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Top Cognitive Liberty News
From the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
April 19, 2005

Hello! Happy Bicycle Day!

Here’s our report of the top cognitive liberty news for the past month and some pointers to some important and fun upcoming events.

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Supreme Court to Review Ayahuasca Case

On Friday April 15, the US Supreme Court agreed to review an important case involving US members of the ayahuasca-using Uniao Do Vegetal (UDV) church. The CCLE's Richard Glen Boire is an expert on the legal issues concerning ayahuasca use and spoke about them live on the BBC Radio 5 on April 18, 2005, noting that the case pits Freedom of Religion against the symbolism of the War on Drugs. Ayahuasca is not a drug of abuse, and has zero impact on the "drug war," whereas freedom of religion is one of the most cherished freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. During alcohol prohibition, religious users of wine (a drug far more habituating than ayahuasca) were exempted, and the CCLE maintains that a similar exemption ought to be recognized for the members of the UDV. Indeed, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act mandates such an accommodation. The case is Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal, No. 04-1084.

CCLE Supreme Court Legal Brief Makes Waves

In 2003-4 the CCLE was an amicus party before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Sell v. United States. The case was successful, with Dr. Sell winning a bar on being force-drugged in an effort to make him legally competent to stand trial.  All evidence was that Dr. Sell was mentally competent and posed no danger to himself or others. In that case, our amicus brief argued that the First Amendment protects cognitive liberty - a right to integrity over one's own thought processes and underlying neurochemistry. A new law review article published by Elizabeth G. Shultz "Sell-ing Your Soul to the Courts: Forced Medication to Achieve Trial Competency in the Wake of Sell v. United States," 38 Akron L. Rev. 503 (2005) cites the CCLE's brief and adopts our argument, noting: "In light of the seriousness of the First Amendment right to freedom of thought at stake, the Court should have recognized that no governmental interest can outweigh a person's right to freedom of thought, especially when the defendant is non-dangerous and charged with non-violent crimes." The complete article (in PDF format) can be obtained by clicking the above link.

American Journal of Bioethics Publishes CCLE Commentary

The prestigious American Journal of Bioethics will be publishing an article by Richard Glen Boire in the upcoming issue. The article examines a new breed of brain-based lie detectors, and argues that existing Fourth Amendment jurisprudence is ill-equipped to deal with law enforcement uses of these devices. Richard's article argues that the notion of cognitive security would provide the missing legal concept, and ought to make nonconsensual use of such devices by law enforcement agents an unconstitutional "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The article should appear at the above link later this month.

Cognitive Liberty at University of Pennsylvania

On April 1-2, Richard Glen Boire flew to Philadelphia where he spoke about cognitive liberty and gave a response to the keynote talk by renowned neuroscientist Dr. Michael Gazzaniga. The event was called "The Brain and Beyond: The 8th National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference," and brought together over 300 undergraduate and graduate students from 25 states and 7 countries. Richard's talks focused on the need to update the legal notion of "freedom of thought" to include protections for autonomy and self-determination over one's own functional neurochemistry. Richard spoke with many of the attendees and with the other presenters about the way that a legal right to cognitive liberty and cognitive security would provide a framework for encouraging advancements in neuroscience and psychopharmacology, while advancing a legal principle that protects both those who want to say "yes" to using such technologies, and those who want to say "no." Check the above link for an eventual DVD and archived webcast of thetalks.

New Answer: Ask Dr. Shulgin Online
We posted a new answer by Dr. Alexander Shulgin. The question was:

What exactly is "ice" and how does it differ from "crank" "speed" or "methamphetamine"?
What are the adverse effects of this drug on an individual? - Jennifer

Follow the above link to read Dr. Shulgin's reply.

RGB guest on Science Today Radio Show

On Tuesday March 29, Richard Glen Boire was a guest on the half-hour "Science Today" radio show on KDVS. KDVS is a college radio station broadcasting from Davis, California with mp3 podcasting programs archived. Richard explored the intersection of constitutional rights and psychopharmacology, ranging from the use of peyote in religious ceremonies, to future-coming drugs that will make it possible to manage one's memories - either boosting or attenuating them.

America's New Drugs - URB Magazine

The April 2005 issue of URB Magazine carried an article on the way in which criminal drug prohibition actual drives the creation of new synthetic drugs. The article includes Richard Glen Boire's comments comparing the harms of today's drug prohibition with the harms produced by alcohol prohibition, and ends with a deeper critique of
the war on ecstasy:

Boire, continues and proposes a plausible theory: "There's a fear of
Ecstasy, not [just] the drug [by that name], but the experience, the
idea that people can have this autonomous joy that is not limited by
church protocols or socially-constructed modes. It's okay to be happy
when your team scores a touchdown in the Super Bowl, but it's
[considered] odd for people to be ecstatically dancing in fields."

Should Salvia Divinorum Be Made Illegal?
The Beaver County Times, a small paper in Pennsylvania reported on the CCLE's efforts to educate legislators in that state who are seeking to add the plant Salvia divinorum to the state's list of controlled substances. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that this misguided legislative effort can be forestalled because Salvia divinorum is just one among a group of substances named in the bill for control. For the latest news on this bill or on other legal threats to this plant visit Daniel Siebert's Salvia Divinorum Research and Information Center.

Yes on Child Medication & Safety Act
Last year, the CCLE launched its "Choices for Children" campaign aimed at ending schools from conditioning a child's education on the use of Ritalin or other psychotropic medication. Today, April 19th, actresses Kirstie Alley and Kelly Preston will address the Florida Education Council on legislation (HB 209 and SB 1766) to prevent schools that receive state funding from forcing parents to put their children on psychotropic drugs as a condition of attendance in the schools, and to give parents the information they need to make an informed decision for their child's behavior problems. Although the issue of psychiatric child drugging is controversial, their message is straightforward, as is the CCLE's: "Give parents all the information needed to make an informed medication choice for their children."

Upcoming Events & Conferences

Tonight April 19th
MIT/Stanford Venture Lab Tackles Neurotechnology
Tonight CCLE Advisor, Zack Lynch will moderate a panel of experts through a discussion that will help entrepreneurs, researchers, venture investors and the general public learn about the booming neurotechnology market. Jeffrey Ostrove, CEO of Ceregene; David Mack, Director of early life science investments at Alta Partners; David Summa, President and CEO of Acumen Pharmaceuticals; Thorsten Melcher, Vice President of Discovery at Saegis Pharmaceuticals; and Frank Eeckman, Managing Editor of Centient Biotech Investor share the pitfalls and opportunities that face emerging neuropharmaceutical companies in today's investment climate.

Thursday, April 21, 2005
Digital Divide or Digital Commons: Toward Global Knowledge Sharing
2005 Center for Science, Technology and Society at Santa Clara University
Last year, CCLE director Wrye Sententia spoke at this international conference to address the coming cognitive liberty issues that will face the planet.  This year's conference will again draw together leaders from academia, government, and nongovernmental organizations on how we can take the digital revolution to the next step - how we can not only exchange bits and bytes of information but share knowledge globally to address social and environmental issues that require the full participation of the world community.

April 28, 7:30 PM
The Future of the Future:  The Next 10-30 Years
A Neofiles Public Forum
Mill Valley Community Center: $10 at the door
Life Enhancement Products and NeoFiles announce the second NeoFilesPublic Forum. Taking their ongoing, web-based monthly exploration of edgy, visionary philosophy, science and technology to a live audience, the topic of the second forum will be "The Future of the Future: the Next 10-30 Years." Guests will include JARON LANIER, DAVID DUNCAN, ANNALEE NEWITZ, ELIEZER YUDKOWSKY and R.U. SIRIUS, panel moderator and NeoFiles Executive Editor and technoculture legend RU Sirius will be presiding over the NeoFiles Forum.

May 27-29, 2005
Visit the CCLE table and say hello! Topics at MSVI are said to include the latest psychedelic research, Transcranial stimulation, virtual reality, sensory substitution, techno-biological enhancement, visionary art, electronic trance-dance, video game environments, Reflections and Inspirations: The 50-Year Anniversary of R. Gordon Wasson's Psilocybe Discovery, skeptical consciousness studies, harm reduction, and more.

May 28, 2005
Help CCLE Advisor Alex Grey breath continued life into his Chapel of Sacred Mirrors project by attending this benefit gathering. This late-night dance party will feature a talk by Alex Grey, ritual prayerformance by The Matrixters, and music from BenBen Stone Productions, Naasko, and Shakatura. See

From CCLE Washington DC Policy Fellow Michael Ostrolenk
National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act of 2005

The National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act of 2005 (HR1132) which was re-introduced in the House and Senate this year is an attempt by the Federal government to 'deal' with so-called doctor shopping.  This bill gives states grant money to create scheduled drug tracking databases.  As a condition of obtaining federal funding, the bill requires the states to establish programs requiring pharmacists to report the "name, address, and telephone number" of any individual who receives any controlled substance as well as information on the prescribing doctor and the amount and type of prescription.

Although prescription drug monitoring programs have been shown to chill prescribing for medical needs, it has not stopped this federal effort. With up to 50 million Americans in untreated pain, government monitoring would be irresponsible, counter productive and immoral. Research also shows that illicit prescription drugs on the streets that are used both recreationally and for pain management by those who cannot find 'legal' sources for the medicines they need to deal with their pain, come primarily from importation and theft. Doctor's offices are for the most part not the source.

The bill would appear to violate the right to medical informational privacy of principally lawful citizens.  As is now well-established, "[t]he makers of the Constitution…conferred, as against the government, the right to be let  alone-the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men." Olmstead v. United States, 48 S. Ct. 564, 572 (1928).

The National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act of 2005 would also appear to violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. The bill permits the State monitoring programs to notify State drug enforcement authorities if the information reported to the data base indicates an unlawful diversion or misuse of a controlled substance.  This is without a court order or patient consent. It further authorizes the State monitoring program to furnish information from the data base to "any local, State, or Federal law enforcement, narcotics control, licensure, disciplinary, or program authority , who certifies" that the requested information is needed for an investigation.  This too is without probable cause or obtaining a search warrant.

The National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act of 2005 violates the ideas of federalism, the Fourth and Fifth Amendment and patient privacy.  A better solution to the so-called doctor shopping problem would be to completely remove the Federal government from the practice of medicine, limit the states to protecting contractual agreements between patients and their doctors and abolish all prescription drug laws. This would treat adults not as children who need to be monitored, controlled and harassed but as adults able to take decisions for themselves and their families.


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Top Cognitive Liberty News is a free service provided by the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics. The CCLE is rights-based public policy organization dedicated to promoting freedom of thought. The CCLE depends entirely on the private donations of individuals who seek to protect and enhance freedom of thought in the 21st century.