Psychedelic mushrooms have been a stubborn part of the nation's drug
problem for decades, offering their users a potentially dangerous,
and decidedly illegal, way to warp their consciousness. Now
government-funded scientists have found that the active ingredient in
the mushrooms could be a powerful tool for scientific research, and
they say it should be explored as a potential treatment for
depression, anxiety, and other disorders.
In a paper published last week, scientists at Johns Hopkins
University say that a single dose of psilocybin routinely brings
about positive psychological changes that can last for months. This
lasting effect is surprising and mysterious, the scientists said, but
seems to be the result of what they call powerful drug-induced
"mystical experiences" that include a feeling of the sacredness and
oneness of the universe. More than two-thirds of the volunteers
described their session with the drug -- several hours in a
laboratory, under close monitoring -- as one of the most meaningful
and spiritually significant events in their life, on a par with the
birth of a child or the death of a parent.
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It should be a no-brainer for employers to have a drug-testing
policy. In Central Oregon, if a company doesn't, it's asking for trouble.
Central Oregon job applicants test positive for drugs more often than
workers in other parts of the state. In 2005, about 8.4 percent of
job applicants tested in Central Oregon had tested positive for
drugs, according to the testing company Oregon Medical Laboratories.
The state average is 6.3 percent. Most test positive for marijuana
but the next most common drug is methamphetamine.
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What makes some mushrooms more psychedelic than others? Researchers
at Johns Hopkins University think they know.
A plant alkaloid called psilocybin mimics the effect of serotonin on
brain receptors and provides what the researchers called a "primary
mystical experience" that may lead to overall positive changes in behavior.
While researchers hailed the discovery as a new way to approach
hallucinogenic compounds, they cautioned that the chemical should not
be handled lightly.
"Even in this study, where we greatly controlled conditions to
minimize adverse effects, about a third of subjects reported
significant fear, with some also reporting transient feelings of
paranoia," said study leader Roland Griffiths of Hopkins. "Under
unmonitored conditions, it's not hard to imagine those emotions
escalating to panic and dangerous behavior."
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IN 2004, the New York State Legislature finally enacted changes to
the draconian Rockefeller drug laws that imposed long mandatory
sentences on major and minor drug dealers. The goal of these changes
(later supplemented by further minor reform last year) was to prevent
first-time nonviolent offenders -- especially low-level dealers and
addicts selling to support their drug habits -- from serving
unreasonably lengthy jail sentences.
The new law, the Drug Law Reform Act, reduced penalties, eliminated
life sentences and afforded more plea-bargaining options, among other things.
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Proposition 36 Mandated Treatment To Overcome Addiction. A New Law
Turns That Notion On Its Head.
SIX YEARS AGO, voters approved Proposition 36, reshaping overnight
the state's policy toward addiction. Now, nonviolent drug users get
treatment, not jail. But last week the governor signed a misguided
bill that puts jail back into the equation. If the law takes effect,
drug users who relapse even once during Proposition 36 treatment will
be punished with two to 30 days in jail.
Those changes are likely to be struck down. Late last week, a judge
issued a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of the
law while a challenge is being litigated. California's Constitution
guarantees that Proposition 36 can be changed only in a manner that
is consistent with its purposes and voters' intent, and the new law
fails those tests.
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AB 1147 is not the biggest bill of this legislative session, but it
is one of the most intriguing -- and most fun.
Start with its purpose: to legalize the growing of hemp, a cousin of
marijuana -- both members of the notorious cannabis family.
Then proceed to the bill's joint authors, a pun that's unavoidable.
One is a liberal San Francisco Democrat, Assemblyman Mark Leno; the
other a conservative Irvine Republican, Chuck DeVore.
If nothing else, this bill shows it is possible for two legislators
of diametrically opposite ideologies to acknowledge some common
ground and work together to change public policy.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Marijuana cannot be sold alongside the cracked crab
and souvenirs of Fisherman's Wharf, the San Francisco Planning
Commission decided late Thursday.
On a vote of 4 to 2, the commission denied the Green Cross, one of
scores of cannabis clubs authorized to dispense medical marijuana to
patients who have a doctor's prescription, a permit for a storefront
near the wharf, a popular tourist destination.
The owners of the Green Cross said they would appeal, despite strong
opposition to their proposal from merchants of Fisherman's Wharf and
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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Through two and a half hours of questioning at
the latest "Ask the Mayor" session here, a buoyant John M. Fabrizi
was eager to talk about the brand-new $390,000 fire engine that
federal money just bought for his strapped city. Or the new animal
shelter his administration was building. Anything but what was on the
top of people's minds: his recent tearful admission that he had used
cocaine and abused alcohol since taking office in 2003.
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Gov. Ruth Ann Minner today signed into law a controversial bill
allowing a pilot needle exchange program in Wilmington.
She also signed a bill aimed at protecting consumers from
fly-by-night credit-counseling services.
Minner said she hopes the needle exchange program will cut down on
the state's HIV/AIDS infection rates and the long-term health care
costs associated with the disease.
In addition to providing drug users with clean needles on a one
surrendered, one given basis, the program will provide HIV testing,
health counseling and information on drug treatment programs.
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