Where do psychedelics fit in our culture?

Big question. Let's assume that they have a role to play – helping us unwind our trauma, helping us heal, helping us see our situation more clearly. Giving us a vision to orient towards. Something like that. (Here's an essay backing this up; start at Section 3 to skip the throat-clearing.)


So how do we work towards that?

My model is that there are three kinds of work to be done:

  1. Drug discovery – finding novel compounds that seem likely to be safe, interesting, and helpful. Sasha Shulgin is archetypal of one approach here; high-throughput screening is an alternate route.

  2. Drug development – shepherding a promising compound through clinical trials and bureaucratic approvals. MAPS is currently doing this with MDMA; Usona and Compass with psilocybin.

  3. Rollout – building infrastructure to scale the safe administration of a drug once it's approved.

My current take is that rollout is the thing to focus on.

We know that psilocybin & MDMA can be used in safe + interesting + helpful ways. And they're powerful enough that discovering alternative substances doesn't seem critical (though a less toxic MDMA would be no small thing, as would a psilocybin with fewer bad trips but all the benefit).

The clinical trials are already proving out safety & efficacy across hundreds of people, and it seems likely that these results will hold up during Phase 3.

But what happens after FDA approval? The thinking here isn't as developed. Dropping acid on the playa doesn't seem like quite the right model, and neither does ketamine IV drips in a fluorescent-lit clinic.

And the complicating factors pile on fast:

... and there's more! It's a big tangled knot, and we don't know how to unwind it yet.