Why some Mass. communities are moving to decriminalize psychedelics

As evidence of the medicinal value of psychedelics grows, advocates and legislators are pushing to decriminalize and eventually legalize these long-used natural substances.

Since February, Cambridge, Somerville, and Northampton have passed resolutions decriminalizing entheogenic plants, a family of natural sources containing certain psychoactive compounds. Examples include peyote (a species of cacti), psychedelic mushrooms (which contain the hallucinogen psilocybin), and ayahuasca.

Oakland, California, did it first: in 2019, the City Council passed a resolution effectively decriminalizing entheogenic plants. In 2020, Oregon voters passed a ballot measure giving the state health authority two years to develop a program where adults can purchase and consume psilocybin products under supervision at a service center.

Though in the U.S., these substances famously grew in popularity in the 1960s and 70s, indigenous cultures across the Americas have used them for remedial and spiritual purposes for hundreds of years.

Keep reading at Boston.com via MSN.

N.J. has dismissed 88K weed cases under new marijuana law

ew Jersey has vacated or dismissed tens of thousands of marijuana convictions as the state continues to work out the details of its new legal cannabis market.

The state Judiciary has dealt with 88,000 cases so far, it announced Monday evening. These are the first wave of an estimated 360,000 identified that qualify for expungement.

Cases that have been vacated or dismissed still need to be expunged. That’s the step that ultimately clears a person’s record. That phase will come in the next few months, according to the judiciary.

A state Supreme Court order issued earlier this month laid out a process for vacating, expunging and dismissing certain marijuana offenses from people’s records. These include selling less than one ounce of marijuana and possession, as well as related crimes like possession of drug paraphernalia, being under the influence, failing to turn over marijuana or being or possessing marijuana while in vehicle.

Read the full story at NJ.com.

MAGIC MUSHROOMS could work as antidepressant, study finds

A psychedelic drug found in mushrooms could work as an antidepressant, new research shows.

Psilocybin, a compound that naturally occurs in some mushrooms, may be able to increase the long-lasting connections between neurons in the brain by 10 percent.

A research team from Yale University believes these connections can reduce the effects of depression on a person.

The study, which will be published in the journal Neuron on Monday, also found that the strength of neuron connections increases as well.

‘We not only saw a 10 percent increase in the number of neuronal connections, but also they were on average about 10 percent larger, so the connections were stronger as well,’ Alex Kwan, senior author of the study and associate professor of psychiatry and of neuroscience at Yale.

Keep reading at The Daily Mail UK.

Kratom Controversy — What is kratom?

Kratom products are sold everywhere from smoke shops to gas stations, and even specialized stores.

Proponents of the herbal supplement claim it can help with a lack of energy, focus or even a natural alternative to pain medication and opioids but the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t agree and is warning people not to buy it.

Grown mainly in southeast Asia, kratom looks like an average house plant. Mac Haddow, with the American Kratom Association says the plant can be used for a number of health reasons.

“It has been used there for centuries by mostly laborers who would pick the leaves from the trees which grow everywhere,” Haddow said. “They would chew on him for an energy boost and increase focus and some, because of the long hot days they were working, would use it in order to as an analgesic to relieve pain”.

Read more at CBS19.

Magic mushrooms, other psychedelics would be decriminalized in California under proposed legislation

California could become the second state to decriminalize magic mushrooms and other psychedelics.

SB 519, a bill that would decriminalize the possession and sharing of certain psychedelics by people 21 or older, is gaining momentum.

The measure has cleared the state Senate, and an Assembly hearing is set for Tuesday.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, who authored the bill, said research indicates that psychedelics help with mental health.

He also said it’s time to stop criminal-justice policies that target people of color.

“The racist war on drugs, which has fueled mass incarceration and torn apart communities — particularly communities of color — has not made us any safer,” Wiener said. “For 50 years, the war on drugs has not made us safer. We have incarcerated as many people as possible, and we have had no benefit.”

Read more at ABC7

Campaign for legal kratom use nears goal

After being listed as an illegal narcotic for many decades, Thais will finally be allowed to use and own Mitragyna speciosa, also known as kratom, as traditional medicine by August this year.

On May 28, an announcement was made in the Royal Gazette which effectively removed the plant from the list of narcotics. As new laws take effect 90 days after their publication in the Gazette, kratom use and possession will be effectively decriminalised on Aug 24.

Prior to its decriminalisation, kratom was categorised as a Class 5 Narcotic substance under the Narcotics Act, which made consuming, cultivating and possessing any part of the plant illegal.

Justice Minister, Somsak Thepsutin, said the move the regulate kratom does not end with its decriminalisation, as the parliament is now working on new laws to manage and control the cultivation and use of the plant.

Read more at the Bangkok Post.

Company contests FDA’s position in lawsuit that kratom is an NDI

A firm linked to a government seizure of $1.3 million in kratom products denied in federal court that the botanical is a new dietary ingredient (NDI).

The “affirmative defense” raised by MT Brands LLC asserts the “articles” seized were marketed in the U.S. before Oct. 15, 1994.

Dietary ingredients marketed before the above date are not subject to a notification requirement in the law to demonstrate their safety to FDA.

For several years, FDA has raised concerns over kratom, a botanical from Southeast Asia which has long been the subject of an import alert. Although several companies aiming to lawfully market kratom in dietary supplements have submitted to FDA premarket NDI notifications, the agency has essentially rejected all of them, citing safety concerns and other considerations.

Read more at Natural Products Insider.

Thailand: Kratom officially removed from being Category V Narcotics and draft Kratom Act to be presented to Parliament

By way of background, kratom (Mitragyna speciosa (Korth.) Havil.) is a tropical tree with opioid properties and some stimulant-like effects, and was previously controlled under the Narcotics Act due to these properties and effects.

On 26 May 2021, the Amendment to the Narcotics Act (the “Amendment”) was published in the Government Gazette. The Amendment, once effective after 90 days from its publication, will remove kratom from being Category V Narcotics. The rationale behind this Amendment is to make the regulation of kratom in line with the position of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, as amended, and the local customs in some areas where kratom is consumed.

Following the removal of kratom from the list of Category V Narcotics, on 1 June 2021, the Cabinet approved the amended draft of the Kratom Act to be considered for presentation to the Parliament.

Read the full story at lexology.com.

What if Seattle decriminalized magic mushrooms? City Council wants to explore that

The Seattle City Council is asking a drug overdose and recovery panel to explore the potential liberalization of local policies on psychedelics like magic mushrooms, citing their potential for treating addiction and mental health conditions.

Seven council members Monday signed a letter to the Overdose Emergency and Innovative Recovery Task Force, which will launch soon in King County.

The panel led by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and VOCAL Washington plans to reconsider how governments and communities can reduce overdoses, racial inequities in drug-user health and criminal-legal system challenges, representatives say.

The task force will delve into questions related to psychedelic medicines, also known as entheogens, among many other topics, said Malika Lamont, program director for VOCAL-WA, an advocacy organization that focuses on the war on drugs, homelessness, mass incarceration and HIV/AIDS. Entheogens include substances like psilocybin, ayahuasca and ibogaine.

Read more at Seattle Times.

House GOP Leader Says Pot Bill Is ‘Tainted,’ Vote Must Wait

With the Connecticut House of Representatives poised to take up a long-awaited bill that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults, the Republican leader on Tuesday called for an investigation into how language was tucked into the legislation that could have intentionally benefitted at least one individual.

House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said the closed-door process that led to the massive, nearly 300-page bill is “tainted,” and the House should not proceed with a vote during the remaining hours of the regular General Assembly session, which adjourns at midnight on Wednesday. The bill narrowly passed the Senate early Tuesday after the contentious provision was stripped.

“It is so tarnished that the House of Representatives should not be taking up this bill,” Candelora said. “And frankly, there should be an investigation in the governor’s office and in the Democrats offices on how this provision came to be.”

Read the full story at usnews.com.

Why Is Ottawa Stalling Proven Magic Mushroom Therapy for the Dying?

For many, COVID-19 has made one day blur into the next and each month merge with another in a sameness that’s different from the pre-pandemic feeling of time passing.

But there are some who are never untethered from clocks and calendars as they confront something far more personally profound than even COVID-19.

They cope with terminal illness, and the existential grief and anxiety that comes with an end-of-life diagnosis.

Last year I wrote about what seemed to be enlightenment and compassion from the federal health minister. Patty Hajdu used her authority under Section 56 of Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to grant legal access to psilocybin for terminal patients. In at least one case Hajdu gave the exemption to a woman with a crippling life-long mental illness.

Read the full story at thetyee.ca

Ex-FDA Head Falsely Claims Kratom Is “Fueling” the Overdose Crisis

Drug warriors have long deployed disinformation to justify panics and crackdowns. Kratom, an unregulated plant-based product used by many to manage opioid consumption and withdrawals, has not been spared.

On May 21, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb spread a baseless claim on social media with a call to criminalize kratom consumers and obstruct access for people with opioid use disorder (OUD).

“I’m convinced [kratom is] fueling the opioid addiction crisis,” Gottlieb posted on Twitter, followed by a call for the Biden Administration to finish the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) 2016 scheduling effort that failed in the face of consumer advocacy and public opposition. 

Dr. Gottlieb’s statement came in response to a series of tweets by both the official FDA account and that of the agency’s current acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock.

Read the full article at Filter Mag

Kratom no longer on drugs list

The Kratom plant has been removed from a list of narcotics listed under the amended Narcotics Act.

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said the Act has been modified and the new version was published in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday to annul the plant’s narcotics status.

The amendment will take effect on Aug 24, Mr Somsak said.

He thanked the organisations involved in pushing for the plant’s removal from the list, noting Kratom is a part of local people’s lifestyle.

However, cultivation of the plant will still be restricted until a new law to regulate kratom plantations is enacted, the justice minister said.

He said this legislation, also known as the Kratom Law, will detail how the plant is allowed to be used.

Keep reading at MSN

A Twitter Tiff Between Former Federal Health Officials Highlights the Weakness of the Case for Banning Kratom

Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says he is “convinced” that kratom, a pain-relieving leaf from Southeast Asia, is “fueling the opioid addiction crisis.” To the contrary, kratom enthusiasts argue, the plant is “the cure for the opioid epidemic.”

There is not much evidence to support either position. But as a recent Twitter tiff between Gottlieb and former Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir shows, the argument about whether the federal government should ban kratom hinges on the question of where the burden of proof belongs.

Gottlieb seems to think any potentially dangerous psychoactive substance should be banned unless it meets the FDA’s strict criteria for approval as a medicine. If a drug is not explicitly permitted, in other words, it should be prohibited by default.

Continue reading at reason.com

U.S. Marshals seized more than 207,000 units of adulterated dietary supplements containing kratom

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that U.S. Marshals, at the agency’s request, seized more than 207,000 units of dietary supplements and bulk dietary ingredients that are or contain kratom, including over 34,000 kilograms of bulk kratom. The dietary supplements are manufactured by Atofil, LLC, which is located in Fort Myers, Florida, and is a subsidiary of Premier Manufacturing Products. The dietary supplements are marketed under the brand names Boosted Kratom, The Devil’s Kratom, Terra Kratom, Sembuh, Bio Botanical, and El Diablo. The seized products are worth approximately $1.3 million.

There is substantial concern regarding the safety of kratom, the risk it may pose to public health and its potential for abuse. The FDA will continue to exercise our full authority under the law to take action against these adulterated dietary supplements as part of our ongoing commitment to protect the health of the American people. Further, there are currently no FDA-approved uses for kratom.”

Keep reading at news-medical.net

Ashdown police warning citizens that ‘Kratom’ is illegal in Arkansas

The Ashdown Police Department has seen an increase in the number of people in possession of an illegal substance known as Kratom.

According to APD, Kratom, which is also called Mitragyna Speciosa, is a schedule 1 controlled substance which makes it a felony offense to possess it in the state of Arkansas.

Mitragyna Speciosa, or Kratom, is a plant which grows in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.

Kratom affects the opioid brain receptors as morphine which exposes the risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence. There are no FDA approved uses for Kratom.

Kratom is used in many ways, the most common are pills, capsules, crushed and smoked, brewed as tea, or by chewing the raw leaves.

Read more at arklatexhomepage.com

Republicans Push for Federal Legalization of Marijuana to Ensure ‘Individual Liberty’

Representative Dave Joyce, a Ohio Republican, introduced the proposed legislation to end the longstanding federal prohibition of marijuana along with Representative Don Young, an Alaska Republican.

The bill would remove cannabis from the Federal Controlled Substances list; instruct the government to create a regulatory framework for marijuana similar to the alcohol industry; allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical cannabis; and protect financial institutions dealing with marijuana distributors and growers.

“For too long, the federal government’s outdated cannabis policies have stood in the way of both individual liberty and a state’s 10th Amendment rights. It is long past time that these archaic laws are updated for the 21st Century,” Young said in a Wednesday statement.

The Republican congressman noted that he is “proud” to represent a state that has already legalized and regulated marijuana.

Continue at Newsweek

Dr. Markus Roggen: Quantifying the Medicinal Potential of Psilocybin

With legal access to psilocybin therapy growing, researchers are committed to understanding and quantifying its potential benefits. As the founder of Complex Biotech Discovery Ventures (CBDV) — a British Columbia-based research laboratory that focuses on extraction optimization, analytical testing, and chemical process development for the cannabis and psilocybin industries — Dr. Markus Roggen holds a unique perspective on the issue.

In this written Q&A, Dr. Roggen discusses the importance of understanding psilocybin’s chemistry, getting licensed to research psilocybin by Health Canada, and the similarities and differences of cannabis vs. psilocybin research. The interview also covers psilocybin’s growing prevalence and popularity, the unknowns that researchers hope to understand, and more!

Read more at ganjapreneur.com

Is Kratom Legal In Florida?

The legality of Kratom in the US is somewhat vague and controversial. Some states have the liberty to enjoy the varied benefits associated with Kratom, while others have to avoid crossing paths with the law. Do you live in Florida or have just paid vacation to the sunshine city? If so, is Kratom legal in Florida?

Generally speaking, the Floridians have had the liberty to buy, carry, and consume Kratom within the state of Florida apart from residents of Sarasota County.

The legality of Kratom in Florida

Florida is one of the several states that have remained steadfast in allowing citizens to exercise their liberties as far as Kratom is concerned. Today, possession of Mitragyna speciosa in whichever form you prefer is like having your Smartphone so long as you are not within the boundaries of the defiant Sarasota County.

Keep reading at thekatynews.com.

Turning weed into green: Could liberalizing marijuana laws help Texas’ economy recover?

Last year Go Green Botanicals co-owner Maurice Salazar and his business partners were forced to close two of their three local CBD shops due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The stores sold myriad cannabidiol products such as gummies, infused coffee beans, lollipops, caramels, and oils at locations in New Braunfels and in San Antonio at Alamo Ranch and North Star Mall.

While selling hemp-based products containing CBD – a compound found in cannabis that does not cause a high but has other relaxing properties – became legal the United States in 2015, Texas’ marijuana laws, including for medical use, are among the most restrictive in the nation. To a growing number of Texans, it was starting to look like a lost business opportunity.

Keep reading at San Antonio Report.