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A personal-sized, single stirrup-affair is perfect for smokers who prefer the solitude of their own company. Crystal bowls might hint at someone who likes entertaining and making a good impression. A metal multi-stirrup ashtray corresponds to a functionalist.

From cigar manufacturer logos to artisan-inspired designs, ceramic to wood, squares, triangles, bowls, and shapes we'll just refer to as "other," they're available in a virtual rainbow of colors. Famous is your online source for cigar ashtrays at the internet's fairest prices, so pick one that fits and buy it today. Where does it come from in nature, how is it turned into useable form? And now it’s time for the Drug of the Month, where we take a closer look at the background, science, history, and recent trends in a different drug each month. Last month, we talked about nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” a mainstream drug that is widely available for medical and commercial uses, but is also becoming more popular as a recreational substance. In contrast, October’s drug of the month is a plant that, like cannabis, has long been stigmatized for its psychoactive properties. Also like cannabis, it is a Schedule I drug, despite low potential for addiction, and recent research showing that it can be largely beneficial in medical treatment.

This month, we’ll be looking at the magic behind magic mushrooms, or Psylocybin. In today’s episode, we’ll explore the nature of psilocybin, what it is and where it comes from. Psilocybin is a naturally-occurring psychedelic compound produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms, collectively known as psilocybin mushrooms. About 50 species of these mushrooms are exclusively found in Mexico, but psychedelic mushrooms also commonly grow in the wild in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Ironically however, the most widely distributed species of magic mushrooms throughout the world, psilocybe semilanceata, can be found in Europe, North America, Asia, South America, Australia and New Zealand, but is entirely absent from Mexico. In general, psilocybin-containing species are dark-spored, gilled mushrooms that grow in meadows and woods of the subtropics and tropics, usually in soils rich in humus and plant debris. Both the caps and the stems of the plant contain the psychoactive compound, although the caps contain higher concentrations. The spores of these mushrooms don’t contain psilocybin at all. Because most psilocybin biosynthesis occurs in the early formation of the fungus, younger, smaller mushrooms tend to have a higher concentration of the drug. In general, the psilocybin content of mushrooms is quite variable (ranging from almost nothing to 1.5% of the dry weight), even varying wildly within a single species, often because of different strains, and growing and drying conditions. Not surprisingly, there is less variability among domestically cultivated mushrooms than those grown in the wild. The drug content is more stable in dried mushrooms than fresh mushrooms, with dried mushrooms retaining their potency for months or even years, while mushrooms stored fresh for four weeks contain only traces of the original psilocybin. One common misconception about magic mushrooms is that they only grow in cow poop. While that’s not entirely untrue, the myth comes from one species in particular, psilocybe cubensis, which is a dung-loving species that does often colonizes the manure of large grazing herbivores, like cows and goats. This species prefers humid grasslands, and is more often found in South America and East Asia, but can reliably be found anywhere where humidity is above 85% and where grass-eating animals live. This includes much of the American South, but particularly within a few hundred miles of the Gulf Coast, especially in spring and fall. The reason cubensis loves cow poop so much is because they have no or very little stomach acid, so it’s a very welcoming environment, and one where it’s safe to raise your young fungal family. The cow usually eats grains or grass with mushroom spores on it, and the spores germinate in the cow’s moist, warm stomach. For people who don’t like digging through cow poop, mushrooms can be grown at home from spores, quite similarly to your average houseplant (though the process is a bit more complex). Just as a common house plant is grown in a pot of soil, mushrooms can be grown on a cake of substrate material. The substrate is usually made of a combination of grains, such as brown rice flour, seeds, and vermiculite, a common gardening mineral. The substrate is injected with mushroom spores, which after a few days will grow into white, fuzzy splotches. Typically, in 3-to-4 weeks, the substrate is completely covered in white fuzz, which means it has been successfully colonized, and can be transferred into a terrarium where the mushrooms will begin sprouting. When mushrooms are little babies, they look more like buttons than the cap and stem shape we expect, and are wrapped up in a translucent membrane called the universal veil. As the mushroom grows, the head will open up like an umbrella and tear the veil. Most experts recommend harvesting at this point, for maximum potency and before new spores are released. Once the mushrooms are harvested, they should be dried to preserve the psilocybin.

Since psilocybin mushrooms are after all just mushrooms, they can be eaten just like any other mushroom… by putting it in your mouth and swallowing.

However, since the taste can be pretty bitter, some people prefer to hide it in other food with very strong flavors, such as a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, which can mask the taste. Some people also prefer to brew it into a tea, where the bitterness is more mellow. In the scientific research of psilocybin, the drug is extracted from the mushroom to a pharmaceutically pure degree, and is then injected intravenously into the patient or test subject, but this is incredibly expensive process and does not increase or amplify the effects of the substance, so it is never injected recreationally. In general, the effects of consuming magic mushrooms include euphoria, closed and open-eye visual hallucinations, altered thinking and perception, distorted sense of time, and most remarkably, spiritual experiences.


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