The medicalization narrative in corporate psychedelia is out of control. Virtually overnight, hundreds of FDA-worshiping rent-seekers have founded non-profits, PBC’s, media platforms, professional societies and for-profit corporations to trumpet the benefit of psychedelics as rigidly controlled tools within the medical industrial complex.
Whether it’s PTSD, depression, anorexia, or IBS, there’s a new magic pill in town to treat your symptoms without actually addressing any of the macro societal issues that cause the conditions in the first place. Those championing this forthcoming era of mainstream medicalized psychedelics often do so in a humorless and hubristic sense that emphasizes the importance of being in a clinically controlled environment far removed from any recreational, indigenous, or church setting.
There are even a number of companies actively devoting themselves to the noble task of removing the trip from psychedelic substances, so as to further cement their status as the newest portfolio asset in the pharmaceutical industrial complex.
Pill-popping culture has engulfed the psychedelic renaissance, trampling upon indigenous sovereignty, individual autonomy and good old fashioned fun in the process.
Perhaps there’s a bright future in tripping on FDA approved, patented novel molecules in a clinic with strangers who will bill your employer-provided insurance handsomely, but I’ll still be eating homegrown mushrooms in a hot spring and smoking spliffs with my friends long after that time comes.
Remember when tripping on mushrooms in the forest and taking MDMA on a dance floor at an underground rave was fun?
When LSD was something you did in your friends basement on the weekends and at music festivals, and you couldn’t stop laughing about the most ephemeral and mundane aspects of life as everything around you pulsed with idiosyncratic meaning and the trees started breathing and communicating with you?
Not on the corporate psychedelia watch. Psychedelics are tools of the medical establishment now, cogs in a closed loop economy dictated by pharmaceutical conglomerates and their armies of gatekeepers. Tripping is now serious business, and recreational use is dangerous and shameful.
Trying to cope with untenable social and environmental conditions imposed by ecological collapse, soaring costs of living and a rapidly unraveling social fabric?
Oh, that little quandary has been conveniently fit into an ambiguous and clinically-validated little box called ‘depression’ that puts the onus on you as an individual to find ways of coping with radical societal inequities, rapidly disappearing biodiversity, and the general collective crisis of meaning beleaguering humanity.
Try hippy flipping in a clinic with a couple of therapists who took a 40 hour online course about psychedelics last year if you need a quick salve for your constant anxiety amidst our legit existential crisis.
Or maybe hire a coach to help you spiritually bypass it all. Anything except address the root causes of the myriad symptoms collectively signaling a mental health crisis.
As the newly appointed research fellows and establishment credentialed psychedelic scientists will tell you, “Trust the data. Let’s get psychedelics over the line.”
What fucking line? The line between cognitive liberty and rigidly hierarchically controlled pill popping? It’s a curious fact that most data agrees with those funding the research and setting the cultural norms.
And of course millennia of indigenous use does not constitute data, because white men didn’t get to control for the placebo in these contexts.
One of the preferred slogans of the psychedelic establishment is to confidently proclaim that “the hippies failed” and that we need medical data to decide who gets to access psychedelics, where, and for what reasons.
Psilocybin mushrooms aren’t for elevating your creative potential and exploring your own consciousness – they’re for treating depression and anxiety, for restoring your mental health under the guidance of a state validated healthcare professional without changing anything else about the societal status quo.
On that note, when did the flagship molecules of the psychedelic renaissance become a horse tranquilizer and an amphetamine?
I deeply angered a leading corporate psychedelia advocate with that joke earlier this year even though I explained in advance that it was indeed a joke; apparently there’s no room for humor and laughter in our new psychedelic medicine paradigm.
Remember when Shroom Stocks were a thing? And then everyone who has never grown or eaten mushrooms invested in them and quickly lost a lot of money?
Maybe the handful of biotech companies actively working to remove the psychedelic experience from DMT and psilocybin have it right. If they can sell that ruse, they deserve the money they’re after. However, given the performance of these companies over the last few years, this crusade is more of a race to the bottom than a rising tide for the psychedelic renaissance.
Or we could just keep pushing Microdosing, because it’s the perfect bait and switch. “Look! Psychedelics are socially acceptable now because they fit nicely within the prevailing societal ethos of habitual consumption! It’s almost like an SSRI, but a little more edgy!”
I respect that a medicalized approach to psychedelic-assisted therapy should be an option available to people, and that many will benefit from such a hierarchical and centralized system.
But when pharmaceutical executives are contacting me from their vacation house in Aspen asking me to jump on board with their push to politicize psychedelics, we no longer have any kind of renaissance on our hands.
The sudden onslaught of overnight authorities positioning themselves as champions of mental health and chomping at the bit to advocate for psychedelics as a clinical treatment for X, Y, and Z without consideration of underlying socioeconomic and environmental determinants conspiring to create the mental health crisis in the first place is laughably myopic and disingenuous.
Maybe we should entrust the keys to consciousness to the rent-seeking, pill-popping culture-devoted gatekeepers who often have little to no experience with altered states themselves. But maybe there’s still room for weirdness, levity and laughter in the coming age of mainstream psychedelics.
If you need me, I’ll be frolicking in the forest with friends tripping on some homegrown cubensis.