Our conference partners, the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Mizzou, have uploaded video from our Nov. 20 conference. Check it out!
You may also have seen the op-ed written by Steve Spellman in the Columbia Missourian about our event:
While many issues today are quite contentious, there are those special subjects that bring diverse interests together for a unique consensus.
Criminal justice reform is one, where sympathy for the harshly convicted is combined with saving money on prisons and racial justice concerns. Likewise is the increasing relaxation of marijuana laws, the usage of which is hardly rare, and even its overuse is less risky than alcohol.
The next frontier in scaling back heavy-handed substance prohibitions of the past is moving to the controlled use of psychedelics. What this emerging movement looks like in Missouri and beyond was featured at the Psychedelic Advocacy & Drug Policy Conference, which I attended on the MU campus recently.
The most recognized psychedelics include the popular culture drugs like mushrooms and LSD, which certainly raise eyebrows in polite society, but also other naturally occurring substances indigenous people have long used, such as peyote and ayahuasca, a South American brew.
The message from practitioners, patients and political advocates from many walks of life is that psychedelics, under a supervised medical/therapeutic environment can bring amazing relief to the suffering, whether those with chronic psychological afflictions, brain injuries or victims of traumatic events.
Organized by Eapen Thampy of Crossing Paths and Zach Lang, President of the Mizzou chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, various experts foretold of an upcoming public discussion.
Sunil Aggarwal of the University of Washington described his groundbreaking work to help his patients under the “Right to Try” statues, which allow the terminally ill access to receive yet unapproved pharmaceuticals. He suggests a legal safe harbor framework for researchers like himself to be able to invest their social and intellectual capital into developing modern applications for these still federally outlawed medicines; and so patients are less fearful to seek help.
This being one of those magic issues which cuts across traditional political polarities, Thampy concluded the conference with veterans advocate William Wisner, former Columbia City Councilperson Mike Trapp, as well as State Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville.
Wisner, of St. Louis, gave his own testimonial about how he was infected by toxic fumes in the Iraq War. After a confounding journey of suffering, he says “one night with ayahuasca cured 14 years of debilitating PTSD.” He describes vets with similar conditions traveling to Latin America for such sessions, or an underground domestic scene, which he would like to see safely permitted here.
Trapp, a longtime marijuana legalization advocate, offered shrewd advice on communicating what you believe, on a local level. Since “politicians are a cowardly lot,” largely, please realize that asking your elected official to stick their neck out to on a cutting-edge issue like psychedelics is a hard sell, he said. Though it might soon become a “majority issue,” ready for the initiative petition route, as did medical marijuana in Missouri.
Toalson Reisch may have been the most surprising speaker at an event promoting substances stereotypically associated with 1960s drug culture. She proudly identifies that “I’m a Christian and a Republican” but advises to go beyond labels, and that not all Republicans, or Democrats, are the same.
She describes being a friend of Eapen’s, who has been supportive of her bringing names of nonviolent offenders to the desk of her fellow Republican Gov. Mike Parson. One such constituent is Dimetrius Woods, now out of jail and a productive citizen running several local small businesses.
This is one of those magic issues, which brings together amazing political bedfellows, focusing on the universal sympathies for the likes of disabled veterans, young mothers with cancer, and others with mental trauma. And the reasonably moderate proposal being for licensed professionals to supervise treatments in a controlled environment.
These visionaries also describe nonscientific characteristics. Aggarwal, of South Asian ancestry, also notes “spiritual growth” and the discovery of “what it is to be human.” Wisner admits once overcoming his tough-guy soldier ego, he saw 3D visions and communed with his ancestors.
I don’t understand all the chemical, let alone supernatural, possibilities here. Those talking up the stuff sound credible, but there is more to learn, and as with anything there can surely be side effects.
One major hurdle to documenting those benefits and tradeoffs is allowing researchers to even securely get a hold of the substances, which the feds still classify as Schedule 1 narcotics, in the same category as heroine and crack.
Regardless of one’s reservations, permitting the willingness to pursue such natural treatments in a therapeutic setting is far preferable to the current broken policy of declaring them all outlaws. Look forward to this emerging public discussion, dear reader.