In this edition of Flashback Friday, writer Steve Block outlines all the reasons why everyone should avoid jimsonweed. Originally published in the December, 1975 issue of High Times.

The search for exotic highs is like the temptation to bet on “propositions”: of course, you know who won the World Series in 1936, how to sing the “Horst Wessel Song,” or that the dude drinking pink ladies cannot pour that glass into your trousers without getting you wet. Damon Runyon summed up the smart gambler’s attitude to “propositions” in his advice to Sky Masterton in Guys and Dolls “Sky,” he said, “some day a man is going to come along and show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal has not been broken, and he is going to offer to bet you any amount of money that he can make the jack of hearts jump out of the deck and squirt cider in your ear. But son, do not bet him, for as sure as you do, you will wind up with an ear full of cider.”

So it goes with dope. You trek 900 miles overland into the Amazon jungle to sample yagé in its natural habitat and some unscrupulous brujo (sorcerer) sells you a skullful of leopard piss that decorticates your left cerebral hemisphere. Cosmic Danny, the most righteous dealer in Denver, sells you a dozen buttons of peyote that get you the Nobel Prize for puking. Some hand-picked coca leaves trickle into Vancouver and your fillings trickle out. After a certain number of unsuccessful experiments with these overpriced emetics, one reluctantly gives up hit-and-run highs in favor of the tried and true, and peace reigns in the troubled brain.

Still, the temptation always lies beneath the surface. Stories circulate about gentle new blends of PCP or “mescaline.” Perhaps no such drug is so big in legend and so awful in the event as jimsonweed.

Wherever high trash gather to slobber over week-old roaches, jimsonweed is the dope most highly spoken of in tones of awed, appreciative speculation. I would like to put these silly rumors to rest once and for all. In my opinion, jimsonweed is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the world’s worst drug.

Jimsonweed acts swiftly and lasts long, and to the unprepared it shows no mercy. It is called the devil’s weed and like the devil it claims body and soul.

The use of jimsonweed goes back thousands of years. There is an amusing anecdote about the use of jimsonweed among Mark Antony’s legions in 38 B.C. Unfortunately I cannot remember it. The devil’s weed does funny things to your memory.

In 1564 a well-known Spanish physician, one Monardes, received a shipment of “cacho” seeds from a fellow Spaniard residing in the new colony of Peru. After studying and cultivating them, Monardes sent some seeds to the Turkish herbalist, Lord Zouch, who in turn sent seeds to the great British botanist Gerarde. Gerarde classified the plant, calling it the Thorn Apple of Peru. He put it in the nightshade or Solanaceae family. In Latin it is called Datura; other names—stinkweed, stink-wort, mad apple—followed, and they all fit.

Jimsonweed has long been used by native Americans as a medicine. The Aztecs used it for centuries in poultices to soothe scalds and burns. Some Indians also used it as an anesthetic while setting bone fractures.

In this century jimsonweed extract—stramonium—has been used as a muscle relaxant, in cigarettes for asthmatics, and as a palliative for hemorrhoids. It has been used to treat rabies and to knock out intended victims of the French Revolution’s guillotine and candidates for the strangling cord of India’s “thuggee” death cult.

Apart from these mundane uses, jimsonweed’s reputation persists as a key that can give one access to one of what Don Juan calls the “million paths of knowledge.” Carlos Castañeda claims to have taken it with an old brujo and found it a sure route to heightened perception and enlightenment. I don’t know anybody else who has, but I’m here to tell you it’s like snorting Drano.

I found some datura growing wild on the Jersey shore. OK, so I didn’t have an assignment from the Atlantic Monthly to study geriatric brujos in Mexico. I can pick jimsonweed and chop it up and scarf it down as well as the next guy.

After some slight nausea, itching and shortness of breath, I noticed that my heart was throbbing. Vision became blurred, hearing decreased, and my mouth was parched. I realized that death awaited me, and I was assailed by feelings of self-doubt and contrition for sins I had never imagined, let alone committed. The fear of dying grew in me and I ran over to a friend’s house, gasping for help. After a while I passed out for about five hours. When I came to I was completely exhausted.

I have never experienced anything but physical pleasure and a blissful consciousness of self-acceptance and love of the world on LSD, DMT, STP, mescaline, peyote, ayahuasca, yagé, marijuana, hashish, opium, cocaine, even the heroin I snorted at Jimmy Farrell’s birthday party. I don’t know what got into me but it’s never going to happen again. Jimsonweed poisoning, though dangerous, is not always fatal. Left alone, a victim will more than likely recover from the effects within a few days, depending of course on how much of the chemical alkaloids he has ingested.

The Department of Pediatrics of the University of Virginia School of Medicine reported in 1955, “Although distinctly less frequent than kerosene or salicylate intoxication, Datura has had about the same incidence as lead, barbiturates, alcohol, rodenticides, and insecticides as a source of poisoning.” The incidence among children is somewhat higher than among adults because kids are attracted by the seeds, which they use as play pills. One report from Cleveland in the 1940s spoke of an entire orphanage stricken by the drug. ‘‘Some kids crawled under beds, some barked like dogs, some picked at imaginary objects from mid-air, and others just moaned or wept.”

Another strange incident of jimsonweed poisoning occurred on a farm not far from Nashville, Tennessee, in the early 1960s. In this case an entire family was poisoned, and it was later learned that the farmer, unaware of the dangers, had been grafting his tomato vines with jimsonweed plants. This was done, he said, to insure that his tomatoes would ripen even in mid-fall, since jimsonweed is hardy enough to fight off the first frost.

The farmer’s tomatoes yielded 4.2 milligrams of stramonium alkaloid per hundred grams of tomato, more than sufficient to produce severe symptoms of poisoning. Neither the farmer nor his family was permanently injured by the poisoning, but they were all sick for two weeks.

High Times

The Thorn Apple grows wild: while it flourishes in moist soil and thrives in the Peruvian sun, it has also done well under more extreme climates throughout the world. Its strong acrid smell can be detected from several feet away. It is a large, fibrous, leafy plant and may grow to five feet in height. On it bloom trumpetlike flowers that remain from early spring to late fall. Only at night do its petals open wide.

The whole plant is poisonous, from leaf to root, and once the seed—which may be scattered by wind, water or beast—germinates, jimsonweed will grow almost anywhere.

There are more than 15 species of datura. Datura stramonium, Datura meteloides and Datura tatula (more purplish than the other two) are the most common on the North American continent.

The name “jimsonweed” derives from Jamestown, Virginia, where it was first used by the English soldiers in the year 1676. The tiny colony had saved itself from economic despair by growing tobacco, and the new tobacco trade had spread to Europe and even to the Orient, despite the bitter opposition of King James I.

A minor revolt against the corrupt government of the Crown was being led by Colonel Nathaniel Bacon, an outspoken gentleman tobacco planter, a man of dissolute personal habits but a determined military leader. Troops were dispatched from England to defend Jamestown. One evening, the troops’ cook brewed up some local herbs, serving a bitter-tasting datura salad, “…the Effect of which was a very pleasant Comedy: for they turned natural Fools upon it for several Days: One would blow up a Feather in the Air: another would dart Straws at it with much Fury: and another stark naked was sitting in a Corner, like a Monkey, grinning and making Mows at them: Fourth would fondly kiss and paw his Companions, and snear in their Faces, with a Countenance more Antick than any in a Dutch Droll.”

“In this Frantick condition they were confined, lest they should in their folly destroy themselves: though it was observed, that all their Actions were full of Innocence and good Nature. Indeed, they were not very cleanly: for they would have wallowed in their own Excrements if they had not been prevented. A Thousand such simple Tricks they play’d and after Eleven Days, return’d themselves again, not remembering a thing that had pass’d” (Robert Beverly, History of Virginia).

These troops, it may be noted, did not bring home the Bacon. (He died later of venereal disease.) Bacon’s Rebellion eventually petered out, despite the first successful military use of a psychoactive drug.

Long before the white man had ever reached the New World, Indians had been using “wighsackan” for medicinal and spiritual purposes. The Powhattans held “huskinawing” initiation rites each spring for young males becoming braves. Given a generous measure of jimsonweed concoction to drink, the youths were sent into the woods for several days. There, under extreme hallucinosis, they underwent the secret ceremonies of admission into manhood. It must have been a caution.

Out west, too, the Zunis, Paiutes and Walapais used the plant for similar purposes. “Among the Luiseno of California,” wrote another observer, “several youths of puberty age were gathered at night into a special enclosure where they drank a concoction prepared from the roots of the weed. The effect of the drug lasted from two to four days. During that time the initiate experienced visions of spirits, which he believed gave him supernatural powers. Later, he had to descend into a pit dug in the ground, symbolic of death, and then climb out again, supposedly indicating rebirth.”

Older tribesmen also took the drug. An eighteenth-century missionary, John Heckewelder, witnessed many such occasions. Of one incident he says:

“He will fancy himself flying through the air, stepping from ridge or hill to the other, across the valley beneath, fighting and conquering giants and even monsters, and defeating whole hosts of enemies with his single arm. He then has an interview with Maninito or spirit who lays out before him his fate. This belief in the truth of the visions is universal among the Indians. There are even some who believe in the transmigration of the soul. I have known several Indians who firmly believed they knew, by means of their visions, what was to become of them when they should die. How their souls were to retire from their bodies and take abode into those bodies still unborn.”

The most famous account of Indian experience with jimsonweed is given by Carlos Castañeda’s Don Juan. Admitting that the drug can give some insight into the soul, Don Juan says, “She distorts men, she gives them tasks of power too soon without fortifying their hearts and makes them domineering and unpredictable. She makes them weak in the middle of their great power’’

Atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine are the chemicals that constitute datura. Alone, each is a potent drug that chemists carefully dilute for medicinal purposes. In combination they produce symptoms quite similar to those of belladonna: severe dryness and burning of the throat, extreme dilation of the pupils, delirium, nausea and wild hallucinations.

Jimsonweed is illegal in this country, but it grows wild almost everywhere. It grows best in marshy and swampy regions, but may even be found flourishing in vacant lots in big cities. It’s easiest to find, though, in unweeded fields where moisture abounds.

If you will not be satisfied until you have trifled with this mephitic mind-fucker, the old Indian way of preparing jimsonweed dictated picking the fruit of the plant late in the harvest season, with, if possible, the light of the full moon falling over your left shoulder while you mutter the names of demons. Separate the leaves, stem, pod and seeds. All parts are toxic and will get you “high.” Drying the leaves will rid them of their strong odor but will not affect their toxicity.

The active alkaloids—atropine, hyascamine and scopolamine—are available from any drugstore—with a prescription. Or just get hold of a pack of stramonium cigarettes for asthmatics, still manufactured in Europe, and boil the contents junkie style.

Next time someone tells me jimsonweed is far out, I’m going to agree with him. But I’m not going to take it, not the jack of hearts from an unopened deck of cards.

The post Flashback Friday: Jimsonweed, The World’s Worst Dope appeared first on High Times.

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1. What is CBD? What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp/cannabis. Its formula is C21H30O2 and it has a molecular mass of 314.4636. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and is being scientifically investigated for various reasons.

CBD oil is a cannabis oil (whether derived from marijuana or industrial hemp, as the word cannabis is the latin genus name for both) that has significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) contained within it. Our CBD products and extracts are derived from industrial hemp, so they could be considered CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or plainly “hemp extracts” since they typically contain much more than just CBD. Again, cannabis doesn’t mean marijuana, but is the genus name, and general umbrella term which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall under. The form of cannabis we use for our CBD and hemp extracts is industrial hemp; we do not sell marijuana.

2. If a hemp extract is 40% cannabinoids, what’s the other 60%? What’s in your hemp extracts besides the naturally occurring cannabinoids?

Our Kentucky hemp extracts contain over 80 different phyto-cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), CBC, CBG, CBN, etc.. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our agricultural hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules and phyto-chemical compounds such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 & 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavanoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. The most common terpenes in our hemp extracts are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Nerolidol og Phytol, trans-alpha-Bergamotene, Limonene/ beta-Phellandrene (Co-elution), and alpha-Humulene.

3. What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?

Scientifically, industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though. Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. organic hemp seedsTypically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as our Kentucky hemp we’re now using!

99% of the time marijuana has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and only a trace amount of THC. Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’ Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so much more, whereas marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. The term cannabis oil can refer to either a marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis.

In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

4. Are hemp derived cannabinoids such as CBD as good as CBD from marijuana?

The short answer is yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low non-psychoactive cannabinoid profile (like CBD, CBC, CBG), so most of the time hemp would be much more preferable for anything besides THC. Marijuana is usually very high in THC (gives people the high) but usually very low in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.

Nowadays in the USA, many farmers are growing industrial hemp flowers that are just as beautiful, odor-producing, and terpene rich as the best marijuana strains, such as our partnered farmers in Kentucky.

5. Why don’t you source your Hemp and CBD from within Colorado?

colorado growing operationWe feel that the hemp program in Kentucky is more well suited for our company in regards to growing hemp, and that because it’s 100% compliant with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (and the 2016 Agricultural Appropriations Act), procuring it from there is perfectly legal at the federal level. Kentucky’s ecology is perfect for hemp just as it is for tobacco. The growing season is longer than in Colorado, and the soil is richer, so the quality of the hemp and the yields are better.

6. What’s the percentage of cannabinoids and CBD in your product?

Our raw extracts have varying percentages of cannabinoid and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the range being 10%-99%. Each product has a unique formulation and uses varying ratios of our extract types. Our CBD Isolate is over 99% pure CBD.

7. What is the best method of use?

For our dietary supplements we can only recommend them for internal consumption. Our CBD isolate is for research purposes only. If you don’t like the flavor of the oil supplements, you can mix with something sweet like apple sauce or honey to cut through the flavor.

8. What’s the ideal serving size for me, and how often should I take it?

There is no easy answer to this. Our starting recommended serving size is 15 drops but we generally recommend experimenting to see what feels best to you. Some prefer 5 drops, some prefer over 50 drops per day.

9. What is the safety of your hemp extracts? Are there negative side effects?

Hemp is considered by many to be generally safe. We’ve never seen or heard of any significant or negative CBD Oil Extractside effects in our years in the industry. That said, we can’t rule them out. Please consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement including Hemp extract supplements.

10. Which of your CBD and hemp products should I get?

As a company who sells various dietary and food supplements, we can’t suggest any of our products for the prevention, treatment or cure of any disease or ailment.

When considering our different dietary hemp products, know that they all come in two strengths. Our Original Hemp blends (Classic Hemp Blend, Hemp Complete, Brainpower oil, & Signature Blend) all have 250+mg of cannabinoids per fluid ounce, and our concentrated blends have 1,500+mg per fluid ounce, six times the potency of our traditional oils. We’ve found that sometimes less is more, but nevertheless, some people like to take very large serving sizes of our hemp extracts.

The main difference between the four Original Blends is the additional herbal ingredients besides hemp. We suggest you research the separate components of each blend to determine which product may be most appealing to add to your dietary regimen. If you know it’s solely the hemp extract that you are looking for, with no additional ingredients, then Classic Hemp Blend or Classic Hemp 6x is what you’re looking for.

For dabbing and vaporizing or for research you can try our CBD Isolate.


11. Why do people use Hemp Extracts and CBD? What are the benefits and uses of CBD?

In accordance with federal regulations we cannot make health claims regarding our dietary supplement products. We can only recommend our products for general wellness.

12. Is a standard hemp seed oil the same as a high-CBD hemp extract?

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Absolutely not. Standard hemp oil, which can be found very cheaply at a grocery store, is a much different product than our CO2 hemp extracts (not from seed). Standard hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds, whereas our hemp extract is a supercritical CO2 extraction of the hemp plant itself, not the seeds. Hemp seed oil is considered to be a great nutritive food, but it doesn’t have the naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids and other components that our extracts do have.

13. Do I need to move to Colorado to get your Hemp Extracts and CBD? Where do you ship?

No. We actually source our hemp from Kentucky, as it’s legal to ship across state lines. Many people are under the impression that the only way to acquire hemp extracts and CBD for themselves or a loved one is to move to Colorado or another cannabis-friendly state. Many major news outlets are misinformed and are unfortunately spreading the idea that you can only get CBD oil in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This is simply not the case though. Because our extracts comes from hemp instead of marijuana, we can and do ship to all fifty states, and no medical marijuana card is needed. There are some exceptions, like with Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota we can’t sell our concentrated products due to state legislation.

We also ship to Japan, Australia, the EU, Switzerland, and Brazil. For all EU orders contact our exclusive distributor thereCannawell.

14. Is your Hemp Extract Oil similar to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil?

Not quite. Ours are from hemp and RSHO is usually using marijuana, a different form of cannabis than industrial hemp. Our industrial hemp extracts are more standardized and will usually have a much higher content of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD than one produced through the Rick Simpson method. And oils produced through his method will usually have a much higher THC content, as it’s typically marijuana that is used for RSHO.†

Generally speaking, most marijuana producers and sellers (especially on the black market) don’t test for contaminants (metals, pesticides, bacteria, etc.). Rick Simpson Hemp Oil is actually more a method of extraction than it is a specific product. People use the Rick Simpson method with hundreds of different strains of marijuana, so the THC, CBD and other cannabinoid content of the final oil is always varying greatly, depending on the cannabis the consumers are acquiring. Usually what’s used for Rick Simpson oil is a strain with an inferior CBD content (and high THC), because that’s what the vast amount of marijuana is nowadays.

15. Where do you source your hemp and CBD from?

We have partners in Kentucky who grew a dedicated plot for us this year (2016) which is being used in our products now. mjna message boardWe also currently source from Europe but we’ll be changing that soon.

16. What kind of testing/analysis is performed on your products?

We have an industry leading quality control system, and we have third party laboratories analyze all of our hemp extracts and our final products for cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, bacterial and microbial life, mycotoxins (fungus), and pesticides.

17. What is CO2 extraction? What’s the difference between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractions?

CO2 extraction is an extraction process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract phyto-chemicals (such as CBD, CBG, or terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) from a plant. CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures acts like a solvent, without the dangers of actually being one. It is the most expensive extraction method, and is widely considered the most effective and safest plant extraction method in the world.

Many hemp and CBD companies boast about their supercritical CO2 extractions, but that’s actually only one (and perhaps an inferior) method of using a CO2 extraction machine. There are also subcritical CO2 extractions, and ‘mid-critical’, a general range between subcritical and supercritical. Subcritical (low temp, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce smaller yields than super-critical, but they retain the essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high pressure and high temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat sensitive chemicals, but can extract much larger molecules such as lipids (omega 3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes. A truly full-spectrum CO2 extract includes first performing a subcritical extraction, separating the extracted oil, and then extracting the same plant material using supercritical pressure, and then homogenizing both oil extracts into one. In the essential oil industry, an extract made using this specific process is referred to as a CO2 Total.

18. What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors.” Wikipedia

There are two main types of receptors in the ECS, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and brains of mammals, and CB2 are generally found in the peripheral nervous system. There are two main cannabinoids mammals produce- 2AG and Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit term “ananda” which translates to “peace”).

For hundreds of millions of years every vertebrate on Earth has been equipped with this ECS, a crucial system in the body, and it has been known about in the scientific and medical communities since the 1980’s. However, it’s still not taught about in most medical schools.