Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Student Movement to End the War on Drugs, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Fight the Drug War.

I was surfing youtube the other day when I stumbled across the above video and it really got me to thinking. I've been a member of Kent State Students for Sensible Drug Policy for a little over a year now, and I think it's time to take a step back and look at all of the things we as a chapter and I personally have experienced in this past year.

When I first joined SSDP, it was my first full week of classes as a new transfer at Kent State. I had heard about SSDP before my time at KSU, however, I had never participated in, or thought much about the organization. I walked into the meeting room in the student center, and to my surprise, it was packed with students that were like-minded to me.

Chris Wallis (former president of the KSU chapter), I think, was also surprised at the size of the group, considering they had only started the chapter a semester before with a total membership of 3 people. The professionalism in which Chris handled the meeting and articulated the chapter and organizational victories was remarkable.

Kent State SSDP in the year prior to my joining passed a Good Samaritan Policy, which has already saved multiple lives on campus, giving students the peace of mind and security to not be afraid to call for medical attention. The chapter also brought a large showing to the Midwest conference.

I was hooked on SSDP from the start.

However, when I joined SSDP I thought I was in for an hour long meeting every week to talk about drug policy activism and leave it at that. I couldn't have been more wrong. SSDP introduced me to my best (and sure to be lifelong) friends. Being responsible for the going-ons in SSDP (as every member somewhat is) has also helped me become a more responsible and mature adult.

And then there was San Francisco. SSDP's International Conference was held in San Francisco, California on March 12-14, 2010. It was there that my life was totally and completely changed. Meeting like-minded individuals from across the nation and world was a truly incredible experience. San Fran also allowed for my chapter to bond and solidify the lifelong friendships we had been tending the semester before. Nothing helped us more to bond than earning the Chapter of the Year award from SSDP national. It was a moment that none of us will ever forget, I'm sure of that.

Waiting in the airport for my plane out of San Francisco and back to Kent was one of the major turning points in my life. I knew that I had made great friends and. learned about nearly every facet of drug policy. And it was through that experience, I am the person I am today.

This year, the dynamics of drug policy and SSDP have begun to change. SSDP national has a new Executive Director and has experienced some changes in staffing. KSUSSDP has a new set of officers, led by Tom Zocolo and a multitude of new faces are showing up every meeting. Drug policy reformers around the nation are working hard on initiatives to bring a greater sense of fairness, sensibility and justice to our nation's drug policy. What a year to look forward to!

Now as I sit in bed, sick at 2 in the morning, I realize how much I've changed. I look at all the friends I've made and the impact we've made on our university and on the world. The future is in our hands SSDPers, now let's change the world even more!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Magic mushrooms ingredient may ease end of life anxiety

'Magic mushrooms' ingredient may ease end-of-life anxiety

By Anne Harding,
September 7, 2010 -- Updated 0047 GMT (0847 HKT)

A new study shows that psilocybin, the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms," may help terminally ill cancer patients get some relief from anxiety.
  • Terminally ill cancer patients may get some relief from a guided "trip" on the drug psilocybin
  • One to three months after taking psilocybin, patients reported feeling less anxious
  • Patients said their experience gave them a new perspective on their illness

( -- Terminally ill cancer patients struggling with anxiety may get some relief from a guided "trip" on the hallucinogenic drug psilocybin, a new study suggests.

The study included 12 patients who took a small dose of psilocybin -- the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms" -- while under the supervision of trained therapists. In a separate session, the participants took a placebo pill, which had little effect on their symptoms.

By contrast, one to three months after taking psilocybin the patients reported feeling less anxious and their overall mood had improved. By the six-month mark, the group's average score on a common scale used to measure depression had declined by 30 percent, according to the study, which was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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In follow-up interviews with the researchers, some patients said their experience with psilocybin gave them a new perspective on their illness and brought them closer to family and friends.

"We were pleased with the results," says the lead researcher, Charles Grob, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, in Torrance, Calif.

Notably, the psilocybin did not aggravate the patients' anxiety or provoke any other unwanted effects besides a slight increase in blood pressure and heart rate. 7 types of therapy that can help depression

Grob's findings are "important because he's showing that you can administer these compounds safely to cancer patients with anxiety," says Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore.

"They're not substances that should be used recreationally or casually, but nonetheless it appears that we can conduct research with these compounds safely," adds Griffiths, who was not involved in the study but has researched the therapeutic effects of psilocybin. (He and his colleagues are currently enrolling patients in a similar study that will use larger doses of the drug.)

Researchers investigating the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and other hallucinogens have been keen to demonstrate the safety of the drugs in clinical settings. Supplements for depression: what works

Psychiatrists and psychologists began exploring the effects of hallucinogens on the mood and anxiety of dying patients in the 1950s, but the research stopped abruptly when psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and other mind-altering drugs were outlawed in the 1970s.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a handful of small studies involving hallucinogens since the 1990s, but the field is still emerging.

Grob's study is the first of its kind in more than 35 years. It was funded by private foundations and the Heffter Research Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that has been a major sponsor of the second-generation hallucinogen research.

The patients in the study were all close to death (10 of the 12 have since died), and they had all diagnoses of anxiety or acute stress relating to their prognosis.

"We were really looking for people who were really struggling with the predicament that they found themselves in," Grob explains. What an anxiety disorder feels like

During the psilocybin sessions, which lasted six hours, the patients lay on a couch and listened to music through headphones.

Although they spoke only briefly to the therapists while under the influence of the drug, they continued to meet periodically with the research staff for six months to discuss their experience and to fill out questionnaires assessing their mood and anxiety levels.

"I think we've established good grounds for continuing the research," Grob says. "That's the goal right now, just to develop more studies."