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Remedial Psychedelic Ethics 101: Don't Dose People

Submitted by Phillip Smith on
You wouldn’t think people who are prominent members of the psychedelic community would need a reminder about elementary decency, but, sadly, that appears to be the case. Psychedelic drugs, like mushrooms, peyote, and LSD, are not candy. They can be deeply disorienting and disturbing, even for veteran psychonauts, and for people with no experience with or knowledge of them, they can be absolutely terrifying. It would seem to be a fundamental of psychedelic ethics that you do not inflict the experience on people against their will or without their knowledge. To do so is not only disrespectful of the consciousness of the victim of such a stunt, it is also disrespectful of the psychedelic substance that inner consciousness explorers claim to hold in such reverence. But some people just don't get it. Last night, I received a call from an old friend who reported being dosed by someone who was part of the entourage of an elite clique who were putting on an event in a large Eastern city. Now, my friend was fortunate enough to have some experience with psychedelics, so the experience was not absolutely terrifying. But it was most unpleasant. And that's should be no surprise. For at least 40 years, people have been talking about the importance of "set and setting" in determining how a person will respond to psychedelics. Set refers to the person's mental state—what the person knows and expects of psychedelics, whether that person has underlying psychiatric problems, whether that person is prepared for the experience. Setting refers to the physical/notional location of the experience—is it a soothing place, does it take place within some ritual or another, is it loud and noisy and chaotic?—that, along with set, has an impact on the psychedelic experience. Dosing someone with psychedelics without his or her knowledge wreaks havoc with set. People need to prepare themselves for taking drugs like these; to have them inflicted on you even if you like them is unethical. Being dosed also prevents the victim from having any say in setting—here you are, your mind is melting, and that's that. Dosing people is thus double-plus ungood. No names are being named at this point. There are efforts afoot to see if the perpetrators will make proper amends. The most positive outcome is that the people involved will be educated about things they should already know and understand intuitively. For the rest of us who are inclined to dabble with such substances, let's try extra hard to be respectful of each other and these very special substances.

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