Psychedelic drugs are becoming much more widely accepted as a safer alternative to common pharmaceutical drugs for treating everything from depression to substance abuse—but who is getting access?
“There’s less access to these medicines because first of all, they’re expensive. An ayahuasca ceremony costs 300 to 350 a night,” says Undrea Wright, one of the co-founders of the Ancestor Project, formerly known as the Sabina Project. It is a black-led psychedelic collective based in Washington D.C. that performs legal ceremonies and focuses on psychedelic education. With all the recent laws decriminalizing psychedelics nationwide, there are still not many spaces geared toward a Black perspective and experience exploring psychedelics.
“You’ll go to these predominantly white circles, and it is a lot like ‘I did this the biggest dose and I saw the most colors and I know how to tap into blah, blah,” says co-founder Charlotte James. “Personally, psychedelics have restored my relationship with my own body and my spiritual being so that I’m able to uncover my true purpose and my role in our collective liberation.”
In 2019, Denver became the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin, the natural chemical found in ‘magic mushrooms.’ Since then the psychedelic wave has been rapidly reached other states. The following year, Oregon legalized psilocybin for medical purposes and decriminalized possession of all drugs throughout the state. Washington D.C. as well as cities in Massachusetts, California and have also followed suit and significantly eased previous restrictions. It’s clear that modern-day society is now embracing psychedelics in a new way, and it’s important that Black communities also take advantage.
However, legal or not, there is no doubt that the war on drugs has contributed to the reluctance of Black people in America to embrace hallucinogenics. In the video above, we hear from various Black psychedelic experts about the lack of color in the psychedelic movement and the reasons why they believe that is the case. They also dive into the latest research, medical benefits and therapeutical usage.
“Living in America as a person of color, you can’t get away from race-based trauma. The proven medical benefits are cutting through that trauma, allowing us to heal and in a really deep way.”
He also goes on to discuss the origins of many of these psychedelics. “Growing up in the Bronx, when we talked about psychedelics, it’s like ‘white people drugs.’ But it’s important to recognize that if you look at the history of these medicines, they come from our ancestry. Like many things, in the United States, psychedelics have also been colonized. It’s important to start thinking about that as a way to reclaim some of these psychedelics for us. I often see this medicine as a way to reconnect with our roots, reconnect with nature in a way that our ancestors did.”