Gardens of the Cross Timbers: Pollinator week comin’ up

Pollinator week is June 19-25 2017. The first “National Pollinator Week” was celebrated 10 years ago. How very important pollinators are. 

In the wild, cacao trees (Theobroma cacao) prefer to live in the moist understory of the rainforests in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. The flowers sprout straight from the trunk and lower branches to form cacao pods, courtesy of midge pollination. The National Park Service works with “sister parks” in South America that are looking into the problem of disappearing chocolate midges.

The “lungs of the planet” are being cleared and turned into monoculture farms that support little wildlife. In 2015, United Cacao cleared over five thousand acres of pristine rainforest in Peru to make way for their cacao plantation. Efforts are now being directed toward locating small cacao farms at the edge or within the rainforest ecosystems. How much do you like your chocolate?

Continue Reading at The Shawnee News-Star

CBD Products Market Becoming Hottest Segment of Cannabis Industry

As the demand for CBD-based products explodes in the U.S. and continues to thrive across the globe, Cannabis-based companies race to develop and introduce the newest and higher quality products to capitalize on themomentum. Much like most of the cannabis and legal medical marijuana market, vendors and manufacturers focus on delivering a high degree of quality infused in their CBD-based products.

Earth Science Tech, Inc. (OTC: ETST), an innovative biotech company focused on cannabis CBD-based (industrial hemp), cannabinoid research and development, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices is pleased to announce its new wholly-owned subsidiary KannaBidioid Inc. to manufacture and distribute vapes/e-liquids and gummy edibles to target vape/smoke shops.

Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) is known to elevate mood, decrease anxiety, stress, and tension, and suppress the appetite. In moderate doses, it induces euphoria and acts as a powerful stimulant, but can actually have a sedative effect in larger doses.

Read the full article at Cision

Massive Poppy Bust: Why Home-Grown Opium Is Rare

A North Carolina man was arrested last month when police discovered an acre of opium poppies growing in his yard.

The alleged grower, Cody Xiong, is a rare criminal in the United States. Despite a raging opioid epidemic in the country, fields of home-grown opium are rare. The sheriff in the North Carolina case said the discovery was only the second time the plant had been found growing in the United States this year, WBTV reported.

Growing enough poppies to make heroin in the United States doesn’t make much economic sense compared to importing the drug from more lawless regions, Wankel said. Compared to marijuana, opium poppies are more conspicuous and harder to process, and carry much harsher penalties for growing.

Read more at Live Science

Tennessee Man to Challenge Legality of Kratom

Kratom Powder

Clarksville native Christopher Miller was recently arrested in Nashville, TN for attempting to sell kratom. Kratom is an herb that recently faced up against a possible DEA ban. Luckily for the thousands who use kratom for pain, depression, anxiety or even to wean off of opiates, bipartisan support of congress and medical doctors, ethnobotanists, pharmacologists and even one of the foremost addiction specialists, Johns Hopkins professor Dr. Jack Henningfield, the DEA was forced to back down, a literally unprecedented occurrence in the history of the agency.

Unfortunately, due to a great deal of misinformation, some of which comes from sources that are questionable at best, Nashville’s Metro PD were misinformed about the plant.

Read what happened on Inquisitr

Marijuana Legalization Could Hurt These Marijuana Stocks

One company with a cannabinoid product actually opposes marijuana legalization. Insys Therapeutics (NASDAQ: INSY) doesn’t want more states to legalize weed and has urged the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the past to not lower the bar for some marijuana laws. Here’s how marijuana legalization could hurt Insys’ fortunes — and perhaps those of other biotechs with cannabinoid products, especially GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH).

Why Insys wants to just say No?

Insys donated $500,000 in 2016 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group opposing legalization of recreational marijuana in Arizona. The company’s investment paid off: Arizona voters rejected the proposition for legalizing recreational marijuana. However, the state’s voters narrowly approved the legal use of medical marijuana in 2010

Why did Insys Therapeutics fight against expanded marijuana legalization in its home state? The company’s official line was that the proposition on the ballot last year failed “to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.” However, Insys also said that the company “firmly believes in the potential clinical benefits of cannabinoids.”

Continue Reading at Madison.com

Cannabis tax goes before voters in Santa Rosa

Should Santa Rosa tax cannabis businesses to help offset the cost of regulating the fast-growing industry?

There is no formal opposition to the measure. Tawnie Logan, executive director of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance, said her group of cannabis growers supports the city’s plan.

“It’s a good framework that’s representative of a tax structure that’s more approachable for the industry,” Logan said. “It’s still a little high but it’s far more accessible than the rates proposed by the county.”

Cannabis businesses in the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County face much steeper taxes under a measure approved by county voters in March. It allows the county to tax cannabis businesses up to 10 percent and doesn’t lock in rate increments. Marijuana industry players, including the grower’s alliance, opposed the ballot measure, which passed by a 3-to-1 ratio.

Santa Rosa City Councilman Chris Rogers, a member of the council’s three-person cannabis policy subcommittee, said he believes the city’s measure strikes a balance between making sure the city can cover costs associated with the newly regulated local pot industry and “not setting the tax so high it gives people incentive to stay in the black market.”

Santa Rosa cultivators would initially be taxed at 2 percent of gross receipts or $5 per square foot of cultivation space. The starting rates for dispensaries would be 3 percent and it would be 1 percent for manufacturers.

These tax levels wouldn’t change for two years, and any subsequent increases would also be locked in place for two years. A supermajority of five votes on the seven-person City Council would be needed to increase the rates above 5 percent.

City officials have said the tax would allow it to address the impact of the cannabis industry while bolstering revenues for general city purposes.

The Press Democrat

9 Plants That Contain Therapeutic Cannabinoids

Cannabinoid is a term that is thrown around a lot in the cannabis industry — but did you know there are many different types of cannabinoids that are found throughout Mother Nature’s complex web?

Phytocannabinoids are the cannabinoids produced by plants.

Endocannabinoids are the cannabinoids produced within the body of humans and animals.

Synthetic Cannabinoids are the cannabinoids produced in a laboratory.

There are also a few common plants we will cover today that contain compounds that mimic the biological activity of the classic cannabinoid but have a slightly different structure. These are called cannabimimetic compounds.

Read more at Marijuana.com

Hospital Begins Dispensing Cannabis Oil

(CNS Business): Grand Cayman’s CTMH Doctors Hospital and Cayman Pharmacy Group has introduced medical cannabis for physician selected patients who are resident in the Cayman Islands. Case studies reveal life changing results for patients suffering with chronic pain, neuropathic pain and seizures, among other health related problems who are treated with cannabis oil. The medicine will, initially, be dispensed out of Professional Pharmacy to spearhead this strongly supported treatment.

The prescription of cannabis oil for many conditions, including cancer, was made possible after Dennie Warren Jr successfully lobbied government to change the misuse of drugs law and allow for what many believe is a near miraculous and natural way to treat many serious diseases.

he oil contains measurable combinations of the active ingredients of cannabis, Tetrahyrdocannabinol or THC and Cannabidiol or CBD. Hospital officials said that to begin with, only a limited supply of oil will be dispensed to a small number of physician selected patients. During this initial phase, the primary focus is to engage and educate these patients and track their progress to assist them to achieve desired outcomes and minimise side effects.

The hospital explained that specific cannabis oil product information will be circulated to physicians by CMD and Professional Pharmacy. As with all prescriptions, Professional Pharmacy provides free and confidential patient counselling on prescriptions they dispense.

The treatment is approved for use only in the Cayman Islands and cannot cross international borders legally. Patients cannot carry medical cannabis oils into the United States, UK or Canada, even with a prescription.

CNS Business

Medical Marijuana Firm Seeks Emergency Ruling to Halt Maryland Industry

A medical marijuana company filed an emergency motion Monday asking a judge to forbid the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from issuing any final licenses to grow the drug.

Alternative Medicine Maryland asked Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams to issue a temporary injunction against the commission, arguing the entire licensing process should be stopped because the commission appears poised to grant final licenses.

The request for an emergency halt to the process comes as the marijuana commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the progress of 15 companies that did win initial approval to grow marijuana — a meeting that is among the final steps in the process to begin legal cultivation of medical marijuana.

“Time is of the essence,” Alternative Medicine Maryland’s lawyers wrote to Judge Williams. “It is undisputed that the commission made no attempt to … actively seek racial and ethnic diversity throughout the licensing process.”

The state law legalizing medical marijuana required the commission to “actively seek” racial diversity among approved growers and distributors. Alternative Medicine Maryland, which is led by an African-American and did not receive a preliminary license, filed a lawsuit last year alleging the commission broke the law by failing to use a race-conscious application process.

The commission’s failure to consider race when picking the winning companies also sparked a prolonged fight in the Maryland General Assembly over whether to expand the industry. The Legislative Black Caucus pushed for at least five more marijuana growing licenses to be issued, in order to make sure minority-owned firms had a fair shot a potentially lucrative industry. The issue was not resolved before the annual legislative session adjourned last month.

The governor and legislative leaders also are considering whether to recall lawmakers to Annapolis for a special legislative session to consider how to increase diversity among medical marijuana growers.

The state legalized medical marijuana in 2013, but it has taken more than four years for the program to launch.

The Baltimore Sun

Magic Mushrooms Are Shaping the Future of Psychiatric Treatment

You may know the chemical 4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine by its more common name, psilocybin. Long used as a sacrament among indigenous peoples in the Americas — and more recently branded as an illicit party drug — in recent years, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms has received a lot of attention from scientists for potential to treat substance use disorder, anxiety, and depression.

In their review of seven published psilocybin clinical trials, the team led by Kelan Thomas, assistant professor of clinical sciences at Touro University California, concluded that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy shows strong potential for improving outcomes in patients living with depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder.

The advantage of psilocybin-assisted therapy, they write, is that it provides significant benefits for patients who haven’t responded to therapy or medication. Patients can also show improvement after just a few six-hour “medicated” therapy sessions and a few weeks of follow-up therapy.

These studies all investigated the use of psilocybin in strictly controlled clinical conditions under the supervision of therapists and other health professionals. Additionally, all of the clinical trials investigated by the researchers consisted of small groups of subjects — as few as nine for an open-label (non-blinded) trial investigating obsessive-compulsive disorder and as many as 51 in a double-blind study of cancer-related depression and anxiety.

As psychological and psychiatric researchers have gained greater access to brain imaging technologies like fMRI, scientists have formed new hypotheses about the physiological roots of psychological disorders.

These new attitudes among scientists run counter to those of the law enforcement community. In most of the United States — New Mexico seems to have found a loophole — psilocybin is still classified as a Schedule I substance. This means it has “a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. When — or whether — the DEA will take the most recent scientific data into account, however, remains to be seen.

Inverse

Common-sense Remedies for Sky-high Drug Prices

Partisan warfare in Washington never seems to stop. Yet, in poll after poll, Americans want lawmakers to work across the aisle and get things done.

The majority of Americans want elected officials to take action to lower prescription drug prices.

Almost 90 percent of Americans support legislation to speed generics to market. Why? Generics competing with brands drive down prices. Generics are cheaper and people get that.

There are three serious bipartisan initiatives to speed generics to market. Bipartisan — did we say that? Yes. Let us explain.

The first bill — sponsored by Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Florida Republicana, and Kurt Schrader, Oregon Democrat — provides incentives for development of new generics where there is currently no competition, and speeds up Food and Drug Administration approval times. It is modest but could get more inexpensive generics to market where there are none.

he second bill — sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, and Amy Klobuchar Minnesota Democrat — would put a stop to “pay-for-delay” scams. This occurs when a brand manufacturer pays a generic company not to bring a drug to market. It’s remarkable this is legal to begin with, and Congress should stop it now.

The third legislative proposal is sponsored by a bipartisan lineup of Sens. Pat Leahy, Vermont Democrat, Mr. Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, Ms. Klobuchar, and Mike Lee, Utah Republican, along with Reps. Peter Welch, Vermon Democrat, and Steve Stivers, Ohio Republican. It would crack down on abuses of the patent laws employed by drug companies to avoid giving samples of brand-name drugs to other manufacturers to create a generic. These practices by drug corporations subvert the law and the intent of Congress. Surely we can fix this.

But can’t we hold Big Pharma to the fundamental bargain that was struck in 1984 called the Hatch-Waxman Act? The deal was that drug companies received monopoly pricing power for five to seven years. After that time, generics would be introduced to create competition and drive down prices. All this legislation does is make the drug companies abide by the intent and letter of the law.

Millions of Americans are being hurt to finance exorbitant compensation and sky-high profits of the drug companies. These companies won’t be crippled by action on generics. They’ll simply be forced to act according to law, and they’ll still make a great deal of money.

This seems so clear — so simple. No gridlock. No stalemate. Just common-sense, bipartisan action to make the laws of our country work for people. The time for action is now.

Washington Times

Trump Supports Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s Murderous Drug War

President Trump invited President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines to the White House after having a “very friendly conversation with Mr. Duterte” on Saturday. According to a statement issued by the White House, the two “discussed the fact that the Philippines is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs.”

Since he was elected President last May, Duterte has championed a campaign that is responsible for the extrajudicial killing of thousands of people.

“To host President Duterte at the White House is to endorse his deadly drug war policies,” said Michael Collins, Deputy Director at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “The Trump Administration should immediately withdraw its invitation to Duterte and publicly denounce the mass killings he has advocated for, or risk embarrassing the country with the sight of the U.S. President greeting a remorseless, self-confessed murderer.”

In December 2016, an advisor to Trump’s transition team on security policy said that the president-elect would start a “clean slate” with Duterte “without being wedded to previous policy failures.” Days later, President Trump praised Duterte for his efforts and The New York Times ran a feature piece documenting the homicide victims of Duterte’s brutal drug war.

Duterte has repeatedly shown complete disregard for due process or human rights. In his call for the murder of people who use or sell drugs, he promised medals for citizens who comply, and pardons for police if they are charged with human rights violations while carrying out the executions. He has even likened himself to Hitler. These extrajudicial killings have largely claimed the lives of the country’s most marginalized and vulnerable citizens, including those who are unemployed or underemployed.

Despite international calls for Duterte to end the extrajudicial killings, he has refused to change direction, responding to anyone who has questioned his anti-drug strategy with insults, including former President Obama, the Pope, the International Criminal Court and the United Nations. He has also threatened to kill human rights defenders who attempt to intervene in his war on drugs.

While Trump is embracing the horrific approach taken by the president of the Philippines, he is also doubling down on the failed drug war here in the U.S. both in his rhetoric and his appointments, most notably Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.

Weednews

Canadians Admitting to Marijuana Use Can Be Permanently Banned from Entering U.S.

If you are a foreign citizen trying to cross the border into the United States, one of the questions you are likely to be asked is whether or not you have ever smoked pot. But not everyone is aware that answering yes to this question can get you permanently barred from entering the country. If Canada follows through on its promise to legalize marijuana next year, there will then be millions of people who are legally free to smoke weed but could all be potentially banned from entering the U.S.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said that it was “ludicrous” how many Canadians were getting banned from the U.S. over marijuana. “What we will expect of our American counterparts, just as they would expect it of us, that when people present themselves to cross the border, that the experience is respectful, that it’s consistent, that it’s professional and that people are not treated in any kind of a capricious way,” Goodale said.

Canada’s impending legalization of marijuana “completely changes the dynamic,” Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer said. “Some regard Canada as the 51st state. This is going to make a big difference in terms of adjusting attitudes and accelerating progress. . . . It’s going to help us bring these things to a head.”

Merry Jane

Medical Cannabis Oil Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough to Help Iowans

Iowa has been making some great strides towards expanding medical marijuana access in Iowa — but are they enough? Last week, House File 524 was passed, expanding the medical marijuana law that is already in place.

This bill proposes to permit the manufacturing and distribution of medical marijuana in Iowa and expanding the list of eligible medical diagnoses, allowing Iowans with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other chronic and severe illnesses, access to cannabis oil. While this is a great achievement for those suffering from these debilitating illnesses, Iowa will still be behind the 29 other states who have passed more expansive medical marijuana laws.

A major concern with this bill is that only cannabis oil can be used and the THC content can be no more than 3 percent. The 29 states that have more extensive medical marijuana laws allow the entire plant to be used, which has a higher THC content.

This is crucial for those that are suffering from severe pain. Many of these other states also include other medical diagnoses such as glaucoma and mental illnesses such as PTSD.

The Des Moines Register

Chinese Farmer Arrested for Growing Opium Poppies For Food Seasoning

BEIJING: Having a green thumb can get you into trouble with the law – if you grow the wrong plants – as an elderly Chinese man found out.

The 62-year-old man, surnamed Tu, was arrested after he planted some 800 opium poppies in his farm in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, news portal ThePaper.cn reported.

After locating the farm, police apprehended Tu, who said he had meant to use the seeds from the poppies to season his food.

It is illegal in China to cultivate more than 500 poppy plants, as they can be used to produce illegal drugs such as opium, morphine and heroin. Violators face up to five years’ jail.

In a similar case last June, an elderly couple in Liaoning province grew more than 800 opium poppies because their flowers “looked beautiful”.

The Star Online

New Study Claims: Magic Mushrooms and other Psychedelic Drugs Really Seem to Elevate Consciousness

Three different psychedelic drugs that are known to produce altered states of consciousness and that have been used illegally for recreation are the subject of a new study. Psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound that is produced by magic mushrooms, Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and ketamine are the subjects of the new study. Researchers set out to determine if magic mushrooms, LSD, and ketamine actually increase “global neural signal diversity.” The researchers wanted to know if the psychedelic state is actually an elevated state of consciousness. The research was published this month in Scientific Reports in Nature.

They say that their research indicates that magic mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs really do push the user into an elevated state of consciousness.

“For all three, we find reliably higher spontaneous signal diversity, even when controlling for spectral changes. This increase is most pronounced for the single-channel LZ complexity measure, and hence for temporal, as opposed to spatial, signal diversity. We also uncover selective correlations between changes in signal diversity and phenomenological reports of the intensity of psychedelic experience. This is the first time that these measures have been applied to the psychedelic state and, crucially, that they have yielded values exceeding those of normal waking consciousness. These findings suggest that the sustained occurrence of psychedelic phenomenology constitutes an elevated level of consciousness – as measured by neural signal diversity.”

The researchers say that their data suggests that the psychedelic state brought on by magic mushrooms and some other drugs lies above other states, including wakeful rest, when compared using a one-dimensional scale that is defined by brain signal diversity.

Magic mushrooms have been gaining greater recognition for the drug’s potentially positive effects. For example, the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, which researches drug abuse in British Columbia, is actually planning clinical trials to see if psychedelic drugs might be able to help people overcome addiction to opioid drugs, CBC reported. A John Hopkins University study from a couple of years ago found that magic mushroom’s active ingredient could help smokers overcome their addiction to cigarettes. Eight out of 10 study participants were still not smoking six months after they quit when using the compound in magic mushrooms and cognitive behavioral therapy.

“Therapeutic outcomes are often correlated with a mystical or a spiritual-type experience. People often have deep insights about themselves and their relationships with others and with God — and sometimes, as a consequence, have significant behavioral changes,” Dr. Kenneth Tupper, of the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, told CBC.

Inquisitr

Unofficial Cannabis “Holiday” – Health Benefits of Cannabis Oil Still Secondary to Recreational Usage

April 20th is here again, a date well-known by recreational enthusiasts and celebrated as a cannabis culture holiday nationwide, and what was once known only as an inside joke to a few is now much more widely known and accepted in the United States. With 8 states having now legalized recreational marijuana, and dozens more allowing medical marijuana, much of the stigma of openly promoting “420-friendly” characteristics has disappeared, with hundreds of companies now offering special discounts on April 20th.

“The stereotype of a cannabis user has changed a lot with its growing acceptance as a medication, and not just a recreational plant used by some to get ‘high,'” says Rick Hawkins, a scientist with Nutra Pure, the makers of the popular CBD Pure line of CBD oils, “States have issued new regulations allowing medications and supplements derived from the cannabis plant to be available to those who need it most, and the results have been nothing short of impressive.”

Mr. Hawkins was referencing the growing popularity of CBD, the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant believed to be the primary cannabinoid responsible for mood support and neuroprotectant effects experienced by recreational users. While CBD does not have any intoxicating effects, access to it has been limited because of its relationship to its chemical cousin, THC. CBD users seeking the health benefits of cannabis without the intoxicating effects often go to great lengths to obtain high concentration cannabidiol products, typically ordering them from states like Washington, Colorado, or Oregon where they are more commonplace.

“We get orders from every state for our CBD oils, but the states that have legalized recreational usage also order the most CBD oil too, ironically,” continued Mr, Hawkins. He believes that is because, as more recreational users of cannabis see positive health effects, the word spreads to health-conscious people in the area who would never smoke cannabis, but have joint pain, insomnia, or mood issues that could be helped with cannabis oil. “Some of the healthiest people I know, that would never touch an illegal drug, swear by cannabis oils and take them every day for their health.”

Benzinga

The Difference between LSD and Magic Mushroom

Hallucinogens are a wide group of drugs with a diverse range of capabilities. Some have been proven to alleviate ailments like PTSD and anxiety; others will definitely make you crap your pants while thinking your roommate has turned into a giant crane. The two most popular hallucinogens are magic mushrooms and LSD, technically known as lysergic acid diethylamide. While they have similar effects, both drugs have enough differences between them that any potential user should be less than chill about considering them the same.

Here’s the science you need to know to understand how LSD and magic mushrooms affect the body in their own, trippy way:

Magic Mushrooms Are Natural, LSD Is Not

While LSD was invented in 1938, mushrooms containing the naturally occurring psychedelic compound psilocybin can be found in regions within South America, Mexico, and the United States. It’s estimated that there are over 200 species of psychedelic mushrooms.

LSD was synthesized by Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman, who later famously took the drug himself and went on a bike ride on April 19, 1934. The clear, odorless, and tasteless drug is made from lysergic acid, which is found on the fungus that typically grows on grains.

Both Drugs Trip Out the Brain, but One Lasts Way Longer

Magic mushrooms and LSD involve chemicals that bond with the brain’s serotonin receptors. When someone takes LSD, their sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, which causes a rise in blood-sugar levels, an increase in body temperature, and pupillary dilation. The body confuses LSD for serotonin and sends it towards the brain’s synaptic cleft. This allows LSD molecules to bind to serotonin receptor proteins.

LSD and Mushrooms May Both Be Future Antidepressants

An increasing swath of scientific evidence demonstrates both substances have the potential to treat addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and PTSD. In a small study conducted in 2014, scientists found that it could be magic mushroom’s impact on serotonin receptors that causes heightened emotions and a slight loss of identity — which may be why the substance helps with anxiety. A brain on mushrooms, they note, is much like a brain that is dreaming.

The more researchers examine a tripped out brain, the more they’ll be able to leverage the power of these drugs to help us out in the future.

Inverse

Psychedelic Drug Ayahuasca Improves Hard-to-Treat Depression

Tourists are increasingly trying ayahuasca during holidays to countries such as Brazil and Peru, where the psychedelic drug is legal. Now the world’s first randomized clinical trial of ayahuasca for treating depression has found that it can rapidly improve mood.

The trial, which took place in Brazil, involved administering a single dose to 14 people with treatment-resistant depression, while 15 people with the same condition received a placebo drink.

A week later, those were given ayahuasca showed dramatic improvements, with their mood shifting from severe to mild on a standard scale of depression. “The main evidence is that the antidepressant effect of ayahuasca is superior to the placebo effect,” says Dráulio de Araújo of the Brain Institute at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, who led the trial.

Bitter brew
Shamans traditionally prepare the bitter, deep brown brew of ayahuasca-using two plants native to South America. The first, Psychotria Viridis, is packed with the mind-altering compound dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The second, the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi), contains substances that stop DMT from being broken down before it crosses the gut and reaches the brain.

A day before their dose, the participants filled in standard questionnaires to rate their depression. The next day, they spent 8 hours in a quiet, supervised environment, where they received either the placebo or the potion, which produces hallucinogenic effects for around 4 hours. They then repeated filling in the questionnaires one, two and seven days later.

Psychedelic treatments
“The findings suggest a rapid antidepressant benefit for ayahuasca, at least for the short term,” says David Mischoulon of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “But we need studies that follow patients for longer periods to see whether these effects are sustained.”

If the finding holds up in longer studies, it could provide a valuable new tool for helping people with treatment-resistant depression. An estimated 350 million people worldwide experience depression, and between a third to a half of them don’t improve when given standard antidepressants.

Ayahuasca isn’t the only psychedelic drug being investigated as a potential treatment for depression. Researchers have also seen some benefits with ketamine and psilocybin, extracted from magic mushrooms, although psilocybin is yet to be tested against a placebo.

New Scientist

Pharmacies in Uruguay Will Start Selling Cannabis Over the Counter in July

You also might want to consider packing your bags and moving to Uruguay. The South American country announced yesterday that beginning this July, cannabis will be available over the counter at local pharmacies.

Uruguay legalized marijuana in 2013, becoming the first country in the world to do so, but this year’s regulations will mark the first time residents will be able to walk into a store and purchase their bud.

According to the BBC, presidential aid, Juan Andres Roballo held a press conference to announce the over the counter program.

As a part of the country’s new cannabis program, everyone who purchases marijuana from stores must be on a national registry open only to only long-term residents and Uruguayan citizens. So while buying bud won’t be as easy as purchasing a pack of cigarettes, the pharmacy cannabis will be sold for a fixed price of $1.30 per gram – a pretty good bargain if you ask us.

The regulations and registry mean that Uruguay probably isn’t poised to be the next cannabis tourism hot spot, but it will make life easier for residents hoping to get their weed without hassle.

Uruguay’s government has initially signed up 16 pharmacies to launch the program but plans to add more as the registry builds.

Merry Jane