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‘Monster vibrations, snake universe hallucinations’: Allen Ginsberg endorses LSD in the Paris Review
06.08.2015
07:42 am

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In June 1965, Allen Ginsberg was interviewed by Thomas Clark for the Paris Review. Back then, to be interviewed by the Paris Review was a sign a writer had made the major league, joining the team of previous interviewees which included T. S. Eliot, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker and Truman Capote

Ginsberg was known as a poet, a key figure in the Beat movement—alongside Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs—and for his collections Howl and other poems and KaddishThough then hitting middle age, Ginsberg had revolutionized poetry and was a countercultural icon to the generation that blossomed during the 1960s, as he spoke out against war, and in favor of drugs and free love.

During the Q&A with the Paris Review, Ginsberg was asked about his use of drugs, in particular hallucinogens. As a man who saw no bar on discussing any subject no matter how personal or intimate, Ginsberg said that on hallucinogens he had visions “of great scaly dragons in outer space they’re winding slowly and eating their own tails.”

Sometimes my skin and all the room seem sparkling with scales, and it’s all made out of serpent stuff. And as if the whole illusion of life were made of reptile dream.

Hallucinogenic experiences had been “states of consciousness that subjectively seem to be cosmic-ecstatic, or cosmic-demonic.” However, his tolerance to hallucinogens (“Lysergic acid, peyote, mescaline, psilocybin, ayahuasca.”) was badly reduced and he no longer enjoyed them.

I can’t stand them anymore, because something happened to me with them very similar to the Blake visions. After about thirty times, thirty-five times, I began getting monster vibrations again.

So I couldn’t go any further. I may later on again, if I feel more reassurance.

When the interview was published in the Spring 1966 issue of Paris Review, Ginsberg wrote a letter to journal giving as footnote to the interview his regret over the “unedited ambivalence” to LSD and his endorsement for the drug.

June 2, 1966

To readers of Paris Review:

Re LSD, Psylocibin [sic], etc., Paris Review #37 p. 46: “So I couldn’t go any further. I may later on occasion, if I feel more reassurance.”

Between occasion of interview with Thomas Clark June ’65 and publication May ’66 more reassurance came. I tried small doses of LSD twice in secluded tree and ocean cliff haven at Big Sur. No monster vibration, no snake universe hallucinations. Many tiny jeweled violet flowers along the path of a living brook that looked like Blake’s illustration for a canal in grassy Eden: huge Pacific watery shore, Orlovsky dancing naked like Shiva long-haired before giant green waves, titanic cliffs that Wordsworth mentioned in his own Sublime, great yellow sun veiled with mist hanging over the planet’s oceanic horizon. No harm. President Johnson that day went into the Valley of Shadow operating room because of his gall bladder & Berkley’s Vietnam Day Committee was preparing anxious manifestoes for our march toward Oakland police and Hell’s Angels. Realizing that more vile words from me would send out physical vibrations into the atmosphere that might curse poor Johnson’s flesh and further unbalance his soul, I knelt on the sand surrounded by masses of green bulb-headed Kelp vegetable-snake undersea beings washed up by last night’s tempest, and prayed for the President’s tranquil health. Since there has been so much legislative mis-comprehension of the LSD boon I regret that my unedited ambivalence in Thomas Clark’s tape transcript interview was published wanting this footnote.

Your obedient servant

[signed]

Allen Ginsberg, aetat 40

The letter was thought long lost somewhere deep in the Paris Review archives, but when it was recently re-discovered, the journal published it along with the following erratum:

The Paris Review regrets the error. May the record hereafter reflect Allen Ginsberg’s unequivocal endorsement of lysergic acid diethylamide.

Below Ginsberg reads William Buckley a poem written under the influence of LSD.
 

 
Via the Paris Review

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Billie Holiday: Drug bust with chihuahua, 1956
06.03.2015
06:13 am

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Drugs
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Transcendent jazz vocalist Billie Holiday, whose centenary birthday was celebrated earlier this year, has turned up on a rather strange bit of memorabilia, simultaneously lurid and cute. A friend of DM passed along an original Philadelphia Daily News photo that just sold on eBay, showing Holiday after a 1956 drug bust (hardly her first rodeo—the gifted singer’s life was a tragedy of addiction culminating in her premature death in 1959, not even 45 years of age). It’s not really an unknown photo, but I’ve only seen it with this cropping:
 

 
Which leaves out an incongruously adorable detail:

PH…4…INP SOUNDPHOTO PHILA,.PA…“DOPE RAID.” Nightclub singer Billie Holiday was picked up by Phila., Police in an early morning dope raid at her hotel today. She was held under bail on charges of using dope. She is currently filling a singing engagement at a night club here. Held with her on the same charge was her husband and road manager, Louis McKay, 46. The 41-year-old singer insisted on bringing her pet Chihuahua dog to City Hall. Photo shows Billie leaving the Central cell with her pet dog. Detective Capt. Clarence Ferguson who lead the raid is behind her. DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY SAM PSORAS….2/23/56….

 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
World’s oldest bongs discovered in Russia
05.29.2015
06:58 am

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Drugs
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Archaeologists have uncovered 2,400-year-old golden bongs used by royalty to smoke cannabis and opium in Russia. The bongs were uncovered in a secret chamber covered with clay by construction workers during excavations to install power lines. The ancient paraphernalia was found alongside 7 lbs of other gold items—three gold cups, a heavy gold finger ring, two neck rings, and a gold bracelet.

Experts believe the bongs to be the oldest in existence—used by Scythians, an ancient Iranian nomadic people who dominated the Eurasian grasslands for almost 1,000 years, roughly 800 BC to 300 AD.
 
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The haul of bongs and jewelry.
 
The bongs contained a thick black residue which on examination was found to be a mix of cannabis and opium. Cannabis played an important part in the Scythian religion—smoked as a way to induce a state of trance and help with divination. It is believed this potent mix was smoked by Scythian kings before leading their armies into battle. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus (484 BC-425 BC) wrote:

“The Scythians used a plant to produce smoke that no Grecian vapour-bath can surpass” and that “transported by the vapour, [they] shout aloud.”

Antonn Gass, of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, in Berlin, Germany, believes that the Scythians used both drugs is “beyond doubt.”

“It’s a once-in-a-century discovery, these are among the finest objects we know from the region.”

The ornate bongs also tell a story. One shows a bearded man killing young warrior—or perhaps a jealous husband slaying a rival lover or son; while, the other has mythological creatures on it, including griffons ripping apart a horse and a stag—the Scythians had seven gods in their religion and sacrificed animals to them.
 
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Painting of the ‘Battle between the Scythians and the Slavs’ by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1881.
 
The Scythians were known as notoriously aggressive warriors, who “fought to live and lived to fight” and were said to drink “the blood of their enemies and used the scalps as napkins.” They practiced guerilla warfare and were famed as archers—using arrows with poisonous tips to conquer their enemies.

The haul of treasure was found in a kurgan (burial mound) in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia, in 2013. Due to fear of looters raiding the site, the find was kept quiet. Now the bongs and jewelry have been cleaned up and are to be exhibited in a Russian museum.
 
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Via Daily Express, Daily Mail, and ZME Science.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
THOUSANDS of pot plants ‘accidentally’ planted on city center flowerbeds
05.28.2015
07:29 am

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The streets of the Kazakhstan capital Astana City may not be paved with gold, but their flowerbeds are planted with marijuana.

On Auezov Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, the smell of cannabis plants alerted authorities to “thousands” of marijuana plants flourishing at the side of the road. Local resident Mihail Malorod was one of the first who noticed the plants.

‘I was walking down the street when I saw these cute plants at the junction of Auezova Street and Dzhangeldina Street,’ he said.

‘What a nice little flowerbed, I thought.’

But not everyone is happy about weed growing on the city’s highways.

The city council has launched an investigation into who planted the cannabis? Was it an accident? Or an act of “guerilla gardening”?
 
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For years, Kazakhstan’s government has been “working in vain” to destroy crops of cannabis that grow wild across the country.

Kazakhstan’s Chu Valley is twice the size of France and is riddled with cannabis plants. However, although consumption and dealing marijuana is illegal, the ready availability of the plant makes it impossible to police effectively.

To counter the problem, last year politician Dariga Nazarbayeva suggested turning over swathes of cannabis covered land to pharmaceutical companies to cultivate for profit.

Or, perhaps why not use this freely available plant as a lure for weed aficionados to holiday in the country?

Meantime, the gardening company hired by the council to plant flowers have started their own internal investigation into what happened claiming they will “weed out” all the cannabis plants.

In 2003, writer/presenter Simon Reeve discovered how easily marijuana grows in Kazakhstan when he traveled across the country for his TV series Meet the Stans.
 

 
H/T the Metro

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Got old before he died: Roger Daltrey threatens to stop Who gig over audience pot smoking
05.22.2015
06:42 am

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Ultimate Classic Rock reports that Roger Daltrey threatened to stop a Who concert at New York’s Nassau Coliseum this week when he smelled marijuana smoke coming from the audience. The singer claims he is allergic to the smoke and it stops his voice from working.

You can see Daltrey scold the audience member with the wicked bud in the [below] video. He asks him to stop puffing or he would walk offstage. Then Pete Townshend gets a few words in too, before the fan apparently put away his stash and let the band continue on with its 50th-anniversary tour show.

Newsday‘s review notes that “the smoke’s impact was almost immediate on his voice, which went from crystal clear and potent for the opening ‘I Can’t Explain’ to something rougher and more limited during ‘I Can See for Miles.’”

Talk about their generation—apparently Daltrey and Townshend have managed to get old before dying.
 

 
Via Ultimate Classic Rock

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Dennis Hopper, drunk and stoned with six sticks of dynamite—what could possibly go wrong?
05.19.2015
10:12 am

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In 1983 Dennis Hopper went to Rice University in Houston, Texas ostensibly to screen his latest film Out Of The Blue. But little known to anyone, other than Hopper and a handful of his buddies, he had another agenda entirely. While he did indeed screen his movie, Hopper had actually come to Houston to blow himself up.

After screening Out Of The Blue, Hopper arranged to have the audience driven by a fleet of school buses to a racetrack on the outskirts of Houston, the Big H Speedway. Hopper and the buses arrived at the speedway just as the races were ending and a voice was announcing over the public address system “stick around folks and watch a famous Hollywood film personality perform the Russian Dynamite Death Chair Act. That’s right, folks, he’ll sit in a chair with six sticks of dynamite and light the fuse.”

Was famous Hollywood personality Dennis Hopper about to go out with a bang?

Hopper apparently learned this stunt when he was a kid after seeing it performed in a traveling roadshow. If you place the dynamite pointing outwards the explosion creates a vacuum in the middle and the person performing the stunt is, if all goes according to plan, unharmed.

After bullshitting for awhile with the crowd and his friends, a drunk and stoned Hopper climbed into the “death chair’ and lit the dynamite.

A Rice News correspondent described the scene:

Dennis Hopper, at one with the shock wave, was thrown headlong in a halo of fire. For a single, timeless instant he looked like Wile E. Coyote, frazzled and splayed by his own petard. Then billowing smoke hid the scene. We all rushed forward, past the police, into the expanding cloud of smoke, excited, apprehensive, and no less expectant than we had been before the explosion. Were we looking for Hopper or pieces we could take home as souvenirs? Later Hopper would say blowing himself up was one of the craziest things he has ever done, and that it was weeks before he could hear again. At the moment, though, none of that mattered. He had been through the thunder, the light, and the heat, and he was still in one piece. And when Dennis Hopper staggered out of that cloud of smoke his eyes were glazed with the thrill of victory and spinout.

In this video footage shot by filmmaker Brian Huberman, we see Hopper in all his intoxicated glory before and after his death defying stunt.

Huberman on the clip:

The large guy making the sign of the cross is the writer Terry Southern and the jerk threatening to blow up my camera is the German filmmaker, Wim Wenders.

Three years later Hopper went on to an equally explosive performance playing one of the most diabolical bad guys in the history of cinema: Blue Velvet‘s Frank Booth.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
In the very near future there will be ‘home-brewed’ drug beer made from yeast
05.19.2015
07:04 am

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Well, here’s a thing: soon you may be able to brew your own drugs—that’s according to an article in the New Scientist which points out that:

Genetically engineered yeasts could make it easy to produce opiates such as morphine anywhere, cutting out the international drug smugglers and making such drugs cheap and more readily available.

This also means the Taliban-supporting Afghanistan poppy trade would no longer flourish and junkies could fix themselves a homegrown brew of smack, without even having to score. Or leave the house for that matter. This is gonna be HUGE.

However, there is one fairly major stumbling block: the genetically engineered yeasts capable of doing this do not as yet exist. That’s kind of a big one. But researchers hope to change this as they point to the “number of drugs, scents and flavours once obtainable only from plants can now be made using genetically modified organisms.”

Now they want to add opiates to that list because “they are part of a family of molecules that may have useful medicinal properties”:

Plant yields of many of these molecules are vanishingly small, and the chemicals are difficult and expensive to make in the lab. Getting yeast to pump them out would be far cheaper.

And about as easy as tending to a Kombucha SCOBY, something even a junkie could manage.

Of all the relevant researchers questioned by the New Scientist none doubted that brewing drugs would eventually happen.

“The field is moving much faster than we had previous realised,” says John Dueber of the University of California, Berkeley, whose team has just created a yeast that produces the main precursor of opiates. Until recently, Dueber had thought the creation of, say, a morphine-making yeast was 10 years away. He now thinks a low-yielding strain could be made in two or three years.

It might take many more years to produce a high-yielding strain. But once it exists, in theory anyone who got hold of it could make morphine in their kitchen using only a home-brewing kit. Merely drinking tiny quantities of the resulting brew – perhaps as little as a few millilitres - would get you high. “It probably is as simple as that,” says Dueber. “The beer would have morphine in it.”

We need to start thinking about the implications now, before such strains – or the recipes for genetically engineering them – become available, he says.

Other teams are working on producing tropane alkaloids – a family of compounds that include drugs such as cocaine. Cocaine-making yeasts are further off, as we still don’t understand certain critical steps that coca plants use to make cocaine. But there’s no reason we cannot engineer yeast to produce any substance that plants produce, once we understand the machinery, says biochemist Peter Facchini of the University of Calgary in Canada. “So indeed someone could potentially produce cocaine in yeast.”

 
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Mead homebrew, but one day it maybe possible to brew heroin or cocaine beer.
 
Brewing drugs would certainly “democratize” drug production and give bearded hipsters an, er, addictive new hobby. It would also be difficult to police, and as the law currently stands difficult to prosecute (Good luck outlawing a yeast!). Unlike crystal meth labs,  brewing does not create a toxic mess: waste products are just brackish water and some very mild chemicals like acetate.

The main concern is that such brewing techniques fall into “the wrong hands,” which is believed to be a major possibility.

REALLY??? YA THINK???

Read the whole article here.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Hip Priest: The Fall’s Mark E. Smith used to do tarot card readings for drugs
05.15.2015
12:59 pm

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The other day I was in the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives at the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts on Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus in Cleveland, Ohio, and I came across a book I’d been hunting for a while, that being a volume on lead singer of the Fall, Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith, which turns out to be an odd little tome, a kind of catch-all of writings by Smith himself. It was this last point I only understood when I held the book in my hand; I had thought it was a reported book but in fact it’s all written by Mark E. Smith. 

One of the chapters has the remarkable title of “The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, The Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement, The World and Eric the Ferret.” The title kind of gives away the fact that it’s about tarot, which it turns out Mark E. Smith has more than the usual interest in.

Here are a couple of key passages. I have to say I only half-believe Smith on this stuff—it’s a little hard to picture sports cars turning up at his flat all the time for readings—the whole thing is a fascinating brew of ego, half-baked erudition, superstition, and self-serving logic, a scammer’s mindset if you will:
 

I used to do tarot readings as well. I went through a phase of reading books on the occult. I was fascinated by it. I still believe that things leave vibrations. America, for instance; I’ve visited all these old Civil War sites and the atmosphere is incredible. You can almost reach out and feel it.

.…After a bit, when the drugs prevailed, it got ridiculous. I got more interested in the Philip K. Dick Time Out of Joint angle—the way certain pieces of writing have a power all to themselves, almost as if they can prophesize things. But I still did the readings. Kay had a lot of hippy mates, housewives with a bit of money, really, who were always seeking out people to read for them. And I had a natural talent for it. I’ve always been able to read people. My mam’s a bit like that. I never used to charge a lot, but now you can earn a fortune. When I was really skint in 2000, I thought to myself, I should be doing that again. You can earn £40 an hour.

When people did a tarot with me they’d walk away wth their life changed. But you can’t fuck around with those things too much. You’re dealing with a force. When it goes wrong you’re not being a vessel.

-snip-

I did the readings for a year or two. But people started coming back too much. I had to tell them to stop. You get to the point where people can’t function without it—once a week turns into twice a week. They were driving up in their sports cars outside the flat, asking if they should go with this nice man they’d just met. A lot of fellas used to take advantage of that. Telling them they need more tarot—and that the tarot says you need sex with me.

One of the rules of the tarot is that you shouldn’t really take a lot of money for it, like psychics. It’s not good. So I’d take presents, a nice leather jacket. You’d go round to dope dealers and they’d give you two ounces of dope per reading.

 
Can you imagine visiting, say, Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland and running into Mark E. Smith?

Most interesting, perhaps, is that as recently as 2000, after like 20 studio albums on his resume, Smith was “skint” enough to consider taking the practice up again.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Pot Smoker’s Song’: Neil Diamond’s terrible anti-weed anthem
05.14.2015
05:54 am

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There’s no shortage of candidates, but my vote for the worst song in Neil Diamond’s catalog goes to “The Pot Smoker’s Song” from 1968’s Velvet Gloves and Spit. While it’s possible to write a decent anti-pot song—Jonathan Richman’s “I’m Straight” comes to mind—it seems Diamond’s ruthless songwriting instincts, so adroit with other kinds of subject matter, led him to adopt the most hysterical position on cannabis: smoking grass leads directly to shooting scag. (As readers of the stoner bible Newsweek know, it does not.)

In ‘68, says Laura Jackson’s Neil Diamond: His Life, His Music, His Passion, the Jazz Singer’s visits to an NYC rehab called Phoenix House inspired him to start an anti-drug group called Musicians Against Drugs (MAD). The organization soon changed its name to Performers Against Drugs (PAD), though I’m not sure it’s a better acronym for an anti-drug group—doesn’t it make you think “crash pad”? Anyway, the crystallization of that late-60s drug activism is “The Pot Smoker’s Song,” an album track which combines grim field recordings with a jolly chorus. During the verses, actual junkies from Phoenix House talk about how grass made drug fiends of them and ruined their lives, accompanied by merry instrumentation and backing vocals. (I think this is how Neil Diamond does sardonic?) See if you can come up with a melody for the first verse:

I started when I was thirteen, and, uh, I had saw some people smoking pot, and I bought myself a nickel bag, and I went behind my building and sat on a bench all by myself, and I smoked that bag—y’know, until I finally got high. Uh, I started with pot ‘cause I was curious, and at that time I was having problems with my family. I remember on one trip, I was at a party, and, uh, I got very sick from, uh, from speed, from meth. And, uh, I used to shoot it in my spine. I also used to shoot acid in my spine. And, uh, I had too much, I was building a big thing up over a week, and I got sick, and I tried to commit suicide.

Jackson’s bio reports the song was subject to such derision that it was omitted from later pressings of Velvet Gloves and Spit. I see no evidence of this on Discogs, but the song was left off of one UK pressing. Never mind: “The Pot Smoker’s Song” was lame. Neil said:

“The Pot Smoker’s Song” almost cost me my career. People just laughed at it.

 

 
But in the fullness of time, the scales fell from Diamond’s eyes and he repented of his error. Ben Fong-Torres’ classic piece “The Importance of Being Neil Diamond,” from the September 23, 1976 issue of Rolling Stone, opens with a 50-man squad from LAPD and the LA Sheriff’s Department raiding Diamond’s house on a cocaine tip. The Man didn’t find any coke at Neil’s place, but the search did turn up a little herb. Fong-Torres knew Velvet Gloves and Spit, and he nailed Diamond:

There is a track on a 1970 [sic] Neil Diamond album called “The Pot Smoker’s Song.” It begins, “Pot, pot, gimme some pot, forget what you are, you can be what you’re not, high, high, I wanna get high, never give it up if you give it a try.” And between the bouncy choruses are spoken testimonials from kids connecting grass to speed, acid, suicide and worse.

Today, Diamond says “The Pot Smoker’s Song” was “essentially misdirected”; that he learned the real villain is heroin after “The Pot Smoker’s Song” came out. He started smoking dope – “mostly out of boredom,” usually on long road trips.

“Fortunately, when I went through this stage,” he adds, “I was old enough to discern between marijuana and heroin.” Diamond is 35.

Fortunately? I, for one, would really have enjoyed hearing the results of a scag habit on Diamond’s later work, but I guess my loss is his gain. It’s never too late to start, Neil…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
New study finds that smoking weed DOES NOT cause psychotic episodes in teens
05.13.2015
02:42 pm

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Well, whaddya know…a new study conducted by researchers from the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, the University of Oxford and the University of Leeds runs counter to arguments put forward by drug prohibitionists by concluding that cannabis use in adolescents does not cause psychotic episodes.

Published in the Psychiatric Research Journal, the report “Psychotic experiences are linked to cannabis use in adolescents in the community because of common underlying environmental risk factors” questioned 4,830 16-year-old twins—to rule out genetic factors—asking whether they had ever tried cannabis? Respondents answered “Yes” or “No.”

The researchers then examined whether the respondents had ever had any psychotic episodes (PE) which were divided into five self-report subscales:

...paranoia (15 items), hallucinations (9 items), cognitive disorganisation (11 items), grandiosity (8 items), anhedonia [the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable] (10 items) and one parent-rated subscale: parent-rated negative symptoms (10 items)....Response scales related to frequency of experiences for paranoia and hallucinations (“Not at all” (0),“Rarely” (1), “Once a month” (2),“Once a week” (3), “Several times a week” (4), “Daily” (5)).

The end result found that both cannabis use and psychotic episodes were triggered by environmental factors—ranging from being poor to bullying (“peer victimization”).

The report revealed how children who are under stress for other reasons tend to smoke cannabis, and are also at higher risk of psychotic episodes. The researchers found:

Cannabis use and psychotic experience co-occur due to environmental factors.

Focus on specific environments may reveal why adolescent cannabis use and psychotic experiences tend to ‘travel together’.

Exposure to socioeconomic disadvantage may induce stress that triggers the development of psychotic episodes and cannabis use.

However, the report “investigated the association between cannabis use and PEs and not clinical psychosis. Findings should therefore be interpreted with the view of PEs as trait based phenotypes, and not clinical psychosis.”

The whole report can be read here.

It’s not just teenagers who enjoy a smoke… here’s some grandmas trying weed for the first time….
 

 
H/T Metro, via Psychiatric Research Journal
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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