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Formerly the Eugene Center for Ethnobotanical Studies


Pulse of the Plants


April 2019
 

Eight Fold Path of Ethnobotany
 

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UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENT

Psychedelic Film and Open Ethnobotanical Library Browsing
~community discussion~

Saturday, April 6, 2019 (11am – 1pm)
138 Main St. Springfield, OR 97477


*Free Hot Tea/Snacks
*Free Parking & Bicycle Safe Lock-Ups

RELIGION AS A PRODUCT OF PSYCHOTROPIC DRUG USE

religion
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Perhaps one of the first things to consider is whether there is any direct evidence for the entheogenic theory of religion which derives from contemporary science. [One can review the 1962 Good Friday Experiment and Johns Hopkins 2006 Experiment for that]. Religiously speaking, John Marco Allegro considered the possibility that ancient peoples would have been particularly concerned with two things—procreation and the supply of food. Amanita muscaria was such a plant that, when consumed, allowed a person to commune more closely with God … Allegro also suggested that the information concerning the use of Amanita muscaria as a religious fertility sacrament was subject to great secrecy, the provenance of a priestly sect. He speculated that these practices developed very early on in human history, even prior to the time when writing first came into existence during the ancient Sumerian civilization. He further suggested that the existence of the mushroom was secretly encoded in the use of particular Sumerian word roots. This secret encoding of the mushroom fertility cult down through the ages eventually led to the development of the concept of Jesus to encapsulate the identity of Amanita muscaria around the time of the sacking of the second temple by the Romans. According to Allegro, the Bible (and the New Testament in particular) is really just a series of myths that describe the secrets of the Amanita muscaria fertility cult rather than real people. John Allegro understood from the start that the job of the editing team was to make the Dead Sea scroll texts available to scholars everywhere, and he believed their message mattered to everyone. The scrolls had been written around or shortly before the time of Jesus. The church found his theory so shocking that the book received instant condemnation in the 1970's. However, subsequent scholarship by Judith Anne Brown in her book, The Maverick of the Dead Sea Scrolls (2007) brings a rational and modern assessment of his work to the forefront.
 

THE DRUG OF CHOICE FOR THE AGE OF KALE

modern culture
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Leanna Standish, a researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine, estimated that “on any given night in Manhattan, there are a hundred ayahuasca ‘circles’ going on.”  “I am very interested in bringing this ancient medicine from the Amazon Basin into the light of science,” Standish said. She is convinced that “it’s going to change the face of Western medicine.” For now, though, she describes ayahuasca use as a “vast, unregulated global experiment.” Most people who take ayahuasca in the United States do so in small “ceremonies,” led by an individual who may call himself a shaman, an ayahuasquero, a curandero, a vegetalista, or just a healer. [One couple serves] —“divine consciousness in liquid form”—at ceremonies ... They showed me pictures of themselves harvesting plants in a verdant Hawaiian jungle, looking radiantly happy. I asked if they made a living this way. “We manifest abundance wherever we go,” she told me. Her boyfriend added, “Consciousness is its own economy.”… Having studied fMRIs and EEGs of subjects on ayahuasca, Araujo [a researcher not affiliated with the above couple] thinks that the brain’s “default-mode network”—the system that burbles with thought, mulling the past and the future, while your mind isn’t focused on a task—is temporarily relieved of its duties. Meanwhile, the thalamus, which is involved in awareness, is activated. The change in the brain, he notes, is similar to the one that results from years of meditation. Dennis McKenna told me, “In shamanism, the classic theme is death and rebirth—you are reborn in a new configuration. The neuroscientific interpretation is exactly the same: the default-mode network is disrupted, and maybe things that were mucking up the works are left behind when everything comes back together.”
 

NEW SYNTHETIC, MOLECULARLY ISOLATED, MAGIC MUSHROOM ALKALOID "PSILOCYBIN" DISCOVERY COULD REVEAL HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN

science
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One of the most surprising findings is the simplicity of the process, says David Sherman, a medicinal chemist at the University of Michigan who wasn’t involved in the paper. In only five steps, the mushroom’s enzymes convert tryptophan, a widely occurring amino acid (a building block of protein) into psilocybin. In a study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, Dirk Hoffmeister and colleagues sequenced and mapped the genes in the “magic” mushroom Psilocybe cubensis. Scientists have known for a while that these genes produce several enzymes that combine to create psilocybin, but nobody knew the sequence and order of this seemingly mystical process. Through a series of trial-and-error type tests, Hoffmeister and colleagues figured out the correct order. “There was some Wow! in the air” when the team finally figured it out,” says Hoffmeister, with the University of Jena in Germany … The paper could pave the way for people without advanced knowledge to produce psilocybin on their own, using commercially available synthetic biology kits, Sherman says.
 

MEDICAL CANNABIS REFORM LEAVES AT LEAST 5,000 PATIENTS WITH NO MEDICINE

healing
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Caught in the conflict are thousands of chronically or fatally ill patients, many of whom are in pain and unsure where their next medicine will come from. Around 5,000 patients have already run out of their medicine, and an additional 3,000-4,000 will likely run out [soon], according to Dana Bar-On, the CEO of the Medical Cannabis Association. “These are the damages of the reform,” said Bar-On. “This is just the implementation process. This is how much much consideration they have for patients — they had no problem leaving 8,000 patients, some of whom are dying, with no medicine.” Tikun Olam [medical cannabis provider for approximately 40% of medical marijuana patients in Israel] and the Health Ministry each point accusatory fingers at the other, with Tikun Olam blaming the ministry’s stringent cannabis reform requirements, and the ministry, in turn, accusing Tikun Olam of not acting quickly enough to avoid a shortfall in product. Tikun Olam says it gave the Health Ministry advance notice of the issues involved in moving to a new facility, while the Health Ministry says it has worked through as many claims as possible to get patients changed to other medical marijuana companies, though the process takes time.
 

CAUCASIAN/WHITE ANCESTORS HAVE APPROACHED PLANTS AND FUNGI WITH RESPECT AND REVERENCE, TOO

anthropology
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Virtually all human societies use mind-altering substances. What’s more, about 90 percent give drug-induced altered states of consciousness a role in their fundamental belief systems, according to a survey of 488 modern societies. And this isn’t new. Many psychoactive plants we consume today, and those that have fallen out of style, date back thousands of years. Before we made drugs a societal menace, we respected them and used them for healing and spiritual purposes. Some scholars believe early religion is rooted in their prophetic hallucinations [while] others wonder whether drugs played a part in the origins of symbolic life and major intellectual breakthroughs.
 

HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS, HEALERS, AND ADVOCATES WANT DECRIMINALIZATION FOR PSYCHEDELICS

politics
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“Wouldn’t it be nice to have the freedom to work with these ancient sacred medicines that offer direct knowledge without the fear of persecution? Wouldn’t it be nice to address the set and setting elephant in the room—to reduce the immediate fear of persecution involved while engaging our right to access natural healing and insight—by decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi?” As legalized marijuana creeps into the mainstream, advocates for drug policy reform are setting their sights on a new goal—legalizing psychedelics. Organizers in Oakland, California are the latest to push for legalizing psychedelic [plants] including mushrooms.
 

[HARM REDUCTION] ADVICE [IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING] TAKING LSD FROM SEASONED ACID AFICIONADOS

psychology
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1) Peter (74) : What advice would you give young people looking to experiment with LSD? … 2) Holger (64) : If you could impart some wisdom about LSD on your 17-year-old self, what would it be? … 3) Adam (54) : What would you tell a young person who’s considering experimenting with psychedelic drugs? 1) You should never drop acid on a regular basis. There have been periods in my life where I did it a lot, but also extended periods that I didn’t do it at all. And [if] you try it for the first time, make sure you’re outside, surrounded by [safe] nature [or inside in a safe space]. I have a lot of friends who have f*cked themselves up on acid, so if you struggle with mental illness, don’t do it. If you decide to do so anyway, be prepared to be confronted with everything—there’s no mercy. That’s why LSD has the kind of reputation it has—there’s this ruthless honesty, on a level that very few people have ever dealt with before. … 2) That, at 17, you’re too young for it. [However, if you still choose to] you need to be sure of yourself before you start going on that trip. And should [you decide to do it], [research nearly universally suggests] only do it when you’re surrounded by people you like in a space where you feel comfortable because things will change dramatically once you start tripping. A lot of people think taking LSD is all about kicking back and watching cartoons when it’s actually the exact opposite. It can change you on a fundamental level by forcing you to perceive reality in a completely different way. … 3) My advice is pretty simple: don’t use drugs to escape your issues. If you’re thinking of doing it, only do it to enhance experiences that are already great … but you should only … if you’re content without them. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t enjoy your life without doing drugs, you need to get help. [Testing for purity is also recommended by harm reduction advocates.]
 

THE DEA CHIEF WILL ‘HAVE TO CHECK’ WHETHER DEA LETS DRUGS INTO COMMUNITIES ON PURPOSE. [IT DOES, APPARENTLY]

biography
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Aside from direct involvement in drug deals, law enforcement officials may also allow drugs to flow into communities because they’re interested in seizing the cash proceeds from the sale of those drugs. A more recent Inspector General’s report found that since 2007, the DEA had seized $3.2 billion in cash from people not charged with a crime. Federal law allows informants, like those employed by the DEA, to engage in “otherwise illegal activity” as part of an investigation. Those activities include “trafficking in what would be considered as large quantities of controlled substances — 450 kilos of cocaine, for instance, or more than 90,000 kilos of marijuana." ... “DEA undercover agents or DEA confidential sources of information commonly pose as buyers or sellers of controlled substances,” explained DEA spokesman Russell Baer in an email. Those informants are permitted to engage in all manner of illegal activities, even the large-scale trafficking of drugs. (image above is global peace index; dark green through yellow = most peace, tan through dark red =  least peace).
 

WHY "LICENSED PRACTITIONERS" & BIG PHARMA GIVES YOU PILLS AND NOT ANCIENT PLANT REMEDIES
spirituality
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As a professional neuroscientist  with an interest in psychedelic medicines, it is clear to me that the attempt to reduce organisms to single active principles is challenged by the sheer complexity of traditional medicine, says Sidarta Ribeiro, Ph.D. My understanding of the medicinal use of whole organisms was greatly illuminated by the notion of entourage/[ensemble] effect, a term coined in 1998 by chemists Raphael Mechoulam and Simon Ben-Shabat to refer to the cooperative effects of the multiple compounds present in whole organisms, which may potentiate clinical efficacy while attenuating side effects … In stark opposition to this view, mainstream pharmacology is adamant about the need to use purified substances for medical treatment, because these are presumably more specific and safe. This position is defended fiercely in the media and also in academic publications, as if there was much more clinical knowledge accumulated about the effects of the purified compounds than about the effects of whole organisms. However, this is simply not the case. The traditional use of whole organisms has centuries and, in some cases, millennia of cultural experience, while purified compounds only recently started to be investigated. 

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The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday [Feb. 20th, 2019] that the Constitution places limits on the ability of states and localities to take and keep cash, cars, houses and other private property used to commit crimes.
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The practice, known as civil forfeiture, is a popular way to raise revenue and is easily abused, and it has been the subject of widespread criticism across the political spectrum. The court’s decision will open the door to new legal arguments when the value of the property seized was out of proportion to the crimes involved. 
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The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bars “excessive fines,” limits the ability of the federal government to seize property. In a 9-to-0 decision that united justices on the left and right, the court ruled that the clause also applies to the states.

 
 
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