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#002 Decriminalization vs Medicalization
The Age Old Debate in the Psychedelic Community
If you're reading this...you already know.
Initiative 301 passed by an infinitesimal margin and now the use and cultivation of Psychedelic Mushrooms is now the the lowest priority crime for law enforcement in Denver. While, not necessarily legal Denver is prohibited from spending resources prosecuting adults over 21 for use, cultivation and possession.
The ballot initiative, championed by the Denver Psilocybin Initiative, is the first in the country to push for legalization of Psychedelic Mushrooms.
For advocates and enthusiasts this was regarded as great news.
However, even among the tribe their is dispute in how to proceed with the work of re-introducing the world to mystical experience, spiritual awakening, and relieved psychological and emotional existential suffering.
Quickly chiming in via the New York Times Opinion section was the famed author and de-facto ambassador of psychedelic renaissance to the “more respectable” quarters of society, Michael Pollen.
"For the first time since psychedelics were broadly banned under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, we’re about to have a national debate about the place of psilocybin in our society. Debate is always a good thing, but I worry that we’re not quite ready for this one."
Pollen cites concern with the immature state of research, noting that “there is still much we don’t know.” There are bad trips, drug-to-drug interactions among other potential side effects and the positive benefits that we’ve seen in clinical research have come when study participants have been highly screened so as to prevent psychotic breaks.
"There’s a reason psychedelic researchers screen volunteers carefully, excluding people at risk of serious mental illness like schizophrenia; in rare instances, a psychedelic trip can set off a psychotic break."
While Pollen advocates for the medicalization route he also tips his hat to the societies of the past who do have a mature relationships with Mystical Experience which makes this position all the more befuddling.
While clearly cautiously optimistic about the use of psilocybin for certain classes of illness that psychiatry and pharmaceuticals have been unable to stall, and acknowledging the historical and indigenous practices, Pollen appears to be overoptimistic about the capacity for the gatekeepers of the medicalization route, namely the FDA and pharmaceuticals, to respect the qualities of set and setting, community and shamanic guidance.
With this position Pollen is putting more trust in the hands of the would-be newcomers who see a market and an opportunity, rather than allowing the advocates, enthusiasts, and those who have been working with these compounds for a long time and have learned from the long standing indigenous traditions.