Abstract Details

After The Revolution..Is There A Future For Natural Psychedelics?  Dennis McKenna (McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy, Abbotsford, BC Canada)   PL6

Psychedelic plants and fungi have been used in shamanism and traditional medicine for thousands of years. These ancient medicines, long vilified and prohibited, are now being welcomed into mainstream medicine, as their therapeutic value is being validated by rigorous clinical studies. Predictably, investors are targeting them as candidates for pharmaceutical development. Many investors base their optimistic expectations on previous experience as Cannabis entrepreneurs and assume that commercialization of psychedelics will follow a similar pattern. There is reason for skepticism that this approach will be either successful or beneficial. Psychedelics are unique medicines; they can never be marketed as commodities, because they cannot be safely used outside of intensive therapeutic contexts, whether shamanic or clinical contexts. If profits are to be made from legal psychedelics, they will come from the therapeutic services provided by care givers, not from the volumes of medicines consumed. The whole point of psychedelics - and what differentiates them from all other psychiatric medications - is that they are transformational. Psychedelics can get to the root of peoples problems, and actually resolve them, after one or at most a few therapeutic sessions. They are not intended for chronic, daily use over years and decades, as with most other types of psycho-pharmaceuticals. Successful integration of psychedelics into biomedicine cannot happen without revolutionizing the current norms of psychiatric medicine, and indeed of biomedicine itself. But in the rush to cash in on the new Psychedelic Renaissance there is a broader issue that is being ignored. As psychedelics gain acceptance in twenty-first century society, they bring a legacy that is at once cultural, historical, and co-evolutionary. Psychedelics have been nurtured under the stewardship of indigenous peoples for thousands of years. It is important to honor and preserve the traditional indigenous practices that have kept this knowledge alive. Psychedelics are not simply useful for relieving the traumas and suffering of twenty-first century elites. They are medicines for the soul, including the collective soul of our species and the soul of our planet. Psychedelics are co-evolutionary symbiotic partners that can help us re-reframe our relationship to Nature. If our species is to face and ultimately overcome the looming environmental catastrophe that threatens all of life, then we must wake up, and we must wake up fast. Then, we must wise up; that is, we must become wise in the decisions that we make, as a species, to avert our headlong gallop toward planetary apocalypse. Psychedelics are co-evolutionary catalysts that can affect that awakening. Clinical treatment with synthetic psychedelics is only relevant for the small number of people that will be able to afford it. Psychedelics cannot be reduced to crystals in capsules. Psychedelics are not only medicines for the wounded; they can also be used for the betterment of the well. The use of natural psychedelic medicines is an expression of a symbiotic partnership; this right to symbiosis must be recognized and protected as a basic right; not just a human right, but an organismic right.