Modern Culture

…trip again [with whom?]

…psychedelics will not usher in the revolution. They are no substitute for political education and organizing. The insights brought on by the experience are not guaranteed to be true or useful. There are no shortcuts to justice or good politics. But psychedelics have unprecedented potential to make people’s lives better. Will psychedelics save us? Not by themselves, no. There is no replacement for a robust social safety net, a humane criminal justice system, and economic justice.

“The mental healthcare system is so badly broken, it doesn’t even qualify as a system.” This indictment, coming from Tom Insel, the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, is not due to lack of effort. The mainstream writing on psychedelic research often includes at least a passing sentence about the politically-motivated crackdown on these substances. The reality is that the people who played a role in the criminalization of psychedelics, the officials and journalists and doctors, have blood on their hands. Not just of the people who were imprisoned for violating drug laws, but of the millions of people who succumbed to their addiction or depression who could have been helped by a psychedelic session. Or the millions more who died anxious and terrified, withdrawn from the world and the ones who loved them. The architects and custodians of the war on drugs are the real criminals. To think otherwise, that they were well-intentioned but misguided actors, is to be ignorant of the racist, anti-intellectual history of drug prohibition. And those who inherited the drug war and sustained it had access to voluminous evidence that their war was based on none … There are four types of organization attempting to bring psychedelics to market: Big Pharma, venture-backed startup, nonprofit, and public benefit corporation. If Big Pharma were motivated to benefit the public, ketamine [and other psychedelics] would be widely available at low prices, like generic, off-patent drugs. But, since their motivations are sometimes at odds with the public interest, pharmaceutical companies instead invest in making slightly different versions of drugs that already work but won’t be a cash cow. Can we expect better from younger rivals? Compass Pathways is the controversial startup that recently secured FDA approval for psilocybin as a breakthrough treatment. Originally a nonprofit, Compass has been criticized for capitalizing on the work of academic and nonprofit researchers to develop their business. A Quartz investigation describes how Compass courted researchers as a nonprofit, then iced them out and transferred its intellectual property to the company’s founders before transitioning to for-profit status. When a charity is dissolved, it is required to distribute its assets to other charities, a requirement Compass appears to have violated … The conditions Compass puts on research it sponsors are “restrictive contracts even by pharmaceutical industry standards, according to John Abramson, lecturer in health care policy at Harvard Medical School, and have the potential to distort the publicly available body of scientific knowledge.” … Contrary to [some opinions] getting powerful people to experience psychedelics is not enough. Unfortunately, it is totally possible for elites to consume and greatly benefit from psychedelics and still believe that the masses aren’t ready or deserving of the same experience. Al Hubbard, the smuggler and spy who became the “Johnny Appleseed of LSD,” resented the mass embrace of acid psychedelic populists advocated. As detailed in Acid Dreams, Henry Luce, Time-Life’s president, was “an avid fan of psychedelics,” but also, “encouraged his correspondents to collaborate with the CIA, and his publishing empire served as a longtime propaganda asset for the Agency.” His wife, the great matriarch of post-war American politics Clare Boothe Luce, was fine with LSD use by the ruling class, but had a less than egalitarian view about the rest of the population, saying “we wouldn’t want everyone doing too much of a good thing.”.

Original Article (Current Affairs):
Make America Trip Again
Artwork Fair Use: Coyau

Modern Culture