Letter to the Editor: Psychedelic plants could be harnessed to help with healing

When used with intention and meditation, psychedelic plants have proven healing properties. A Johns Hopkins study from last year found them four times more effective at treating depression than pharmaceutical medication. Two studies in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that ibogaine, a West African psychedelic plant, is extremely effective in helping our friends and neighbors overcome heroin addiction.
It is strange, however, that our city leaders, despite receiving supportive emails from volunteers like myself in the Black community, have decided to keep Boston’s culture of fear and arrest around these plant medicines.

At best, it has been an oversight in an otherwise busy campaign. At worst, lobbyists for pharmaceutical companies have co-opted them.

It is revolting that we are letting people rot in the streets homeless and addicted when we have plant medicines that could heal them. It is a moral atrocity that young women are forced to sell their bodies to afford their addictions, as countless others rob their families to buy drugs.

Mayoral and city council candidates worth their salt should be going to the mat to make these psychedelic treatments accessible.

Arresting people and throwing them in jail doesn’t fix these problems, either. It makes them worse. Arrests cost people their jobs and give them a permanent record that makes it hard to get work in the future. And people get attacked in jail and prison, traumas that reinforce reliance on alcohol and drugs to self-medicate.

In Oregon, which is treating all drug possession as a public health rather than criminal issue, ending possession charges is projected to reduce racial inequalities in arrests by nearly 95 percent. Boston should follow the lead of Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and soon Easthampton, in ending possession arrests and allowing adults, nonprofits, and researchers to grow and use psychedelic plants. We should no longer have to live in fear of using plant medicine.

– Mackenson Jeran, Dorchester

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