Bia Labate, Ph.D, Sean McAllister, Esq and Sidarta Ribeiro Ph.D.

In an opinion piece to the New York Times commenting on Denver’s recent historic vote to decriminalize psilocybin, Michael Pollan claimed that “Debate is always a good thing, but I worry that we’re not quite ready for this one,” referring to the decriminalization of psilocybin. It’s disappointing to read such a conservative piece from somebody who has so powerfully advocated for the value of psychedelics in his influential book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence (Penguin Random House, 2018). In a highly polarized America, and considering the legacy of our counterproductive and discriminatory drug war, Pollan’s comments come off as overly cautious and against the trends of progress in recent years decriminalizing drugs like marijuana. Pollan seems to view the history of drug policy reform as a rational process of back and forth, stating “the history of psychedelics has been marked by periods of both irrational exuberance and equally irrational stigmatization.” However, this is inaccurate. Psychedelic drugs have been irrationally stigmatized and persecuted by governments all over the planet, despite a little period of relative liberty in a few places during the sixties. Rather than fearing that we might not be ready for legal psychedelics, we should ask whether we are ready to stay the current course that demonizes helpful medicines and glorifies alcohol and several prescription drugs… continue reading.

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