Soul medicine

Charles 6 Comments

We’ve not spent enough time on this blog talking about the value of psychoactive and psychedelic drugs in the treatment of the dying. Let’s start putting that right. We’re talking cannabis, here, and also LSD, MDMA (ecstacy, on the street), and  psilocybin, the fun ingredient in magic mushrooms. 

If you find yourself deeply sceptical and utterly disinclined, here are two tasters. 

Above is a talk by Marilyn Howell on how psychedelic therapy helped ease her daughter’s suffering at the end of her life.

Below is an extract from an article in the 420 Times about how a “60 something year old tea party type, a 2nd Amendment advocate, conservative, anti everything governmental, a war supporter” came around to feeding his dying wife cannabis-enhanced cookies.

If you want to delve deeper into academic research under way, go to the MAPS site. Highly recommended. Here

One day, this stuff may help you.  


I listened some months ago to Bob quietly lament his wife’s cancer to Ed in my office. While staring at the floor he sort of rambled unconnected ideas, randomly covering what he was thinking. “Can’t eat”, “always vomiting”, “losing weight”, “doctors know nothing”, “drugs don’t help”. He knew the end was coming and he just wanted her as comfortable as he could make her. It was one of those awkward moments where I saw in Bob a man who just needed to share his feelings and his fears. He wasn’t looking for an answer; he knew there aren’t any. It was one of those special moments when you know the man is letting you in for just a minute. Live long enough and you might be privileged to a few of these moments.

When Bob paused, Ed suggested she try marijuana. I instantly bristled. In a few words Ed espoused what benefits it might offer. Bob gave the look he always does when Ed says something he thinks is completely off the wall. I sort of
agreed with Ed’s reasoning and thought, “It couldn’t hurt”. Bob said she would never be able to smoke it. “Cookies, I’ll make her cookies,” Ed countered. “What kind does she like?”

“Toll House Chocolate Chip are her favorite” Bob said.

“I’ll make her a dozen tonight and bring them over. Where do you live?”

And so was born a 6 month long drug connection where dozens of marijuana laced cookies and brownies were purchased and delivered as part of an illicit NY drug trade between the most unlikely of partners. Every couple of weeks they would meet in the parking lot and I would watch the deal go down. It had none of the hurried nature of a typical street deal. To the uninformed all you would see is two older men greet with big grins and a hearty handshake. There was always some small talk before a few bills were held out and an oversized box of cookies under plastic wrap was handed over. Two men giving and taking and both being better for it. It was so natural.

Bob swore by them, “It’s all she will eat, I’ve had a few myself”, he said one afternoon with a cheshire grin. “It never completely eliminated the pain, it seemed to soften it”, he would later say. He did note her nausea all but stopped and she was able to maintain her weight till the end. His most telling comment was she stopped talking about her illness and impending demise. “The cookies relaxed her. She let it go and just let it come”, Bob said. “That was the biggest
blessing. It let us talk of other things; important things”.

Read the whole article here


  1. Charles

    Thank you, Charles, that’s a real service.
    I once asked a deputy Chief Constable if we – anyone, anywhere – was winning “the war on drugs.” She said simply that the price of heroin on the street was falling, and as far as she could see, would continue to do so, and did that answer my question? I kept looking at her. She then said “No, we’re not.” Well, she should know, not some blowhard in the House of Commons.

    Without getting into the macro debate about legalisation vs criminalisation, couldn’t our legislative guardians find the intellectual grip and the moral courage to distinguish between recreational drug use, and the value to those in chronic pain and terminal agony of substances we call “drugs.” (Unlike, say, vodka..)

    It is inhumane, what we now do.

    I guess we’ll just have to keep expanding the underground movement, with all the implicit dangers of adulterated drugs, until such times as our leaders actually take a lead?

  2. Charles

    What an amazing video! So moving.

    For me there is no debate at all. Psychoactive drugs should be available for those who are dying and who want them. I anticipate that that would include me.

  3. Charles

    I think that the hypocrisy and double standards that seem to surround the issues of drug law reform, particularly in a medical context make clear thinking on this subject from those who are in a position to change anything virtually impossible. Which is a tragedy for those that could be helped. I don’t know where to start on this one…one day, perhaps, we, as a society, will outgrow our childishness on this issue. I’m not holding my breath though.

  4. Charles

    Lol! Only because all the evidence I have seen seems to support it. I am emphatically not on the side of double standards for the sake of political convenience. There are drugs that are commonly prescribed for pain relief that are far more potentially harmful than these; although, to be fair, when you are talking about treating those very near the end of life the potential harm the drug may cause is hardly a major issue. So that leaves the only possible reason for not using drugs with a proven track record of pain relief is that is sets a bad example or ‘muddies the water’ of the government’s stance on drugs. Not a particularly good argument as it is easy enough to license a drug for medical use only. Also, I am not a big fan of ‘nanny state’ thinking in general…I’m generally in favour of good information upon which I, as a responsible adult (some would dispute that,I’m sure) can base my choices.

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