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5% Discount on Legal Highs, Salvia Divinorum and Everything Else From The Coffeesh0p

Coffeesh0p Reshuffle Finished

It’s been a long couple of weeks. Not only did new images need making for all of my sh0p’s categories, but several important deadlines are looming just around the corner.

As the title says, I finally finished recategorising all our products. Take a look! I dare say my photoshop skillz are improving daily. I’ve basically reorganised the entheogens and legal highs into their own separate categories, so people who want to legally batter themselves don’t try smoking some dream herb and wonder why they’re not stoned off their arse. Also DIY shamans tend not to like the association between their sacred plants and other, more suspect “herbs” like Spice. And rightly so, hence the reshuffle. The next big step will be to expand both sections considerably.

For the legal highs section, we should be getting some new big brand smoking mixtures and maybe some more pills. We’re hoping to expand the entheogens section the most though. We’ve got loads of new herbs coming, as well as some extracts of a couple we stock already. Very exciting, but a lot of work! Writing descriptions and taking multiple pictures of everything is probably a more daunting task than rearranging the categories in the first place.

I’m still not ready to properly advertise on E-Dot. I want to make sure everything’s top notch before I post about Coffeesh0p there.

I’ve also finally rearranged the legal pills by effect rather than by brand. Initially, when I only stocked two or three brands, it made sense, but now we have so many! Someone who’s never encountered legal pills before may be put off by having to chose by brand, and would instead prefer to buy a product based on it’s advertised effect. Hopefully now, we can expand these effect categories indefinitely.

What better way to celebrate all my hard work than a pack of Trip E, a pack of Spice Diamond and a massive free fireworks display!

On a more technical note, the easiest way I found to move all the products around on the site is to first calculate what the product’s URL should be based on it’s product ID (also in the URL). If the script isn’t at the calculated URL, it then forwards you to it using a 301 (permanent) redirect. Hopefully then the search engines will consider the new URLs as the original products and not new ones, so they’ll retain their rankings. As well as the search engine benefits, anyone that clicks an old link from another site to get to yours will be redirected to the URL behind the scenes. This way certainly seems more simple than filling your htaccess file full of redirects!

In other news, I’m thinking of running a competition here on this blog very soon. I have some things to give away….

Posted in Internet Marketing | Tagged 301 redirect, coffeesh0p, entheogens, legal highs |

Salvia Divinorum Presentation Part II

As I mentioned before, I got to give a 10 minute presentation on Salvia divinorum to my pharmacology class. It went down pretty well, so I thought I’d write it up for you guys! Clicking on any slide will open it full size in a new window/tab.

The first thing you should know about Salvia Divinorum is that it’s a very potent hallucinogen. I mean, realllly potent. It’s name directly translates to “Sage of the Seers” or “Diviner’s Sage”, so already we know it’s gonna be cool. Salvia Divinorum is a member of the mint family, along with other common herbs, such as basil, rosemary and garden sage. In fact, Salvia is the Sage genus, which includes the common sage as well as S. Divinorum. This plant is native to one region only – the Oaxaca [“wahaka”] province of Mexico, where it grows best in a moist, shady environment.

Salvia Divinorum found extensive use among the Mazatec, the indigenous people of this region. Their religion is a blend of traditional superstition and a flavour of Christianity (also superstition!) brought over by the Spanish conquistadors. They make extensive use of the natural psychoactive plants and fungi in their rituals, including Salvia Divinorum, Morning Glory seeds and psilocybin mushrooms. Salvia in particular was used very much as a learning tool to facilitate visions, particularly in the context of healing or divination (hence the name).

Salvia was also a common medicine, prescribed for such ailments as diarrhoea, headaches and rheumatism. It was also the number one cure for a semi-magical disease known as “panzón de borrego“, or swollen belly.It’s no surprise to see a difference in use between the Mazatec and the “west”. The majority of use in the USA, UK and other developed nations is for recreation, while the Mazatec adopt a somewhat more “respectful” approach. Traditionally, salvia leaves were chewed, or an extract was prepared by crushing the leaves and consuming the liquid. There is no indication the plant was ever smoked by these people, which makes sense – the active compound has a very high vaporisation temperature. It is only the western world who smoke high powered extracts though a bong with a turboflame lighter!

The effects are many and varied, depending greatly on the amount consumed. Uncontrollable laughter is perhaps the most obvious effect, but it doesn’t happen to everyone. Other effects include remembering past memories, dissociation of the body and mind, a sensation of a force or pressure pushing or pulling on the body, usually in a particular direction, perceiving membranes or films or multiple small tiles covering surfaces and merging with, or becoming other objects. This is in no way comparable to any of the classic hallucinogens, such as LSD or Mescalin in effect or duration, as the Salvia experience usually lasts 15 to 60 minutes.

The active compound of Salvia Divinorum is Salvinorin-A, a diterpine compound. I know what you’re thinking – “why should I care?” – well, you should! Salvinorin-a is the only known psychoactive diterpene AND the first non-alkaloidal (or non-nitrogenous) hallucinogen to be discovered. It acts as an agonist at the kappa opioid receptor, which is also unusual. The other, classical hallucinogens work at the 5-HT2a receptor, and the other opioid receptor ligands tend to be alkaloids.

Shown here is a receptor selectivity profile, comparing the LSD in red with salvinorin-a in green. As you can see, the salvinorin-a is very selective for the kappa opioid receptor and not a lot else, while LSD shows activity across multiple receptors.

Shown here is the proposed kappa receptor:salvinorin-a binding complex, produced from various mutagenesis studies.An active dose of salvinorin-a can be as low as 200 micrograms, around the same as LSD, making it one of the most potent hallucinogens. But, as I’ve already mentioned, the experience usually lasts under an hour. Salvinorin-A does not remain in the body for long, with a half life of between 20 to 80 minutes in nonhuman primates.

So, an interesting drug, but is it also interesting clinically? Definitely! First off, salvinorin-a has shown promise in analgesia (pain relieving) studies in mice. Salvinorin-a, when injected intraperitoneally, produced an increased tail flick latency in these mice. The tail flick test is designed to measure the pain threshold – the mouses tail is laid out flat on a plate, and at one point along the plate, a beam of light is focused on the plate from underneath, creating a hot spot underneath the end of the mouses tail. As soon as the mouse begins to notice any pain, it flicks its tail to the side, so an increase in this amount of time shows an increased pain threshold. This antinociceptive effect is abolished if the mice are first pre-treated with a kappa antagonist, or are genetically engineered to lack kappa receptors, which proves salvinorin-a acts on these receptors in vivo as well as in vitro, shown by the previous graph. To make sure this effect was consistent and really did show an increased resistance to pain, other assays, such as the hotplate and chemo-nociceptive acetic acid abdominal constriction assays were done and produced results concordant with analgesia.

As I mentioned before, Salvia was administered by the Mazatec for diarrhoea, but it has now been shown to prevent myenteric cholinergic transmission in the small intestines of a guinea pig, effectively stopping muscle contraction.

Salvia may also shed some light on depression. Other kappa selective agonists typically produce depressive like behaviour in animal models, and salvinorin-a seems to produce a similar response. This supports the hypothesis that kappa opioid receptor signalling plays a role in depressive behaviours, but there has been at least one case report where salvia divinorum was used to treat refractory depression – depression that responds to nothing else. Before we can conclude anything from this, further work, including clinical trials must be undertaken. Either way, interesting stuff!

As we’ve seen, salvinorin-a is a bit strange, offering us an exciting new molecule to play around with. Already, chemical tweaking of the molecular structure has given us a selective agonist for the mu receptor and further research might lead to many novel, receptor-specific compounds.

Salvia has also shed some light on kappa receptors and their role in hallucinatory diseases. If the kappa agonist, salvinorin-a is able to produce such intense hallucinations (proving the involvement of kappa receptors in modulating our perception), could a kappa antagonist help reduce hallucinations in diseases with prominent perceptual disturbances, such as Alzheimer’s or Schizophrenia? There are many avenues Salvia Divinorum could lead us down, but if one thing’s for certain, more research is needed!

There are some great papers here, all of which I’d recommend, but if you can’t be bothered, there’s a brilliant TV documentary on there, Sacred Weeds. Definitely worth a watch. Thanks!

The slides are available as a PDF here: Salvia Divinorum Presentation [836kB].

Posted in Pharmacology | Tagged presentation, salvia divinorum |

Coffeesh0p Changes

Coffeesh0p has gotten bigger and bigger over the past couple of years, stocking more and herbal highs, entheogens, pipes, bongs, etc. Deciding where it all goes is now more important than ever. Organising the product categories – the virtual floor plan – is increasingly important for both ease of access and intuitive shopping, as well as optimisation with the search engines. I think it’s about time for a big reshuffle!

Initially, Salvia Divinorum was the only category in the sh0p, since I made my own extract, but since then we’ve added tonnes more. The next were probably the Legal Pills and Entheogens categories. Here was the first problem – Salvia Divinorum IS an entheogen, so where the hell do I put it? Since then, I’ve always had Salvia in it’s own top-level category, as that’s always been our product of choice. The majority of visitors come looking for salvia, and the Salvia category, being a top-level category, always does well in the search engines. I’ve always been scared to move it to it’s rightful place within Entheogens in case it suddenly dropped out of the search results and I had to get another job for a bit.

But now, we sell a lot of stuff! Currently, we still have a top-level Salvia Category, along with Entheogens & Herbal Highs and Legal Pills. There are more, but these are the three I’m thinking of shuffling up a bit. When these categories first started out, I wanted to keep everything in tablets in it’s own category and anything herbal in the Entheogens & Herbal Highs category, regardless of what it was. We now stock various popular smoking mixtures, many of whom don’t list their ingredients so are arguably herbal, along with a number of entheogens, like Guarana, that I wouldn’t necessarily call a herbal high. We also have a rather out of place Snuff category, putting herbal Kanna side by side with Snow Blow herbal cocaine.

So, this has been getting at me more and more recently. Also, it might piss off some of the serious herbalists, who get personally offended to see their entheogen of choice listed as a herbal high, but that’s not all. When I started Coffeesh0p, I had no idea about SEO, keyword research or anything else in that field. I figured “hmm, herbal highs sounds like a cool category name”. It turns out, that phrase, while cool, does not get a lot of searches compared to “Legal Highs”. A big reshuffle now might result in more traffic for this search term.

So, here’s what I’ll do. Raw herbs on their own will go into a new Entheogens category, including Salvia. Anything more recreational, like Spice smoking mix, Snow Blow and all of the legal pills section will go under a new Legal Highs category. Thrilling, I know!

But here’s the fun part. I decided it would be a good time to funk up the front page somewhat. Maybe remove those massive ads in place a bit more colour for each category. Here are a couple of new banners I’ve been playing round with this afternoon.

Yes, I did painstakingly lay out all of those herbs, then separate them all again at the end.

One more tip incase you ever need to change your website architecture – make sure you correctly redirect your old URLs to the new ones. The best way I’ve found is to use 301 redirects with the .htaccess file, or make sure your categories and products “know” where they’re supposed to be, and if they get called anywhere else, they can 301 redirect themselves to the proper location. The 301 redirect tells the search engines this is a permanent relocation, and so any benefit received from links pointing to your old pages will carry over the new ones..

Posted in Internet Marketing | Tagged coffeesh0p, seo |

Growing Salvia with Science

What better way to skim over the scientific method than by talking about Salvia Divinorum!

Bman_666, over at SalviaSource, had the very noble idea of applying a little science to growing salvia divinorum in order to dispel any myths or misconceptions about it, and maybe produce the ultimate “How To Grow Salvia” guide for salvia cultivators around the world.

Some of the variables under scrutiny are:

  • Natural vs artificial light
  • Different soil compositions / Fertilizer mixtures
  • Effectiveness of CO2 supplements
  • Contained growing (with controlled humidity) vs growing out in the open
  • Will your TV kill your plant? [What?! – I suppose most scientific breakthroughs develop from “outside-the-box” thinking, so I’ll reserve judgement…]
  • Hydroponics vs Soil
  • Watering frequency
  • Misting the leaves vs not
  • Varying soil pH
  • Distilled/bottled/tap water comparisons

Noble goals indeed, but at the time of writing, Bman_666 wasn’t quite sure what he’d be letting himself in for! The first page of the thread in question contained some excellent insight about how the results might be structured within the forum, and some quick guidelines on standardisation, which are both important to prevent confusion and help mine accurate data. But there was one thing missing – repetition, they key to any scientific study.

Perhaps they’re way ahead of me, I thought – we could all take repetition for granted. Just to be extra vigilant (the, uhh, second key to any scientific study? It must some kind of many-keyed combination lock, with iris scanners ‘n’ all. A complicated beast!), I posted my advice on using 8-10 plants per variable to test. So, 4-5 plants for the control and another 4-5 differing in a single respect (ie, watered with deionised water). It turns out they weren’t as far ahead as I thought.

At this point, I’ll just point out I had to explain the same thing to someone in the lab today. We were setting up cell cultures in order to add varying concentrations of a drug (retinoic acid) to them to see what happens. For each concentration of the drug (dissolved in a solvent), we had a total of 8 cell cultures set up – 4 to receive the drug/solvent and 4 to receive the solvent without the drug, as a control. Since the concept of repetition seemed a less universal concept than I first realised, I figured I’d talk about it here.

So, back to this thread. My reply was the following:

Suppose your get set up with your soil cutting and your hydro cutting. If, for some unknown reason, the hydro cutting dies, all you can conclude is that hydro kills salvia plants.

Or, say in 1 week your hydro plant grows 10cm and your soil plant grows 9cm (I have no idea how fast it grows; figures are arbitrary). All you could conclude from that is that plants that grow in soil grow 90% as well as those with a hydro setup. Now, supposing you had 5 plants with each variable – the hydro plants grew this much {10,12,16,17,23} (average 15.6cm) and the soil plants grew by this much {5,7,8,8,9} (average 7.4) – as you can see this data suggests an approx 50% difference. Taking the tallest/shortest combinations of your 5 plants, you could end up with a height difference of as much as 18cm or as little as 1cm – working with only 1 plant per variable can give you very inaccurate data.

In reality, the ranges will likely be much narrower, but you should get the point. Even plants grown under identical conditions will not develop 100% identically, and that variable is one that you need to take into account, like any other (eg humidity). Because you can’t control that variable, the best you can do is eliminate its effects by using multiple data and averaging. You wouldn’t trust a drug that had been tested on a single individual, would you?

I hope that can highlight just how meticulous you have to be with your research. Growing only two plants side by side is great for a fun, personal experiment, but to further the collective knowledge in a particular field, you need to apply a strict scientific method.

Bman_666’s main concern with repetition was the number of plants he had available, which is fair enough. But serious science demands a serious commitment. From an idea in the mind of a chemist, to an actual prescribable drug, pharmaceuitical companies have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on research, involving trials of thousands of people.

While the details may be a bit out, the SalviaSource guys are certainly making tracks in the right direction. If you have 10 or so salvia clones lying around, maybe you can contribute to this fascinating project? Be sure to get involved @ SalviaSource!.

Posted in Drugs | Tagged growing, salvia divinorum, science |

More Shoddy Journalism

Happy Caps X-EHypnotic PillsSpace Cadets

[This is the first post by my girlfriend and Coffeesh0p partner Mrs_Synch!]

What’s wrong with this article?

We can all debate until we’re blue in the face about alcohol, drugs, their legal alternatives, tobacco and whatever else is a source of controversy in this country. My problem with this article, however, is not that I disagree with the journalist’s point of view (although I do). It’s that if this is what counts as journalism these days (on the BBC news website no less!) I am, quite frankly, shocked and disappointed. These are some of the reasons I felt so strongly about it (I’ll address each point in the order they come in the article):

  1. ‘The pills or liquid’ – what? How vague is this? I know it’s only the second paragraph but read on and the trend continues. There are no names of the brands, retailers or wholesalers they are referring to. They mention none of the ingredients they claim are so dangerous apart from this deliberately controversial reference to BZP. As a herbal highs retailer in the UK, I can personally say that I know of no wholesalers that are willing to sell us any products containing BZP. Although the legal status of BZP does seem to be a bit dodgy (the article said it becomes illegal in March, but I’m pretty sure it’s tightly controlled here already), as far as herbal high sellers go BZP is not readily available in the UK. It is certainly not ‘one of the main ingredients in many products’ in the industry. This is quite simply a lie, and a demonstration of the lack of research done on the part of the journalist. Ten minutes on Google could have told her this is not the case.
  2. ‘Twenty-five-year-old Alex from Birmingham’ – Right, I see. So the whole substance of this piece comes from a girl who got pissed, took EIGHT unidentified legal pills, slept in a field all weekend and then got the shits. Come on BBC, this is really poor. The symptoms Alex lists are also, incidentally, ones you can expect from your common or garden hangover. Admittedly the guy who sold her the pills was obviously an idiot, but you get a great many idiots in bars who continue to serve people who are so drunk they can barely stand up. I have also never seen a pack of legal pills which do not explicitly carry the warning ‘Do not drink’, and by her own admission she and her friends were already drunk.
  3. “These things are packets of tablets and capsules sold as herbal highs, but are in no way herbal. These things are purely synthetic chemicals,” he said. – Yes, this is a quote from a doctor so it seems almost credible, but again, the vagueness of this point just makes it stupid. Yes, I’m sure there are pills out there that are advertised as herbal and aren’t. But certainly not all of them, and there are a large number of reputable retailers out there who actually do give a shit about the safety of what they sell. There is one very obvious example of legal pills that ARE undeniably entirely herbal, and that’s Happy Caps. If this journalist had done her research, she would have found out in minutes that Happy Caps are capsules, not tablets (so not even any harmless tabletting agents), and that they contain ground up herbs and extracts. Hell, you can SEE what’s inside them if you pull the gel cap apart, and it’s planty and quite definitely herbal.

Whilst this journalist clearly has an agenda (read: drugs are bad), this poorly written piece of tripe has given me no information whatsoever. I’m always interested to hear someone else’s point of view, and when I saw the title, was excited about reading it and possibly reporting on it for Coffeesh0p. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed in both this journalist and the standard of reporting that is obviously publishable these days. BBC news editors, you should be ashamed of yourselves!.

Posted in Drugs | Tagged herbal highs, media |

Salvia Divinorum is NOT like LSD!

Arrrghhh! We’ve all seen the media’s sensationalist take on Salvia Divinorum. I swear I’ve seen it mentioned as “the next LSD” and “the next marijuana” in the SAME article before. I’m sure it makes compelling reading for those conservative types, wielding the banning stick, but come on!

Just yesterday, I received a newspaper clipping through the post entitled “Concern over craze for ‘psycho sage’ videos“. The article focused mainly on those tw@s that think it’s fun to post videos of themselves on YouTube smoking salvia, which is fair enough, but in approximately 250 words of ill-informed “journalism”, I can see LSD mentioned twice.

Salvia != LSD

Why This Is Fucking Stupid

  1. Anything labelled so consistently as “LSD-Like” is sure to receive a banning from any MP wanting to appear “tough on drugs”. We all know how Gordon Brown likes to ignore scientific evidence when it comes to drugs, so I don’t think the fact that salvia divinorum is NOTHING like LSD will be mentioned at all. Considering that this amazing herb does actually have a lot of medicinal potential, is it really worth comparing it to LSD just to make exciting reading? This is a sure fire way to get it banned. Arsehole Journalist: I’m sure all those people with Parkinson’s will thank you! (NB: that’s not to say LSD doesn’t have any clinical use – in fact, it shows amazing potential in curing addiction far quicker than regular therapy – shame no one wants to research it any more because it’s such a ballache to get permission…)
  2. The public tends to believe it, and may get hurt! If that many places are reporting its similarity to LSD, then the uninformed public will take it as read. Last night, someone submitted an anonymous report on Salvia Trip, entitled “Not for me”. This bloke is a 36 year old programmer, who used to be into LSD back in the good old days. He goes on to say that he’s heard about salvia and wanted a similar experience. As you’d expect, he didn’t enjoy it. Thankfully, nothing bad happened, but there is certainly the potential for something to go wrong. This is only one report (and the inspiration behind this post), so imagine how many more people this has happened to. This piss-poor excuse for a journalist is going to do more harm than good.

.

Posted in Drugs | Tagged lsd, media, salvia divinorum |

Egyptian Ecstasy – Blue Lotus

Blue Lotus

The Egyptian Blue Lotus, Nymphaea caerulea, (also known as any combination of Egyptian, sacred, blue, lily or lotus), has been called the ancient Egyptian equivalent of ecstasy, but it’s psychoactive properties have only recently been (re)descovered. In an inspiring piece of shocking journalism, combined with insane photoshop skillz, I, Synchronium, and my trusty girlfriend find out what all this fuss is about.

Look at that image again. That same white/blue flower in each painting is what I’m talking about. It appears all over the place in Egyptian artwork, and now it seems it was the plant’s psychoactive properties that made it so popular to the Egyptians. It seems we still know very little about this interesting plant, however. Both the Wikipedia and Erowid entries say next to nothing, particularly on the pharmacological aspects. I’m currently waiting for someone on SpiritGarden forums to get back to me about a rather more comprehensive paper he found which focuses on the chemistry – the only problem is, it’s not in English. :-/ More updates on that later, I hope. All I’ve gathered so far is it contains nuciferine and apomorphine, a dopamine agonist.

So, the only piece of interesting information about the plant is from the 50 minute long documentary Sacred Weeds – Blue Lily. This came out in 1998, so the only copy I found isn’t great quality. It’s totally worth a watch, though, so I’ve included it at the end of this post. Wikipedia has the following to say:

The series ended with the investigation of the psychoactive effects of the Blue Lily (Nymphaea caerulea), a sacred plant in ancient Egypt. Michael Carmichael [hah!] suggested that the psychoactive effects of the blue lily and other psychoactive plants established a new foundation for understanding the origins of philosophy and religion in ancient Egypt. Alan Lloyd, the ranking took a more cautious approach. After witnessing the effects of the plant in two volunteers, all parties agreed that it was a psychoactive plant. Sherratt accepted the new paradigm for the origins of ancient philosophy and religion in his summation of the series.

Only one avenue remained unturned – trying it ourselves. Someone’s got to do these things, right?

Method – Two People

Rosé wine
Take one bottle of generic £7 rosé wine and 25g dried blue lotus. Uncork the wine and pour yourself a little bit – if you don’t, the plant material won’t fit into the bottle. If you haven’t worked it out by now, the next step is put the plant material in the bottle. Then re-cork, shake a bit, and put back in the fridge. In about three days (yes, three days; serious journalism and scientific research need to be planned in advance!), your wine should have taken on a much darker hue.

When the time comes, you first need to filter the wine. Generic coffee filters are great for this, but you can use a clean tea towel too. Just pour your wine into a filter slowly until only soggy lotus flowers remain in the bottle. I found the best way to get these out was a long pointy thing and lots of patience. As they come out one by one, put them in a sieve over a jug of some description. Once you’ve got them all out, press them into the sieve to get as much wine out as possible. Once it’s all filtered, rinse out your wine bottle and put the wine, sans flowers, back in the bottle for storage. Drink the bottle between two people in the space of about one to two hours. On Sacred Weeds, they also ate the flowers when they realised they had no more wine left. Bear in mind that they had to import these fresh from Egypt at the time, so I think I’d have done the same! You can totally eat the once-dried flowers that you can buy today, but they won’t be a nice as the fresh flowers. Just like Guarana, this is one of those plants that actually tastes pretty nice.

Results

The wine taste alright. It’s more bitter than usual, as you’d expect, but nothing like dream herb or kratom tea. It’s easy enough to knock back, but if you’re a big girl, you can mix it half and half with lemonade. The effects of the lotus itself come about at the same time as the alcohol – about 10-15 minutes after drinking. The effects are subtle and enjoyable, getting more pronounced the more you drink. Relaxation is the first thing you’ll notice, as well as a more talkative demeanour. Things seem more amusing and perhaps a little more enjoyable. You will definitely adopt a more cheerful disposition!

I don’t know if it was the lotus, or if I was just knackered after a long day, but by about midnight, I was falling asleep with my clothes on. More investigation is necessary before conclusions can be drawn!

Conclusion

Blue Lotus
Pros:
  • Easy to prepare
  • Feels great
  • Tastes pretty nice

Cons:

  • It’s quite pricey @ £8 per person.
  • It takes a while to soak

There’s not a lot more to say, really. I wouldn’t say the lotus made me ecstatic, but for an ancient herbal equivalent, it’s not half bad. This is definitely a plant I’d try again, and recommend to others.

Sacred Weeds

As promised, here is the Sacred Weeds – Blue Lily episode. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

In other news, I’ll be launching some competitions soon, so keep an eye out for chances to win loads of cool stuff..

Posted in Drugs | Tagged blue lotus, ecstasy, sacred weeds |

The ATA vs Jacqui Smith

Recently, everyone’s favourite Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, set a few disturbing proposals to House of Commons, following advice by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (AMCD), regarding the sale of cannabis seeds and smoking paraphernalia. Let’s have a little look, shall we?

The AMCD recommends investigating:

“whether it might be practical to bring cannabis seeds within the scope of the Misuse of Drugs Act”

and also recommends that:

“The Home Office should assess the extent to which the trade in cannabis paraphernalia might be more effectively regulated”.

So wait, everyone ignores the AMCD unless they agree with your agenda? Brilliant! As if stopping the sale of king-size rizlas will result in massive, country-wide decline in pot smoking, anyway…

Enter The ATA

Naturally, this dick-move is a very unsettling one for anyone that sells cannabis seeds, or smoking paraphernalia, such as myself. Enter the ATA – the Alternative Trade Association! They describe themselves as a “coalition of UK wholesalers, attempting to stop these misguided proposals becoming law“. They not only provide you with a weath of information about the subject and how to keep your business safe (including updates about any future legislative changes), but they also have plenty of retained legal muscle to defend any action taken against the industry.

They’re also setting up a website, Smoke-Aware.co.uk, to educate people on the risks of smoking and the problems drug use can bring. On top of that, they’re also apparently planning to launch some kind of media campaign, but I’m not too sure what that will involve.

For a start, it’s great to see people not lying back and taking this crap, so well done ATA! Let’s hope we can get everyone involved – surely there’s strength in numbers? With any luck, these ridiculous proposals will be nipped in the bud before our government start looking any more stupid.

For any internet-marketing-savvy wholesalers out there, signing up gets you a search engine friendly, high quality link directly to your site. That can only help you in the search engines. On the downside, they do require all members to link back to them, which automatically makes me somewhat wary. But for all you get in return, one link back isn’t going to hurt. 🙂

Update: It seems herbal highs are under threat as well. Current Government: “Let’s ban everything until we know it’s safe” – I can hardly see them actively allowing the sale of anything, can you?.

Posted in Internet Marketing, Legislation |

Salvia Trip

Today, I’m going to talk about my most recent project (apart from this blog), Salvia Trip. Salvia Trip

Back Story

Originally, most of the experience reports came from SalviaSource (in my mind, the number one salvia divinorum community), but due to a decision by the owner (Paradoxic) to move away from the experience and focus more on the cultivation and the science behind it all, the reports were removed from the site. In a stroke of benevolent wisdom, Paradoxic decided to compile all of the reports in both a Word document and SQL format. Seeing a massive cache of free, keyword-rich and relatively unique content, I jumped at the chance to download the lot, determined to do something worthwhile with it.

Picking the Domain

Using Google’s free Keyword Research Tool, I played around with a few words including “salvia“, “divinorum“, “experience” and “trip” in various combinations. It turns out the phrase “Salvia Trip” gets approximately 12,000 searches per month on Google, and with only 138,000 competing sites, some domain featuring the words “Salvia” and “Trip” was going to work best. Salvia-Trip.net and Salvia-Trip.com were both available, so I registered both of them, and pointed .com to the .net extension.

Giving Something Back

When I was first tossing ideas around about what to do with these reports, my incentives were two-fold. Make a bit of money myself and give something back to the salvia community. Initially, I had just wanted to create a place that the community would be able to use and enjoy, while keeping any income from the site seperate. I had considered a single “shop” page on the site through which to sell some salvia, but I thought that might be a bit tacky, and more likely to land me in hot water somewhere down the line. So, I decided I’d put some adverts around the trip reports, and that’s when I realised I could combine both of my goals in a single elegant solution – give the members some of the advertising revenue! The user registration form now allows you to input your Adsense publisher id, if you have one, so we can display adverts belonging to your own Adsense account 25% of the time.

Design

I wanted to keep it simple. Well, maybe I did. Maybe it’s also down to the fact that I totally suck at Photoshop. Whatever the reason, I knocked up a quick design and got things up and running as soon as possible. My first real Photoshop attempt was designing the header – not bad, I reckon. In case you can’t tell, I did pretty much exactly the same thing for the header and rss button here.

Progress

So far, things seem to be going well. A few links have been exchanged and SalviaSource now recommends all its users submit their trip there for comment. That’s got to be good, right? More importantly though, how’s it doing in Google, the biggest, baddest search engine of them all? Well, it’s been up for little over a month now, and already we’re on the front page. No doubt I’ll talk about this site again in the future, so I’ll keep everyone up to date with it’s progress.

Anyone can submit their reports anonymously, or by creating an account first. In the not-too-distant future, I might be giving away some salvia to the top members, who have contributed the most, so keep an eye out for that..

Posted in Drugs, Internet Marketing | Tagged keyword research, salvia divinorum, salvia trip |

Salvia Divinorum Presentation

Salvia Divinorum

Salvia Divinorum

It’s been a week now since I started back at university, and everything’s going great – we’ve dived head first into my first module, Pharmacology: from Molecules to Man. This comprises of 25% coursework and a 75% exam right at the end. The coursework is further divided up into essays, lab write-ups and …a 10 minute presentation on the topic of my choice! Right now, I’m pretty certain I’ll be talking about Salvia Divinorum, as it’s just plain more interesting than anything else, both for me to talk about for ten minutes and for everyone else to listen to it. Soooo, what to talk about for ten minutes?

Although this will be a serious pharmacological talk, I think I can get away with a bit of history of it’s use and what the plant represented to the ancient civilization that used it. If anyone has any interesting facts, now’s the time to share them! But what about the serious pharmacology stuff? Well, these papers are pretty good.

The first talks about the extremely selective action of Salvinorin-A on kappa opioid receptors. The

Salvinorin-A

Salvinorin-A

hallucinogenic properties of this compound, mediated by activation of these receptors could be useful clinically. If activation of these receptors is capable of bringing about hallucinations, turning them off (with a selective antagonist) could help diseases in which hallucinations are promenant, such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

The second paper is much more easy going. This one focuses on the method of absorption and its effect on the experience. By comparing what happens when the compound is vaporised and inhaled, absorbed sublingually (under the tongue) and eaten, it proves that absorption through the gut has little or no effect.

But what else is there to talk about? Any other papers worth a read? I might write up a transcript of the presentation here, along with the PowerPoint presentation itself..

Posted in Pharmacology | Tagged salvia divinorum |