Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Tune in, turn on, regulate everything

Posted by metaphorical on 11 May 2008

Lysergic acid diethylamide has a bunch of anniversaries this year, one of them the sad passing of its inventor, Dr Albert Hofmann, on April 29th, at age 102.

On a more upbeat note, April 19th was the 65th anniversary of Hofmann’s first acid trip. While most of us grew up with LSD an illegal drug, it wasn’t always so. Indeed, Hofmann and his employer, Sandoz, started with high hopes. The compound was discovered while trying to come up with a respiratory stimulant. That didn’t work out, but its hallucinatory properties led psychiatrists to think it might be a treatment for schizophrenia, or at least, a way to understand that condition and other psychoses.

This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the drug’s availability in the United States. According to Martin Lee, author of the book Acid Dreams, LSD was “used as an aid for psychotherapy, actually, fairly widely.”

“During a 15 year period beginning in 1950, research on LSD and other hallucinogens generated over 1,000 scientific papers, several dozen books, and 6 international conferences, and LSD was prescribed as treatment to over 40,000 patients,” according to Coolnurse.com. Eventually, it became clear that LSD had no controllable therapeutic effects. That’s not the same as saying it’s worthless, which itself would be far from justifying laws that make it impossible to obtain.

On the 50th anniversary of the first acid trip, Hofmann said,

“You, my dear friends, and millions all over the world who now commemorate the 50th birthday of ergot’s child, we all testify gratefully that we got valuable help on the way to what Aldous Huxley said is the end and the ultimate purpose of human life–enlightenment, beatific vision, love.”

Sadly, the default position in the United States and Canada seems to be one of making substances invented in a drug lab illegal. LSD is an unfortunate victiim of that; being a path to enlightenment for some people just doesn’t matter to Congress or the FDA.

Why is this important? Maybe drugs should be illegal by default, but if we grant that, we ought to be very careful what we classify as drugs.

Up in Canada, they’re on the verge of reclassifying a bunch of hitherto legal herbs and other concoctions. According to a CBC report,

many natural health products that have been sold in Canada for decades unavailable for purchase and penalizing parents who give herbs or supplements to their children.

The U.S. health food market went through something similar. Beginning with the environmental movement of the late 1960s, and over the course of 30 years, a thriving organic food industry grew. There were no federal regulations concerning organic food, but some states, notably California, had their own. California’s were tough, and accorded with the understandings of organic farmers and health food consumers. Even foods produced in other states often had packaging asserting that it was certified organic in accord with the California regulations.

In 1998 the USDA finally issued regulations that over the course of about four years led to a watered-down definition of “organic.” Worse, the 1998 law made it illegal for the states to have any other definition of the term.

“I want to make it clear that these rules are not about creating a category of agriculture that is safer than any other. No distinctions should be made between organically and non-organically produced products in terms of quality, appearance, or safety.” — then-Department of Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, 1998

Today, there are no useful terms to guide consumers who care about the healthfulness of their food, the conditions of its growth, or the practices used to raise food animals. “Organic,” “natural,” and “free-range” are among the terms that no longer have any useful meaning.

Generally speaking, drugs are legal only when expressedly so, and generally regulated when legal. Food is illegal only when expressedly so, and generally isn’t regulated when legal. When looked at that way, it’s pretty clear what happens when the definition of “drug” is opened up to include more and more foods.

When the Canadian government reaches into the language and redefines words like “drugs” and “natural health product” it leaves its manufacturers unable to create the products that citizens want, and it makes it impossible for citizens to know what they’re getting when they buy products they hope will be healthful.

5 Responses to “Tune in, turn on, regulate everything”

  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptLysergic acid diethylamide has a bunch of anniversaries this year, one of them the sad passing of its inventor, Dr Albert Hofmann, on April 29th, at age 102. On a more upbeat note, April 19th was the 65th anniversary of Hofmann’s first … […]

  2. digglahhh said

    Just for the record, I recommend, Acid Dreams. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Hoffman made it to 102. Good for him. I threw on a little Country Joe and the Fish in his memory.

    On the bright side though, he was on my death pool list…

  3. ClaireDePlume said

    I am not qualified to speak on the topic of LSD, apart from watching high school chums experiment with this hallucinogenic in order to enhance further study of the nether-world of sex and rock ‘n roll. Drugs were apparently the fast track to this dimensions of enlightenment.

    Then how shall I, in all consciousness respond to this remark, “…we got valuable help on the way to what Aldous Huxley said is the end and the ultimate purpose of human life–enlightenment, beatific vision, love.”?

    Funny you should ask. There are purportedly alternate trips to this vision, available in crystal form. Not lab-created, ‘Frankensteinian’ short circuited crystal patch ways to rapture, but this:

    “…you were seeking something. These could very well be the tools you need to connect with. Connect with what? The Source, the Field, God, if you will…I saw a sign during my first experience with this… – a vision of the geometric figure of the Cabalistic “Tree of Life” projected in midair like a hologram…the process opens a “wormhole” or “stargate” that connects to God’s energy. Some call this “Zero Point Energy”. It is not an “earthly” energy as modern physicists see it. It’s a sort of cosmic conjugate (inverted) mirror into another dimension…a change of perspective. Quantum coherence. A perception of oneness or interconnectedness. Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” and ” Alice in Wonderland” come to mind.”

    If Canada has it’s way, and wins it’s quest to outlaw health, this crystal substance could also be deemed as a “drug”.

    What is this substance? Water (hexagonal to be precise).

    Yes, the Canadian Government will cite snake oil salesmen and scam artists as their targets. They will point fingers and financially dissolve vitamin pushers, hemp seed growers, and holistic health care providers. Indeed, there are many disreputable hawkers of dubious wares. There is even doubt that when buying “organic”, and bottled (tap?) water, that we’re being sold a bill of goods. And you know, it’s possible. Buyer beware – these are dangerous times for a less than astute consumer.

    Yet, I cannot dispel the image of a group of yoga students, most with walkers, some in wheel chairs, all obediently injecting their allotments of beta interferon thrice weekly into leathery, bruised flesh. As I sit quietly in their midst, they discuss the plethora of pills they must take to alleviate the side effects of the $24,000.00 per year elixir they “cannot live without” and which is subsidized by the government. I watch them fade into mental oblivion as they laugh childishly at nothing at all. “C” and I became friends, and when I saw her last, after a gap of 3 or 4 months, she ever so politely asked, “Do I know you?” A few short months later, this once fun and funny woman of 58 admitted herself into a full care nursing home, while she slowly slips deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. And all of this with doctor recommended and doctor approved “care” and DRUGS.

    So, yes, the path to enlightenment has many curves. Many curves are marked by dollar signs. I guess the LSD lobby couldn’t afford to buy legalized credibility. We’ll see if the fruit and vegetable pushers, the water carriers, the sun worshippers and the herbal alchemists can buy their way out of the rabbit hole without selling their souls to the Pharmaceutical cartels.

  4. Hempstead said

    Claire- Very well said!

  5. ClaireDePlume said

    :-) Thank you Hempstead, for following the link and commenting.

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