This article is inspired by our insightful podcast episode hosted by Psychedelic Passage co-founder, Jimmy Nguyen, which you can listen to on all streaming platforms.
Joined by esteemed guest Sean McAllister, a legal expert specializing in the regulatory, healthcare, and spiritual dimensions of psychedelic medicines, this article delves into the intricate layers of psychedelics’ impact on society.
From Sean’s unique perspective, we unravel the complexities surrounding psychedelics, drawing parallels with the evolution of cannabis culture. Later, we navigate through the challenges of commodification, the intersection of indigenous wisdom, and the quest for a cultural transformation.
As we explore the intergenerational responsibility tied to psychedelic exploration, we’ll contemplate the potential pitfalls and promises on the horizon. Today we challenge preconceptions, delving into the spiritual essence of psychedelics beyond individual experiences, inviting you to ponder the societal fabric that these substances may weave.
- Psychedelics are positioned as catalysts for cultural transformation, challenging societal norms and prompting individuals to contemplate fundamental questions about the legitimacy of land occupation and the artificiality of the United States.
- The intergenerational responsibility involves educating future generations about the indigenous roots of plant medicines and envisioning a society where psychedelics are integral cultural rites of passage deeply ingrained in community values.
- Cultural change over legal change recognizes that laws transform when the culture transforms, and calls for active engagement, informed decision-making, and personal agency in navigating the evolving landscape of psychedelics.
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The Cultural Context
Sean McAllister sets the stage by contextualizing the current psychedelic movement within the broader history of America’s war on drugs. He emphasizes a significant shift from being the initiator of the war on drugs to becoming a pioneer in its dismantling.
Sean underlines the necessity for a cultural transformation, acknowledging the intergenerational struggle to redefine society’s relationship with plant medicines.
“We’re in this new era where there’s so many beautiful flowers, but we’re planted in a dead dirt of the past, you know? How big can we grow this garden?
Can we grow the garden big enough to save the planet? Can we grow it big enough to save ourselves?”
He notes that he is simultaneously scared and excited for the future, as psychedelics clash with the residual effects the war on drugs had on Americans through the 20th century.
Will psychedelics be a tool to rewrite how we function as a society, or will they be used to enforce the stale narrative that still grips parts of the country?
The need to educate future generations about the indigenous roots of plant medicines and their spiritual significance is highlighted in the unchecked trauma of our generation.
It’s seen as a crucial step towards instilling a deeper understanding of spirituality, beyond the surface-level self-help narratives that currently dominate the discourse.
Amidst the challenges faced by the current generation, hope is held for a transformative intergenerational struggle that may unfold in the future, recognizing the war on drugs that has dominated the struggle in this country for the last 70 years.
Sean envisions a society where psychedelics are not just tools for personal development but integral cultural rites of passage deeply ingrained in community values.
Cultural Shifts and Challenges
The conversation sheds light on the American approach to psychedelics, which often leans towards individualistic self-improvement. McAllister expresses concerns about the growing trends of Americanized psychedelic use:
“What worries me is that novice, hybridized American practitioner who’s been to Peru a few times and they think they’re a shaman.
What worries me is the medicalization of psychedelics that is turning the experience into something like a clinical trial with doctors and white coats and eye shades and playlists.”
Decriminalization and Cultural Building
A significant aspect of the dialogue revolves around the tension between decriminalization and regulation. McAllister highlights the need for a balanced approach where decriminalization coexists with regulated models.
This dual strategy ensures that individuals have the option to choose between a medicalized experience and one that respects the cultural roots of plant medicine.
The emphasis is on building a cultural framework within the decriminalized space, fostering a more inclusive and diverse psychedelic community.
The Cannabis Cautionary Tale
As the episode unfolds, it reflects on the initial optimism surrounding cannabis legalization, where aspirations of freedom for prisoners and abundant opportunities were at the forefront.
Once a sacred plant with cooperative and medicinal intentions, the relentless pursuit of profit transformed the industry, leaving behind the initial vision.
We live in a society now where there’s instances in the Midwest where legal cannabis cultivation is found next door to county jail, where someone with a nonviolent drug offense can look out the window and see someone with the freedom to do exactly what landed them in jail.
Regulated Markets and Quality Decline
The cannabis revolution started in Colorado with the small community of people who had the passion and knowledge to do cannabis legalization right. It began with a cooperative mindset, having growers tied directly to caregivers, who provide the specific medicine to patients.
Public companies and venture capital funds quickly began hiring the legacy practitioners, and choosing quantity over quality, creating a capitalist cannabis culture of “rinse and repeat” that America is so well-known for.
These profit-driven strategies lead to a deterioration in the overall quality of the plant, and the quality of care that we greatly seek to avoid in the emerging psychedelic landscape.
Psychedelics & Society: The Bigger Picture
The major difference between cannabis and psychedelics may be psychedelics’ unique nature. Their capacity to trigger profound ideas could lead Americans to contemplate topics we’ve been taught to ignore like the legitimacy of land occupation and the artificiality of the United States.
Unlike cannabis, psychedelics delve into fundamental questions about our connection to divinity and Mother Earth. This, McAllister argued, makes the social justice issue more pronounced, pushing individuals to confront the historical violence upon which the nation was built.
The societal fabric, shaped by conditional expectations, pushes individuals to seek personal improvement, with the promise that it will lead to societal contributions. This sets the stage for a broader examination of societal norms and expectations intertwined with psychedelic use.
Navigating the Secret War
The term “secret war” was introduced to describe the ongoing battle for control over how society engages with psychedelics.
McAllister discussed the importance of challenging this covert struggle by asking questions, actively participating in the dialogue, and not waiting for predefined protocols.
“If we have laws written by the elite, they’re not going to include our community.”
The inevitable commodification of psychedelics is of particular concern, noting the potential high costs associated with FDA-approved prescription psychedelics. as it could lead to a loss of the cultural and spiritual essence of psychedelics.
The sentiment of passivity among some individuals, expecting a regulated program to dictate their engagement with psychedelics, was countered with a call for personal agency and informed decision-making.
Conservative Wisdom and Progressivism
The conversation calls upon a need for a shift in perspective within the progressive movement. McAllister suggests that progressives should embrace valuable lessons from conservatism, such as individual liberty and the wisdom of profit.
As a progressive community, we can come to terms with how we can use capitalism in a positive way by having more humanistic engagement of commerce.
This could lead to a post-political world focused on human beings, quality of life, and purpose-driven living, encouraging a departure from divisive ideologies in favor of a holistic understanding.
The Positive Implications of Psychedelics in Colorado: A Cultural Renaissance
McAllister closes by celebrating the strides made in Colorado, where a decriminalized environment has paved the way for a regulated model, making it one of the freest places for psychedelic exploration.
The transformative potential of psychedelics gains traction in addressing societal challenges, from the opioid epidemic to the mental health crisis in America.
The critical role of the community in shaping this cultural shift is exemplified in Colorado’s success, not the result of a solitary effort but a collective decision, with 54% of the community voting in favor of a decriminalized environment.
The emphasis on cultural change reflects a deep understanding that laws are followers; they transform when the culture transforms. This exploration into psychedelics and society invites us to reflect on the potential of psychedelics as agents of cultural evolution.
It encourages individuals to engage in conversations that challenge norms, initiate change, and collectively build a new world—one where the positive cultural implications of psychedelics are embraced and celebrated.
The journey towards this transformative cultural shift has just begun, and the voices raised in curiosity and questioning are laying the groundwork for a brighter, more interconnected future.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the significance of Colorado in the psychedelic movement?
Colorado stands out as a pioneer in the dismantling of America’s war on drugs, particularly in the realm of psychedelics.
It has achieved a decriminalized environment, allowing for the cultivation, sharing, and possession of psychedelics. This progressive approach has made Colorado one of the freest places for psychedelic exploration.
2. Why does Sean McAllister emphasize the term “secret war” in the context of psychedelics?
Sean McAllister introduces the term “secret war” to describe the ongoing battle for control over how society engages with psychedelics.
He believes that challenging this covert struggle, asking questions, and actively participating in the dialogue are crucial to navigating the complex landscape of psychedelic legalization.
3. What is the intergenerational responsibility highlighted in the conversation?
The conversation emphasizes the need to educate future generations about the indigenous roots of plant medicines and their spiritual significance.
It sees this as a crucial step toward instilling a deeper understanding of spirituality, moving beyond surface-level self-help narratives dominating the discourse.
4. How does the dialogue address concerns about the Americanized approach to psychedelics?
Sean McAllister expresses worries about the Americanized use of psychedelics, particularly by individuals who may have participated in ceremonies in Peru and subsequently consider themselves shamans.
He is also concerned about the medicalization of psychedelics, turning the experience into a clinical trial with doctors and white coats.
5. What role does culture play in the regulation and decriminalization of psychedelics?
The conversation highlights the tension between decriminalization and regulation, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach.
McAllister stresses the importance of building a cultural framework within the decriminalized space, fostering an inclusive and diverse psychedelic community.
The goal is to offer individuals the option to choose between a medicalized experience and one that respects the cultural roots of plant medicine.