Category Archives: altered states

drug dangerousness ranking

Folks over at Mind Hacks found a UK report ranking drug dangerous. The rank is based on a combination of physical damage, social harm and addictive properties. The order is quite fascinating given the legal status of each one listed:

1. Heroin
2. Cocaine
3. Barbituates
4. Street methadone
5. Alcohol
6. Ketamine
7. Benzodiazepines (e.g. Valium)
8. Amphetamines
9. Tobacco
10. Buprenorphine
11. Cannabis
12. Solvents
13. 4-MTA
14. LSD
15. Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
16. Anabolic steroids
17. GHB
18. Ecstasy
19. Alkyl Nitrites (poppers)
20. Khat

this is your mouse brain on drugs

Mouse Party is a funny Flash game that lets you explore how mice brains react to different drugs. Even though it’s not particularly informative, it’s kinda entertaining to watch a bunch of drugged out animated mice groove to chillout music and see how they react when you put them in the chair to be studied. ::giggle::

(Tx: Mor)

medical marijuana

Today, the FDA issued a statement saying that there is no scientific proof that medical marijuana helps patients better than other prescription drugs. This infuriates me. In 1994, i broke my neck. I was given valium (and a lot of other things) and became extremely addicted to it. I was in a constant fog. To make matters worse, it made my body unable to register pain so when i tossed and turned at night, i made everything worse. I kept losing vision and hearing, even while drugged out of my mind. Weening off of valium was hell and i was super resentful towards the medical establishment for getting me addicted to it. Without valium, the pain was brutal, but i refused to go back on that evil drug.

In 1996, after extensive research, i decided to try using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Whenever the pain got unbearable, i smoked a small amount and went to sleep. I didn’t toss and turn; i didn’t wake up groggy; i didn’t get addicted; i didn’t lose vision and hearing. Well-rested, i was able to develop an exercise process that strengthened the supporting muscles, relieving the pain more permanently. Because i was not in a painless daze, this process was far more beneficial than the physical therapy i did while addicted to valium. Because i was able to heal and strengthen, i was able to stop smoking. As i realized the difference this made, i became rabidly agry at the medical system (having no insurance didn’t help).

Today, i smoke marijuana rarely, and only when the pain is really dreadful. Sure, i could’ve stayed addicted to valium to kill the pain – i’m sure the FDA and pharmaceuticals would’ve prefered that. But i chose to take a different path, an illegal one, and i don’t regret it. I genuinely believe that marijuana saved me from more extensive long-term pain and from years of being dazed.

There is a reason that healers have used marijuana for centuries. It is a natural plant with medicinal qualities. The side effects are minimal compared to FDA-approved drugs. But the problem is that you don’t need a bloated pharmaceutical apparatus to use marijuana for treatment. (Translation: there’s no money for the pharms in it and they are big lobbyists.)

It royally sucks that i have to feel like a criminal for using natural plants to heal while there’s nothing criminal about the $600+ i spent per month getting addicted to an FDA-approved drug. I hope that one day we’ll look back on this move with cultural condescension at how foolish and greedy the FDA was in the early 21st century.

now let’s get talking reefer madness
like some arrogant government can’t
by any stretch of the imagination
outlaw a plant
yes, their supposed authority over nature
is a dream
c’mon people
we’ve got to come clean

framing the discourse of drugs and death

Last week, a friend of many of my friends died. Frostbyte (Kevin McCormick) was a brilliant light artist whose live should be celebrated. Unfortunately, the circumstances of his death have introduced some troubling conversations about drugs and production. What is most horrifying is how it has been taking up by the media; i can’t help but watch the news clippings with absolute horror.

What we know is that when police officers investigated Warehouse 23, they found an array of chemicals and glassware. According to the Herald, “Police say they found hundreds of chemicals used to concoct club and date-rape drugs such as crystal methamphetamine and ‘Special K.’ … Investigators found chemicals used to manufacture crystal meth, ecstasy and the date-rape drugs gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB) and ketamine hydrochloride (‘Special K’).” In response, the “state Senate passed a bill that would prohibit consumers from buying more than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine at a time” and the Fort Point district was closed down to investigate (Globe). In much of the coverage, the lab is being called “impressive” and the Northeast’s largest. (And of course, then the articles discuss the fear and horrors of crystal meth.)

There are three different things that are bothering me about what’s going on. First, producing meth is very different than producing GHB. Meth labs are highly toxic (and thus the reason for the hyper panic involving the closing down of Fort Point) because they produce byproducts; they also usually involve large containers, not glass vials. The coverage focuses entirely on the presence of chemicals for meth; there is no mention of byproducts. Interestingly, the chemicals for meth are also used in producing other drugs (both legal and illegal). If this were a large meth production house, there would be byproducts, not just potential chemicals. This itself made me very wary of the information i was getting.

Based on information about the presence of chemicals, it has been taken as a given that this is a meth lab. The result is a moral panic in Boston which the legislature responds to by passing laws that do little in the way of stopping meth production. So much for innocent until proven guilty or logical outcomes. What role does the press have in actually determining someone’s innocence or guilt? I get very very worried about this. What’s worse is that when the police realize that it’s not a meth lab, it won’t hit the papers, laws won’t be turned back. Everyone will continue to be convinced that it’s a meth lab. Gah.

Finally, i can’t help but scream when i see the press cover GHB as a “date-rape drug.” (And since when did ketamine become a date-rape drug too?? It requires snorting or injection!) This framing presumes that the reason to produce this drug is to engage in date-rapes, supporting the moral panic. Unfortunately, i don’t think that it would be nearly as news-flashy to talk about GHB as the “alternative to alcohol with no hangover.” GHB has a lot of problems and it makes me very nervous to see it in clubs because the OD dose is not that much higher than the desired dose. The bigger problem is that you cannot under any circumstances mix it with alcohol because this will most definitely produce a black-out (and thus, the “date-rape” claim). That said, most people who make or use GHB know this, prefer it to alcohol and know better than to mix the two. To assume that it is a precursor to rape is misrepresentative and irresponsible. Internally, i’m troubled by this framing. On one hand, it’s inaccurate and what happened to truthful reporting? On the other, i detest the presence of GHB in clubs and i understand the urge to use scare tactics to keep it out.. but does that really work? And what damage does poor reporting cause in the long run? (::cough:: This is your brain on drugs… Oh no it’s not.)

I’m worried about how much power the press has over cultural interpretations. I see a lot of my friends hurting right now, trying to come to peace with the death of their friend and cope with the chaos that has ensued. And while some things make sense, much of what is being reported does not line up. Furthermore, it’s being used to frame a larger debate in a pretty problematic way. And it sucks to having the death of one of your friends be used to such ends, particularly when he wouldn’t have wanted it that way. Some folks are outraged, arguing that we should make certain that such situations never happen again. Personally, in the back of my mind, i can’t help but think that i’d rather die having sex on E than decaying alone in a nursing home.

Update: Globe reports that it is not a meth lab but that it was most likely used to create designer (psychedelic) drugs.


I abhor 80s culture. Yet, while i lament high heel converse shoes, two aspects of the 80s rival for my complete intolerance: Reagan/Bush administration and cocaine. As Burning Man preparation rushed through San Francisco, i got to overhear lots of shopping lists. In the past, it used to humor me that acid was placed on the same shopping list with gas masks and ballerina skirts. With acid completely gone and ecstasy usually tainted with DXM, it doesn’t surprise me that other drugs are serving as replacements. The psychedelic club scene saw a shift to meth and alcohol. The psychonauts shifted to research chemicals. But why on earth are some Burners shifting to blow?

Filthy nostril hair
Impairs my cocaine habit
I must blow my nose

(from 1999 Haiku4Beer camp)

First off, the idea off a Burner trying to snort coke in one of the dustiest BMs ever humors me to bits. Have a line – 2/3 coke, 1/3 playa. But it really breaks my balls to think that some people see Burning Man as an experience that requires ego-enhancement. Gah. Then again, i deplore the people who drink on the desert as well (particularly those whose drunkenness forbids them from comprehending “leave no trace” as they shout misogynistic taunts at the naked women).

Why oh why is cocaine back? I know… it’s about culture and Barlow does a good job of clarifying on his discussion of the Republican Drug:

Once again, one can see clearly what the War on Some Drugs is really about. It’s the culture, stupid. It certainly isn’t about public safety, since coke and booze are the perfect combination for social depravity of all sorts. Instead, it provides a beautiful opportunity to jail the blacks and hippies who prefer the non-Republican drugs. It makes huge bank for one’s wing-tipped colleagues.

I’m an adamant believer in entheogens and the opportunity to explore one’s mind and soul through altered states. There’s nothing empathy building about drugs like cocaine, meth and alcohol. This trio is notorious for an increase in domestic abuse, rape and general violence. They often bring the dissociative power of self-indulgence and cruelty, bringing out the worst of humanity by allowing the psyche to be distanced from the body. I’m still not a fan of bars because it makes me twitch to watch aggression come in bottle form, but i can handle a drunk far better than a meth or coke addict.

But as much as i can intellectually understand that this is a cultural battle, it absolutely boggles my mind that any “compassionate” culture would prefer the wreckage and hatred of meth, coke and alcohol. While i’ve met many people who have found religion and connection through entheogens, i’ve only seen religious and familial carnage emerge as a result of the deadly trio. There’s a reason that MDMA was used in marital therapy, not cocaine. How can a political party be known for family values as well as family-destroying drugs?

::sigh:: Of course, i have to remind myself that life – and especially politics – are ripe with inconsistencies. Still, that doesn’t make me feel better. Can we resurrect the 90s yet? I’ll cope with flannel and cords again.

Erowid(s) bio/history

The Vaults of Erowid is the quintessential site for understanding everything about psychoactive substances, from their chemical structure to their effects on humans. Run by Earth and Fire Erowid, this site is dedicated to operate as a library of information on psychoactives. I have so much respect for the Erowids, who are constantly fighting trouble to get out information to the masses, to educate. Thus, i was ecstatic to find a bio on the Erowids in in the LA Weekly today. (Simultaneously, i was disheartened to hear that they are running out of money.)

drugs, drugs and more drugs

I don’t know what my friends were thinking today, but every article they sent me was somehow related to drugs. [Hmm.. is that a hint?]

Research Ecstasy is Clouded by Errors – they were testing methamphetamine, not MDMA

Snortable Spirits – snorting Vodka without the liquid creates a quick high… this very much cclouds the bridge between “alcohol” and “drugs”

Search Engines Limit Ads for Drugs but Ease Rules on Sex

So, basically, three articles… one about the politics of drugs vs. sex, one about the blurring of the boundary between alcohol and hard drugs and one about the illegitimacy of scientific studies on drugs. Glad to know that everyone’s boundaries are getting toyed with.

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raver aesthetic

My hair has always been my playground. I make a mess out of it, change its color, chop it to bits and am constantly trying to figure out how to make it represent me; it continues to fail. Yet, all told, i can cope with the mop on top of my head. Of course, every couple of months, i contemplate the idea of dreading my hair. I have to admit that i love the cyberpunk raver aesthetic – a mix of colors, dreads, dirt and and flare. While i’ve buzzed my head every few years, i’ve never managed to dread the growth that emerges post-buzz.

Today, a friend sent me a link to an article entitled “Raver Revolution: Before West Coast dance music ‘tribes’ get political, they’d better clean their toilets.” ::sigh:: Taking a look at the first image on the page, i don’t think that everyone appreciates this aesthetic as much as i do.

In all seriousness, this article is actually interesting beyond just my reflections on my relationship with my hair. It discusses the emergence of “tribes” in reference to Burning Man / DJ culture and questions the power of this movement.

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