The following journal entry was written by Michael Oliver of The Flying Sage. The Flying Sage is an online psychedelic centric community and there is a cost for membership. There also exists a free WhatsApp group of the same name. I have Michael’s permission to post this document here.
I included this document here because I felt that it presents a different viewpoint to that held by the Spiritquest Community. I think it important for you to have access to alternative views on any subject.
For reasons I wish not to share, I am not a paid member of Michael’s on-line community; although, I do subscribe to his free WhatsApp group.
I have written my own viewpoint on this rather longwinded document; which, can be found in the BLOG entry entitled ‘Democratizing Psychedelics: My Response’ . It chronologically follows this one.
The Flying Sage community was born with the mission to democratize transcendence. To me, this means making psychedelics, and other transformational technologies like breath, meditation and cold exposure, more accessible to everyone. As the psychedelic ecosystem has started to grow over the past few years, it has become more apparent just how important it is to ensure accessibility is at the heart of this movement.
What systems and processes do we need in place to ensure that psychedelics are accessible?
Clinical offerings will remain expensive in the majority of instances and inaccessible for most people seeking to work with psychedelics. Additionally, “underground” offerings will also remain expensive in a lot of scenarios because there is no regulation there.
Therefore, many people who want to access psychedelics but can’t, need a different way. I believe community is a big part of the answer to this question and I want to spend some time here outlining why.
Expansion on All Fronts
Through my work with MAPS Canada, I got to witness first hand the incredible importance that research has played, and continues to play, in the legitimization of psychedelic medicines. I had the privilege of working closely alongside Mark Haden and Rick Doblin who have spent decades collectively building the foundations for the psychedelic renaissance that we are experiencing today. If it was not for MAPS, our community, The Flying Sage, would not exist, and neither would Numinus and other publicly traded companies or any of the several psilocybin dispensaries that have opened here in Vancouver, BC. And of course, let’s not forget about the thousands of years of indigenous use when it comes to other plant medicines as well.
Being part of this work made me realize just how slow the process of legalization is; especially when you have strategically chosen to work within the military-industrial-pharmaceutical system. I commend Rick, Mark and everyone else who has made an impact in this particular area. The bureaucracy is immense and the stigma is poisoning and the fact that we are now seeing so much freedom being offered in these areas is thanks to the giant shoulders that we stand on and a testament to the human ability to do the seemingly impossible.
Despite this, I feel that we are now at an inflection point. The slow inch-by-inch progress and speed of previous years is being eclipsed by what many are calling the psychedelic renaissance. Growth is occurring now at a very alarming rate and I would argue that the old War on Drugs paradigm is starting to give way to something new altogether.
In addition to the rapid expansion of the psychedelic industry, we are faced with a rapid expansion of the mental health crisis. There have never been more people dealing with depression and anxiety than there are today. By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have – or have had – a mental illness1. That’s a lot of people! When I hear this statistic, I am curious to to know how mental illness is defined. The excessive pathologizing of the human condition represents an important underlying and systemic issue at play when discussing mental health. Perhaps it is important to mythologize instead of pathologize. Nevertheless, regardless of how you characterize the statistics around mental health, I would think it’s safe to say we are in desperate need of better solutions to mental health treatments. The current pharmaceutical and chemistry-focused “solutions” to healing are just not cutting it. It’s time for a paradigm shift in medicine, and psychedelics might hold an important key.
The key word here is might.
Forcing Something to Fit
Right now, the primary advocacy efforts and legitimization of psychedelic medicine is being put into medicalizing psychedelics. Legalization through medicalization. This is the MAPS path and this is the narrative that is shaping most discourse around these medicines at the moment. I want to argue here that while it is very important to have this pathway developed, the process of medicalizing psychedelics is like trying to force a puzzle piece to fit in the wrong hole. The psychedelic elephant in the room is that many aspects of modern medicine, especially pharmaceutical treatments, are terribly ineffective. Big Pharma is in the business of keeping people sick, not making them better. Trying to embed psychedelic medicines within this blatantly corrupt and nefarious system is like trying to plant a flower in the middle of a wildfire.
I am of the mind we need to take some time putting aside the puzzle box altogether and look for innovative ways to embrace these transformational tools. This does not mean we need to burn the whole system down, but we need to take massive action towards improving how we approach healing and medicine.
I believe that harm reduction and education should pave the way forward empowering people to use psychedelics in community through safe and effective means.