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Does A Medical Setting Affect Psychedelic Treatment?

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As psychedelics gain acceptance quickly, laws in different states are changing to accommodate their possession and use. So far though, the only states to legalize have done so with an allowance for use in a medical/supervised setting. How useful is this medical setting to psychedelic treatment, and can it get in the way?

What is a medical setting?

When it comes to using psychedelics, there are no specific rules for what will lead to a good trip, and what will bring on a bad one. Though this can do with individual reaction to the drug, it also has to do with outside factors that can impact our individual reaction. We’re often told ‘set and setting’ play a big role in a trip going smoothly, and this can encompass different factors.

‘Set and setting’ refers to the place you’re having the experience, and the environment around. You could be in the woods, or on the beach, or at a dance club, or alone with your partner. The environment around might include the other people you’re interacting with, how crowded it is, if other people are also having the same experience, if you’re doing something organized or on your own, lighting and sound, and even the weather around you.

A medical setting is another type of setting, but until recently, it wasn’t associated with taking a psychedelic drug, or hallucinogen of any kind. However, as research amps up, and legalizations roll in, that idea of a medical, or supervised setting, becomes that much more important, as it’s the only setting legally available to use the compounds in question.


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A medical setting is not one specific thing. Also referred to as a ‘healthcare setting,’ and expanding into ‘supervised setting’, this term encompasses: “acute care hospitals, urgent care centers, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, specialized outpatient services (e.g., hemodialysis, dentistry, podiatry, chemotherapy, endoscopy, and pain management clinics), and outpatient surgery centers. In addition, some healthcare services are provided in private offices or homes.”

The last one is important, because it reminds us that our own home can be a medical setting under the right conditions; which is the medical setting most people should automatically be the most comfortable with. And when it comes to ketamine, it is offered by many clinics as an at-home treatment which both cuts costs, as well as gets away from the medical setting that not everyone is comfortable with.

In reality, both current psychedelics legalizations aren’t for medical use, and the legislation uses the term ‘service center’ instead. Considering it’s a formal setting, with a person watching over, it represents essentially the same thing. Perhaps its not so much about a ‘medical setting’ as a ‘controlled setting’, but the same idea of how it can affect a trip, applies. It seems Colorado might understand this a bit better, allowing for treatment outside of authorized service centers, but what this actually entails is not entirely clear.

Does being in a medical setting affect a psychedelic trip?

There isn’t one specific answer to this, and not everyone has the same requirements. For some people, the experience won’t differ greatly depending on set and setting, and for some people it will make all the difference. For everyone in between, well its hard to say. Plenty of trials for psychedelic medications have gone on at this point, and for those, we only get the results of the medical setting. Is it possible that results might have differed if the trials were run in a more familiar, or chosen, surrounding?

I came across an interesting statement when researching the Salvia divinorum plant, and the different ways that users describe the experience. Found in a Wired magazine article, and written by Daniel Oberhaus in 2020, the article details the writer’s own experience as a part of a research study into how the compound salvinorin A affects the brain during use. The trial took place at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a research hospital, and involved being hooked up to an fMRI machine.

Per Oberhaus, “I had just inhaled an unspecified dose of the pure crystalline substance from a hose attached to what one of the researchers characterized as an ‘FDA-approved crack pipe.’” He continued, “My psychedelic experience in the fMRI machine was markedly less otherworldly. On the second round, I saw some colorful pinwheels and felt as though my body had merged with the machine. But I didn’t enter another dimension or dissolve into pure being”.

How much does set and setting affect psychedelic experience
How much does set and setting affect psychedelic experience

What are his thoughts as to why his experience in the trial differed from his experience using salvia illicitly, outside of a hospital setting? “This may have been because I received a lower dose. Or it may have been because it’s harder to give in to the experience when you’re inside a giant machine making a racket while it soaks your head in a powerful magnetic field.”

Being in an fMRI machine is much more extreme than simply sitting in a doctor’s office. But consider that most people who do ketamine illicitly, do it by snorting the drug; and one of the more common medical techniques is hooking someone up to an IV. The idea still resonates. Neither being stuck in a tube, or hooked up to an IV in a doctor’s office will likely be the chosen set and setting for many people. And no matter how comfortable you try to make a doctor’s office, it might still have the ability to change the experience.

Tack onto that the cost of the treatments, and this could make patients apprehensive about the outcome of their treatment, which could also affect experience. When getting a service is so expensive, you can’t mess around with it, and for people scraping to make this happen, there’s increased pressure to ‘get it right’. A less controlled environment could pose cost reduction ability, and make users more comfortable about what they’re spending.

My own experience in a medical setting for psychedelic treatment

On this particular topic, I can throw in my own opinion, as I did receive ketamine treatments in a doctor’s office, as well as having previously used the drug on my own illicitly. I’ll take a second to remind that ketamine is a dissociative hallucinogen, not a psychedelic. It is used for therapy in a similar way to psychedelics, and is currently the only legal way to get such treatment, as neither state thus far that legalized any form of a hallucinogen, started services yet.

I ended up in the office of a psychiatrist in Guadalajara, Mexico, which is one of the only places in Mexico that provides ketamine treatments. Most of the doctor’s business is for pain. I went because of sleep issues, which falls under psychiatric. There are very few people who do this there. As such, the procedure isn’t established like it is in American facilities; and from the beginning I was left to feel like not everything was being covered. I made the most of the experience, but looking back I can see how badly it went.

I was hooked up to an IV, and I sat in a comfortable enough place, but was it really? It was a kind of cold office, with no blanket offered, dim lighting, and no window. I was on a couch facing a desk, with very little around me. Sure, it was okay, but I wasn’t super comfortable. Nor did I like having an IV hooked up to me, or seeing the blood squirt out when they had a hard time getting my vein (both times!) I left with blood stains on my pants the second time. I didn’t enjoy the actual drug experience at all; it left me feeling queasy, shaky, and incredibly anxious. And while this could represent my own personal reaction to ketamine, there’s a problem here…

IV ketamine treatment in medical setting
IV ketamine treatment in medical setting

I did ketamine plenty illicitly. I used to do lines with an ex-boyfriend frequently enough to have a great idea how the drug affects me. I liked it back then. Not my favorite of all drug experiences, but very interesting. I used to feel like I was floating, disconnected, like my brain was pulling in different directions. But not bad. And at no point with the anxiety and discomfort I suffered in the doctor’s office. An anxiety so bad the doctor did not push me for another appointment (or even contact me again for follow-up…I would never got back to that provider).

The experiences were so wildly different, that it makes me wonder how much of my negative experience in the medical setting with the psychedelic-like drug, was related to being in that setting, rather than a place I am more comfortable with. My experience gives a huge amount of credence to the idea of at-home ketamine therapy, and the ability to do the treatment in the comfort and privacy of your chosen location. Perhaps under other circumstances, I would not have been a non-responder.

Conclusion

It’s not for me to say what works for other people. But when it comes to expensive treatments, or ‘services’, how many people want to pay out for something that isn’t what they’re looking for? And how much do we damage our own understanding of the usefulness of something, when the controls for use are so extreme? It’s not like these drugs are used illicitly in a medical setting; and people turn out just fine when using a psychedelic on their own, or in a less restrictive way. Maybe that’s something that should be remembered.

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Why Marijuana Makes You Laugh

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Laughter can be turn a bad situation around and make you feel a whole lot better.  Here is why marijuana make you laugh.

Laughter may not be the best medicine – but it is probably in the top three. Norwegian researchers conducted a 15-year study on the link between sense of humor and mortality among 53,556 women and men in their country. They discovered chuckling makes you live longer.  It would seem while not laughing might mean a shorter life but would feel much longer.  Movies, memes, friends, jokes and general silliness can induce it from you.  But so can cannabis. Here is why marijuana makes you laugh.

RELATED: Science Explains How Marijuana Inspires Awe 

Laughter does more than just lift you mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body including:

  • Stimulate a number of organs. Laughter enhances intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles, and increases endorphins released by the brain.
  • Activate and relieve stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down the stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure resulting in a good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Cannabis has been associated with laughter for a millennia. In the 1st century it was recorded Pliny the Elder named cannabis Gelotophyllis, which translates to “leaves of laughter.” But what is the science?

THC, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, increases mesolimbic dopamine transmission. The boost in dopamine production make you feel euphoric and happy, leading to spontaneous and robust laughter sessions. One of the reasons people use cannabis recreationally is the experience of a pleasant euphoria and sense of relaxation. Additional  effects, include heightened sensory perception (e.g., brighter colors) and increased appetite with an oversized perception of taste. This can lead to a light, happy feeling paving the way for giggling.

RELATED: The Most Popular Marijuana Flavors

Longer term, laughter can provide even more benefits. It may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations.  Also, many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your stress, depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.

And, people like hanging out with someone who is happy – it is normally infectious and tends to bring it out in other people.  So laughing every days good for you and those around you.

 



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Legal Cannabis And Adolescent Use

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The Biden administration has finally asked for cannabis to be considering for rescheduling.  The industry has been a boon for states, veterans, patients, and everyday citizens who just want to relax.  But the old argument of if you legalize it, youth use will skyrocket is being paraded out.  But what are the facts about legal cannabis and adolescent use?

RELATED: Science Says Medical Marijuana Improves Quality Of Life

No one in the industry promotes youth use.  Product companies, dispensaries and farms are very focused on the adult market. There are no cartoon camels shilling joints to the under 18 crowd. The industry recognizes until the age of 21, the brain is still developing and use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana can have an impact.  Also, cannabis has clear medical benefits including help with chronic pain, seizures, cancer and more. Alcohol, which is clearly available, has no medical benefits and is much more harmful.

Have You Seen The New Ad Linking Marijuana And Satanic Cults?
Photo by Javi Julio Photography/Getty Images

States have been watching how this works and have enacted marketing regulations and regionalized data information.. While more work needs to be done, there are studies who say if you have legal weed and adolescent use usually. declines it is on par with data collected.

In addition, Gen Z is drifting away from alcohol to a more California lifestyle. This does not mean they do not use alcohol or marijuana at all, rather it means it isn’t increasing. A study from UC Davis says 16-18 year old use is about 30% compared to alcohol at 32%.

In fact  the Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary & Trends Report found the percentage of high-schoolers who report having used cannabis over the past 30 days fell from 23 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2021. The decline was more pronounced among males than females.

One study, published in the journal Substance Abuse, researchers from Harvard University, John Hopkins and the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission reviewed data from 46 states collected over a 24-year period.

The study found that there is no evidence that suggests medical marijuana programs resulted in more cannabis consumption in teens. Overall, states with legal medical marijuana had fewer instances of teens consuming cannabis.

RELATED: Washington Teens Used Less Marijuana Following Legalization

“This study found no evidence between 1991 and 2015 of increases in adolescents reporting past 30-day marijuana use or heavy marijuana use associated with state MML [medical marijuana law] enactment or operational MML dispensaries,” cited researchers.



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Cannabis Industry Employs The Same As These Companies

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The cannabis industry has had a rough couple of years, but things are looking brighter.  The one constant positive is consumer demand has continuously increased. You know it is good when Missouri has over $1 billion in sales last year. And, despite the struggles, the industry continues to grow.  In fact, surpassing other job reports, the cannabis industry grew 5%. Around 440,000 work in market as of today.  It is a clear indicator legal cannabis is here to stay.

RELATED: California or New York, Which Has The Biggest Marijuana Mess

While 440,000 is a big number – how big is it in relation to other industries?  BDSA, an analytical firm who covers cannabis, reported the industry made $29.5 billion in the legal market. It would have been over $30 billion if not for the chaos and huge illicit market in New York.  Like most industries, the weed one includes dispensaries, manufactures, some ancillary services, farmers and management.  It is also a very small sliver of greater farming community. America’s farm families represent two percent of the population and help feed the other 98%.

standing people during daytime

Subway Sandwiches with a revenue of 16.5 billion employees roughly 410,000 including the franchises.

Grocer Kroger employs 430,000 in 36 states in 2,700 locations with sales of $150,000.

Target has 440,000 in their US retail stores with sales of $107 billion.

Starbucks and their famed coffee have 381,000 brewing almost $36 billion in sales at 16,449 locations.

Dentists, clocking in at half the number at 202,000, but if you fold in everyone in the industry including dental hygienists, they have 1,140,861 people employed in the US dental industry as of 2023.

CocaCola’s total number of employees in 2022 was 82,500. This helps drive the juggernaut of beverages with more than 1.9 billion servings of drinks sold in more than 200 countries each day.

RELATED: The Most Popular Marijuana Flavors

The US alcohol industry supports around 4 million jobs, including employment in production, distribution, sales, bartenders and other related services.  They help drive the drinks market of $183.5 billion last year.

Constellation, the alcohol company invested in cannabis has approximately 10,000 employees and Diageo has 3,100 people across North America.

Tobacco manufacturing in 2021 had 16,767 people and generated $886.09 billion in 2023.

The U.S. pharmaceutical industry employs over 1.3 million people. It is the largest pharmaceutical market generating over $550 billion dollars.

There are 29,711 people employed in the Strip Clubs in the US as of 2023.

RELATED: The Most Popular Marijuana Flavors

As the cannabis market continues to grow and partner with adjacent industries, it will another part of employments, economy and everyday life.



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