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Hi folks,


UnHARM are hosting an important discussion addressing the notion of 'coming out' from the drug using closet as a strategy towards normalisation, decrimilisation and harm-reduction an welcome you to join the conversation.


Come and share your ideas with key thinkers from the fields of health and consumer activism, sexual politics and queer theory to strategise around the question "is coming out the next step in achieving real change around drug law reform".




Tickeys available from the link above:


Concession card holders are free and it is $10:00 for general admission, or $49:99 to include a donation.


with thanks, 


Australian Psychedelic Society - Sydney 

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It was a good event. I'm a bit uncomfortable speaking up in large public discussions, but I did want to comment on the positioning of psychedelics in a prejudicial hierarchy of drugs;


I too feel that psychedelics are in a position of increased social support, and I think that when the term psychedelics is used in public discourse it is often less about substances that induce mystical experiences and act on 5-HT receptors, and more about substances that have new found medical applications despite their prohibition.


In this sense the term 'psychedelics' is useful for advocating for drug rights, but carries the threat of marginalising other types of drugs that don't have these psychedelic qualities. I think the word 'entheogen' is a more useful term than 'psychedelic' for promoting drug rights for two main reasons; 1) entheogen is term coined by people who use drugs, and 2) the classification of entheogens is more flexible and open than the classification of psychedelics, and I think this inclusivity can help undermine perceptions of a prejudicial hierarchy of drugs. 


Of course, the popularity of atheism can undermine support for the entheogen term due to its religious/spiritual connotations, but these connotations aren't essential. An entheogen is characterised by its capacity to inspire. That said, associating drugs with religion is a proven political tactic for challenging prohibition...

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The re-framing of language around drug-use is certainly a key aspect of moving away from the shackles of prohibition and the media will continue to be a powerful driver of this. Focussing on the medical benefits and applications of a substance (cannabis perhaps leading the way here) is a vital if not foundational step in exposing the scheduling system of 'no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse' as not only contradictory and outdated but patently false. However, shifting the puritanical attitudes entrenched in drug policy politics, rhetoric and discourse will perhaps be  a more cultural shift as one that requires the novel step of acknowledging that fun and pleasure, healing and wellness need not be mutual exclusive phenomenon. Moreover, what is required in the broader conversation is a wider recognition of humanity's inherent impulse to alter mood and mind within our long-standing history of utilising different compounds to achieve specific states of being as an evolutionary advantageous one:  https://theconversation.com/why-do-humans-have-an-innate-desire-to-get-high-60671


I can't really see 'entheogen' gaining any real traction in mainstream reporting though as introducing new conceptual models and language usually runs counter to the narrative on substance use unless they serve the sensationalist approach. So given the general public's already established familiarity with 'psychedelic', I imagine this will continue to be the parlance. The intersection between non-theistic users of psychedelics and the conceptual basis of 'entheogen' is a really interesting one, though even considering the etymology of 'psyche' (as meaning 'soul'), the meaning of 'psychedelic' as 'manifesting mind (or) soul' is already problematised in this sense. As the John Hopkins' studies have shown, the occurrence and extent of the mystical experience has a direct correlation with the efficacy of psychedelic therapy be it for depression, anxiety or PTSD and the pure experiential nature of this state often transcends religious or ideological systems of belief unless viewed through the lens of specific religious/spiritual frameworks. However, as James Oroc points out in this great article in Entheogen Review from 2008, for most psychonauts it is 'the primacy of consciousness that clearly lies at the heart of the entheogenic movement';  https://erowid.org/entheogens/entheogens_article3.shtml  


"One likely reason that "entheogen" has been so widely adopted by proponents of such drugs is the fact that it throws a cloak of obscurity over the taboo topic of psychedelics: enthusiasts may not be as interested in finding God as they are in staying out of jail. Furthermore, once the term is understood by mainstreamers, it can add an air of respectability to the dialog. Images of freaked-out 1960s youth are less likely to spring to mind, when the discussion appears to focus on community-based spiritual groups making positive changes in the world. Mainstream respectability is clearly a goal for some people in the movement, who put a great deal of effort into obtaining government approval for their activities. Yet within such a matrix, science still trumps spirituality." Oroc, J 2008



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