In a webinar hosted by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy of the Harvard Law School, speakers championed for psychedelics decriminalization.
The webinar viewed by over 200 individuals featured panelists who discussed the benefits of the decriminalization of psychedelics while debating on the history and safety of the substances and how they affected people of color.
The speakers featured on the webinar included Patricia J. Zettler, associate professor at the Ohio State Moritz College of Law; Ifetayo Harvey, founder of the People of Color Psychedelic Collective; Dustin Marlan, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts School of Law; and Larissa J. Maier, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy.
Marlan explained that individuals should be allowed to use psychedelics as long as their use does not affect or injure other individuals. Additionally, some speakers also advocated for the decriminalization of all drugs. Maier voiced her views on the issue, stating that no individual needed to be criminalized for the possession or use of a limited amount of drugs.
The speakers also traced drug prohibition in the United States back to the 1970s, asserting that prohibition efforts weren’t entrenched in drug-use prevention but in progressive social group disorganization. Harvey explained that the 1960s and 1970s had many movements, such as the anti-war movement and the civil rights movement, which explained the need to disrupt them.
According to the panelists, in addition to causing disruption these efforts also impeded research that may have revealed the possible uses of psychedelic substances in the medical field.
Maier explained that in the 1970s, more than 1,000 promising reports had been published that showed systematic reviews of the safety and effectiveness of LSD as a treatment for various mental health conditions.
Despite all panelists agreeing on the decriminalization of most drugs, some speakers expressed their concerns regarding such policies. Zettler and Harvey remarked that decriminalization could decrease drug use stigma but it could also foster a false sense of security for individuals who are not knowledgeable about laws concerning drug distribution and use.
Zettler added that it would be important to conduct research that looks into the effectiveness and safety of psychedelics before their use was legalized for the masses. This would help society understand the effects of these substances in detail.