Alcohol, tobacco, and in some states now, marijuana are all substances which have been considered harmless enough to be legalized for recreational use. However, drugs like psychedelics, stimulants, narcotics, as well as many others are still on the black list. While not all of these should be legalized or even considered for legalization, some have legitimate value. When considering the properties of psychedelic drugs and their history, as well as their therapeutic value, it can be seen that their legalization would be beneficial to society, despite the arguments against them.
Psychedelic drugs have had a broad influence which has been “occasionally deep, varied, but often hard to define” (Grinspoon). Also called hallucinogens, they are defined as “a mind-altering chemical, drug, or agent, specifically a chemical the most prominent pharmacologic action of which is on the central nervous system (mescaline); in normal people, it elicits optic or auditory hallucinations, depersonalization, perceptual disturbances, and disturbances of thought processes” (Definition). Among the millions who have used psychedelic drugs are citizens of the United States and Europe at all different levels of the social ladder. These users have enjoyed the drugs in all ranges of activities including: psychotherapy, vacation, and inspiration (Grinspoon). Although they have mind-altering properties, one of the stronger of the psychomimetic drugs, LSD, has never been shown to directly cause a death (Psychedelic). Despite this, the drugs are still illegal. They are considered to be schedule I substances which are classified as having a “high potential for abuse, no current medical use, and a lack of use under medical supervision,” however the drugs can still be obtained by a special order form for research. They are not available by prescription (Appendix). The fact that a drug that has not been responsible for any deaths is classified with heroin brings into question the entire system. It would not be completely illogical to think that taking a heavy narcotic, like heroin, which is also under schedule I is as harmless as taking hallucinogens. The problem would not be so large were it not that the hallucinogens are generally seen as being of therapeutic and spiritual value.
Those who use hallucinogens are generally not the junkie addicts that come to many people’s minds when they hear anything having to do with drugs. The most notable use of psychedelic was their involvement in the hippie subculture of the 1960’s and early 1970’s (Psychedelic). The drugs provided an “increased sensitivity to and appreciation of emotional context of sound, color, touch, and smell: heightened suggestibility; enhanced recall or memory; depersonalization and losing of ego boundary” as well as a “concern with philosophical, cosmological, mystical and religious questions” (Banik). This potential for introspection and insight into the world is what brings many users and researchers in. Amanda Fielding of the Beckley Group in the UK set up a project at Berkeley in 2005. In modern times, this was the first approval to use LSD in humans. In 2009, Fielding and David Nutt, a leading drug researcher, carried out groundbreaking research on magic mushrooms and ecstasy. Their work with ‘shrooms received a grant from the medical Research Council due to the suggested treatment for depression and other conditions. Their research has also shown that hallucinogens can be used in psycho-therapy to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and more is being done to investigate the use of psilocybin in treatment of addiction (Lawton). With America’s heroes coming home from the war scarred and unable to function normally in society, it is hard to understand why the use of these drugs to treat PTSD has not been more widely embraced. Potentially, regulation or legalization of psychoactive drugs could reduce the severity of the slums by lessening the number of depressed