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Can I Travel With Controlled Substances?

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Can I Travel With Controlled Substances?

Can you help me understand what substances I can travel with? Ketamine is legal, psilocybin is decriminalized in some places, cannabis is legal in some states, so what happens if I try to fly domestically or internationally or drive state to state with these substances?

The legality of possessing, distributing, testing, and/or using substances is a real rat’s nest, and as a non-lawyer I am definitely not qualified to speak on this subject with much nuance. I’ll share the extent of what I know, but understand that this is not legal advice, nor has it been vetted by a legal professional. The Psychedelic Bar Association and ACLU may actually have better resources on this topic.

First: The phrase “ketamine is legal” doesn’t apply to you. It’s a Schedule III substance that can be administered legally under certain conditions, by certain people. You, as a non-DEA licensed non-healthcare individual, may not possess, use, or distribute ketamine legally unless it’s been prescribed to you (to my best working knowledge). As stated by this law firm: “Ketamine clinics are legal as long as the healthcare providers who work at those locations and dispense ketamine to patients have a DEA registration to administer the treatments (in addition to any other required state licensing and registrations for the practice of medicine). This law applies to healthcare providers but not clinics or certified medical offices, though clinics may still register if they want to. However, the healthcare provider must register with the DEA at each location where they administer ketamine.” 

Second: There are major differences between state and federal laws for all drugs. There are also specific laws around transporting drugs between states. I have no idea how all of those things play out in combination with each other, since it is impossibly complicated and always changing. 

The bottom line here is, I wouldn’t try to fly between states with any substances that aren’t federally decriminalized or legalized for recreational use. I wouldn’t fly internationally with controlled substances under any circumstances. Driving state to state is entirely up to your own risk tolerance, but at my most conservative I would advise against transporting anything between states. 

The only exception would be driving between two states where, for instance, cannabis is expressly legalized for recreational use. Even then, you might be subject to laws outlining protocols for traveling between states with drugs. You’ll also have to consider the laws in all individual areas you’re traveling between, and if you’re traveling on federal property (like federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management) or in airports, which are subject to air transportation and security regulations. In those cases you’re also subject to federal law, which is incredibly confusing.

I especially caution against this if you’re at risk of getting unfairly profiled or are in a higher-risk area. Border states, for instance, are patrolled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents as well as usual law enforcement. States with harsh anti-drug laws with heavy penalties will typically be less forgiving if you get a possession charge. Certain license plates (like CA or CO plates in particular) may get you pulled over much more easily in other regions of the country. Traveling across state lines with drugs can get you a “possession with intent to distribute” or trafficking charge. 

I won’t say it’s impossible to just travel covertly with drugs, some more easily with others, but if you’re looking to do it legally there are very limited options as far as I know.

Can microdosing help me improve my athletic performance and/or enhance my exercise routine?

Potentially, but at this point in time I’d wager it would mostly be the result of placebo effect or your own intention setting and resultant behaviors. I can’t really imagine there’d be much substantial physical benefit to microdosing. Physicality isn’t everything, however, in exercise. I’m not writing this off as a possible positive experience.

Performance-enhancing drugs are a messy beast. There are countless substances that may “enhance performance” in one way or another, and the mechanisms of enhancement are 1) varied and 2) fairly subjective sometimes. Someone who really struggles with motivation may benefit greatly from something like a microdosing regimen, while someone who’s looking to bulk up may benefit more from anabolic steroids. 

Amphetamine-type stimulants have been fairly consistently reported to improve athletic performance, although it’s important to note that this effect is dose-dependent. Nootropics are touted to have a whole wide range of possible effects around athleticism. I strongly recommend always using to collect additional info on nootropics and supplements, which tend to be vastly over-marketed and problematically presented on forums like Reddit. 

I think what it comes down to is what, exactly, you’re looking to improve and enhance. Is it your drive? Your muscle mass? Your strength? Your flexibility? Your commitment? There are many things that can contribute to positive growth in all those areas, ranging from diet to supplements to psychoactive drugs to therapy to executive function to journaling. It might be worth it to try all of the above. You really don’t know until you’ve poked around and attempted things, but I suspect you’d get best results from creating your own unique combination of actions that contribute to a balanced whole. 

There seem to be a lot of different strains of magic mushrooms. Are mushrooms like cannabis, where different strains have different effects?

About a year and a half ago I asked a mycology enthusiast to help me understand the word “strain” in relation to “genus” or “variety” in relation to mushrooms. His answer was basically that he believes the correct terminology to be “variety” when referring to specific designations like Golden Teacher or Penis Envy, like “Psilocybin Cubensis var. Albino Golden Teacher.” He further added that most varieties are specific phenotype expressions of P. Cubensis, which has “a huge amount of variability within the species,” like different breeds of dog. 

Then this bombshell article came out last year. My summary on it (directly copied from my notebook) was as follows:

  • Genus Psilocybe thought to contain 277-326 species
    • Characteristic blueing from psilocybin undergoing some enzymatic conversion
    • Psilocybin only empirically identified in about 45 accepted Psilocybe spp. (32% of 140-ish blueing species)
      • Dubious standards of taxonomic identification, peer review, inconsistent analysis; little authoritative chemistry
  • Could produce diversity of metabolites like ß-carbolines, which may promote MAOI-inhibiting roles & be synergistic, but largely uncharacterized (entourage effect very possible)
  • Tons of species/genus misidentification
    • Interestingly, very few fungarium species of P. cubensis showed detectable levels of psilocybin/psilocin compared to most dried specimens of P. cyanescens (even after 50 years of storage)
      • Age didn’t seem to have a strong linear correlation to the psilocybin/psilocin contents (suggests that storage matters a lot?)
  • Psilocybin locations:
    • “Psilocybin was the major alkaloid recovered from mycelium (6.44 μg/mg), caps (10.5 to 20 μg/mg), and stipes (15.44 to 18.44 μg/mg)”
      • Caps seem to have a bit wider variety of psilocybin content, wider range
      • BUT there wasn’t much of a significant difference in concentrations between caps & stipes, mixing and matching that comparison,
      • AND there was a statistically different level of psilocybin/psilocin between growth bins
  • Misidentification:
    • Species of Psilocybe are regularly misidentified
    • Little has been done to investigate stability of known psychoactive compounds under standard storage conditions
    • Chemical complexity overlooked due to focus on principal psychoactive stuff

If that all seems overwhelming to you, don’t worry: it is overwhelming. You’re not making it up. You should see the rest of my notebook. 

The question of whether different varieties of psilocybin-containing mushrooms have different effects has been getting kicked around for many years, and it seems like there are lots of conflicting opinions about it. At this point I really just don’t know enough yet to say anything definitively. At the moment, a paper like this appears to be more of a testament to how little information we actually have, demonstrating how the schedule I designation of psilocybin has stifled our ability to collect accurate information on what the hell is happening inside of shrooms.

My advice: Don’t bother too much with the marketing around the specific variety unless you’re talking to an excited mycology nerd who’s been growing their own mushrooms and wants to share. Every kind of mushroom will have something unique to offer you, and if you happen to find a particular variety you have an especially good relationship with, all power to you. Just remember that shrooms are going to be prone to the kind of chaotic inconsistencies we can expect from all naturally-occurring plants, animals, and fungi. 

There will be substantial differences between batches, individual mushrooms, spores, you name it, and it seems like an individual flush of a particular variety may be prone to huge variation in psilocybin content even if the variety itself is known to be more potent. Just because a variety was kind to you one time (or particularly strong by weight) doesn’t mean it’s going to happen in the same way again – or even that two trips out of the same bag will be remotely similar. 

Every time you take mushrooms you’re effectively releasing control of the experience: who knows how you will be greeted, or where you’ll be taken? And I believe that learning to navigate this uncertainty is a huge part of the magic to begin with. 

P.S. Don’t forget to do your homework on the social, cultural, and political elements of psilocybin-containing mushrooms. It’s just as important to understand the big-picture impact of things like biopiracy and cultural extractivism as it is to understand the hard science. 

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