February 21, 2023

The Great Upper-Hand Psychonauts Have on Prohibition

Psychedelic prohibition is being reconsidered worldwide as scientists find more about practices to minimize the risks of a meaningful psychedelic experience and start to see it as a viable alternative to modern pharmaceuticals. The war on drugs may have started because of prejudice, but now with technologies like social media, online forums, etc…, psychonauts from all over the world find an upper hand on the law as we resuscitate the culture of conducting healing rituals responsibly with the assistance of sacred medicines in a modern context.

Did you know that we are in the middle of a psychedelic revolution?

During the historical era of the Age of Discovery, the Europeans expanded through navigation routes visiting exotic countries in search of novel spices, herbs, and other potential products they could import to Europe for profit. It was also around that time that tribal people from Africa were taken against their will and forced to work as slaves in the plantations at the imperial colonies around the world. Africans of the same tribe seldom worked on the same plantation; to make communication and cooperation more difficult, slave farm owners used to mix slaves from different cultures and backgrounds, sometimes even rival tribes, and made them live and work together. One way that the slaved people learned to communicate was through dancing, which is a significant way of inducing trance and non-ordinary states of consciousness in tribal cultures. In ancient Africa, these rituals often came coupled with Cannabis and other psychoactive substances as a facilitator for achieving altered states of consciousness.

By the time slavery was abolished around the world, Brazil - under the rule of Portugal - was notably one of the places worldwide that most relied on forced labor to feed its ever-expanding agricultural business. These farms were mainly owned by wealthy local families with significant political influence, who felt threatened by the singing, dancing, and communion during religious rituals practiced at night by the slaves. Since psychoactive substances were such a significant part of these rituals, the wealthy population started to denigrate the image of those who used these substances and whom they considered being inferior people. Soon the law turned against those who consumed the plants used in the rituals to further alienated the African and the indigenous population of Brazil that saw plants like cannabis as a gateway to the divine; a great comfort in times of hardship; and a fundamental part of their culture.

The movement of segregation that emerged in Brazil and many other colonies around the globe has expanded and made its way into the present day in the form of outdated drug policies that have arguably created more harm than the consumption of the substance itself. Using science as a tool of exploration, researchers have been helping change the image of psychedelics by systematically verifying the risks and benefits of a meaningful psychedelic experience, creating a modern movement toward reconnection with sacred medicine. It’s becoming mainstream to think that psychedelics may have a significant role in how we are going to deal with mental illnesses in the future as an alternative to pharmaceuticals. 

One of the biggest challenges in enforcing drug prohibition is that many of the popular psychedelic substances don’t need to be manufactured and grow naturally, they are flowers, mushrooms, seeds, etc…; this is also, however, one of their greatest qualities: as pharmaceuticals become increasingly more unaffordable, having a highly accessible organic alternative to modern pharma seems like a divine gift. 

In January of 2023, the Canadian province of Alberta started to regulate and allow the use of Psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, Mescaline, Ketamine, and DMT for medicinal purposes in psychotherapy, indicating that the laws are finally catching up with science and could mean that soon more people are going to be able to legally conduct their own experiences with psychedelics. However, only having access to sacred medicine is not enough, as science has shown: the long-lasting benefits of a therapeutic psychedelic experience are related to how the patient prepares for the trip and how they integrate the journey in the weeks and months after the consumption of the substance.

Since the psychedelic experience is highly subjective and mostly ineffable, it can easily fall outside science’s scope. Researchers have tried to unravel the empirical characteristics of the experience, but the scientific vocabulary has yet to evolve to describe the world as seen from the point of view of a participant in a psychedelic journey. The internet has proven to be a huge tool for the psychonaut community, because it permitted members to share their perspectives, helping the community to piece together the bigger picture. By talking about the transcendental experience, we are breaking the stigma against altered states of consciousness and getting closer to implementing sacred medicine in a balanced way. 

Humans have come a long way in their relationship with nature and its remedies. After a long campaign for the prohibition of certain substances, we see countries slowly shift their old perception that psychedelics are something to be afraid of and start to see them as an effective and relatively safe medicine for a variety of mental illnesses and behavioral problems. Towards the future, it is important to use science in our favor to guarantee safe practices and develop modern rituals as a community with the intention of reconnecting with our ancestral culture that was so brutally repressed in the last centuries. It is also important to talk with each other freely and with an open mind, reminding each other that we are not alone in this journey.

The stage of integration is one of the most important parts of the experience and it is when the participant really digs into the insights and epiphanies of the journey and transforms them into lessons to be applied to a wholesome lifestyle. To this end, a supportive community is super important: here at psychedelics-integration.com you can browse our community of coaches and find someone who can help you find a better perspective to integrate your psychedelic experience fully.

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Schlag AK, Aday J, Salam I, Neill JC, Nutt DJ. Adverse effects of psychedelics: From anecdotes and misinformation to systematic science. J Psychopharmacol. 2022 Mar;36(3):258-272. doi: 10.1177/02698811211069100. Epub 2022 Feb 2. PMID: 35107059; PMCID: PMC8905125.

du Toit, Brian M. “Man and Cannabis in Africa: A Study of Diffusion.” African Economic History, no. 1, 1976, pp. 17–35. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4617576. Accessed 19 Feb. 2023.

Aday JS, Mitzkovitz CM, Bloesch EK, Davoli CC, Davis AK. Long-term effects of psychedelic drugs: A systematic review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 Jun;113:179-189. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.03.017. Epub 2020 Mar 16. PMID: 32194129.

https://erowid.org/

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/data-and-analysis/world-drug-report-2022.html

The text expresses personal opinions and it is written as an informative text. It should not be considered to be professional advice nor should it be used as professional advice. Neither the Blog (psychedelics-integration.com) nor the author is liable for the wrong use of this information.

The Great Upper-Hand Psychonauts Have on Prohibition

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