Fuck Yeah Drug Policy

This is an excerpt from pages 35-36 of The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization

Despite this traditional squeamishness about the topic of recreational drugs, a wealth of ancient literature shows that the Greco-Roman world actively indulged in numerous mind-altering substances of homegrown and foreign origins. Plants were the source of the pleasure-inducing drugs used to elevate the mood and enhance the senses. Opiates, anticholinergics, and psychotropic fungi were the drugs of choice in antiquity, but a number of unrelated toxins were also used to create the out-of-body experiences that the Greeks and Romans so craved. It may not be pleasant for some of us to admit it, but the texts clearly show that our most original and respected thinkers flourished within a culture that wholeheartedly embraced recreational drug use.

The Classical world understood that some drugs, whether mixed in wine, snorted, or smoked, could readily alter consciousness and considered the dramatic changes inbehavior that characterized these psychotropic substances to be a form of madness or insanity. Potent drugs and hallucinogenic poisons enabled their users to violate the limits of propriety by temporarily placing them in states that were clearly out of sync with the rest of society. This pharmacologically induced psychosis made drug users rave in a manner that was typically considered to be a sign of mania. Such insanity was not always the desired result of psychotropics; citizens of the ancient world typically used different types or smaller amounts of recreational drugs to induce mild euphoria, with no additional psychological side effects. Doctors, philosophers, and natural scientists traditionally recognized the potential for botanical drugs to have different effects on their users, including variations in potency due to the level of dosages and the natural strength of different species.

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about the author: David Hillman pursued his Ph.D. in classics at UW-Madison. His topic was “pharmacy in Roman literature,” and he had the tedious task of poring over volumes of medical texts in Latin and Greek. He discovered that not only did the Greeks and Romans know a lot about herbal concoctions including opium, there was evidence that the use of some of these substances went beyond medical necessity. (via The Daily Page)

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