Science has shown psychedelics to offer resilience and comfort where there seemed to be none. The Food and Drug Administration calls them “breakthrough therapies” for mental health conditions that lack effective treatments. Indigenous communities have known their benefits for centuries, but legal restrictions have stripped them of their rites and remedies. As Schedule I controlled substances, psychedelics remain illegal under federal law, and despite ongoing clinical trials, are unlikely to become FDA approved for several years. These restrictions prevent Americans from realizing their benefits.
Some jurisdictions are taking the lead and decriminalizing psychedelics. Cities in California, Colorado, and Michigan have decriminalized naturally occurring psychedelics. In November, Washington, D.C., and Oregon voters may join this movement, with Oregon poised to become the first state to offer supervised psilocybin therapy and a regulated market for production and distribution.
This symposium, along with its companion Petrie-Flom Center moderated panel discussion, attempts to answer the following questions: Can psychedelics benefit those not helped by modern medicine? Can their benefits be accessed equitably, without leaving vulnerable groups behind and reinforcing patterns of oppression and exploitation? Can they revitalize the economy by creating new industries? Can they offer a model for harm reduction that could help address the opioid epidemic?
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