The problem with banning anything out of a fear of the unknown is that many unknowns will remain. Such is the story of many psychedelic drugs in the U.S. While the government has experimented with various psychedelic compounds (take the CIA’s secret attempts at LSD mind-control between 1953 to 1964) over the years prohibition has become the name of the game.
In response to a cultural upheaval beginning in the 1960s that saw more and more people independently experimenting with mind-altering drugs, the U.S. government has cracked down on every psychedelic it can muster, often without first exploring their potential medical uses. The U.S. Department of Justice has demonized psychedelics, listing many of them (including LSD, psilocybin mushrooms and MDMA) as felony-status, schedule I substances with “high potential for abuse” and no medical value.
The reality the government, and Western world at large, has failed to acknowledge is that psychedelic drugs aren’t just something free-spirited hippies eat to feel trippy and dance naked (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Humans have used psychedelics since before we were painting on cave walls, not just for fun but for healing. Psychoactive mushrooms have been part of human healing practices since before recorded history, and ayahuasca—the brew of various psychoactive plant decoctions that is increasingly popular in the West—remains a medicinal staple for the people of Amazonian Peru. More recently, the psychedelic chemical compounds MDMA and LSD were both originally developed to help treat psychiatric patients.
The Western war on drugs mindset has led most of the mainstream medical world to dismiss psychedelics altogether, but a handful of dedicated researchers have refused to let fear and politics keep them from exploring. These researchers have petitioned the government for permission to conduct research on those highly classified substances, and after decades of scientific drought a few studies have received the go-ahead. Now, the evidence is stacking up to show the enormous potential of psychedelics for treating everything from cancer to PTSD to addiction.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a pharmaceutical research and educational nonprofit based in Santa Cruz, Calif. is at the forefront of psychedelic science. It funds researchers around the world to conduct government-approved, placebo-controlled, clinical studies of various psychedelic drugs. Since its founding in the ’80s, MAPS has gathered a wealth of insight into the interactions between psychedelics and the human mind. This June it decided to share its insights with the masses by offering its first-ever, open-enrollment online psychedelics course.
The live, 5-session interactive video course, “Psychedelic Science: How to Apply What We’re Learning to Your Life,” brought together experts in psychedelic science, medicine, art, and spirituality.
– Read the entire article at AlterNet.