Free Minds & Free Markets

Psychedelic Drugs: The Future of Mental Health

LSD, mushrooms, and ecstasy are finally getting attention from serious medical researchers. And their findings are astounding.

A recent study found that MDMA-assisted therapy could help veterans suffering from PTSD. Another paper from Johns Hopkins presented evidence that therapy in conjunction with psilocybin mushrooms can help ease the mental suffering of terminal cancer patients.

These findings, among others, were presented at the 2017 Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland, California, where researchers gather every few years to discuss the potential medical applications of psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and MDMA. The field has exploded thanks to reforms at the Food and Drug Administration that allow researchers, for the first time in decades, to study the effects of these drugs.

The organizer of the conference was the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is also funding much of this breakthrough research.

"It's a fundamental right to explore one's own consciousness," says MAPS founder Rick Doblin. "We have the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom of religion, and all those are based on the freedom of thought."

At this year's conference, Reason talked to researchers about the past, present, and future of this controversial and promising area of medical research.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Alex Manning and Weissmueller. Music by Kai Engel, Selva de Mar, and Lee Rosevere.

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Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

    Which is, of course, a silhouette of a tape measure.

  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

    The relevant link, which I found just for you people.

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  • Meh.||

    Phew, I had to take breaks while reading that because I was giggling too hard and loud. I like him though, he needs to post more.

  • Liberty, Truth and Honor||

    That's funny.

  • Liberty, Truth and Honor||

    "It's a fundamental right to explore one's own consciousness."

    Your fascist neighbors disagree.

  • n00bdragon||

    "Duuuude, I'm not doing -drugs-. I'm doing experimental medicine!" --One of the many reasons no one takes libertarians seriously.

    While it may be the ethically correct conclusion that people must be allowed to do what they please with their bodies because the government can't be trusted to fairly regulate it, this article ignores that entirely. The implication appears to be that drugs should be legal because "They aren't that bad. See? They're MEDICINE!" and that's a terrible argument. Should other behaviors that have no benefit remain illegal? Wouldn't this argument fall apart if it were found that no, in fact, basically all drugs are bad for you? The entire point is supposed to be that it's not right to have a panel of "experts" determining what you are and aren't allowed to do to yourself as long as it doesn't hurt others.

    But no, I guess we must grapple with the fact that roughly half the libertarian voter base is fried NORML potheads who don't give a rats ass about limited government as long as they get to smoke a toke.

  • Father of Two||

    You are confusing libertarian with libertine. As a matter of principle, the war on drugs is immoral as it violates everyone's ownership right in himself. In the US it is probably also unconstitutional in the strictest sense, at least as conducted by the feds, but that's a separate issue.

    Personally I wouldn't get near LSD without seeing a lot more research. Forty+ years ago a friend became unhinged after using it several times, though I don't know causality. But research should continue and people should be free to experiment as they will. I am also open to some potential therapeutic value, none of which are ever risk free. For people with PTSD or incurable diseases, it seems cruel to deny them the opportunity to try something they think may help.

  • MSimon||

    You are confusing libertine with Ben Franklin.

    Oh? Wait. Never mind !

  • Whorton||

    So, now forty years later, what became of the friend? A single anecdotal story of a "Bad trip" some forty years ago is not instructive in and of itself.

    No drug, or for that matter, life itself is not guaranteed. There are risks and benefits associated with each and every drug.

  • Necron 99||

    Shining on as a crazy diamond.

  • MSimon||

    Pot heads have a reason to limit government. The reason makes them committed.

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  • Whorton||

    So, now forty years later, what became of the friend? A single anecdotal story of a "Bad trip" some forty years ago is not instructive in and of itself.

    No drug, or for that matter, life itself is not guaranteed. There are risks and benefits associated with each and every drug.

  • Whorton||

    Frankly gixabec,
    I know you father in law, and know the rest of the story. He bought the Ford Focus and it turned out to be stolen. He turned over on your friend and she is is doing 20 in Chino. Last I heard, they were looking for you as an accessory. You need to turn yourself in!

  • timeconsumer||

    Exploring one's consciousness? People stopped believing that expand your mind crap decades ago. Most people I know do it to have fun. And there's nothing wrong with that. Fundamental right to have a good time regardless if it is self-destructive or not sounds better. Because if we're going to make dangerous but fun activities illegal, let's add in base jumping, free solo climbing, bull riding, etc.

  • Ghofar Hudda||

    Nothing terrible has ever happened in light of the fact that individuals were pondering what was useful for society excessively.

    Our site:

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