In 2002, Dimitri M. was ready to die. He’d been addicted to heroin for over 20 years, and his once-promising artistic life had collapsed into a series of banal pit stops: from the methadone clinic, to the valet parking gig, to the coke dealer, to the dope dealer, to the bed, and over and over again. Eventually, his longtime partner succumbed to intravenous drug use, and, though they were married by common law, he was barred from attending her funeral.
Dimitri was ready to finally let the drugs carry him away, like an undertow. He planned to take a trip to Greece as a last goodbye to his ancestral homeland, but while researching his farewell voyage, he was reminded of a conversation with an old friend about a hallucinogenic plant with the purported power to heal opioid addiction. He embarked on his trip as planned, but scheduled a brief detour in the Netherlands to be treated with this so-called miracle drug: Ibogaine. Though the alkaloid extract of the Tabernanthe iboga plant with psychoactive effects is illegal in the United States, Ibogaine has been used for decades by the Bwiti people of Gabon as a sacrament in a coming-of-age ritual, akin to a Bar Mitzvah.
RESEARCHERS HAVE DEBATED for decades over the relationship between hallucinogens and rock art. Ancient cultures around the world have left an intriguing legacy of abstract, even psychedelic-looking images on cliff faces and cave walls, but modern researchers argue over the motivation behind the creation of such artworks.
Until now there has been no physical evidence of the use of hallucinogens at rock art sites. But a surprising discovery at a site in southern California now provides proof that at least some people experienced the site in an altered state of consciousness centuries ago.
In a study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international research team reports that 400-year-old chewed-up wads of datura, a plant with powerful psychoactive properties, have been found stuffed into the cracks of the ceiling of a sacred cave. Located near the edge of the traditional territory of the Chumash people, the cavern had been dubbed Pinwheel Cave after the swirling red painting on its curved ceiling. Researchers think this artwork might represent a datura flower, which unfurls in a pinwheel shape at dusk, and that the site may have been a place for group ceremonies where datura was consumed.
While the 2020 presidential results remained unclear the morning after Election Day, one thing for certain is that voters overwhelmingly approved a series of measures aimed at the war on drugs, including the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey, Arizona, and Montana, the decriminalization of psychedelic mushrooms in Washington, D.C. and the decriminalization of all drugs in Oregon.
Voters in the state of Oregon also voted in favor of Measure 109, which allows for patients 21-and-over to buy, possess, and consume psychedelic drugs at “psilocybin service centers,” under the supervision of trained facilitators, while Measure 110 — which decriminalized personal possession of drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, LSD and MDMA — also overwhelmingly passed with 60 percent of votes in favor; Measure 110 also called for the establishment of a drug addiction treatment program funded by its marijuana tax revenue.
“Today’s victory is a landmark declaration that the time has come to stop criminalizing people for drug use,” Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance that spearheaded the measure, said in a statement.