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Excellent blog covering a wide range of disciplines and raising many questions; I shall confine my comments to Magic Mushrooms and to the potential benefits of scientific research in that area. I believe that Prof. Nutt should be allowed to conduct further enquiry, because of the possible medical, therapeutic and psychological breakthroughs that could be achieved. There are two reasons why this is controversial. Both are paradigms and emanate from the same conservative desire for control; one political and the other moral. Politically, the last thing any government is going to fund is another Tim O’Leary telling us all to Turn Tune In and Drop Out with the potential revolutionary consequences that may result. Morally, even libertines such as myself hesitate from urging my teenage children to take acid and discover their inner Aztec. Our society, and the ethics which bind it, is based upon boundaries with a historical narrative which helps the less enlightened proletariat keep the wheel turning. We have a duty of care to stop people coming into contact with information that will fry their mind irreparably. We cannot allow free thinking to get out of the reserve and go viral. This however, does not mean that we should not carefully explore these chemicals (or the more emotive term drugs) - under careful, but transparent, supervision - using the objective scientific method. Subjectively: I have in my youth, but not recently, experimented with psychedelics over many years and have travelled widely in search of the ultimate high. There is no doubt in my mind – or whats left of it- that psylocibin has the potential to heal or strengthen mental and spiritual capacity. It is not merely a recreational drug, nor is imbibing it predestined to lead to psychosis and a spiral of nihilistic addiction. Unfortunately the political, moral and subjective nature of its effects ensure that it is never discussed rationally. Celts, druids, hippies, junkies pyschos are the labels applied to something less understood than Frankenstein . Suicide and Freudian images of surreal despair are what the closed minded think of when mushrooms are mentioned by the bourgeoisie while happily chewing on their valiaum, slurping their cola and taking a big drag of nicotine. I didn’t choose that, I chose something different…I chose life My subjective experience of shrooms is sitting on a beach in Cushendall watching the sun come up, the embers crackling, a feeling of wellbeing, an insight into the purpose and meaning of creation combined with a desire to explore learn and contribute to that great project divined by the architect of the universe. Wandering through the ancient forests of Ireland being hypersensitive to the noises, smells ,subtlety of the colours and the fragility of life in what seemed like a magic land of health happiness, something to be preserved and cherished. Laughing spontaneously and losing the sub conscious anxiety which is attached to any young person. Making love, giving and receiving sensual pleasure. Contemplating colour sound and smell for what seemed like an age but was probably an eternity. Wondering lonely in a cloud but immediately being enveloped by other trippers in love joy happiness. But lets not get too idealistic: we must not confuse psilocybin with heroin/coke/ice as unfortunately the damage done by a cocktail of drugs leaves many dead mentally and ultimately physically. We must continue the fight against the vice like addiction of opiates and the empty lives that result; do not not throw the Buddha out with the bathwater.
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