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short & insightful writing about a long and complex history

Joint Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society and the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy

ttravis | January 20, 2011

Points (n.)

1. marks of punctuation. 2. something that has position but not extension, as the intersection of two lines. 3. salient features of a story, epigram, joke, etc.:  he hit the high points. 4. (slang; U.S.) needles for intravenous drug use.

Points Interview: Individuation and drinking culture among young people with Henry Yeomans and Laura Fenton

Today’s post features an interview with Henry Yeomans, a Professor of Criminology at the University of Leeds and Laura Fenton, a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield. Their work focuses around contemporary alcohol culture and regulation in Europe.

The two, along with the University of Kent’s Adam Burgess, recently authored the article “‘More options…less time’ in the ‘Hustle Culture’ of ‘Generation Sensible’: Individualization and Drinking Decline Among 21st Century Young Adults,” which appeared in the British Journal of Sociology. Find out more about their work in this interview.

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Reflections on how the Yaqui Intercultural Medicine Clinic – a unique model of community well-being and mental health treatment in Sonora – came to be.

If you read my previous post, “The Toad Boom: the false narrative of ancestral 5-MeO-DMT use”, you may perhaps have wondered why I wrote that post with such vehemence and confidence. In this post, I would like share that the reason for that is that I witnessed first-hand how that story unfolded.

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Points Interview: Philipp Rühr, Archival Researcher Network participant.

Following on from my recent post on the emergence of the non-profit psychedelic prior art library Porta Sophia, and its Archival Researcher Network (ARN), this post features an interview with ARN-participant Philipp Rühr.

Philipp is an aspiring psychotherapist with a background in video art, filmmaking and translation. His videos and films have been shown internationally. Based in Berlin, he is currently completing his studies in Psychotherapy Sciences at the Sigmund Freud Universität where he is also working at the outpatient clinic. He has recently received Porta Sophia’s ARN-Research Grant for his research on psychedelic prior art. Philipp’s current focus are clinical trials with psychedelic compounds in children and adolescents, and he is dreaming of compiling and translating a compendium of historic German psychedelic study reports which haven’t previously been translated into English.

Through the interview here, it becomes clear how Rühr’s work with the ARN has dovetailed with his own research interests and career to ultimately support Porta Sophia’s goal to intervene in the psychedelic patent landscape and ensure psychedelic therapies can one day be available at scale to the people who need them. Rühr was one of the first recipients of a Porta Sophia research grant and, to date, he has submitted 30 pieces of prior art in response to the archival prior art targets. 

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Introducing the Archival Researcher Network

Editor’s Note: Amanda Pratt returns to the Pharmaceutical Inequalities series to introduce the Archival Researcher Network by Porta Sophia. Points’ Pharmaceutical Inequalities feature is funded by the Holtz Center and the Evjue Foundation.

At a time when the nonprofit psychedelic prior art library Porta Sophia is generating significant buzz for successful interventions on overly-broad psychedelic patent applications (see for example, coverage in this recent New York Times article), it’s worth reflecting on how a network of archival researchers is working behind the scenes to help shape the future landscape of psychedelic research and make these potential pharmaceuticals more equitably accessible. In the next two posts, I will be profiling Archival Researcher Network (ARN) participants to illustrate how their work supports Porta Sophia’s mission. Here, I’ll discuss the exigence of the ARN and its continued development. 

In a June 2021 Points post, Chris Elcock wrote about the emergence of Porta Sophia in the face of ever-growing pressures to patent psychedelic-related technologies. In the 18 months since, Porta Sophia has not only built a library of nearly 800 curated prior art sources (as of November 2022), but has also established itself as an important watchdog in the psychedelic patenting space. The team has directly intervened with sixteen overly-broad patents by submitting evidence of unpatentability to the USPTO and international patent offices, several of which have resulted in applicants canceling and/or amending claims and in one case, a rejection of claims from the USPTO

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Plants as Psychoactives and Medicines: Touring Allen Centennial Gardens

On a sunny, fall day in Wisconsin, the “Psychedelic Pasts, Presents, and Futures” Borghesi-Mellon working group teamed up with the Allen Centennial Gardens to host an event where participants were exposed to the role of plants as the basis of psychoactives and medicines. Specifically, those who attended were given the opportunity to learn about and interact with tobacco, poppies, catnip, cannabis, salvia, morning glory, castor bean, wormwood, and numerous medicinal plants in the Hmong Garden. The event was facilitated by Dr. Lucas Richert, Amanda Pratt, and Reba Luiken, and each specific plant was overseen by a faculty member, staff member, or graduate student who offered educational information on the plant, including Reba Luiken (Allen Centennial Gardens), Ryan Dostal (Horticulture), Shelby Ellison (Horticulture), Lucas Richert  (Pharmacy), JJ Strange (History), and Isaac Zaman (Horticulture).

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Call for Contributing Editors at Points

Points has opened applications for five new Contributing Editors to join the team.

Contributing Editors are required to conceptualise and author eight blog posts per year, between 750-1500 words on matters regarding drug and alcohol history and/or contemporary drug and alcohol cultures. For this, each Contributing Editor receives an annual honorarium of USD 500.00.

Points would like to take this opportunity to expand the diversity of content shared on the blog, and encourage that applications for Contributing Editors are from individuals who are able to write informed posts which specifically address drug and alcohol histories/cultures of one of the geographical regions outlined below:

  1. Africa
  2. America, specifically regarding Native American/Native Indian drug or alcohol cultures
  3. Australasia
  4. East Asia
  5. Europe (including UK or Ireland).
  6. Middle East
  7. South Asia

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Points Interview: Christopher Hallam

Editor’s Note: Christopher Hallam is an independent researcher working in academia and civil society organisations, and a Research Associate at the Global Drug Policy Observatory, Swansea University. He is also the author of ‘White Drug Cultures and Regulation in London, 1916-1960‘ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). In this ‘Points’ interview we ask him about his book and then his broader research interests in the history and culture of illicit drugs and the regimes that have sought to control them.

Please tell readers a little bit about yourself.

Depending on the context, I usually introduce myself as either a marginal academic or an independent researcher. Either way, I possess a remarkable skill for conducting research that no-one is willing to fund. By discipline, I am a historian who emerged, intellectually speaking, out of the cultural studies debates of the late twentieth century. I like to use a mix of conceptual tools drawn from heterogeneous theoretical frameworks, and I study drugs primarily as cultural substances – symbolic things that people consume, talk about, try to control, fear and celebrate.

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Psychedelic Baselines

Editor’s Note: Gabriel Lake Carter continues his commentary on a series of Borghesi-Mellon workshops titled ‘Psychedelic Pasts, Presents and Futures‘, funded by UW-Madison’s Center for Humanities. The second of these, below, reflects on discussions that took place during the ‘Psychedelic Baselines’ roundtable. Points’ Pharmaceutical Inequalities feature is funded by the Holtz Center and the Evjue Foundation.

What are the implications of the rampant media coverage, public awareness, and hype occurring about psychedelics? How is it possible to address the medical needs of people who want psychedelic therapy given the systemic impediments that deny access to medications? What is the most ethical way to promote psychedelics when they remain criminalized? How can current biomedical research be operationalized to help increase access to psychedelics for those in most need? During a recent panel for the “Psychedelic Pasts, Presents, and Futures” Borghesi-Mellon workshop at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, audience members raised these questions to the panel. The aim of the panel was to offer an overview on the current state of psychedelics in order to set a baseline for further discussions. In my reflections on the event, the panel and the subsequent discussion demonstrated a distinct need for transdisciplinary research and education on psychedelics, as well as more critical discussions about the best ways to improve access to psychedelics for those most in need.

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