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Formerly the Eugene Center for Ethnobotanical Studies

Pulse of the Plants

November 2019

Eight-Fold Path of Ethnobotany



“It’s time to get the marijuana out of houses and put it somewhere else,” Michigan state senator, Rick Jones, said. “Let the pharmaceutical companies grow it and sell it in pharmacies.”

Interestingly, as this was about to go to print, I received an email from “Robin,” which said, “I may have some info about the DEA & IRS, who had a secret meeting in Chicago in regards to the info you had in your book… If you want to know more, you can call me…” Moroccan gentlemen have traditionally kept their smoking herbs in a small ceramic containers. The wise old… [elders] of the village are commonly blessed with the saying, “May… [their] pipe and pot always be within reach.” Well, I gave him a call, and this is what he had to say. He was a state licensed medical grower and had attended a family function. There he began chatting with an uncle who served in a three letter agency, and had just returned from a “secret” meeting in the Midwest. As the drinks flowed his uncle became more talkative. He said that in attendance were agents from IRS, DEA, FDA, Big Oil, Big Pharma, and other government officials, including the sitting Governor of Michigan... anyone wishing to manufacture, distribute, prescribe, or dispense marijuana would have to obtain a license from the Michigan Board of Pharmacy. In... 2012 the law signed by Connecticut’s Governor Dannel Malloy, requires a licensed pharmacist on site to dispense cannabis. And interestingly enough in both states, there has been much bureaucratic foot-dragging and political problems in establishing their quasi-legal medial marijuana dispensaries that still conflict with federal law. Plus there is the federal hindering of financial and other operational aspects of a now “legal” business. Stalling for time? But isn’t the game over, with Colorado and Washington [and Oregon] legalizing recreational use of cannabis? Or could the federal government try to put the genie back in the bottle? [Overriding] people’s will and actions for freedom, in favor of overreaching governmental control and profit for commercial interests?

When it comes to the spiritual use of entheogenic plants, spiritual seekers find that they have to fight not only against the mainstream of Western history and culture but also against restrictive and often discriminatory laws concerning the use of entheogens. -Martin Ball, PhD in The Psychedelic Policy Quagmire : Health, Law, Freedom, Society.



Seattle is preparing to step up to the vanguard of drug-war reform.

“I preferred to just go for psychedelics,” says one member, journalist-turned-campaigner Eric Swenson, “to have a sure win rather than a probable loss through overreach.” Recovered addict Youngs opposes “laissez-faire decriminalization of all hard drugs. Trafficking groups will hide under that cover.” 

Our destination after leaving Puerto Leguizamo was the mission... we were looking for "Dr. Alfred Guzman," as Terence called this figure in True Hallucinations. Guzman was a Colombian anthropologist working with the Witoto, together with his English wife and fellow anthropologist, "Annelise." It was Guzman who had originally informed Shultes about the orally active oo-koo-he preparation, so we figured he might give us some leads... Guzman's agitation clearly went beyond his annoyance at us for disrupting his fieldwork. He seemed edgy and hyper-vigilant, clearly in some kind of state. His habit of chewing copious amounts of coca had apparently triggered something like an amphetamine psychosis that had rendered him extremely paranoid. He carried his machete with him at all times and would wander about, cutting swathes through the grass and muttering things like, "The snakes, the snakes are everywhere, waiting to strike!  You must never let your guard down." -The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna by Dennis McKenna, PhD



A trial court and the Oregon Court of Appeals had previously rejected the argument.

Both courts cited precedent that officers could go off-topic during an “unavoidable lull” in the interaction, which usually occurs while the driver was busy searching for their license and registration.  The Oregon Supreme Court saw it differently.  “Put simply, an ‘unavoidable lull’ does not create an opportunity for an officer to ask unrelated questions, unless the officer can justify the inquiry on other grounds,” the decision states … no longer can officers randomly segue into questions about the presence of guns or drugs. 

Holy sacrament [entheogens] as trinket and souvenir is bad enough... the true dimensions of the problem come into sharp focus... not only do we profane the sacrament, but we debase the shaman, noble practitioner of humankind's oldest profession... and it is a distressingly, short, slippery step... from the inner sanctum... to the slammer. -The Age of Entheogens & The Angels Dictionary by Jonathan Ott



Anything tending to show the existence of voter support for psychedelic law reform would have been a win.

If the vote tally had stayed where it was in Denver on May 7, 2019, a 54%-46%, defeat would have been a good outcome. A 52%-48% defeat would’ve been very good, and 51%-49% loss would’ve been a major declaration that policymakers need to take seriously the issue of psychedelics regulation. However, none of those explanations are necessary since the [grass-roots] psychedelic constituency scored a well-publicized first victory and demonstrated that it can succeed at the local and state levels.

We were pleasantly surprised. Psilocybin [mushrooms] seemed a lot less "serious" than LSD, whose trip seemed more weighted with personal psychology and psychoanalytical baggage... had it's own personality... along with the visual effects were effects on cognition and language. At times it seems the mushrooms opened up a direct pipeline to the Logos itself, the bedrock of meaning that underlies all language... they were easy on the body... -The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna by Dennis McKenna, PhD



Margolin said threatening people with losing their homes for doing what others are allowed to do is cruel. “This is absolutely unequal and unfair protection of people”. -Bruce Margolin (an attorney and the director of the Los Angeles chapter of NORML, a national advocacy group striving to decriminalize marijuana across the country.)

Margolin recounted several instances of elderly people living in the greater Los Angeles area under Section 8 housing who are sick and rely on medical marijuana. “They’re sick, they’re old and they’re unable to travel,” he said. “So where are they supposed to go?” The schism between state and federal laws around marijuana use is creating similar predicaments for public housing tenants across the country, including those with medical marijuana cards. And many say it is leading to an unequal application of the law that penalizes the poor who rely on federal assistance to provide housing for their families.

The second important aspect of the techniques of self is that they require courage. With psychedelics, this is not hard to see. It requires courage to ingest them and work with them. Even when a person is very experienced, there might come a time when he or she will encounter something that might be challenging ideas that were held for decades. Courage is therefore needed to face whatever the experience will offer and let the experience change the subject through the insights it offers. The courage to face the truth, which consists in allowing the practice to transform the self, is the courage to let go of the idea that one is who one is in favor of the idea that what one is will transform into the unknown one who will be.  -Pieter Stokkink in The Psychedelic Policy Quagmire: Health, Law, Freedom, Society.


…centuries of biased propaganda and policy associating currently-illicit, plant-based substances with chaos, violence, and malice. As a society beginning to seriously discuss creative alternatives to the punishment- and abstinence-based status quo, we must acknowledge that maintaining drug prohibition requires both a misappropriation and control of substances that are… [naturally-occurring] to certain lands and cultures.

Decolonizing drug use on an institutional level means that we legitimize and provide access to plant-based, entheogenic practices, and that we bring more awareness to indigenous healing practices and frameworks that go beyond the present healthcare system’s reliance on specific treatments for single indications. It means awareness of why institutions like the DEA, FDA, and others use the standards they use, and why it is imperative to critique them.

Spinelessly submitting to the tyranny of unelected 'Drug Tsars,' citizens of the United States consent to degrading assaults on human dignity - urinalysis on the job, 'body-cavity searches' in customs, debased and demeaned. When we take not responsibility for which drugs we consume, governments condignly fleece us of our freedoms and dignity, like taking candy from the babies we've become. -Pharmacophilia or The Natural Paradises by Jonathan Ott



The... tourist in search of a deep cosmic insight often fails to understand the importance of the cultural context in which the… [plants are] used.

This parallels with the European discovery of tobacco in the sixteenth century; an attitude of disregard and criticism of the intended herbal ritualistic use. The traditional uses of tobacco are comparable with the indigenous uses of the ayahuasca plant; ceremonial, ritualistic, and medicinal.  When the herb’s psychedelic properties were separated from it’s spiritual properties it was able to assimilate into European society, evolving into the addictive substance it remains as today.

...It is the transformation of holy sacrament to crass tourist commodity, occasioned by this entheogenic tourism, which leads me to condemn it in no uncertain terms... it is interesting that mushroomic tourism, which happily never reached the state of organization of today's peyotl and ayahuasca tours, has waned in Mexico but flourished in Thailand, where local people with no direct connection to the traditional shamanic use of entheogenic mushrooms have learned to exploit them as novel tourism opportunity.  -The Age of Entheogens & The Angels Dictionary by Jonathan Ott


[He states he]is keenly familiar with the fears that many have with using plant-based medicine.

Michael Hartman… has developed extensive metered-dose inhaler IP in the pharmaceutical world… before developing his pressurized (using 134A Freon) metered-dose [psilocybin] inhaler IP through his company…  [In the spirit of safety/caution/discourse, it may also be important to point out that the psilocybin nose-spray mentioned above contains 134A Freon (1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane), which is reportedly safe for  human use, and though may be found in apparently negligible amounts in the aforementioned product, the 134A Freon therein has a global warming rating of 1300 and has been banned by the European Union for certain uses. According to a paper by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, research suggests that... concentration of 134A Freon has increased significantly in the Earth's atmosphere, with a... study revealing a doubling in atmospheric concentration between 2001 and 2004.]

...looks for 'scientific' explanations to explain away the obvious. Thus, to the modern mind, the witches were mentally sick women; the Jews in Nazi Germany were the victims of a mass psychosis; involuntary mental patients are sick people unaware of then own need for treatment, and so on. -Ceremonial Chemistry by Thomas Szasz



“I want to model how to be a safe and responsible user without going the clinical route… for individuals who want to participate within a community-based environment, while receiving support and being safe.” -Co-founder Nicolle Greenheart (Decrim Nature Oakland)

“I’m from Chicago, so there’s a regional difference in reception of natural plant medicines compared to Oakland. Indigenous and Latinx communities have been very open and welcoming to the decriminalization of natural psychedelics. I expected resistance from the Black Church, but attendees have understood that God made these plants for healing purposes,” says community outreach and education activist, Amber Senter. “These are not drugs. These are healing plants … We just think they should never have been made illegal to begin with,” says Carlos Plazola.

Any adult who wants to further his or her spiritual practice should be able to do so. Our spiritual practice and experience is one of the most fundamental aspects of our being. It is perhaps the most central core of who we are and how we experience ourselves in the world. It is something that is worthy of legal recognition and protection. And, as has been, given that membership in officially recognized religions is waning and non-affiliated spiritual practice is on the rise, in addition to the increasing popularity of "entheogenic spirituality", the need for such legal recognitions is only going to become more urgent and relevant. As it stands, our legal system renders sincere spiritual practitioners as criminals when they choose to engage with entheogens outside of the very limited contexts of the NAC, UDV, or San Daime churches in Oregon. This situation is completely out of step with the reality "on the ground" of thousands (if not more) of entheogenic practitioners across the country and around the globe... The "war on drugs" has served to criminalize what is otherwise a normal human behavior - the seeking of altered states of consciousnesses for spiritual and personal purposes that afford direct experience of "the sacred". This is something that is worthy of legal protection and recognition, and the time to initiate such changes is now.  -Martin Ball, PhD in The Psychedelic Policy Quagmire : Health, Law, Freedom, Society.

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