Many people assume that marijuana was made illegal through some kind of process involving scientific, medical, and government hearings; that it was to protect the citizens from what was determined to be a dangerous drug.
The actual story shows a much different picture. Those who voted on the legal fate of this plant never had the facts, but were dependent on information supplied by those who had a specific agenda to deceive lawmakers. You'll see below that the very first federal vote to prohibit marijuana was based entirely on a documented lie on the floor of the Senate.
You'll also see that the history of marijuana's criminalization is filled with:
- Protection of Corporate Profits
- Yellow Journalism
- Ignorant, Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators
- Personal Career Advancement and Greed
These are the actual reasons marijuana is illegal.
For most of human history, marijuana has been completely legal. It's not a recently discovered plant, nor is it a long-standing law. Marijuana has been illegal for less than 1% of the time that it's been in use. Its known uses go back further than 7,000 B.C. and it was legal as recently as when Ronald Reagan was a boy.
The marijuana (hemp) plant, of course, has an incredible number of uses. The earliest known woven fabric was apparently of hemp, and over the centuries the plant was used for food, incense, cloth, rope, and much more. This adds to some of the confusion over its introduction in the United States, as the plant was well known from the early 1600's, but did not reach public awareness as a recreational drug until the early 1900's.
America's first marijuana law was enacted at Jamestown Colony, Virginia in 1619. It was a law "ordering" all farmers to grow Indian hempseed. There were several other "must grow" laws over the next 200 years (you could be jailed for not growing hemp during times of shortage in Virginia between 1763 and 1767), and during most of that time, hemp was legal tender (you could even pay your taxes with hemp -- try that today!) Hemp was such a critical crop for a number of purposes (including essential war requirements - rope, etc.) that the government went out of its way to encourage growth.
The United States Census of 1850 counted 8,327 hemp "plantations" (minimum 2,000-acre farm) growing cannabis hemp for cloth, canvas and even the cordage used for baling cotton.
The Mexican Connection
In the early 1900s, the western states developed significant tensions regarding the influx of Mexican-Americans. The revolution in Mexico in 1910 spilled over the border, with General Pershing's army clashing with bandit Pancho Villa. Later in that decade, bad feelings developed between the small farmer and the large farms that used cheaper Mexican labor. Then, the depression came and increased tensions, as jobs and welfare resources became scarce.
One of the "differences" seized upon during this time was the fact that many Mexicans smoked marijuana and had brought the plant with them.
However, the first state law outlawing marijuana did so not because of Mexicans using the drug. Oddly enough, it was because of Mormons using it. Mormons who traveled to Mexico in 1910 came back to Salt Lake City with marijuana. The church was not pleased and ruled against use of the drug. Since the state of Utah automatically enshrined church doctrine into law, the first state marijuana prohibition was established in 1915. (Today, Senator Orrin Hatch serves as the prohibition arm of this heavily church-influenced state.)
Other states quickly followed suit with marijuana prohibition laws, including Wyoming (1915), Texas (1919), Iowa (1923), Nevada (1923), Oregon (1923), Washington (1923), Arkansas (1923), and Nebraska (1927). These laws tended to be specifically targeted against the Mexican-American population.
When Montana outlawed marijuana in 1927, the Butte Montana Standard reported a legislator's comment: "When some beet field peon takes a few traces of this stuff... he thinks he has just been elected president of Mexico, so he starts out to execute all his political enemies." In Texas, a senator said on the floor of the Senate: "All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy."
Jazz and Assassins
In the eastern states, the "problem" was attributed to a combination of Latin Americans and black jazz musicians. Marijuana and jazz traveled from New Orleans to Chicago, and then to Harlem, where marijuana became an indispensable part of the music scene, even entering the language of the black hits of the time (Louis Armstrong's "Muggles", Cab Calloway's "That Funny Reefer Man", Fats Waller's "Viper's Drag").
Again, racism was part of the charge against marijuana, as newspapers in 1934 editorialized: "Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men's shadows and look at a white woman twice."
Two other fear-tactic rumors started to spread: one, that Mexicans, Blacks and other foreigners were snaring white children with marijuana; and two, the story of the "assassins." Early stories of Marco Polo had told of "hasheesh-eaters" or hashashin, from which derived the term "assassin." In the original stories, these professional killers were given large doses of hashish and brought to the ruler's garden (to give them a glimpse of the paradise that awaited them upon successful completion of their mission). Then, after the effects of the drug disappeared, the assassin would fulfill his ruler's wishes with cool, calculating loyalty.
By the 1930s, the story had changed. Dr. A. E. Fossier wrote in the 1931 New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal: "Under the influence of hashish those fanatics would madly rush at their enemies, and ruthlessly massacre every one within their grasp." Within a very short time, marijuana started being linked to violent behavior.
Alcohol Prohibition and Federal Approaches to Drug Prohibition
During this time, the United States was also dealing with alcohol prohibition, which lasted from 1919 to 1933. Alcohol prohibition was extremely visible and debated at all levels, while drug laws were passed without the general public's knowledge. National alcohol prohibition happened through the mechanism of an amendment to the constitution.
Earlier (1914), the Harrison Act was passed, which provided federal tax penalties for opiates and cocaine.
The federal approach is important. It was considered at the time that the federal government did not have the constitutional power to outlaw alcohol or drugs. It is because of this that alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amendment.
At that time in our country's history, the judiciary regularly placed the tenth amendment in the path of congressional regulation of "local" affairs, and direct regulation of medical practice was considered beyond congressional power under the commerce clause (since then, both provisions have been weakened so far as to have almost no meaning).
Since drugs could not be outlawed at the federal level, the decision was made to use federal taxes as a way around the restriction. In the Harrison Act, legal uses of opiates and cocaine were taxed (supposedly as a revenue need by the federal government, which is the only way it would hold up in the courts), and those who didn't follow the law found themselves in trouble with the treasury department.
In 1930, a new division in the Treasury Department was established -- the Federal Bureau of Narcotics -- and Harry J. Anslinger was named director. This, if anything, marked the beginning of the all-out war against marijuana.
Harry J. Anslinger
Anslinger was an extremely ambitious man, and he recognized the Bureau of Narcotics as an amazing career opportunity -- a new government agency with the opportunity to define both the problem and the solution. He immediately realized that opiates and cocaine wouldn't be enough to help build his agency, so he latched on to marijuana and started to work on making it illegal at the federal level.
Anslinger immediately drew upon the themes of racism and violence to draw national attention to the problem he wanted to create. He also promoted and frequently read from "Gore Files" -- wild reefer-madness-style exploitation tales of ax murderers on marijuana and sex and... Negroes. Here are some quotes that have been widely attributed to Anslinger and his Gore Files:
"There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others."
"...the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races."
"Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death."
"Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men."
"Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing"
"You smoke a joint and you're likely to kill your brother."
"Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind."
And he loved to pull out his own version of the "assassin" definition:
"In the year 1090, there was founded in Persia the religious and military order of the Assassins, whose history is one of cruelty, barbarity, and murder, and for good reason: the members were confirmed users of hashish, or marihuana, and it is from the Arabs' 'hashashin' that we have the English word 'assassin.'"
Harry Anslinger got some additional help from William Randolf Hearst, owner of a huge chain of newspapers. Hearst had lots of reasons to help. First, he hated Mexicans. Second, he had invested heavily in the timber industry to support his newspaper chain and didn't want to see the development of hemp paper in competition. Third, he had lost 800,000 acres of timberland to Pancho Villa, so he hated Mexicans. Fourth, telling lurid lies about Mexicans (and the devil marijuana weed causing violence) sold newspapers, making him rich.
Some samples from the San Francisco Examiner:
"Marihuana makes fiends of boys in thirty days -- Hashish goads users to bloodlust."
"By the tons it is coming into this country -- the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms.... Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him...."
And other nationwide columns...
"Users of marijuana become STIMULATED as they inhale the drug and are LIKELY TO DO ANYTHING. Most crimes of violence in this section, especially in country districts are laid to users of that drug."
"Was it marijuana, the new Mexican drug, that nerved the murderous arm of Clara Phillips when she hammered out her victim's life in Los Angeles?... THREE-FOURTHS OF THE CRIMES of violence in this country today are committed by DOPE SLAVES -- that is a matter of cold record."
Hearst and Anslinger were then supported by Dupont chemical company and various pharmaceutical companies in the effort to outlaw cannabis. Dupont had patented nylon, and wanted hemp removed as competition. The pharmaceutical companies could neither identify nor standardize cannabis dosages, and besides, with cannabis, folks could grow their own medicine and not have to purchase it from large companies.
This all set the stage for...
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
After two years of secret planning, Anslinger brought his plan to Congress -- complete with a scrapbook full of sensational Hearst editorials, stories of ax murderers who had supposedly smoked marijuana, and racial slurs.
It was a remarkably short set of hearings.
The one fly in Anslinger's ointment was the appearance by Dr. William C. Woodward, Legislative Council of the American Medical Association.
Woodward started by slamming Harry Anslinger and the Bureau of Narcotics for distorting earlier AMA statements that had nothing to do with marijuana and making them appear to be AMA endorsement for Anslinger's view.
He also reproached the legislature and the Bureau for using the term marijuana in the legislation and not publicizing it as a bill about cannabis or hemp. At this point, marijuana (or marihuana) was a sensationalist word used to refer to Mexicans smoking a drug and had not been connected in most people's minds to the existing cannabis/hemp plant. Thus, many who had legitimate reasons to oppose the bill weren't even aware of it.
Woodward went on to state that the AMA was opposed to the legislation and further questioned the approach of the hearings, coming close to outright accusation of misconduct by Anslinger and the committee:
"That there is a certain amount of narcotic addiction of an objectionable character no one will deny. The newspapers have called attention to it so prominently that there must be some grounds for [their] statements [even Woodward was partially taken in by Hearst's propaganda]. It has surprised me, however, that the facts on which these statements have been based have not been brought before this committee by competent primary evidence. We are referred to newspaper publications concerning the prevalence of marihuana addiction. We are told that the use of marihuana causes crime.
But yet no one has been produced from the Bureau of Prisons to show the number of prisoners who have been found addicted to the marihuana habit. An informed inquiry shows that the Bureau of Prisons has no evidence on that point.
You have been told that school children are great users of marihuana cigarettes. No one has been summoned from the Children's Bureau to show the nature and extent of the habit, among children.
Inquiry of the Children's Bureau shows that they have had no occasion to investigate it and know nothing particularly of it.
Inquiry of the Office of Education--- and they certainly should know something of the prevalence of the habit among the school children of the country, if there is a prevalent habit--- indicates that they have had no occasion to investigate and know nothing of it.
Moreover, there is in the Treasury Department itself, the Public Health Service, with its Division of Mental Hygiene. The Division of Mental Hygiene was, in the first place, the Division of Narcotics. It was converted into the Division of Mental Hygiene, I think, about 1930. That particular Bureau has control at the present time of the narcotics farms that were created about 1929 or 1930 and came into operation a few years later. No one has been summoned from that Bureau to give evidence on that point.
Informal inquiry by me indicates that they have had no record of any marihuana of Cannabis addicts who have ever been committed to those farms.
The bureau of Public Health Service has also a division of pharmacology. If you desire evidence as to the pharmacology of Cannabis, that obviously is the place where you can get direct and primary evidence, rather than the indirect hearsay evidence."
Committee members then proceeded to attack Dr. Woodward, questioning his motives in opposing the legislation. Even the Chairman joined in:
The Chairman: If you want to advise us on legislation, you ought to come here with some constructive proposals, rather than criticism, rather than trying to throw obstacles in the way of something that the Federal Government is trying to do. It has not only an unselfish motive in this, but they have a serious responsibility.
Dr. Woodward: We cannot understand yet, Mr. Chairman, why this bill should have been prepared in secret for 2 years without any intimation, even, to the profession, that it was being prepared.
After some further bantering...
The Chairman: I would like to read a quotation from a recent editorial in the Washington Times:
The marihuana cigarette is one of the most insidious of all forms of dope, largely because of the failure of the public to understand its fatal qualities. That is a pretty severe indictment. They say it is a national question and that it requires effective legislation. Of course, in a general way, you have responded to all of these statements; but that indicates very clearly that it is an evil of such magnitude that it is recognized by the press of the country as such.
The Nation is almost defenseless against it, having no Federal laws to cope with it and virtually no organized campaign for combating it.
The result is tragic.
School children are the prey of peddlers who infest school neighborhoods.
High school boys and girls buy the destructive weed without knowledge of its capacity of harm, and conscienceless dealers sell it with impunity.
This is a national problem, and it must have national attention.
The fatal marihuana cigarette must be recognized as a deadly drug, and American children must be protected against it.
And that was basically it. Yellow journalism won over medical science.
The committee passed the legislation on. And on the floor of the house, the entire discussion was:
Member from upstate New York: "Mr. Speaker, what is this bill about?"
Speaker Rayburn: "I don't know. It has something to do with a thing called marihuana. I think it's a narcotic of some kind."
"Mr. Speaker, does the American Medical Association support this bill?"
Member on the committee jumps up and says: "Their Doctor Wentworth[sic] came down here. They support this bill 100 percent."
And on the basis of that lie, on August 2, 1937, marijuana became illegal at the federal level.
The entire coverage in the New York Times: "President Roosevelt signed today a bill to curb traffic in the narcotic, marihuana, through heavy taxes on transactions."
Anslinger as precursor to the Drug Czars
Anslinger was essentially the first Drug Czar. Even though the term didn't exist until William Bennett's position as director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy, Anslinger acted in a similar fashion. In fact, there are some amazing parallels between Anslinger and the current Drug Czar John Walters. Both had kind of a carte blanche to go around demonizing drugs and drug users. Both had resources and a large public podium for their voice to be heard and to promote their personal agenda. Both lied constantly, often when it was unnecessary. Both were racists. Both had the ear of lawmakers, and both realized that they could persuade legislators and others based on lies, particularly if they could co-opt the media into squelching or downplaying any opposition views.
Anslinger even had the ability to circumvent the First Amendment. He banned the Canadian movie "Drug Addict," a 1946 documentary that realistically depicted the drug addicts and law enforcement efforts. He even tried to get Canada to ban the movie in their own country, or failing that, to prevent U.S. citizens from seeing the movie in Canada. Canada refused. (Today, Drug Czar John Walters is trying to bully Canada into keeping harsh marijuana laws.)
Anslinger had 37 years to solidify the propaganda and stifle opposition. The lies continued the entire time (although the stories would adjust -- the 21 year old Florida boy who killed his family of five got younger each time he told it). In 1961, he looked back at his efforts:
"Much of the most irrational juvenile violence and that has written a new chapter of shame and tragedy is traceable directly to this hemp intoxication. A gang of boys tear the clothes from two school girls and rape the screaming girls, one boy after the other. A sixteen-year-old kills his entire family of five in Florida, a man in Minnesota puts a bullet through the head of a stranger on the road; in Colorado husband tries to shoot his wife, kills her grandmother instead and then kills himself. Every one of these crimes had been proceeded [sic] by the smoking of one or more marijuana "reefers." As the marijuana situation grew worse, I knew action had to be taken to get the proper legislation passed. By 1937 under my direction, the Bureau launched two important steps First, a legislative plan to seek from Congress a new law that would place marijuana and its distribution directly under federal control. Second, on radio and at major forums, such that presented annually by the New York Herald Tribune, I told the story of this evil weed of the fields and river beds and roadsides. I wrote articles for magazines; our agents gave hundreds of lectures to parents, educators, social and civic leaders. In network broadcasts I reported on the growing list of crimes, including murder and rape. I described the nature of marijuana and its close kinship to hashish. I continued to hammer at the facts.
I believe we did a thorough job, for the public was alerted and the laws to protect them were passed, both nationally and at the state level. We also brought under control the wild growing marijuana in this country. Working with local authorities, we cleaned up hundreds of acres of marijuana and we uprooted plants sprouting along the roadsides."
On a break from college in the 70s, I was visiting a church in rural Illinois. There in the literature racks in the back of the church was a lurid pamphlet about the evils of marijuana -- all the old reefer madness propaganda about how it caused insanity and murder. I approached the minister and said "You can't have this in your church. It's all lies, and the church shouldn't be about promoting lies." Fortunately, my dad believed me, and he had the material removed. He didn't even know how it got there. But without me speaking up, neither he nor the other members of the church had any reason NOT to believe what the pamphlet said. The propaganda machine had been that effective.
The narrative since then has been a continual litany of:
- Politicians wanting to appear tough on crime and passing tougher penalties
- Constant increases in spending on law enforcement and prisons
- Racist application of drug laws
- Taxpayer funded propaganda
- Stifling of opposition speech
- Political contributions from corporations that profit from marijuana being illegal (pharmaceuticals, alcohol, etc.)
... but that's another whole story.
This account only scratches the surface of the story. If you want to know more about the history of marijuana, Harry Anslinger, and the saga of criminalization in the United States and elsewhere, visit some of the excellent links below. (All data and quotes for this piece came from these sources as well).
The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States by Charles Whitebread, Professor of Law, USC Law School. A Speech to the California Judges Association 1995 annual conference.
THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT AND THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE: AN INQUIRY INTO THE LEGAL HISTORY OF AMERICAN MARIJUANA PROHIBITION by Richard J. Bonnie & Charles H. Whitebread, II. VIRGINIA LAW REVIEW. VOLUME 56 OCTOBER 1970 NUMBER 6
The Consumers Union Report - Licit and Illicit Drugs by Edward M. Brecher and the Editors of Consumer Reports Magazine
The History of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 By David F. Musto, M.D., New Haven, Conn. Originally published in Arch. Gen. Psychiat. Volume 26, February, 1972
The Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse I. Control of Marihuana, Alcohol and Tobacco. History of Marihuana Legislation
The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The history of how the Marihuana Tax Act came to be the law of the land.
Marijuana - The First Twelve Thousand Years by Ernest L. Abel, 1980
[Porqué la marihuana es ilegal]
Wed, Mar. 12th, 2008, 06:21 am
Tue, Mar. 11th, 2008, 09:31 am
Kratom: Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is uncontrolled in the United States. This means all parts of the plant and its extracts are legal to cultivate, buy, possess, and distribute (sell, trade or give) without a license or prescription. If sold as a supplement, sales must conform to U.S. supplement laws. If sold for consumption as a food or drug, sales are regulated by the FDA.
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a medicinal leaf harvested from a large tree native to Southeast Asia in the Rubiaceae, first documented by Dutch colonial botanist Korthals. It is botanically related to the Corynanthe, Cinchona and Uncaria genera and shares some similar biochemistry. It is in the same family as coffee, and the psychoactive plant Psychotria viridis. Other species in the Mitragyna genus are used medicinally in Africa, and also used for their wood.
It is used for its psychoactive effects in its native region, with some use elsewhere in the world. In Southeast Asia the fresh leaves are usually chewed, often continuously, by workers or manual laborers seeking a numbing, stimulating effect. Elsewhere, the leaves are often made into a tea or extracted into water and then evaporated into a tar that can be swallowed. Kratom is not often smoked, although this method does provide some effect.
Kratom contains many alkaloids including mitragynine (once thought to be the primary active), mitraphylline, and 7-hydroxymitragynine (which is currently the most likely candidate for the primary active chemical in the plant). Although structurally related to yohimbine and other tryptamines, its pharmacology is quite different, acting primarily as a mu-opioid receptor agonist. It also shares some adrenergic receptor activity similar to that of yohimbine. Kratom also contains alkaloids found in uña de gato, which are thought to play a beneficial role on the immune system and lower blood pressure, as well as epicatechin, a powerful antioxidant also found in dark chocolate and closely related to the EGCG that gives green tea its beneficial effects. Other active chemicals in kratom include raubasine (best known from Rauwolfia serpentina) and some yohimbe alkaloids such as corynantheidine.
Kratom has many potential medicinal uses, for example as a low grade analgesic comparable to codeine or propoxyphene, as an alternative to methadone, and as a source of other chemicals with a wide range of beneficial activities which could be isolated from the psychoactive constituents.
-----Kanna: Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) is uncontrolled in the United States. This means all parts of the plant and its extracts are legal to cultivate, buy, possess, and distribute (sell, trade or give) without a license or prescription. If sold as a supplement, sales must conform to U.S. supplement laws. If sold for consumption as a food or drug, sales are regulated by the FDA.
Sceletium tortuosum is a succulent herb commonly found in South Africa, which is also known as Kanna, Channa, Kougoed (Kauwgoed) - which literally means, 'chew(able) things/goodies' or 'something to chew'. The plant has been used by South African pastoralists and hunter-gatherers as a mood-altering substance from prehistoric times. The first known written account of the plant's use was in 1662 by van Riebeeck. The traditionally prepared dried sceletium was often chewed and the saliva swallowed, but it has also been made into gel caps, teas and tinctures. It has also been used as a snuff and smoked.[2
Sceletium is known to elevate mood and decrease anxiety, stress and tension. It has also been used as an appetite suppressant by shepherds walking long distances in arid areas. In intoxicating doses it can cause euphoria, initially with stimulation and later with sedation. Users also report increased personal insight, interpersonal ease and a meditative, grounded feeling without any perceptual dulling. Others have noted enhanced tactile and sexual response. High doses produce distinct inebriation and stimulation often followed by sedation. The plant is not considered hallucinogenic, contrary to some literature on the subject, and no severe adverse effects have been documented.
Wild Dagga: Legal [Official quotation not found]
Wild Dagga is smoked or made into a medicinal tea by the Hottentot tribe of South Africa. Wild Dagga is good for inducing a deep meditative sleep, calming, relaxing and enhancing dreaming. Because of its euphoric effects, Wild Dagga is often referred to as a Cannabis substitute.
Leonotis leonurus (Wild Dagga, Lion's Tail) species is also used in Eastern medicine as euphoriant, purgative, and vermifuge.--
Blue Lotus: Psychoactive Lotus/Lily (Nymphaea caerulea, Nymphaea ampla, Nelumbo nucifera) is uncontrolled in the United States. This means all parts of the plant and its extracts are legal to cultivate, buy, possess, and distribute (sell, trade or give) without a license or prescription. If sold as a supplement, sales must conform to U.S. supplement laws. If sold for consumption as a food or drug, sales are regulated by the FDA.
Recent studies have shown Nymphaea caerulea to have psychedelic properties, and may have been used as a sacrament in ancient Egypt and certain ancient South American cultures. Dosages of 5 to 10 grams of the flowers induces slight stimulation, a shift in thought processes, enhanced visual perception, and mild closed-eye visuals. Nymphaea caerulea is related to, and possesses similar activity as Nelumbo nucifera, the Sacred Lotus. Both Nymphaea caerulea and Nelumbo nucifera contain the alkaloids nuciferine and apomorphine, which have been recently isolated by independent labs.
These psychoactive effects make Nymphaea caerulea a likely candidate (among several) for the lotus plant eaten by the mythical Lotophagi in Homer's Odyssey.
Used in aromatherapy, Nymphaea caerulea is purported to have a "divine" essence, bringing euphoria, heightened awareness and tranquility.
Other sources cite anti-spasmodic and sedative, purifying and calming properties.----
Hawaiian Woodrose: Hawaiian Baby Woodrose is not a controlled plant in the United States. Both the live plants and the seeds are commonly sold by botanical supply companies. However, it is important to know that one of the chemicals contained in the seeds, LSA, is Schedule III in the U.S. Practically, this means that if an extraction is done on Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds, the resulting LSA is illegal to possess. We are unaware of any cases in which an individual has been prosecuted simply for growing a plant or for doing a home extraction of a plant, although it seems possible that a few such cases exist. Large scale (especially commercial) extraction of LSA from H.B. Woodrose seeds begins to fall into the realm of "clearly illegal" and would certainly be difficult to defend.
The plant is a rare example of a plant whose hallucinogenic properties have only recently been discovered by non Hawaiians. While its cousins in the Convolvulaceae family, such as the Rivea corymbosaIpomoea tricolor (Tlitliltzin), were used in shamanic rituals of Latin America for centuries, the Hawaiian baby woodrose was not traditionally recognized as a hallucinogen. Its properties were first brought to attention in the 1960s, despite the fact that the chemical composition of its seeds is nearly identical to those of the two species mentioned above, and the seeds contain the highest concentration of psychoactive compounds in the entire family. (Ololiuhqui) and
Traditional use of the plant in India usually employed the leaves and roots of the plants, which are not psychoactive, as antiseptic and anti-inflammatory drugs.
The psychedelic properties of the seeds became known mainly through their use in Hawaii, Haiti and Puerto Rico, where impoverished members of the population would consume the seeds, seeking a "cheap buzz" as an alternative to alcohol. A sample made its way to Albert Hofmann, the creator of LSD, who confirmed the effects and analyzed its chemical composition. It is still used by some Hawaiians for a high.
Ayahuasca: The most common plant constituents of Ayahuasca (Banisteriop
sis caapi & Psychotria viridis) are not specifically scheduled in the United States. Neither is the ayahuasca brew specifically named as a scheduled substance. However, P. Viridis contains DMT which is DEA schedule 1. The DEA has recently been making the argument that a plant or brew is illegal if it contains DMT or any other controlled substance.
There have been several developments in 1999, 2000, and 2001 which have affected the practical legal status of ayahuasca. No new laws have been passed, but in the United States and Europe, ayahuasca has started to become part of the Drug War. No cases have been decided in the United States or in Europe which have ruled that ayahuasca or plants used to make ayahuasca are necessarily illegal, but there have been several arrests for possession of Ayahuasca or its component plants.
Ayahuasca is used largely as a religious sacrament, no matter which culture it is associated with. Those whose usage of ayahuasca is performed in non-traditional contexts often align themselves with the philosophies and cosmologies associated with ayahuasca shamanism, as practiced among indigenous peoples like the Urarina of Peruvian Amazonia. The religion Santo Daime uses it.
While non-native users know of the spiritual applications of ayahuasca, a less well-known traditional usage focuses on the medicinal properties of ayahuasca. Its purgative properties are highly important (many refer to it as la Purga, "the purge"). The intense vomiting and occasional diarrhea it induces can clear the body of worms and other tropical parasites, and harmala alkaloids themselves have been shown to be anthelmintic Thus, this action is twofold; a direct action on the parasites by these harmala alkaloids (particularly harmine in ayahuasca) works to kill the parasites, and parasites are expelled through the increased intestinal motility that is caused by these alkaloids.
Dietary taboos are almost always associated with the use of Ayahuasca; in the rainforest, these tend towards the purification of one's self - abstaining from spicy and heavily seasoned foods, fat, salt, caffeine, acidic foods (such as citrus) and sex before, after, or both before and after a ceremony. A diet low in foods containing tyramine has been recommended, as the speculative interaction of tyramine and MAOIs could lead to a hypertensive crisis. However, evidence indicates that harmala alkaloids act only on MAO-A, in a reversible way similar to moclobemide (a antidepressive that does not require dietary restrictions). Psychonautic experiments and absence of diet restrictions in the highly urban Brazilian ayahuasca church União do Vegetal also suggest that the risk is much lower than conceived, and probably non-existent.
Today, the name 'ayahuasca' can mean a variety of botanical concoctions containing one or more MAOIs and DMT or one of its chemical analogues. The synthetic pharmahuasca is sometimes called ayahuasca as well. In this usage, the DMT is generally considered the main psychoactive active ingredient, while the MAOI merely preserves the psychoactivity of orally ingested DMT, which would otherwise be destroyed in the gut before it could be absorbed in the body. Most ayahuasqueros and others working with the brew claim the B. caapi vine to be the defining ingredient; according to them, it is not ayahuasca unless B. caapi is in the brew. The vine is considered to be the "spirit" of ayahuasca, the gatekeeper and guide to the otherworldly realms.
In some areas, it is even said that the chakruna or chaliponga admixtures are added only to make the brew taste sweeter. This is a strong indicator of the often wildly divergent intentions and cultural differences between the native ayahuasca-using cultures and psychedelics enthusiasts in other countries.
In modern Europe and North America, ayahuasca analogues are often prepared using non-traditional plants which contain the same alkaloids. For example, seeds of the Syrian rue plant are often used as a substitute for the ayawaska vine, and the DMT-rich Mimosa hostilis is used in place of chakruna. Australia has several indigenous plants which are popular among modern ayahuasqueros there, such as various DMT-rich species of Acacia.
In modern Western culture, entheogen users sometimes base concoctions on Ayahuasca. When doing so, most often Rue or B. caapi are used with an alternative form of the DMT molecule, such as psilocin, or a non-DMT based hallucinogen such as mescaline. Nicknames such as Psilohuasca, Mush-rue-asca, or 'Shroom-a-huasca, for mushroom based mixtures, or Pedrohuasca (from the San Pedro Cactus, which contains mescaline) are often given to such brews. Such nicknames are by many considered inappropriate and culturally insensitive seeing as "huasca" means "vine" and none of the above are vines, nor do the psychedelic experimentalist trappings of such concoctions bear any resemblance to the medicinal use of Ayahuasca in its original cultural context. This is usually only done by experienced entheogen users who are more familiar with the chemicals and plants being used, as the uninformed combination of various neuro-chemicals can be dangerous.
It seems unlikely that Ayahuasca could ever emerge as a "street-drug", given the difficulty of making the tea and the intense experience it provides. Most Western users employ it almost exclusively for spiritual purposes, in line with both traditional, animist usage and organized churches such as the União do Vegetal (or UDV). With the exception of UDV, a diet is almost always followed before use, including a day of fasting. In traditional settings, the "dieta" is followed to spiritually cleanse the body before and after the experience.
Amanita Muscaria: Amanita muscaria (as well as all other Amanita species) is uncontrolled federally in the United States. This means all parts of the plant and its extracts are legal to cultivate, buy, possess, and distribute (sell, trade or give) without a license or prescription. If sold as a supplement, sales must conform to U.S. supplement laws. If sold for consumption as a food or drug, sales are regulated by the FDA.
Fly agarics are known for the unpredictability of their effects. Depending on habitat and the amount ingested per body weight, effects can range from nausea and twitching to drowsiness, cholinergic effects (low blood pressure, sweating and salivation), auditory and visual distortions, mood changes, euphoria, relaxation, and loss of equilibrium. Retrograde amnesia frequently results following recovery.  
In cases of serious poisoning it causes a delirium, characterized by bouts of marked agitation with confusion, hallucinations, and irritability followed by periods of central nervous system depression. Seizures and coma may also occur in severe poisonings. Effects typically appear after around 30 to 90 minutes and peak within three hours, but certain effects can last for a number of days.  In the majority of cases recovery is complete within 12 hours. The effect is highly variable and individuals can react quite differently to the similar doses.  Some cases of intoxication have exhibited headaches up to ten hours afterwards.
Medical attention should be sought in cases of suspected poisoning. If the delay between ingestion and treatment is less than four hours, inducing vomiting with Syrup of ipecac is warranted. However, this should be avoided if there is a reduced level of consciousness and gastric lavage performed instead. Intravenous rehydration may required for recurrent vomiting but this is rare.
Fri, Mar. 7th, 2008, 02:08 pm
MAY 24--In a recent raid on an al-Qaeda safe house in Iraq, U.S. military officials recovered an assortment of crude drawings depicting torture methods like "blowtorch to the skin" and "eye removal." Along with the images, which you'll find on the following pages, soldiers seized various torture implements, like meat cleavers, whips, and wire cutters. Photos of those items can be seen here
. The images, which were just declassified by the Department of Defense, also include a picture of a ramshackle Baghdad safe house
described as an "al-Qaeda torture chamber." It was there, during an April 24 raid, that soldiers found a man suspended from the ceiling by a chain. According to the military, he had been abducted from his job and was being beaten daily by his captors. In a raid earlier this week, Coalition Forces freed five Iraqis who were found in a padlocked room in Karmah. The group, which included a boy, were reportedly beaten with chains, cables, and hoses. Photos showing injuries sustained by those captives can be found here
Thu, Mar. 6th, 2008, 11:22 pm
Take this free chakra test to find out how open each of your seven chakras is.
Chakra positionsThe questionnaire consists of 56 questions, to which you can answer "not at all" through "definitely." Try to be as honest as possible about yourself, as this will get you the most accurate results.
Next to a list indicating whether each chakra is under-active, open or over-active, the test results consist of a graph displaying the activity of each chakra.http://www.eclecticenergies.com/chakras/chakratest.php
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008, 04:51 pm
Mon, Mar. 3rd, 2008, 05:21 pm
"Have you got any soul?" a woman asks the next afternoon. That depends, I feel like saying; some days yes, some days no. A few days ago I was right out; now I've got loads, too much, more than I can handle. I wish I could spread it a bit more evenly, I want to tell her, get a better balance, but I can't seem to get it sorted. I can see she wouldn't be interested in my internal stock control problems though, so I simply point to where I keep the soul I have, right by the exit, just next to the blues.
Mon, Mar. 3rd, 2008, 01:00 am
What would you do?
If you found out that your daily meals contain a chemical additive that could cause brain damage in your children?
If evidence indicates that this chemical could affect how your child's brain forms and develops.
If the damage caused by this chemical might not show itself until your child was older, manifesting as learning or emotional difficulties.
If this chemical damaged the part of the brain that controls hormones, resulting in hormonal imbalances later in life.
If this chemical might aggravate or even precipitate degenerative diseases of the nervous system and brain such as Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's disease, ALS, and Alzheimer's disease.
So begins the book Excitotoxins, the Taste That Kills, by Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, MD, a practicing board-certified neurosurgeon with a profound understanding of the structure and function of the brain and nervous system.
In his introduction here's what Dr. Blaylock says about the excitotoxins, MSG and aspartate (brand name NutraSweet or Equal), "Despite what the defenders of MSG and NutraSweet will scream, this book is not unduly alarmist...It was only after a year of careful examination and debate that I decided to write this book. I felt that the information concerning the dangers to small children and older persons was too important to withhold. Each person must decide for themself if they choose to believe that the danger is real."
He dug through and reviewed a host of information on excitotoxins that is buried in technical and scientific journals. He sites 493 references at the end of this book.
What Dr. Blaylock discovered is too important to your health and the health of future generations for it to lie hidden. That's why I feel you must know about it. Why do food manufacturers add MSG to our processed food?
For the taste of it!
You see, Japanese cooks discovered a sea weed, "sea tangle" or kombu that made their dishes of food taste delectable.
Eventually the Japanese isolated this flavor enhancing ingredient as MSG - Mono Sodium Glutamate - and turned it into a worldwide multimillion dollar empire.
After World War II American food manufacturers discovered MSG and started adding it to processed food (which is often rather bland tasting without additives). Now it's a huge lucrative industry in the United States. In 1972 262,000 metric tons of MSG was produced in America.
Until the 1960's few people suspected that MSG could be harmful to our health. Most scientists assumed that glutamate supplied energy to the brain.
With that in mind in 1957 - 2 ophthalmologists fed MSG to infant mice to see if it would have a beneficial effect on a hereditary eye disease. To their surprise instead they found that MSG had destroyed all the nerve cells of the baby mice retina which would cause them to be blind.
But MSG continued to be added to food in huge amounts and also to baby food.
Then Dr. Olney, MD a neuroscientist at The Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis repeated the MSG experiment in 1967 on infant mice. He examined the brain as well as the retina of these animals and discovered that specialized cells in a very critical area of the brain, the hypothalamus, were destroyed after a single dose of MSG.
Despite a long fight with the FDA and food manufacturers Dr. Olney and others finally succeeded in banning MSG from infant food.
However, other food additives can have similar effects as MSG and still be found in infant and toddler's food. These foods have been called excitotoxins by neuroscientists. Neurons (nerve cells) in the brain exposed to these substances initially become very excited, firing rapidly until they become completely exhausted. "Several hours later these neurons suddenly die, as if the cells were excited to death." The name excitotoxins seems appropriate.
Excitotoxins found in nature are all amino acids including glutamate, aspartate and cysteine. Add a sodium molecule to the glutamate and you have monosodium glutamate. But the toxic part is the glutamate, not the sodium.
You also ingest these amino acids when you eat a natural whole food protein source. However, in natural whole food these amino acids come in balanced proportions, so that none of them induce high blood levels of any individual amino acid. When MSG is added to processed food, glutamate is concentrated and induces high blood levels which can allow higher levels of glutamate to enter the brain.
Turns out the original assumption that glutamate supplied energy to the brain was almost right. But rather than supplying energy to the brain glutamate, aspartate and several other amino acids carry nerve messages from one nerve to another and are thus known as neurotransmitters. With proper regulation and in the right concentration and balance these amino acids function as vital transmitters of information that regulates bodily functions.
To protect the brain from toxins or toxic levels of nutrients the blood brain barrier keeps some substances from entering the brain and allows others to pass through.
However, the blood brain barrier may malfunction in persons with a stroke, brain tumor, head injury, infection or degenerative disease. Some areas of the brain never develop a barrier system including the hypothalamus, pineal and a few other areas. Thus they are more vulnerable to the effects of excitotoxins. Damage to the hypothalamus causes malfunctioning in the hormonal system.
Since the developing brain of an infant or child gradually develops an effective blood brain barrier, the baby's brain is more vulnerable to damage caused by ingested toxins. Also, excitotoxins may pass through the placenta to the fetus affecting the brain of this precious baby.
Throughout our lives, but especially in the developmental years our amazing brains are always changing and repairing themselves, wiring and rewiring through trillions of nerve fiber pathways. This process, called plasticity, makes the brain infinitely more complex than a computer. What an amazing organ.
Of all the neurotransmitters glutamate plays the most important part in the brain development of the fetus and the plasticity in the adult. In experiments on animals too much glutamate can cause the brain to be miswired. If MSG and aspartate (NutraSweet) pass from what mama has eaten into the fetus in the womb, baby's brain may be miswired.
Because the brain at birth is still going through an extensive rewiring process, newborns and toddlers who are fed these excitotoxins are at very high risk for abnormal brain wiring. Also, the brain develops in a certain sequence of events with critical timing of each sequence. Over stimulation with excitotoxins "may severely interfere with this delicate process and possibly lead to learning disorders, emotional illness, or even major psychological disease later in life."
The critical period of brain development occurs from the first week of conception to six or seven years old. Dr. Blaylock suggests that the effects of excitotoxin damage during this critical period may be subtle, manifesting as a slight dyslexia, or more obvious as outbursts of uncontrollable anger.
More severe cases may result in autism, schizophrenia, seizures, and cerebral palsy or episodes of violence and criminal behavior in later years. There's no proof that excitotoxins cause these conditions in humans, but these behavioral changes have been observed in animals exposed to excitotoxins.
In animal experiments the dose of MSG needed to damage the developing nervous system in baby animals is only one-fourth of the dose needed to damage the adult animal nervous system.
Pregnant women frequently eat large doses of MSG and other excitotoxins in their food. According to one study restaurants add as much as 9.9 grams of MSG to a single dish, enough to cause brain damage in experimental animals. In soups or other liquids, MSG is absorbed much faster and more completely, causing higher blood levels of MSG and greater toxicity to the brain. Maybe that's why I stopped eating restaurant or canned soup. I just do not feel good after eating it.
The MSG may not be able to cross the placental barrier to reach the fetus unless the placenta is faulty or the dose of MSG eaten is quite high. Never the less, why would you want to risk exposing your baby to these brain toxins?
Although excitotoxins may not be immediately deposited in the brain, when mice and rats ate excitotoxins over a period of several hours to days, they accumulated these toxins in their brains. They cannot be taken up by the brain rapidly but, over a longer period of time enter the brain in increasing concentrations.
In "test tube" experiments, neurons (nerve cells) exposed to massive doses of MSG die within one hour. With a lower dose they die suddenly in two hours. Some evidence indicates that at subtoxic doses they alter the cell's physiology. Is that why we're all just a little dingy?
How much processed food and diet drinks or candies or mints are you eating on a daily basis?
If that's your main diet, you are ingesting a heavy load of excitotoxins. You will have trouble finding prepared foods without MSG. It may not say MSG on the package label because there are a lot of other tricky names for MSG or substances containing MSG. So beware, check out the list at the bottom of this page for the other names for MSG.
Those diet drinks contain aspartame - known as NutraSweet or Equal. Those liquid forms zap that excitotoxin to your brain. How many brain cells have you killed today? But you may think that animals react differently to excitotoxins than humans, so how does this research apply to us?
That's a good question. We are unique. Unfortunately in the case of excitotoxins, humans absorb glutamate much better than rhesus monkeys. Also we concentrate "glutamate in our blood following a dose of MSG in higher concentrations than any other species of animal and are more sensitive to the toxic effects of this glutamate than are experimental animals." So the results that occur from animal exposure to excitotoxins may be multiplied in humans.
Also, some of us are more sensitive to the effects of ingested toxins than others. I call us the "canaries", since we exhibit the adverse effects of these toxins more quickly than others do. So we can warn the rest of society to avoid these poisons. Miners took canaries into the mines to warn them of toxic fumes because canaries succumbed to the toxins before the miners could detect them. But if the miners stayed too long they would also die from the fumes. Take your lessons from the miners. Avoid excitotoxins like the plague even if you do not feel the adverse effects immediately after ingestion.
Dr. Blaylock presents evidence that some individuals may be more susceptible to the brain cell damaging effects of excitotoxins than others. Some may not have as much capacity to pump the excess glutamate out of the brain cell. Others may have some defect in part of the blood brain barrier.
The damage to neurons progresses over many years before people start to show the signs of Alzheimer's Disease, ALS, Parkinson's. etc. The problem lies in how to know if you are susceptible to brain damage from excitotoxins. At this point there is no way to know, so why expose yourself to unnecessary substances that could cause such devastating consequences?
Excitotoxins over stimulate the brain cells neurons, causing them to die. (They are stimulated to death.)
The most common excitotoxins in our diet are MSG (mono sodium glutamate) and aspartate (aspartame, Brand name NutraSweet or Equal).
Almost all processed (canned, packaged) food contains some form of MSG even if MSG is not mentioned in the list of ingredients. MSG goes by many other names. See bottom of this page for that list of names.
MSG adds flavor to dead, lifeless packaged food.
Even food in health food stores contain MSG or its equivalent. I have yet to find a bouillon cube that does not contain it. Read labels carefully and beware of other names for MSG.
Aspartate mixed with another amino acid, phenylalanine gives a sweet taste to food or drink without adding calories. Thus it's found in almost all "diet" drinks and "diet" food. Our precious babies' and toddlers' (future leaders, scientists, creators, artists, inventors, etc.) brains are much more susceptible to the toxic effects of excitotoxins than are adults.
Excitotoxin damage to a child's brain may not show up until years later when they begin to talk or read exhibiting difficulty with speech or dyslexia or even behavior disorders.
In late adulthood degenerative disease like ALS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease or other degenerative neurological disease may manifest from excitotoxin damage done to neurons over a life time, beginning in childhood.
Pregnant women - Dr. Blaylock (and I agree) recommend totally avoiding aspartate, aspartame, NutraSweet, Equal during pregnancy. It's a good idea to avoid all forms of MSG too.
In interpreting how MSG studies done on animals might apply to humans, remember that:
Humans absorb MSG better than some experimental animals.
Humans concentrate MSG in their blood so that our blood levels are four times greater than that of an experimental animal given a comparable dose of MSG.
Therefore, the damage done to the human brain may be much greater than that observed in experimental animals.
Is it worth it to ingest these excitotoxins?
Now that you know, will you keep feeding processed food and diet drinks to your children?
Will you keep eating it yourself?
Remember if you eat any kind of packaged, processed food or eat out at restaurants, you will be eating MSG. That's another reason that I advocate eating whole foods, meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds and whole grains. Especially if you prepare it yourself, you will avoid eating toxins, brain killers.
Even if you ask the restaurant personnel if there is MSG in their food and they say no, you probably will still be eating it. They are not lying to you, they just do not know about all of the hidden sources of MSG in food. See list at the bottom of this page for other names or sources of MSG in food.
Diet drinks contain aspartate. In the liquid form this excitotoxin enters the blood stream more rapidly. "Sugar-free" mints usually contain aspartate.
Try substituting stevia, an herb, as a sweetener in tea or other drink. Mix fruit juice and sparkling water for a drink refreshment occasionally, maybe for special holidays or celebrations. Fruit juice is still a concentrated sweet that is hard on the body's metabolism and sparkling water like any carbonated beverage upsets mineral balance in the body. Mostly drink pure water.
Hidden Sources of MSG
From Excitotoxins, the Taste that Kills:
"As discussed previously, the glutamate manufacturers and the processed food industries are always on a quest to disguise MSG added to food. Below is a partial list of the most common names for disguised MSG. Remember also that the powerful excitotoxins aspartate and L-cysteine are frequently added to foods and according to FDA rules require no labeling at all.
Additives that always contain MSG: (from reference 492 in Excitotoxins, the Taste that Kills)
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
Plant Protein Extract
Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
Additives that frequently contain MSG:
Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring
Mon, Mar. 3rd, 2008, 12:55 am
Remembering your dreams is the starting place for learning to have lucid dreams. If you don't recall your dreams, even if you do have a lucid dream, you won't remember it! And, in order to be able to recognize your dreams as dreams while they are happening, you have to be familiar with the way your own dreams work. Before it will be worth your time to work on lucid dream induction methods, you should be able to recall at least one dream every night.
Getting plenty of sleep is the first step to good dream recall. If you are rested it will be easier to focus on your goal of recalling dreams, and you won't mind so much taking the time during the night to record your dreams. Another benefit of getting plenty of sleep is that dream periods get longer and closer together as the night proceeds. The first dream of the night is the shortest, perhaps 10 minutes in length, while after 8 hours of sleep, dream periods can be 45 minutes to an hour long. We all dream every night, about one dream period every 90 minutes. People who say they never dream simply never remember their dreams. You may have more than one dream during a REM (dream) period, separated by short arousals that are most often forgotten. It is generally accepted among sleep researchers that dreams are not recalled unless the sleeper awakens directly from the dream, rather than after going on to other stages of sleep.
It can be useful while you are developing your dream recall to keep a complete dream journal. Keep the journal handy by your bed and record every dream you remember, no matter how fragmentary. Start by writing down all your dreams, not just the complete, coherent, or interesting ones--even if all you remember is a face or a room, write it down.
When you awaken in the night and recall what you were dreaming, record the dream right away. If you don't, in the morning you may find you remember nothing about the dream, and you will certainly have forgotten many interesting details. We seem to have built-in dream erasers in our minds, which make dream experiences more difficult to recall than waking ones. So, whenever you remember a dream, write it down. If you don't feel like writing out a long dream story at 3 AM, note down key points of the plot. Also write down the precise content of any dialogue from the dream, because words will almost inevitably be forgotten in a very short time.
Possibly, all you will need to do to increase your dream recall is to remind yourself as you are falling asleep that you wish to awaken fully from your dreams and remember them. This works in a similar manner to remembering to awaken at a certain time in the morning. Additionally, it may help to tell yourself you will have interesting, meaningful dreams. A major cause of dream forgetting is interference from other thoughts competing for your attention. Therefore, let your first thought upon awakening be, "What was I just dreaming?" Before attempting to write down the dream, go over the dream in your mind, re-telling the dream story to yourself. DO NOT MOVE from the position in which you awaken, and do not think of the day's concerns. Cling to any clues of what you might have been experiencing--moods, feelings, fragments of images, and try to rebuild a story from them. When you recall a scene, try to recall what happened before that, and before that, reliving the dream in reverse. If after a few minutes, all you remember is a mood, describe it in a journal. If you can recall nothing, try imagining a dream you might have had--note your present feelings, list your current concerns to yourself, and ask yourself, "Did I dream about that?" Even if you can't recall anything in bed, events or scenes of the day may remind you of something you dreamed the night before. Be ready to notice this when it happens, and record whatever you remember.
If you find that you sleep too deeply to awaken from your dreams, try setting an alarm clock to wake you at a time when you are likely to be dreaming. Since our REM periods occur at approximately 90 minute intervals, good times will be multiples of 90 minutes after you go to sleep. Aim for the later REM periods by setting the alarm to go off at 4.5, 6, or 7.5 hours after you go to sleep. Once again, when you wake up, don't move and think first of what you were just dreaming before writing.
To remind yourself of your intentions and get yourself into the spirit of your dreams, read through your dream journal at bedtime. Learning to remember your dreams may seem difficult at first, but if you persist, you will almost certainly succeed--and may find yourself remembering four or more dreams per night. Of course, once you reach this level, you probably won't want to write them all down--just the significant or compelling ones. And, the more familiar you become with the style of your own dreams, the easier it will be to remember you are dreaming while you are dreaming--and explore the world of your dreams while still on the scene.