Massachusetts Should Decriminalize Psychedelic Drugs for Medical and Recreational Use

In Part One of my most recent post on this subject, I outlined a recent effort in the Massachusetts Legislature to decriminalize and eventually legalize for sale psychedelic drugs.  While a good number of people might be shocked at this idea, it’s not so far-fetched.  Psychedelic drugs, also called entheogenic drugs, have been used by human beings for centuries throughout a variety of cultures, and many of these drugs produce positive physical and psychological benefits.

Psilocybin has very low toxicity and a very low potential for harm, and arresting and prosecuting people for the private use of these drugs, is not only fruitless, it is unfair and counter-productive to the criminal justice system.

Without revealing any details that would in the slightest way violate attorney-client privilege, let me explain:  A previous client of mine was arrested and prosecuted for possession of “magic mushrooms” which of course contain the active ingredient psylocibin, a hallucinogenic drug.  She was attending a concert.  She was not “dealing”, not selling the drug, not hurting anyone in the process, and certainly not hurting herself.  She was put through quite the legal and prosecutorial experience before I secured a dismissal for her, and it cost her needless personal stress and financial expense.

As we were speaking in my office one day, she explained to me how she originally came to use mushrooms and similar psychedelic drugs.  In considerable detail, she told me that for years she had suffered terribly from debilitating migraine headaches:  She said the pain was so bad that she would have to retreat into a darkened room, complete with eyeshades and earplugs, and curl into a fetal position while she suffered this excruciating pain.

She had been forced by the pain to over a dozen different hospital Emergency Departments on separate occasions – all of them finding nothing organically wrong and all just prescribing migraine headache and narcotic pain medications.  In desperation, she told me that she had been to every doctor and specialist imaginable, starting of course with primary care physicians, then neurologists, then ophthalmologists, then phlebotomists, then to psychologists, psychiatrists, and even to gastroenterologists.  In the process, she had been prescribed just about every controlled substance imaginable:

  • Neuroleptic drugs
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Anti-anxiety drugs
  • Anti-depressant drugs
  • Anti-nausea drugs
  • Muscle relaxant drugs
  • Sleeping pills
  • Narcotic pain drugs … and more

None of them ever relieved her suffering.

Then, one day, her boyfriend suggested that she try taking a psilocybin mushroom – and everything changed.  Incredibly.  Her migraines disappeared.  They were gone, and so was her agonizing pain.  While taking psilocybin did not completely erase episodic return of the migraines, she finally had an effective pharmacologic treatment for them.

After telling me her story I’ll never forget what she said to me: “Don’t always listen to doctors.  If I had listened to them I’d be addicted to narcotics for the rest of my life – and even they didn’t really take the pain away.  How can the courts waste money and resources be prosecuting people for using a substance that is essentially harmless, and that brings about a lot of good for people?”

That’s a question that remains without any good, honest answers.  So as a Massachusetts drug charges lawyer, I support the effort to legalize psychedelic drugs in this state.  We should be spending taxpayer money and law enforcement resources on fighting violent crime, not on prosecuting victimless crimes.  For further information of how thousands of law enforcement professional s feel about drug reform and legalization, visit Law Enforcement Action Partnership (formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

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