The State: Friday, Oct 27, 2017

Welcome to The State. This column looks at a few of the more noteworthy stories making waves in the psychedelic and reform spheres, and when appropriate, examines how they fit into a larger context.

To get a vision of the future of psychedelics from a legal and regulatory perspective, the most useful thing to do might be to see what’s happening already in the realm of weed. That situation is more complex than it may first appear.

When cooks and foodies are focused on cannabis, you know it’s entered the mainstream. Deregulation was a big winner in the 2016 election cycle. And yet, the attitude of the Trump Administration toward safe and legal weed has been, at best, confusing, marked by infighting and consternation involving the DEA, set against a background of an increase in marijuana arrests during 2016.

At this juncture, it’s still very much a state-by-state situation. While some states roll out decriminalization and others consider it, particularly in the larger context of criminal justice reform. At the same time, a joint will still get you locked up in over half of the states in the union. As usual, the US is a nation with a lot of big ideas and a strong fear of change. But it’s not the only nation with dank ambitions.

Nonetheless, there is an undeniable and unstoppable larger cultural rethinking going on around these issues. With the opioid epidemic, we’re rehashing the debates that surrounded the ’80s crack crisis, but with more empathy and insight (now that the faces of the victims are largely white). Acknowledging that the War on Drugs, as conceived in the ‘70s and ‘80s, was a bust, we’re looking for fresh ideas in unusual places. We’re reexamining the role and importance of psychedelics in realms such as art and religion.


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The interest in therapeutic applications continues. MAPS continues its victory lap after its Breakthrough Therapy Designation for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. That cracks the door for medicines such as mushroomsayahuasca, and ibogaine, which have long shown efficacy as treatments for addiction (and, at least anecdotally, for all sorts of compulsive behavior). Ayahuasca is even getting some attention as a possible treatment for eating disorders.

As psychology, psychiatry, and healthcare in general revise attitudes toward psychedelics, they undergo a larger shift of culture. It’s funny how that works.

In news from the drama-filled realm of microdosing, the Beckley / Imperial Research Programme is raising funds for an intriguing and relevant LSD microdosing study using the Chinese strategy game Go, itself an established object of fascination among techies. It’s getting plenty of press but still needs some donations to keep moving.

Summer is over, along with festival season, but events are still happening. Altered Conference is set for the weekend of November 3-4 in Berlin, bringing together scientists, activists, artists, and partiers to explore the big ideas nested in unusual states of consciousness. The Entheogenesis Australis Outdoor Psychedelic Symposium is booked for December 8-10.

A belated thank you to everyone who attended our Microdosing Party with Duncan Trussell. If you missed it, you can catch a replay – it’s one of the bountiful benefits you will receive as a Psymposia Patreon subscriber (along with new ones soon TBA). This is the most exciting time in decades to have your ear to the tracks of psychedelia, and Psymposia is stoked to cover all the journeys and intersections.

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