Locking Up Mystics: The Basic Injustice of Anti-LSD Laws

It’s a class-A drug with some of the lowest risks/harms when compared to other drugs. It’s a class-A drug which therapists want to use to treat alcoholism, opiate-addiction and depression. Research has indicated again and again that it can be of great help to those dealing with the fear and anxiety of terminal illnesses. It’s most well-known effects are to encourage feelings of unity and love in relation to fellow man, to encourage religiosity and spirituality.

When we look at the motives people have for taking LSD, it should seem obvious that imprisoning them is a perversion of justice. People take LSD for spiritual revelation and healing, to bring about positive transformation in their lives. Whether or not this is a sensible approach to reaching those goals is an open question: but it should be clear that they have committed no moral wrong.

We are taking mystics and locking them up with murders and rapists. For what? Where are the winners in all of this? A deterrent? Yet no one is deterred by the law, people may be deterred by drugs education and the greatly over-stated mental health risks associated with LSD, but it seems the very act of criminalising a drug simply turns it into a forbidden fruit and encourages use.

An individual LSD user need only posses two tabs to be accused of having an “intent to supply”, but two tabs is generally viewed as a single (quite weak) dose. In effect, if an individual possesses ANY amount of LSD, the current system assumes they are drug dealers: this is nonsense.There is a massive moral difference between an individual having LSD for personal use and intending to supply it: for in the latter case he is putting others at risk, in the former only himself.

The average sentence for possession of LSD is just under two years, but in terms of future prospects every prison-sentence is, to some extent, a life-sentence: 6 out of 10 employers refuse to hire an ex-convict out-rite, the individual cannot accrue employment experience or education in the two years he is locked away. Long-term prospects are severely damaged.

Whilst the individual psychedelic user has committed no moral wrong, the state’s position is morally dubious. Firstly, the psychedelic user commits no harm to others, the state imposes a harm on the individual by imprisoning them and thoroughly derailing their lives. It justifies this action by claiming that it is “making an example of the users so as to deter others”, in doing so it objectifies that individual, it uses them as a means to an end in an unconscionable way.

Even if the laws worked as a deterrent (they don’t) a clear social harm is done. The individual psychedelic user, who may well have been in employment and paying taxes or en route via education to being in such a position, has had their prospects derailed: society suffers. Not to mention that the way the state has treated the individual will breed anger, hatred and contempt, and make them less likely to harmoniously work with society in the future. Aside from this, the tax-payer has to foot the bill for this total waste of time, over £35,000/year per inmate, then there are the court costs, the law enforcement costs etc. The financial burden on the mental health service are only exacerbated by laws which force production underground: making quality and dosage dangerously unpredictable to individual users. The basic goal of protecting individuals isn’t achieved.

In the background, scientists struggle to gain access to the drug which may have revolutionary treatment potential in various mental health applications. The research the government ought to be basing its policies on is thoroughly stifled by the laws as they stand. Early research suggested could result from correct application of LSD in the treatment of  alcohol and drug addiction, depression and other mental health conditions will never been explored whilst it remains illegal. These conditions cost society vast sums of money, and they are ills that may well be treatable with this remarkable substance.

The current laws on drugs are symptomatic of the general trend of overcriminalisation in this country: instead of punishing moral wrongs, criminal law is used to “solve” every problem, punish every mistake (instead of making proper use of civil penalties), and coerce citizens into conforming their behavior to satisfy social engineering objectives. Under Tony Blair’s government over 3000 new laws were created, almost a new law for each day they ruled, this 85,000 strong prison-population continues to boom (a 66% increase in the last decade), do we really want to continue in this direction?

Possession of LSD for personal use should not be a crime. Large scale unlicensed dealing of LSD should be a crime. Researchers, scientists and clinicians should be allowed to thoroughly investigate the chemical, its risks and its potential clinical applications. Given that its risks are seemingly no higher than other prescription psychoactive medication, LSD should be available to those it can help through the NHS. Licenced psychotherapists and psychiatrists should be allowed to use the chemical for treatment of patients if they see fit.

Those wishing to use the substance for spiritual and religious development should be encouraged to do so under the supervision of a trained and licensed psychotherapist.

Since research indicates both genetic and mental-health correlates in individuals who are susceptible to the negative effects of LSD, it is plausible that physicians could test individuals to ensure safety: individuals could then get LSD via paid prescriptions.

One of the key advantages of this is that the quality, purity, and dose of the LSD would be controlled by experts, making it much safer than the present system. Further: LSD would lose much of its allure, it would no longer be seen as a rebellious act: any more than going to the doctor to pick up Prozac is seen as a rebellious act, illicit use would drop.

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9 comments
    • cognitivelibertyuk said:

      You read our minds, we’re publishing an article on this case in just a few days! Thank you though 🙂

  1. HT said:

    This was a good until you get to here:

    “Those wishing to use the substance for spiritual and religious development should be encouraged to do so under the supervision of a trained and licensed psychotherapist.

    “Since research indicates both genetic and mental-health correlates in individuals who are susceptible to the negative effects of LSD, it is plausible that physicians could test individuals to ensure safety: individuals could then get LSD via paid prescriptions.”

    I hope your opinion on this has changed since you wrote this in 2011. What do psychotherapists and MDs have to do with psychedelics? They don’t have any special training on this. (Of course, if someone wants professional supervision that’s fine for them.) Every year people use tens of millions of doses of LSD and psilocybin, yet serious adverse events are extremely rare.

    • cognitivelibertyuk said:

      Indeed they have 🙂

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