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I think something like Jim's point of overcorrecting from a coarse view of "all drugs are bad" to a coarse view of "hey, the authorities lied to us about drugs and they're probably okay to use casually" is closer to what gave us the problem.

Good point, though I think current evidence as a whole (anti-addictive; efficacy as a therapeutic modality; population surveys finding psychedelic use anticorrelated with psychological distress) pushes towards psychedelics' risk profile being less harmful though higher variance than alcohol and tobacco per use.


Consequently, psychedelics can be horrible and still not as bad as alcohol and tobacco.

They could be, but current evidence shows that psychedelic-assisted therapy is efficacious for PTSD, depression, end-of-life anxiety, smoking cessation, and probably alcoholism

Psychedelic experiences have been rated as extremely meaningful by healthy volunteers [1, 2], and psychedelic use is associated with decreased psychological distress and suicidality in population surveys.

The drugs seem to be in the Bay Area water supply (metaphorically or literally? no one really knows for sure), that is another reason to move somewhere else sooner rather than later. In Bay Area, you probably can't avoid meeting junkies every day, this shifts your "Overton window"

In a bunch of comments on this post, people are giving opinions about "drugs." I think this is the wrong level of abstraction, sorta like having an opinion about whether food is good or bad.

Different drugs have wildly different effect and risk profiles – it doesn't make sense to lump them all together into one category.


Illegal drugs are, on average, very bad.  How about a policy that if you use illegal drugs you are presumptively considered not yet good enough to be in the community?

The risk profile of a drug isn't correlated with its legal status, largely because our current drug laws were created for political purposes in the 1970s.  A quote from Nixon advisor John Ehrlichman:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”


A 2010 analysis concluded that psychedelics are causing far less harm than legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco. (Psychedelics still carry substantial risks, aren't for everybody, and should always be handled with care.)

Quora for the curious: Did the Buddha forbid the translation of his teachings into Sanskrit? If so, did he mention why?

From my quick skim of those answers, it looks like he was more concerned about accessibility of the teachings rather than issues of interpretation.

The correspondent's reply here is helpful color on how things can get more complicated (e.g. shifts in how you perceive the actions/intentions of yourself & others) and sometimes harmful (e.g. extended stays in Dark Night).


It's interesting that a lot of the discussion about psychedelics here is arguing from intuitions and personal experience, rather than from the trial results that have been coming out. 

I do think that psychedelic experiences vary a lot from person-to-person and trip-to-trip, and that psychedelics aren't for everyone. (This variability probably isn't fully captured by the trial results because study participants are carefully screened for lots of factors that may be contraindicated.)


Jim Babcock's stance here is the most sensible one I've seen in this thread:

My own impression is that the effect of LSD is not primarily a regression to the mean thing, but rather, that it temporarily enables some self-modification capabilities, which can be powerfully positive but which require a high degree of sanity and care to operate safely.


Meanwhile nearly everyone has been exposed to extremely unsubtle and substantially false anti-drug propaganda, which fails to survive contact with reality. So it's unfortunate but also unsurprising that the how-much-caution pendulum in their heads winds up swinging too far to the other side. The ideal messaging imo would leave most people feeling like planning an acid trip is more work than they personally will get around to, plus mild disdain towards impulsive usage and corner-cutting.


Big +1.

Really important to disambiguate the two:

"People shouldn't do psychedelics" is highly debatable and has to argue against a lot of research demonstrating their efficacy for improving mental wellness and treating psychiatric disorders.

"Leaders & subgroups shouldn't push psychedelics on their followers" seems straightforwardly correct.

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