Hope Amid the Ruins (Ending the War on Drugs)
Seeking Stories of Unwanted Complications from Psychedelics
Many of us, over a lifetime of exploration with psychedelic medicines, have found them to be a source of astonishing rewards.
Yet for law-abiding citizens, these rewards are inaccessible—unless you the rare participant in a small number of clinical trials now taking place in the United States and around the world.
I recently talked with Zach Leary on the MAPS podcast about the book, Psychedelic Wisdom—my attempt to educate the public that these materials are safe and often beneficial when used responsibly.
"We need these medicines desperately to help people."
Back in the sixties, we used to take 250 to 500 mg doses of LSD. Today, we’ve learned and are learning how to find “the sweet spot” for both psycholytic and psychedelic psychotherapy, as well as for creative breakthroughs.
Our learning has been stifled since Nixon declared his War on Drugs, putting a lid on scientific research for over 50 years. Fortunately, a handful of us have been willing to talk about our experiences openly, in spite of the potential consequences for our reputations and careers. Those who have reached a certain age, like myself, feel less of society’s ever-present pressure to keep quiet about an activity that has been outlawed. The book features some 20 other elders who also had the courage to come out and share their decades of self experimentation.
I applaud the work of MAPS in pioneering the clinical trials for MDMA and other psychedelics that are making their way through the FDA’s approval process. I am personally campaigning to add my hometown of Ft. Bragg, Ca., to the growing list of cities that are decriminalizing psychedelic plants and fungi. I ask you to follow me in proposing to your city council that they do the same.
With states like Oregon and cities like Oakland decriminalizing these substances, I sense that we are on the verge of a tidal wave of public support for what we’ve known all along – that psychedelics have an important role to play as medicines and cultural catalysts. Consider Francis Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA while under the influence of LSD. Are you reading this on an iPhone or Apple computer? Steve Jobs attributed his innovative thinking to his use of psychedelics. The Grateful Dead were known for their psychedelic music and culture, while the writer Aldous Huxley wrote extensively about his experiences with psychedelics even before they were made illegal.
However, many pockets of the country still live in the shadow of disastrous consequences of the War on Drugs (read: War on People). They associate the horrors of a War with the mind-altering substances themselves—not their prohibition. From a public relations standpoint, our cause is still far from being accepted in the mainstream. “Acid” and “Magic Mushrooms” are seen as recreational drugs despite their proven medical benefits.
As new scientific experiments pick up speed, one of the biggest threats is that the hype will cause the public to go into these experiences naive about potential adverse effects. I am embarking on a new series examining personal stories of these adverse effects as a way to pre-empt another backlash.
Thus, I need your help soliciting the stories and interviews that will go into my next book. We must confront these side effects head one, because as we all know, “side effects” do not happen on the side. They affect the whole person and thus I have renamed them unwanted complications of medicine (UCM).
I told Zach Leary that I believe the psychedelic renaissance will continue, and that I am more hopeful than ever, but our work is not yet finished. I will be presenting my proposal for grassroots action to end the War on Drugs at the MAPS Psychedelic Science 2023 conference in June.
Wishing you Golden Light,
Richard Louis Miller, MA, PhD
Fort Bragg, California
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