Psychedelics & Healing Initiative
TREND 1: Peaceful Psychedelic Civil Disobedience
Psychedelic peaceful civil disobedience arrived in the Nation’s Capital when a sit-in was held May 9, 2022 at the doorstep of the Drug Enforcement Agency to protest the agency’s block of psilocybin (known in its fungal form as “magic mushrooms”) for the terminally ill, despite the federal “right to try” law passed with the unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate and signed into law in 2018 by President Trump. Organizers include philanthropist David Bronner of Dr. Bronners Soap and he was joined by physicians, nurses, patient care advocates and some of the Founding Members of the Global Wellness Institute’s Psychedelics & Healing Initiative including attorney Kathryn Tucker of the National Psychedelics Association and a co-founder of the Psychedelic Bar Association, Melissa Lavasani CEO of the Psychedelic Medicine Coalition, and Mary-Elizabeth Gifford, EVP of the Psyence Group.
TREND 2: The ABCs of LSD
LSD, DMT, and other psychedelic medicines continue to have a wider presence on college campuses. Among faculty. Professors at Johns Hopkins University, Yale University, and New York University have come together to launch a collaborative consortium that will develop a psychedelic therapy curriculum for use by psychiatrists and medical professionals. Duke University now has a center for psychedelic science, and now so does the University of Texas, Austin, and Massachusetts General Hospital. These initiatives join psychedelic programs and centers at: Johns Hopkins, University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco, and San Diego, New York University, Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Imperial College in London, and Harvard Law School.
TREND 3: FOR CHANGE THAT STARTS AT THE TOP, TRY THE UNITED NATIONS
Reformers are asking the United Nations, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and the British Home Office to reschedule psilocybin, known in its fungal form as “magic mushrooms,” which was red-flagged by the 1971 Convention of Psychotropic Drugs, as “Schedule I” a condemnation reserved for pharmaceuticals with “no currently accepted medical use” and “high potential for abuse.” Although psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin are not addictive and do no toxicological damage, according to a tranche of research in the public domain.
Well-documented medical research shows that psilocybin can be effective when used for intractable medical issues such as depression, anxiety, alcoholism, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The FDA has responded to those research results with positive action, granting what is known as “breakthrough” designation for psilocybin medication to expedite pharmaceutical development, a multi-year process. In Switzerland, psilocybin rescheduling at the United Nations is being led by the ITPRI, the International Therapeutic Psilocybin Rescheduling Initiative, and its chair and cofounder, Chris Kodderman. In America, psilocybin rescheduling efforts at the DEA is being led by Kathryn Tucker, special counsel at Emerge Law in Oregon, and a co-founder of the Psychedelic Bar Association and a Founding Member of the GWI’s Psychedelics & Healing Initiative. In the United Kingdom, efforts to reschedule psilocybin at the British Home Office are led by Timmy Davis, Psilocybin Rescheduling Project manager for the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group.
TREND 4: PEER SUPPORT
The world’s first psychedelic peer support phone line opened last spring. And in the first year, the calls have been ringing off the hook. Over 100 volunteers have been trained, over 13,000 hours of support have been provided, some 2,550 conversations have been logged. In its first year Fireside launched an equity initiative that allows callers to speak with volunteers who are military veterans, transgender, or black, indigenous, or people of color. Those equity initiative volunteers will receive scholarship support for professional development to continue to deepen their work in the field of psychedelic healing. Co-founder Hanifa Nayo Washington, Fireside’s Chief of Strategy is a Founding Member of the Psychedelics & Healing Initiative.
TREND 5: ACCOUNTABILITY
The “tidal wave of hype” is how the clinical psychologist Dr. Rosalind Watts describes the extremely positive support that greets most news of psychedelic research today. Dr. Watts cautioned in a February essay that “over promising, magical thinking, marketing, sugar coating. . . gold rushing” could damage the very real and evidence-based benefits that psychedelic medicine may deliver.
Other voices for accountability in the emerging field of psychedelic medicine can be found at New York magazine, which produced the “Cover Story: Power Trip,” a podcast series that reported on the abuse of patients by psychedelic therapists. At STAT, the Boston Globe-owned health website, science writer and investigative reporter Olivia Goldhill has reported on a lawsuit that raises concerning questions about psychedelics and eldercare. As the field of psychedelic medicine continues to grow, expect greater levels of accountability in the weeks and months to come. This trend will be with us for the foreseeable future.