Is India Missing Out On the Psychedelic Science Wave?

Is India Missing Out On the Psychedelic Science Wave?

Australia has become the first country in the world to permit the use of psychedelics for mental health treatment.

A new dawn is breaking as Australia has become the first country in the world to permit the use of psychedelic mushrooms and MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy) for the treatment of mental conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

While Australia takes the lead, several other countries are closely following the psychedelic wave. This raises the question of whether Indians can also benefit from these alternative treatments?

In various states within the United States, psychedelics have already been decriminalized, and recreational use is even allowed. Governor Jared Polis of Colorado is leading the psychedelic renaissance, setting an example for others to follow. Recently, a state ballot in Colorado led to the decriminalisation of possession, cultivation, and sharing of psychedelics and hallucinogens such as psilocybin, ibogaine, mescaline, and DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) for individuals aged 21 and above.

Furthermore, there are discussions about granting state pardons for offenders in state penitentiaries. It is likely that other US state governments will also consider similar measures in the near future.

The American Model: What After Decriminalising Marijuana?

At the federal level, the Biden Administration has decriminalized the possession of marijuana in small personal quantities. Despite the World Drug Treaty backed by the US, state governments and corporations are profiting from the cannabis industry, minting substantial profits.

As a result, the American industry has industrialised every aspect of the plant, from cannabis gummies to drinks, firmly normalising “the devil’s reefer” in society.

Having successfully integrated cannabis into American society, corporate America has now swiftly moved to capture the psychedelic markets as well. With the backing of American financing, there is a network of psychedelic retreats offering “experiences” in various locations from Costa Rica to other parts of Latin America.

Native communities are either being co-opted or conforming to the trade of providing spiritual experiences in exchange for money.

Meanwhile, therapist training institutes and protocols are emerging throughout the US, making psychedelic-assisted therapy increasingly accessible and legal for Westerners.

America is also allowing for an non-corporate model of psychedelic use too – through psychedelic churches. Native Americans after much fighting are allowed the use of peyote within the peyote church. Local peyote Churches have existed in the American South-West to Oklahoma and continue to help heal and provide guidance for communities.

Even white folk now have peyote churches in the US, and a new wave of ayahuasca churches are also propping up in the US. These are the psychedelic spiritual sanctuaries within the Western world.

Psychedelics Have Potential to Offer Real-Time Solutions

From a scientific perspective, psychedelics not only have the potential to alter one’s mindset but also offer real-time solutions for treating depression, healing from trauma, preventing neural degeneration, dementia, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, reducing brain inflammation, and addressing drug and alcohol addictions, as well as other psychiatric disorders.

A 2021 scientific paper Effectiveness of Psilocybin on Depression: A Qualitative Study concluded that:

“Psilocybin has promising effects on the patients with depression/anxiety even after a single dose.” Another paper published in Nature, points to the how psilocybin mushrooms have helped patients get over “treatment resistant depression rapidly.”

Major institutes like John Hopkins, Berkeley and other reputed independent scientists have conducted research. However, this only scratches the surface of their potential.

As more countries remove barriers to psychedelic research on substances like psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, LSD, MDMA, and others, a growing body of scientific work becomes available. Scientists around the world are discovering new therapeutic and social applications for these sacred plants.

Often, indigenous communities, who are the original custodians of psychedelics, are overlooked.

According to the Vedas, soma was the sacred plant that brought the Vedic people face to face with the divine. Both the Avesta and the Rig Veda consider it to be divine and a source of revelations. Western experts like Terrence McKenna have identified soma as psilocybin cubensis, also known as the psychedelic mushroom.

While there may be debates about the soma plant or concoction, it is challenging to deny that sacred plants possess psychedelic or psychoactive properties. The origins of the Vedic religion are deeply intertwined with soma and yagya rituals.

Let’s also consider another sacred plant associated with the gods –cannabis, which has been linked with Shiva since time immemorial. Benaras, the city of Shiva, is renowned for the common use of bhang and ganja in temples, often offered as prasad to Shiva.

Ayurveda has an entire treatise on the beneficial uses of the cannabis plant. However, under pressure from the US and international drug treaties, India banned its own sacred plants.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is embracing the cannabis wave and using it to heal millions of people suffering from cancer, depression, and other ailments, while Indians remain restricted due to biased drug treaties.

Time For India to Break Free

Novel interpretations of the UN Single Convention on narcotics treaty have allowed for certain conditions under which cannabis is exempt from control, such as medical and scientific purposes, provided that effective harm reduction measures are implemented and reasonable statistical reporting is provided to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

As the world embraces psychedelics, India should also break free from the dominance of the US-dominated drug treaty and allow for immediate scientific and medical research.

Institutions like Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), and the AYUSH Ministry can take the lead in independently verifying the medical and therapeutic uses of these sacred plants. This would enable the Indian government to make an informed decision regarding legalisation.

These sacred plants have been the foundation of our culture and religion, yet it is the West that is leading the way in legalizing medical and recreational use, not us.

In conclusion, every minute we delay legislation and medical use of these substances, we contribute to increased human suffering, the circulation of adulterated drugs, hinder societal growth, and fund the mafia.

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