Mindel Scott

Kanna Legal 2020

An overdose of kanna can cause stomach pain, but mixing kanna with other substances is the real danger. Neither Cole nor Sam shared how much they take, but an expert told VICE that those taking kanna will experience a mild effect with a dose of five to 10 milligrams or an “intoxicating” effect with a dose of 25 to 50 milligrams. Since kanna contains oxalates, which are toxic in large quantities, it is important that it is properly fermented before consumption, as this breaks down oxalates. The latter effect is based on research, as is the potential of kanna as a potential treatment for people with early-stage Alzheimer`s disease. A 2021 review of the medical literature on the plant also confirmed kanna`s anti-stress, antidepressant, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Yet, as clinical psychologist Vincenzo Sinisi once told Verywell Mind, “research is limited and studies are usually small or animal-based.” While it`s generally considered safe, Sinisi cautions against trying it if you`re already taking SSRIs — as it can quickly raise your serotonin levels, which can be dangerous — and advises against overconsumption, which over time “can paradoxically increase anxiety.” As long as users take the right precautions, Giordano believes kanna has the potential to be used as a less risky alternative to MDMA. “Although it produces a similar effect, it produces it because of a different mechanism,” he said. “For euphoric effects, for reducing anxiety, for stabilizing mood, it`s a safe connection.” As Sinisi himself is originally from South Africa, he knows the benefits of kanna through his own use and reports from his patients. Another home breeder, 25-year-old Sam (not his real name) from Canada, offers more details on the growing process. “As succulents, kanna plants prefer dry growing conditions,” he tells me. “Seeds should be sown in simple cactus soil – perhaps with perlite – but don`t bury them, they should only be sown on the surface. Seeds and soil surface conditions should be kept moist until germination. Once you`re in the seeding phase, it`s important to let the top wet inch of your soil dry before re-fogging it – kanna seeds tend to break down.

Sam says the plant will then grow very slowly over the next three months, but once the first true leaves appear, the plant`s growth will “really begin.” He adds that “it takes an average of a year to grow from seed to harvest” and that the best time to harvest is when the plant is blooming. (According to a Redditor, a gram of fresh kanna is less than a tenth of a gram when dry, so depending on how much you want to take — and whether you chew it fresh or dry it — you may need a handful of plants.) Despite its similarity to MDMA, kanna is relatively safe as long as nothing else is mixed into it, Giordano said. For it to become neurotoxic, you`d have to do a significant overdose (which would mean taking about 100 mg or more), and when it`s crushed — which is usually the case — many potentially toxic compounds are broken down. Even if you overdosed, he said, you`d probably get sick. Although its effects are similar to those of MDMA, the mechanism by which kanna produces them is different. While MDMA causes your brain to release more serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can confer happiness and calm, kanna binds and inactivates your serotonin transporters and prevents your cells from reabsorbing serotonin, meaning the serotonin you`re already producing stays available longer. This is the same mechanism used by SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft. Even the sexual effects of kanna are comparable to those of MDMA: some improve sex by making sensations more pleasurable, while others find it hinders erection and orgasm, Giordano said. Ways describes sex on kanna as “incredibly intense and relaxing,” like sex in “HD mode.” Since it`s legal, kanna has also caught the attention of budding gardeners, some of whom sell their modest crops through sites like eBay and Etsy, or simply share tips and tricks on the r/kanna subreddit. “I grow it for the love of the plant,” says Cole. “A strange succulent that is not addictive, of course, a natural SSRI and a mild pathogen? This plant will seriously oversleep. (Like SSRIs, kanna has shown inhibitory effects on serotonin reuptake, which explains its mood-boosting effects.) Cole has been successfully growing kanna for two years and says that while “it`s hard to germinate and grow seedlings once they have three or four pairs of real leaves, they`re really hardy.” Nevertheless, the popularity of the plant skyrocketed even before the MDMA comparison. Where the plant used to be chewed, brewed in teas or smoked (as many people still consume it), it is now increasingly available in capsule and drop form – the preferred method of consumption for wellness connoisseurs.

Although dedicated sites like The Sceletium Source sell the latter, kanna is most often sold as a dried extract or powder in its original, fermented form. Most kanna are available through organized suppliers who work directly with farmers and product manufacturers. (One person on the r/Kanna subreddit suggested that “demand has increased significantly,” straining the “commercial production” of the plant, but I haven`t been able to verify this or get confirmation from an agricultural producer.) Aquarius warns against taking kanna if MAO, MDMA, 5HTP and/or SSRI antidepressants are also taken. The combination can quickly raise your serotonin levels and, in severe cases, lead to fever, chills, increased heart rate, or even death. Kanna – officially known as Sceletium tortuosum – is a succulent plant native to South Africa that has been used for centuries to relieve everything from anxiety and stress to thirst, hunger and fatigue. But while there is evidence that those who take kanna experience an increased sense of euphoria — hence the comparison to MDMA — there is nothing to suggest that the plant has hallucinogenic properties, as MDMA sometimes does. Of course, more research is needed to truly understand the safety and potential of kanna. Despite its reputation, not everyone who grows up is a diehard fan. Andrew, a Canadian-based “plant nerd” who is over 30 years old and has been growing kanna for several years, says he often donates his crops.

“I don`t really like Kanna. I don`t like it, but I don`t really think about taking it,” he explains. However, some people find it very useful, so I give them the plants I have grown. This opinion may stem in part from an experience in which Andrew “overdid it and had to sit at [his] desk and meditate for 20 minutes.” One way he likes to take it is after a few beers because, he says, it`s “less intense than sober.” He adds that he feels less anxious two to three weeks after taking a single dose. So if Kanna isn`t stubbornly like MDMA, how does it feel? “Kanna feels like an antidepressant crossed with coffee, but with the headspace of cannabis,” Cole says, explaining that he ferments and then dries it before drinking it as tea, chewing it, or making a snuff out of it (he says the latter two methods have “stronger and more stimulating” effects). “It also brings a tactile enhancement. They take it for these effects and for the mood enhancer, but not for the euphoria. It tends to act as a stimulant for the first 15 to 30 minutes, but then as a calm sedative. Depending on your variety, it may be more soothing — great for medical applications to combat anxiety and depression — or more like super coffee.

While kanna growers and enthusiasts don`t necessarily deny that some people might experience these effects, they don`t appreciate the specific comparison of MDMA, which Cole says “harms our community and stigmatizes the medical use of kanna.” And he is not the only person to invoke the importance of “resisting the sensationalism of this comparison.” Every breeder I spoke to urged me not to call Kanna the “MDMA of nature” – the r/Kanna subreddit even wrote an entire article on how to get rid of the association.