Antonio Escohotado died last Friday at his home in Ibiza at the age of 80. Not a month has passed since BMed appeared in society on that same island, just 20 minutes from his house. Antonio was invited to that event, but he kindly declined the invitation, although he showed his curiosity to meet Amanda Feilding in person, a fellow member of his and a fighter in the same trench for the decriminalization of drugs.
During that event, Christian Jochnick, who has supported the BMed project since its founding, took the floor. In his speech, Jochnick praised the benevolent Spanish and Catalan legal framework on drugs, much more flexible than that of other European countries with a long liberal tradition. Spain – and especially Catalonia – “is a unique place in the world to scientifically study medicinal plants,” said the philanthropist, who also referred to the large and experienced Spanish and Catalan psychonaut community, an ideal breeding ground to put in A project with master plants and psychedelics applied to mental health is underway.
It is fair to recognize that the current and renowned ‘Psychedelic Renaissance’ that the media has been echoing in the last five years would not have been possible without the solid intellectual scaffolding that Antonio Escohotado endowed on the anti-prohibitionist movement, precisely at the time -the 80s- in that to defend a liberal position on drugs was to go against the current. Escohotado bravely defended this attitude until his deathbed.
If Spain today houses one of the most open societies with drugs in the world, it is, in large part, thanks to the tenacious and eloquent teaching of Antonio Escohotado, who defended from his books, newspaper articles, TV programs and, more recently, the internet and YouTube, the inalienable right of the human being to alter his conscience without the intercession of the State or any other authority: «From the skin to the inside, I’m the boss. That is where my exclusive jurisdiction begins, and I choose whether or not I should cross that border. I am a sovereign state.
His particular fight for the right to drunk started, of course, in Ibiza. In 1988, Escohotado was arrested for drug possession and trafficking, and sentenced to two years in prison, which he served in the Cuenca prison. Those “unexpected vacations” served him to write his monumental ‘General History of Drugs’, the germinal book of the anti-prohibitionist movement around the world. It is worth remembering that ‘General Hª of Drugs’ was published barely two decades after the declaration of the ominous ‘War on Drugs’, decreed by Nixon in 1971 and whose unfortunate effects we are still suffering.
The three volumes of ‘General History of Drugs’ and ‘Learning of Drugs’ became a kind of toxicology manual for thousands of Spanish and Spanish-speakers during the following decades (the long-awaited edition in English will be released posthumously) , and, little by little, Escohotado’s antiprohibitionist argumentation was permeating among jurists, lawyers, politicians, judges, policemen, journalists and the rest of Spanish society, who although he never read Don Antonio, he was able to listen to him assiduously on television programs. Televisión Española, in which his thunderous voice and his elaborate speech inevitably unraveled the arguments of his rival friends.
Scientific research with drugs
One of the most pernicious and least known collateral effects of the ‘War on Drugs’ has been the prohibition of scientific studies of these compounds -generally vegetable- for the preparation of medicines and health treatments. In the half century that this fruitless contest has lasted, countless numbers of people could have benefited from the undoubted positive health effects of compounds such as LSD, morphine, marijuana, MDMA, psilocybin or even the infamous heroin.
Marijuana, first, and psychedelics, later, are gradually managing to escape the ominous lists of controlled substances decreed by the UN in the 60s and 70s, because they supposedly pose a great danger to health and suffer, also supposedly, therapeutic capabilities. Scientific evidence today dismantles a moral prohibition and paves the way for the celebrated ‘Psychedelic Renaissance’. None of this would have been possible without the belligerent activism of Antonio Escohotado. Rest in peace, master.
Think Tank founded in Great Britain in 1998 by Amanda Feilding, a pioneer in psychedelic research in the field of mental health and on Drug Policy reform.
The world’s leading psychedelic research organisation. Rick Doblin’s MAPS is a global leader in training programmes for psychedelic therapists.
The figure of Stan Grof in the history of psychedelics has reached legendary status. His legacy takes the form of a comprehensive psychedelic psychotherapy training programme.
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