We now had small amounts of pure, high quality, material. The Portland team began, cautiously, human testing. We began by dissolving 20 mg in a little less than 1/4 cup (about 50 ml) of reconstituted orange juice (OJ) – this is comparable to 100 mg in a glass of orange juice, a typical dose and method of delivery; the concentration is about 0.4 mg/ml.
With swabs, we each applied some on our skin and then on the tip of our tongue.
“The bitter taste does come through,” Tom said.
“Yes, but that’s right on your tongue,” Peter said. “You’ll hardly notice it when you drink the OJ.”
We kept an eye on our skin, looked at each other, and waited for any topical effects. After about a hour, I said: “Down the hatch …” We each took a small paper cup with 10 ml of our precious MDMA-OJ potion and drank it. And continued to watch each other.
“That’s a total dose of a bit less than 5 mg,” I said. “Wait, watch, feel.”
I distributed our testing sheets. We each put our name on one, dated it, and filled it out at 60 minute intervals for the next several hours, then signed it. There was no skin or tongue irritation, no obvious changes in physiologic parameters, and no obvious Shulgin effects.
“That’s a disappointment,” Lucien said.
“It’s obviously not LSD,” offered Peter; he’s the only one of the four who experienced LSD.
“What do you expect from less than 5 mg?” I said. “We’re all alive, largely unchanged, healthy. Tomorrow we’ll do 10 mg and work up from there.”
To maximize drug absorption and thus the speed and strength of any effects, we skipped breakfast for the next several days of testing. We did the tests, starting with 10 mg, at about 10 am, continued close observation and analysis until about 3 pm, and then had a light meal, continuing to observe and record until about 7 pm – and dinner. One could say we began the tests by microdosing.
We verified that it was barely effective in low doses (25 and 50 mg) and strongly effective at 100 mg. The Shulgins reported using 100 mg doses, with 125 mg perhaps being optimum for therapy. 75 mg was effective for me, our resident pharmacologic virgin.
We did notice enhanced alertness and perhaps increased creativity with the 50 mg doses, also small increases in blood pressure and pulse at the 100 mg level – as expected. We made sure to drink water and orange juice during the experience, so we didn’t experience any dryness or particular thirstiness; also no teeth clenching, which is sometimes reported at the higher doses.
Leo Zeff, whose work is discussed in a book called The Secret Chief Revealed, came out of retirement in the early seventies when he experienced MDMA’s remarkable properties. He helped thousands of patients with it. He called it ‘Adam’ because he believed it returned one to a state of innocence. He would give doses ranging from 150 to 300 mg with very few issues or problems. The current clinical studies use doses in the 100 to 150 mg range.
Eisner, in Ecstasy – the MDMA Story, 1994, says 50 – 75 mg is good for enhancing creativity, 125 to 160 for ‘communicating with others’, and up to 200 mg for ‘exploration of inner spaces.’ He says do not exceed 250 mg. He also advises to not eat much during the six or so hours prior to taking the drug. It does cause patients to be thirstier than normal, so water, carbonated beverages, and juices should be available and consumed during the experience. He says the effect comes on 30 to 45 minutes after oral ingestion on a semi-empty stomach; the maximal effect then lasts for 15 to 30 minutes, followed by a long (30 minutes to three hours) plateau, and then ‘a gradual descent back to normal …’ As the effect comes on, the patient experiences a clarity and intensification of awareness, everything ‘seems brighter and crisper’, there is a feeling of alertness, happiness and enjoyment and a tendency for enhanced talking and verbalization. The world is viewed in a fresh new light. During the plateau phase patients commonly ‘manifest peaceful calm awareness and affinity with others’. This is when discussions, suggestions, perspectives can be calmly shared. Generally there is a complete absence of fear or defensiveness – rather the patients generally are more open, objective, and access new or different perceptions. It often takes another several hours for the full effect to dissipate and for the patient to return to ‘normal’. Rarely, however, does the patient return to their previous normal – they are now in a new frame of mind. The experience is usually transformative, though not dramatically or obviously so.
The entire experience thus takes nearly a full day, albeit the first several hours are the most significant and important. Eisner and others describe an ‘afterglow’ effect that often continues into the second day – the mental clarity persists, the patient is generally calm, open, and significantly more empathetic. For many, perhaps most, the empathy ‘message’ has been semi-permanently ‘received’. The new normal persists.
“I think Eisner’s summary is roughly right,” Lucien said. “It’s about what I felt.”
“Me, too,” Peter said.
“Let’s track how we feel for the next 10 days or so,” I said. “If it all continues to seem fine, then we’ll be back to scale up and continue production. For now, we’ll package up most of what we’ve made and begin some delivery-related testing back in Salt Lake.”
Although the Shulgins and the therapists often used 100 or 125 mg, we needed to consider a more standard dose – on a mg/kg metric. Mia Love, for example, is small, light, and probably a pharmacologic near-virgin. Orrin Hatch is tall, like Shulgin, and probably weighs in, like me, at 175 pounds or so. Given 2.2 pounds/kg, Tom, Lucien, and I had decided on 3 packet sizes – color-coded: 67 (blue), 100 (green), and 125 (red) mg. Big people get the larger, red packet, little people the smaller blue one, and the more medium-sized folks get the green packet (that comes out to about 1.5 mg/kg). Such doses should be enough to have a substantive effect without any discomfort. We know there is a gender effect. Doses for women should be in the 70 mg range – the blue packet. We’ll, of course, continue to test ourselves with the various doses and may refine the dosages for our more serious patients. Our self-testing will include how best to deliver the material clandestinely.
“Blue for women. Really big ones deserve to get more,” Peter smiled.
“This all reminds me of The Matrix,” said Lucien.
“Yes!” said Peter. “The Matrix was an alternate reality produced by machines to subdue humans so the machines could run on our metabolic energy.”
“And citizens in The Matrix were pleased to be subdued, unthinking, existing in their alternate, real-appearing reality,” Lucien continued.
“Didn’t see it. Where do the pills come in?” asked Tom.
“The Matrix was basically a huge computer simulation, creating a virtual reality,” Peter said.
“But there was a way to disconnect from that virtual world – and reenter the real world,” I added.
“Via a pill?” asked Tom.
“A red pill disconnected you, leaving you in the uncertain, messy real reality world,” I added.
“And a blue pill to keep you connected,” Peter added.
“I didn’t like it the first time I saw it,” I said. “Too confusing to have too many ‘realities’.”
“Like multiple, parallel states of consciousness?” Lucien smiled.
I agreed. “Morpheus, a key character in The Matrix, says to the hero:
…you are a slave…Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.
“So we have a population – reinforced by simplistic beliefs, assumptions, gerrymandering, and plutocracy – in their make believe ‘virtual’ world – believing growth, pollution, and resource consumption can go on forever,” Tom explained.
“Yes,” I agreed. “And a much smaller population existing in a reality that understands there are limits – that we are headed towards the collapse of civilization as we’ve come to know it – if those with the virtual world mentality continue to be in charge.”
“But we can disconnect the ‘prisoners’ with our little red pill,” Tom said.
“And save humanity from itself,” Lucien added.
“I didn’t really notice this when seeing the film – but apparently the directors used a green tint for scenes within The Matrix (the virtual reality) and a blue tint to depict real reality,” I said.
“Except in our world, it’s reversed,” Lucien observed. “The blues represent real humanity – real reality; the reds are in their virtual ideological world.”
Tom returned to Salt Lake, via Southwest Air. Diana and I drove back, in our now largely empty Prius. Peter and Lucien remained in Oregon. They will set up some chocolate activities in our cottage for cover purposes.
I met with the other harmless a few days later in Salt Lake – again at the Roasting Company. I filled them in on the Portland actions and accomplishments.
“We’re ready to start,” I reported. “We now have enough initial material for 10 tests. We already used some for the Portland tests and a small bit for the analytical work. It’s pure, active, and non-toxic.”
“Bravo,” Jay said.
I then retrieved from my shirt pocket a small device which looked like an older-type iPhone, opened the cover and turned it on. It was a small analytical balance, sensitive to tens of milligrams. I took a sugar packet and placed it on the balance; it weighed 2.9 grams. I then poured out small amounts of sugar into my empty coffee cup, reweighing the packet each time. Eventually we got down to about 0.2 grams – 200 mg.
“Half of that weight is the paper bag holding the sugar,” I said. “The other half – about 100 mg – is the sugar.” Pouring it onto the table, I continued, “That 100 mg is a small puddle of powder about a half centimeter in diameter. That’s what a full dose of MDMA looks like. A sugar packet is, by weight, the equivalent of roughly 25 or so doses of MDMA.”
“Well, a single dose should be easy enough to get into a small drink glass or coffee cup,” Bill said. “According to Eisner and Shulgin, it goes easily into a small glass – a half cup or so – of orange juice.”
“Exactly. That’s how we did the initial testing in the Portland lab.”
I continued: “I just saw a TED talk – thanks to Lucien. It was by an Elizabeth Lessing on taking the ‘other’ to lunch. Very perceptive, very good. Other is someone with very different opinions, perspectives, values, and politics – that includes our right wing, ideologue patients.”
Jay got it, saying: “So let’s each select someone we know who qualifies, strike up a conversation – just the two; one on one. We listen, we empathize. At the appropriate moment, the ‘medicine’ goes clandestinely into their beverage – juice, coffee, tea. Stir, serve, and continue the conversation.”
“Yes, but you’ll have to engage your companion in conversation for at least 45 minutes or so to begin to discern an effect.”
“Fascinating,” said Bill. “It could be in a tea bag, sweetener, coffee creamer, beer, or wine glass.”
“Or even a Metamucil packet,” said Jay. “I just discovered that stuff a month ago. Wish I’d started using it long ago.”
“Understood. I’ve been using it for decades,” I agreed, “thanks to a kindly, old, semi-retired physician helping with my constipation.”
“You had problems?” Jay asked.
“I was in my mid-forties, and serving as Dean of Engineering. It was tough, stressful, and … constipating.”
“You were the original hard-ass?” Jay chuckled.
“Until Metamucil. Works like magic.” I paused, then continued: “Our MDMA is crystallized in the hydrochloride salt form, so it’s fairly soluble although, by itself, it tastes bitter – not pleasant. The flavor must be masked – water is not enough. The information online about coffee, tea, and other maskers is not very helpful, but does suggest we should steer away from coffee – and deliver the materials before rather than during or after a meal for best effect.”
Jay added: “Given the caffeine added to street Ecstasy pills – and all the Red Bull that’s often used – I doubt that one cup of coffee will have any adverse effect.”
“I agree,” Bill said. “And given how much the Shulgins seemed to enjoy red wine, I doubt that reasonable amounts of wine would pose any concern.”
“Try to schedule and organize the encounter to optimize the effects,” I suggested. “It should be at the second meeting with them, because it takes up to 45 or so minutes for the empathogenic effect to really begin. Keep talking and looking for changes in outlook or other effects. The mental processing of the experience goes on for several – even six or more – hours. So it’s best for the patient not to have to go to a stressful or challenging situation after the experience. We want them to have time to think, to process, to ponder their new perspectives.”
“We better rehearse,” Jay continued. “Let’s take each other to lunch and take turns spiking the other’s beverage. That way we three can each observe each test and quickly evolve a process that works.”
“It would be easier if we were entertaining the ‘other’ at our own home and kitchen, but that’s not practical for our higher profile patients. So now is the time to figure out, test, and rehearse delivery processes which work in public spaces and situations.”
“OK. Let’s watch the TED talk, come up with test cases, and meet for coffee, or orange juice, Wednesday – same time, same place,” Bill concluded. “We’ll come up with suggestions for testing candidates.”
“I’ll entertain one of you then, I said, “ – and have packets available for our next several rehearsals.”
Next meeting: I was nursing a Roasting Company mocha, and Jay was gently stirring his herbal tea.
“Let’s say I want to spike your coffee,” Jay said, “without you or anyone around us noticing what I’m doing.”
“Are you going to distract me?” I asked. “Play a magician-like sleight of hand?”
“How do you get a tenth of a Splenda packet into someone’s drink – invisibly?” Bill added. “As Huxley might say, 100 mg of near-instant revelation!”
“That’s the challenge,” Jay said. “I don’t have it worked out yet. Let’s play.” Jay opened a Splenda packet and started packing powder under his center fingernail.
“You’d be giving someone the finger, literally,” Bill chided.
“Or the powder would just fall out while you wave it in mid-air,” I said.
“If it was LSD, you could coat the fingertip with 100 micrograms easily – and then do a fast dip,” Bill noted.
“And likely go on your own bicycle trip,” Jay said, alluding to Albert Hofmann’s accidental bicycle super-trip when he first began to experience LSD.
“Yes, but MDMA isn’t absorbed via the skin,” said Bill.
“The finger nail delivery system might work,” I said, “as long as no one – and especially your patient – does not see you dipping your finger in her drink.”
“This is a very serious challenge,” I said, “because just one early discovery – or even suspicion – will blow up the entire project.”
“Other ideas?” quizzed Jay.
An empathy epidemic might indeed be very helpful. Bill had previously told us about a Doug Fabrizio interview of Roman Krznaric on RadioWest. Krznaric started the Empathy Library website, driven in part by his book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution. Although the book and the Library say nothing about MDMA, it is a reflection of the need in society for compassion and empathy.
“Do you remember The Republican Brain?” Jay asked. “We discussed it during your campaign.”
“Yes,” I answered – “by Chris Mooney, who also wrote The Republican War on Science back in the Bush era.”
“Well, his latest posting relates compassion to environmentalism,” Jay continued. “There’s a recent German study subtitled: Compassion Fosters Proenvironmental Tendencies. He ties it to empathy and compassion, and if folks are told it’s good to be compassionate, they indeed feel and act with more compassion. ‘It’s infectious,’ Mooney says.”
“There’s actually a now old video game, Peacemaker, which Netanyahu might consider. It involves a strong empathy and understanding component,” Bill noted. “Krznaric mentioned it during the Radiowest interview.”
“I think it’s too bad that neither Fabrizio nor Krznaric mentioned MDMA during the discussion. You’d think they’d both be aware of empathogens,” I said. “I sent them each an email about it, but no response.”
“Since we started harmless, I’ve been using a GoogleAlert on MDMA,” Jay added, “and came across a Norwegian group working to make MDMA readily available. They call themselves EmmaSofia. They’re trying to raise a million dollars on line to get started.”
“I wonder if they’re connected to MAPS?” I asked. “I’ll ask.”
“More and more stuff is appearing,” Bill said, “such as the Pollan article in the New Yorker on recent psilocybin work. Pollan said that psilocybin has some MDMA-like characteristics – a positive and lasting effect on the personality of most participants. And more than a year after the sessions many of the volunteers showed significant increases in their openness. The research psychologists were very impressed.”
“The new brain imaging is especially cool,” I said. “One recent study of psilocybin and placebo, by Petri and others in 2015, concluded that
…the psychedelic state is associated with a less constrained and more intercommunicative mode of brain function, which is consistent with descriptions of the nature of consciousness in the psychedelic state.”
I continued: “The longer term effect of a single MDMA experience is now being called the ‘afterglow effect’. After the peak effect, which for MDMA is roughly an hour or so after taking it, the effect starts to wind down over the next several hours. That we know, but the effect or change that stays with the patient for days to months afterwards is being called the ‘afterglow.’ And much of the glow for a majority of patients continues for months to years.”
“When you get the message, hang up the phone,” Jay smiled.
“That’s an Eisner quote,” I said. “I did some homework on him. He died early, at age 63, of a gastro-intestinal hemorrhage. He was working on a book at the time.”
“We better get busy,” Bill said. “You never know when you – or I – might croak.”
“Amen,” I said.
The Pollan paper also discussed the work of Carhart-Harris on the ‘entropic brain’. There’s something in the brain called the ‘default node network’ (DNN) which requires a lot of metabolic energy. The DNN’s job is to keep us focused so we can get work done. It tends to inhibit new thoughts, distractions, and daydreaming. If the DNN relaxes, we have a type of attention-deficit, which in our society and economic system is diagnosed a disorder. Meditation seems to relax the DNN – as does psychedelic agents. Creativity is helped by distraction – by entertaining multiple thoughts and ideas at the same time. Thus creativity seems to be enhanced by some psychedelics – especially LSD and MDMA. This helps explain why MDMA and other agents facilitate empathy, compassion, openness – as opposed to narrowness, focus, rigidity.
The DNN works hard to keep the ‘doors’ somewhat closed most of the time, enabling us to deal with the current job or task. Certain drugs, meditation, and perhaps breathwork relax the DNN, opening the doors of perception, compassion, and empathy. There are some, not many, people who can open and close their own doors – who can focus when they choose to, and can be open, creative, expansive when they choose to. But some people could benefit from more – and others from less – focus. Doors are for opening – and for closing.
“You know,” Jay said, “maybe we should rephrase Eisner’s ‘get the message, hang up the phone’ with something like ‘let’s oil the hinges on the doors’.”
“Make them easier to open…I like that,” Bill said.
“Or close,” I agreed. “It’s very interesting that Sidney Cohen said – in the 1967 second edition of The Beyond Within – that in our normal, waking sane state, called sanity, we are mentally inhibited, allowing us to focus and minimize distractions. Cohen defines unsanity as a more dream-like, less inhibited, state, facilitated by dreams, meditation, and LSD. Insanity results from strong feelings of insecurity and anxiety, and from other causes.”
“So Cohen was in synch with Huxley and others who felt that it might be helpful to disinhibit our thoughts periodically,” Jay said.
“Cohen said that ‘LSD does nothing specific. It springs the latch of disinhibition’,” I said.
“That’s the same, more or less, as saying it opens doors or windows,” Bill added. “I think he would have been fascinated by MDMA.”
Ben Sessa, a coworker of Carhart-Harris – and of David Nutt – published The Psychedelic Renaissance several years ago. Sessa was actually the first subject in one of Carhart-Harris’ early psilocybin studies. He writes that
…the psychedelic state can result in important changes to one’s self, one’s relationships and one’s entire outlook on life…these changes can be real, lasting and positive. With specific reference to MDMA, he says it: …is able to induce a mental state that is usually pleasurable to almost every user, almost every time.
A recent paper in the Canadian Medical Association, by K W Tupper and others, noted:[the re-emergence] of a paradigm that acknowledges the importance of set (i.e., psychological expectations), setting (i.e., physical environment) and the therapeutic clinician–patient relationship as critical elements for facilitating healing experiences and realizing positive outcomes.
The paper summarizes the ‘psychedelic agents currently under investigation for their potential benefits as adjuncts to psychotherapy’, including MDMA. Although MDMA is not a psychedelic, it was included due to interest in and studies on its great potential for psychotherapy. It also said that during the sessions
… interaction between patient and therapists is kept to a minimum, with the patient encouraged to spend much of the time engaging in self-reflection while listening to carefully selected music. … medical school curricula may need to be updated to include the latest knowledge about psychedelic drugs.
Sessa’s book also covers psilocybin, including taking it via magic mushrooms – fresh, dried, or as a tea – and referring to Paul Stamets’ beautiful book Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Given the recent reports of success in using psilocybin to treat PTSD, there is likely to be growing interest in magic mushrooms as a source for self-medication. In a recent New Scientist Opinion piece, Stamets said:
Recently scientists have discovered that psilocybin stimulates neurogenesis – it helps build neurons. I believe that’s what happened to me; that it helped to remap a neuronic pathway in my brain.
Sessa also addresses the likely role of magic mushrooms in the evolution and development of religion, creative thinking, and language – going back a million years or so, citing Terence McKenna. Sessa also briefly covers the early use of soma, the Eleusinian rites via kykeon, and possible fungi sources for soma and kykeon. He goes on to talk about ancient mushroom cults, Jesus, the rise of Christianity, and the mushroom motif in early Christian art. He also surveys a range of plants with psychedelic, toxic, and/or anesthetic properties.
“We are not clinicians, but we are reasonable, informed, intelligent empathetic and responsible individuals,” I said. “The Tupper paper helps put in perspective and context what we are proposing and indeed doing.”
“We have to physically deliver 100 mg into something which will be easily absorbed and rapidly ingested,” Jay said.
“Right. I think it has to be absolutely clandestine, secret,” I said. “And it becomes even more difficult when it’s not a friend or acquaintance – when it may be an ‘other’ who may not be fully comfortable.”
“Well, you can’t just give the patient something, like a lozenge or piece of chocolate,” Bill said. “They’d remember that for sure.”
“But it doesn’t always have to be liquid,” I said. “It could be a solid.”
“Wait a minute,” Bill said excitedly. He normally doesn’t get very excited. “Why can’t it be chocolate – or in a chocolate? It’s actually the perfect host – better than pills, powders, packets.”
We all sort of looked at each other.
Bill continued: “People are always eating something – chocolate, fruit, candy, lozenges – and even if they do remember you gave them a piece of chocolate – so what?”
“Of course,” I added. “We could actually inject the MDMA into the center of a soft filling commercial chocolate. There are strong chocolate flavors which should easily mask the intrinsic bitterness of the MDMA.”
“I’m sure our testers are up to the challenge!” Jay said.
“In fact, they’re already ahead of us,” I noted. “We’re using chocolate as a ‘cover’ for the Portland lab. Lucien and Peter have been checking out chocolate suppliers and shops in the area.”
I quickly did some homework on chocolate as a delivery vehicle – and the various types of chocolate. It seems to be optimum for our needs. There have been chocolate-based drug delivery studies, although there is apparently no common, commercial product – except for ExLax. There seemed to be no reason to not use chocolate as our delivery vehicle. So chocolate is now not just a ‘cover’ for Oregon-based synthesis efforts – it may become our optimum delivery vehicle.
Tom had just finished his current chemo-treatment. We briefed him on what we had learned – and been discussing. We began with EmmaSofia in Norway:
“So if EmmaSofia is going to make MDMA available, at least in Norway, why don’t we partner with them?” Jay asked.
“Well, first, they have to raise a million dollars to really get going,” I responded. “And, secondly, they’re in Norway, and we are in the ideologically-bound, Homeland Security and NSA dominated USA. But we should be able to learn a lot from them.”
“Oh, and regarding MAPS,” I continued. “MAPS responded, saying there’s no connection or collaboration. In fact EmmaSofia had not contacted MAPS at all. The MAPS spokesperson says they’ve probably greatly underestimated the costs and complexities of the project.”
“But MAPS is focused mainly on the US of A, right?” asked Bill. “And our byzantine, ideological, fear-based drug laws.”
“Yes – and the laws in Britain – and now Canada – as well. EmmaSofia claims in a Newsweek interview that they will be working to change European laws to permit more reasonable access to MDMA – and Norway is likely to be far more reasonable than most,” I said.
“Let’s not forget Australia,” Bill said. “It’s apparently the highest per capita user of ecstasy – and the bad stuff results in lots of problems. A young Melbourne pharmacist, and a physician there, are arguing for legalization and regulation.”
“Part of the platform of Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was to legalize marijuana. So now that Canada has a semi-liberal government, maybe there’s hope for MDMA-based treatments there – soon,” Bill said.
“That’s what the Canadian paper suggested – and it was published just before Trudeau’s election.”
“Do you know that the awful arch-conservative Prime Minister Trudeau defeated, Steve Harper, says Breaking Bad is his favorite TV show?” I asked.
“Don’t hold your breath,” Jay said. “That MDMA ecstasy feed Google keeps sending me has about an entry a week on bad stuff. It keeps reinforcing public and regulatory perception that MDMA is very dangerous.”
“Making our own material means we have control – quality, confidence, and privacy – secrecy,” Tom said. “But it would certainly be helpful to have some reference material to analyze, study, and even test to calibrate and validate our own material.”
“Agreed,” I said. “I’ll try to contact Krebs and Johansen – the EmmaSofia couple.”
Lucien and Peter were brought up to date – by phone – on our chocolate delivery discussions. They then visited Papa Haydn’s and several so-called chocolatier shops in the Portland area, concluding that they are far too specialized, expensive, and even traceable than we need or want. So back to Trader Joe’s, Walgreens and related sources for more common, filled or soft-center traditional chocolates – the Forrest Gump variety. They bought an assortment of filled chocolates, picked up a handful of Splenda and Shape packets – one gram each – and proceeded to literally inject the solid powders, in roughly 100 mg amounts, using a syringe and needle. They were reporting back to the Salt Lake team, via Skype:
“Solid didn’t work well,” Lucien advised. “But dissolving in the smallest volume of orange juice, about 1/2 milliliter, works ok. It requires a large, cheap chocolate with a very soft center.”
“Yes, and the chocolate and liquid need to be warm, about 80-90 F, so the chocolate is on the soft side and can deform to accept the 1/2 cc volume,” Peter reported. “And when you pull out the needle, very slowly, the chocolate ‘heals’ and seals. Then it can be cooled back down and even refrigerated.”
“It is a bit explosive when you bite into it,” Lucien said. “And can be messy – the liquid can flow out. And that could be a real problem.”
“Tell him about the Jello version,” Peter said.
“We’ve worked on a solid Utah solution,” Lucien said. He was born in and went to school in Utah.
“We dissolve the powder in warm gelatin, inject it warm into the warm chocolate, then cool and refrigerate the chocolate. An hour or two later we bring it back to room temperature, where the gelatin stays solid, with the active in it – and in the chocolate.”
“That’s really clever,” I said.
“Does this make me a scientist?” Lucien asked.
“More a chemical engineer,” I said, adding: “We’ll do some experiments together during the annual family retreat in Manzanita.”
Given we were talking on line, as agreed to earlier, we avoided making any direct reference to illegal activities or agents.
Our family spends about a week each summer, sometime in mid-June to mid-July, on the Oregon coast – in Manzanita. Diana’s family, our two sons, and their families, including three wonderful granddaughters, participate. Sometimes we invite friends to join us for a day or more. We share a large house near the beach for a week. We’ve been doing this for seven years. Many of my ideas for the harmless project – and this book – were developed at our last several Manzanita family retreats.
A year ago – Neahkanee Mountain, near Manzanita. Peter, Lucien, and I – another beautiful Oregon coast hike. It wasn’t fully legal then (it is now), but it was easily available and tolerated. Peter’s delivery device, like an e-vap for nicotine, was easy to use. It was just one puff – on the way up the trail. 73 year old hikers have enough problems with balance on mountain trails, so I didn’t want to push it. I felt nothing, although Lucien said I was in ‘a very good mood.’ Peter and Lucien each took several puffs. They seemed fine. On the way down, Peter again offered, and I accepted – just one puff. Balance is even trickier on the way down. Nothing obvious. Maybe I’m pharmacologically sterile.
And now there’s JuJu Joints, an adjustable, tunable cannabis delivery device for vaping that even looks and feels like a cigarette. Perhaps next time.
We had talked earlier about the Austrian and Dutch voluntary testing services, available mainly at raves or other large public events. We now asked about such services in the Portland area.
“Interesting you should ask,” Lucien said. “I was jogging through the Reed College campus a few months ago – in a light drizzle – and took cover in their Food Commons, picked up the student newspaper, and learned something very interesting.”
“That’s a good place to get the New York Times, for free,” Peter said. “What did you learn?”
“There’s a Reed chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) – and they have a testing ‘service’.”
“They have two lockers on campus, with combination locks, which contain drug test kits. You get the combination by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org .”
“I had no drugs to test then, and the rain had let up, so I let it go and continued on.”
Homework. I sent an email to the ReedSSDP and received a nearly immediate automated response with the locker combinations.
On the way to Manzanita for the family retreat, Diana and I spent a few days in Portland. I went to Reed, found the SSDP locker in the Food Commons basement – across from the campus post office – and opened the lock. Inside were plastic bags with six or so test kits and various food supplements. The original email with the lock combinations contained the needed instructions:
When you take the kit, please note on the sheet when you took it and approximately when you’ll be bringing it back. If you have contact info that you would be comfortable leaving, please also leave that so we can find the kit if it goes missing. Return the kit as soon as you can so others can use it as well, and mark that you brought it back. If you find any contaminants, please report them at reedcollegessdp.tumblr.com (password: reedieshelpreedies). Tests do not indicate “purity” of a sample, but they can identify adulterated or misrepresented substances, which are frequently more dangerous to a person’s health.
There are five different kinds of reagents currently available in the library locker, and one type of single-use testing kit. Multi-use reagents are used by dropping a drop of the reagent on to the substance you intend to test. Please take care to allow drops to run out of the bottle and not touch the tip of the bottle to anything. Reagents should be administered on a white background under bright light for best identification. A disposable paper/plastic plate or a ceramic plate are ideal for this. Because a disposable surface is ideal, microfuge tubes are included in the locker for your convenience. Holding this above a stark white background (like printer paper) should make the color change reaction sufficiently visible.
Only a very, very small amount of substance is necessary to produce a reaction. An diameter of powder less than the size of a matchhead is sufficient for a reaction.
Marquis, Mecke, and Simon’s reagents can be used to identify MDMA and similar substances. One of either Marquis or Mecke is necessary to determine the presence of an MDxx compound, and Simon’s reagent to distinguish secondary amines (for example, between amphetamine and methamphetamine or MDA and MDMA.
The Mandelin reagent is useful for identifying presumed Cocaine and Ketamine, but can also be used to help identify MDMA.
The Ehrlich reagent is used to identify tryptamines (e.g. DMT) and LSD in liquid or on blotter. Blotter should be diced finely before it is tested to help speed up the reaction. Testing blotters is an exception to the above statement about sizes, and a full blotter may need to be tested to produce a visible reaction.
Also in the locker are single-use cocaine testing kits to screen for some common cuts in cocaine. Additional instructions are included on the sheet attached to the single use ampoule.
There should also be instructions for use in the kit itself. If not, see below for images of instructions and a link to further info. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know via the locker e-mail and we will respond as soon as we can.
That text was written by someone apparently experienced and quite self-confidant of her knowledge. Reed is known for its outstanding undergraduate science program, with a particular strength in Chemistry. Some of the students involved with SSDP are likely to be very well informed and even well trained chemists.
It is apparently fairly common for those taking ecstasy and perhaps other drugs to also take commercial food supplements with them, believing that these agents may help to alleviate drug side effects or provide other desirable effects. So the ReedSSDP email also includes a link on Supplements
The colorimetric tests described and commonly used for drug ‘testing’ are qualitative at best. They can generally help determine if the pill or capsule has something, but not how much. Although the reactions used are semi-specific, they are not truly chemically specific. More rigorous testing requires gas and/or liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and infrared and/or Raman spectroscopies.
“I’ve always though very highly of Reed and its faculty and students,” Tom said.
“I’ll take a look at the lockers and the tests the next time I pick up a paper there,” Peter added.
“And I’ll jog through the campus with more interest now – reading the student newspaper more thoroughly. It is a beautiful campus – the paths, the lake, the stream, the trees,” Lucien said.
A few weeks before our Manzanita trip, we had been discussing fiction writing with a friend who was a reporter and is now a successful playwright. Let’s call her Sally. She mentioned that her son, and his family, who live in Portland, had an interesting recent experience with empathy enhancement, thanks to MDMA. So we invited them to spend a day with us in Manzanita to discuss our common interests in MDMA.
Sally’s daughter-in-law started the discussion, her husband at her side. I’d known him since shortly after he was born, some 40 years ago. Their 18 year old son was to be the major subject of the discussion – and our information resource.
“Our son insisted that we take it together,” she said, looking at him. “He said that if we took it together, as a family, we’d understand how he felt – how he’s been changed. As he had the ecstasy pills, we took it once, all together, and waited for an effect.” She paused, looked around the table, then continued. “It took about 30 minutes. When the effect came on, I felt an openness – I felt I could interact with multiple people at once. It allowed me to let go. I felt an empathy for all – there was plenty of empathy to go around.” She looked at her son and husband.
“I’ve taken it about 10 times, so far,” the son said. “We hadn’t been talking. I was pissed at them,” he said, looking at his parents. “… pissed for taking me out of school in Tucson and dragging me to Portland. But I discovered Molly here – and that helped.”
“It was the first time I seriously wondered what others were thinking,” the father said. “It had been very difficult to talk. We were each sure we were right. It allowed me, us, to let go of the fear of admitting – or proving – myself wrong.”
“It was the first time we’d openly talked, as a family, in two years – since the Tucson move,” she added. “We opened up – felt some empathy for each other – tried to understand.”
“It depowered the negative feelings,” the son continued. “I recognized the negative feelings, but could let them go. I didn’t need to dwell on them – to perpetuate them. Fear became nearly non-existent.”
He talked about the Molly scene in Portland, street prices, availability, the ‘Point’ system:
“A 1 point pill is supposed to mean 100 mg, though it’s only about 75. A 2 point, 200 mg, though it’s really less – about 150 mg. I’m told the mass difference is due to a coloring agent.”
He said that a 1 Point pill in Portland goes for about $15 – $20 – supposedly pure Molly.
Mom and son were each well aware of the problems with taking MDMA too often. He gave us a short lecture on serotonin re-equilibrium, re-balancing. He seemed well aware of the potential problems, yet admitted he’d taken it some 10 times – and had more pills at home.
We discussed the Eisner quote: ‘When you get the message, hang up the phone.’ They obviously had heard the message. I tried to reinforce the idea that you now have the message – no need for more evidence. I said that it’s like learning to swim or ride a bike – once you get it, you’ve got it.
“The effect is really about people, faces, emotions,” the father said, “but it came at the expense of having no interest in anything physical – clouds, stars, the physical world. During the experience I didn’t have as much interest or curiosity about the physical world as I usually do. It was very different.”
His son had been pacing during the discussion, lightly strumming his guitar, so I asked about music. He’s been considering studying music – composition and neuro-connections – at the U of Oregon. He also noted his experiences with mushrooms.
“Composing was easier – being extemporaneous was easier on MDMA,” he recalled. “I wasn’t so worried about the next note. It could just flow. There was less second guessing of myself.”
“Another longer term effect, at least for me, is decreased appetite,” he continued, “for several days. I also experienced, especially on the bus or among people I did not know, a calming feeling – especially about 30 minutes after taking the pill, when its effects first become pronounced. It felt like a wave of tranquility.”
“That’s not the real you,” his mother said, smiling.
“No, but maybe it is now – at least for a while.” He looked at me. “This has been really interesting,” he said. “But the only way to feel it, to understand it, is to take it.”
He stood up and handed me a single Molly pill in a small plastic bag with a Love-Heart symbol on it.
“It’s a gift,” he said. “Thanks for an interesting discussion.” I accepted, with thanks. He then began pacing again, strumming his guitar.
I asked about purity and safety – and testing. He said his only information was his own – and his parents’ experience, that it was good Portland stuff, and should be fine.
The discussion group included four members of my immediate family – several had experienced MDMA some decades earlier. One recalled that ‘…tactile sensations linger for a day or two. I had an enhanced ability to feel texture, touch’.
Peter and Lucien were late for the discussion as they had been working with Tom in our Portland cottage lab.
Peter contributed to the discussion, of course, and Lucien and his brother contributed as well. We were all a bit surprised by just how much ‘experience’ and perspective there was in this family! Some of it went back 40 years, some of it only 10. And some of it was fairly recent. Marijuana, LSD, mushrooms, ayahuasca, and MDMA were the major players.
That was the bulk of the discussions. We had lunch, chatted, and played. The four girls – my three granddaughters, and our friend’s younger daughter – played well together. They had some beach time, and some backyard time. The discussions continued – one on one and in small groups – for the rest of the afternoon.
The son seemed to have little interest in Reed, perhaps because he lived in North Portland, but also because he felt it was for rich kids. When I mentioned the SSDP chapter and the test kits, he seemed unaware, and sort of shrugged it off. Perhaps he was less informed than I had originally thought.
Lucien briefly discussed Eugene and the U of Oregon with him as he serenaded the kitchen team preparing dinner – playing a bit too loudly.
Most of what was shared was consistent with what we’d already read and discussed. The familial communication piece was especially interesting and relevant to harmless. So much of our problem with governing today is legislators talking without listening – taking ideological positions they simply cannot change. It’s like a force field – a wall – around individuals, preventing them from interacting through or beyond the wall. MDMA helps penetrate the wall – helps decrease the self-imposed force field. Most ideologues seems to have an insecurity and fear – rooted often in self-anxiety – which makes dialog, discussion, compromise, diplomacy, etc. almost impossible. Building on our guitarist’s words, we need to loosen the negative feelings – and let them go. It reminds my of that oft-quoted line from Disney’s Frozen: ‘Let it Go!’ The granddaughters would often run around the backyard singing ‘Let it Go!’. They actually performed the entire song for us the year before!
There was a lot more MDMA discussion during our week in Manzanita. So much so that at one point Diana threw her shoe at me. She did not like such discussions, although she was sympathetic to our political concerns and to planetary wellbeing.
The Portland lab team had made another batch of MDMA – this time about 50 grams – enough for about 500 treatments. Tom didn’t come to Manzanita as he had to get back to Salt Lake for the new radioactive sphere treatment for his liver cancer. He stayed in Portland only long enough to complete the final recrystallization of the MDMA and then carefully packaged and stored it. Then he caught a plane back to Utah. Lucien, Peter, and I would do the analytical work later in the week when we returned to Portland. The Molly pill I was given would, of course, also be analyzed. Neither Sally, her grandson, nor his parents, know what we are doing – that we are actually making MDMA. As far as they know I’m just trying to write an interesting novel.
Lucien and I spent a day in the cottage analyzing the new batch #2 and comparing it with the Molly given to me in Manzanita and our initial Batch #1. Batch 2 was a scaled up run, about five times more product than our first run. Tom and Peter reported that it all went smoothly, except that we were now very low on methylamine. The TLC and SERS results were almost identical to Batch 1. The street Molly was not quite as pure, based on the TLC results. The spots were slightly smeared. We did see the colorant spot which may have complicated the analysis.
Portland is known for chocolates and chocolatiers. I had done some online homework. So while in Portland, I had to look into the chocolate scene. The most interesting, for harmless’ needs, was Moonstruck Chocolates. I visited their little downtown shop and experienced their liquor-blended (not filled) chocolate. Heavenly! Diana agreed. Beautiful, tasty, delicious, hand made and hand decorated chocolates containing 4-5% special, unique liquor. Moonstruck calls it their Distillers Collection.
Portland liquor stores generally stock the more well known liquor-filled chocolates, especially during the Christmas holiday season. I managed to buy about 20 – half of them containing tequila – for my upcoming belated birthday party in Salt Lake.
Lucien and I melted a small batch of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate – roughly one ounce or about 30 grams. We had earlier done some homework at www.ecolechocolat.com and learned about melting, tempering, and handling of solid and molten chocolate. MDMA melts in the range of 110 to 150 C, depending on its free base to HCl salt content. Dark chocolate melts just under 50 C. We didn’t worry about tempering or other fine points of working with chocolate. As we wanted to test four roughly 8 gr pieces of ‘loaded’ chocolate, we dispersed about 400 mg of MDMA onto the chocolate, now slowly cooling, and gently stirred it in. It dispersed fairly well to produce an MDMA-dark chocolate block. We let it cool, then cut it into four equal pieces, and prepared to test it.
This was our first test of ‘active’ chocolate – and our third test of MDMA. Our previous doses were dispersed in orange juice – this was our first test with a solidified form. We each gently chewed a piece. It was very palatable – basically Trader Joe’s dark chocolate. Since only about 1/100 of it was MDMA, the drug’s bitterness was not noticeable. Although MDMA is a very stable compound, we were a bit concerned about its activity in the chocolate matrix. We just relaxed, listened to some music, and scanned today’s Times.
We expected the effect to take a little longer to develop due to the chocolate matrix, but it didn’t. I started to feel it in about 40 minutes, Lucien in about 30 – he’s not as ‘virginal’ as I. It was what we hoped – a kind, gentle, open and aware feeling.
“Thank you Trader Joe and Sasha Shulgin,” Lucien said.
“It’s not as good as the Moonstruck variety,” I added, “but it’ll do.”
“Maybe we should call it StarStruck. There’s more to do to make it a real taste treat – a new chocolate ecstasy.”
“We do need to call it something relevant. Since it produces a wonderful open, aware, even blissful feeling, for now let’s call it Ananda’s – as in anandamide,” I said.
“That works for me. And now that we know chocolate and MDMA really works, I’ll get Brian, my chocolatier friend, to teach me some real techniques – and perhaps we’ll talk with some people at Moonstruck.”
“Terrific. And perhaps work on a logo and cool design for Ananda’s Chocolates.”
“Will do – and remember, Ananda means bliss in, I think, Sanskrit.”
We were feeling very creative, empathetic, and positive.
Lucien and I then talked, via phone, with his friend, Brian, who makes his own chocolates and is especially fond of Ecuadorian cacao. I suggested other ‘flavorings’, sort of a Utah version of Moonstruck’s Distillery approach – exotic herbal chocolates made using multi-level marketing (MLM) products! Brian was excited.
“You can just disperse the flavoring throughout the chocolate during the manufacturing process,” Brian said. “That’s not hard to do. I’ll be doing a batch in two days. Lucien, if you can come by around 2 pm Thursday, I’ll show you what I know.”
“Deal,” Lucien said.
Lucien, Peter and I had opened the Molly capsule I’d been given in Manzanita, removed just enough for the analytical work, and resealed it. We had removed less than about 10 mg. We did the TLC separation and the SERS Raman work. As our guitarist ‘supplier’ had said, it was good stuff – not quite as pure and clean as Tom’s, but essentially pure MDMA – and some colorant, as expected. I gave the capsule to Peter, as he had a close acquaintance who really wanted to try it, under his supervision and guidance, to attempt to deal with some old, difficult, and stressing issues.
Diana and I then said our good-byes to Lucien, and headed back to Utah, via Bend and Lakeview. Just north of Bend, in Madras, we found a coffee/sandwich shop well stocked with Portuguese wines. Really! So we bought three bottles for a wine-tasting during my upcoming belated birthday gig with friends in Salt Lake. From Oregon back to Utah – culture shock.
A day later I met with Jay, Bill, and Tom with the Moonstruck Distillers Collection in hand, but no ‘active’ preparation.
“That’s incredible!” Jay said.
“I thought you’d like it – have another,” I offered.
“Amen,” Bill agreed. “I’ve never tested, or seen, anything like that.”
“Wow. What a way to deliver anti-cancer drugs,” Tom said. “And if they don’t really work, you go out smiling!”
“I wonder what 100 mg MDMA might do for them?” I asked.
“Only one way to find out,” Tom said. “Suddenly being a taster, tester has become a lot more interesting!”
“Lucien and Peter said the same thing last week in Portland.” I continued: “Lucien and I did a pilot experiment a few days ago, using Trader Joe’s dark chocolate and 400 mg of Batch #2.”
“Batch 2 is very good, isn’t it?” Tom asked proudly. He had gotten back to Salt Lake in time for his radioactive spheres and was feeling fine so far.
“Yes, it is very good – and got along well with the Trader Joe’s dark chocolate. Everything works.”
“But you didn’t bring us any?” asked Jay.
“Not yet. Lucien’s now becoming a chocolatier – give him a couple of weeks to make some truly wonderful stuff.”
We agreed that the Moonstruck approach is the way to go to provide a truly delicious and optimally active therapy. We began by watching the Moonstruck video – a 5 minute ‘tour’ of their factory and process. We talked about a chocolate ‘brand ’ – a fictitious name, brand, and web site to minimize – and to satisfy – curiosity as to the source of the chocolates. Some ideas:
Delphi or OracleChocolate
AnandasChocolates (for anandamide)
We continued to be partial to Ananda’s Chocolates because it had a message, was sufficiently mysterious, and was not connectable or traceable. www.ananda.com is a yoga meditation site. A quick search turned up .nl and .de sites for anandachocolate but nothing for anandaschocolates. We quickly reserved the .com version and proceeded to put up a limited in process site. We set up the websites www.anandaschocolates.com and www.StateChange.us , both registered and paid up for 10 years. I didn’t ask Jake to do them because we want to be sure he’s in no way connected or identified with the real harmless project.
As far as delivery to patients, we could just have the chocolates with us, place them on the table or counter, and offer them to the current patient. We did have concerns. What if they take the box home – and give it to their kids? Easy answer – don’t put a box on the table, just very few individually wrapped and labeled chocolates.
We talked about ‘chocolates for adults’ – adults-only chocolates. Clearly, they shouldn’t be given to kids.
We also discussed set and setting – the need for those close to you to empathize with you – with what you are thinking and doing. We felt set and setting could be somewhat aided by appropriate packaging and branding – and by a small foldout insert with more information – like a prescription drug insert but more interesting and readable.
“In some ayahuasca ceremonies,” Lucien said, “dark and white paper is passed out – dark on one side, white on the other. The participants are told to write on the dark side those feelings, events, etc. they want to leave behind – to escape from; on the white side they write what they are striving for, where they’d like to go. It’s a From To exercise.”
“Interesting,” I said. “Let’s consider wrapping – sealing – the individual chocolate in foil, then surrounded with a dark-white tissue, pre-printed with the words From and To, each followed by a set of lines. The message, hopefully, is ‘fill in the blanks’.”
“And the insert or flyer would be perhaps a 2 x 3 inch very thin paper, folded tightly and very small, to fit within the tissue wrapping,” Lucien added.
“The insert would be titled Ananda’s Chocolates – aiding your path forward – and printed with brief paragraphs on History, Chemistry, Health, Medicine, Society,” Bill suggested.
“The content could, perhaps should, be the same as on the web site,” Jay said.
“A good plan,” I said. “Lucien?”
“I think it’s a good approach.”
“I’ll start designing. Perhaps a logo-icon related to light, brain, and forward movement? I assume you’ll get me text for the flyer-insert.”
“Roger,” I said. “I think your logo idea is right on. Let’s see it.”
“It should only take me a couple of days.”
I worked on the text, which Lucien and I then finalized:
Ananda’s Chocolates – opening your path forward
Ananda’s is a unique chocolate experience, providing feelings of relaxation, contentment, empathy, and understanding for responsible adults.
History: Amanda’s not very secret ingredients include Anandamide – a natural hormone, commonly known as the bliss molecule. It’s connected with oxytocin, the hormone which helps with bonding and attachment between mother and her new born. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid, as is THC, the key active ingredient in cannabis. They bind to natural neuroreceptors responsible for heightening motivation and happiness. Chocolate is one of the very few natural foods with elevated levels of anandamide.
Chemistry: Ananda’s Chocolates are made from high quality dark chocolate containing anandamide and related empathogens. Consumption of just one chocolate results in a feeling of relaxation, introspection, empathy, and even bliss. These effects begin to develop within an hour or so of consuming the chocolate. The feeling of comfort, understanding, bliss, and contentment may continue for several hours, often for much longer.
Health and Medicine: High quality chocolate is well known for its beneficial health qualities, including positive and supportive mental states, as well as enhanced empathy and compassion. Regular consumption is not needed and not recommended; in fact just one chocolate is generally sufficient for a semi-permanent change in attitude and perspective.
Society and Culture: Consumption of Ananda’s Chocolate in a family or group setting facilitates communication, understanding, introspection, empathy, and compassion. It is also an aid to creativity and problem-solving.
Availability: Ananda’s Chocolates is a new venture in the early startup and testing phase. Regular production and distribution is expected in late 2016. We cannot take orders or send samples at this time. Check back here in several months for updates.
Ananda’s Chocolates are for adults only.
As we progressed in our discussions on presentation of the chocolate to a specific patient, we considered the treatment of his wife, friends, colleagues – if we felt that might be helpful in providing a helpful and supportive environment. The doses we’re using wouldn’t harm youth and adults. We also discussed half-doses for staff and others to taste and do ‘diligence’.
We would likely get questions: Are the chocolates our creation, a friends’, a family member? Are they available? Can you purchase them? Perhaps we’re just helping a friend (Ananda) field test her new chocolates. She could have a web site without content – saying that it is going live in three months: ‘Ananda’s working. Visit again in three months. Be patient’. And, by then, harmless should be finished.
I did some homework on chocolate and drug delivery, and came upon some new information. One company, focused on food supplements for kids, has filed a patent application on dark chocolate – based delivery of drugs. Another firm, Cambridge Chocolates, is now selling very high end soft skin, anti-aging so-called ‘beauty’ chocolate, arguing that the high antioxidant levels provide such benefits. Interesting.
We continued to discuss other means for effective delivery. Another treat might be Super Grapes – large seedless grapes injected with our potion. Ben Sessa, in The Psychedelic Renaissance, refers to a Michael Hollingshead serving grapes containing injected LSD to his friends, one of which was Paul McCartney. It would take a big grape to hold 100 mg but it may be worth some experimentation! But we focused nearly all of our attention on a delivery system based on chocolate. We just needed to work out the details, the production and packaging, the branding, and the delivery.
Tom had worked on a few additives which would make analytical and forensic detection of MDMA in the chocolates difficult. We didn’t want some of our first patients to suspect something and submit their chocolates to local labs for analysis. If that were to happen, and MDMA was detected, there would suddenly be much publicity and uproar about ‘laced’ chocolates being given to popular right wing ideologues – and we would soon be in jail. I was kept in the loop with the Portland Three on an almost daily basis:
“Chocolate contains a variety of biochemicals closely related to drugs,” I said. “Maybe we don’t need to worry about possible analysis.”
“If you do a high resolution mass spec or HPLC analysis of chocolate, could you find MDMA if it was there?” Lucien asked.
“Sure,” Tom answered, “but you’d also find many other things of perhaps greater interest.”
“Like?” Peter asked.
“Like anandamide, theobromine, phenylethylamine, various alkaloids and flavenoids, tryptophan, and other stuff.”
“When we talked about anandamide earlier, didn’t someone say it has cannabis – like effects?” Lucien asked.
“Yes, and with cannabis now legal in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, cannabis-laced chocolates are becoming very common,” Peter said.
“So why not just stir in a little THC with the MDMA and anyone looking at it will likely find cannabis,” Lucien said.
“Which gets MDMA off the suspicion list?”
“I think so,” Tom answered. “Unless it’s a serious DEA-type drug analysis, most will assume that whatever the effects are, they’re due to chocolate itself, or – perhaps – to cannabis. That sounds good to me. I really didn’t want to get into the deuteration or other modifications of MDMA to mess up serious forensic analyses. I’m getting too tired to do very creative – or difficult – chemistry.”
“Let’s just acquire a small amount of cannabis oil and include very small amounts in our chocolate preparations,” I suggested.
“That will work. Good idea.”
The Salt Lake group continued talking and planning, focusing now on the branding and packaging. We were at Coffee Noir again, near the U.
“Most of our patients are very conservative, so we don’t want a druggie or flower child look – no liberal, empathic, or celestial icons,” Bill suggested.
“Right. We want them to feel secure and comfortable with the packaging – the look. It’s after they accept and consume the treat that their journey or revelation might begin. And it would indeed be helpful if their wife or partner is having a chocolate at the same time,” I added.
We came up with several ideas for branding which would help the patient accept and consume the chocolate:
Presidential Collection (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln)
for Presidential candidates, some Justices;
Freedom and Liberty Collection (Flag, USA map)
for NRA-types, vigilante types, flag wavers;
for Evangelicals, Mormons, Muslims;
For Adults Only!
for Humanists, Thinkers, Academics;
Ayn Rand Collection
for Libertarians, Adolescents.
“You did it without me?” Tom asked, jokingly.
We were all in Salt Lake to review our plans and to bid Tom goodbye from the group – as he moved on to more aggressive and partially debilitating treatments, starting with taking oral cytotoxic anticancer agents.
“Because you’re such a great teacher,” Lucien said.
“You made an organic chemist out of a communication major and graphic designer,” I smiled.
“Hey, organic chemistry is like two parts art and hands for one part chemical science,” Don said. “Lucien’s a good artist with great hands.”
“And don’t forget Peter,” Lucien said, beaming. “He remembered all the details and asked all the right questions.”
“And saw to it that we used every last drop of methyl amine,” Peter added.
“That last batch must have used nearly everything we had,” Don said.
The last batch yielded about 20 grams, nearly 200 additional doses. Lucien chose to carefully keep it safe and secure in case we might have a need for it later.
“Not much to dispose of, correct?”
“And how might we dispose of everything else?” I asked. “I’ll get the glassware, and the Raman and TLC stuff, back in to my U office – and the other chemical equipment.”
“I was going to ask to take it,” Tom said, “but I don’t think that’s wise. I probably won’t last long enough to use it – and Bonnie would not like it.”
“What about your Oregon residency plans – and the Death with Dignity concern?” I asked.
“I’ll either survive or I won’t,” Tom said. “I’ll take my chances in Utah. Bonnie didn’t like the idea of moving to Portland. She’s too hooked on Utah sunshine. I’ll have a good supply of Ananda’s Chocolates. And I’ve acquired enough marijuana while in Portland to hopefully deal with some of the terminal pain issues. Bonnie will know what to do.”
“I’m not any good at praying, “ I said, giving Tom a gentle hug.
“Me neither,” he said. “In times like these, I often think of the James Taylor song, Enjoy the Ride.”
“I love that song,” I said. “Another great one is Gracias a la vida, sort of a Mexican – Spanish anthem to life.”
“I don’t know that one,” Tom said.
“In English, the first line is: Thanks to the life that has given me so much.”
I opened my laptop. “Just happen to have it here. It’s really beautiful in Spanish. Listen up:”
We listened, saying nothing.
“Isn’t that the name of an old Joan Baez album?” Jay asked.
“It was the title song of a Baez album – over half a century ago,” I said. “I saw a similar sentiment the other day, in a Times obituary. At the very end of the long obit, they included the deceased’s preferred tombstone message:
I adored you, and you returned my love a hundred fold. Life, I thank you!
“There’s always something interesting in a Times obit,” Bill said.
“You don’t have James Taylor on that laptop, do you?” Tom asked.
“Sure do. It was used in the last program of my Science without Walls course and TV show. The song’s title is the Secret of Life. Give me a second.”
We waited, listened, again quietly, smiling.
“’Since we’re on the way down we might as well enjoy the ride’…I like that,” Bill said.
“Me, too,” Tom said. “I’ve really enjoyed this part of the ride – with harmless.”
We were all suppressing tears. I gently broke the reverence.
“I’ll get the hardware and put it in my office at the U.”
“I’ll package up the remaining chemicals, label them, put them in a closed box, and wrap some CAUTION tape around them,…” Peter then hesitated.
“And?” I asked, looking at him.
“Why don’t I place the box in the Chemistry Building at Reed College,” he answered, a bit quietly. “The second floor is a lab floor, with a few old tables in the main hall. I can just place the chemicals there.”
“That’s a great plan,” Lucien said. “The building’s open in the evening, almost no one is ever there at night, and there’s no security. I go right by the building during my evening runs across the Reed campus. I can be security and watchman for you.”
“And when the Reed professors or students discover it, they’ll either deal with it or call the cops to handle it,” I suggested. “But it might be better to carry the chemicals in via a backpack, unpack it onto the tables, and then wear the empty backpack back out. You also need to dispose of our chemical waste containers.”
“Easy. We’ll label and deposit them in the same place at the same time.”
“And since Reedies don’t really like cops on campus, I’m sure they’ll just deal with it,” Peter said. “We won’t deposit the chemicals until the cottage is vacated and released back to the landlord.”
“Agreed. We’ll move out of our little Portland cottage lab, clean it up, and formally vacate it,” I said. “I can be out there in about 10 days to pack up the stuff and return it to the U.” Looking at Lucien, I continued “Perhaps you and Peter could package the stuff up and clean up the place.”
“Sure. We’ll wash, dry, and package everything. It’ll be ready when you arrive.
Lucien and Peter returned to Portland. I followed in the Prius some 10 days later.