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Category: Community (page 1 of 2)

More than Ecstacy, MDMA is Medicine by RW Klarin


RW Klarin partaking of local wares at toking space, MAPS conference 2017

Walking around hotel ballroom,  swirling images of hallucinogen inspired paintings, dozens of clinical study bulletin boards, and bean-bag chairs, I had a natural flash-back.   The colorful denizens of this reminded me of  my psychedelic infused college days in the 70s, except this time they came from all over the world and you couldn’t tell the straights from the freaks.  But times have changed, most overtly in the toking space outside of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Oakland, where bongs and vapes were freely passed around in the open.

Coinciding with this year’s 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love and prohibition of LSD, the worldwide  community of psychedelic therapists, researchers, and enthusiasts emerged from the shadows.  I joined over three thousand  at the quadrennial MAPS (Multi-disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) conference in Oakland, CA this April. From the large conference halls to the smaller workshop rooms to the marketplace of psychedelic art, I sensed a new confident exuberance. No longer confined to secretive latter-day hippies or the laboratories,  psychedelics came out this year. For this old Sixties psychonaut, it felt like reconnecting with my long-lost tribe. We spoke freely about inner journeys without couching personal stories in the third person or providing a lot of explanation.

Psychedelic inspired painting

But more than a party, data dominated the conference.  I attended several lectures that elucidated the therapeutic benefits of MDMA, ayahuasca, ibogaine, LSD, and cannabis. MDMA has shown promise in treating PTSD and addiction in numerous studies both here and abroad. First synthesized by Merck chemist Anton Kollisch in 1912, former Dow chemist Sasha Shulgin discovered its’ relaxing properties accidentally and used it as his evening cocktail.  Soon it occurred to Shulgin that MDMA may be helpful with psychotherapy and shared it with therapist friends. Quickly spreading within that community, it proved too much fun to keep in the doctor’s office. Perfect for the 80s party culture, it became a staple of  rave culture worldwide from Ibiza to Dallas.  The genie had again escaped from the bottle.  The liberated and joyful mood generally experienced attracted the attention of the DEA,  placed MDMA in Schedule 1. Schedule 1 drugs are deemed to be of no medical use and pose serious health risks. Included in Schedule 1 are cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and MDMA. That effectively ended its use in therapy until MAPS associates began to use it with Iraq War vets suffering from PTSD.

The recent approval of MDMA (also known as Ecstacy, Molly, Adam, and dozens of other names) for study by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for phase three clinical trials culminates a long struggle for scientific support of its efficacy. If these are successful, then the possibility is for doctor prescriptions with very narrow guidelines. If approved,  it would have limited availability.  But that is how medical marijuana opened, first approved twenty years ago in California the door for legal cannabis . Regardless, not only a new found respectability, but I noted a new honesty  with researchers reporting the results of studies of psychedelics from Brazil to Israel some of  which have not been met expectations.  Seeking to not repeat the mistakes of the Sixties of overpromising the virtues of the drugs and incurring a the backlash from conservatives, MAPS and its executive director, Rick Doblin, proceed methodically .

Attending the MAPS conference was like visiting a long ago friend who had been on a long odyssey: She had changed, wiser and more nuanced, but still offered a familiar essence—freedom, expansion, and bliss. One thing has changed now, fellow-travelers include science and business types, along with the counter-culturalists, the artists, and the curious.   Perhaps Doblin is on the right track and going through channels will lead to respectability.   And that we can learn from the past, and treat these entheogens (god chemicals) with the respect and love they deserve.

Ram Dass: His Message Is No Longer His Words


Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.—Confucius

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong, because someday in life you will have been all of these.—George Washington Carver

Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) & RW Klarin in Maui, 2-012

A standing ovation by the audience of 150 in a yoga studio in Haiku, Maui welcomed the noted spiritual seeker/teacher. His nickname was formerly Rent A Mouth, for his professional skill in story- telling. This night the stories were intact, but his speech was hampered due to stroke induced aphasia… each word crossed over slowly from thought into speech. Although his concepts were lucid and clear, he labored articulating each word; each sentence unfolded ten times longer than normal speech.

We heard tales of the old days at Harvard with his running bud Tim Leary (who called him Dick), old chestnuts about Neem Karoli Baba, his guru, and new tidbits about his long and very public life.  It all emerged from the winding road that is now his speech.  He retold some of his greatest hits, such as the time while tripping on LSD he had made a spectacle of himself in front of his parents’ house shoveling snow in the middle of the night in the nude. He weaved a cogent thread on spiritual liberation, through tales of his life over a twenty-five year period.  After 45 minutes he had only gotten to 1970, and the moderator stepped in with a comment to the stone silent, but restless audience.

Carefully with much compassion and sensitivity, he addressed the pin-drop silent room, “Noting that many of you are over forty-five or fifty, as I am, we are all going through a change in our physical bodies. We all have something that doesn’t work as it used to, be it sexuality, a sore back, or memory. We all experience decline of the body, and our speaker highlights this aspect of life. Known for decades as a witty, insightful, engaging speaker, he now gives us a different gift.”

Some of the audience glanced about, a couple of persons got up and left, then the message of the day was emblazoned for me; Compassion begins with the self. We were the first generation to seek spiritual enlightenment en masse’ and he played the role of spiritual way-shower then, and now.   Over the decades Ram Dass had entertained and informed us with his recorded tapes and speaking engagements, but his latest message is not his anecdotes and wisdom, it is in his example

His ultimate teaching, and really what he always offered, was his example of pushing to the next frontier. Whether it was with mind-expanding drugs or India with its yoga and meditation teachers, he was and is the vanguard of the generation. That day from his tropical redoubt, he taught us about aging and death with his very public sharing of his challenges. Through it all he maintained his equanimity and humor, while revealing his ordinariness.

The natural order of life includes aging, with its inexorable physical decline, both he and Leary shared freely. We have been a generation that made a cult of youth and our ‘specialness.’ Now no longer young, many want to hold onto youthful spirit, appearance, and fitness.  Some try to stop time, but many years ago George Harrison’s hit record declared, ‘all things must pass.’ When I saw this icon with his very apparent aging, it awakened in me a strong sense of compassion.  Compassion not for him, for he is well in spirit but for myself and my new backache, my new 24/7 glasses, and the older face in the mirror.

Regard for the old teacher compelled me to pay attention to each carefully enunciated word which forced me to be more mindful of the moment. The message was not the words, nor the space between the words, but to my heart’s deep desire for compassion for all beings, beginning with myself. Thank you Ram Dass, once again you have pointed the way.

Inner Journey:

Remember and write about a time when you were impatient with someone with disability. How did you act?

How do you feel when you are sick or unable to do normal tasks?

Action Steps:

Find someone who is disabled or aged and listen.

[Ed.s’ Note:  The above essay can be found in RW Klarin’s memoir/ self-help book—Living the Dream Deferred (2015)

Please note – and DO – the Inner Journey and Action Steps.  They are part of the format of the book as it has, in part, the purpose of moving folks forward on their own mission.  We’re thinking RW knows what he’s talking about in that he has several degrees, traveled to more than 50 countries, and has a nationwide tour planned for this spring.  Between Ram Dass and RW you should do alright.]

Police Statement on LSD


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What was up 50 years ago

    and

in the LA Free Press?

Well, while the publishers of nudist magazines got off scot-free, the LA Free Press got hammered. A bit more of an explanation…

As you can see from the article in the bottom right, Free Speech Rights were upheld with a ruling that magazines promoting the joys of being a nudist were not pornographic. What you don’t see is a reference to any earlier article about the Beverly Hills ACLU Chapter’s involvement in this matter.
So, for your edification and entertainment, we’ll pluck that from our feature column (Flashback Fridays) in our DAILY newspaper (yes! we do have one of those). That article is at this link: http://uniquenewspaper.com/aclu-stands-up-for-nudists/

As to the LA Free Press…it still needs its own day in court; the top headline indicates that, thus far, the police department, instead of the courts, has been the arbitrator of what the LA FP can and cannot report on. And the sub-headline ‘Free Press Writer Gets Battered’ and story below that, makes it obvious that ‘cannot’ is more likely to be their decision in many instances. (For those of you on the edge of your seats about how this all turns out… we did get our day in court… and, ummm, and the court (not saying there was any ‘undue influence’) was not all that keen on us, either. We should have called the ACLU, too!)

But, wait. There’s also that article on a civil liberties lawyer getting arrested, and then one about some community college students’ umbrage over restrictions on their right to speak out freely. Seems to be a theme here, hey?

Nevertheless, as I know Tim Leary’s name caught your eye, too, I’m thinking that the ‘Police Statement on LSD’ will be of some interest, as well. Here it is for your perusal… and to be put to good use.

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The Los Angeles Free Press … May 16, 2014


The LA Free Press Est. 1964
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