"Drugs" is a word that has polluted the well of language.
Part of the reason we have a drug problem is because we don't have an intelligent language to talk about substances, plants, psychedelic [and] sedative states of mind, states of amphetamine excitation. We can't make sense of the problem and the opportunities offered by substances unless we clean up our language.
"Drugs" is a word that's been used by governments to make it impossible to think creatively about the problem of substances and abuse and availability and so forth and so on.
So it's a kind of a paradox isn't it?
"Drugs" mean that which cures us and the greatest social problem of the generation.
Apparently there are "good drugs" sanctioned by science and medicine and "bad drugs" used by brown people in strange rites and growing in unusual plants in distant parts of the world. This kind of thinking, because it's naive, leads of course to social problems and bad politics and bad social policy.
Every society chooses a small number of substances, no matter how toxic, and enshrines them in its cultural values, then demonizes all other substances and then persecutes and launches witch hunts against those users whenever some political pretext requires...So it's an old game and it's been played in many places.
Hopefully part of the advancement of society toward ideas of universal human rights and that sort of thing it certainly must include the idea of the universal human right to take responsibility for and to alter your own state of consciousness as you see fit.
I don't think we can even pretend that we are on the edge of a civilized dialogue until we grant that people's minds, like their bodies, must be a domain free from government control. In American law we have the notion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If the pursuit of happiness means anything it must mean the right to use and experiment with substances and plants.
We need endless amounts of research. The fact that these things have been illegal in most countries for 50 years means there is a huge lag in understanding of the impact of these things on human beings.
Decades removed from less punitive generations of drug policy, recent U.S. drug policy crusaders really had no idea of the actual dangers of illegal drugs and prescription drugs. Watch Former DEA chief Michele Leonhart's confused response to a simple question from U.S. Representative Jared Polis (D-CO):
President Barack Obama has championed drug policy reformation, albeit slowly, while states and
research institutions across the US have taken matters into their own hands by enacting marijuana legislation and implementing smarter approaches to battling addiction.
In light of tragedies like veteran suicide, mass shootings, and a mental health pharmaceutical industry that hasn't produced an effective new compound in over 40 years, the FDA has slowly started to allow research with promising Schedule I substances like marijuana and classic hallucinogens.
Haphazard approval and loose regulation of powerful opioid analgesics by the FDA and DEA, irresponsible prescribing by healthcare providers, and punitive incarceration trumping comprehensive harm reduction and support programs for prescription drug victims are primary causes of the current heroin epidemic. If passed, bipartisan Congressional bills like the CARERS Act would reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, making it easier for scientists to research and provide another step toward destigmatization of cannabis as a valuable medical tool.
Another promising tool to combat pain is meditation. In 2014, researcher Fadel Zeidan of Wake Forest showed how a simple meditation technique can be used to lessen the subjective pain experience leading up to, during, and following a painful stimulus. Zeidan won the NIH Mitchell Max Award at the 9th Annual NIH Pain Consortium Symposium.
NIMH Director Thomas Insel and Meditation Researcher Richard Davidson Discuss the Neural Basis of Meditation
A scientifically rigorous Johns Hopkins study in 2006 showed that psilocybin produced a "Top 5 Life Experience" in 70% of patients that persisted 14 months after 2 or 3 sessions with psilocybin, and a lasting increase in the personality domain of openness, something that has never been seen from existing pharmaceuticals.
Recent fMRI neuroimaging work shows that classic hallucinogens and experienced meditation have a strikingly similar effect on the default mode network area of the brain, a brain region that is highly active at rest and responsible for self-referential though. Distinction between self and other is extremely important in mental illness.
Gary Weber describes the objective and subjective qualities of classic hallucinogens and experienced meditation in this video:
••More from NIMH Director Thomas Insel••
With the lack of progress our society has made battling mental illness and addiction, psychiatrist Julie Holland asks the question, "Is it unethical not to reschedule potentially beneficially drugs to facilitate their research?"
Millions of desperate Americans are asking the same question.
Psychology also seems to suggest the possible benefit of an awe-inspiring experience.
Travel as a Political Act and
Drug Attitudes in Europe
Global Commission on Drug Policy
- Transform: Getting Drugs Under Control
- CATO Institute: Drug Decriminalization in Portugal
- Heffter Research Institute
A fiery Ron Paul foreshadowed today's current drug policy reform in this G.O.P. Presidential Debate from 2007:
Here are 12 Of The Sketchiest Things The DEA Has Done While Waging The War On Drugs.
PBS Frontline Timeline:
30 Years of America's Drug War
Definitely DO NOT forget this history:
Sitting CIA Director asked in a Town Hall:
Where did the drugs come from?
Where did the guns come from?
Shamans of the Amazon: Ayahuasca,
Politics, & the War on Drugs (1999)
Dr. Gabor Maté discusses
drug history, culture, and how ayahuasca offers addicts insight
into self-destructive behaviors
Addiction in Kentucky