Ethnobotanicals: "The Green Psychedelics"

GRASSROOTS to GLOBAL: Local response to UNGASS 2016.

 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs has failed.

Thousands of world leaders were ignored. Civil society was dismissed. Ethnobotanicals; scarcely discussed. Psychedelics seen as apparently irrelevant. Scientists; relegated. People left imprisoned. Future generations were condemned. Russia became the new leader on the global war on drugs. China continues to execute "dealers". 

DRUGS of DESIRE: Plants of Consideration.

The scientific research conversation we could consider having.

"I realized that my disembodied point of view had been reincarnated again, and was now embedded in the matrix of the newly reduced ribulose diphosphate/carbon dioxide complex: this unstable intermediate was rapidly falling apart into two molecules of phospho-glycerate, which were grabbed and loaded on the merry-go-round by the first enzymes of the Calvin cycle. Dimly, I struggled to remember my early botany lessons and put names to what I was seeing.

-Dennis McKenna The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna

DOCTORS stand UP: Science, not Dogma.

When dozens of professionals stand to Be Counted.

* a psychologist in the Psychiatry Department of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he and his colleagues have pursued psychedelic research during the past 16 years.

* a PhD studies the brain effects of LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and MDMA. Most recently he has completed the first phase of a clinical trial looking at the potential of psilocybin to treat depression.

* a Medical Doctor in Addiction Medicine (Master in Addiction Medicine KNMG) at Iriszorg. Researcher at Iriszorg and Radboud University Medical Center.

* a PhD the politics of human (cognitive) enhancement technologies, psychedelics and philosophy and philosophy of technology in the age of the anthropocene.


The tightening whirlpool of Law.

The first federal law to regulate psilocybin and psilocin was enacted in July of 1965. This first law had an exemption. It permitted people to possess such drugs so long as they were for personal use of the possessor, a member of his household, or for administration to an animal.

-Richard Glen Boire, ESQ. Sacred Mushrooms and the Law

TRAVEL we GO: Worldwide Events.

Can Lane County Public Health address the mental health crisis without ethnobotanicals?

Overseas, they understand.  The need is great.  The pressure is building here in Lane County.  Ethnobotanicals for treatment of a whole range of conditions is a human rights issue.  This is happening across Europe. For example...

In the Nederlands, the Interdisciplinary Conference on Psychedelic Research  2016 has been acknowledged as an official training program for first-line psychologists (eerstelijnspsychologen), by Dutch Association of Psychologists (Nederlands Instituut van Psychologen, NIP). 

WE are READY: Now. joins the Coalition of NGO's, Non-Profits, and Private Foundations to:
  • Share stories humanizing the diversity of psychedelic users

  • Increase awareness around the benefits of psychedelics

  • Shift public attitudes and Reverse decades of negative stigma surrounding psychedelic and psychoactive drugs

  • Educate people about current scientific research

  • Promote psychedelic harm reduction by understanding the true risks and how to manage them

  • Help end arrests, incarceration, and criminalization associated with global drug prohibition

  • Unite psychedelic, drug policy reform, and harm reduction movements

Lex Pelger; host of Psymposia

ARE you DEEPLY: Experienced?

On March 24th, 2016 CNN Reports...

"You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin… and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities," Ehrlichman said. "We could arrest their leaders; raid their homes; break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."  

Ehrlichman's comment is the first time the war on drugs has been plainly characterized as a political assault designed to help Nixon win, and keep, the White House.

LOCAL Eug VOICES: Real Issues.

On the Death of a Eugene Youth at a Local Addiction Treatment Center

Whenever a loved one is lost due to allegations of medical malpractice, pangs of anguish emerge. How can those we trust to care for our health possibly hurt us, or even allow us to die? Drugs have been an intense focus for scientific research and medical practice for many decades.  Benzodiazepines (drugs like alprazolam and diazepam) and opioids (e.g. morphine, oxycontin, codeine) are nervous system depressants. As a former supervisor of a drug and alcohol detox clinic I administered them myself, hundreds of times. Give a client too many, especially in this combination, and breathing becomes so slow and labored that it all but stops.  Sometimes it does. And please understand, one pill does not by any means benefit all cases, despite the labels on the bottle.

I take issue not primarily with any addiction treatment or professional staff, or whether they may or may not have failed in their assigned duties in cases of death under medical care. The underlying culprit, it seems, is that we are not practicing science-based medicine in a majority of our addiction treatments centers today. Rather, we are participating in something of a pre-ordained system. During my time working in addictions, I realized the range of medicines being utilized in assisting my clients was based less on science and more on the political baggage we still carry from when the ethnobotanical (or psychedelic) medicine, Tabernanthe iboga, among others, was outlawed in 1970.

Iboga? An ancient plant whose root, when consumed, provides a literal reset of the opioid receptor site. A root, in other words, that frees those chemically dependent on opiates from severe withdrawal (though they may still feel some lingering, more mild, discomfort.) Instead of the typical gut-wrenching physical withdraw process, with iboga a "movie" plays out in the minds and bodies of the client, much like a dream, in which they are the main actor. 

During this "movie" they watch their own life (including their most noble and ignoble moments) play out before them, as if on a TV screen. They see, hear, and viscerally feel how their choices have impacted their community, their loved ones, and themselves. It's like experiencing a personal autobiography of one’s own life, up close and in color. For those in denial or struggling to face up to the reality their addictive choices, habits, and patterns have created, this is potent medicine. The experience often results in a complete change of life-course for the person treated. 

I'm not saying opiates are the only things individuals become addicted to; far from it, in fact. But I am saying that there are a multitude of plant-based cures for many common addictions. Iboga for opiate addiction is simply one example. 

Unfortunately, this is a treatment reserved for the wealthy, who can cross borders to Canada or Mexico where iboga treatment centers flourish-- not only because they are notably effective, but because they are legal. Please note that again. Iboga is legal and utilized in Canada. When 50% of Lane County's children live under the poverty line-- a known indicator of increased susceptibility to future addiction-- it is well past time we re-incorporate iboga and the other ethnobotanicals (potent plant medicines) into our health care system. Many of those already well aware of iboga’s effectiveness cannot necessarily just pick up and cross a border for a 3 to 5 day treatment with the plant. 

Remember, these potent plants were outlawed back when President Nixon declared open season on hippies and minorities, starting a cultural and health-care war which ripped the heart of our nation asunder. This also left our children sticking needles in their arms under draconian drug laws; sometimes being accidentally poisoned to death by addictions treatment professionals, most of whom have nothing but genuine love and concern for their clients. 

Our society’s legal intolerance of an entire category of medicinal plants-- what most indigenous cultures have always regarded as safe healing agents-- has come with an unacceptable price. We have been misguided into accepting substandard treatments which are not based on cutting-edge neuroscience, but on maintaining a status quo. Instead of running for the cure, let's turn towards the cure. Iboga, San Pedro (cactus), ayahuasca, and other of these visionary medicines can provide the relief our chemically dependent population so desperately seeks. We simply need to provide local and legal access to them in an equality-based manner. This isn't anything new. These plants (all of them) have thousands of years of healing history. Let's bring our institutions in line with what the science is really saying. The writing on the wall is there for iboga just as it was for cannabis (marijuana.) We just need to look a little longer and closer until the natural safety and efficacy of such plants comes into focus, and we decriminalize them. Then science can more forward, the addictions professionals can more forward, and our families can more forward, in freedom rather than bondage.


James Joseph
Eugene Center for Ethnobotanical Studies (
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