The Inevitable End of the Drug War?

“I never had thought about marijuana or mushrooms being decriminalized. It’s mind-blowing to me, a comedian who tours the country discussing his psychedelic experiences,” says Shane Mauss. For the 2018 documentary Psychonautics, he used various substances on camera, from ayahuasca to LSD to ketamine to DMT, a smokable drug known for strong hallucinations in which users sometimes encounter cartoonish “entities.” Mauss hosts a science podcast called Here We Are. In June, he spoke with Reason’s Nick Gillespie at the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference in Denver. The conference, organized by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, was attended by 13,000 people. Reason: What does the psychedelic renaissance mean to you? Mauss said he never imagined that marijuana would be anywhere close to legal, and it’s mind-blowing to him that mushrooms are being decriminalized everywhere. He noted the surprising pace of legalization efforts and the role of public figures like Joe Rogan in normalizing psychedelics. In regards to the change in the use and view of psychedelics, Mauss reflected on his own experience and impact. In particular, he said psychedelics like mushrooms helped with his serious depression issues. He also emphasized the impact that experiences with DMT had in sparking his interest in the subconscious mind and neuroscience. Regarding the perception of psychedelics, Mauss noted the importance of well-informed decisions and the need for a balanced view on the topic. He mentioned that interacting with the psychedelic community has been engaging and brought out the most interesting and intelligent people. He also acknowledged the community’s openness to inquiry. On the other hand, Mauss raised concerns about misinformation in the community, highlighting the problematic magical thinking and grifting within the space, which has been amplified on the internet. When asked about Joe Rogan, Mauss expressed concerns about the platform’s susceptibility to controversial and pseudoscience-laden ideas. Mauss expressed his belief that the psychedelic community is generally intelligent, noting that its unconventional nature has drawn people who question authority and conventional scientific wisdom. However, he acknowledged that the community’s value for unconventional thinking might result in a race to present the most far-out ideas to seek attention. Mauss also reflected on his experiences integrating psychedelics into his comedy and how it has evolved over time.