In both the U.S. and the UK, psychedelic drugs are officially classified as some of the most dangerous substances known to the world, with the least use to medicine. This is patently false. First, psychedelics, like LSD, psilocybin and mescaline, simply aren’t a health risk. The opposite: they’re among the safest drugs in existence. Science tells us this. But it goes deeper than that. So, so much deeper. According to new research, there’s a huge possibility that psychedelic drugs reduce crime, by rendering its users more empathetic and less prone to violence.
The Safest Highs Around
All drugs have what’s called a “safety ratio.” A measure of how hazardous to your health the substance truly is, the safety ratio is the drug’s lethal dose divided by its effective dose.
Heroin has a safety ratio of six, which means a shot of heroin only six times stronger than the amount necessary to feel its effects can kill.
Methamphetamine’s safety ratio is 10, and cocaine’s is 15.
LSD has a safety ratio of about 1,000—but even that is theoretical.
There’s only one instance of a fatal experiment with LSD, in which the departed ingested 320 milligrams—or 320,000 times the amount needed to understand a Terence McKenna lecture.
Marijuana, which has killed nobody, has a safety ratio of “>1000,” meaning scientists guess that while it’s theoretically possible to end someone’s life with THC, nobody knows, even remotely, how much THC it would require.
About the only “risk” posed by psychedelics is the disorientation and discomfort that someone tripping their face off may encounter. But even a bad trip might come with positive long-term outcomes, like relief from psychological torment including depression and anxiety—or the aforementioned disinclination towards violence and anti-social behavior.
According to new findings published last month by scientists at the University of Alabama, Birmingham in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, and highlighted in a recent post from AlterNet’s Phillip Smith, psychedelic drug use is connected with a decreased likelihood of criminal activity.
Tune In, Opt Out (Of Crime)
Researchers looked at the results from 13 years of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in which more than 480,000 American adults shared their drug and criminal histories. Respondents were asked to disclose their past experiences with psychedelics and their brushes with the law.
They found that past use of psychedelics—including DMT and mescaline, as well as LSD and psilocybin—is connected with an 18 percent decrease in the likelihood of an arrest for violent crime and a 22 percent decrease in arrests for property crime.
As per the university:
Having ever used a classic psychedelic was associated with a 27 percent decrease in the odds of committing larceny/theft, a 12 percent decrease in the odds of committing assault, a 22 percent decrease in the odds of arrest for a property crime, and an 18 percent decrease in the odds of arrest for a violent crime in the past year.
The results aren’t all drug-positive: “lifetime illicit use of other drugs” showed an increase in arrests for violent or property crime, possibly suggesting a link between addiction and crimes necessary to support that addiction (or, to get full-on sociologist, a link between the disenfranchisement and barriers to employment that accompany entry into the criminal justice system and a turn towards crime to fill that resulting gap).
LSD And Magic Mushrooms For Health And Safety
Still, these findings that psychedelic drugs reduce crime are congruent with other research and conclusions from researchers that psychedelics are a blessing rather than a scourge—and, consistent with publicized findings about the beneficial role of MDMA and psilocybin in end-of-life scenarios. They also add more weight to convictions that these drugs have a genuine home in clinical and research settings, including, quite possibly, research into a “criminal mind,” and the possibility that a mind inclined toward ill behavior could be “corrected” through careful use of mind-bending drugs.
“These findings, coupled with both older and emerging bodies of evidence, make a case that classic psychedelics may provide enduring benefits for criminal justice populations,” lead researcher Peter Hendricks, an associate professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s School of Public Health, said in a statement released by the university. “They certainly suggest that clinical research with classic psychedelics in forensic settings should be considered.”
Final Hit: Psychedelic Drugs Reduce Crime
This all begs another, more fundamental question: If that’s true, that psychedelics are safe and may have great benefit, why are they so tightly controlled?
The only logical argument is that they are powerful. While less dangerous to a working body than a shot of whiskey, there is the chance of an unpleasant episode. This is an argument for more psychedelic use, not less—because that would mean more knowledgeable guides.
Why would any healthy or equitable society want less of this—especially if psychedelic drugs reduce crime? It’s almost as if this is a blatant example of social control.