Argument Essay: Unschedule Safe Entheogens
The term entheogen literally means "to create god within." "Safe entheogens," in traditional context, are substances that one cannot become physically addicted to, nor die from. Unscheduling substances, addictive or not, would be cataclysmic to our society. If people are not regulated when it comes to their use of substances, their natural tendency is that of abuse. More than before will people be ingesting psychoactive compounds for various reasons, and this may lead to many unsafe scenerios. People may operate heavy machinery or drive under the influence of these non-prohibited drugs, causing mayhem. The psychology behind wanting what we can't have would no longer apply to some of these spiritual mediums; they would lose their reverie and become commonplace without spiritual context. When given the choice to continue investing in the pharmaceutical industry or saving money with free legal alternatives, people will disregard the pharmaceutical empire as obsolete; this will cause an economic crisis.
Even if safe compounds were legalized, the potential for abuse still exists.
People will go beyond the rational levels of moderation and possibly form psychological addictions. An addicted person will not be capable of differentiating between moments when application of a substance is appropriate and when it is not. They will continue to abuse these plant-drugs even though they know of the possible negative outcomes of said addiction. This concept does not exclude driving and operating heavy machinery. Driving will just be another part of an addict's day under the influence; they see no need for separation. Needless to say, driving under the influence of anything alters one's potentially life preserving abilities like having a fast reaction time and avoiding severe motor vehicle collisions. This also presents a new problem to our beloved police force. How are they to enforce driving under the influence laws when there is a whole new plethora of substances to drive under the influence of? How would they devise tests on compounds that preexist in the human body? For example, dimethyltryptamine (abbreviated DMT). "DMT is naturally produced in small amounts in the brain and other tissues of humans and other mammals."(Dimethyltrptamine, Wikipedia) If one was to attempt the suicidal concept of driving under the influence of this indole psychedelic compound, most likely this person at some point during their commute will not abide by all traffic laws. Upon being inspected by an enforcer of the law, it may obviously be deduced that this driver is under an influence, but which one? For alcohol, there are known ways of testing a subject, such as coordination tests and breathalyzers. However, when it comes to a compound that already exists within every living animal, everyone will test positive. To further complicate matters, this compound is also completely metabolized within thirty minutes of ingestion; however, the effects
may be noticeable longer than the window of testing positive. What is the law to do about such a situation? They cannot incarcerate suspects without proving "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that a person is guilty. If these substances were made legal, the government would have to compensate for the hazards they present, perhaps by infringing further upon personal rights than those that deny a citizen the right to use a safe substance.
Legitimizing the use of non-addictive psychoactives would lead to a bastardization of sacramental plants in religious contexts. If peyote were a legal substance to be bought over the counter at a local pharmacy, its reverie for being the spirit of the universe would be lost. Repetitive and commonplace use will start to paint something as sacred as peyote as ordinary. However, this plant in a spiritual context, evokes life-changing experiences that greatly benefit all users. "Ibogaine's effects can be life- changing, and it is common for someone who has had a very positive experience to do their utmost to "spread the message." (Sandberg) To not have it in a spiritual context is to "eat a drug," and have no more meaning than being "high." The context won't be made part of the legalization as a requirement, so how can it be expected that people would abide by its intention as a spiritual medium? Look at a readily available physically non-addictive illegal plant - cannabis. Because people can acquire it, they use it, though it lacks the spiritual context of being the plant of the Hindu god Shiva. If people would respect entheogens as they should, they would spend long periods of time in meditation and personal reflection. This introspective phase provokes a more profound experience with the substance. Buddhist monks have a history of
practicing yoga and ingesting cannabis to catalyze anabolic resting states to regrow muscle tissue and to utilize its introspective effects psychedelically. These are proper uses of cannabis that include a beneficial context of use; however, modern use of cannabis in our culture has been turned into an opiate like experience of desensitizing the user to external stimuli. Western use of entheogens, especially cannabis, primary motive is to close our minds to issues that surround us. Traditionally and ironically, they are used to increase perception and understand more of the world we are all apart of. Native Americans fast for days before a period of cleansing through dehydration in a sweat logde. This is only the preparation to affirm the context of the experience. Just like dimethyltryptamine, this substance can't be properly assessed in a user's body with basic testing methods like a breathalyzer, which make it just as valid concerning why these entheogens should remain illegal. Mushrooms are another prime example of our disregard towards these hallucinogenic drugs. To the Mazatapec shamans of Mexico, they are known as "Tennonactl," meaning, the flesh of the gods. These divining healers understand this flesh to grant enlightenment to a worthy user. To ghetto drug dealers, whose priority is economic and fiscal, they are known to get you "messed up." It's obvious that our culture cannot handle such powerful psychoactives, and this is why they should remain illegal.
Not only are people unable of handling the great responsibility of using these illicit substances safely, but our economy cannot handle this paramount burden. We are so dependent upon the pharmaceutical industry to provide work for us as we further go into debt and gain new prescriptions. Without the healthcare system, a large portion of
America would be unemployed. We think of healthcare as a business that won't ever run dry, because it won't. People constantly get hurt and need help; our healthcare system understands this and manipulates our dependency. At this point we are addicted to health care and the pharmaceutical empire; we would have to wean our way off of the constant income for medical workers and the unlimited supply of compounding drugs. We cannot make this change, especially as abruptly as passing a bill. Keeping these substances illegal will preserve our failing economy. If we were to allow these plants for public use, concepts like methadone clinics would be entirely obsolete. The schedule I substance Ibogaine, isolated from the plant Tabernathe Iboga, has been clinically proven to interrupt opiate receptor sites and stay in the blood stream beyond the withdrawals of opiate addiction. It stops the physical addiction, the physical pain from withdrawals, and psychological addiction. If we didn't have addicts running around causing destruction to sate their exponential avarice we wouldn't have people whose job is to stop them and to tend to them medically - law enforcement and medical personnel. We need these jobs; without them, the economy would collapse, and we'd go further into a depression. The government would implode with more national debts as unemployment rates sky-rocket. Letting ourselves fall into a reconstructive chaos is apparently wrong.
Okay, so, maybe these safe compounds would be a good thing to legalize after all. Understandably, driving under the influence is still an issue, however, people will quickly learn to not merge daily life with a powerful entheogenic experience. The sacramental use of plants is something that our government has no right to control. It is
a religious freedom, and it is our choice. In a country founded on religious freedom, we are taught that the Christian god has forbade the use of these entheogens lest they be "pharmakos," sorcerers and devil worshippers. Essentially, the practice of these sacramental plants has been considered damned. If the almighty god were to damn anything it wouldn't continue to proliferate exponentially. Some of these plants actually suffer to produce their unholy compounds. They seem to crave a symbiotic relationship. We as consumers are more likely to ingest substances that house most beneficial effects, in this case increased perception. Many are legal under the pretense of a therapeutic and spiritual context, so why not extend the inventory to include all safe entheogens? If the economy were to collapse due to natural plant drugs, then why would we want such a weak and fickle economy, anyway? We as a culture are addicted to the way things are, and change is an unwelcome intervention. These plants facilitate that change; they are the intervention. Not just Iboga defeating opiate addiction, but entheogens defeating our predisposed fallacies and addictions of every sort. An experience that transcends three dimensions and five senses really brings about a drastic change to our understanding of everything. To judge something more effectively the arbiter must have a broader spectrum of experience, more educated, from which to derive his logic. To indigenous peoples, especially pre-Columbian, these plant drugs are known as the spiritual medium. To have them illegal is to deny salvation to children of the earth. Science and spirituality are not separate to the indigenous peoples. Our science is claiming no spiritual pretense; however, we have psychotherapists that deal with the psyche. The indigenous psychotherapist is the societal shaman, also dealing
with the psyche of his patients. To these people psychotherapy is not separate from spirituality. Shamans have been known to call their entheogen cultivation "garden of science." Because of our pragmatic logic, we deny the presence of "god," however; we as a culture still very much take part of psychotherapy. Both indigenous and western people don't understand the connection and parallelism they inextricably share. We have in the past, and can in the future, utilize the same tools in psychotherapy. "Drugs like ibogaine, ketamine, LSD, and MDMA (Ecstasy), have been used in the past by therapists, but only as a component of an overall therapeutic strategy. Using the drug out of this context could cause more harm than good." (Sandberg) Why pay to keep these substances outlawed. If we were to legalize these entheogens a large portion of everyone's money wouldn't be wasted, instead we could focus on reversing the economic deficit that the lack of law enforcement and medical personnel would ensure.
Each year we spend millions of dollars on the "war on drugs." A great portion of that war is waged on these safe, beneficial, entheogens. The police force has swollen particularly for this reason, as well as the coast guard. The people paid to keep these drugs away from the public are paid by the public. Perhaps the public doesn't want to waste money on obsolete positions. Each time the law enforcers incarcerate another criminal, it costs everyone. " The U.S. federal government spent over $19 billion dollars in 2003 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $600 per second, the budget has since been increased by over a billion dollars" (Greer) . The longer a person is in jail, the more they are a deficit on our finances. Tax increases to pay for each moment that this criminal is locked up. "in the nation's two most populous states, California and New
York, taxpayers are faced with an annual marijuana enforcement bill of more than $1 billion" (Drug War Chronicle, issue 379) This furthers the imbalance created by our prejudice towards these entheogens. Without this war on drugs, less people would be paid for to be in jail, and more money would be used to not hire law enforcement, and people wouldn't become clandestine about these substances. It's not something to be ashamed of, as we are taught in our politically adapted monotheistic culture.
As an animal in an environment, these substances are a part of our natural diet. To eliminate part of our diet is to retard evolution. Evolution is based upon the greatest genetic variation; to eliminate some variation is to damage the equation of evolution. By not ingesting entheogens or reaching the same understanding through other psyche/spiritual practices is to digress. Thus, the use of entheogens, with the appropriate intentions, will be beneficial to our society on a number of levels. They should be unscheduled for the betterment of our society and species.