FDA Monitors Social Media for Drug Abuse Trends

Pat Anson, writing for Pain News Network:

The FDA began monitoring social media – what it calls “proactive pharmacovigilance” – about a decade ago, primarily as an early warning system for adverse events involving medication.

I wasn't aware of this online monitoring by the FDA until now, but it makes sense that they're doing it. Maybe the organization has observed the fact that coverage about drugs (including psychedelics) has become more favorable in the media during the last 10 years.

It's also telling that the FDA seems to be going specifically after kratom vendors.


Book Review - Peace is Every Breath

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I love me a good Thich Nhat Hanh book. They're usually quick and simple to digest, chock-full of easily-applied sage wisdom from one of the most influential Buddhist leaders in the West. Peace is Every Breath is no exception.

Hanh is a world-renowned Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master, poet, scholar, and peace activist who attempts to show people how to incorporate the practice of mindfulness into each and every waking moment. The followup to his bestselling classic, Peace is Every Step, the chapters of this book flow together as a helpful guide that the reader can use to live a fuller life.

He writes:

Mindfulness is what brings us back in touch with what's happening in the present moment in our body, in our feelings, in our thinking, and also in our environment. It enables us to be present in the here and the now, mind and body together, aware of what's going on inside us and around us. And when we are very mindful of something, we are concentrated on it.

This book shows the reader how it is possible to practice cultivating mindfulness in each and every moment, featuring short chapters on various everyday activities that are often tedious and unmemorable for most of us, such as waking up each morning, eating breakfast, and brushing your teeth. I think that Hanh successfully unpacks the concept that we can continue our meditation or yoga practice even if we have gotten up from our zafus or stepped off our mats for the day. While I enjoyed the first book, Peace is Every Step, a bit better than this one, I still think that Peace is Every Breath is well worth reading and would encourage you to check it out if you're in need of a relaxing deep breath.

3/5 stars. 160 pages.

Banner image by Larisa-K, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

What's Up with Denver's Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative?

Nora Olabi, writing for Westword:

...the campaign Denver for Psilocybin — backed by members of the cannabis community such as weed doctor and neuroscientist Michele Ross and Straight Hemp CEO Devin Alvarez — has faced hurdles in its bid for the ballot since making its bold announcement in early March. It's still struggling to get its petition language approved and has been denied twice by the city, most recently on May 7. With little time left to gather signatures before the August deadline, there's a chance that Denver residents may not see the initiative this November.

I'd been wondering if there had been any progress on this story, and now we know. Here's hoping that the initiative will make it to the ballot later this year.


This Week in Psychedelics - 6.1.18

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Cannabis

  • Marijuana Compound Removes Toxic Alzheimer's Protein From The Brain (Science Alert)
  • Forget protein shakes. The newest workout supplement? Marijuana. (The Boston Globe)
  • Research Finds That Cannabis Used To Grow Wild In Ancient Europe (Herb)
  • Craft brewers walk regulatory tightrope with cannabis-related products (MiBiz)
  • Utah: Medical Access Initiative Certified For 2018 Ballot (NORML)
  • Use of Toxic Pesticides Increased in California’s Illegal Weed Farms (High Times)
  • Cannabis: the new tobacco? (CBC)
  • Florida: Court Strikes Down Legislative Ban On Medical Cannabis Smoking (NORML)
  • Oklahoma: Polling Shows Strong Voter Support For Upcoming Medical Marijuana Vote (NORML)
  • World’s First Cannabis Bank Advances in California (Leafly)
  • Bad Vibes? Heavy Marijuana Users Hold On to Negative Feelings (Live Science)
  • Greece Prepares for First Government-Backed Medical Marijuana Expo (High Times)
  • Senators Approve Funds For Feds To Restore Cannabis Genetics (Forbes)
  • Epileptic HS football player ineligible for college play because of cannabis oil use (FOX4KC)
  • Longtime Cannabis Activist Marc Emery Fined $5,000 For Drug Trafficking (High Times)
  • Georgia Kidnapped This Boy Because His Parents Used Marijuana to Stop His Seizures (Reason)
  • Cannabis Entrepreneurs Specialize Way Beyond Buds And Brownies (Forbes)
  • Nick Etten: Rescue the returned: Medical cannabis could save veterans’ lives (The Spokesman-Review)
  • Cannabis-based autism treatments front and center at suburban conference (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Wine may battle cannabis for key consumers with legalization (North Day Business Journal)
  • Smoking Not Your Style? Try a Cannabis Cocktail. (Reason)
  • Does cannabis kill brain cells? (Mashable)
  • American Cannabis Stocks Offer Compelling Relative Value (Forbes)
  • Reason's Classic Pot Brownies (Reason)
  • Cannabis Tax Relief, Workers' Rights Bills Fail in Sacramento (East Bay Express)
  • This Is Not a Pot Pipe (Reason)
  • Enforcement grapples with new cannabis environment (The Ledger)

LSD

  • Security Troops At Wyoming Nuclear Missile Base Used And Distributed LSD – OpEd (Eurasia Review)
  • Does Microdosing LSD Really Improve Cognition? (71Republic)

Psilocybin/Magic Mushrooms

  • Fifteen years of crime reporting left me with PTSD. Magic mushrooms helped me begin to recover (The Independent)
  • Mushrooms Aren't Magic (Reason)
  • 'Magic' mushrooms: The next great legalization debate (The Sacramento Bee)

MDMA/Ecstasy

  • We went undercover in a Chinese MDMA factory (Mixmag)
  • Study: Party Drug ‘Molly’ Often Not Really Pure MDMA; Pill-Testing At Concerts Could Curb Use (Study Finds)
  • Dad who lost two sons to MDMA overdoses on same night calls for drugs to be legalised after Mutiny festival deaths (The Sun)
  • Tragic young dad and teenage girl may have taken ‘Green Heineken ecstasy pills’ before festival drug deaths (The Sun)

Ayahuasca/DMT

  • The Muká Diet of the Yawanawá Indigenous People in Acre, Brazil (Chacruna)

Synthetic Cannabinoids/Psychoactive Research Chemicals

Dissociatives

  • A ‘breakthrough’ depression drug inspired by ketamine is attracting more attention from big pharma (Business Insider)

Opiates/Opioids

  • Mexico detains wife of drug baron blamed for U.S. heroin scourge (Reuters)
  • Taliban commander orders closure of opium labs in towns and cities (The Guardian)
  • Naloxone and the High Price of Doing Nothing (The Fix)
  • Tons of Poppies Destroyed in California’s Biggest Opium Bust (FOX40)
  • AMA Castigated for Rightly Opposing a National 3-Day Limit on Opioid Prescriptions (Reason)
  • One-Third of New Heroin Users Become Dependent on It (Live Science)

Kratom

  • DEA 'waiting for analysis': Kratom may soon be banned (KIRO)
  • Source of Kratom Contaminated With Salmonella Is Unknown, CDC Warns (Inverse)
  • Which Brands Linked With Nationwide Kratom Salmonella Outbreak? (Kratom Guides)
  • Could Kratom Solve the Opioid Epidemic? (San Diego Entertainer Magazine)
  • Is Kratom Legal In Georgia 2018 (Kratom Guides)
  • Confusion persists over Kratom law in Tennessee (WSMV)

Khat

  • Authorities arrest three suspects for smuggling Khat leaves (ANTARA News)

Miscellaneous Psychedelics/Psychoactives/Drug Policy

  • ‘Right To Try Act’ Could Allow Terminally-Ill Americans To Use MDMA And Psychedelic Drugs (The Liberty Conservative)
  • The Psychedelic Renaissance: Trip Reports from Timothy Leary, Michael Pollan, and Tao Lin (The New Yorker)
  • Trips Worth Telling (Medium)
  • Asia's newest drug war leaves more than 90 people dead in less than two weeks (Los Angeles Times)
  • You're Not a Drug Dealer? Here's Why the Police Might Disagree (The New York Times)
  • Ending America's War on Drugs Would Finally Unleash the Therapeutic Potential of Psychadelics (TIME)
  • Navigating Your Way Through the Psychedelic Field: How to Get Involved (Psychedelics Today)
  • LAPSS Into Higher Consciousness: Interview with Brad Adams, Ph.D. (Psychedelic Times)
  • Prohibition, the Constitution, and the Path to Legalization (Andrew Joseph)
  • Bangladesh's Deadly Narcotics Crackdown Sparks Fears of a Philippines-Style Drug War (TIME)
  • Hidden Horrors of "Zero Tolerance" – Mass Trials and Children Taken From Their Parents (The Intercept)
  • Psychedelics And Cluster Headaches (Psychedelic Heaven)
  • An Overdose Is Not a Murder (Reason)
  • Microdosing - All You Need to Know About This Dangerous Fad (The Quint)

Disclaimer: "This Week in Psychedelics" does not censor or analyze the news links presented here. The purpose of this column is solely to catalogue how psychedelics are presented by the mass media, which includes everything from the latest scientific research to misinformation.

Image by Dahtamnay, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Weekend Thoughts - 5.26.18

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Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. Assuming that things continue in the same direction that they're heading, some technology companies are poised to become pretty closely enmeshed with the country's policing industry. This week we learned that Amazon is selling facial recognition technology to law enforcement. The technology, dubbed "Rekognition", obviously raises some privacy concerns, not the least of which is due to the fact that the company also sells smart devices to consumers that are capable of recording audio and video. What's to stop Amazon or the police from using data obtained from a consumer smart device to improve the facial recognition tech? Not to mention that also this week a woman claimed that her Amazon device recorded a private conversation and sent it out to a random contact without her consent! I personally never recommended anyone purchase an Amazon smart device and now I definitely won't. The fact is, Amazon has shown that it is more than willing to collaborate with law enforcement in order to bring about increased surveillance. The lesson we can take from this news is that it is becoming increasingly important to carefully assess the amount (and type) of data that you are willing to provide to each technology company.

2. It turns out that the electric scooter rental business has become a cutthroat business for many teens and young professionals. The task of "bird hunting", which involves locating and charging the Bird brand of scooters, can be performed by kids after they are done with school for the day. The bird hunters comb through cities each night, looking for and gathering as many electric scooters as they can carry, shoving them in their cars and charging them at home overnight before placing them back on the streets in the morning. Since each scooter can only be captured once, some kids are getting a bit territorial in especially crowded areas, even resorting to violence on occasion. Not only is this is a fascinating story to read about because it shows consumers a bit of how the sausage is made in this industry—it's totally worth your time to watch the video of the bird hunter with a huge score, which is embedded in the article linked above.

3. Out of the blue, Pornhub made a VPN. The virtual private network will supposedly keep your browsing activity protected from snoopers and censors. This is a pretty interesting move. I definitely didn't anticipate that the world's biggest adult video website would create a VPN, and I'm not sure how successful or secure it will be, but I certainly applaud their effort.

It's time to say goodbye to Weekend Thoughts—today's post is going to be the last one in the series. That's because I have decided to replace the weekly "link roundup" blog post model with a trickle of individual link posts that will be published whenever something worth commenting about is happening in the news. So you can expect to see short posts linking to other blogs and publications in the very near future. Until then, keep thinking wilder.

Image by Ro & Allister, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.