics. I’m talking about plants and preparations such as Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Peyote, Cannabis (semi-psychedelic), psychedelic mushrooms and Iboga.

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Ayahuasca is a preparation made from a jungle vine and another plant. Shamans have probably used it for more than 6,000 years to have contact with other realities and heal people. It is used almost exclusively in ceremonial contexts, but is banned in Sweden because it contains the natural substance DMT, which is also found in the human brain and appears to be heightened and released by prolonged meditation, sleep, and at the moment of death.

San Pedro and Peyote cacti are used in similar ways and in similar contexts, for deep transformative and spiritual experiences. As far as we know the knowledge to work with them is probably more than 4,000 years old, but as with all these substances it might very well have been used for much longer than that. Today the knowledge is kept alive by South American shamans and North American Indians. While the cacti itself is legal in Sweden, it is illegal to consume it because it contains the natural substance mescaline.

Cannabis is regarded in Hinduism as a gift from the god Shiva to mankind, created from his body. It has been used for more than 4,000 years, both spiritually as medically in Hinduism and Buddhism, but more recently also in religions such as Islam and Rastafarianism. It is celebrated for its spiritual, mystical properties, but also because it allows people to see through illusions and lies. In the drug context cannabis is among the least dangerous substances, much less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, but it is being fought with tremendous zeal. The active ingredient THC is easily spotted with a quick urine test.

Liberty cap
Liberty cap

Psychedelic mushrooms are available in hundreds of varieties and on every continent. The most famous Swedish psychedelic mushrooms are the Liberty caps, used by witches and shamans. In Europe, however, the Christian mass murder of dissidents makes it difficult to track past use. The mushrooms produce similar deep spiritual experiences including contact with other realities, past lives, a connectedness with nature and with the universe. Liberty caps are commonly picked in cow meadows after the first frost, but if you do so you are a criminal. All mushrooms containing the natural ingredient psilocybin are forbidden to handle.

Iboga is a West African shrub that contains the illegal natural substance ibogaine. It is documented to have been used in Africa in a spiritual context since the 19th century, but before that it is difficult to say. It gives deep transformative experiences and having taken Iboga one will often lie down for an entire day. Nowadays Iboga is most famous for its medicinal properties, as it has been proved to be able to break even deep rooted addiction with only one or two trips. But to do so is illegal.

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These are just a few of the illegal substances that have been used in spiritual practice for thousands of years before such recent phenomena as Christianity came along. Natural psychedelics are found on all continents, and maybe even in all countries. The tradition of using them in order to get in contact with other realities and with the highest divine has been preserved in many places in the world – by shamans in South America, witches in Europe, yogis and shamans in Asia and medicine men/women in North America, Africa and possibly Australia. However, they have for long periods been forced to go into hiding, because above all Christianity has violently persecuted them. Today this continues with the help of the disrespectful and discriminatory drug laws.

Drug laws thus not only violate minority rights, but also each person’s inherent right to their own spiritual experience and journey.

There are those who argue that these plants should only be used in their original cultural contexts, that is only the shamans of the Amazon should be working with Ayahuasca, and only the medicine men/women of North America with Peyote. With that logic the Liberty caps should of course be legal in Sweden. But besides that these people seem to overlook that we live in a globalized world and that the spiritual search has never let itself be confined to places or cultural context. Just as religions spread across the world and have borrowed freely from each other’s cultural contexts, shamanism is also worldwide and practitioners are inspired by each other. There have also been new substances used in similar ways, with similar spiritual effects and with similar healing properties – LSD, MDMA and Ketamine, to name a few.

Lady Girl open hands by Beshef on Flickr
Lady Girl open hands by Beshef on Flickr

Some people speak of religious freedom. I guess that would be the freedom to settle for believing in other people’s descriptions of the highest divine. I’m not interested in religious freedom. I require spiritual freedom – the freedom to have my own spiritual experience and my own contact with the highest divine. If my spiritual path happens to involve working with plants and in a tradition that is older than any religion, that is my business as long as I do not harm anyone else. A law that tries to stop me from doing so is nothing more than oppression and discrimination institutionalized.

Main photo: Headlong by Brad Hammonds on Flickr

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A better tomorrow with drugs

Today’s repressive drug laws are at a dead end. The war on drugs harms society and citizens in a multitude of ways, of which I listed some in yesterdays blog post. Ironically it also prevents effective treatments for such things as addiction. But where can we go from here? Let’s imagine that all substances are legal. How can we organize the community to limit the damage and help addicts?

Legalizing all drugs would of course not mean that you could buy them next to the sweets at your local supermarket. And everything doesn’t just fall into place because they come under government control. There would probably need to be a combination of solutions, some of which already exist and others that don’t. Here are some possible parts to such a system.

State control.

hug me by jo marshall on Flickr
hug me by jo marshall on Flickr

In the current situation the entire drug trade is a black economy that is largely controlled by criminal organizations. If all substances were legalized they would become part of the regular economy, where it becomes possible to set up rules for manufacturing and quality control products. The substances would be provided with a table of content, just like any other commodity. The goods may additionally be provided with other labels, such as organic and fair trade.

Those working in the trade would have the same rights as other workers, would have the support of existing labor laws, would have the right to organize themselves into unions and would become tax payers.

Sales could take place within established models, such as the state control (pharmacies/tobacco sales) or as a state monopoly (in Sweden all alcohol is sold by the state run Systembolaget). Age limits could be imposed on substances and they could also be differentiated, so that one would have to be older to purchase some of the more potent compounds.

Taxing substances.

When drugs come under government control it is possible to steer people away from more harmful substances by levying heavier taxes on them. It’s would be easy to see which substances are economically costly for society and adjust the taxes accordingly.

Possibility to withdraw the right to use certain substances.

People should be able to lose their right to use certain substances if they commit crimes or harm themselves or others when they use them. I think it is strange that those who repeatedly get into fights drunk, drive intoxicated or get wasted on the verge of dying, still have the right to buy as much liquor as they can pay for.

When one shows that they aren’t able to handle a certain substance, it should be possible to revoke that person’s right to do so, in the same manner that one can lose ones driving license or license to practice medicine.

The possibility to exclude oneself from certain substances.

40+30 Tutorial by bark on Flickr
40+30 Tutorial by bark on Flickr

Many people are very aware of which substances they should not take. For example I know many who say they have no problem drinking beer, but go berserk if they drink hard liquor. It’s the same with all substances. What is pure bliss for one, can be hell for another. What one is able to take a couple of times a year without developing a craving for, another becomes addicted to after just a few doses.

But then again, many people know perfectly well what substances are dangerous for them. It could be made easy for them to take responsibility with the choice to voluntarily waive the right to use certain substances. They could also be able to set limits for themselves, by specifying how much of a substance they may purchase during a certain time period.

Many addicts will arrive at the point where they want to break free from their habit. During a certain period the window of change is open. The problem is often that they relapse because the substance will continue to be available to them. If they can exclude themselves from the right to buy certain substances, such as if an alcoholic does not allow him/herself to buy liquor, it would effectively help in the recovery process.

Licenses to handle certain substances.

With some particularly heavy drugs such as heroin, it would be possible to introduce a license allowing an educated person to handle the substance. For most substances it would probably be enough with basic education in school and a little everyday common sense, but with substances that carry serious consequences, it is important to be sure that those who use them have proper knowledge about risks and safety. The education for such a license may contain things like responsible management, how to use in a safe manner to prevent spread of infection, and how to deal with accidental overdoses. Such a license may be revoked if the person is irresponsible and for example sells substances to other people or uses them in an unsafe manner.

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In addition to the distribution itself – what can we do to get control of the situation regarding different substances?

Universal education in dealing with drugs and addiction.

I often wonder how drug education in schools can be allowed to be so absolutely worthless. The “education” is basically designed solely to scare people not to try anything. As a teenager I was an exchange student in the United States and the school that I went to worked in exactly the same way when it came to sex education. There was no information about STDs, contraception or sex. The whole message was only “you should not have sex until you get married”, and it was really crammed down the teenagers throats. It is a dangerous kind of indoctrination that creates ignorant and bigoted citizens, while increasing the actual risks.

Instead we should have a proper drug education, which includes such themes as:
∙ What is an altered state of mind and how you can you work with it?
∙ How to use drugs safely.
∙ What to do if you or someone else feels bad under the influence.
∙ How to manage an overdose.
∙ How to identify and get rid of substance abuse.

Use tax revenues for addiction treatment and prevention.

Libby hugging Tomoko by Loren Kerns on Flickr
Libby hugging Tomoko by Loren Kerns on Flickr

A legalization would generate tax revenue that I think primarily should go to addiction treatment and prevention. Even more money is now being spent on hunting, harassing and punishing people.

If we add a substantial part of those resources to create good addiction treatment, we will soon have the best addiction treatment the world has ever seen. Health care should be accessible and able to quickly help addicts who express a desire to receive care. Addiction is a disease and addicts should be treated as patients, not criminals.

There will always be addicts, but it is my firm belief that the addiction is to be found in the person – not in substance. People flee into abuse because they are fleeing from themselves, from the traumas they try to forget or from situations that are unbearable. Good prevention work builds on this understanding and aims to help people face themselves, help them process past trauma and to make their lives bearable. It helps them to stop fleeing and encourages them to take responsibility for their own lives. Much of today’s preventive work lacks this basic understanding.

Make substances available for scientific research, therapists, health care workers and healers.

There are many substances that are currently incorrectly classified as drugs with no medical value. This applies above all to psychedelics that are proven to be extremely effective in curing such things as addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress, empathy disorders and death anxiety. There are lots of stories about absolutely miraculous healing taking place with these substances, and they are at the same time very safe when used correctly.

Another substance that is being discussed greatly right now is cannabis and not only in its mind-altering form, but also as tinctures without the mind-altering properties. It is used with good results for such things as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, depression and end of life care. There seems to be some evidence that it also has cancer fighting properties.

These substances need to be made available to those who need the help and for the professionals who are working on this – from therapists, to regular health care workers, and also in alternative treatments. Today there are plenty of alternative therapists and traditional healers such as shamans, who have the knowledge and who have been passing it on for thousands of years. Here are exciting cross over’s to be made, when traditional methods of healing meet western medicine. Such work is already taking place. To fully take advantage of this scientific research needs to get started as soon as possible.

Making up for abuse committed by the state.

While the intention has probably been good, many people have been abused and badly treated under the current legislation. The current drug laws have stigmatized people, forced them into alienation, punished them, led people into a criminal lifestyle, actively withheld health care for sick addicts and has also led to many unnecessary deaths.

There is a need for redress and reconciliation. The very least the government should do is to apologize for the abuse that occurred under the current legislation.

● ● ●

This blog post has been inspired by, among other things:
∙ A challenge from a friend who is a politician to show how legalization could work.
∙ The TEDx talk by James Leitzel that does just that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_Px4nYbJoQ
∙ Organisations and initiatives such as Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (http://www.maps.org/) and Transform (http://www.tdpf.org.uk/).

Main photo: Love by Nicola Romagna on Flickr

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The most addictive drug I have ever tried

Snus is a typical Swedish tobacco product; pouches filled with tobacco that you put under your lip. Before I finally managed to break the habit I had a long series of relapses.

At one point a meditation brought me a clear vision that my front tooth was going to die if I do not immediately quit using it. Even though I knew the consequences, I could not stop. Indeed my front tooth died. That is how strong nicotine addiction is.

SnusdosorOn my last relapse I started collecting the cans they come in. The picture above shows some of the cans I used on that last relapse, before I finally managed to free myself. To be free, for me, means never to touch it again.

My experience is that nicotine is an incredibly addictive and destructive poison. An overwhelming majority of those who use nicotine are fully addicted, just as anyone who would use heroin, alcohol or amphetamines every day. Being without the poison more than a few hours is a challenge. Someone going cold turkey from nicotine is often fully comparable to someone doing the same from heavy narcotics.

The positive effects of nicotine are basically none.

Nicotine harms and kills more than all other drugs combined. Nevertheless, we imagine that it is less dangerous, because it is legal. Something is seriously wrong here. In our society, the most dangerous, most addictive drugs with the least positive effects are legal.

Now why do you think that is?

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