other narcotics news: hallucinogens as spiritual benefit, not scourge

Proponents both of religion and science showed up in the many-fronted effort to deal with drugs rationally and without fear.  Religion's contribution came in the form of a Brazilian-rooted church's continued legal battle against the Bush administration.  Science stepped up in Basel, Switzerland, in mid-January at "LSD: Problem Child and Wonder Drug, an International Symposium on the Occasion of the 100th Birthday of Albert Hofmann." Ann Harrison covered the event for Wired:

In 1958, Hofmann was the first to isolate the psychoactive substances of psilocybin and psilocin from Mexican magic mushrooms (psilocybe mexicana) which were among a variety of sacred plants used around the world to invite ecstatic and spiritual experiences.

The United States Supreme Court is now considering an appeal brought by the New Mexican chapter of the Uniao do Vegetal, or UDV, which uses the outlawed ayahauska brew in its ceremonies and cites the Eleusinian Mysteries as a precedent for a psychoactive Eucharist.

The New Mexican branch of the Brazil-based church had won a preminary victory and the right to continue brewing tea with the hallucinogenic plant in late 2004.

Disclosure: I neither endorse nor condemn use of drugs, whether currently legal or illegal, for spiritual or other purposes.  Personally I have been buzzed on alcohol about a dozen times and have had no other experiences with substances generally considered mind-altering.  I have chewed coca leaves which were mind-altering only in the sense of "My government has declared war on people who grow THIS?!?"  As many Bolivians say: La hoja de coca no es droga– the coca leaf is not a drug.)

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About Benjamin Melançon

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Student-on-hold, ex-stocker and failed union agitator, ex-white-collar consultant and now co-founder and developer at Agaric Design Collective, making web sites with open source free software.

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