Israeli Parliament Passes Bill Allowing Export Of Medical Marijuana

The Israeli Parliament (the “Knesset”), passed the 16th amendment to Dangerous Drugs Ordinance on December 25, that concerns the governance and regulatory aspects of exporting medical cannabis from Israel. Subsequently, Israel is poised to be a top-earning, global hub in the marijuana market.

The Knesset’s measure was approved unanimously by 21 votes. Following the vote, the Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan, approved. (Minister Gilad previously disapproved such actions; however, his party is currently up for re-election.)

The bill passed the Knesset’s internal affairs committee and two additional votes in the Knesset’s grand hall. The legislation authorizes the Israeli Police to conduct supervision of cannabis farms, and grant approvals for cultivating, growing and exporting of cannabis and cannabis-related products. Police involvement clears a legal obstacle necessary for the final approval of export of medical marijuana from the country, during 2019, expectedly.

According to the Knesset’s website, the bill states that “any license to engage in medical cannabis will be subject to a license from the Ministry of Health.” Provisions were made stipulating that each applicant for a license to engage in medical cannabis will receive a positive or negative recommendation from the police department. An exemption from police review may occur for foreign investors. The police will be required to provide its guidance for domestic applicants within four months, and foreign investors within six months.

There are currently eight companies operating in Israel, and there are dozens of additional requests from business owners to work in the field, which are awaiting the approval of the relevant parties. Entrepreneurs and researchers, as well as the business owners themselves, cite many requests from all over the world. All are encountering roadblocks because medical cannabis is lumped in with the other types of cannabis in the sweeping prohibition on trade.

More of this news at Forbes

Like Them or Not, Cannabis Drinks Will Be Huge in 2019

2018 was inarguably the year of CBD: Marijuana’s non-psychoactive, less giggly compound showed up everywhere promising everything from pain relief to anxiety reduction, from LaCroix-esque sparkling water and high-end gumdrops to body lotion and bath salts (not that kind of bath salts). But while CBD consumption can undoubtedly lend a chilled-out vibe at the proper dosage, to get high, there needs to be some THC involved, whether it be smoked or otherwise consumed — and it seems to drink your weed will be a significant trend for the year ahead.

Legal marijuana raked in $9 billion in 2017, and with an increasing number of U.S. states legalizing weed for recreational use, that figure is expected to swell to more than $23 billion by 2022. Far from the stereotypical old image of a tie-dye-clad stoner with bloodshot eyes, marijuana use has been transformed into a full-on lifestyle brand: There are weed-laced coffee capsules to start your day, luxury pipes and smoking accessories with hip Instagram accounts to match, subscription boxes catering to the stoner set, cannabis-infused lubes to enhance your sex life, and weed supper clubs where pot aficionados can gather around the dinner table to get high. Legal weed — and the companies profiting from it — wants to permeate every sector of adult life, from replacing your Ambien to set the vibe for your next boutique hotel stay.

The CBD boom catering to anxious millennials will only grow as cultivating industrial hemp (which does not contain THC) becomes legal in the U.S., but massive corporations (like say, Marlboro) are also increasingly looking to cash in on the kind of cannabis that gets you stoned. Big Tobacco and liquor companies worry that as legal marijuana spreads, people will increasingly replace their cigarettes and beer with weed. And while such corporations getting in on the pot gold rush certainly raises plenty of ethical objections from marijuana advocates, big business goes where the money is, and right now it seems the next big thing is weed drinks, with at least one industry analyst projecting the cannabis beverage market to be worth $600 million by 2022.

Makers of nonalcoholic drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi have tentatively expressed interest in the space, too, though they’re clearly more reluctant to slap their iconic brand names on adult-oriented products that are still federally illegal in the U.S. (and still have a hefty stigma attached in many parts of the country).

Read the full article at Eater

It’s Time For A Decision On Retail Cannabis Stores

Waterloo Region’s city and township councils must decide soon if they’re opting in or out when it comes to having cannabis stores.

The landscape is uncertain, and the stakes are high.

Many local councils will decide at their first meeting in January, the week of the 14th. But that will be after the first wave of store approvals.

It has been legal since Oct. 17 to purchase marijuana online from the Ontario Cannabis Store.

When it comes to physical stores set up in communities, however, most municipalities are still on the fence.

Municipalities that say yes to physical cannabis stores can’t change their minds later and opt out. They’ll be in for good.

Municipalities that say no can change their minds later. But if they wait, they’ll miss out on extra funding to help pay for extra police and bylaw enforcement officers.

One problem of agreeing to the stores is that local officials don’t have any say in the location, as long as it’s suitable for a retail outlet.

The stores can’t be within 150 meters of a school. But other than that, the city or township has no ability to require, for example, that stores stay a certain distance away from one another.

The North American experience with alcohol can offer some lessons now. When alcohol was illegal, it was easy for children to buy it because once you got to the point of sale, there were very few rules. And also, the illegal booze could make you sick, because its manufacture wasn’t regulated.

Read the full article at The Record

These States Are Most Likely To Legalize Marijuana In 2019

With the results of last month’s midterm elections—which marijuana basically won—ten states have now legalized cannabis for adults, while 33 allow medical use. Those victories at the ballot box capped a year in which the fight to reform prohibitionist cannabis policies advanced significantly at the state, federal and international levels.

“2019 could be a banner year for legalization via state legislatures,” Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in an email. “Several states across multiple regions of the country are strongly considering ending prohibition and regulating marijuana for adult use. A growing number of state lawmakers and governors are either getting behind these efforts or coming to the realization that they cannot hold them up much longer. The steady growth of public support we’ve been seeing around the country will likely translate into some major state-level victories for marijuana policy reform.”

Here are the states that are most likely to legalize marijuana next year in alphabetical order:

  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

Read the full article at Forbes

FDA Casts Shadow Oemn Hp Win, Calling CBD Products Illegal

The hemp industry still has work ahead to win legal status for hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD oil, as an ingredient in food or dietary supplements despite the big farm bill President Donald Trump signed last week designating hemp as an agricultural crop.

CBD oils have become increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures, and foods, but their legal status has been murky and the Food and Drug Administration has sent warning letters to some companies making health claims for CBD.

In a statement following Thursday’s bill signing in Washington, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb restated his agency’s stance that CBD is a drug ingredient and therefore illegal to add to food or health products without approval from his agency.

An FDA-approved drug for the treatment of seizures, Epidiolex, contains cannabis-derived CBD. GW Pharmaceuticals’ syrup became the first prescription drug derived from the cannabis plant in June.

The FDA statement also specified parts of hemp that are safe as food ingredients, but the CBD stance disappointed advocates. Courtney Moran, a lobbyist for Oregon hemp farmers, said she plans to work with U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, to nudge the FDA toward greater acceptance of CBD.

Read more on Chicago Tribune

25% Of Idaho Prescription Opioid Users Also On Benzos

Researchers from ISU’s College of Pharmacy went through all the prescriptions that were reported to the Idaho Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in 2017. They found about 201,000 people with short-term opioid prescriptions, meaning they had been taking opioids for less than 90 days and another 101,000 who had long-term prescriptions. Out of the ones who had been taking opioids for longer than 90 days, 25,000 were also prescribed benzodiazepines or another depressant.

Opioids, which includes common painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, are generally prescribed for chronic pain, while benzodiazepines, which includes drugs such as Xanax and Klonopin, are often prescribed as sleeping aids, anxiety or to prevent seizures. The problem with combining them is that, since both are depressants, it raises the risk of overdose and death, said James Berain, a student pharmacist who was one of the researchers. There are very few instances, such as end-of-life care, Berain said, where combining them would be appropriate.

What surprised the researchers, Berain said, was that 56 percent of people who were prescribed both opioids and benzodiazepines got them from the same doctor. Berain said they expected to see more cases where people were getting them from different doctors.

Post-Register

How Might The Drugs We Take Affect Our Children Or Grandchildren?

Amid all the thousands of trials that examine whether drugs are safe for us to use, Vance Trudeau asks who is looking out for our children and grandchildren.

We are the most highly medicated generation in history. Yet Trudeau, who studies hormones and the brain at the University of Ottawa, says we know little about what effects the drugs are taken today may cause decades from now, to future generations.

“These are major, major, important questions,” he said. “In the last 10 years, there are now a few key examples where scientists are showing the effects of certain chemicals that get transferred across generations.”

But how aware are we of possible effects of drugs on future human generations?

“We’re not. That’s why these three studies are super important. Now we have to wake up and ask the question: What are the effects on the next generation?

“Not all pharmaceuticals will give a generational effect. But there is now a pattern developing (where) we have to start asking the question: Is there something beneficial passed on or is there something negative passed on?

The question falls into the field known as epigenetics, literally “beyond genetics.” This looks at how our chromosomes undergo physical changes through our lives, and how we may pass down some changes we acquire during our lifetime to our children, and even to our grandchildren as a kind of “biological memory.”

Read more on Ottawa Citizen

Weed Becomes Legal This Week In Michigan: 6 Things To Note

MICHIGAN — Weed will become legal across Michigan this week, a month after voters approved Proposal 1 on the November ballot. On Thursday, the law takes effect and marijuana will be legal for recreational purposes, in addition to medicinal, which voters approved back in 2008.

There are still some things to be worked out, but here are six things we know for sure now that weed will become legal:

1. Authorities are looking at convictions
2. How to get marijuana
3. Marijuana won’t be allowed just anywhere
4. Renters may still face problems
5. Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal
6. Workplaces can still ban it

See the full article at Patch

What Gets You Higher – Vaping Weed Or Smoking It?

Inhaling vaporized pot will get you way higher than smoking the same amount of it, according to new research from the Johns Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit.

With the legalization of marijuana continuing to spread across the world, more and more people are turning to the sticky green plant for both recreational and medicinal purposes. At present, 30 US states and Washington DC approve the use of medicinal cannabis, and nonmedical use is permitted in nine. Numerous countries in the EU and elsewhere have also approved marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, sparking a massive retail industry and a changing perception of reefer madness.

“Significant, sometimes adverse, drug effects can occur at relatively low THC doses in infrequent cannabis users, and accordingly these data should be considered about the regulation of retail cannabis products and education for individuals initiating cannabis use,” wrote the authors in the study published in JAMA Network Open.

As vaporizing becomes an increasingly popular way to consume weed and policy changes make cannabis more readily available, the authors say understanding the method for consuming marijuana and how it can impact a person is an important step in ensuring your high is just pleasant, man.

IFL Science 

Opinion: A primer On Cannabis Oil Cartridges

The popularity of cannabis oil vaporizer cartridges, otherwise known as “tanks” among cannabis users, is exploding at a rate faster than any other product on dispensary shelves.

According to data submitted by Colorado’s recreational cannabis industry, cannabis vaporizer cartridge sales increased by 400 percent in 2016 alone. If you’ve been a medical cannabis patient here in Massachusetts before the first recreational shops opening Nov. 20, you’ve witnessed shortages in this hot commodity.

Cannabis vaporizer cartridges are small tanks, typically made of glass or plastic, and pre-filled with a cannabis concentrate. Similar to traditional e-cigarettes, the cannabis cartridge screws into a rechargeable battery containing a button which atomizes, or activates, the vapor almost immediately once pressed.

The three most-common cannabis extracts you will find in cartridge form are those derived from distillation, CO2 extraction or live resin extraction. They will often be split up this way on the product menu. But it’s still unclear to many novices what these things mean, so here’s a brief breakdown of each.

Distillation

The distillate is clear, highly refined oil which can be made from any cannabis extract, regardless of quality. The heat strips away most of the cannabinoids and the terpenes, often leaving only THC and CBD behind.

CO2 extraction

The most-popular cannabis vaporizer cartridges by far, are those made with oil collected from CO2 extraction. CO2 extracts are the most compatible with vaporizer cartridges because they do not require additives of any kind to meet the viscosity needed to function in the battery atomizers made for them.

Continue Reading at Metro West Daily News

Brazilian Lawmakers Approve Medical Marijuana Bill

A key Senate committee in Brazil approved a bill to allow the use and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes on Wednesday.

The measure, which was brought about in response to an online citizen-led petition that received about 119,000 votes, would remove criminal penalties for growing, possessing and consuming cannabis for patients who receive prescriptions from doctors.

The Senate’s Social Affairs Committee signed off on the legislation, but before the full Senate gets to vote, it will also have to pass in the Commission on Constitution and Justice. Then, if the Senate does approve the bill, it must be reviewed by the Chamber of Deputies.

In a letter expressing support for the bill, Sen. Marta Suplicy (MDB-SP) said evidence demonstrates that cannabis can effectively treat a wide range of conditions—from pain to epilepsy—and she stressed the importance of taking the issue seriously.

“We cannot relegate the issue to mere political discussion,” she said, according to a translation. “More than anything, we need to empathize and put ourselves in the place of the other. In this way we can, as legislators, defend the true essence of health care, which is to mitigate human suffering.”

Brazil loosened its marijuana laws in 2006, but possession is still punishable by community service and participation in a drug education program, regardless of whether cannabis is used for therapeutic purposes.

Marijuana Moment.

Scientists Find Psilocybin Microdosing Can Boost Cognitive Creativity

Recent research on LSD indicates the drug has potential to treat mental disorders and improve our understanding of human consciousness. Meanwhile, studies in recent years have explored the effects of psilocybin—the psychoactive compound occurring naturally in magic mushrooms—on quitting smoking; lowering violent crime; treating depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder; and triggering spiritual epiphanies.

Now, an Oct. 25 study in Pharmacology—the official journal of the European Behavioral Pharmacology Society—adds to this growing body of knowledge. It examines another potential benefit of psilocybin. Researchers from Leiden University in The Netherlands studied the cognitive effects of micro-dosing psilocybin truffles (technically not mushrooms, but instead the hardened vegetative part of a fungus). They found that tiny doses can stimulate brain function and boost creativity without harming reasoning abilities.

Microdoses contain about 10% of the psychoactive components of a standard dose of psilocybin. The idea is to get the benefits but not the downsides of the drug, minimal effects that can stimulate thinking but not lead to extremes, like hallucinations.

For this study, the researchers tested the effects of about .035 grams of a psychoactive truffle on 36 subjects. (They later did a chemical composition analysis of the truffles to make sure psilocybin was evenly distributed throughout the truffles.) They investigated three types of thinking by presenting the subjects with different three tasks—developed by psychologists to test cognition—which was performed both before and after ingesting the drug. The scientists studied subjects’ convergent thought, which involves identifying a single solution for a single problem; their fluid intelligence, or reasoning and problem-solving; and their divergent thinking, the ability to recognize many solutions.

Read more at Quartz

What’s The Deal With Cannabis Capsules?

MedReleaf Corp. and CanniMed by Aurora received Health Canada approval to sell cannabis oil soft-gel capsules, and CannTrust Holdings Inc. announced a range of new cannabis oil, vegan-based, hard-shell capsules—Tilray had introduced the product in Canada last year.

One of the main benefits of capsules is that they include a pre-measured dose and are a viable option for cannabis consumers who are opposed to using syringes to measure their dose.

“Based on third-party research conducted by Cannabis Evidence, an online resource in the field of medical cannabis research, three in four patients out of 709 screened preferred alternative formulations to smoking cannabis. The majority of these patients prefer a capsule/tablet over other oral dosage forms like oils,” reports Kaivan Talachian, Pharm.D., and R.Ph, vice-president of professional services at CannTrust.

While capsules help ensure correct dosages, the complications of determining the appropriate dose for cannabis don’t end there. “Cannabis tends to impact people in different ways, and can’t be prescribed in the same way as traditional medicine. There is a need for continuous dialogue between patients and doctors to ensure that their cannabis therapy is working as intended,” cautions Dr. Mahabir.

Cannabis capsules offer a straightforward way to know precisely how much an individual has consumed, and can potentially be a healthier alternative to smoking cannabis and inhaling harmful carcinogens.

Read more at Growth Op

Federal Authorities Tight-Lipped on When Kratom’s Future Will Be Revealed

Kratom Powder

For months, the fate of the opioid-like plant kratom has hung in the balance. Will the US government make it illegal next year? Next week? With every fresh piece of news, scientists and kratom users alike tense up, ready for the hammer to fall. But the anticipated day hasn’t arrived yet, and it’s still not clear when it will. The moment seemed nigh on November 13, when Business Insider posted a story in which a US Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson seemed to suggest that the decision would be announced any day now.

DEA spokesperson Melvin Patterson told Inverse that Erin Brodwin’s article for BI “wasn’t a very accurate portrayal” of his comments, though his telling of the facts outlined a distinction without a difference. “There’s no telling when the documentation will be submitted to the [Federal Register],” he said. “It could be next week, it could be the week thereafter, it could be the next month, it could be sometime next year.”

Whatever the timeline may be, the fact remains that a ruling is coming. Regardless of what Patterson really meant, the DEA’s stance on kratom raises serious questions about whether federal authorities are considering the latest research, the experiences of scientists, or the reality of illegalizing drugs when deciding the future of kratom, a controversial substance that has shown promise in helping people with chronic pain and opioid use disorder. The Federal Drug Administration submitted its recommendation to ban kratom powders & its extracts to the DEA in 2017, and researchers at the DEA have been reviewing the recommendation since then.

Continue reading at Inverse.com

The Problems with the UK’s Legalization of Medical Cannabis

Since last Thursday, medical cannabis has been legal in the UK. This means specialist doctors are now able to prescribe cannabis products for conditions where there is a proven medical benefit, potentially helping thousands of people suffering from severe forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic pain, and nausea as a result of chemotherapy, among other ailments.

This landmark change in the law occurred after several stories came to light of sick children suffering under prohibition, including Billy Caldwell. The severely epileptic 12-year-old hit headlines earlier this year when the Home Office confiscated the Canadian-bought cannabis oil that made his condition manageable. Nationwide horror at the situation prompted Home Secretary Sajid Javid to order a review of the law, after which it was decided that cannabis should be changed from a Schedule 1 drug (no medical value) to a Schedule 2 (can be prescribed).

An MS Society statement said: “It’s likely that nothing will change in the short-term for the one in ten people who get relief from pain and muscle spasms by using medical cannabis. We’re calling for the interim guidance of prescribing medical cannabis to be urgently reviewed so that access to the treatment isn’t so restricted.”

Despite the limited scope laid out in the guidelines, Health Secretary Matt Hancock seemed to imply that doctors are being given a certain level of flexibility. He said: “Doctors need to use their clinical judgment, and having guidance in place helps. Ultimately, the need to treat a person and the responsibility for that falls on the shoulders of a doctor—that’s what they do.” Indeed, there will be no direct policy from a government that limits the conditions for which medical cannabis can be prescribed.

Read the full article at Vice

Report Says: More Women Are Using Marijuana During Pregnancy

Between 2002 and 2016, the percentage of pregnant women who reported smoking cigarettes while expecting fell significantly: from 17.5% to about 10%, according to a research letter published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. Alcohol use also fell modestly during this period, from nearly 10% to about 8.5%. But cannabis use among pregnant women — while still relatively rare — is on the rise, increasing from almost 3% of pregnant women to almost 5%.

Those figures were based on responses to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. About 12,000 pregnant women ages 18 to 44 responded to the survey between 2002 and 2016; roughly 3,500 of these women were in their first trimester of pregnancy, a critical time for fetal development.

Meanwhile, the decline in smoking cigarettes while pregnant corresponds with an overall decrease in the number of Americans who smoke. The percentage of smokers in the U.S. hit a new low recently, dropping from 45.1 million cigarette users in 2005 to 36.5 million, or about 15% of the population, in 2015. The researchers did find, however, that decreases in smoking were less pronounced among specific subgroups of pregnant women, including black women, women ages 26 to 44 and those who did not finish high school.

There is far less research on the health effects of marijuana, but in general, the CDC and other public health organizations have warned expectant mothers not to use the drug while pregnant, due to potential developmental harms for infants. Similar warnings exist for smoking cigarettes while pregnant.

Time

Cannabis Extract Relieves Chronic Pain Minus The High

In the wake of cannabis legalization in Canada, a team of scientists has delivered encouraging news for chronic pain sufferers by pinpointing the effective dose of marijuana plant extract cannabidiol for safe pain relief without the typical “high” or euphoria that THC produces. The findings of their study have been published in the journal PAIN.

Cannabis indica and sativa are the two main cannabis strains that produce the pharmacological principles known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The team demonstrated that CBD does not act on the CB1 cannabinoid receptors like THC, but through the mechanism that binds specific receptors involved in anxiety (serotonin 5-HT1A) and pain (vanilloid TRPV1).

“In animal models of neuropathic or chronic pain, we found that low doses of CBD administered for seven days alleviate both pain and anxiety, two symptoms often associated,” says the study’s first author Danilo De Gregorio, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University.

Lead author Gabriella Gobbi sees this as a new advancement for the evidence-based application of cannabis in medicine with CBD likely offering a safe alternative to THC and opioids for chronic pain, such as back pain, sciatica, diabetic, cancer, or post-trauma pain.

“Our findings elucidate the mechanism of action of CBD and show that it can be used as medicine without the dangerous side effects of the THC,” says Gobbi, a professor of psychiatry.

Despite widespread public usage, little clinical studies exist on CBD, which became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018, following the passage of Canada’s Cannabis Act.

Futurity

STUDY: Cannabis Oil Improves Crohn’s Disease Symptoms

According to a new study, cannabis oil can “significantly” improve Crohn’s disease symptoms.

“(S)tudies have shown that many people with Crohn’s disease use cannabis regularly to relieve their symptoms,” Dr. Timna Naftali, an Israeli gastroenterologist who also teaches at Tel Aviv University, said in a written statement. “It has always been thought that this improvement was related to a reduction in inflammation in the gut and the aim of this study was to investigate this.”

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can cause severe belly pain and chronic diarrhea.

Dr. Naftali, whose study is being billed as the first of its kind, found that an eight-week treatment with cannabis oil containing a four to one CBD to THC ratio produced clinical remission in up to 65 percent of individuals with Crohn’s disease. The randomized, placebo-controlled study involved 50 people with moderately severe forms of the disease. The group that received cannabis oil also reported significant improvements in their quality of life.

Read more at CTV News

Spanbauer: Modernize The War On Drugs

Canada just became the second country in the world to legalize marijuana on Oct. 17, making it “the largest national marijuana marketplace.”

In order to facilitate the demand on the new industry, Canadian recreational marijuana businesses are trying to lure inexperienced marijuana workers and their weed wisdom from states where marijuana is legal, such as Colorado. These offers come with the possibility of salaries reaching as high as $250,000 and the promise of a larger and undeveloped market to conquer.

The federal legalization of marijuana now seems eminently upon us as more states will vote on the matter in the upcoming November elections. Also, more than half the United States population is in support of federal legalization. However, looking at how far cannabis culture has come, it is clear that federal measures must be taken for reasons of equality.

America should take a page from Canada’s book and legalize recreational marijuana. This should be done for hundreds of reasons, the least of which being because over half of our population is in favor of it, and because it would introduce billions of dollars into our economy and open up new jobs. This needs to be done because marijuana is a harmless drug that should not be federally regulated in the ways that physically addictive and life-destroying drugs such as opioids are.

The focus needs to move from pot to the more serious drugs affecting our streets and taking the lives of young people across the nation. Once we can begin to reform drug legislation to fit these needs, our country will finally begin to heal.

Read the full article at Iowa State Daily

Magic Mushroom Drug Evolved to Mess with Insect Brains

There’s something odd about the many species of magic mushrooms: they’re not related to each other.

Usually, you’d expect such a complex and powerful chemical as psilocybin – the magical ingredient — to be produced by a closely related group of organisms whose common ancestor discovered it once.

But not in this case. Scores of mushroom species – one even lichenized — from five different distantly-related families make it. A team of American scientists wondered about that and had a hunch about why it might be.

Although mushroom-making fungi, considered sophisticated and complicated for the fungal world — have only rarely been caught sharing DNA this way, the fact that they have made an exception for these genes implies psilocybin is a seriously hot item.

In humans, psilocybin is converted to psilocin on ingestion, which activates one of the same receptors as feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin and produces the wild effects for which the drug is known. Serotonin, incidentally, is the same molecule on which antidepressant serotonin-reuptake inhibitors like Prozac act. However, serotonin is not the private preserve of humans. All animals with left-right symmetry – including insects — produce serotonin, as well as some plants and fungi.

A plant has an apparent motive for stockpiling a chemical arsenal: salad bar prevention. But what about mushrooms? The majority of psilocybin-producing mushrooms are either wood or dung decayers. In those environments, they are not only being eaten by insects but also competing with them for food. Termites are major fungal competitors inside decaying logs, but a variety of other wood- and dung-eating insects compete with fungi for food.

Psilocybin may help tilt the playing field in the fungus’s favor by causing insects to, I don’t know, maybe blank on what they went in that log for again? Another serotonin antagonist to a receptor called 5HT-2A causes Drosophila fruit flies to somehow neglect to eat the fruit they’re sitting on. Whatever they’re experiencing, though, is unlikely to be fun. Insects lack the dopamine-based reward systems also triggered by many of the drugs that make them so pleasurable and addictive to humans (although psilocybin acts on serotonin receptors and is non-addictive).

Read the full article at Scientific American