Many studies indicate that psychedelic experiences may improve the quality of life of individuals and society as a whole.
The Drug Policy Center reports that more than 34 million people in America have tried psychedelics. CBS News reported on a study showing no mental health problems from psychedelics, instead finding psychological benefits from dosages of the drugs.
The article quoted Dr. Mark Bolstridge, a research fellow at the Imperial College of London, who stated, "I am yet to see any individual suffering from significant mental health problems as a result of using psychedelic. Alcohol (and) amphetamines, and cannabis, yes, but never psychedelics."
Substances such as LSD (“acid”), psilocybin mushrooms, peyote and ayuhuasca (DMT) are common psychedelics used for cultural, medicinal, spiritual and recreational purposes, but the United States regulates psychedelics as Schedule I substances.
This Schedule I classification indicates no medical use and a high chance of addiction. Marijuana is also prohibited as a Schedule I substance, but has recently found relief in Colorado and Washington with legalized, regulated use; 18 additional states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
This defiance of federal law puts into question the validity and motives behind prohibition and arbitrary classifications. To further prove the questionable nature of this nation’s approach to drugs, cocaine and morphine are Schedule II substances, making them safer under the claims of federal law.
However, the levels of dependence for cocaine and morphine are significantly higher than psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin and mescaline. Even alcohol and nicotine have moderate to high rates of dependence, while psychedelics all have “Very Low” levels of addiction.
For thousands of years, indigenous peoples have utilized plant-based psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca for spiritual purposes. Today, not much has changed – understood as a critical and profound experience for one to have, people around the world share this tradition, and modern research is increasingly supportive of these ancient practices.
The San Diego Free Press reports that a dose of psilocybin cures anxiety for cancer patients, and a recent FDA-approved study found positive results in a controlled study of LSD in treating anxiety among end-of-life patients.
In 2011, Johns Hopkins Medicine discovered that one experience on magic mushrooms “was enough to bring about a measureable personality change lasting at least a year in nearly 60 percent of the 51 participants.”
Openness was fostered in these patients, many of who were over 30, an age range where personality typically remains stagnant. `
WAR ON DRUGS
With tobacco and alcohol, two of the most deadly substances, legal and regulated and more evidence surfacing behind the safety and benefits of psychedelic drugs, one may wonder what makes these substances warrant their illegal status.
The United States is notorious for its expensive, ineffective war on drugs, declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971. The Huffington Post states that prohibition costs the United States $40 million a year, and even worse, the war on drugs locks up nonviolent criminals and disproportionately targets minorities.
The waste of resources has caused several states and dozens of nations to reconsider strict laws on drugs. Colorado made more than $2 million in tax revenue in January – the first month after it legalized marijuana.
Many would argue that because psychedelics are illegal, they are dangerous to acquire and consume. However, most psychedelic drugs can be consumed in pure plant form, making it easy to produce and acquire directly from nature.
Synthetic psychedelics such as LSD, however, could pose a valid risk, as the contents and dose often remain unknown. Yet, just as legalization made alcohol consumers safe from “bathtub gin” and other dangers of the black market, legalization and regulation prevent most hazards that illegal drugs pose.
GOOD FOR THE SOUL
Psychology Today reports on a study in which 64 percent of users claimed their experience on psychedelic mushrooms was one of the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences in their lives. Further, volunteers in the study displayed more positive attitudes toward life and toward themselves as well as a greater sense of altruism and a stronger concern for others.
Due to compounding evidence, global figures such as Graham Hancock and Terrence McKenna have come out to claim that this “war on drugs” is instead a “war on consciousness” in which governments, bureaucracies and enforcement agencies want to suppress drug use to prevent the elevation of critical thinking and global awareness.
Dock Ellis, a former MLB pitcher, is known to have pitched a no-hitter while on LSD, and Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, also admitted using LSD 10 to 15 times on top of hashish and marijuana, which he credited for helping foster relaxation as well as creativity.
Political instability and financial inequality have plagued the world, and Joe Rogan, in a podcast on the psychedelic experience, states that “the human race is in the middle of waking up - trying to figure out what we did to get here and what we do moving forward.” He claims that “psychedelics are just kind of a shortcut. It just upgrades you quicker. You see things a littler clearer.”
Unlike other drugs, the benefits of psychedelics are long-term. Compared to tobacco or alcohol, which cause a host of long-term physical health issues, psychedelics are much safer than their legal counterparts, and their status and reputation should be reconsidered based on growing evidence of the safety and benefits of psychedelic experiences.
09 May 2014
Photo: Psilocybin mushrooms are commonly found on farms in Hawai‘i.