Much attention in the psychedelics world has been paid recently to psilocybin ‘magic’ mushrooms and their value in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder and other psychological ailments, and to micro dosing LSD in both medical and recreational applications. As always, marijuana – medical and recreational – is relegated to the sidelines and continues to get political abuse in the U.S. as states establish their own laws while the federal government confuses the issue. That wasn’t helped by a recent study showing an increase in heart attacks among 18-to-44-year old marijuana users. However, a new study may get cannabis some well-deserved acclaim as a psychedelic drug. Wait … what?
“Once the psilocybin labs started emphasizing that oceanic boundlessness seemed to be the mechanism underlying the molecule’s antidepressant effects, nearly every cannabis fan couldn’t help but ask, ‘Hey! Doesn’t marijuana have comparable effects?’”
Mitch Earleywine, a professor of psychology at the University at Albany, is the lead author of “Cannabis-induced oceanic boundlessness” published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. For those unfamiliar with the term, Cannabis Now explains that “Oceanic boundlessness” was defined by U.K. researcher and psychiatrist Ben Sessa in his book “The Psychedelic Renaissance” as the feeling of being at one with the universe that psychedelics can induce – causing the user to abandon personhood for an existence without physical, emotional or mental boundaries. To test whether cannabis can also induce this feeling, Earleywine’s team surveyed 852 cannabis users about their most intense THC experience – “the highest you’ve ever felt.” While that was often the result of smoking or eating more THC than expected, 20% of the volunteers described feelings that matched psychedelics-induced oceanic boundlessness, although not as intensely.
“Self-report data suggest that high doses of cannabis can create subjective effects comparable to those identified in trials of psilocybin that precede relief from cancer-related distress, treatment-resistant depression, alcohol problems, and cigarette dependence.”
Finally, a marijuana study focusing on psychological benefits rather than psychosis or paranoia. Earleywine suggests that additional lab testing be done using protocols from psilocybin research to further compare the THC-induced oceanic boundlessness to the psilocybin-induced kind – potentially leading to cannabis-assisted psychotherapy with benefits similar to those of psilocybin with the added benefit that cannabis is more accepted and mostly legal.
As always, Earleywine emphasizes that these were preliminary surveys and more research need to be done in controlled lab settings, warning:
“I don’t recommend the home game. Cannabis can make depression worse for some people, or so it seems.”
It also seems marijuana might be ready for some positive news as well.