Should psychedelics be legalized and if so, how do we regulate them?
***Featured image courtesy of Pretty Drug Things
Stephen Gray: Let me ask you this, James. It’s a two-part question.
James Jesso: I love those.
SG: Before you try to answer the first one, let me go to the second part. The first part would be, do you think that all psychedelics should be legalized? If the answer is yes, then that automatically implies there’s going to have to be a lot of regulation. Then the question is, how do we deal with this? You’re concerned, and I am, and many other people are about over-regulation and control by old-boys clubs and all that. First of all then, do you think all the psychedelics should be legalized in the same way cannabis is, not in the same exact way, but you know what I mean, legal for all adults or whatever?
JJ: I think that the prohibition of drugs in general and the stark consequences of the criminalizing around that prohibition is a fool’s game. It’s getting us nowhere except worse off, constantly. If there was a response to our prohibition, I would say the best response is to get rid of that prohibition because it’s not working. Does that mean legalize psychedelics? I don’t know.
Definitely, we need to start rethinking how we’re working with psychedelics because prohibition is not working well on any level whatsoever, just like it never has; every time it’s been tried to be put together. People want to get high no matter how illegal you make it. They’re going to fucking get high. If there’s a market for it, people are going to make money. Then if they’ve got money and it’s illegal, they’re going to do their best to protect it. There’s all these issues around prohibition that I’m not going to go on about.
SG: What do you think of the Portuguese situation, the way they’ve done it?
JJ: From my tertiary understanding, it seems like they decriminalized all drugs.
SG: They did.
JJ: The consequence of that was a shifting from a criminal approach to drug use to a public health approach to drug use. It has created positive benefits. [That’s] proof of work for decriminalizing if your concern is lessening the harm illicit drug use is having on the most vulnerable areas of our population. When it comes to getting rid of the harms prohibition creates onto itself, which is all the things it proposes to resolve, [decriminalizaiton is] well and good.
Also, then there’s the issue of: how do we create effective structures for the distribution, consumption, sale, practitioning, providing of substances? Each of these substances is different and requires a different approach. There’s going to, I think, need and should be regulation that is intelligently formed around each substance, that is unique to each substance or class of substance; not just for harm reduction, but benefit optimization. When it comes to psychedelics, that needs to be there too.
There also needs to be, just like I said before, an intelligent, informed approach to what that looks like. It needs to include enough spaciousness for those who have already been leading the industry on the underground to have a say in what is the best way to structure these things to optimize benefits and to reduce harm.
What that looks like, I don’t know. It would be ill-placed for me to try to pretend like I know what that looks like.