Drug Positive is the risk reduction and benefit enhancement podcast reducing shame and stigma to save lives and end the drug war.
New Fun Drugs are Coming Soon!
Are you ready for a new drug? In this episode I interview neuroscientist Matthew Baggott about his new company, Tactogen, which is synthesizing and bringing to market new MDMA-like substances. We also discuss the pros and cons of the new psychedelic renaissance, what the mainstreaming of psychedelics might look like in the near future and how it might affect the underground culture, especially with the entrance of big money capitalists like Peter Thiel and the dreaded Compass Pathways.
Transcript of the Introduction
Hi everyone. In this episode I interview neuroscientist Matthew Baggott. Matthew has been a friend and colleague of mine for over twenty years. He was an early consultant for DanceSafe and he’s recently founded a company, Tactogen, which seeks to synthesize and market new MDMA-like drugs, or entactogens. This is a fascinating interview. In it, we discuss the pros and cons of the new psychedelic renaissance, what the mainstreaming of psychedelics might look like and how it might affect the underground culture, especially with the entrance of big money capitalists like Peter Thiel and the dreaded Compass Pathways.
We talk about upcoming models for prescription psychedelics, including the potential for take-home prescriptions… what the lack of trained psychedelic therapists is going to mean for medical legalization, how the decriminalization movement and growing recreational psychedelic use, interfaces with the medical psychedelic movement, and a lot more…
I did this interview a few months ago and what’s really interesting to me is that between then and now I actually had the opportunity to try a new entactogen that I had never taken before: 5-MAPB, or 5-methyl-amino-proply-benzo-furan. And I have to say…. It was great! I loved it.
It was similar to MDMA, but unlike other entatctogens I’ve taken, I didn’t feel it was missing anything. It was a complete experience. And for me that’s different, because when I take other entactogens, like MDA (also known as Sass), or methylone (a cathinone class drug) … I always feel like I didn’t quite get where I wanted to be, as if the drug is trying to be like MDMA but just doesn’t quite get all the way there. So there’s always a feeling that something’s missing.
But with 5-MAPB, I didn’t have that feeling. There was a kind of whole emotional component, a complete stress-free state like there is with MDMA. But the difference was there wasn’t that gushing, sort of overwhelming emotional empathy like there is with MDMA. It wasn’t mushy, in other words. There was a bit more… discernment I guess… like you don’t feel compelled to tell complete strangers that you love them.
One way I like to describe it is that I used to think MDMA was just one effect, a continuous single effect. Call it the MDMA-entactogenic effect. And that other MDMA-like entactogens get you part of the way there. So like MDA or methylone always felt to me like “lesser” entactogens in this way. They only got you part of the way up the MDMA-like ladder, if you will.
But after taking 5-MAPB, I now realize there are two distinct effects from MDMA. Because 5-MAPB (to me at least) produces one of them in full completeness. And that would be the stress relief, and the sociability. The taking away of social anxiety. In this regard 5-MAPB felt exactly like MDMA. It wasn’t lesser in this regard. And this is something MDA and methylone don’t have. To me.
So if you can imagine two effects from MDMA. One the stress relief, and the other the mushy lovey-dovey part, 5-MAPB has all of one and none of the other. And given that I can no longer experience either with MDMA (because I’ve taken it too many times), I must say I am thrilled to have discovered 5-MAPB.
Anyway, when I did this interview with Matthew, I hadn’t had the 5-MAPB experience yet, and you’ll hear I open with skepticism of him or anyone actually being able to find other entactogens similar to MDMA. He s
DPP #25: When Will Festivals Happen Again?
It's been almost a year since the pandemic ended mass gatherings. A year without live music and festivals has taken its toll on many of us. When will they start up again? In this episode I discuss the latest COVID science to try to find an answer to that question.
Hi everyone. I’m back, and once again . . . I know it’s been a long time since my last episode. I’m not even gonna apologize this time, because in the end just gets ridiculous. All I’m gonna say is that I do INTEND to produce episodes more regularly. And I will at some point. But … so much has been happening in my life it’s crazy. I’ll tell you about it briefly, and then we’ll get into the episode, which is about covid and festivals. Basically… when festivals are likely to start happening again.
Ok, but me first… Here’s what’s happening… A few months ago, in my last episode I told you about my mom and her dementia. And thank you everyone who wrote me with your sympathy and words of encouragement, and those who asked me how she was doing. It’s actually quite interesting. She’s doing maybe 70% better, but she does still have dementia. It wasn’t all about the medication she was on. If you remember I was hopeful her problems were all about this one medication called pramipexole, and that once I got her doctors to discontinue it, she would get better. But it really wasn’t that.
It was another whole month before she improved. But here’s the thing… I believe it was the covid that fucked with her brain, and that during those few months she had it, IT was responsible for wiping out her short term memory. I mean she couldn’t remember what we spoke about from moment to moment. She’d literally say the same thing over and over, not realizing she just said it. But when she finally beat the covid, she slowly got better… I mean… 70% better, which is huge… and that just doesn’t happen with typical Alzheimer’s. With typical Alzheimers, it’s a steady downhill. You don’t get better like that. You may have good days and bad days, but her improvement is dramatic. I really have my mom back. And I plan to visit her as soon as I’m allowed to travel internationally, and as soon I get a covid vaccine. She just got her first shot herself a few days ago.
But here’s why I think the covid affected her brain so much. You see, this virus can strike anywhere in the body, and there’s a lot of cases of people who get cognitive problems when they get covid, problems that can last a quite while. You’ve probably hear of post-covid brain fog. There’s a lot of people talking about that, but there’s even covid-psychosis. Seriously. Some people who get covid literally become psychotic, as in full-on schizophrenia type psychotic. It doesn’t seem to be permanent, but these are people with no history of mental illness. Totally weird.
So we know this virus can affect the brain, and it can also produce lots of different symptoms all over the body. And so… here’s my theory… Again it’s just just a theory. But what I think is that some of these non-standard symptoms that some people get… meaning more than a cough and fever and stuff, depend on the particulars of a person’s immune system, and particularly, where that person might be experiencing inflammation. Preexisting inflammation.
Everyone has SOME degree of inflammation. There’s so many toxins in our environment these days. So many foreign things getting into our bodies. And our immune system tries to recognize them and attack them, but sometimes it gets confused and attacks our own tissues instead, even after those toxins are gone. And this can cause chronic pain and disease. Inflammation is so common in fact that we take it for granted. Inflammation is the number 1 cause of pain and illness … by far. When it gets way out of hand people get diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, like ALS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis. You name it. There are so many
DPP #24: Drugs, Dementia and a Little Bit of Dharma
When Sasha Shulgin was at the end of his life, experiencing dementia, I had the privilege of interviewing him. Then both my parents got dementia. These experiences taught me lessons in life I won't forget, and I want to share them with you.
Hi everyone. I really hate that I have to begin my show again, for the third time in a row, with an apology for how long it’s taking me to produce new episodes. But I’ve really been 2020’d hard. Since the last episode I’ve had three people in my life die. My best friend from high school, Pat Welch, died in a motorcycle accident, my good friend and colleague, Kevin Zeese, who founded of the Drug Policy Foundation and served on the board of DanceSafe for a while, died of a heart attack, and just week ago my step father died of covid.
And… my mom also has covid, and she’s been in the hospital for the past two weeks. And for some unknown reason… it might be the covid… right around the same time she got it, she lost virtually all of short term memory, and she can’t care for herself.
So for the past two weeks I’ve been on the phone with doctors, nurses, lawyers, and her friends in England… to try to manage her care.
And I’ve been talking to her every day. And it’s tragic, because when you lose your short term memory you can’t grieve. Her husband died a week ago but she keeps asking her nurses, “where’s Jim?” And she has to re-learn over and over again multiple times a day that he died. It’s like she’s being continually re-traumatized. You need to be able to encode new memories or you can’t grieve. I can’t think of anything worse, and it’s really affecting me.
My mom has always been a smart, super competent, and highly motivated woman who took care of everyone around her, and now she’s in this horrible twilight zone hell of non-stop misery and I feel helpless to do anything about it.
The nurses aren’t allowed to tell me what medications she’s taking. She can’t remember obviously. All she does is cry and say, “what am I gonna do. I can’t live without him.” It’s just awful.
And because of the covid, it’s even worse. She’s not allowed visitors. She’s just alone in a hospital bed crying and confused. Even the doctors who might be capable of assessing her short-term memory issues aren’t allowed to see her. I’m not allowed to fly over there. Even if I did I couldn’t see her now. I’d have to quarantine for two weeks first. So I feel helpless.
FUCK YOU 2020! YOU FUCKING SUCK!
Hi again everyone. So I recorded that about a week ago. I don’t know what I was thinking, how I would possible have been able to record an entire show in the state I was in back then.
I t may have been because I started taking Adderall every day. I convinced myself it would help me manage my mother’s situation, and maybe it did, but I think it really just added to my overall stress. And maybe minor mania too. There was no way I record an episode in that state. No way in hell. Why would I even want to? I think I felt guilty that yet again a month was ticking by with no new episodes, and I do feel a commitment to you all. My listeners.
But anyway, I think I can do it now, and I’ll tell you why. First, my mother’s getting better. She finally tested negative for covid, and the past three days her memory is much better. Maybe it WAS the covid affecting her brain, but it also could have been this one medication she was taking.
After fighting with her nurses for a week I finally got a list of her medications, and she’d been on this Parkinson’s drug called Pramipexole. She doesn’t have Parkinson’s, but Pramipexole is sometimes prescribed for restless leg syndrome, this condition where your leg twitches when you try to fall asleep.
Anyway, as I was googling her medications, all these warnings popped up around Pramipexole about, I fucking kid you not, SEVERE SHORT TERM MEMORY IMPAIRMENT!
Are you kidding me? A tw
DPP #23: QAnon is a US Intel Psyop
In this episode I break from the topic of drugs to discuss the most important issue of our times: QAnon and the rising tide of authoritarian fascism. I interview investigative journalist, filmmaker and podcaster, Robbie Martin. Robbie is an expert on QAnon, and he takes us through its history and origins inside US intelligence agencies as well as the Trump administration, warning us of the dire consequences that could result from the weaponization of conspiracy theory culture.
Click here and here to listen to Robbie's own two-part podcast episodes on QAnon.
DPP #22: Are You Addicted? Maia Szalavitz and the Unbroken Brain
In this episode I interview Maia Szalavitz, author of Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction. In these pandemic times, problematic drug use is on the rise. Alcohol sales are skyrocketing, and more than ever we need to understand the root causes of addiction and how to help those who are suffering.
DPP #21: Straight Inc - A Survivor's Story
In this episode I interview Frank Haines, who describes his experiences being held captive for more than a year in Florida's notorious anti-drug cult, Straight. Started by millionaire shopping mall developer and founder of the Partnership for a Drug Free America, Mel Sembler, in the 1980s, Straight was eventually shut down after numerous successful lawsuits exposed systemic violence, including physical abuse and torture.