Psychedelic drugs are back, if they ever went away at all. The banning of psychedelics in 1971 put the brakes on the promising research being done in psychiatry on LSD and other substances during the 1950s and 1960s.
The epidemic of loneliness, depression, grief and social breakdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic has paved the way for the powerful tool of psychedelics to step forward. A devastated planet and a despondent population need new tools to cope with a troubled time and an uncertain future.
Psychedelics have always been around, and millions of people have turned to them for healing and personal growth, outside the designs of the law. Now they are back with renewed force, supported by scientific studies that empirically demonstrate the efficacy of ‘medicines’ such as MDMA, ayahuasca, ketamine or psilocybin, the molecule that confers the attribute of “magic” to mushrooms.
Research on psychedelic substances came to an abrupt halt 40 years ago. During the previous 25 years, between Albert Hoffman’s discovery of LSD and its prohibition in 1971, tens of thousands of people benefited, freeing themselves from addiction to alcohol, tobacco and other addictive substances.
That immense legacy of the psychedelic pioneers was forgotten, like a treasure trove that psyche ‘archaeologists’ began to unearth in the 1990s, opening the door to the resurgence of psychedelic medicine.
Paradoxically, the end of the ‘War on Drugs’ initiated by Richard Nixon and stubbornly perpetuated by Ronald Reagan, with the results we all know, will take place in order to cure a whole generation of US ex-combatants affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As Don Lattin recounts in his book ‘La nueva medicina psicodélica’ – just published by Ediciones La Llave in collaboration with BMed– in 2013 alone, 535,000 US soldiers turned to the country’s authorities seeking relief from their ordeal. The number of suicides among soldiers and ex-soldiers far exceeds the number of US Army casualties in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The resurgence of MDMA
The war wounded – and not only them, but victims of sexual abuse and other violence – have found an unexpected ally in MDMA, the molecule created a century ago in Germany and re-synthesised by Alexandre Shulgin in the 1960s. Better known as a recreational drug under the name “ecstasy”, and immensely popular at parties, clubs and raves around the world, MDMA allows trauma to be recreated with a dose of emotional distance that allows it to be healed.
The penultimate hurdle that psychedelic medicine must clear to enter medical practice is a political one. The prohibitionist laws that remain in place in most parts of the world must change to allow a safe environment for therapeutic practice.
In this regard, there are widespread calls for “Decriminalize Nature“, referring to the prohibition and subsequent stigmatisation of long-established psychoactive medicinal plants such as cannabis, peyote, ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms.
Fundación Beckley Med/BMed
Founded in Barcelona in 2020, BMed (Fundación Beckley Med) was created with the aim of promoting research, dissemination and training in ‘New Psychedelic Medicine’. Building on partnerships with some of the leading players in the psychedelic renaissance, including The Beckley Foundation (Oxford, UK); MAPS (California, USA), Grof Legacy (California, USA) and Temple of the Way of Light (Iquitos, Peru), BMed has just launched the first training for psychedelic therapists, based on the experienced Stan Grof model, the most comprehensive and sophisticated in the psychedelic world.
More information in the BMed Training section.
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.
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.