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The Children of Admiral Shulgin


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#1 Phlogiston

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 12:33 PM

Een lang en bizar verhaal, maar als je tijd over hebt wel een good read! :)

(En vergeet niet op de link te klikken, voor een aantal 'mooie' foto's bij het verhaal!)

 

 

Link: http://katab.asia/20...dmiral-shulgin/

 

The Children of Admiral Shulgin

And now for something completely serious. We have managed to chat with representatives of Russian “shadow pharmacology”, a group of professional chemists who had once been academic scientists engaged in developing and testing experimental drugs. A sweet cake of stories about the scientific pharmacological underground, industrial-scale DOB synthesis, Russian market of psychoactive substances, numinous chemical experience, and weird future brought by the good Doctor Caligari.

Please tell us about yourself: what do you do, how have you come to this, what is your purpose?
 

Dr. Caligari: The St. Petersburg pharmaceutic underground division we belong to is everything that remains of the free informal group called Orc-Tech. It appeared several years ago on the base of the Lomonosov Moscow State University of Fine Chemical Technology. Now this gathering, which once consisted of about twenty people, has fallen apart, and most participants have left shadow pharmacology to deal, for example, with analytical work for the Institute of Microbiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
 

Why was it called Orc-Tech? First of all, because of our method: we had to carry out reduction under high pressure in champagne bottles, ice coat of ethylene glycol was replaced by a person sticking a flask into the snow out of a ground floor window, then we went to a local shawarma fast-food spot and all but put this flask onto the counter, etc.

Now, only two of us remained in Orc-Tech. My assistant is a biochemist graduated from the department of general chemistry, an award-winning student and so on. Each of us has their own story, but I am going to focus on myself for now.

I have a high school degree in Drug Technology. After the university, I joined postgraduate studies in Toxicology at RSCAC (Russian Scientific Center of Applied Chemistry). By the way, I am a member of the Mendeleev Russian Chemical Society. For about four months, I worked in a lab on creating new types of drugs. I used to deal with experimental anti-cancer drugs, nootropics, antidepressants, and many other types of drugs.

Here’s a bit about anti-cancer drugs. While I worked there, we developed two semi-active compounds which worked on some tissue samples and did not work on others. The idea was to deliver calcium to cancer cells. As a result, the cell membrane becomes rigid and can then be cut out. Cancer patients often experience hypercalcemia, i. e. increased level of calcium in the blood. If the amount of calcium is too much, the cell may get apoptosis or necrosis. Necrosis destroys the cell membrane and releases the contents of the cell into the intercellular space. Tumor regulation with the help of calcium is quite a popular idea, but it is commonly done the other way round: ion channels are closed in order to prevent its infusion into the cell (when there’s little calcium), and the level of calcium is increased a bit in t-lymphocytes and other cells which kill cancer cells. Ironically, cancer cells actually consume more calcium because they divide, and they generally benefit from hypercalcemia. It was also discovered that they have mechanisms which regulate channel amount and carrying capacity so as not to overdose on calcium.
 

In short, the substance was quite controversial. I would not have mentioned if not for an episode of its consumption by a human. A girl I knew, who had been diagnosed with a stage 3 tumor, effectively stole a sample of the substance from the institute. We did not really know the lethal dose at the moment, and I was mentally burying both her and myself, as I would probably be held responsible. However, after a while, I learned she’d started to get better. Might have not been this lucky.

At the same time, I had my own business for the analysis and production of Cialis, referred to as Viagra in common parlance, though they are different drugs with different active compounds. Once, I had an accidental conflict with the police. As a result, some of the substances being analyzed were considered explosives. It was mostly about acetone diperoxide extracted from a sample of candle helium. The result is an initiating explosive which is not used for military purposes because of its instability and volatility but is quite popular among terrorists of all kinds. The case also featured metallic magnum. In addition, a lesbian girl worked in my team who had participated in the protest actions of 2011-2012.

As a result, for 50 mg of a substance with bad explosive properties, I ended up on probation for 3 years, according to article 223 of the Russian Criminal Code, and was kicked out of postgraduate research. It turned out to be difficult to find a job with such a background, not only in my line of work, but even in a McDonald’s. In order not to die from starvation, I had to invent quite sophisticated income schemes. I will not go into the details: sapienti sat. For the last few months, me and my colleague have been reorganizing the company: we have received a couple of legitimate orders for industrial cleaning compounds, winter additives to diesel, and even for electrolysis.
 

I have been particularly interested in psychopharmacology for quite a long time. However, it has never been a primary direction of my research, but merely a personal interest at the junction of psychiatry, neurophysiology, and chemistry. It was not even Shulgin’s books that inspired me for synthesizing   psychoactive compounds, but Neuropsychiatry by Dobrokhotova. It was effectively the first monograph in Russia dedicated to the psychiatric studies of neurosurgical pathology. IIRC, Dobrokhotova also dealt with left-handed people, bilateral asymmetry, etc.

The history of your project: the first communities, blockings, why are you not afraid to show your faces, what kind of internet safety advice could you give to those willing to contact you?

Dr. Caligari: The latest years have yielded us enough interesting cases, or lifehacks, in the area of psychoactive drugs production and consumption. We had a sudden urge to publish them in the public domain, and not into some Tor networks but two clicks away from any beginner psychonaut in Russia. This is how we created our Vkontakte community as the place to publish our podcasts, formulas, sloppily digitized half-rotten literature from abandoned once-classified facilities, etc. The goal was merely educational: to convey really interesting findings to the masses, to publish them in some way, and to spell out the pharmaceutics of classic compounds. It is important because official media sell complete bullshit in most cases, and we want the society to have an adequate opinion at least about classic substances.
 

We filmed our first video and posted it to Vkontakte. Without advertising of any kind, we quickly achieved about 100 first viewers. As we had next to no job at the moment, it only took us a couple of weeks to publish most of our old ideas. So the first season was almost finalized. I think the group was blocked just because of a story about the wonderful properties of loperamide, which concurred with some cases of careless use of this pharmaceutical mixture by school kids. At least, some local news reported something along the lines. But the Vkontakte administration did not really tell us anything clearly, and we didn’t want to converse with them too much either. We created other communities several times, and they got blocked after achieving 300 subscribers. As a result, these activities are semi-suspended now.

You are curious why we don’t hide our faces. Have you ever heard the story of Uncatchable Joe? Actually, we had an idea to film this thing in Guy Fawkes masks or with paper bags on our heads. But we are not just drunkards or junkies but former scientists, too, and science is, as one of my friends said, like homosexuality – once you are in, you’re in for life. Moreover, because of many reasons, it is difficult to incriminate us in anything worse than propaganda. If one is really determined, it is easy to throw some drugs into anyone’s pocket and imprison them without any spy tricks. But we are not worth another star on the cop’s shoulder loops. For that, one has to arrest a big laboratory producing drugs for sale and confiscate a large volume of goods, which we physically cannot have, as much as someone may wish for that.

Recently, we have managed to officially register our institute with the help of my former scientific supervisor, who escaped from the country after RSCAC was vandalized by the city administration. It is registered in a banana republic with its legal address in a bungalow fifty meters from the water. They sent me a photo: even the electricity is supplied by a generator. The name of this structure is Independent PsychoPharmacology Research Institute (IPPRI). There will be a web site in a while with official contacts. Meanwhile, everyone interested can contact us via Vkontakte, GMail… the most active paranoids can use a service called privnote.com. In theory, we need this institute to simplify some publications in the future, to participate in some grant programs, etc. In practice, it was meant to facilitate the purchasing of some precursors and equipment, but turns out we live in the wrong country. In Russia, even if you are three times as legit as any other scientist, even purchasing simple acetone in quantities of more than 10 liters may be an issue, let alone a hygroscopic substance like sodium perchlorate. It is either permanently out of stock, or they will knock on your door one day for a prophylactic chat. At the same time, if you know particular places online or IRL, any schoolboy can purchase almost any substance without any titles or documents.

The first order via the institute came from Germany – similar folks there experimented with substances which, in theory, should help in the case of radioactive contamination. The idea was as follows: the active compound of this pill, tetraphenylporphyrin (an analogue of natural porphyrines with some important properties of hemoglobin and chlorophyll), was supposed to capture heavy radioactive isotopes into the center of a cell, forming a complex. A problem popped up with purchasing benzaldehyde for the synthesis – even with all necessary documents, even 5-10 ml of it, because the substance is actively used for amphetamine production in two reactions. As a result, it was easier to purchase bitter almond oil, which is 99.95 % benzaldehyde, and extract it with hydrolysis. The funny thing is that phenylnitropropene, which is even more popular for amphetamine production in just one reaction, is still easy to buy almost in any drugstore. Anyone who buys it in big quantities most likely uses it for this purpose.
 

Sure, this is SNAFU: if there is no reagent in store, one has to substitute palladium-organic reduction via intermediate complexes with mixing the substrate with iron dust in sulfuric acid. In practice, it means that instead of spending months waiting for a package from abroad, you just go to a proper hardware store.
 

Generally, a minimal amount of chemical utensils and availability of non-obvious precursors teaches a person to produce substances anywhere. When I was still a student, I was once discussing the issues of cyclidines neurotoxicity with my friend right behind the back of the pharmaceutical academy prorector and right after recalculating our allowance in hash bricks. My friend, who had just stopped being an orange cookie, had been following the rector like fifteen minutes, keeping a distance of four meters and constantly crying out in an artistic whisper: “give me some water, motherfucker, I’ve got a terrible cotton mouth after the fucking tiletamine”. The rector treated him with understanding, though not with water. There were rumors that one of the academy laboratories was equipped on the money he earned by industrial-scale speed trade in the 90s. And this was a story making Walter White just a modest chemistry teacher in comparison. By the way, tiletamine is quite a worthy substitute for ketamine, which was sold in any veterinary pharmacy before. They banned it only in January 2014.

How did you equip the laboratory, where did you find equipment, utensils, reagents?

Dr. Caligari: It took us very long to equip our own laboratory. My job at RSCAC helped me in the beginning, before that story with explosives. The story of RSCAC is special: it is an irreplaceable loss for Russian science, and the day in spring 2012 when it was razed to the ground marks the date when we can officially give up on the chemical technology of Russia entirely. Long story short, the land parcel under the institute was bought by Matvienko’s son, who was the head of VTB-Development until June 2013. First, the institute suddenly found itself in a strict building height restriction zone, then something about “hazardous production within the city boundaries” popped up, and then, despite everyone admitting the soil there was contaminated to a depth of 5 meters, the land parcel was given away for the construction of an elite residential block.
 

Officially, the institute was moved to Kapitolovo, to buildings claimed by fungus dozens of years ago and with rotten electric facilities. But almost no money was allocated for the move. As a result, a lot of heavy equipment had to be dropped, like large laboratory microscopes costing millions or even dozens of millions rubles. Just note the degree of absurd: following the official statements that RSCAC is being moved because of environmental danger, some strange people appear out of nowhere to throw hazardous chemicals out the windows, release Freon from gas cylinders, pour out rocket fuel, drugs, and toxins into the Neva river, smash high-quality optics, etc. There was such a mess that all the documents from the first department were lost, occasionally or intentionally. So, despite me having the second level of access to secret information, no one has ever mentioned it, even when I traveled abroad.

Anyway, as a result of this, we have managed to acquire for private use some equipment and reagents which had officially been disposed of. Some RSCAC stuff was bought/sold by my friends who administered the Psycho Chemist Vkontakte community.
 

The last witty observation regarding this topic: exactly after the smash of RSCAC and some other key institutions, the rockets started failing. This could be related to some lost features of pyroautomatics, rocket fuel properties, etc. However, this idea is too strong and difficult to prove, so let’s not dwell on it.

Afterwards, we bought some things we needed for our own laboratory, obtained some other things in an old, ravaged state and then fixed them. Now, we can boast of quartz utensils from the Third Reich and other rarities (a copper waterjet pump with Reich stamps had stood in RSCAC for years, and nobody gave a damn), as well as an old but working scanning electron microscope with X-ray microanalysis and nuclear magnetic resonance.

Reagents are a different story. Some basic and weird things were also taken from the laboratories where we worked, the rest was purchased or literally excavated from abandoned objects with the help of stalkers. It is quite easy to get vital precursors if you know some tricks. Drugs are often quite simple compounds, and if you go to a hardware store, you can think of several ways to synthesize popular substances on the way from entrance to checkout. If you know what you’re doing, the cost of producing a gram of amphetamine does not exceed 2-3 rubles.
 

We express our special thanks to the Tigoda vodka distillery (which is now closed) in the town of Kirshi, Leningrad region. Last November, Kirshi was close to becoming a Silent Hill, when an outbreak at a local factory left the town covered by fog and smelling of hydrogen sulphide. We had nothing to do with that, though! About a year before that, former employees of the alcohol analysis laboratory informed us that we may take whatever we want from the ruins. Taking into account that vodka production has always been well-financed, we were able to obtain a large amount of utensils by the Simax and Ergon brands, among other things. The latter is more appropriate for better specialists than us or for posh guys, but nevertheless…

This exact episode was mentioned by our Estonian friend and colleague in his interview:
''Hi! A lot of chem. utensils close to St. Petersburg. Well, last ride got us 200 grand worth of stuff, at least 50 fridges, fucking plenty of simax. A shitload of reagents, a lot of mercury from the thermometers, I played with a stick in the fucking puddle. Smashed some expensive glass stuff for reactors tho, about 10 grand each, when we hit something with the car on our way, K. even had to drop the bong, otherwise we’d fly to the ditch at 120 km/h, hardly stopped the skidding. Found a dent in his Cadillac’s armor, and a long bloody trace where the skidding started. Probably a deer, very symbolic. BTW how to enforce adenylate cyclase the most?''

The utensils from Kirshi were very helpful, but we should state that Orc-Tech has achieved such good results not because of good equipment, but rather despite of it, thanks to capable hands. For example, the majority of Shulgin’s synthetic compounds are made by simply replacing methoxyl groups on the ring and swapping halogens. This would be the 8th or 9th grade of secondary school if they gave any practical skills. In addition, there are some, not to say mistakes, but limitations in Shulgin’s works enabling the synthesis just in testing amounts. Contrary to this, we basically need two champagne bottles, a glass, a condom to block the evaporating, and 0.5 kg of hydrochinon as the main source to get at least 400 g of roughly cooked DOB. I have to note that when you see about 500 000 single doses on your table, even low-quality DOB produces a colossal antidepressive effect, and that’s before consuming it.
 

If you want to do the same thing in a nice way, you will need: direct refrigerator, reverse refrigerator, Wurtz cap, a couple of glasses, plus – essential – knowledge of theory: why a shape of utensils is suitable or not, how it affects volume, etc.

In order to predict process variants, you have to know chemistry well – better than you’d need to work in a laboratory with model conditions and sensors. It is easy to be a Hermione Granger in such conditions, but what is really interesting is doing it the hardcore way, on a kitchen table, improvising and observing unobvious reactions. Imagine a cold staircase, a bowl of hot water, something evaporating out of it. People are tired of waiting, each of them smokes the third cigarette. But what can you do? Distilling chloroform in your kitchen may end in a gas chamber for oneironauts.

How is your work organized: where do you get information, materials, how do you carry out tests?

Dr. Caligari: We have quite a classical work process. In some cases, it starts with patent search and literature review. Most patents have never been practically tested, they were only protected so that someone got a high school degree, but there are interesting ideas sometimes. We have a public library in our city with a lot of useful literature, even in public access. But in most cases, substances are designed from scratch. I mean, systems like PASS are used to predict biological activity, direct docking of receptors via a special OSDD Linux platform is used, tests for toxicity and carcinogenic properties are carried out.
 

For completely tested substances and for questionable substances, we define LD (lethal dose) and LD-50 (lethal dose in more than 50 % of cases), plus approximate threshold dosage in mg/kg. Notably, heroin junkies survive injecting larger doses than LD-50 with a high degree of probability. So, if the lethal dose of methadone for an opiate junkie is about 200-250 mg, 30 mg may be enough for layman. The same is true for amphetamine. Therapeutic doses vary between 15 and 30 mg, while the recreational dosage for a hardcore amphetamine abuser is 500-600 mg intravenously. Not more, because the heart will experience systolic or diastolic shock. It is possible, however, to use up to a gram perorally, though we have heard of some totally transhuman doses.

Impressively, most confidants contacting us are interested in the recreational properties of substances, while we as scientists are more interested in other things – theoretical areas so gloomy human consciousness seems to have nothing to do with them. However, users never stop to amaze us. Philip Dick once told either a real story or urban legend, explaining something about the drug culture, in his opinion:
''In Marin County where I live an army disorientation drug was stolen by the Hells Angels. The purpose of the drug was to totally disorient you, but in such a subtle way that you didn’t know you were completely disoriented. They stole it and sold it and everybody that took it liked it. And it just completely screws you up so you couldn’t do anything. One of the things that it did to you was you lost all of your central vision and only had peripheral vision. So you could see a little bit but not at all centrally, you see. The people who took it thought it was wonderful. They were looking for more of it.''

So, the series of Bromo-DragonFLY, a full serotonin receptor agonist which has become a legend, was synthesized exclusively to check how exactly a receptor gets bound. Parker, who synthesized the substance in the late 90s, most likely did not even think a living person would ever voluntarily put it into themselves. An agonist is a substance which causes ejection of positive ions in the sodium-potassium pump, an antagonist does the same for negative ions. Both “bind” the receptor, i. e. “switch off” a particular group of neurons or a brain zone. All these three modifications of DOB – “flies”, “dragonflies” and “butterflies” – may make the mind dissociate so profoundly that the person is unable to distinguish between hot and cold. Their receptors don’t know what they should react to. Interestingly, the first thing the mind forgets is how to react to light, hence pupil dilation. Serotonergic perception in the brain is switched off completely, and the personality decays temporarily with consequent side effects.

Another example is the series of hallucinogens called “n-bom”, which is still active on the black market. They were created in order to check the behavior of rats with bound serotonin receptors. Many of these rats did not survive this experiment. I may be wrong, but as far as I remember, n-boms have been on the market for something like two years. I saw the first mentions of them in publications 4 years ago. They probably appeared in laboratories a year earlier. After that, someone saw the formulas or read the reports and started the production for commercial purposes.
 

Contrary to Shulgin’s synthetic substances, questionable compounds pass the tests on rats. Depending on our needs, we catch the rats or buy them in zoo shops. A laboratory mouse costs around 100 rubles. But for the final result, we need some tests on humans. In order not to raise ethical arguments, I will only say that there are more than enough of those who want to get high in St. Petersburg. We keep strict limitations: 18+ years old, plus we carry out an additional interview in order to gauge the sanity and health of a volunteer at least approximately and warn them about possible consequences. But at the end, I could give some derivatives of bom to almost anyone because they are practically safe. OK, the person will feel that their hands are cold, but technically it is not important. We have to test really harsh dissociatives on ourselves, mostly.
 

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to process and interpret results with high quality. The group of Shulgin’s testers involved his psychologist friends and saner people than we often have to deal with. With 90 % probability, we meet those who want to get as wasted as possible or those who want to solve their own existential and psychological problems. We have a colleague who uses synthetic cannabinoids with the exclusively purpose to estimate the pharmacodynamics of a substance (right in the act, if he is still able to verbalize), to describe the processes in his brain. He is the perfect tester, but unfortunately such people are few and far between.

However, despite of all difficulties, we have by now completely finished a series of very interesting non-classical opiates, kappa-agonists, have tested a new group of racetam nootropics (more powerful than phenotropil), β-Methylphenethylamine, piperazines… Generally, such substances have multireceptor effects. Not to delve into the details too much, I’ll just say that we have managed to get several competitive analogues of existing psychoactive drugs.

There are some phenomena today which require further, more detailed research, but there is no time for this because the project does not have any financial support. This is why it usually ends like this: during the May holidays, we send a group of testers to a summer house and they try everything we’ve cooked during the long winter. This trip was especially cruel in 2014. Here is a citation of one of these guys:
''On our way, right on the train, all of us took a dissociative similar to methoxphenidine. For a regular person, the assumed dosage is 70 mg, so we ate 100 each, not suspecting how cruel it could be, and after approximately 20 minutes, when someone said “meh…”, we took 70 mg more. During the next 40 minutes, total shit was going on which I can hardly describe. You can probably have some idea if I say that the figure-ground perception switched off and we stopped thinking in gestalts. As a result, our observed carriage space reminded a creepy patchwork of babushkas, benches, window views, our own fingers, air movements, wheel sounds, the entirety of which was tightly packed into something like a sausage or layered pie. In the summer house, we realized that something wrong happened to our perception of colors. Observing the world in shades of grey during the next several days, we tried to smoke our way out of despair''.

Another equally powerful case was not long in coming: a different comrade was brave enough to fry some spaghetti under the influence of the synthetic cannabinoid 5F-PB22, a full antagonist of CB receptors and one of the cruelest known substances of this group. At some point, he was possessed by an irresistible urge to start constructing a show called Timber Harvesting. Spaghetti pieces became logs, and he became the Sawmill King. When he realized this, he composed a song which became a portal to this Timber Harvesting for everyone present. Under the Sawmill, medusas in pink coats guarded chemical weapons hidden in the depth from disembodied rebels… According to this report, they did not manage to have their dinner that day.
 

Closer to the end of all these wonderful trips and transformations, an amoeba appeared on the monitor of one Orc-Tech member and lived with him for three or four days. By then, he had already realized he was done, ended up with a permanent mental disorder, had to get used to the amoeba, to find a common language with it, enter into a peace agreement… then one day it disappeared, and he is still not sure what caused the worse trauma, as he almost came to love the amoeba.

How does the chemical underground of St. Petersburg/Russia/world look?
 

Dr. Caligari: If we talk about “the shadow community”, we have to admit with regret that it is becoming extinct. I don’t want to consider the mobs of hippies and other outcasts, or people who have opportunities to cook amphetamine on an industrial scale using a single technology with minimal chemistry knowledge, as representatives of “shadow pharmaceutics world”. Bright minds are fewer and fewer, the amount of mind-altering substances invented by today is much bigger than human experience can absorb. Any final answers to the fundamental questions of being most likely lie beyond the area of pharmacology, or rather nowhere at all.
 

As for kindred spirits from St. Petersburg , a few colleagues come to mind: a chemist worth getting acquainted with (he will tell you all about the Soviet regime, Saigon, real science, real KGB, and real shadow life) and a few others – a physical chemist, a psychiatrist, a physicist, a microbiologist. I will not mention their names here, they are not public persons.

Speaking about Russia in general, Orc-Tech and its predecessors have left a bright trace on the Russian chemical stage. We have colleagues in Moscow, Murmansk, Nizhny Novgorod. All of them carry out garage research or work in institutes. Our foundation is mutual support: synthesis could happen in one city, spectrum could be scanned in another, bio tests could be done in the third, and so on. We don’t even hide ourselves much. So, an idea evaluation network still exists and connects the institutes. But with the country-wide termination of departments and labs, even this will vanish soon enough. Our soviet dinosaur can confirm that the state-wide ignorance promotion policy is more dangerous than any kind of Drug Enforcement Administration, even in the mid-run.

The part of the market we happened to interact with looks like this. A substance is called for on a forum in the deep Internet (or the regular one), including some notes, production costs, and a wallet address. It’s more complicated now that anonymous payments are banned, but anyway. The system has its own tenders and auctions. In the end, the buyer receives the stash address: for example, a plastic zip lock bag with a magnet inside stuck to a metal bench somewhere in Avtovo.
 

We don’t do this anymore, but as far as we can follow, smoking mixture orders start from 3-4 g, stimulators and euphoretics from 0.5 g to 1 kg. The average price of 1 g DOB in St. Petersburg is 16000 rubles, 2CI-Bom – 22000 rubles. In reality, 1 g of many substances may cost a few kopecks, but you know. A specific attitude towards drugs is required. If chemical education meets commercial talent, one can become successful. We cannot do it like this and we don’t want to. We are too used to going crazy about new ideas, to dropping something halfway and catching on something else, to using a table glass instead of a chemical one, to drying substances in regular salt boxes, to heating flasks in a microwave and so on.
 

You might be interested in the sacramental question: “why is there no LSD in Russia?” It might exist somewhere, but in very small quantities. There are several reasons behind this. First of all, LSD production, which is actually performed abroad, costs 2-3 times more than DOB, and it would be cheaper to import it if the market was not so stuffed with Russian analogues. The second reason is it requires a lab with higher-level equipment than, for example, ours as well as a man with especially capable hands. We have such people, of course, but the paradox is that these people are not interested in doing it. Those who are commercially oriented will produce something else because it is cheaper, simpler and the average consumer is unlikely to recognize the difference. Those who are into the scientific component have grown out of LSD. As a practitioner, I can tell you that the entire ergoline series, the LSD series, acts too softly and selectively for my taste. DOB or DOI series fuck up your mind in a more interesting way, quickly, strongly, and with passion. LSD today is more of a myth, a symbol of the Golden Age of the 60s, turned into a compulsive idea of more elite consumption. Of course it percolates occasionally from Holland or Bengal for a lot of money or a little less. Somebody might be making it here, too, but I don’t see much sense except for culturological reasons.

If you think that LSD is some philosopher’s stone which will take you to some special kind of depth hidden from other substances, then order yourself some salvia extract via Silk Road or whatever. I remember how one of our testers took some X-20 extract. All he managed to say after a strong toke: “floor looks sullenly but don’t laugh because the face dances on the eyebrows”. Then he just fell down to the floor. As he told me later, he turned into a comb, everyone present in the room (only me) turned into its bristles, and when they touched each other at non-euclidean angles (don’t ask me), new dimensions appeared, each of those was different from the others; but the most important law keeping this multiverse together, equivalent to our gravitation, was tickling.
 

The Spice world could show even more powerful things to you, but are these worlds worth coming voluntarily?

Which substances or groups of substances are the most interesting and prospective? Why? What can a psychedelic experience yield in terms of mind expansion, consciousness evolution, etc.?

Dr. Caligari: For the sake of simplicity, we can split the substances which interest us in the context of this interview into two big groups: let’s call them physiological and psychological. The former are the substances with a low psychoactivity level, and the latter – with a high one.
 

Let’s think why synthetic cannabinoids are practically absent on the legal market when they are strong analgesics without the dangers of opioid abuse? The correct answer is they are extremely psychoactive, i. e. they may alter consciousness to such degree that it will subjectively overweigh their painkilling properties. That’s why one of the most prominent tasks of modern pharmacology is the creation of CB agonists which would not be psychoactive and could be used as analgesics to fight regular pains such as phantom pains, post-surgical pains, etc. 5HT2a agonists are ideal for intraocular pressure correction, but they are still psychoactive and cannot be used for glaucoma therapy yet because if the patient’s monitor is occupied by a green amoeba for three days, the treatment effectiveness is dubious. Psychoactive effects are usually evident in experiments on mice and don’t come through to tests on humans.

However, we may and we must consider psychoactive substances as a tool for researching consciousness: its evolution, its operating principles. We don’t think there is an esoteric component. Pure chemistry, physics, neuroscience. Nevertheless, this direction is very prospective for psychiatry, for the therapy of phobias or psychotraumatic disorders as well as for studying natural hallucinatory disorders like schizophrenia.
 

Speaking about psychiatry, the first thing coming to mind is empathogens (MDMA and MDMA-like effects). Shulgin’s spouse described a case of a man who was panically afraid of flights. After a couple of MDMA sessions, he recalled that back in primary school, a piece of broken roof blocked his legs and he couldn’t help his friend, who died squashed right before his eyes. If I am not mistaken, that man was afraid that he would be unable to save anyone in a similar situation again, and that piece of roof reminded him, by shape or by color, of a plane shown on TV at the moment of that incident.

An empathogen could also be a good method of socialization correction (for example, among militaries experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder). Good hypnotics are worth mentioning here, too. Under the influence of such drugs, it is equally possible to plant an idea in a person’s mind and to carry out a psychoanalytic session to replace dozens of useless visits to a psychoanalyst in the regular state of mind.
 

Speaking about organizations, I can name, for example, the MAPS institution in the USA, which is licensed to use psychogenic substances for therapeutic purposes. There are several such organizations in the world and about as many of those who use the same methods non-officially.

Generally, as far as we can judge, a psychedelic experience, especially one caused by serious drugs like DOI, tryptamines, etc., splits all people into two opposite groups.

The first group starts to somehow understand the essence of the process: that the substance which has penetrated their BBB (blood-brain barrier) is the primary factor. This approach is rational, scientific, where the subject researches phenomenology, builds factor models, combines substance properties and their own psychophysiological features, information stored in their own consciousness and its sources, etc. This kind of people, with certain experience, start looking differently on religions and arts: they are guessing what kind of herb this artist consumed with his tea, or which cactus was found by Moses in the desert.
 

The other group “feels” the substances but has problems with so-called “sufficient basis”. To explain what is going on, they start inventing sophisticated metaphysical systems, start praying to Krishna or Buddha, or to the substance itself (we saw a man who built a sugar Kremlin with infused cubes as a symbolic stronghold of power over the country, but this is a separate story), or they take a trip into the yellow walls of Skvortsov-Stepanov (psychiatric clinic), if their psyche is not strong enough.

Nevertheless, we’d like to mention the early works of Rick Strassman, dedicated to the research of DMT properties, along with some other researchers who stated there are some unexplored areas of psyche, similar for all people in terms of their response to dissociative experience. If the dose is large enough, practically everyone, including us, gets some numinous experiences of similar, probably archetypal structure. We are talking about the experience which is most easily described in religious terms. This could be related to our cultural firmware or, deeper, to some features of anthropogenesis. It is possible that religious experiences and, consequently, the reflections of irrational views represent one of the inevitable transitional stages of consciousness evolution. At least, this is what we’d like to believe.

What does the near future of shadow pharmacology look like to you? How will it influence various aspects of life?
 

Dr. Caligari: With the adoption of new laws, even “substances assumed psychoactive” will be banned. After this, all remaining chemistry, at least in Russia, will go underground. It cannot be called “white lists“. It is better compared to some information materials. For example, when you write a text – a book, an article, a slogan – prosecutors may prescribe a forensic linguistic investigation, which concludes that your text is an extremist one. You will be deemed to have malicious intent which you have tried to hide but which was revealed during the investigation. But as far as I know, you cannot bring your text to a similar expertise beforehand, to make sure this maliciousness is not there by chance, to check if it is still there if you swap two sentences or erase an exclamation mark. The situation with chemistry is similar.
 

I understand the logic when ban is imposed not to a certain substance but to a principle, a measure of closeness: on the one hand, I can take a cannabinoid X, use a cup of coffee and 15 minutes to make 20 others, i. e. swap the sentences, and nobody will be fast enough to check them all and put them on the black list. On the other hand, the creation of white lists will destroy the entire chemistry. The intermediate solution is meaningless, too, because it suggests a demarcation line (allowed/banned) across very complicated and multi-aspect phenomena: it is like splitting a grey gradient into black and white.

As a result, whole groups of substances differing by 1-2 alternates will be considered dangerous drugs. It is funny that some migraine medicines will be banned because they are derived from dimethyltryptamine. Don’t even get me started on lots of antidepressants developed as a result of ketamine vivisection. At the same time, many non-lethal military substances working like salvinorin 24/7 may remain not banned at all, whereas a range of non-psychoactive dimethyltryptamine derivatives will be banned according to the law.

We cannot unambiguously answer how substance regulation legislation will change in the next few decades. On the one hand, chemistry can already be considered a new language, getting more and more complicated and creating its own abstractions. It will be increasingly more difficult to fight it in Orwell’s sense without causing harm to other domains of human life. This is the reason for radically liberal proposals about decriminalization and legalization introduced to the UN. As you probably know, we live in the shadow of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, and the Vienna Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971. The substances mentioned there are graded according to their danger: hallucinogenic and addictive properties. The boundaries of their usage in science and medicine are outlined. However, these lists mention only 150 substances, while there are dozens or hundreds of thousands of them in reality now! UN realizes that forceful, prohibitive methods of solving this problem will only hinder research and increase the capacity of black market. In addition, if the global demand for psychopharmacology will grow, isn’t it better to harness this system effect for their own needs, to create new needs and the ways to satisfy them?
 

If this trend persists, everything will most likely be allowed in western countries in a few dozen years, but under the control of some authorities consisting more of machines than of humans. LSD and other stuff will be legally available in stores, but cameras will always be on in your home. Do you like this future or not? It is up to you to decide.

In the larger scheme of things, there is no answer if psychedelics and dissociatives are good or bad, and there will never be one, as there is no answer if our own reasoning, subjectivity, consciousness are virtue or evil. At the extreme, these substances show us the evolutionary thresholds that cannot be crossed within an individual life, that are shaped as existential experiences. This is a bitter wisdom, a very bitter one. Besides, the experience of deconventionalization caused by them temporarily destroys our idea of the value of hierarchy, social institutes, power relations, etc. This looks beautiful and utopic, but the tragedy of our existence is that we are all primates, and we cannot satisfy even our basic needs outside of these structures, at least not in this generation and not as the entire society together. The world where everyone uses psychedelics and dissociatives is a utopia and a dystopia at the same time. Dystopia, because the humanity is extinct there. Utopia, because this will never happen. Most people will never use these substances if they are legalized or even advertised. At least, not more than once. But there will always be an avant-garde, creating something new before its time and inevitably sacrificing itself to evolution.
 

The question where the civilization moves naturally, towards more collectivism or more individualism, does not make sense. It moves in both directions at the same time. It is difficult to find a good structural metaphor, but the mind will become more complicated and fragmented so that some experiences of individual consciousness will take the shape of all-encompassing universality, unity, and some of them will become much more isolated than now. But please don’t ask if there is an observer: there is nothing to understand here and nothing to understand it with.


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#2 continuum

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 09:12 AM

Cool. Hij weet waar hij mee bezig is. Scherpe formule ringen. Wel oost-Europa bizar idd

#3 filozof

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 11:42 PM

Inderdaad een "good read". :) De foto's maken het af!


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#4 McHennemAn

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Posted 20 March 2015 - 10:41 AM

Heel boeiend. Hij heeft de verkeerde poppies geplukt (last pic). Tenzij ze thebaine willen :)

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#5 Phlogiston

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Posted 23 March 2015 - 09:22 AM

Met thebaine kan je een boel leuke dingen doen, zeker als je hun skills hebt! ;)

 

Maar hoe zie je dat het de verkeerde strain is?


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#6 McHennemAn

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 01:55 PM

Het is de verkeerde soort. Niet somniferum maar Papaver bracteatum of Papaver orientale.


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