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Morten Kettel; Label by Allister Fein Ecstasy isn't just for fun anymore. This rave fave is one of several illegal substances now being tested for legit medicinal purposes. A research explosion in neuroscience has led the FDA to loosen its grip on MDMA and other recreational drugs. So, even as the Feds spend $20 billion a year on the drug war, scientists in the US and abroad have begun studying the potential benefits of X, marijuana, and psychedelic mushrooms. Here's a look at the whys behind the highs.
Ecstasy The DEA doesn't like it, but South Carolina psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer got FDA approval for the first double-blind study on the effect of MDMA on people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Victims of violent crimes will get ecstasy combined with heavy therapy. The DEA has also touted research suggesting that MDMA causes Parkinson's disease, but a recent study out of the University of Manchester showed that the drug reduces tremors.
Psychedelic mushrooms For years, anecdotal reports pointed to the salutary effects of psilocybin on people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now Francisco Moreno, a psychiatrist at the University of Arizona at Tucson, is conducting the first FDA-approved psilocybin study in more than 25 years. Moreno hopes to replicate the anecdotes in the lab. Also, the FDA recently green-lighted a UCLA study of the effects of psilocybin on chronic anxiety and depression in end-stage cancer patients.
Marijuana Researchers at UC San Francisco recently finished a first-of-its-kind study on the safety of marijuana use among HIV-positive subjects. No ill effects were found. Now they're ready to test whether weed combats multiple sclerosis as well as the wasting syndrome that afflicts AIDS patients. Meanwhile, UC San Diego doctors will evaluate how effective marijuana is in alleviating the suffering of late-stage cancer patients.
-------------------- One of the reasons marijuana is illegal today because growers in the 30s lobbied against hemp farmers -- they saw it as competition, because It is not chemically addictive as is nicotine, alcohol, or caffeine.