Octopuses on ecstasy, Thailand’s legalization regrets, and Gov. Newsom’s psychedelic veto.
Here’s what you missed this week in cannabis and psychedelic news.
If You Give An Octopus Some Ecstasy
Let’s take it back to 2018. In a Marine Biological Lab in Massachusetts, marine biologist Eric Edsinger and neuroscientist Gul Dolen gathered nine octopuses for an experiment. Of the nine octopuses, four were chosen to receive a dose of ecstasy.
Now, why would someone give an octopus ecstasy? Octopuses are renowned for their intelligence, rivaling many mammals. However, octopuses are also incredibly anti-social. With their experiment, Edsinger and Dolen aimed to test how MDMA would affect octopuses’ introverted behaviors. Further, the pair hoped the study’s findings would shed light on the link between neurotransmitter-changing chemicals and social behaviors across the animal kingdom, including humans.
The duo’s study is built on the back of genetic sequencing research published in 2015 — which Edsinger himself contributed to. This research discovered remarkable similarities in how octopuses and humans react to serotonin. Edsinger and Dolen aimed to determine if these similarities persisted under the influence of MDMA, which is known to increase serotonin levels.
The results of Edsinger and Dolen’s octopus-MDMA study were released in the journal Current Biology. They found that when exposed to MDMA, octopuses exhibited more social and touchy-feely. The octopuses’ reactions mirrored how humans react to the substance indicating an evolutionary connection between the two species’ social behavior.
Thailand’s Cannabis Regrets
Thailand’s flourishing cannabis industry is in danger. Newly elected Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has expressed his intent to “rectify” the country’s cannabis laws within the next six months — possibly limiting legality to only medical use. This massive shift in policy is a response to concerns about the growing drug problem in parts of the country.
Thailand became the first Asian country to legalize cannabis early last year. Since then, a rush of dispensaries and cannabis-related businesses have opened across the country. As a result, Thai residents have gained access to many new jobs in cannabis hospitality, retail, and cultivation.
Minister Thavisin’s proposed changes are causing major concerns among those who have benefited from legalization. They worry that restricting cannabis to only medical use may cause them to lose their businesses or jobs — particularly in more rural areas. Others, meanwhile, fear that these restrictions will drive the industry underground making product regulation and safety all the more difficult.
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So, what’s the alternative? Well, many in the cannabis industry believe the government should focus on evidence-based solutions. This means making sure regulations and restrictions are easier to follow rather than reverting back to harsh penalties.
Make sure you check in with Veriheal to stay in the loop on Thailand’s ever-evolving cannabis landscape.
Why Gov. Newsom Vetoed A Psychedelic Bill
California Governor Gavin Newsom ended California’s psychedelic hopes with one swift veto. The proposed bill would have decriminalized the personal possession of natural psychedelics. In a statement explaining his veto, the Governor had the following to say:
“California should immediately begin work to set up regulated treatment guidelines – replete with dosing information, therapeutic guidelines, rules to prevent against exploitation during guided treatments, and medical clearance of no underlying psychoses,” Newsom’s statement said. “Unfortunately, this bill would decriminalize possession prior to these guidelines going into place, and I cannot sign it.”
The proposed legislation was the result of work by drug reform advocates and state lawmakers like Senator. They consulted both law enforcement and medical experts in crafting the bill. Those behind the bill hoped to provide those with PTSD, depression, and other mental health issues a reliable and safe way to get relief.
Senator Scott Weiner criticized the Governor’s veto saying that California missed a chance to follow the science. Undeterred, Sen. Weiner said he intended to introduce another psychedelic decriminalization bill in the near future.
Outside of these legislative chambers, advocates are pushing to expand psychedelic access in the state through two ballot initiatives. The two initiatives are being proposed for the November 2024 ballot. The first of these initiatives looks to legalize the use and sale of mushrooms for those aged 21+. The other looks to establish a state agency to investigate psychedelic therapies.
Mexico-born and California-raised, Cesar is a Marketing Associate at Veriheal. When he’s not scouring social media for the latest internet drama, you can find him working on yet another collage project.
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