PCP is Cousins with Ketamine

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PCP is cousins to one of the most recent depression cure psychedelic breakthroughs called ketamine.

The profound psychological effects caused by it were an accidental discovery, as many drugs are.

Dr. Victor Maddox, a medicinal chemist, on March 26, 1956, synthesized many compounds for a company in Detroit, Michigan named Parke-Davis.

PCP and Ketamine are Similar in Chemical Structure

Dr. Victor Maddox discovered a molecule that he called GP 121.

Dr. Graham Chen, a co-worker to Maddox, called GP 121 the most exceptional compound he had ever observed. As a result, GP 121 was later called phencyclidine or PCP.

PCP’s chemical structure is like a stupor-inducing medication produced in Corydalis cava flowers named bulbocapnine.

It was a drug used by the CIA during their infamous MKUltra mind-control experiments.

A Brief History of the PCP Drug

Dr. Graham Chen said that PCP was a “cataleptoid anesthetic” and started administering animals.

He injected cats with it, staying in a fixed posture for up to 24 hours.

When he gave PCP to wild rhesus monkeys, they instantly became calm, allowing scientists to put their fingers in the monkey’s mouths without getting bit.

Dr. Edward Domino did further animal testing and found that it was much less toxic than opioids, and human trials would start the following year.

PCP was patented in 1963 and sold as a pharmaceutical under the brand name Sernylan. The brand name is a word that is derived from the word “serenity.”

“When properly administered by an anesthesiologist, PCP was indeed very safe, far safer than most anesthetics available,” Dr. Edward Domino claimed in 1980 in the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs.

Although Domino wrote about one issue, he found that some patients experienced “being in outer space and didn’t feel their legs or arms.”

Common Side Effects of PCP

These side effects, in some cases, were too much for many doctors using it on patients.

In response, chemistry professor Calvin Stevens synthesized a new drug called ketamine.

In 1965, it was voluntarily removed from the market.

According to the researcher and psychiatrist Dr. Carl, Hart says that “ketamine and PCP are chemical cousins.”

Hart says that if we classify ketamine as psychedelic, we must classify PCP as psychedelic.

Ketamine is proclaimed as the latest, most significant “breakthrough pharmaceutical drug” as an effective treatment for mental health. Although, many people still see PCP or on the street referred to as “angel gust” to be the “most dangerous drug there is.”

How Dangerous is PCP?

It is another example of “psychedelic exceptionalism,” where some drugs are looked at as “better” than others as specific people and not others consume them.

The Decriminalize Nature movement has gained great force in the United States by changing laws against “plant medicine” such as ibogaine, ayahuasca, peyote, and psilocybin mushrooms.

These new laws have now been passed in at least seven cities such as Cambridge, Oakland, and Ann Arbor—but these medicinal plants do not include coca leaf, khat, opium and others.

“There is absolutely nothing about PCP that makes it any more dangerous like ketamine, another dissociative drug,” says Dr. Jason Wallach, a neuropsychopharmacologist and a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

“PCP has a stigma that was a creation made up by the media.”

Being properly educated about how the myth of PCP was formed—and how the government and pharmaceutical companies let it persist today—is crucial for people who care about drug policy reform.

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Dean Mathers


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