LA is “in the grip of a psychedelics fervour” not seen since the 1960s, says Peter Kiefer in Los Angeles magazine. Every weekend sees “dozens, possibly hundreds” of ayahuasca ceremonies in and around the city – there are even fears that the ingredients for the psychoactive concoction used by South American tribes are being “over-harvested”. In Malibu, “soccer moms” swap notes over “microdosing” tiny amounts of psychedelics. Shamans are being flown in from Brazil and Peru, charging thousands of dollars a session. “There’s even a 24-hour hotline you can call while tripping.”
Leading this revolution is “an alliance of strange bedfellows”. At one end you have “scientists in white lab coats”, who are producing peer-reviewed studies that show the therapeutic effects of substances such as MDMA and psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. At the other end are “shamans in flowing robes”, who truly believe the drugs will “lead humanity to a great spiritual awakening”. Somewhere in between, inevitably, are Silicon Valley types “following the scent of money”.
The movement is becoming relatively mainstream. Californian cities such as Oakland and Santa Cruz have decriminalised some of the drugs and lawmakers are considering doing the same across the state. Many people look at how quickly attitudes changed towards marijuana – now legal for recreational use in 19 states – and think the same could happen for psychedelics. Californians could soon be able to get “mind-bendingly” high – totally legally. “What could possibly go wrong?”
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