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There is a huge difference between medically supervised testing of psychedelics and a bunch of dummies getting stoned for kicks.

However one tries to have "experiences", through drugs, meditation or using electromagnetic stimulation, there has to be some respect for the whole process. It isn't just about instantly feeling good. Transformation isn't always an easy thing. Just ask NDErs.

I think Psychedelics can amplify any experience. This guy was probably already a bit nuts and the psychedelics amplified that that part of himself.

I will say that I can do remote viewing and have an out of body experience 100's easier on pot than naturally. The only time I had a really lucid and visual O.B.E. was when I was 15 and high. I had no idea what an O.B.E. was so I thought I died and was scared &h!tless.

Yeah no doubt this guy already must have had some pretty bad mental problems that were exacerbated by the use of psychedelics. This is an extremely atypical reaction. Indeed it is a ghastly story, though.

Wow, is that story disturbing.

When I was in college, I smoked pot several times. The first several experiences didn't result in much of anything. Then, the final three times I tried it, I had extremely powerful experiences. During the first of those final three times, I had an OBE where I exited the roof of my fraternity house and could see the shingles on the roof. I saw "beings of light" hovering in the air above me and then was filled with a great appreciation for life and for all things. I was also suddenly "aware" that all things were working toward perfection and that, despite whatever appearances to the contrary, all things were going to work out. I just remember being filled with joy to be alive and a great love and admiration for everything. It was as though I were seeing reality for what it was, as though it had been obscured from me before then. That feeling lasted maybe 24 hours.

Then, the final two times I tried it were horrible. I hallucinated, was overcome with paranoia, felt I was being erased. I couldn't control my thought processes. It was essentially a drug-induced panic attack with many elements of a psychotic break. I suppose the proper jargon would be a "brief psychotic episode." I saw helicopters chasing me in the air, ATVs racing down dirt roads toward me, at one point I lept into a bush and got scrapes all over me. I heard voices. The final experience was very similar in terms of the fear, but was devoid of the hallucinations and psychotic elements.

So many people have argued to me that the pot must have been laced with something, that it was something other than pot, or any other number of explanations. I know this isn't so, because there were MANY others who did it with me at the same time, who only got tired and ate a bunch of Doritos.

The variable that people do not take into account when trying drugs is that ANY substance interacts with the unique makeup of the individual taking it. Though we are all very similar in many respects, we also share many differences. NO drug is completely safe for all people. Pot is no exception. I wonder how *I* might react on mushroom tea. If pot could affect me the way it did, then I imagine I could have engaged in very similar actions as the cage fighter in this article.

It is a terrible atrocity that happened in this story. I feel horrible for everyone involved. What a tragedy.

As a teenager, my parents warned me about pot, telling me that my aunt had had such a severe allergic reaction to it that she had to be rushed to a hospital in anaphylactic shock. I thought this was just a made up story to scare me and keep me from experimenting with drugs. I had little interest in trying pot anyway. I was attending art school and half my professors came to class stoned on various things. It seemed like something old people did to make themselves look silly. So I paid no attention to the warning from my parents.

I eventually ended up going to a party at university where people were smoking pot. I didn't even try it. Just being around it gave me hives and I had to be rushed to an emergency ward for a shot of benadryl. I think my boyfriend told the doctor I was reacting to red wine (which I'm just as allergic to) so we wouldn't get into trouble.

Drugs can react to different individuals in different ways. Many members of my family can't tolerate codeine or even aspirin very well. That's why people need to use appropriate cautions.

"I realize that a single case doesn't prove much"

Exactly. The fact is, people WILL use mind-altering substances, as a glance at history and cultures around the world will show. It speaks to our need to "change our minds" and see ourselves and our world from a variety of perspectives.

However— the specific substances we use fall in and out of favor.

At this particular place and time, the "official" judgement is that psychedelics are to be outlawed because they are dangerous, whereas alcohol is legal because . . . . well, you'll have to remind me why alcohol is legal.

You can pick out one bizarre story like the one Michael linked to today. But wouldn't it be a lot easier to point to countless stories of people acting violently, to one degree or another, under the influence of alcohol? Or lives and bodies ruined from the effects of alcohol abuse?

I took about 100 heavy-duty LSD trips between the ages of 19-21. I was lucky because the source was a UC Davis chemist, so the drug was pure, not cut with strychnine and other contaminants.

Essentially, LSD opens the veil into the lower Astral plane so that you can leave your body and participate in Astral awareness. It does not give you access to the higher Causal, Mental, Etheric or Soul planes.

All that you believe or imagine manifests. You can look at a blank white wall and craft the most amazing experiences out of nothing. All of your senses can be manipulated and you can experience crossover (smelling colors, seeing music, tasting touches). Initially, people don't realize that they are creating their sensory reality. If they are afraid, everything becomes ominous. If they are joyful, all is joyful.

You can also be psychically aware and be a perfect driver. You can bring all your perceptions into perfect perception, drive down the road being a perfect driver, knowing what everyone will do.

This only can happen when you know how to take full accountability for and control of the experience. Reality reflects your consciousness in particular ways, requiring right discrimination.

Time is measured in centuries and experiences are beyond most people's imagination. Timothy Leary did a fairly good job of trying to describe what listening to music is like: "The first note is played, and you orbit around that note for a hundred years. And then the second note is played and you orbit around both notes for another hundred years, noting all of the harmonies and discords, and reflecting on the history of music."

But in the end, drugs are like spelunking. Yes, you can go down into the cave and see amazing things...in the cave...but you end up always being in the same cave and relying on others to provide the go-between drug to get you there.

After a while, you decide that there has to be something better, something more natural, something that does not depend on a drug, a way to get into these higher states naturally.

I looked and found something that has worked for me for over 35 years. I have direct personal experiences without drugs with higher worlds, past lives, and soul travel on planes beyond the mere Astral.

So far, so good. I just can't prove it to anyone. Which is fine since I gave up being one of Jehovah's Witnesses when I was 15 years old.

:-)

"Essentially, LSD opens the veil into the lower Astral plane so that you can leave your body and participate in Astral awareness. It does not give you access to the higher Causal, Mental, Etheric or Soul planes."

I LOVE the irony that this is immediately followed with....

"All that you believe or imagine manifests."

:-)

"I looked and found something that has worked for me for over 35 years."

Very interesting post, Mark. Would you care to say more about your current approach?

FD says: "I LOVE the irony that this is immediately followed with....

"All that you believe or imagine manifests."

This is what the Astral plane provides. If you don't have direct experience, see the movie What Dreams May Come. It's a fairly accurate representation.

Bruce, I'm a long-time member of Eckankar (eckankar.org)

It's the kind of thing that, if it's for you, you will know it. Nobody can talk you into it. You are expected to test it for yourself. For membership, you are required to undergo two years of formal study before choosing next steps. They want you to prove it's real before making any spiritual commitments.

They have some spiritual exercises you can try at home for direct personal experience. Try it and see if it works. You don't have to be a member to practice HU and other aspects of it.

After 35 years, all I can say is that it has delivered far more than I had a right to expect. Some challenging, some completely shocking and surprising (especially past lives...I used to want to know, and now I say, Only if I have to), but in the end, the amount of divine love in my life has increased beyond what I thought possible.

Oh, and in 1976, membership was $120 per. Today it's $130 per year. If money is their goal, they missed the memo. :-)

"you'll have to remind me why alcohol is legal."

I think one key difference between alcohol and psychedelics is that you can ingest a moderate amount of alcohol and not get drunk. Psychedelics don't seem to lend themselves to moderate or "social" use. Their whole purpose is to bring on hallucinations (however these are understood), while alcohol doesn't produce hallucinations except in the most extreme doses.

Sounds more like "This is your brawn on drugs"!

It's too bad that stories like this may very well scare many people away from the profound learning experience that mushrooms and the like can provide. There's such an inherent bias against hallucinogenic substances for the very same reason that they are helpful to many: they challenge the ego and give a glimpse beyond many of its limitations.

I've said this before and I'll say it again- we as a species need to use every avenue of learning and fast track to evolution we can muster. This poor guy was obviously unstable; the mushrooms were no more responsible in this tragedy than a Ford pickup in a D.U.I. wreck.

Mushrooms and their like are not for everybody. But they're such a powerful and safe tool when used wisely that the bigger tragedy here is in the danger that they will continue to be tarred with an irrational taboo on a planet endangered by the very elements that the responsible use of hallucinogenics can themselves very well help remedy- alienation from our own souls, nature, and the beauty and power of our hearts.

Off topic: MP, There's a well made documentary on Netflix instant streaming called IOUSA. If you watch it, keep in mind that it was made before Obama took office. So some of those charts in the movie would actually look much worse NOW.

Hmm, Mark, if LSD opens a door only to the lower astral, that sounds like as good a reason as any not to touch it. Who wants to get off the train in a dodgy neighbourhood? ;)

"I think one key difference between alcohol and psychedelics is that you can ingest a moderate amount of alcohol and not get drunk. Psychedelics don't seem to lend themselves to moderate or "social" use."

Clearly, whether you're taking alcohol or some sort of psychedelic, you need to know how much to ingest for the kind of experience you're looking for. And I don't see any evidence that drinkers are more responsible or disciplined than psychedelics users.

Some clues though, would be to look at how many people are killed by drunk drivers each year. And since we began this thread by discussing violence, did you ever hear of a "hallucinogenic brawl?"

As to psychedelics not being conducive to social interaction, tell that to the people at a rave, or to the 400,000 people who were at Woodstock. I've heard rumors that there was a bit of LSD on the premises and that those hippies somehow found ways to enjoy each other's company. :o)

I think Tharpa made an insightful comment as to our current situation:"There's such an inherent bias against hallucinogenic substances for the very same reason that they are helpful to many: they challenge the ego and give a glimpse beyond many of its limitations".

And by extension, they're anti-consumerism. Because psychedelics often lead people to question their materialistic values, users are less likely to buy fancy cars and tooth-whiteners. Corporations don't like that. They'd rather have you drink.

"Bruce, I'm a long-time member of Eckankar (eckankar.org)"

Thanks, Mark. I've heard of that group before, and maybe this is a good time to look more closely at what they have to offer. My own meditation routine is getting a bit stale, methinks.

"Clearly, whether you're taking alcohol or some sort of psychedelic, you need to know how much to ingest for the kind of experience you're looking for. And I don't see any evidence that drinkers are more responsible or disciplined than psychedelics users."

But isn't the whole point of taking psychedelics to induce a hallucinatory experience? After all, you can have a single glass of wine or a single cocktail and feel only marginal effects. Most people drink socially just for a slight feeling of relaxation.

The sheer power of hallucinogens is what makes them different from a glass of beer. It's like the difference between owning a handgun and owning a howitzer. Handguns can cause a lot of harm, but they can also be used for legitimate purposes. A howitzer can be used only for massive destruction.

Or to take a different example, it's the difference between drinking coffee and taking amphetamines. Or between driving two miles per hour over the speed limit and driving forty miles per hour over the speed limit. It's a question of degree, in other words.

Thats why I don't think it's a good argument to say that other substances (alcohol, caffeine, etc.) have effects on the body too. In moderation, as most people use these products, the effects are inconsequential. But even a single small dose of a hallucinogen can cause devastating effects, as the linked articles indicate.

And while I know it will mark me as a philistine in some people's eyes, I have to say that I think it is best if psychedelics remain illegal. To my way of thinking, the dangers greatly outweigh any possible gains.

Who knows but that even greater evils might be laid at the feet of such trusted home remedies as Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound? (Lizzie Borden's rampage, mayhap?)

The Native American Church hasn't cut out any hearts, AFAIK. Set and Setting accounts for the difference. Those could be socially controlled, if society were to grasp the nettle.

I agree with you, Michael.

"But isn't the whole point of taking psychedelics to induce a hallucinatory experience?"

Not necessarily, Michael. Some of my most memorable experiences involved small doses, and were accompanied by either no hallucinations whatsoever, or just a trace at the very start, where I would see colored patterns.

Admittedly, plants, trees, clouds, and people often looked preternaturally beautiful. But my sense was not that I was hallucinating, but that I was finally seeing the world as it really is.

I've got a wonderful book to recommend. It's by Andrew Weil, written long before he became a famous healthy-lifestyle guru. The book is called The Natural Mind, and it does a marvelous job of putting drug use into its largest context. Quite simply, it's one of the sanest, most delightful books I've ever read on any subject.

And just in case you think it puts forth a one-sided, pro-drug, viewpoint, here's a quote from it:

"It is easy to see why authorities like college administrators get upset at the thought of young people turning on with chemicals; it is more interesting and much more important to try to understand why exponents of systems that value alteration of consciousness (like yoga and Buddhism) take similar positions."

I just went over to Amazon to see if it's still available, and found this great quote from one of the reviewers. I know you'll like the second half of this sentence, Michael, even if you don't care for the first!

"As Weil states in the book, contemporary society doesn't have a drug problem so much as it has a consciousness problem, one exacerbated by the increasing use of rational thought as the exclusively legitimate path to knowing and understanding ourselves as well as the world around us."

Hey Michael- respectfully, your argument is like wanting to make flying illegal. After all, one has no control, and when one of those babies comes down, it's messy! All the while never thinking twice driving around with all those texting fools at 80 MPH, and statistics be damned.

And actually, one can benefit from a low dose of mushrooms, it's not all or nothing as you state. But, most people don't drive 25 on the interstate. Maybe we should have a law to that effect!

To be intellectually consistent, you'd have to ban all drugs- even many that according to Johns Hopkins, have far less helpful effects, like SSRIs especially.

Hallucinogenics have been used safely and productively for thousands of years, and may even play a key part in our evolution (see Graham Hancock's 'Supernatural, a great read!)

Thanks for the recommendation, Bruce. I may look into it, but right now I still have Rick Strassman's book to read.

I know I would never take these chemicals myself. I didn't even enjoy my one experiment (in college) with marijuana. I didn't like the feeling that I had "lost control." And the idea of using harder drugs like cocaine or heroin has always produced a visceral negative reaction in me.

Maybe in a past life I was an opium fiend ...

"your argument is like wanting to make flying illegal"

Not at all. Flying is a good example that helps make my point. To fly a plane, you need a pilot's license and many hours of training. The bigger the plane, the more training is required. A commercial pilot's license is much harder to obtain than a license to pilot a single-engine plane.

The more potentially dangerous an activity, the more hurdles you must clear in order to pursue it. If ingestion of psychedelics is potentially very dangerous, then the hurdles will be considerable.

Society always involves a trade-off between individual freedom and community safety. I may think I have the freedom to build a nuclear bomb in my basement, but my neighbors are likely to disagree.

The libertarian/anarchist argument - that we can do whatever we want on our own property or with our bodies - ignores the fact that our behavior has an effect on other people. The social contract requires us to give up certain freedoms in order to live in a community. The more complex and crowded the community becomes, the more compromises we must make.

I was lucky in my LSD experiences in that I figured it out early on my own. Most people do not have that luxury. I do not advocate psychedelic use without proper training. I do not necessarily subscribe to the idea that I "needed" those experiences. I think I created much karma in the process.

As far as lower Astral goes, yes, it's best to have a knowing protector when you go. I was lucky that I had one, but I didn't know it. I suspect most people don't. And that can be dangerous. The lower Astral is full of..."interesting" characters, just like the lower places in our world.

Recently I got a call from a friend of mine who wanted me to help him. He had taken some LSD and was having a bad trip. I went to help him and was able to bring him into a more comfortable/normal state.
I have done this sort of thing too many times.
If the drugs were legal, it would be possible to ensure quality and license people/places as proper settings. This might produce fewer negative incidents.
On the other hand, legalization might increase availability and use in less appropriate situations. (Let's drop some acid and see how fast the car will go...)
One problem- magic mushrooms don't care about our laws- they grow where they grow (and peyote, San Pedro cactus...fill the bill too).
Regardless, I would agree that 'I'm not going to take that stuff' is a reasonable personal position.

Must we be too concerned that somebody who probably can't write his own name reacted badly?

I have had some pretty amazing experiences on drugs. They are safe as long as taken safely and in the company of close friends who watch out for each other. I didn't listen to the scare stories. 14 years or so later, I am still here and thankful for the experiences.

"The libertarian/anarchist argument - that we can do whatever we want on our own property or with our bodies - ignores the fact that our behavior has an effect on other people."

And to the extent that it does — like driving drunk — then the government has an interest in regulating or punishing that behavior as per the government's legitimate function to protect the public. And to the extent that what we do does NOT harm others then it's none of the government's business, or the neighbor's. Hence, it's not illegal to drink, but it's illegal to drink and then to drive.

People also drink before committing crimes or murdering others, but we don't blame the alcohol. Also, some people do things just as savage, if not as bizarre, while under the influence of nothing but their own twisted emotions.

There simply is NOT always some convenient thing to blame that we can invoke the government to stop to make us all "safer." This is a dangerous delusion.

Does anyone really want to increase the government's power to interfere in our lives based on the fears of a few people? Shouldn't there be some demonstrable hazard before we pass a law that will make us safe from the monster? And were this the standard — a standard of reasonableness in legislating — how many of our laws would be stricken down immediately based as they are on the horrendous misunderstanding of some issue by dimwitted ill informed politicians responding to the dangers of purely imaginary monsters some weepy moms on Capitol Hill are pressuring them to recognize?

Given the number of deeply disturbing trends I see, I will now err on the side of accepting more danger rather than government imposed safety.

Thanks, but no thanks.

“The more potentially dangerous an activity, the more hurdles you must clear in order to pursue it”

This is a good case for more effective government regulations of the drilling of oil wells. The deregulation craze that hit America 30 years ago is coming home to roost. I think what voters really want is effective government, which is lacking so they thought the private sector could do better. Well some things they can do better but ignorance is ignorance and it exists in government and the private sector alike. The culprit is always ignorance with few if any exceptions.

The purer the form of communism, socialism, capitalism, and libertarianism; the faster that nation’s self-destruction in wealth and moral values. Economic and political strategies must be aligned with what might be referred to as spiritual or universal laws of love and divine intelligence. The better the alignment the healthier the outcome.

How do we learn these laws or principles? Two ways? Through the wisdom of others, which is rare, as countries tend to make the same mistakes that others countries have made in history or we learn these lessons by our own suffering as a nation or as individuals. Most nations as do individuals choose suffering.

What would life be like as a soul or as a soul having a human experience without our unawareness of these laws or principles and we had perfect realization of all things? There would only be Isness not “individualized” souls. We owe our personalized identity with our perception of being separate from all others to our ignorance or better stated to our unawareness.

“The libertarian/anarchist argument - that we can do whatever we want on our own property or with our bodies - ignores the fact that our behavior has an effect on other people. The social contract requires us to give up certain freedoms in order to live in a community. The more complex and crowded the community becomes, the more compromises we must make.”

Because there are new souls coming onto the scene all the time those compromises can become very difficult to make. Wars are fought for many reasons; the most obvious is selfishness but also the inability to make those compromises, which might also may have their home in that selfishness. Now we might ask what is the origin of that selfishness?

“Given the number of deeply disturbing trends I see, I will now err on the side of accepting more danger rather than government imposed safety.”

This most likely is a statement that will made by many not living on the gulf coast and most of those people did not want government regulations in their state. This oil disaster may change their minds. Or not. Again voters want effective government, which they feel they see little of that out of Washington. Politicians are only a reflection of the voters; how is that for a scary thought.

"Thanks, but no thanks."

Excellent DM. That all needed to be said and you said it well.

"This most likely is a statement that will made by many not living on the gulf coast and most of those people did not want government regulations in their state."

Excuse me? The government DOES have a legitimate role to protect people from real dangers such as the oil spill is.

But if there's oil seeping into marshes and destroying wildlife and sea based livelihoods, I certainly wouldn't be giving the government a kudos on a job well done!

The BP leak is a glaring and continuous reminder of government incompetence even in areas where it has a legitimate role to play.

Of course, BP WAS one of Obama's biggest campaign contributors, and if Obama didn't look too closely at what BP was doing because of that, it wouldn't really be surprising.

I agree with Michael P.

Libertarian/Anarchist are really selfcentered individuals that remind me of a spoiled child. "I can do it because I can".

They are short minded and its all about me attitude. Others eagerly jump on their band wagon to flaunt their finger at the *law* Its ok for an individual to do cocain or hallucergenic drugs in the privacy of their homes because its their own privacy and no body,s business. Well I have news for them, THeir is a law against it called 'Concealment'. And to think that its ok for some and not others to break the law is right? Or fair? If there were enough of this kind of action don,t you think that breaks down the very security and reasons these laws are placed there for the well being of the society as a whole. I certainly wouldn,t want to live next door to any party who does drugs I don,t care how smart and in control they deem themselves to be. Mind altering drugs might be experimented on only in a lab with people who are trained to know the extent of the influence by observation as in full control of the situation, so as to research a conteractive withdrawel for the loonies who think they can cut it. eduated smartasses and all I include I stand by Michael,s sound mind and judgment on this one.

“how many of our laws would be stricken down immediately based as they are on the horrendous misunderstanding of some issue by dimwitted ill informed politicians responding to the dangers of purely imaginary monsters some weepy moms on Capitol Hill are pressuring them to recognize?”

Nothing sexist about this weepy moms statement right? Many of those so called weepy moms have lost children to drunk drivers so they created an organization for more regulations to try and stop drunk drivers. Since I have been hit three times by a drunk driver these laws are near and dear to me. Spend a year in a cast then see how you feel about the gov getting involved in regulations as to driving and drinking.

Your personal freedoms end when it harms others. Smoking used to be a hot topic for personal freedoms as those that smoked claimed they could smoke anywhere they wanted, as it was their constitutional right as an American to do so. It took more than 50% of Americans to not smoke before we saw nonsmoking laws start to come into effect.

This is the role of experiences it teaches us we are not separate beings but connected beings. And to wait for a hazard to occur and then regulate is like waiting for your child to get hit by a car for playing in the street then close the gate to your yard. And please don’t use the common sense excuse it does not exist contrary to popular opinion.

“Given the number of deeply disturbing trends I see, I will now err on the side of accepting more danger rather than government imposed safety.”

Bet most of the folks on the gulf felt this very same way only a few months ago.

This I will now err on the side of accepting more danger is because you have yet to be harmed by a danger that may have been prevented by some form of regulation. This reminds me of a friend that did not believe in gov run health care but got caught in a pre existing condition now he owes 95,000 dollars and the bill is climbing daily.

“The BP leak is a glaring and continuous reminder of government incompetence even in areas where it has a legitimate role to play.”

Then your concern is everyone’s concern about government incompetence but eliminating regulations and leaving it to the private sector will not solve the incompetence. The culprit is incompetence, which is based always ignorance. Government incompetence is a reflection of its voter’s competency. Until Americans and indeed all republics come to realize this little will improve in America.

That government incompetence (mentality) that did not regulate effectively is the same corporate incompetence (mentality) that caused the oil leak.

Well put, William. Same thing happens here in Australia - one minute people are whining about a "nanny state," next minute something horrible has happened to THEM instead of someone else, and they're screaming that "the government should have done something."

On the topic of drugs for opening the mind, seeing things "as they are," having spiritual experiences and so on - I have neither tried it nor read about it, so this is purely a gut reaction, but my feelings are that I simply wouldn't trust the veracity of such an experience. It's quite enough for me to sort the real communications I have from what might be my own passing thoughts. No way would I trust the results of taking something that messes with the brain. Makes me think of how people have too much to drink at a party and think they're being incredibly witty ... and then look back on it when they've sobered up ... oh dear! :)

Well, interesting mix of reactions here. Truth on all sides......... the question really boils down to who knows best? How do we find a good middle way between government/collective control and individual rights? There's no easy answer.

But those who feel hallucinogenics need to be made or kept illegal are arguing from ignorance- either that or they feel that anything that can be abused and made dangerous- pretty much everything- should be made illegal and government should be put in charge of our private lives.

A big problem is when 'gut reactions' are given legal teeth. This is where Gays are denied their civil rights, etc.

I say we use reason, not fear or superstition in the making of our laws. If a vetting from Johns Hopkins University isn't enough, nothing will be, and you're buying into a cliched fear of the unknown- strange considering the nature of this forum!

I can totally understand if you don't want to partake yourselves- but to deny others that right? I don't get it!

"Your personal freedoms end when it harms others."

Nobody has the freedom or the right to harm anyone else.

Should I repeat that again?

You are so used to thinking in platitudes that what a person is saying passes straight through your head, William.

"And to wait for a hazard to occur and then regulate is like waiting for your child to get hit by a car for playing in the street..."

Then according to that logic ALL alcohol consumption should be banned. Since we can't predict when a person is going to drive after drinking, then we have to preemptively ban ALL alcohol consumption to protect the public before more people get killed by drunk drivers.

Good luck selling that one, William.

And while we are at it, I object to factory smoke and automobile exhaust. I demand the government ban ALL fossil fuel burning engines on the same grounds that they are banning cigarette smoke. NOBODY has the right to drive their car if MY lungs are endangered by THEIR automobile exhaust.

"Bet most of the folks on the gulf felt this very same way only a few months ago."

Oh way to come back, William. We can all just go to sleep now safe in the belief that Cass Sunstein is just a swell guy who's misunderstood.

"Libertarian/Anarchist are really selfcentered individuals that remind me of a spoiled child. 'I can do it because I can'."

And you sound like an angry statist who wants to tell other people how they HAVE to live their lives when what they are doing is not harming you and is honestly none of your business.

Your argument that it's the law would have more merit if we didn't pass so many utterly stupid laws that law itself were not beginning to suffer from lack of credibility. Recall all the STATE SPONSORED DISCRIMINATION of Jim Crow please.

My personal values are conservative, but I am politically libertarian because I realize that a person's values are an intensely personal thing that he must come to by his own power and realizations to be genuine; you can't FORCE the "truth" on anyone, because what makes those values TRUE to him is a man's own realization of their truth, absent of which he's more like a machine repeating memorized lines given to him by someone else to speak; therefore, I don't think I have the right — and I CERTAINLY believe that YOU don't have the right, and that William, with his neo-fascist, Marcus Aurelius, One World Order spiritual beliefs, has the right — to tell other people what kinds of life they have to lead when that would do nothing but interfere with the liberty a person needs to make those discoveries for himself.

Using the government to enforce YOUR values on everyone else strikes me as supremely self centered.

We should NEVER grant powers to any administration that can be misused by the worst sort of person it is possible to elect.

You may agree with those measures when YOUR guy is in office. But some day he will be gone and someone you don't like will have those same powers, and then you will scream bloody murder when you see what he will do with them, and you will have nobody but yourself to blame for your myopia.

Don't worry, Tharpa, I wouldn't advocate gut reaction as a basis for legislation. I was speaking purely of my own feeling about using drugs (or alcohol, for that matter: I don't like the feeling even after just one glass of wine). I guess in one sense legalising the psychedelics would be useful, IF it meant control over their use. Seems it's the uncontrolled use by people who don't know what they can do or how to safely use them, that's the problem. Though that can be said of a host of things that are legal, of course ... and somehow I don't see education campaigns on this sort of thing being sponsored by any government.

“Makes me think of how people have too much to drink at a party and think they're being incredibly witty ... and then look back on it when they've sobered up ... oh dear! :)”

Oh yes those young years of our youth. Today it is much more revealing to the world to be the life of the party with all the video capability of cells phones, etc.

“next minute something horrible has happened to THEM instead of someone else, and they're screaming that "the government should have done something."

This appears to be a human phenomenon. We need to experience the injustice to come to understand the injustice. I think this is why several lives may be needed to experience those injustices to learn compassion, which is love and understanding revealed towards others. Experiences are not illusions as some claim but they are temporal and transient and time based. And of course these serial experiences over time teach us our oneness with all others. With variation of course.

“How do we find a good middle way between government/collective control and individual rights? There's no easy answer.”

No easy answer indeed but I suspect that as we learn more about these universal constants that exist in the universe like what we sow we reap and acquire better knowledge of the underlying reality of phenomena we may be able to find a more effective middle ground. The existing system where money is such a big influence on government and its decisions has revealed that is sub optimizes much of the government process.

From my point of view until we change the reelection system where money rules little will change as least at a federal level. How much more materialistic can a society get then to grant a corporation personhood status and money is the same as free speech.

From my point of view we spend too much time blaming individuals and not looking at the systems that creates such ineffective government and organizations. That was Dr. Deming’s main theme of his teachings, which unfortunately was misunderstood by most of the world. Also we tend to judge by appearances and miss the real meaning of the phenomena.

Tharpa - I truly don't get it - the flying analogy really didn't make sense and wasn't a strong argument.....BUT - then, to your next comment - there are LOTS of people who feel that these types of drugs should be kept illegal for a whole host of reasons, including many who have used them and are NOT arguing from ignorance.....or lack of experience.

What is so difficult to understand about this? I truly don't get it..:-) Pot is one thing - and is a pretty benign "drug" that would NOT harm society to have freely available. But I've had plenty of experience with and around a whole smorgasbord of natural and synthetic hallucinegens.....and they clearly can be (and are) dangerous to a pretty distinct part of the population that tries them. I've seen lots of people have BAD trips on mushrooms - become super depressed - and require help....and shrooms are clearly one of the more benign plants. (cage fighting super killers notwithstanding..:-)

The PERFECT argument is that alchohol IS used in moderation by tens of millions very resposibly for some super light social lubrication.....and I don't think these sorts of drugs lend themselves to light use. (even though yes....as bruce said - certainly people will hold back a bit if they don't want a full on experience - but that's NOT the norm in what I've been around - people TRIP to trip....and the more vivid, mind altering the experience...the better)

As far as the alcohol analogy - I'd MUCH prefer to be at a party with a bunch of drunk fools....than a bunch of people tripping their rear ends off at this point in my life..:-) Because you WILL have some serious basket cases in every group who simply can't HANDLE it - and I think you WILL have far more carnage - psychologically - than someone who drinks 3 or 4 glasses of wine and acts an ass for a few hours. (and not 5 or 6 or 12 or LONGER.....depending on the drug used as well)

Quite simply - while I appreciate the experience of these sorts of drugs in my own past....to NOT see where they can be destructive to less healthy minds is not seeing, or acknowleging the full picture. (and I would NOT want some of the eggheads I see on a daily basis to be tripping at will.....legally or otherwise!)

It's funny to read some of the angrier comments. I've posted a lot of unconventional, even far-out opinions on this blog, but in this case I think I've expressed a boringly conventional, mainstream point of view.

To reiterate:

Living in society requires certain compromises. We can't do everything we might like to do. One of the things our society strongly discourages is the use of certain very powerful mind-altering drugs for recreational purposes. I don't have a problem with this restriction.

From some of the responses, you'd think I had suggested implementing a police state! Get a grip, people. Chill.

I do think there's a place for carefully controlled experimentation with these substances, when supervised by professionals. I also think that other societies with different traditions and cultures probably can accommodate these substances more readily than our society can.

“And while we are at it, I object to factory smoke and automobile exhaust. I demand the government ban ALL fossil fuel burning engines on the same grounds that they are banning cigarette smoke. NOBODY has the right to drive their car if MY lungs are endangered by THEIR automobile exhaust.”

That argument was used over and over and over during the debate. But the one I thought most ignorant was: this is America and it is my constitutional right to smoke wherever I want.

They did not ban smoking they banned smoking in certain places. And they are passing laws to cut the fossil fuel emissions to protect our lungs and the environment.

“You are so used to thinking in platitudes that what a person is saying passes straight through your head, William.”

I agree many of my comments seem to most readers like platitudes. I have thought deeply about this. What are the prerequisites that one must have knowledge of before they don’t seem like platitudes. We have discovered several prerequisites for a reader to begin to connect the dots between suffering, ignorance, innocence, expressions, manifestation, and the meaning of creation.

One prerequisite we have discovered is that a reader must have knowledge of what the Buddha realized not discovered but that he realized 2500 years ago and that is the origin of suffering. Without knowledge of the Buddha’s realization many if not most of my comments would seem indeed as platitudes. Interesting to me at least that most but not all Buddhist monks confuse symptoms with the origin of suffering.

Example: most Buddhist monks state and write that the origin of suffering is attachment, craving, and grasping. These are symptoms of the Buddha’s realization. The Buddha never sought deeper than the origin of our suffering as his mission was to help those either reduce their suffering or eliminate it.

I personally feel that because Buddhists don’t seek deeper than what the Buddha taught they have failed to see the spiritual meaning and purpose of human life. This is why I believe one should never follow just one guru; I think it can limit one’s knowledge of many of these mysteries of life. But to each his or her own of course.

I suspect but don’t know that many of these mind-altering drugs are intended by some but not all to reduce their suffering.

Two organized religious groups have been using ayahuasca safely, beneficially (onbalance), and publicly for decades in Brazil -- a large government study confirmed this and allowed their use to continue. This is occurring not just among natives in the jungle, it's among ordinary Brazilians. A US-based offshoot of one of these churches has been operating legally in the southwest for a couple (?) of years. Such supervised use is a workable model, as is that of the peyotist Native American Church. Supervised medical/ psychological use (both experimental and therapeutic) is another workable model.

But the too-free spirits of the 60's didn't want to be supervised, period, and the rest of society didn't want any use, period. The outcome has been unsupervised use with its many downsides, and zero supervised use, with its likely upsides.

How do we, as a society, decide on what we allow individuals to do with their own lives? We balance the pros and cons, and use reason as a guide. When it comes to some drugs, like cocaine, there really isn't much of an upside. Same with meth. Same with nicotine. But, even with such damanging drugs, that kill literally millions, prohibition doesn't work- this has been shown again and again.

So that's the first point. Prohibition doesn't work- it just creates a whole underclass of criminals. When these drugs are decriminalized, use stays flat at worst, but other gains are realized.

And those are the drugs without redeeming value.

When it comes to mushrooms, we have a major Johns Hopkins study pointing to the great benefits that can be found when used correctly. Just like so many legal, yet regulated, activities.

So, regulate, yes. With legalization you get information and guidance, you get a society that can then incorporate and learn.

So, it's simple. You either want to ban all drugs, including nicotine and alcohol, or you want to allow mushrooms to be regulated but legal. Mushrooms have a demonstrated and powerful upside as well!

Michael, your argument that other societies can accommodate such substances is an argument FOR legalization. It's like repressing free speech in China, saying that such a society can't accommodate it! Free speech, like ingesting a natural plant, is a human right. I have the right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of human happiness in the way that I see fit- within reason. The Johns Hopkins study, as well as the traditional use in sane societies of this plant, make a convincing argument for reason- and the track record of prohibition just adds to that argument.

Mushrooms have a tendency to challenge paradigms- such as a materialist/consumer paradigm- a major under-discussed (in this forum) reason they are saddled with extra taboo and fear, and relatively isolated negative reports are blown way out of proportion. Meanwhile, look at the statistics on tobacco.

Yes, you ARE advocating a police state, because that's who will come and drag you away to jail for exercising your basic human rights!

"From some of the responses, you'd think I had suggested implementing a police state! Get a grip, people. Chill."

It's not what you said, MP, but how the sentiment that we have to give up freedom when we're packed close together can, and is, being used as an excuse. Just say you're doing something for The Common Good and what limit is there to what you can accomplish? We are on the verge of being a new sort of police state already, thanks both to George Bush and now Barack Obama (and yes, others before them too) who, rather than dismantling the apparatus Bush created, is actually admiring the structure and building on top of it.

I turn on the MSM expecting to see coverage of some of the more bizarre things going on, and nothing. Dead silence. Crickets. The media is as incurious as they used to say George Bush was.

And while it is true that when you pack people closer together you may get more friction between people, i.e., if you share walls, your loud music at 3 am might be an issue for law enforcement, it is not true that the government has any right to tell you what you can and cannot put into your body if it doesn't harm others.

It's not a small issue, it's a big one. The same as the draft. What right does the government have to take you, as if you were government property, and force you to fight in a war that political and banking elites want, forcing you to give up your life for their personal interests?

We are not the property of the United States government.

Now I don't do drugs, so I'm not arguing for my own right to do them; but because governments rarely relinquish power once they get it, I feel it's vitally important to REGULATE the government and see to it that they don't get powers they can abuse and which they really don't need to have.

That and how about just making common sense laws informed by facts rather than personal impressions? Across the board, on all things.

“Yes, you ARE advocating a police state, because that's who will come and drag you away to jail for exercising your basic human rights!”

Michael P of all people being accused of advocating a police state that brought a smile to my face. Take away people’s drugs would be like taking away people’s religion so to speak.

Our prisons are overflowing with people sent to prison due to drug use crimes or the selling of drugs. Do we ever ask the meaning of the need for the use of drugs? Not why do people use drugs but the underlying reality of the need to use drugs. The answer to that question as to the meaning of a need for drugs; not the why of drug usage, I doubt that the meaning will be asked any time soon. Asking why will give us a million explanations asking the meaning will give us one.

Discovering that one answer will reveal a whole new world of reality concerning the creation and evolution of consciousness process.

This reminds me of our war on drugs. Our approach has been to stop the usage of drugs by stopping the availability of drugs. That approach has been a huge failure and created a very corrupt and violent outcome. Again we are dealing with symptoms not the origin or root cause.

You would think we would have learned that from our past history with our outlawing alcohol but we learn little from history; we learn more from our own personal and national suffering. How many prisons will we have to build before we ask the meaning rather than seek punishment to fix the drug problem?

This has been my point on suffering. This is why the Buddha and others have sought deeply into the origin of that suffering. The answer to that question was found over 2500 hundred years ago by a seeker that come to be known as the Buddha but the world has shown little interest in that answer. Why is that?

Instead we have long dialogs on our personal freedoms to use drugs, lock people up for using drugs, condemn people for drug usage, well the list is long as to our inability to ask a very simple but profound question. What is the meaning of drug usage?

Understanding is profoundly more difficult than blaming, culpability, punishment, and guilt.

I am not advocating that anyone becomes a Buddhist as I advocate no religion and Buddhism is a religion and has its share of dogma.

“That and how about just making common sense laws informed by facts rather than personal impressions? Across the board, on all things.”

Common sense is an oxy Moran and facts are as rare as a white crow.

Now you are not alone in believing that common sense is a reality. There is only one reality and until we see ourselves as blameless expressions of that reality; then personal, national, and societal problems will increase in proportion to our lack of knowledge of that reality. Ouch that may indeed be difficult to even ponder.

'Oxymoron' professor.

Who's this oxy Moran fella?

And I don't believe for a second that MP advocates or desires a police state. That is not how I interpreted his remarks.

Just to pile on MP......one instance does not an argument make. This is the sort of tactic I expect from Kieth Augustine.......

Far more people are killed, proportionally, by prescription medicine - even when taken as prescribed - than by psychedelics.

Now Louise or someone will say that at least prescription drugs have a benefit that outweighs the risk. Some of us would say the same of psychedelics. This a judgement and value call that, in this land of the free/home of the brave, should be left up to each individual to make.

Yes, Woodstock is an excellent anecdotal counter example to one twisted fool with some kind of obvious warrior complex that allowed his latent criminal insanity to manifest while under the influence of psychedelics. This guy could have been set off by anything and probably would have been. It happened to be psychedelics this time and now that gets turned into a morality play.

There are also stories of people going psycho as a result of meditation. Do we rule that out now too?

http://www.thehumanist.org/humanist/MaryGarden.html

I recall someone killed someone else in San Fran in the '70's and blamed it on eating too many twinkies (the so called "Twinkie Defense"). Do we outlaw twinkie consumption? And what of the countless deaths resulting from bad diets? Of course not. These choices are still considered free will despite negative personal consequences and negative externalities to society.


It's really all about thought control and a demand for conformity by the powers that be. First they came for the psychedelic users and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a psychedelic user. Then they came for the meditators......then they came for the people that speak to spirits.....

"I don't believe for a second that MP advocates or desires a police state. That is not how I interpreted his remarks."

I know you don't, dmduncan. I was exaggerating for humorous effect.

I find the whole discussion amusing. It reminds me of my days in L.A., when my libertarian friends would insist, quite heatedly, that a society that allows public ownership of the roads is on a slippery slope to becoming Nazi Germany.

The whole "slippery slope" argument is, I think, pretty weak. In any society there will be lines drawn, often somewhat arbitrarily. The exact delineation will change depending on public sentiment, the ideology of the party in power, and other circumstances. The conventions and regulations that govern our lives bear more resemblance to the common law than to any meticulously worked-out legal or moral theory. They develop and change over time, mostly on a pragmatic basis.

That's why purely logical arguments have little force in this area. No one can give a strictly logical explanation of why the speed limit on a certain street should be 25, as opposed to 20 or 30. But it has to be something, and 25 works as a consensus choice. Why should the drinking age be 21, as opposed to 20 or 22? There's no good reason, really, but there has to be some cutoff, and 21 is the one that's been adopted (for now). Why should some mind-altering chemicals be legal while others aren't? It's a somewhat arbitrary decision, since there is a gray area of chemicals that could be legalized (like marijuana) or criminalized (as alcohol was, during Prohibition). Again, it comes down to a social consensus. Until that consensus changes, if it ever does, there will be no major changes in the law.

People -- especially intellectuals -- overestimate how large a role logical reasoning plays in society. Most of our rules are derived from custom and "common sense," neither of which obeys the precepts of syllogistic reasoning. And given what a mess intellectuals tend to make of things when they do get into power, it's probably just as well that they have less influence than they'd like.

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