Smoking, MDMA and Virus Fatigue

The Kush

Hi! Welcome to the 8th edition of The Kush, our newsletter written specifically for Mondays and Tuesdays. If you’re reading this for the first time, then welcome. Wherever you’re from, whenever you’ll read this, just remember one thing – capitalism works for the creators, the founders and the originals, and not so much for the employees, and definitely not so much for the unaware, the uneducated and the socially oppressed. 

Whichever of these groups you belong to, it’s OK. They are temporary, and only you can make them permanent. At least you know. Many don’t.

Afraid of the Smoke

Generations have already been judged for their substance use, but inhaling and exhaling smoke is surely the most common way that ‘normal’ people immediately think of in their mind’s eye when they hear the word ‘intoxicant’. And this is just because smoking is attention-seeking by default. Who can miss a plume of smoke being exhaled by a human being, not to mention the smell? Smoking is very visible, so to speak and hence ‘smoking’ has become a brand in its own right. Both the cannabis (flowers, resin) and tobacco (leaves) plants are used by companies to make smokable products in the form of cigarettes for tobacco, while in the case of cannabis, companies usually supply the raw flower directly. 

That being said, Cannabis can be consumed in many ways. Smoking is just one form of consumption.

Here’s the well-known business magazine, Forbes talking about it, for instance: 

“When you smoke cannabis, its main active ingredient delta-9 THC (along with many other compounds in the plant) is processed quickly through the lungs and goes directly into the bloodstream. This creates the well known cannabis ‘high’ from smoking. But when cannabis is eaten, it needs to be processed by the liver. In the liver, delta-9 THC is converted into an entirely different chemical 11- hydroxy THC. This chemical can have a more intense set of effects – and some studies have found it is significantly more psychoactive than delta-9 THC. This means that using cannabis edibles, even at similar dosages to smoking, often result in a more intense and disorienting high.”

“Many of us have the experience of eating one edible, waiting for an hour and then eating another, just to realize the first one hadn’t kicked in yet.” Explains John Houston, the CEO of Kushla, a company that makes a fast-acting edible ingredient called REACT for other cannabis brands. “When it does, the effects are much stronger than intended” he adds, explaining that “while cannabis is extremely safe and impossible to overdose on, a high dose can make the user uncomfortable.” 

Men and women interested in understanding the consumer markets focused on using cannabis for its health and wellness properties ought to educate themselves about why cannabis is good for the human body from a biological point of view. If not, as exemplified by many voices today (Say no to drugs blah blah), the temptation to be mentally lazy will take over and the results will not be as per anyone’s expectations. That being said, of course, cannabis enthusiasts have already won. They just didn’t know the science underlying all their enthusiasm. Now they do. 

Alexander, the Godfather of Psychedelics and The Texas Group of MDMA

  • 1912: first synthesized by chemist Anton Köllisch for Merck, now a German multi-national pharmaceutical and chemical company.
  • 1965: The Godfather of Psychedelics (Organic Chemistry FTW), Alexander Shulgin synthesizes MDMA while working for Dow Chemical Company but does not try it
  • 1975-76: A couple of students tell Alexander about a ‘new substance’ that gave them ‘positive emotional effects’. Alexander goes to the University of San Francisco, synthesizes MDMA again and this time, tries it. Meanwhile, the ‘Boston Group’ of chemists start making small doses of MDMA for recreational and medicinal use
  • 1978: In a research publication, Alexander describes MDMA as inducing “an easily controlled altered state of consciousness with emotional and sensual overtones” comparable “to marijuana, to psilocybin (‘magic’ mushrooms) devoid of the hallucinatory component”
  • 1978: Leo Zeff, a psychotherapist from California realized MDMA’s use in mental health and therapy after Alexander ‘gave’ it to him. Over the following years, Zeff traveled around the United States and occasionally to Europe, eventually training an estimated four thousand psychotherapists in the therapeutic use of MDMA. Zeff named the drug “Adam”, believing it put users in a state of primordial innocence, making it easier for them to accept traumatic incidents and open up about their lives and emotions
  • 1981: Recreational MDMA users surge. Enter the businessman. Michael Clegg, from the ‘Texas Group’ coined the term ‘ecstasy’ to increase the marketability of MDMA and to create a larger market for recreational use. Armed with financial backers, he is also a distributor for the ‘Boston Group’
  • 1983: The ‘ecstasy’ entrepreneur led ‘Texas Group’ begins mass-producing MDMA in Texas while also importing it from another group based out of California
  • 1985: MDMA could be purchased via credit card and taxes were paid on sales. Under the brand name “Sassyfras”, MDMA tablets were sold in brown bottles. The Texas Group advertised ‘ecstasy parties’ at bars and discos, describing MDMA as a “fun drug” and “good to dance to”. Recreational use also increased after several cocaine dealers switched to distributing MDMA following experiences with the drug. MDMA use by now has spread to colleges around the United States. The Drug Enforcement Agency begins to ask questions. The DEA was surprised when a number of psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and researchers objected to the proposed scheduling.

From here onwards is where we aren’t sure if the Texas Group understood what was going on. Because the moment the DEA announced its intentions to regulate MDMA, the Texas Group literally flooded the market with MDMA. Here’s how Wikipedia’s list of exhaustive MDMA sources describe these crazy times:

“The Texas Group increased production from 1985 estimates of 30,000 tablets a month to as many as 8,000 per day, potentially making two million ecstasy tablets in the months before MDMA was made illegal. The Texas Group produced more MDMA in eighteen months than all other distribution networks combined across their entire histories. By May 1985, according to the DEA there was evidence of use in twenty-eight states and Canada. Urged by Senator Lloyd Bentsen, the DEA announced an emergency Schedule I classification of MDMA on 31 May 1985. The ban took effect one month later on 1 July 1985. in the midst of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign”

Holy shit you Texas Group fellows. 

Pandemic Fatigue?

Yes, all of us must take precautions, yet sometimes it’s amusing how easily human beings tend to adjust to their realities as quickly as possible. No longer are people in our social circle talking about the coronavirus spread, even in India, when the country is currently reporting the world’s highest number of positive cases, everyday, almost 80,000 so far, a day. Already a country with a not-so-great healthcare infrastructure, India’s residents (the healthy ones so to speak) want to go back to pre-covid times, which now to come to think of it, seems like another decade or another era to be honest. We’ve no memories of what happened in our lives from March, 2020. We’re still getting used to new habits. 

And what great habits. 

Let’s keep blazing. Have a great day 🙂

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