man lying on couch.

Psychedelics and America

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?

Follow the conversation and share the articles in this symposium using #PsyAm.

Society or population, social diversity. Flat cartoon vector illustration.
The lack of diversity among research participants can have significant consequences on generalizability and distribution of treatments.
3D illustration of man with his brain highlighted
The field has a frustrating tendency to make lofty claims about psychedelics that stray from the realities and limitations of
Rays of light in a forest.
As a scholar of religion who cares deeply about this psychedelic renaissance, I offer two points of caution from the
America divided concept, american flag on cracked background.
Amid a fractured political landscape, a pandemic, and a reckoning with the country’s racist past, psychedelics may offer some hope
Police cars.
While city-wide decriminalization efforts make psilocybin a “low priority” for law enforcement, state and federal agencies provide no such guarantees.
two watercolor silhouettes.
A focus on furthering neurodiversity could allow the psychedelics decriminalization movement to gain broader public support.
Washington, DC – October 16, 2020: One of the many official ballot boxes placed around the city for early voters to place their completed ballots to avoid lines due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
I am not the usual protagonist you’d imagine as an advocate for psychedelics. But I had a psychedelic experience that
man lying on couch.
This digital symposium for the Petrie-Flom Center’s Bill of Health blog explores the role psychedelics may play in America's future.

Back to Symposia Library