Sam Ripples
by on July 14, 2019

The recent rise of psychedelics in scientific study has immense implications for both psychedelics and depression. It’s no secret that these substances are currently being studied for their effects on this and other mental illnesses, and I forsee a huge change in the future for legalization. 

Currently, the paradigm in treating depression is using medicines such as SSRI’s to counteract the effects of low serotonin. Psychedelics work much differently--a single dose will give you an experience that can help stave off depression for weeks. The therapeutic potential of psychedelics is incredible, but there isn’t much profit behind something you take once every few months and can grow in your own closet with enough knowledge.

So the rise of our study and documentation on the effects of psychedelics can have negative implications too. Big Pharma is already getting their hands in it, with the FDA approval of esketamine, a ketamine-like substance used to treat depression. Drug companies are investing in these substances as we speak, as with the recent investment by Peter Thiel into Compass Pathways, which studies psychedelics and recently switched to a for-profit model to support their research.

There has to be a balance that will be struck. And we must think about it now, before the deluge truly hits. 

One positive of esketamine gaining FDA approval is that one of my favorite writers was able to benefit from it. He credits his sessions of intravenous ketamine therapy with helping him overcome a lifelong depression.

But the idea of a blanket ban on psychedelics outside of the medical field seems imminent with this model. It also raises the questions: Why do drugs like these have to be “medicinal” to be legal? When will we have a right to hallucinate in any way we may wish? 

Take all of those currently in jail on marijauna charges in states that have since legalized--how is that fair, and will it be like that for psychedelics in the future? Will those who knew about their powers be left behind in the wake of the money-making machine that is American medicine?

Look at the Netherlands for an example of the positives of decriminalization: there, things they consider soft drugs, like marijuana, peyote, and mushrooms, are available for recreational use. “Dutch drug policy is directed by an idea that every human being may decide about the matters of its own health,” reads the travel site for those intending to go to Amsterdam.

Denver and Oakland are both ahead of the game when it comes to this in America, as both recently decriminalized small amounts of magic mushrooms. I think that’s a good step in the right direction, where mushrooms and LSD are available for medicinal purposes and also decriminalized, so no one will be jailed for attempting to use it on their own.

We allow people to take things such as opiates that cause deadly overdoses at home, without a doctor present. Shouldn’t these non-lethal substances have the same treatment, especially if they have much stronger antidepressant properties to what is currently available?

For a glance to positive side of the therapeutic medical track, look to models such as MAPS, which ensures that their studies are not run by profit, but for truly medicinal purposes. “The therapeutic potential of psychedelics and cannabis oblige us to create new models that diverge from those followed by the for-profit pharmaceutical industry, because they inspire us to prioritize human wellness over profit,” they say on their website.

MAPS is an incredible non-profit and it has paved the way for human-first drug policy in the future. From all of my reading in the subject over the years, they stay the most true to the idea that we need to understand these substances but not demonize them for their powerful properties. They were on the frontlines of studying the effects of MDMA therapy on PTSD, something I hope to try sometime in the future.

If these drugs are to become legal for drug companies to use (for profit, of course), will psychedelics also be decriminalized? Or will people still be penalized (like other, more harmful drugs that are currently controlled substances)?

An Oregon couple have teamed up to form an advocacy group called “Oregon Psilocybin Society”, which intends to put an initiative to legalize mushrooms on the 2020 ballot in Oregon. They have a few thoughts on the idea as well, according to this Wired article: ““We don't want to see it locked up in hospitals, costing impossible amounts of money,” Tom says.“ 

Will the cost be similar to the astronomical prices charged in hospitals now, and will it be out of range to those who don’t have health insurance (like me)? 

There are so many unanswered questions. We must stay on top of this if we are to retain freedom for our minds. A spiritual experience is not just a medicine--it is so much more than that, and that’s recognized in the legal peyote ceremonies Native Americans have. The government already understands the sacredness of these substances in one way or another--is it possible we could ever have the freedom to actually consume whatever mind-altering substance we want?

If we are to use these substances to their full potential, we cannot lose sight of the state of the world today. We cannot bring the same capitalistic mindset that we have for other drugs into the realm of psychedelic medicine. If it becomes widespread, it will radically restructure society anyway, so why not start building it now?

The human mind cannot be caged. And it shouldn’t be. Let’s work towards a brighter future for all of us, in mind, body, and soul.

Joe C
If regulations limit psychedelics so that they may only be used in certain settings, that is an issue with too much government regulation, not capitalism. Capitalism would be total freedom. I'm not in favor of total freedom; there should be some regulation to prevent psychedelics from getting into ...more
July 14, 2019
Sam Ripples
I'm not advocating for total freedom and unrestricted access. But I think there's a balance to be struck. It would suck is psychedelics are out of the hands of those who need them most. Look at the price of insulin in this country and what that's done to diabetics--no reason it won't be done to psyc...more
July 15, 2019