In study after study, researchers and scientists are once again beginning to extol the miraculous benefits psychedelics offer in treating myriad mental and neurological health conditions — but the vast majority of those scientists, as well as their patients, could be thrown in jail at any time for their efforts.
“Nancy Reagan famously said, ‘Just Say No,’” explained psychotherapist Neal Goldsmith, who helps organize the Horizons conference for scientists who research psychedelics. “But the answer, of course, is Just Say ‘Know’; get knowledge and information.”
Psychedelics have been stigmatized for decades, in part due to their classification as Schedule 1 narcotics — alongside substances such as heroin, meth, and cocaine — for having “no currently accepted medical treatment use” and “lack of accepted safety for use,” even under medical supervision.
But the tide is finally, rightly turning, albeit at a snail’s pace.
Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) — an organization whose studies have found promising results for the use of psychedelics and other substances to treat everything from PTSD and depression, to addiction or even autism — believes such drug laws are anachronistic and do not keep patients’ best interests in mind. Some of the most auspicious results have been found in the treatment of trauma.
“The results have been extremely promising in terms of outcomes,” Doblin said, according to Al Jazeera. “In fact, so promising that some of the people that have looked at the data said it’s too good to be true.”
Psychedelics offer, for many conditions, something pharmaceuticals have largely been unable to achieve: a cure.
“It’s not meant to be a daily medication that changes people’s biochemistry,” Doblin explained, unintentionally conveying the potential reason such substances remain highly illegal. “People only get MDMA three times in our treatment process. People only get psilocybin or LSD a few times. The goal is to actually cure the problem.”
While people may certainly benefit from traditional pharmaceuticals, a common criticism exists in the belief Big Pharma seeks permanent customers to rely on continued use of prescription drugs, rather than cures for their conditions.
One self-described healer, who wished to remain anonymous when speaking with America Tonight, echoed Doblin’s promising results in his use of psychedelics to treat those suffering traumatic memories.
“A vet that I’ve worked with has had four sessions,” the healer, who used the name Simon for the interview, explained. “And now, I never hear from him … ‘cause he’s going to Mets games with his son. I’ve seen examples like that over and over. I don’t use the word ‘miracle’ because it’s so loaded, but it is close.”
Simon, who is not a licensed therapist, nonetheless employs the same protocols used by the FDA for treatment of PTSD using MDMA. His clients have discovered such astonishing results, news of his therapy spread like wildfire by word of mouth — he has seen hundreds of trauma sufferers, and there is no shortage of new patients.
Like other therapists and healers working in a de facto shadow network, he is well aware that despite such results, such therapy remains illegal — but the benefits far outweigh the risks.
“I am breaking the law, I totally understand that,” Simon declared. “But it seems to me that with the greatest respect, there are some laws that are so foolish, so misguided and so based on out-of-date information. That’s the tragedy.”
Doblin holds on to the hope that current FDA-approved research into psychedelics, such as by pioneer William Richards at Johns Hopkins, will eventually lead to legalization of the therapy — conceivably within the next decade. While psychedelic-assisted therapy remains against the law, Doblin said he wouldn’t necessarily recommend it — “but I’m not going to condemn it, either,” he said.
“I think it’s a point of conscience that everybody has to say, ‘I think the laws are immoral. The laws are wrong. We should have been able to do this research 30 years ago.”