""Freedom of thought... is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom. With rare aberrations a pervasive recognition of this truth can be traced in our history, political and legal." - Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, Palko v. Connecticut.
"psychoactive substance: any substance that people take to change either the way they feel, think, or behave." - UN Office of Drugs and Crime
nootropics are substances which claim to boost human cognitive abilities.
ru sirius had a neofiles interview with Will Block of life-enhancement.com on pharmacology & nootropics. it can be found at http://www.life-enhancement.com/Neofiles/d
there is a mild conflict of interest which must disclaim itself. neofiles was a popular podcast, interview & cyberculture feed hosted on life-enhancement. this interview is with the websponsor of the neofiles website, who not coincidentally is a commercial nootropics provider. ru sirius describes this at the beginning of the interview, and his reasons for doing it anyways: Will Block is amazingly smart & knows the material very well.
life-enhancement.com is somewhat interesting in and of itself in that for many of the products they state in the nutritional information what form a given substance is being delivered in. as a reference, its much easier to parse than reading a list of ingredients and trying to discern where that vitamin k is coming from. the interview briefly mentions precursors and cofactors, how different forms of vitamins have different uptakes in the body and require different precursors, and as most of the life-enhancement products place their name on knowing the right forms of the various vitamins & nootropics to have an active delivery, it makes a tolerable reference & gives starting places for a lot of research. i have not yet bought anything from the site, but as a starting point reference its been quite handy.
enhancement drugs and drug regulation
the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research arm of the FDA is the regulatory body in the United States responsible for monitoring the use of substances for the prevention and treatment of illness & disease. the quandry this creates lies in the definition of nootropic drugs: these are substances created outside the bounds of disease, not meant to cure problems but meant to improve and enable normal optimal operation of the human system. there is no FDA schema for testing or evaluation nootropics, because theres no disease they're meant to cure. thus, drug companies are unable to market any drugs they discover.
take Melanotan, the so called "barbie doll drug," so called for its major effects: it induces a tan, acts against the hypothalamus to increase libido, and serves as anti inflamatory and appetite suppresant. there are diseases and disorders in the DSM that correspond to each one of these effects: for anyone who wants a tan, this is a viable drug (with significantly less physiological damage than the alternatives: going outside or the tanning salon). for anyone with libido problems this is a potential drug. for anyone with appetite disorders, this is a potential drug. yet altogether these incidents miss the looming fact that this is a drug with vast and ranging desirable characteristics, and could be of aid to people who just want a tan, not just people running serious and life threatening risks of getting skin cancer.
not all human improvement necessarily relies on drugs. recent experiments with intercooling the circulatory system to remove excess heat show jaw dropping potential for increasing endurance, reducing exercise induced muscle damage, and placing the critically wounded into hibernative states. Researcher Craig Heller at Stanford is now recieving DARPA funding for "the glove," a wearable intercooler that runs cold water against veins of the hand to dissipate heat. his academic research with the glove shows a marked increase in aerobic treadmill endurance. his work with the military shows enormous potential to decrease fatigue and reduce muscle damage for muscle builders, rapidly increasing training schedules.
the world of sports has been rocked by drug using athleets. yet while we frown on athletes using drugs to build muscles, we have no problem with these cyborgs giving themselves 20/7 LASIK vision.
already there is a radical shift towards making experimental drugs more accessible to terminally ill patients. the recent FDA concerns for drug safety, coupled with increased availability demands, place an emphasis on the FDA to test the safety of drugs, not necessarily verify their medical advantage. the FDA needs to respond by evaluating early stage clinical trials in terms of their risks, and less so their rewards. this slow reform back to where we were in 1938, with the FDA as a safety body on behalf of the consumer, will be accelerated any day now as anti-aging treatments come to fruition.
almost all powers of the FDA drug regulation derive from three major acts:
0. The Harrison Act of 1914, mandating recorded monitoring of the opiate trade to insure proper taxation, including provisions requiring all purchases to be backed by a doctor prescription. a latter 1917 rules interprettation on the phrase "in the course of his professional practice only," discriminated that doctor had to be fighting disease and body disorder to be serving in their professional capacity, forbidding the doctor from prescribing opiates for patients wishing to alter their own mental state. Overturned in Linder v US because "Obviously, direct control of medical practice in the states is beyond the power of the federal government. Incidental regulation of such practice by Congress through a taxing act cannot extend to matters plainly inappropriate and unnecessary to reasonable enforcement of a revenue measure." A very very similar regulatory tactic was pulled in the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, used by the US's first "Drug Czar" Harry Anslinger to create unmeetable standards by which he could jail anyone involved in marijuana trade, also rescinded.
1. The Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act of 1938, written in response to an Elixer company selling a sulfanilamide tonic synthesized in an antifreeze solvent (resulting in a tort of grevious negligence, the subsequent suicide of the leadering chemist, and FDC ACT of 1938). Thusfar I've had little success in discerning the constitutional basis of this act. act (current) and act (original).
2. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, in particular, Title II, the Controlled Substance Act and latter Psychotropic Substance Act ammendment. Notably, Part A, § 801 has the congressional findings for the act, declaring its constitutional basis, mostly relating it to its constitutional basis & deriving from the power to regulate interstate trade.
The history of the FDA is an interesting one, I suggest Contrasting Histories of the FDA metalink for some background reading.