Scientists explain the link between music and drugs

By Ian Hamilton

For centuries, musicians have used drugs to enhance creativity and listeners have used drugs to heighten the pleasure created by music. And the two riff off each other, endlessly. The relationship between drugs and music is also reflected in lyrics and in the way these lyrics were composed by musicians, some of whom were undoubtedly influenced by the copious amounts of heroin, cocaine and “reefer” they consumed, as their songs sometimes reveal.

Acid rock would never have happened without LSD, and house music, with its repetitive 4/4 beats, would have remained a niche musical taste if it wasn’t for the wide availability of MDMA (ecstasy, molly) in the 1980s and 1990s.

And don’t be fooled by country music’s wholesome name. Country songs make more references to drugs than any other genre of popular music, including hip hop.

Under the influence

As every toker knows, listening to music while high can make it sound better. Recent research, however, suggests that not all types of cannabis produce the desired effect. The balance between two key compounds in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiols, influence the desire for music and its pleasure. Cannabis users reported that they experienced greater pleasure from music when they used cannabis containing cannabidiols than when these compounds were absent.

Listening to music – without the influence of drugs – is rewarding, can reduce stress (depending upon the type of music listened to) and improve feelings of belonging to a social group. But research suggests that some drugs change the experience of listening to music.

Clinical studies that have administered LSD to human volunteers have found that the drug enhances music-evoked emotion, with volunteers more likely to report feelings of wonder, transcendence, power and tenderness. Brain imaging studies also suggest that taking LSD while listening to music, affects a part of the brain leading to an increase in musically inspired complex visual imagery.

Certain styles of music match the effects of certain drugs. Amphetamine, for example, is often matched with fast, repetitive music, as it provides stimulation, enabling people to dance quickly. MDMA’s (ecstasy) tendency to produce repetitive movement and feelings of pleasure through movement and dance is also well known.

An ecstasy user describes the experience of being at a rave:

“I understood why the stage lights were bright and flashing, and why trance music is repetitive; the music and the drug perfectly complemented one another. It was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes and I could finally see what everyone else was seeing. It was wonderful.”

There is a rich representation of drugs in popular music, and although studies have shown higher levels of drug use in listeners of some genres of music, the relationship is complex. Drug representations may serve to normalise use for some listeners, but drugs and music are powerful ways of strengthening social bonds. They both provide an identity and a sense of connection between people. Music and drugs can bring together people in a political way, too, as the response to attempts to close down illegal raves showed.

People tend to form peer groups with those who share their own cultural preferences, which may be symbolised through interlinked musical and substance choices. Although there are some obvious synergies between some music and specific drugs, such as electronic dance music and ecstasy, other links have developed in less obvious ways. Drugs are one, often minor, component of a broader identity and an important means of distinguishing the group from others.

Although it is important not to assume causality and overstate the links between some musical genres and different types of drug use, information about preferences is useful in targeting and tailoring interventions, such as harm reduction initiatives, at music festivals.

https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/articles/music-and-drugs-scientists-explain-the-link-296886?utm_campaign=NEWSLETTER_TN_Neuroscience_2017&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=60340987&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–WbyIooqediqm4Mr6D09zjNCyCmjIe-6JF5OpygCiR3HaX93JSj3dyP1fGYyKLhvXSaI-EheJTPpuOIN_2UXpdsA4ewg&_hsmi=60340987

The secret life of USC medical school dean

In USC’s lecture halls, labs and executive offices, Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito was a towering figure. The dean of the Keck School of Medicine was a renowned eye surgeon whose skill in the operating room was matched by a gift for attracting money and talent to the university.

There was another side to the Harvard-educated physician.

During his tenure as dean, Puliafito kept company with a circle of criminals and drug users who said he used methamphetamine and other drugs with them, a Los Angeles Times investigation found.

Puliafito, 66, and these much younger acquaintances captured their exploits in photos and videos. The Times reviewed dozens of the images.

Shot in 2015 and 2016, they show Puliafito and the others partying in hotel rooms, cars, apartments and the dean’s office at USC.

In one video, a tuxedo-clad Puliafito displays an orange pill on his tongue and says into the camera, “Thought I’d take an ecstasy before the ball.” Then he swallows the pill.

In another, Puliafito uses a butane torch to heat a large glass pipe outfitted for methamphetamine use. He inhales and then unleashes a thick plume of white smoke. Seated next to him on a sofa, a young woman smokes heroin from a piece of heated foil.

As dean, Puliafito oversaw hundreds of medical students, thousands of professors and clinicians, and research grants totaling more than $200 million. He was a key fundraiser for USC, bringing in more than $1 billion in donations, by his estimation.

Puliafito resigned his $1.1-million-a-year post in March 2016, in the middle of the spring term, saying he wanted to explore outside opportunities.

Three weeks earlier, a 21-year-old woman had overdosed in his presence in a Pasadena hotel room. The woman was rushed to a hospital, where she recovered. Police found methamphetamine in the hotel room, according to a police report, but made no arrests. Puliafito has never spoken publicly about the incident, which is being reported here for the first time.

After he stepped down as dean, USC kept Puliafito on the medical school faculty, and he continues to accept new patients at campus eye clinics, according to Keck’s website. He also is a central witness in a $185-million lawsuit in which the University of California has accused USC of misconduct in its hiring away of a star researcher.

Puliafito did not respond to interview requests or written questions. Reached by phone last week, he hung up without commenting after hearing a brief summary of The Times’ reporting.

Earlier, in an email he sent to the newspaper shortly after resigning as dean, Puliafito said he made the move voluntarily in order to pursue a biotech job.

“Bottom line, I was dean for almost a decade. It was great, but I was ready and open to jumping on these opportunities when they came along,” he wrote.

USC President C.L. Max Nikias and Provost Michael Quick, who was Puliafito’s boss, did not respond to repeated requests for information about the circumstances surrounding Puliafito’s resignation. Nor did the university press office.

When reporters visited Nikias’ office to ask about the former dean, his chief of staff, Dennis Cornell, told them: “The president will not be speaking to The Times on this matter.”

The Times interviewed six people who partied with Puliafito in Pasadena, Huntington Beach and Las Vegas, as well as at USC. They ranged in age from late teens to late thirties. None were USC students.

One, Sarah Warren, was the woman who overdosed in the Pasadena hotel room. She told The Times she met Puliafito in early 2015 while working as a prostitute. She said they were constant companions for more than a year and a half, and that Puliafito used drugs with her and sometimes brought her and other members of their circle to the USC campus after hours to party.

“He would say, ‘They love me around here. The medical students think I am God,’” Warren said.

Puliafito has no known criminal record, and public records show no blemishes on the medical licenses he holds in California and three other states. A review of court records in those states found no malpractice claims against him.

He is highly regarded in the field of ophthalmology and regularly addresses doctors at national conventions and training seminars. Over the last decade, he has coauthored more than 60 medical journal articles on retinal disease and other topics. Since 2008, he has served on the governing board of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the state agency that oversees stem cell research.

It was a tip about the incident in the Pasadena hotel that led The Times to discover Puliafito’s other life.

Just before 5 p.m. on March 4, 2016, an employee of the Hotel Constance, an upscale Colorado Boulevard landmark, called 911 to report that a guest had suffered an apparent overdose.

The hotel employee transferred a Fire Department dispatcher to a third-floor room. A man answered, identified himself as a doctor and said his companion’s condition was not serious, according to a recording of the call.

“My girlfriend here had a bunch of drinks and she’s sleeping,” he told the dispatcher. Asked whether the woman had taken anything else, he replied, “I think just the alcohol.”

After the ambulance arrived, another hotel employee placed a 911 call to ask that police be sent, too.

“I got somebody in one of the rooms, they [were] doing drugs in the room,” the employee told an emergency operator, according to the 911 recording. He added, “I think they [were] doing crystal meth.”

Paramedics took the woman to Huntington Memorial Hospital. Authorities did not release her name. The Times identified her as Warren through interviews, social media and property records.

Warren, now 22, has been in an Orange County drug treatment program since November, and said she no longer has contact with Puliafito. She talked about their relationship in a series of interviews.

She said she and Puliafito had been partying at the hotel for two days. Then she “took too much GHB” — gamma-hydroxybutyrate, the so-called date-rape drug that some users take in lower doses for its euphoric effect. Warren said the drug left her “completely incapacitated.”

After she awoke in the hospital six hours later, Puliafito picked her up, and “we went back to the hotel and got another room and continued the party,” she said.

The videos reviewed by The Times are consistent with Warren’s account.

A recording made the night before the overdose shows Puliafito and Warren in a room at the hotel. Warren asks him to help her crush methamphetamine in preparation for doing a “hot rail,” a method of snorting the drug.

“Absolutely,” Puliafito replies. Warren is later shown bending over a tray with several lines of white powder.

In a separate video of Puliafito and Warren, recorded at another hotel about a day after her overdose, she blames the Hotel Constance episode on GHB.

“Carmen saved my life,” she says on the video.

Puliafito is seen with what appears to be a meth pipe in his hand and, later, in his mouth.

Sources with access to these and other videos and photos of Puliafito allowed The Times to view the images on the condition they not be published.

A week after the hotel overdose, a witness filed an anonymous complaint through a city website urging Pasadena authorities to investigate Puliafito and the police handling of the incident, according to a copy of the complaint obtained through the California Public Records Act.

Three days later, the same witness phoned the office of USC president Nikias and told two employees about Puliafito’s role in the hotel incident. The witness spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity.

Phone records confirm that the witness made a six-minute call to Nikias’ office on March 14, 2016, 10 days after the overdose.

A week and a half later, Puliafito resigned as dean.

Concerned that Pasadena police were not investigating, the witness then approached The Times. The newspaper asked the Police Department for its report on the overdose.

Initially, a department spokeswoman said there was no report, apart from a call-for-service log. After The Times made repeated requests for additional information, the department acknowledged that an officer at the scene should have prepared a report. The officer was ordered to do so in June 2016 — three months after the incident.

In the report, Puliafito is identified as a witness to the overdose and a “friend” of the victim. The rest of the document is heavily redacted.

The department also released an evidence report that shows officers seized a little over a gram of methamphetamine from the hotel room. The name of the drug’s “owner” is redacted, and the Pasadena address listed as that person’s residence does not exist.

Under state law, possession of methamphetamine could be charged as a misdemeanor. Asked why no one was charged, Pasadena police spokeswoman Tracey Ibarra said officers would have had to determine who was “responsible” for the drugs. She declined to answer questions about the extent of the officers’ investigation. Warren said they never interviewed her.

Although Puliafito told the 911 operator he thought his companion was under the influence of alcohol alone, Ibarra said the woman was “obviously under the influence of narcotics — the same narcotics that were in the room.”

Ten years ago, USC went looking for a transformational leader for its medical program. U.S. News & World Report, in its annual report on the best American medical schools, ranked Keck 25 spots below UCLA in research. That was too low for USC leaders, who saw a top-rated medical school as crucial to their national aspirations. They needed a dean who could deliver the money and marquee researchers to make Keck an elite institution.

“Someone who could take a great school and make it even better,” then-USC President Steven Sample said at the close of the 2007 search process. “We found that person in Dr. Carmen Puliafito.”

Puliafito, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School, had helped invent a laser technology — optical coherence tomography — that revolutionized the way doctors around the world diagnose and treat eye disease.

He had a track record of building institutions and raising their profiles. At Tufts University Medical School in Boston in the 1990s, Puliafito was founding director of the New England Eye Center. A complimentary 1993 profile in the Boston Globe described Puliafito’s “in your face” personality and likened him to “one of those Yellowstone Park mud pots: placid on the surface for a few minutes, then erupting for a moment, then calm again.”

Puliafito left Tufts to serve as director of the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute from 2001 to 2007. There, he presided over a doubling of faculty and tripling of research funding, according to school news releases.

His time at Miami was not trouble-free. Marc Brockman, an optometrist at the institute, filed a lawsuit against Puliafito in 2006 for assault and battery and accused the university of negligence in hiring him.

Brockman alleged in sworn testimony that Puliafito, in a profane “tantrum” over an inoperable piece of medical equipment, grabbed him by the collar of his lab coat and choked him.

Puliafito denied wrongdoing.

During the case, it emerged that the university had investigated separate complaints of sexual harassment against Puliafito, according to sworn testimony and court filings in the lawsuit. The records do not reveal the outcome of the investigation, and a university spokeswoman said in response to questions about the probe: “We don’t have anything to provide.”

Puliafito and the university reached a confidential settlement with Brockman in June 2007.

Two months later, USC hired Puliafito.

When Warren first met Puliafito in early 2015 she was a 20-year-old college dropout who had recently moved out of her parents’ Huntington Beach home and was advertising on an escort website.

She offered him meth, she said, and he accepted. She said it was clear he was comfortable around drugs.

Warren said that after that first encounter, they began seeing each other regularly.

After a few weeks, she said, she Googled his name and learned that he was USC’s medical school dean.

“I thought, ‘This is wild,’” she recalled.

The images viewed by The Times reflect an easy familiarity between Warren and Puliafito. In the video that shows him smoking from a large glass pipe while she heats a piece of foil and inhales, Warren calls Puliafito “Tony,” short for Anthony, his middle name.

Looking into the camera, Warren says she and Puliafito are making a “good old-fashioned doing-drugs video” to send to a friend.

Law enforcement officials who watched the video at The Times’ request said that what it showed was consistent with smoking meth and heroin.

In another video, Warren takes a drag from a meth pipe, and as she exhales, Puliafito inhales the smoke from her mouth, a technique known as “shotgunning.”

In a separate series of photos, Warren sits on Puliafito’s lap as she smokes meth.

Puliafito rented apartments for her in Huntington Beach and near his home in Pasadena so she would always be available, she said. He gave her spending money and covered her legal bills, she said.

During their time together, Warren was arrested four times on charges that include drug possession, drunk driving and petty theft, court records show. She pleaded guilty or no contest in each case and was placed on probation, given community service or ordered to pay fines.

She said Puliafito told her he was taking care of her, but she came to view the money he gave her as “a trap.”

“It was never enough for me to save up and leave,” she said.

She said it seemed odd that someone with Puliafito’s responsibilities could devote so much time to her. She said he would spend the night with her in apartments or hotel rooms he paid for, leave early in the morning to go to his home and then return to her with breakfast.

“He was always with me,” she said. “It was as if he had nothing else to do.”

USC fundraising galas can be glittering affairs with movie stars and billionaire donors rubbing elbows in Beverly Hills ballrooms. Puliafito glided confidently through these events, posing for photos with Gwyneth Paltrow and Pierce Brosnan and chatting up tech mogul Larry Ellison and mega-developer Rick Caruso.

In these circles, Puliafito presented himself as an architect of USC’s rising reputation as a research institution. When asked about his extracurricular pursuits, he mentioned his award-winning stamp collection and spending time with his wife, a Harvard classmate, and three adult children.

Don Stokes was not part of that world.

Stokes, 39, is an Orange County karaoke deejay with multiple convictions for drug possession. Contacted by The Times, Stokes said that Warren introduced him to Puliafito, and that they would spend hours drinking and using drugs in bars and hotel rooms with a group that included addicts and prostitutes.

Stokes said Puliafito gave him meth, including while he was living at New Life Spirit, a Huntington Beach sober home for recovering addicts. Warren said she saw it happen.

Stokes said that Puliafito seemed to believe that showering the group with cash and gifts was a way of “tying into this generation.”

“He would say, ‘Money is not an issue,’” recalled Stokes, who recently completed another stint in rehab. “There was hardly a day when he wasn’t around.”

Another member of the group was Kyle Voigt, 37, an Iraq war veteran with a criminal record that dates to at least 2009 and includes convictions for possession of heroin for sale.

The Times reviewed numerous photos and videos of Voigt and Puliafito with other members of their circle.

A series of September 2015 photos show Voigt and Warren in Puliafito’s office at the USC health sciences campus. The time stamp indicates the photos were taken around 3 a.m.

In one shot, Warren, wearing a USC shirt, stands next to Puliafito’s desk. A portrait of the dean and his wife is visible, and framed Dodgers and Red Sox jerseys can be seen on the wall.

In another photo, Voigt is wearing an inflatable Trojan hat and a white Keck School lab coat embroidered with the dean’s name. Both he and Warren are holding pieces of aluminum foil with darkened patches in the middle. The Times showed the image to law enforcement officials, who said the patches were consistent with the marks left by smoking heroin. In the photo, Warren has a lighter in her hand.

Other photos, shot the same year at a Pasadena gas station, show Voigt at the wheel of Puliafito’s vintage Mercedes, with the dean seated in the rear. Voigt is holding a piece of foil in his lap.

At one in a string of court appearances in 2015, he was asked to provide his address on a legal form. He listed Puliafito’s residence, a $5-million Tudor Revival mansion in Pasadena.

In a brief interview this spring at the L.A. County jail, where he was being held on suspicion of identity theft, Voigt declined to explain why he provided Puliafito’s address as his own and would not discuss whether he used drugs with the doctor.

He did say that Puliafito frequently socialized with him, Warren and other young people.

“Carmen’s always there,” he said.

Puliafito twice scheduled visits to the jail to see Voigt, although records show the visits were canceled. On a May 13, 2016, reservation form, Puliafito said he had a “professional” relationship with the inmate.

On a Feb. 16, 2017, form, he described himself as a “friend.”

Warren said her younger brother was part of the group that hung out with Puliafito and used drugs with him.

Charles Warren, who lives with his parents in Huntington Beach, confirmed his sister’s account. He said in an interview that he was 17 and had little experience with drugs, beyond marijuana, when his sister introduced him to Puliafito in the spring of 2015.

Sarah and Charles Warren said Puliafito wrote them prescriptions for asthma inhalers to soothe lungs raw from smoking marijuana and methamphetamine. Charles Warren, now 19, provided The Times a copy of a CVS prescription history, dated Dec. 30, 2015, for an Advair inhaler that shows Puliafito as the prescribing physician and Charles Warren as the patient.

In early 2016, about a year after she first met Puliafito, Sarah Warren sought help for her drug problem. She spent time in two different rehab programs, and completed the second one, at Michael’s House in Palm Springs, in February 2016.

Less than three weeks later, she and Puliafito checked into the Hotel Constance in Pasadena.

On a sunny afternoon in June 2016, dozens of Puliafito’s colleagues gathered on a lawn at USC’s health sciences campus for a catered reception in his honor. It had been three months since he’d announced his resignation, and the school’s top administrators took turns lauding his accomplishments as head of the medical school.

Keck had climbed in national medical school rankings: U.S. News & World Report ranked it 31st in research last year, seven rungs higher than when Puliafito became dean.

“Today, we have one of the, not just the area’s, but the nation’s preeminent medical schools and medical enterprises — and, in many ways, thanks to the leadership of Carmen,” Nikias told the crowd.

Key to Keck’s rise in stature was Puliafito’s ability to headhunt the type of big-name researchers who brought grant money and prestige. He recruited more than 70 professors to Keck, according to a campus publication.

One of those coups was under intense scrutiny at the time of Puliafito’s resignation. In a court battle that is still playing out, the University of California filed suit in July 2015 against USC over its poaching of a leading Alzheimer’s disease researcher.

Puliafito was the self-described “quarterback” of efforts to land UC San Diego professor Paul Aisen, a star in the state university system.

Curing Alzheimer’s is a top priority for government agencies and pharmaceutical companies, and Aisen’s lab was overseeing groundbreaking research, including drug trials at 70 locations around the world. More than $340 million in funding was expected to flow to his lab, according to court records.

UC contended in its suit that its private school rival went beyond the bounds of academic recruiting by targeting professors and labs based on grant funding. The suit accused USC of civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty and other misconduct.

USC denied any wrongdoing and countersued for defamation and other claims. At the time Puliafito stepped down, UC had yet to question him under oath.

A UC lawyer deposed the former dean in September 2016, and asked about his resignation. A USC attorney objected to the question as “vague” and “overbroad.” Puliafito ultimately answered that he had a “unique opportunity” to work in private industry and that he was on sabbatical from his faculty position.

He had accepted, in April 2016, a position as chief of strategic development at Ophthotech, a New York pharmaceutical company run by friends Puliafito had known since his time at Harvard. The job did not last. The company announced in December that a drug it had been developing failed in clinical trials.

Puliafito, along with 80% of the workforce, was laid off, a company spokeswoman said.

He continues to represent USC in public. On Saturday, he spoke at a Keck-sponsored program at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena — one of the hotels Sarah Warren said she frequented with him.

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-usc-doctor-20170717-htmlstory.html

Methamphetamine Was the Secret to Hitler’s Blitzkrieg Successes

by Philip Perry

Hitler’s charisma, demagoguery, and ability to mobilize Germany behind him have been much written about and discussed. His failed attempt to fight a war on two fronts, and making the same mistake as Napoleon—invading Russia, have also been topics exhausted by scholars and armchair historians alike. But new revelations, such as the fact that the Fuhrer had a micropenis, are changing completely how we view the Second World War.

A 47-page dossier reveals that the rise of Nazi Germany was fueled by drug use. Hitler himself was taking 74 separate drugs, including a powerful opioid, and what we would consider today methamphetamine (crystal meth). The US military report, developed over the course of the war, outlines a number of different substances ingested by the Fuhrer including morphine, barbiturates, tranquilizers, and even bull’s semen.

The bull’s semen was supposed to restore the Fuhrer’s libido in to keep up with his much younger girlfriend, and to make him appear energetic and masculine before the populace. The other drugs were to help alleviate a range of issues from stomach cramps to perhaps, what some historians believe were the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

German writer Norman Ohler covers drug use in Nazi Germany in his new book, The Total Rush (Der Totale Rausch). In America, its entitled Blitzed. The book was a huge success in Germany and has since been translated into 18 languages. According to Ohler, though drugs played a pivotal role, historians overlooked it due to little interest in Hitler’s personal physician, Dr. Theodor Morell.


Injections of bull semen supposedly helped Hitler keep up with girlfriend Eva Braun, pictured here.

Ohler’s friend Alexander Kramer, who owns a vast collection of books and memorabilia from the war period and earlier, was the first to tell Ohler about the role narcotics played. Ohler said he knew immediately it would be the subject of his next book. Though he is not an historian, Third Reich expert Hans Mommsen, now deceased, aided the author in his quest. Ohler spent years in archives to piece the story together.

It all begins during the Weimar Republic, and the rise of Hitler. His inner circle lionized him, portraying him as a superior man in mind and body, who never ate meat, never touched drugs or alcohol, or even women. In 1933 when he rose to power, all intoxicating drugs were banned. Addicts were soon executed by the state or sent off to the camps.

Dr. Fritz Hauschild in Berlin developed what was first known in Germany as methyl-amphetamine. In 1937 the company he worked for expressed the hopes of using it to become a rival of Coca Cola. By 1938, the drug became pervasive and available without a prescription. Soon, almost everyone in Germany was using the drug, known as Pervitin, to boost confidence, energy, and attitude.

As ubiquitously as coffee today, it was regarded in much the same way. Housewives ate Pervitin-laced chocolates which allow them to get housework done in a jiffy and even helped them lose weight. Though health and fitness were upheld as a supreme cultural value, the populace and their leader were all in actuality, smashed on drugs.

It was Dr. Otto Ranke, the director of the Institute for General and Defense Physiology, who decided Pervitin was a good way to help soldiers avoid exhaustion. It allowed them to remain awake for long periods, march for miles, and fight in terrifying conditions fearlessly. Before invading France in 1940, Nazi soldiers were instructed to take tablets of Pervitin throughout the day and night. The invasion of Poland was also fueled by meth.

Although Ohler said his mentor told him never to rely on just one cause, the author says the blitzkrieg was utterly dependent on Pervitin. Otherwise, Hitler’s forces could have never swept through Europe as quickly as they did. Records indicate that 35 million tablets were distributed in 1940 over a span of four months, to fuel the western offensive. The idea was to turn ordinary men into superhuman machines.

There is still argument today over whether or not certain drugs improve or impede a soldier’s performance. The side effects of Pervitin were irrational behavior, hallucinations, and enraged outbursts. The Nazis weren’t alone. Many other armies used amphetamines to fight off fatigue. Dexedrine was used by the British and Americans, while the Japanese had their own form of speed.

As the war raged on, Hitler began relying on his doctor more and more, whom was distrusted and loathed by the rest of his inner circle. Dr. Morell meanwhile relied on the Fuhrer for his position. In 1941 Hitler came down with a terrible illness. Though Morell had been famous for vitamin injections, it was clear that these were not going to cut it.

Animal hormones and a series of medications were attempted. Finally, the physician settled on Eukodal, a wonder drug which we would call Oxycodone today. Soon, one of the world’s most famous villains was receiving several injections of Eukodal per day, and combining them with a host of other drugs, including cocaine, which had been prescribed to help with an ear condition endured on the eastern front. The drug cocktail, particularly Eukodal, made Hitler feel invincible, even when it became clear, by 1944, that Germany was losing. His generals frantically appealed to him to change tactics. But Eukodal made him feel powerful, euphoric, and in control, and so he decide to plod along, undeterred.

Late in the war, the factories that made Germany’s drugs were bombed out by the Allies. By early 1945, the Fuhrer was in a state of fevered withdrawal. According to Ohler, the world’s most infamous fascist spent his final days in his bunker, drowning in a hellish state of withdrawal.

Ohler doesn’t think Hitler’s personal physician purposely turned him into an addict, though it is possible. But it’s just as likely that the Fuhrer himself was the driving force, imbued with an addictive personality. Either way, in the fall of 1944, Hitler removed Morell. But by then, it was too late. The Fuhrer took his own life. Morell meanwhile died not too long after the war a sad and broken figure, discarded by history. Ohler portrays him as a tragic figure, a mere opportunist caught up in the forces of his time, while others see him as an out-and-out scoundrel. Regardless of his intentions, his methods seem to have contributed to the downfall of the Third Reich.

One striking chart shows why pharma companies are fighting legal marijuana

By Christopher Ingraham

There’s a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. These studies have generally assumed that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. But that’s always been just an assumption.

Now a new study, released in the journal Health Affairs, validates these findings by providing clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses. Ashley and W. David Bradford, a daughter-father pair of researchers at the University of Georgia, scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013.

They found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law. The drops were quite significant: In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication.

But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.

These conditions are among those for which medical marijuana is most often approved under state laws. So as a sanity check, the Bradfords ran a similar analysis on drug categories that pot typically is not recommended for — blood thinners, anti-viral drugs and antibiotics. And on those drugs, they found no changes in prescribing patterns after the passage of marijuana laws.

“This provides strong evidence that the observed shifts in prescribing patterns were in fact due to the passage of the medical marijuana laws,” they write.

In a news release, lead author Ashley Bradford wrote, “The results suggest people are really using marijuana as medicine and not just using it for recreational purposes.”

One interesting wrinkle in the data is glaucoma, for which there was a small increase in demand for traditional drugs in medical-marijuana states. It’s routinely listed as an approved condition under medical-marijuana laws, and studies have shown that marijuana provides some degree of temporary relief for its symptoms.

The Bradfords hypothesize that the short duration of the glaucoma relief provided by marijuana — roughly an hour or so — may actually stimulate more demand in traditional glaucoma medications. Glaucoma patients may experience some short-term relief from marijuana, which may prompt them to seek other, robust treatment options from their doctors.

The tanking numbers for painkiller prescriptions in medical marijuana states are likely to cause some concern among pharmaceutical companies. These companies have long been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana reform, funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization.

Pharmaceutical companies have also lobbied federal agencies directly to prevent the liberalization of marijuana laws. In one case, recently uncovered by the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the Department of Health and Human Services recommended that naturally derived THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana, be moved from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 of the Controlled Substances Act — a less restrictive category that would acknowledge the drug’s medical use and make it easier to research and prescribe. Several months after HHS submitted its recommendation, at least one drug company that manufactures a synthetic version of THC — which would presumably have to compete with any natural derivatives — wrote to the Drug Enforcement Administration to express opposition to rescheduling natural THC, citing “the abuse potential in terms of the need to grow and cultivate substantial crops of marijuana in the United States.”

The DEA ultimately rejected the HHS recommendation without explanation.

In what may be the most concerning finding for the pharmaceutical industry, the Bradfords took their analysis a step further by estimating the cost savings to Medicare from the decreased prescribing. They found that about $165 million was saved in the 17 medical marijuana states in 2013. In a back-of-the-envelope calculation, the estimated annual Medicare prescription savings would be nearly half a billion dollars if all 50 states were to implement similar programs.

“That amount would have represented just under 0.5 percent of all Medicare Part D spending in 2013,” they calculate.

Cost-savings alone are not a sufficient justification for implementing a medical-marijuana program. The bottom line is better health, and the Bradfords’ research shows promising evidence that medical-marijuana users are finding plant-based relief for conditions that otherwise would have required a pill to treat.

“Our findings and existing clinical literature imply that patients respond to medical marijuana legislation as if there are clinical benefits to the drug, which adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that the Schedule 1 status of marijuana is outdated,” the study concludes.

One limitation of the study is that it only looks at Medicare Part D spending, which applies only to seniors. Previous studies have shown that seniors are among the most reluctant medical-marijuana users, so the net effect of medical marijuana for all prescription patients may be even greater.

The Bradfords will next look at whether similar patterns hold for Medicaid.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/13/one-striking-chart-shows-why-pharma-companies-are-fighting-legal-marijuana/

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

Drug 8-Times Stronger than Morphine Linked to at Least 50 Deaths in U.S.

A new synthetic drug called U-47700 has been linked with at least 50 deaths across the United States, and several states are trying to halt the spread of the drug, which can be bought online.

Georgia, Ohio, and Wyoming have taken action to ban the drug, and Kansas law enforcement agencies are seeking an emergency ban. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is analyzing the drug but hasn’t yet moved to control it, a spokeswoman told the Associated Press.

U-47700 is an opioid that is nearly 8 times stronger than morphine. It comes in different forms and can be swallowed, snorted, or injected.

The drug — being made by chemical companies in China — was developed by pharmaceutical company UpJohn in the 1970s, and the recipe for making it is easy to find, Barry Logan, PhD, chief of forensic toxicology at NMS Labs in Pennsylvania, which provides lab services for government and private clients, told the AP.

New irrigation methods mean veggies and fruits serve up used pharmaceuticals

Through vegetables and fruits, the drugs that we flush down the drain are returning to us.

In a randomized, single-blind pilot study, researchers found that anticonvulsive epilepsy drug carbamazepine, which is released in urine, can accumulate in crops irrigated with recycled water—treated sewage—and end up in the urine of produce-eaters not on the drugs. The study, published Tuesday in Environmental Science & Technology, is the first to validate the long-held suspicion that pharmaceuticals may get trapped in infinite pee-to-food-to-pee loops, exposing consumers to drug doses with unknown health effects.

While the amounts of the drug in produce-eater’s pee were four orders of magnitude lower than what is seen in the pee of patients purposefully taking the drugs, researchers speculate that the trace amounts could still have health effects in some people, such as those with a genetic sensitivity to the drugs, pregnant women, children, and those who eat a lot of produce, such as vegetarians. And with the growing practice of reclaiming wastewater for crop irrigation—particularly in places that face water shortages such as California, Israel, and Spain—the produce contamination could become more common and more potent, the authors argue.

“The potential for unwitting exposure of consumers to contaminants via this route is real,” the authors wrote, adding that their study provides real world data that proves exposure occurs.

For the study, researchers recruited 34 healthy adults—excluding vegetarians, vegans, and people who take carbamazepine. The participants were all from Israel, where farmers use reclaimed water for 50 percent of the country’s irrigation needs. California, which grows a large portion of US produce, currently uses reclaimed water for six percent of its irrigation needs, but is looking to increase its usage.

First, the researchers measured what was in each participant’s pee, then randomly assigned them to one of two groups. While each participant got a big basket of produce to eat over one week and another basket for a second week, the contents varied depending on their group. Those in group one unknowingly started off with produce irrigated with reclaimed water and then got a batch irrigated with fresh water for the second week. Group two started with produce irrigated with fresh water, then were switched to crops bought at a local grocery store. (The authors admit that they meant to switch the second group to produce grown with reclaimed water for that second week, but they ran out.) The researchers weren’t sure what type of water was used to grow the grocery store produce, but they assumed it was a mix.

Throughout the two weeks, researchers sampled each participant’s urine, looking for carbamazepine and its metabolites—forms of the drug that have been modified in the human body.

At the start, the participants had mixed levels of carbamazepine in their urine, with ~38 percent having undetectable amounts, ~35 percent having detectable amounts that were too little to quantify, and ~26 having low but quantifiable amounts. After the first week, all of the participants in the first group, which noshed on produce irrigated with reclaimed water, had quantifiable amounts of the drug and its metabolites in their urine—some of the amounts hiked up by more than ten-fold from the start. Those in group two, however, didn’t change from their initial measurements.

In the second week, after the veggie swap, the levels of carbamazepine dropped back down to baseline levels in group one participants. Drug levels in participants in group two stayed about the same in the second week, despite some of the grocery store produce testing positive for carbamazepine.

Both of those findings—that drug levels can quickly drop after exposure and the mixed supermarket food didn’t alter levels—is relatively good news for public health, the authors note. Still, the unintentional drug doses in food are a concern worth more attention by the public health community, the authors conclude. Previous studies have found a variety of drugs in crops, including cholesterol medications, caffeine, and triclosan.

Environmental Science & Technology, 2015. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b06256 (About DOIs).

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

How LSD Makes Your Brain One With The Universe

lsd

by Angus Chen

Some users of LSD say one of the most profound parts of the experience is a deep oneness with the universe. The hallucinogenic drug might be causing this by blurring boundaries in the brain, too.

The sensation that the boundaries between yourself and the world around you are erasing correlates to changes in brain connectivity while on LSD, according to a study published Wednesday in Current Biology. Scientists gave 15 volunteers either a drop of acid or a placebo and slid them into an MRI scanner to monitor brain activity.

After about an hour, when the high begins peaking, the brains of people on acid looked markedly different than those on the placebo. For those on LSD, activity in certain areas of their brain, particularly areas rich in neurons associated with serotonin, ramped up.

Their sensory cortices, which process sensations like sight and touch, became far more connected than usual to the frontal parietal network, which is involved with our sense of self. “The stronger that communication, the stronger the experience of the dissolution [of self],” says Enzo Tagliazucchi, the lead author and a researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.

Tagliazucchi speculates that what’s happening is a confusion of information. Your brain on acid, flooded with signals crisscrossing between these regions, begins muddling the things you see, feel, taste or hear around you with you. This can create the perception that you and, say, the pizza you’re eating are no longer separate entities. You are the pizza and the world beyond the windowsill. You are the church and the tree and the hill.

Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD, described this in his book LSD: My Problem Child. “A portion of the self overflows into the outer world, into objects, which begin to live, to have another, a deeper meaning,” he wrote. He felt the world would be a better place if more people understood this. “What is needed today is a fundamental re-experience of the oneness of all living things.”

The sensation is neurologically similar to synesthesia, Tagliazucchi thinks. “In synesthesia, you mix up sensory modalities. You can feel the color of a sound or smell the sound. This happens in LSD, too,” Tagliazucchi says. “And ego dissolution is a form of synesthesia, but it’s a synesthesia of areas of brain with consciousness of self and the external environment. You lose track of which is which.”

Tagliazucchi and other researchers also measured the volunteers’ brain electrical activity with another device. Our brains normally generate a regular rhythm of electrical activity called the alpha rhythm, which links to our brain’s ability to suppress irrelevant activity. But in a different paper published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he and several co-authors show that LSD weakens the alpha rhythm. He thinks this weakening could make the hallucinations seem more real.

The idea is intriguing if still somewhat speculative, says Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center who was not involved with the work. “They may genuinely be on to something. This should really further our understanding of the brain and consciousness.” And, he says, the work highlights hallucinogens’ powerful therapeutic potential.

The altered state of reality that comes with psychedelics might enhance psychotherapy, Grob thinks. “Hallucinogens are a catalyst,” he says. “In well-prepared subjects, you might elicit powerful, altered states of consciousness. [That] has been predicative of positive therapeutic outcomes.”

In recent years, psychedelics have been trickling their way back to psychiatric research. LSD was considered a good candidate for psychiatric treatment until 1966, when it was outlawed and became very difficult to obtain for study. Grob has done work testing the treatment potential of psilocybin, the active compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms.

He imagines a future where psychedelics are commonly used to treat a range of conditions. “[There could] be a peaceful room attractively fixed up with nice paintings, objects to look at, fresh flowers, a chair or recliner for the patient and two therapists in the room,” he muses. “A safe container for that individual as they explore deep inner space, inner terrain.”

Grob believes the right candidate would benefit greatly from LSD or other hallucinogen therapy, though he cautions that bad experiences can still happen for some on the drugs. Those who are at risk for schizophrenia may want to avoid psychedelics, Tagliazucchi says. “There has been evidence saying what could happen is LSD could trigger the disease and turn it into full-fledged schizophrenia,” he says. “There is a lot of debate around this. It’s an open topic.”

Tagliazucchi thinks that this particular ability of psychedelics to evoke a sense of dissolution of self and unity with the external environment has already helped some patients. “Psilocybin has been used to treat anxiety with terminal cancer patients,” he says. “One reason why they felt so good after treatment is the ego dissolution is they become part of something larger: the universe. This led them to a new perspective on their death.”

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/04/13/474071268/how-lsd-makes-your-brain-one-with-the-universe

Bundle of marijuana worth $10,000 falls from the sky and crushes doghouse

Maya Donnelly awoke to what sounded like thunder in the early morning hours, but dismissed it as a typical monsoon storm and went back to sleep. Later that morning, she looked in the carport at her home in Nogales, near the US-Mexico border, and saw pieces of wood on the ground.

She found a bulky bundle wrapped in black plastic. Inside was roughly 26lbs of marijuana – a package that authorities say was worth $10,000 and was likely dropped there accidentally by a drug smuggler’s aircraft.

Police are now trying to determine whether the bundle was transported by an aircraft or a pilotless drone. Such runs usually occur at night.

“It’s all right on top of our dog’s house,” Donnelly said of the incident, which occurred on 8 September and was first reported by the Nogales International newspaper. “It just made a perfectly round hole through our carport.”

Living near the border, Donnelly said she assumed the object contained drugs. She immediately called her husband, Bill, who told her to call 911. The couple said officers who responded told them an ultralight aircraft smuggling marijuana from Mexico had probably let part of its load go early by accident before dropping the rest farther north, the newspaper reported.

Nogales police chief Derek Arnson said it was the first time in his three-year tenure that he had seen a load of drugs hit a building.

“Someone definitely made a mistake, and who knows what the outcome of that mistake might be for them,” Arnson said.

Maya Donnelly said she thought it unlikely someone would come looking for the drugs, which are now in police custody. Arnson agreed but said police had boosted patrols in the neighbourhood.

The family will have to pay the estimated $500 in repairs, as well as pay for a new home for their German Shepherd, Hulk. But the scenario could have been much worse for the couple and their three teenage daughters.

“Where it landed was clear on the other side of the house from the bedrooms,” Maya Donnelly said. “We were lucky in that sense.”

Friends and family also have gotten a laugh. Several joked that the couple could have profited from the surprise package.

“That’s what everybody says: ‘Why did you call 911?”’ Maya Donnelly said. “But how can you have a clear conscience, right? We could have made lots of home repairs with that.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/27/10000-dollars-marijuana-falls-from-sky-arizona-dog-house?channel=us

Meet the Man Trying to Use Ayahuasca to Treat PTSD

Deep in the Amazon rainforest, a group of veterans chokes down a gritty, gut-wrenching shot of liquid absolution. They try to drink away their severe mental disturbances, but not the way you drink away your ex-girlfriend with a bottle of whiskey. They’re looking for a cure. Their leader: 27-year-old retired infantryman Ryan LeCompte. Their goal: to hallucinate away their terrible memories.

From a few fringe psychiatrists to veterans like LeCompte, there is a budding belief that extreme hallucination can save our brains from themselves. Several organizations, including the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and adventurous doctors around the world test out psychedelics such as MDMA, psilocybin and ayahuasca for possible medical uses.

Ayahuasca is a devilish brew. It’s made of vines and roots found in the Amazon; drinking it equals a heavy psychedelic experience and profuse vomiting. “As the shapes and colors continued to move about, they sometimes converged to create the face of a woman, who of course I immediately labeled as Aya,” says an ayahuasca user on the underground drug website Erowid. Aya is known as the spirit or soul of the ayahuasca world. LeCompte described having kaleidoscope vision during his ayahuasca trip, and he even began to dance and went to look at leaves and other pieces of the nature around him at points.

Ryan LeCompte is a scruffy former Marine who, today, is studying at the eccentric Naropa University in Boulder. The school was founded by Tibetan Buddhist teacher and Oxford University scholar Chögyam Trungpa and includes schools such as the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. The beat poets used to flock to there. It’s a Buddhist-inspired school infamous for attracting people who are looking for an alternative education in an attractive location.

For his part, LeCompte didn’t ever face a PTSD diagnosis during his time in service. But he’s lucky, because many of his peers did. What he did experience still shook him. In 2008, while stationed in 8th and I Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., LeCompte walked into the room of a good friend in his barracks one morning to find Sgt. Jorge Leon-Alcivar dead—a suicide. He was not the only Marine LeCompte encountered who would take his own life. At least 22 veterans kill themselves every day. Leon-Alcivar’s death was the final straw, and three years later LeCompte retired from the Marines to start fighting PTSD. He received his End of Active Service honorable discharge after four years in the Marines and didn’t look back.

LeCompte began traveling to the VA hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was living, to learn what was ailing disturbed veterans and soldiers. He hung around in waiting rooms, cautiously approaching the soldiers, wheedling their stories out. But it didn’t take much persuasion; the men were “so beat,” he recalls, that they opened up to him instantly. This took course over several years, during his free time, while he did contract work building helicopters.

Soon, LeCompte had amassed the information from about 100 cases in Birmingham; Veterans spilled almost everything to him: their meds, their dosages, their choice of therapy. It all added up. Over and over again, he discovered his peers were taking the same types of medicines such Zoloft and Paxil, in the same dosages, 50 to 200mg of Zoloft a day or 20 to 60mg of Paxil a day were common, and with the same form of EMDR therapy. EMDR is a somatic therapy that follows eye movements and dream states.

LeCompte didn’t see anything wrong with the therapy. How about the drugs? Yeah, it’s probably the drugs. LeCompte’s complaints ring of an old story these days in American psychiatry: we’re too drugged up, we’re overdosed and overdiagnosed. It’s a complaint plenty of professionals agree with, but only a handful of psychiatrists are taking alternate routes. “There are some veterans who actually do respond to those meds, but it’s rare,” Dr. Sue Sisley, an expert on PTSD in veterans who has studied treating the illness with marijuana, told ATTN:. “The vets who respond to the standard FDA approved meds like Zoloft or Paxil is probably less than 10 percent. The rest come in looking like zombies.”

LeCompte had tried almost all the drugs they were offering, from “highly addictive anxiolytics like Klonopin, and … Prozac as an anti-depressant and Ambien for a sleep aid,” he said. “These different drugs sort of mixed together in a cocktail just as a recipe for disaster,” he said. He never tried to contact U.S. Veteran’s Affairs to inform them of these problems, because he didn’t think they would do anything about it. VA psychiatrists like Dr. Basimah Khulusi of Missouri have been fired for simply refusing to increase medication dosages that they didn’t think their patients needed shows the kind of system LeCompte was dealing with.

LeCompte looked into how these drugs work and found they’re just mind blockers, they’re not helping you deal with your problems. “Medications do not entirely eliminate symptoms but provide a symptom reduction and are sometimes more effective when used in conjunction with an ongoing program of trauma specific psychotherapy,” according to the VA website.

LeCompte looked at research from people like Julie D. Megler, watched videos of the academic conferences focusing on psychedelics called Psychedemia from Penn State and went on websites like Erowid to look at ayahuasca experiences people had posted to the site. What did he learn? “Something like ayahuasca or MDMA is used to bridge severed connections in the brain that trauma plays a big part in creating,” he said.

“Ayahuasca opens the limbic pathways of the brain to affect the emotional core of the trauma in a way similar to affective psychotherapy for trauma, and also impacts higher cortical areas … to allow the patient to assign a new context to their trauma,” wrote brain experts J. L. Nielson and J. D. Megler, in the book The Therapeutic Use of Ayahuasca.

Soon, LeCompte started having conversations with veterans and began informing people of the possible benefits of ayahuasca, wondering if anyone else was daring enough to start considering the idea of drinking a shot of psychedelics for their PTSD. LeCompte had never tried ayahuasca, but he was willing to try anything to help his comrades. Eventually he heard of an ayahuasca retreat, the Phoenix Ayahuasca retreat in Peru, where he could test out his medicine.

It took him six months to do what any sane person would do before planning a group outing to South America to hallucinate in a forest together… he started a nonprofit. Its name? The Veterans for Entheogenic Therapy. Other vets started to find him; some were suicidal, exhausted by the daily challenge of deciding whether or not they wanted to be alive. He didn’t know them, but he felt he intimately understood – or at least sympathized with – their minds. He rounded up a trip: five other vets, and him. MAPS helped pay for two of the trips for veterans who couldn’t afford it, and the rest paid for themselves.

The prep was strangely regimented: LeCompte had to ensure the veterans were off their medication for a month leading up to the trip; anti-depressants plus ayahuasca equal a lethal mix. That task amounted to phone therapy and keeping a close eye on everyone: He called the guys every day, even their friends and family, to make sure the men had quit their pills, he said. But he made it work. The families may have thought the idea was strange, but LeCompte says none of them tried to stop their family members because of their knowledge that the drugs weren’t helping treat the PTSD symptoms, and they just wanted to help their family.

The veterans flew into Iquitos, Peru, from Lima – from Iquitos, they sat in a van all the way to the Amazon, winding past motorbikes and rickshaws “on back roads in the middle of bum fuck,” LeCompte says.

Then their lives collided and things got weird.

They were stationed for 10 days at Phoenix Ayahuasca. The camp was little more than a set of huts in the jungle, made from wood and leaves. They would drink the ayahuasca on ceremony nights and be led through their experience by the shaman, and they would stay in their personal huts on days off to reflect on their experiences alone.

LeCompte said the ayahuasca drink “tastes like shit.” The shaman leading the experience dressed in all white scrub-like clothes, like a nurse lost in the jungle. After you drink the brew, the shaman’s job is simply to observe. He diagnoses: Is anyone losing it? Some people have been known to begin convulsing. Is this the moment they need to hear a song that will send them burrowing into a different dimension? “I don’t know how he does it. It’s beyond my rational mind,” LeCompte said. “It” amounts to singing, blowing smoke on trippers’ faces and using instruments like a rattler to change their state of mind.

For his part, LeCompte only wanted two out of the four drink ceremonies, since they were so powerful. It certainly wasn’t about the PTSD for LeCompte; he was trying to get past his experiences of fallen friends and broken relationships. He says just returning home to family and friends from military service or an ayahuasca trip is a difficult experience of its own. “You’re a changed person and there’s no doubting or denying that.”

“Most people get a cut, and they put a bandaid on it,” he said. “These people have had these wounds for so long that they’ve become infected. The infection can’t be fought off with a bandaid.” LeCompte sees ayahuasca as an antibiotic, not a bandaid.

LeCompte is now planning to do an official study to look at how ayahuasca could treat PTSD, which will serve as his thesis for Naropa University. It is being sponsored by MAPS, and it will focus on 12 veterans with treatment resistant PTSD who will try using ayahuasca to treat it. The plan is to conduct the study over 10 days in early 2016. LeCompte is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to fund research and education around the medicinal use of ayahuasca.

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2KDuBh/:1EfXhqlsu:Y+0NYw4t/www.attn.com/stories/2301/semicolon-tattoo-mental-health

Edible Marijuana Labels Often Have Potency Wrong, Study Says


An assortment of edible marijuana products. Most edibles in a recent study inaccurately described the amount of THC on their labels.

By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS

An analysis of 75 edible marijuana products sold to patients in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles found that labels on just 17 percent accurately described their levels of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient, researchers reported Tuesday.

Sixty percent of the products had less THC than their packages advertised, and 23 percent of them had more THC than claimed.

“We need a more accurate picture of what’s being offered to patients,” said Dr. Donald Abrams, the chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. He was not involved in the new study, which was published in JAMA.

“What we have now in this country is an unregulated medical marijuana industry, due to conflicts between state and federal laws,” Dr. Abrams said.

After ingesting marijuana, patients experience the maximal high one to three hours later. (It is felt within minutes after smoking.) Inaccurate labels complicate the consumption of marijuana for medical purposes.

Products with too little THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, may fail to deliver symptom relief to those with debilitating conditions like chronic pain, and those with too much may overwhelm users.

Some of Dr. Abrams’s older cancer patients have tried edibles, he said, because they do not want to smoke marijuana. But some have eaten too much THC, with unpleasant results such as severe anxiety.

In the new study, cannabis candy, drinks and baked goods from 47 brands were tested by the Werc Shop, a laboratory with outposts in California and Washington State.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine paid for the study except for the cost of the testing, which was covered by the Werc Shop. The company’s chief executive, Jeffrey Raber, is a study author.

Some discrepancies were notably large: In one case, a product had just three milligrams of THC even though its label claimed 108, said Ryan Vandrey, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The researchers declined to name specific manufacturers or products. “I didn’t want to get sued,” Dr. Vandrey said.

“The point is not to say, ‘Hey, X medical marijuana company, you’re bad,’ ” he added. The more serious issue is that “we don’t have the kind of quality assurance for edibles that we have for any other medicine.”

The analysis found some geographical differences: The likelihood of having edible medical marijuana with more THC than advertised was higher in Los Angeles, while the likelihood of having it with less THC than labeled was greater in Seattle.

The researchers also tested each product for cannabidiol, or CBD, a nonpsychoactive ingredient of marijuana that is being studied in purified form as a possible aid to children with intractable epilepsy.

Forty-four products had detectable levels of CBD, though only 13 disclosed CBD. Nine had less CBD than labeled; four had more.

One limitation was that just one laboratory performed the analysis, medical and lab experts cautioned. Methodologies and results vary from lab to lab.

Some variability in test results is routine in this sort of analysis, so the researchers classified labels as accurate if the THC content was within 10 percent of the claimed levels.

Still, Remy Kachadourian, a chemist who has analyzed edible marijuana, suggested that 10 percent variability was too narrow.

“Plus or minus 15 percent is acceptable, and not only in my lab, but other labs in Colorado,” said Dr. Kachadourian, a senior scientist at CMT Laboratories in Denver.

Even though 23 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana programs, the federal government does not recognize marijuana as medicine and considers it illegal.

“When that changes,” Dr. Abrams said, “we’ll see the industry rushing to standardize dosing, as well as laboratory testing of products.”

Thanks to Mike Moore for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.