Rick Doblin: 'People Should Have the Fundamental Human Right To Change Their Consciousness'

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is making MDMA and other drugs medically legitimate and socially acceptable.


When psychedelic drugs finally become legal in the United States and elsewhere around the world, the lion's share of the credit will go to Rick Doblin. Since founding the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in 1986, Doblin has argued forcefully for the benefits of frequently demonized substances such as MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, and ibogaine in helping people cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other debilitating problems.

MAPS is currently sponsoring phase three clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for PTSD. Within the next few years, if all goes well, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to approve MDMA—which the federal government banned in 1985 as a dangerous party drug then known as ecstasy—for use by prescription as a psychotherapeutic catalyst. Further down the line, psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin, which the FDA has recognized as a "breakthrough therapy" for depression, could undergo a similar legal transformation.

Although MAPS is doing everything by the book in seeking approval of MDMA as a prescription drug, Doblin's vision goes beyond such doctor-approved uses. He aspires to a world in which people can use psychedelics responsibly without permission from physicians or priests. "Psychedelics are tools," Doblin says. "They're not good or bad in and of themselves. It's how they are used. It's the relationship you have with them…People should have the fundamental human right to change their consciousness."

Because of his busy schedule, Doblin spoke with Reason Editor at Large Nick Gillespie in late February in the back of an Uber headed to John F. Kennedy Airport. The unconventional setting seemed the perfect place to catch up with a guy who is doing so much to radically change our way of thinking about how we deal with the world.

Audio production by Regan Taylor and Ian Keyser.

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  1. Far out man. Or we could just go the route of decriminalizing all drugs, the way it should be.

  2. Speaking of weird druggies…

    Jordan Peterson working on new book

    Is it entitled “Benzodiazepines I’ve Known and Loved?” Let’s hope!

    1. Please don’t put Jordan Peterson in the same category as Alexander Shulgin.

      1. Alas… its not about the kind of stuff you’d put on erowid, which would at least be interesting. Its going to be on this…

        Peterson writes that he is specifically looking for an illustration for a chapter titled “Do Not Carelessly Denigrate Social Institutions or Creative Achievement” which should be based on this tarot image of the fool:

        I can’t wait.

        1. The Tarot Fool is not about foolishness.

  3. >>People should have the fundamental human right to change their consciousness

    Bear agreed. So do I.

  4. Yep. Including not taking your asinine vaccines and not doing at home testing to leave my own fucking home. Oh and also psychedelics.

  5. ‘People Should Have the Fundamental Human Right To Change Their Consciousness’

    In true libertarian fashion, as long as their consciousness altering doesn’t land their fist on my nose, I don’t care.

    The problem is, much like any other Human Right invented since ~1900, ‘free as in beer’ gets confused with ‘free as in speech’ and the phrase is effectively code for ‘subsidize my dumb/bad behavior’. As long as they’re responsible for their actions, high or not, I don’t care.

    I agree that the FDA and CDC have royally screwed the pooch wrt COVID-19 *and* vaping. Acting like laissez faire immigration and drug marketing/sales would’ve produced a superior outcome for either issue is wrong for pretty obvious reasons and, if technically correct, is not obviously so.

    1. Medical Rights Reason Supports
      Right to Self Medicate to Get Stoned

      Medical Rights Reason Doesn’t Support
      Right to Self Medicate to Improve Your Health

    2. In true libertarian fashion, as long as their consciousness altering doesn’t land their fist on my nose, I don’t care.

      Unfortunately, that’s where it lands, given our social welfare state. That is, a large part of the homeless, indigent, and poor are drug addicts, and the rest of society is forced at gunpoint to pay for them.

    3. Well said, mad.casual. If the basic premise of libertarianism is that each individual should be free to do as he or she pleases so long as he or she doesn’t harm others, then being high in public runs afoul of that premise. It’s all fine and well to get high in the privacy of your own home, but altering your consciousness changes your perception. Your perception informs your judgment, so changing your perception changes your judgment, and with compromised judgment, you can no longer uphold your responsibility in the social contract of “do no harm.”

  6. Once you discuss what “human rights” people should and shouldn’t have, you have already gone from limited government with enumerated powers to unlimited government with enumerated rights. And that’s the crap Reason’s “libertarians” advocate these days.

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  8. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

  9. I think everybody has that right. click here

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