Why Some South American Indigenous Tribes Give Their Dogs Psychedelic Drugs

Troy Farah, writing for The Outline:

Like most humans, the Shuar and Quichua indigenous tribes of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia have a special relationship with dogs. But in the Amazon, that bond can mean life or death, and dogs are treated particularly well, especially as hunting companions or protection from jaguars. The Quichua believe dogs have souls and will try to interpret their dreams. In some cases, Shuar women will breastfeed puppies alongside their children.

According to Shuar belief, dogs are a blessing from the earth mother, Nunkui, while Quichua view canines as gifts from forest spirits that can protect against mal ojo, the evil eye. And when their dogs become ill, these tribes use the plants around them as veterinary medicine. For example, ficus helps fight parasites, and Anthurium eminens treats botfly infections. In other cases, a mix of tobacco and ginger applied to the eyes can allegedly help dogs become better hunters by improving night vision. Dogs are so sacred in such societies that some peoples will even give them psychedelics. Surprisingly little is known about this practice, only that it dates back several centuries and those who do it believe it to be beneficial.

It turns out that the indigenous tribes of South America routinely give their dogs a variety of psychedelics (in addition to other types of plant medicines) in order to improve their night vision for hunting. Even though this practice has apparently been going on for generations, this is the first time I’ve heard of such a thing.

Kudos to Farah for exploring this story, which was inspired by a previously-overlooked scientific review published a few years ago that wasn’t covered anywhere else, to my knowledge.

Oregon Voters Could See Measure to Decriminalize All Drugs on 2020 Ballot

Kyle Jaeger, writing for Marijuana Moment:

The measure, titled the “Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act,” places an emphasis on the need to treat drug addiction as a public health issue, rather than a criminal justice matter. Possession of small amounts of illegal substances, including heroin and cocaine, would be considered a class E violation, punishable by a maximum $100 fine and no jail time.

There would be an option to avoid the fine by completing a health assessment through an addiction recovery center. That process would involve a substance use disorder screening from a licensed health professional.

It’s great to see wide-sweeping drug decriminalization measures happening at the state level. These changes would only impact users, though—manufacture and distribution would still be felony offenses. And it’s not a done deal yet:

Advocates are still in the early phases of determining whether they will be able to mount a well-funded effort to qualify the measure for next year’s ballot.

Stay tuned.

Johns Hopkins Opens New Center for Psychedelic Research

Benedict Carey, writing for The New York Times:

On Wednesday, Johns Hopkins Medicine announced the launch of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, to study compounds like LSD and psilocybin for a range of mental health problems, including anorexia, addiction and depression. The center is the first of its kind in the country, established with $17 million in commitments from wealthy private donors and a foundation. Imperial College London launched what is thought to be the world’s first such center in April, with some $3.5 million from private sources.

First Imperial College London, now Johns Hopkins. It’s amazing to see two psychedelic research centers open up in one year. And $17 million from a group of private donors ain’t too bad.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this announcement is what will be studied:

Within the center, scientists will launch studies of psilocybin (the key psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms) as a treatment for a panoply of disorders and conditions: anorexia, opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s, chronic Lyme disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol addiction. John Hopkins scientists will also study the effects of micro-dosing on healthy people, and will conduct a study on how psilocybin affects creativity.

Many of these tests of psilocybin are novel: The studies on anorexia, Alzheimer’s, opiate addiction, and Lyme disease will all be the first of their kind. And though there’s currently an advanced trial on using the psychedelic MDMA to treat PTSD, the John Hopkins trial will be the first to systematically evaluate psilocybin.

We’ll have to wait until these studies are published to see if psilocybin can successfully treat any of these ailments, but I’ll wager that it’s good for at least a few.

More People Try Drugs for the First Time in the Summer

Arman Azad, writing for CNN:

Summer brings heat waves, trips to the beach and sometimes painful sunburns. But according to a new study, the season may also usher in the use of cocaine, ecstasy and molly.

People are more likely to try those three party drugs and marijuana during the summer, researchers found, with over a third of LSD use and around 30% of ecstasy and marijuana use starting in the season. Around 28% of cocaine use also began in the summer.

The findings, published Tuesday in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, suggest a slight but consistent increase in people's willingness to try drugs as the weather warms and young people take a break from school.

Be safe out there this summer.

Psychedelics Decriminalization Moves Forward in Cities Around the U.S.

Kyle Jaeger, writing for Marijuana Moment:

Activists in Berkeley, California and Port Townsend, Washington took steps this week to get psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics decriminalized, following in the footsteps of successful similar efforts in Denver and Oakland.

In Berkeley, a decriminalization resolution advanced in a City Council committee on Wednesday, and organizers in Port Townsend spoke about their proposal at a county public health board meeting on Thursday, with plans to formally present it to the City and County Council.

The Berkeley measure would prohibit city departments and law enforcement from using any funds to enforce laws against possession, propagation and consumption of psychedelics by individuals 21 or older. Members of the City Council Public Safety committee unanimously voted to send the resolution to the body’s Public Health Committee for further consideration.

If that panel approves the measure, the full Council will schedule a hearing and vote on final passage. Decriminalize Nature, the group behind this resolution as well as the successful passage of neighboring Oakland’s psychedelics decriminalization effort last month, said they hope the Council will act on the measure by early November.

Separately, activists in Port Townsend announced that they delivered a speech about their psychedelics decriminalization proposal during a meeting of the Jefferson County Board of Health.

Now Berkeley and Port Townsend are making tangible moves to decriminalize psychedelics. And that’s not all:

Individuals from nearly 100 cities have reached out to the organization for assistance advancing their own decriminalization efforts.

With any luck, by this time next year at least a handful of other locales will have achieved psychedelic decriminalization as well.