Likely, the first thing that comes to many people’s mind when discussing psychedelic drugs are images of hippies with long hair, funky glasses, and peace-loving attitudes. Or, you might picture the 1969 Woodstock music festival, bright colors, tie dye, and posters of distorted white rabbits and dancing bears.
Though psychedelics have been historically popularized through psychedelic art, anti-war movements, and music festivals, psychedelic drugs such as LSD, magic mushrooms, and MDMA are making a strong push through the medical field, gaining the interest of government officials and the general public, alike.
Psychedelics offer an incredible range of benefits, particularly for mental health and wellness. In fact, many Amazonian tribes and indigenous people of South America have been using psychedelic substances such as peyote and ayahuasca for thousands of years, as medicine, and for spiritual healing.
Now, in 2023, there is ongoing research on the many benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy. This has sparked a very serious public interest for the federal legalization of psychedelic substances. If you’re interested in embarking on your own therapeutic psychedelic journey, but aren’t sure where to seek legal, professional guidance, this article is for you.
Today we’ll provide an answer for this very valid question, while reviewing the history of psychedelic reform. What options do you have right now for embarking on a therapeutic psychedelic experience in the United States? Let’s jump right in to find out.
The History of Psychedelic Reform
People from various cultures such as Amazonian tribes and South American indigenous people have been using psychedelic substances such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, and peyote for thousands of years in religious and spiritual practices, as well as in coming of age rituals typically led by a shaman.
For a long time, these groups of people were able to perform their rituals in peace without worrying about the legal repercussions of using psychedelic drugs. After LSD was synthesized in 1943 by Albert Hoffmann, it became a popular party drug amongst hippies.
This youthful counterculture often used psychedelics to experience therapeutic, out-of-body sensations, but also tended to overuse psychedelic drugs since research on tolerance levels and long term effects was still limited.
Unfortunately, in 1971, President Nixon decided that all psychedelic drugs possessed no medical utility, even though we know science tells us the opposite. In a racist policy known as The War on Drugs, many of these substances were banned.
This policy has been criticized for its heavy reliance on incarceration as a solution for drug abuse, with the U.S. having one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, particularly for drug offenses.
This approach has been quite ineffective at reducing drug use and has also resulted in significant social and economic costs, including the destruction of communities and families affected by incarceration.
In the United States today, psychedelics are still classified as Schedule I controlled substances, meaning they are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use, even though they’ve been proven effective in treating depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many more health conditions.
This classification makes it illegal to manufacture, possess, or distribute these drugs, and can result in severe criminal penalties for those who violate the law. However, there have been recent efforts to re-evaluate the legal status of psychedelics. In 2019, the city of Denver became the first in the U.S. to decriminalize possession of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.
This means that possession of small amounts of the drug is no longer considered a criminal offense in the city. Similarly, in 2020, the state of Oregon passed a measure to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin in a supervised medical setting. There has also been a growing movement to shift towards a more public health-focused approach to addressing drug abuse.
This includes efforts to increase access to addiction treatment and harm reduction services, such as needle exchanges, overdose prevention programs, and even psychedelic therapy. As for ayahuasca, many South American countries such as Brazil and Peru have made it legal to use this drug only in the context of religious and spiritual practices.
Where to Find Legal Psychedelic Experiences in The U.S. 2023
As of the moment, there are three main options for seeking therapeutic psychedelic experiences in the United States. Unless you live in one of the states where psychedelics have been legalized, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a therapist willing to risk their licensure in order to provide psychedelic support.
In some cases, therapists may be open to assist you during preparation and integration phases, but cannot legally attend your actual psychedelic experience. Unless you’re considering attending an international psychedelic retreat, then ketamine clinics, guided psychedelic journeys with Psychedelic Passage, and clinical trials, are your best bet.
1. Ketamine Clinics
While psychedelic substances such as LSD, magic mushrooms, and MDMA are currently labeled as Schedule One drugs, there is one psychedelic-like substance that is legal for therapeutic use throughout the United States: Ketamine.
Ketamine was synthesized in 1962, initially intended for use as a dissociative anesthetic. Its effects distort perceptions of sight and sound and produce feelings of detachment from the environment and self.
In recent years, ketamine has also been studied as a potential treatment for certain mental health conditions, such as depression and chronic pain. It’s thought to work by blocking a specific type of glutamate receptor in the brain, which leads to changes in brain activity, and evokes more objective and self-empathetic thinking.
However, ketamine’s benefits tend to be shorter lasting. In this case, the medicine itself isn’t to blame. Instead, because ketamine’s therapeutic function has transitioned into mainstream medicine so quickly, ketamine clinics often fail to provide adequate preparation and integration support.
In fact, nearly 50% of Psychedelic Passage clients approach us due to failed ketamine therapy. If you want to find a ketamine clinic near you, ensure that you’ve properly considered the benefits and pitfalls of ketamine therapy. An experience of this magnitude requires the utmost qualified therapeutic support.
2. Joining a Clinical Trial
Because psychedelic substances are not yet federally legal, many are still being studied in clinical trials. One way to potentially receive psychedelic-assisted therapy is by signing up for one one of the many ongoing clinical trials. This option also helps contribute to important research on the betterment of mental health treatment.
Medical research institutions such as the Usona Institute, Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) are all prominent organizations that are pioneering the clinical trials on psychedelic research.
Some important things to consider when researching clinical trials for psychedelic substances is that because of the current illegal status of these drugs, most of these studies are funded by private donors instead of the government, meaning that they may become too costly and have to cease research at any given time.
It’s also important to note that experimental trials often need a control group to compare their results with, so you may receive a placebo drug or even no drugs at all throughout your study.
Meeting eligibility criteria to participate in these trials is also notoriously difficult, especially since sample sizes are limited. If you find yourself eligible for a clinical trial, you’ll be a lucky participant of very impactful scientific research, and an official journeyer of psychedelic medicine.
3. Guided Psychedelic Experiences With Psychedelic Passage
If you’re looking to embark on a therapeutic psychedelic experience, Psychedelic Passage may be the most convenient and qualified service provider for you. We’ve made it our mission to curate a pre-vetted network of the nation’s most experienced psychedelic facilitators, so you no longer have to guess who’s qualified to guide your journey.
Our facilitators are located around the country, able to travel to wherever you are in order to facilitate your psychedelic journey. From the comfort of your own home you’ll be guided through preparation, integration, and in-person ceremonial support.
If you prefer to journey outside of your home, some facilitators are able to host clients in their own private residence. You also have the option to book an Airbnb to embark on this experience from anywhere in the country, in any scenery you desire.
Within our network of facilitators, some even offer a sliding payment scale, meaning the cost of our 5-week program is based on your household income. Every facet of our program is completely tailored to fit your specific intentions and circumstances.
When you first connect with one of our in-network facilitators, you’ll be given a health screening to ensure that you’re in the right mental and physical state for a psychedelic experience. Best of all, you have options! You’re never limited to one facilitator.
If you’re introduced to a professional who you don’t necessarily resonate with, you have the freedom to meet any one of our many other facilitators. Your personal autonomy and safety is our priority. If we can make it to you, we will sit with you through all the stages of psychedelic healing.
Not only are we a referral service for psychedelic facilitators, but we are a harm reduction and education resource. This means that you can contact us if you’re seeking a psychedelic experience, or simply to ask our expert psychedelic concierges about any and all things psychedelic.
How To Enter The Psychedelic Realm Without Drugs
Another way to ensure that your experience is entirely legal is to trip without the influence of psychedelic drugs. While this may sound wild, it’s a possibility and a very real reality for many individuals today.
One way to enter the psychedelic realm without drugs is through a practice called holotropic breathwork which involves rapid, deep breathing, often accompanied by music, that can produce a state of altered consciousness.
This technique was developed in the 1970s, and it helps individuals access inner wisdom, personal insight and deep, transcendental healing. Another way to experience altered states of consciousness without drugs is through certain forms of meditation, which aim to achieve a state of deep relaxation and heightened awareness.
Sensory deprivation tanks, anechoic chambers, and even placebo effects can all be used to enter the psychedelic realm and experience reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety without having to take any psychedelic drugs. Yogic practices are also incredibly potent ways to restore internal balance.
Explore How it Feels to be Connected
Overall, the legal status of psychedelics is a complex and rapidly evolving issue. While these substances have been banned and criminalized in many countries, there is growing interest in researching their therapeutic benefits, which could lead to changes in their legal status.
However, it’s also important to note that though changes in their legal status are occuring, these substances should always be approached with caution, respect, and under the guidance of professionals.
If you’re ready to embark on a therapeutic psychedelic experience, we empower you to book a consultation with us. If you’re not ready to get connected to a facilitator just yet, head on over to our resources page for more informative articles like this one. That’s all for now, fellow psychonauts. Safe and mindful journeying!