When Joe Biden issued his pardons around federal cannabis possession charges, one thing that caught many by surprise was when he lumped in LSD with substances like meth, heroin, and fentanyl fearing what it might mean for psychedelic progress.

But he hasn’t been that bad for according to the experts. 

While much of the debate around Biden’s actions focused on how much good was done, there was plenty as we covered last week but still work to be done, the language of the last paragraph of the pardons did raise eyebrows.

While noting he would have the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services review marijuana’s current scheduling under federal law, Biden said, “Federal law currently classifies marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the classification meant for the most dangerous substances. This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD, and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic.”

Despite LSD getting paired with some of the drugs that strike the most fear in Americans, it has been used in the treatment of anxiety, depression, psychosomatic diseases, and addiction. Most of that body of knowledge doesn’t pair with contemporary standards, as research veered away from it in the 1970s as the war on drugs picked up. 

Should Advocates Worry?

We spoke with Dr. Rick Doblin to get his take on Biden’s LSD commentary. Doblin founded the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in 1986 and has spent his adult life pushing psychedelic medicine into a mainstream acceptance it’s recently started to enjoy. After noting LSD’s potential medical value with proper research and its scheduling compared to the other substances listed by Biden, he weighed in on the question of fear-mongering.

“I don’t think it’s demonizing it, it’s just pointing to the lack of research,” Doblin told L.A. Weekly. 

He argues if that research existed it would move LSD down the scheduling list with hard evidence of its medical value. 

“I guess the point I’d really like to make is that I really want to applaud what he’s done,” Doblin said of the pardons. “But for me, the statement points out that need to explore the medical use of LSD and other psychedelics.”

Doblin described the atmosphere for research during Biden’s term as terrific, “They’ve been very sympathetic.”

He believes one of the biggest moves made so far is Biden filling out the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

“Right now, if you have a pile of MDMA in one hand and the same amount of cocaine in the other hand, you go to jail more for the MDMA,” Doblin said. “These sentencing recommendations were made 20 years ago, at the height of the hysteria over MDMA neurotoxicity.”

Doblin was among the many advocates that pushed back at the time, nobody listened. 

In 2015, the Sentencing Commission reached out to Doblin and said they wanted to revisit MDMA penalties to bring any new science into the debate.

“So we started working with them, but then they got too close to the election, and then Trump got elected and Sessions got to be the Attorney General,” Doblin said. “He was completely against doing anything positive for drugs. And so he blocked the Sentencing Commission from doing it.”

Even after Sessions, it was much of the same. The administration let the commission languish. 

“There was no willingness to even appoint people so there would be enough to debate and discuss any issue,” Doblin said of the lack of quorum. He looks forward to them revisiting the MDMA discussion. 

All those experiences make Doblin even more thankful for how things have played out so far under Biden.

“They’re supportive of the science and that’s all that we need,” Doblin said. “They’re not saying, yeah, let’s go ahead and we don’t need the science. They’re saying they need the science. But  that’s all we want is an even playing field. It’s been dependent on the science. And that’s where we finally have gotten.”









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