A few weeks ago during Miami Music Week, I had the privilege to attend the MusiCares Addiction, Health, and Wellness in the Dance Community event where Heroes x Villains spoke about his battles with substance abuse. The talk took us through HxV’s journey to fight off the disease of addiction, where along the way he realized that the problem wasn’t the drugs, but instead the problem lied in his head due to traumatic experiences at an early age. This was a powerful realization that you have to assume has been one of the biggest factors in his continued sobriety.
Uncovering the real problem allowed him to see that he was using drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms and he has since been able to find healthier alternatives. Unfortunately, too many people continue to blame drugs, including the U.S. government, which continues to treat people with serious addiction problems as criminals. Lives continue to be lost to the “War on Drugs”, both in literal deaths and in a figurative sense of lost in the prison system. It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to see that money and greed have helped keep this machine running with private prisons, big pharma, and alcohol companies, all financially benefiting from the enforcement of drug policy. There is a lot of money in keeping drugs illegal, and that money has a huge influence.
On the brighter side, there is an organization leading the fight for change, MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), who are conducting research on the potential medical uses of many psychedelic drugs. Their studies have shown that many schedule one substances such as psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, Ketamine and others have benefits that surpass the supposed dangers, and the push for legalization is already on. You might also be familiar with their ZENDO Project, providing psychedelic harm reduction at festivals and events across the globe.
This week MAPS is co-hosting (along with the Beckley Foundation) Psychedelic Science 2017, a conference in Oakland, CA where the international scientific community will gather and present the latest evidence in the ongoing battle for drug decriminalization. Recent trials have shown MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can help heal psychological and emotional damage caused by sexual assault, war, violent crime, and other traumas in as little as a single session. The findings have been so overwhelmingly positive that MAPS has plans to make MDMA into a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription medicine by 2021. You read that right, MDMA could be a medically legal substance in the next four years.
It’s unfortunate that with all the evidence, there will still be four more years of suffering for people that need help now. Change is a slow process and it starts with information and conversations. The scientific community is coming together to do their part and discuss the good and the bad openly and honestly. I for one am hoping we can have a similar conversation within the dance music community.
Psychedelic Science 2017 takes place at the Oakland Marriott from April 19-24th. You can also stream sessions from the two main rooms live on MAPS YouTube Channel and shortly after the conference all sessions will be available for free on YouTube and Facebook.