Breaking News:Dangerous Delays: What Washington State (Re)Teaches Us About Cash and Cannabis Store Robberies [REPORT]

Drugs, Freedom, and Responsibility at Burning Man

Having just emerged from one of the most epic experiences of my life, I'd like to share a few thoughts before returning to my usual news-skewering routine. Don't worry, it's about drug policy, although I'm proud to say I did manage to go an entire week without thinking about the drug war much at all.

I just spent seven days in the desert with 50,000 very enthusiastic adventurers, more than a few of whom engaged in the recreational use of mind-altering substances other than alcohol. Now, Burning Man is about much more than drugs, and even among those choosing to consume, beer seemed to be the most popular choice. But there was also a robust and visible psychedelic culture to be found there, making the event a rather vivid depiction of what happens when you release thousands of rabid psychonauts in harsh desert conditions and let them do whatever the hell they want.

Let's just say the outcome is substantially more graceful and orderly than even my own wide-open mind could have anticipated. I've seen far more sloppiness and idiocy at any football game I've ever attended than I did at Burning Man, even after dark when the serious weirdos really get down to business. Not even an abundance of liquid acid can unravel the inherent civility that takes hold when an intentional community of caring and curious people unites to celebrate free-expression on its own terms.

No major festival is entirely immune to the disruptive influence of individual trouble-makers, but Burning Man has established an impressive track record of general safety and cohesion going back many years now. It's a brilliant exhibit in the viability of expanding the boundaries of acceptable human behavior, particularly insofar as anyone who doesn't want to see naked people driving around in fire-breathing dragon-cars can simply choose not to attend.

The whole experience for me became yet another reminder of the profound stupidity of attempting to purge the psychedelic experience from our culture. If the paranoid fulminations of the anti-drug demagogues even approached the truth, an event such as this could never exist, for the playa would be soaked in blood and tears before the first sunrise. Once it's understood that the post-legalization drug apocalypse we've been taught to fear for so long is nothing more than a mindless fantasy, the justification for war evaporates faster than sweat under the desert sun.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Never having been to Burning

Never having been to Burning Man I cannot comment directly on that scene. Growing up in Northern Vermont, I have however attended several long events in the mountains and pastures where psychedelics were on tap in a big way. Though the most famous of these annual events, Bread and Puppet Domestic Resurrection Circus was a 'sober' occasion, the camping areas ran rife with thousands of heads wide eyed, giggling and speechless.  Eating, loving, sharing and caring for one another. The only incidents of violence or serious disruption were induced by alcohol. Nothing like an Orange Sunshine dawn in the Green Mountains!

same thing boom festival - portugal

This year the Boom Festival in Portugal, with 25 000 plus from all around the world, was just as peaceful and mind expanding as I can read from this year's Burning Man.

Across the world the psychedelic culture moves on, even if still sabotaged by authorities now and then on the shameless excuse of protecting ourselves. Change will come, but it will be a very hard earned freedom.

Lets keep going and get together at this events, we are not alone.


The War on Psychedelics

Bravo Scott.  The drug war is harmful and irrational in virtually every single aspect, but the vigor and hyperbole attached to the war on psychedelics is perhaps the most transparently ridiculous and ludicrous part of the whole mess.  From cannabis to shrooms to acid to the Shulgin designer psychedelics, hallucinogens and psychedelics seem to scare the drug warriors more than heroin or coke ever did.

I think it boils down to the fact that the drug war has never been about safety or harm reduction.  In general, hallucinogens are incredibly safe -- non-addictive, effective at doses many orders of magnitude lower than the LD-50 (if one even exists), and no track record of aggressiveness or violence on the part of users.  But here's the problem: they make people think for themselves.  Unlike narcotics or stimulants, which people take to "feel good" and have "fun" without thinking or reflection, psychedelics are about introspection and philosophy and truth.  And since the drug war has always been about control and conformity, an open mind is far more dangerous than an overdosing body or a violent criminal.

Kudos to the psychonauts and the freaks for maintaining and nurturing an incredibly important and shamefully persecuted part of our cultural psyche.


I am sorry but you are simply wrong that if you believe that hallucinagens are safe. They do feel wonderful and can be amazing - no doubt - but there is also no doubt that they do (even low doses) have a very toxic neurological impact in the brain. Seratonin is depleted (for at least seven years likely permanently) and that is significant side effect.

just giving ya''ll something to look into

i saw a program on faux news last night ,suprisingly it was in favor of marijuana ! boy oh boy the tides are turning and i believe faux news is catching onto that,to try and appel to ourside to .very good story all. one of you should run a peice on last nights episode i dont know whos show it was.cause i was just flipping through channels if one of u guys have an email i can  send u some more info for other storys . and there was another story this afternoon of faux about drug cartels operating in the us and how they arm their crops here in the us and the reporter went in a plane with the national guard to pull out some illegal crops ,.i could swear that reporter was a bit over happy with it cause i bet he stole some plants for himself 'just looked high

War on Social Values

The war is simply "on" any substance or place or group whose focus is contrary to corporate values. These values have been drilled into late 20th Century US Citizens by the educational system and are the permission slips necessary to perpetuate the proper work force. The other critical fact is that Corporations are absolute zero social animals. Social animals live on Love and find satisfaction beyond evaluation. Corporations are best at practicing Capitalism which is responsible for kicking social animals in the butt to get stuff done..good for them. The point here is that we need the Tiger to feed us, not join with the tiger's values (=-0), so enforcement must be the essential line drawn.. The clear majority of our current representatives have clearly no talent in addressing our conundrum and we hope more voters get this point very soon.

Flex Your Rights

Silverman or Morgan, please contact me if you want some highly professional free consultant work on your DVDs and other media.

Re: Flex Your Rights

Contact you how? I don't even know your name.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School