things i wrote in december and january 2017/18

February 3, 2018

in blowg, reading

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A Former NHL Fighter Is Now One of Hockey’s Biggest Weed Advocates‘ — Tonic
I’m not a hockey fan—in fact, I loathe corporate sports and tribalism in general—but I’ve never met a pro athlete that wasn’t a thoughtful or down-to-earth person. Like, when I filmed Larry Fitzgerald for Golf Digest, he was fun and friendly and made it a point to shake my hand when he left. Maybe that’s normal or something. Either way, talking to Riley Cotes was a great experience and I’m glad that he’s standing up for something as important as cannabis freedom.

Iranian Religious Authority Considers Psychedelic Medicines Halāl‘ — Psychedelic Times
No idea how this wasn’t bigger news when it first came out almost four years ago. I read about it on a blog recently and wanted to dive in deeper. It may not mean much in terms of Iran’s actual government loosening draconian restrictions on psychedelic medicine, but it’s a good precedent and more than can be said for most of the world’s other main religions.


Montana Attorney Moves to Prosecute Women Who Use Drugs and Alcohol During Pregnancy‘ — Undark
When I heard this news, it was difficult to contain my frustration. I know from writing about pregnancy and drug use before, talking to numerous experts on this topic and from looking at literally decades of history regarding the treatment (and intense stigma) against pregnant women who use drugs that punitive measures—let’s cut the euphemism: putting them in chains and cages—does no one any good. Not the mother, not the baby or fetus, not the public who has to pay for it. I’m grateful I get to write about these sorts of things, because the overdose crisis has everyone pointing fingers and the people at the very, very bottom are often pregnant women.

The Beekeeper Who Makes Synth Music With His Bee Colonies‘ — Motherboard
I met Bioni Samp in June 2017 on a cryptocurrency social network and pitched his story everywhere for months. I finally found the right place for this piece at Motherboard—not because they were my last resort (I pitched this to Noisey in August and got no response)—but because I really wanted to break into a new music-based publication and hopefully write regularly about weirdo bands again. Music is what I primarily wrote about (~90 percent) for the last eight years, but in 2016 I got really sick of it. I am happy that I spent so much time in 2017 being able to write about other things that are important to me—biochemistry, harm reduction, mental health—but now I’ve started to miss writing about music. Thankfully, my tune-related pitches are picking up again. But whatever. The point is, I’m really glad this got to be part of Motherboard‘s ‘Humans of the Year’ project, not only because Samp deserved it, but also because it unleashed a small torrent of press and gigs for him, validating to me that this beekeeper’s music and message are indeed important.

Colorado Wants to Track Weed With Chemicals and the Blockchain‘ — Motherboard
This bill is weird. It wants to add some kind of isotope to cannabis so you can tell if it’s grown legally or not. A few different outlets covered this story, but unlike most of them, I got an interview with one of the politicians sponsoring the bill, the head of the cannabis research school who will develop the tech and the CEO of BioTrackTHC, the largest seed-to-sale tracking company in the world. The more I dug into this topic, the weirder it became. If this isotope is able to freely exist in marijuana, you can bet that it will stay inside your body. After all, you are a carbon-based lifeform, just like plants. While it would presumably be safe, that means anyone can tell if you smoked weed just by scanning you with the device. There are a lot of other concerns, which I think may be valid, because adding any random ingredient to something you smoke or ingest, no matter how ‘safe’ it is, should raise eyebrows.

Smoking One Cigarette a Day Is Way Worse than Experts Thought‘ — Tonic
Just a quick news writeup that I turned around in three hours, but this study—especially some of the details about how harmful cigarette smoke can be—was really harrowing. I smoke super light. Like three to five cigarettes a month, a big improvement over the peak of my habit: smoking close to half a pack a day. Honestly, that’s not even that bad. Now I really hope I never smoke again and thankfully, it hasn’t been a temptation. I’m becoming more of a hypochondriac, though, I suppose. Wish I had the space and time to focus on harm reduction in this piece, because while the study strongly advocates for going cold turkey, even cutting down is important.

Can Ketamine Improve ‘Electroshock’ Therapy?‘ — The Fix
Another piece that I took a long time finding a home for around six months. While I think ketamine holds great promise for off-label use for treatment-resistant depression (I mean, obviously) some of the news articles trumpeting it as a miracle drug sometimes feel misplaced to me. We need more research and we need better access to these types of drugs, certainly, but as a journalist, I can’t say anything is a ‘cure’ or a ‘quick-fix.’ I’m also glad I was able to write about how misdirected the stigma against ECT is.

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