Earlier this year, we provided a micro-scholarship for Laurel Kilgour’s 5-week Stanford summer course, Far from Far Out: Policy Perspectives on the Psychedelic Renaissance. Erin Eberle received the scholarship and completed the course. Here, Erin shares some key takeaways…
This summer attorney Laurel Kilgour offered a five week survey course on the state of psychedelic policy for Stanford Continuing Studies. This weekly offering took place live via zoom, but all class sessions were recorded for later access.
In this survey course we traversed a wide variety of issues/topics at a high level beginning with the history of psychedelic prohibition in the United States and then moving on to the current legal frameworks (what’s legal where, what’s not legal, differences between medical and recreational access etc.).
The course took two of the five weeks to discuss the commercialization of psychedelics including holding space for deep conversations about ethics and repairing harm to communities. This segment of the course prompted questions like “What do you think different actors involved in the psychedelic movement today should do to address past harms, and prevent future harms to marginalized communities?” and exposed students to thinking about sacred reciprocity, representation and equity in the psychedelic renaissance, and ideas about cultural history and decolonizing psychedelic pharma and corporate social responsibility.
The remaining classes looked at patents and market structures with a focus on potential benefits of commercializing psychedelics, what rules might be needed to structure markets fairly, and the value of patents in the psychedelic world. The course ended with a vision forward of “What’s Next.” This discussion prompted questions about the possibility of scientists inventing psychedelic-derived medicines that engineer out the “trippy” aspects, the current bills in states like Oregon, Colorado, California etc., and predictions about the future of psychedelics.
I’d recommend this course [should it be offered again] to anyone who is interested in taking a deep dive in the history of the psychedelic movement, and wants a thorough and thoughtful guide to the current state of the renaissance. I found the readings and resources required for the class to be very informative and appreciated the wide range of media—podcasts, research journals, news articles, interviews—offered. The course also offered time with experts in the field in the form of guest lectures, which made the class feel “of the moment” in a subject area that’s changing quickly and hard to keep up with.
My Hot Take: While psychedelics and plant medicines have been used in healing ceremonies in Indigenous communities for thousands of years, our modern society is just beginning its “psychedelic resurgence.” The history of psychedelics—and drug use more generally—in the United States is complicated at best, colonialist and racist at worst. This course prompted questions about policy, law, and research, but also created a space for those interested in trying to better understand the current landscape of psychedelics as an emotional, spiritual, and even physical tool for healing today.
There is no silver bullet fix to what ails us, but it seems that if we’re able to traverse a path that can hold nuance, compassion, reverence, connection, and community as well as law, policy, patents, rights, research, and licenses, and so much more at the same time, we just might be able to forge a new psychedelic movement to serve the millions of people who truly stand to benefit. What if we could imagine a future in which there are multiple paths to accessing psychedelic therapies and spaces? One thing I’ve learned in this lifetime is that change can take time, and each seed that we plant today is quite literally growing our tomorrow. I’ll surely be watching how this psychedelic garden continues to be planted for years to come.