The Case for Making 16 the Legal Age to Consume Certain Psychedelics
I consumed my first psychedelic at the ripe young age of 15-years. I smoked weed at age 14. For the next few years, I would experiment with a whole assortment of drugs, from pharmaceuticals to other psychedelics.
Fortunately, for me, I made it out with no real damage to my body or mind as a result from years of drug use. To be fair, the drugs that nearly killed me were alcohol and pharmaceuticals.
Which is why by the age of 18, I realized that I don’t like the effects of pharmaceuticals. The “high” simply wasn’t worth it.
Psychedelics on the other hand – that caught my awareness like the moth to the flame. The first psychedelic I tried was MDMA or “Molly” as the kids call it these days. Back then we called it “X”.
I remember that experience only in flashes now, but I will never forget the feeling when the MDMA first kicked in. I was…well, “ecstatic”. I also went to my first Rave that night and came back feeling like a whole new world has opened up for me.
After that initial experience I was convinced that there must be “other drugs” that are;
Not as Dangerous as the Government Claimed (Weed broke this truth to me)
Portals to seeing the world in a whole new light
I intuitively understood that these substances were for consciousness exploration and it didn’t take long for me to shift from “using drugs to get high” to a more resourceful, “using drugs to explore my conscious landscape and understanding of life”.
However, there was a period of 6-8 years of reckless drug consumption, which all happened from the age of 15-23 more or less.
This is precisely why I believe we need to decriminalize and perhaps even make it legal to consume certain psychedelics at age 16. However, there’s a caveat.
16? Are You Nuts!!!
Before you fall back into the “What about the children” type of thinking, let me first explain to you why I think that certain psychedelics should be made available to teenagers who are most likely going to do them without your knowledge anyhow.
The first argument relates back to my teenage journey into psychedelia. Where I lived during that time, drugs were seen as the ultimate evil. Within the hierarchy of drugs, psychedelics were way at the bottom.
My peers – who were getting drunk every weekend – would often tell me, “Don’t do psychedelics, it will melt your brain! Do coke instead!”
I would tell them, “I have done coke, it really isn’t for me…”
You have to understand, these are all 16-17 year olds talking about drug consumption. All the while it was 100% illegal.
Therefore, the notion that something is “illegal” doesn’t deter teens from consuming drugs.
I can already hear the machinery move inside that brain of yours saying, “Well, if you normalize drugs then more kids will do it!”
Of which, I look at all the legal states where cannabis is available to adults for recreational purposes. In these states, we don’t see a significant uptick in cannabis use despite legalization. The kids that were going to smoke irrespective of the laws, will find a way to consume cannabis. Those who weren’t going to, will most likely not do it.
This is what more than 10-years of legalization data tells us.
Therefore, if we were to legalize psychedelics use at age 16, I don’t think that “many kids” will run to get high on psychedelia. However, I do think that those who would do it anyway would have a greater chance of not fucking up if it were legal.
I’ll explain my framework for 16-year olds later below.
The fact of the matter is that “some kids” will consume drugs whether you like it or not. The only difference is that when you keep it “illegal” you pretty much outsource the responsibility to the 16-year old on figuring it all out. No guidance, no voice of reason…just 16-year-old hormones raging along seeking the next big thrill!
Does this seem like a responsible model?
Now I know that some of you cling to your idealism and believe that we can “rid the world” of drug abuse…but that is a fantasy. If that was true, we can also “rid the world of obesity” but we all know that it will never happen.
Okay – what’s your framework?
You see, I’m not an unreasonable person. I understand that we should attempt to keep drugs out of the hands of teens mainly due to their development of brain, body, and identity. While I was unscathed by the excessive amount of drugs I did as a teen, I can’t say the same for everyone.
There were people who couldn’t “keep their shit together”. People who I had to guide through the experience because they were experiencing Ego-Death or fell into a psychedelic portal of some kind. Was I any more experienced as a drug user?
Not really. It was almost a case of the “blind leading the blind”, but I was always someone very aware of their internal processes.
It’s partly the reason why I never “flipped out”, except for those times on alcohol and pharmaceuticals.
When it came to psychedelics, I quickly understood a few things;
What’s happening isn’t necessarily “real” but rather a projection from what’s inside me?
Set and Setting is IMPORTANT AF!
What comes up must come down
Instead of freaking, sit back and observe
Perhaps it’s because I have always been inclined to practice mindfulness, meditation, etc that I could handle these stages…but maybe not.
The fact of the matter was that I intuitively learned how to ride the psychedelic dragon – yet I had to experience some “harsh trips” for me to be educated.
It’s during these “harsh trips” that people freak out and do stupid stuff. You know the story, “the kid got high and thought he could fly” or “the kid got high and had a bad trip and as a result did some stupid shit!”
There’s many sob stories of teens who took too much and couldn’t handle their shit. This is in essence, the root of the problem.
When you take an inexperienced mind, throw into the belly of psychedelia without guidance, you might get people reacting to the intensity of the experience. This is because a psychedelic experience is unique.
Every time I take a psychedelic – there’s a sense of excitement and nervousness. This is because I understand that, “after taking this, there’s no going back until it’s over…”
I need to prepare myself for the infinite possibilities on how the substance will react with my current state of mind, traumas lurking within my awareness, the people I’m with, etc. My Mindset needs to be in the right place.
Conversely, a teen simply pops that shit like it’s a mint and expects everything to be dandy. Only to find themselves knee deep in anxiety when the walls start breathing.
So here’s what I propose;
Make Certain Classic Psychedelics (legal) for consumption at age 16.
You can only take these psychedelics (For free) at certain spaces when you’re underage. This is a specialized place where you can consume the substance with adult supervision.
You have to go through drug training prior to being eligible for a free trip.
You are limited to four Trips per year.
You opt in to fill out surveys about your experience, brain scans, etc for the sake of research.
Need Parental Approval
Why wouldn’t we want to charge kids for a psychedelic experience? Because then we remove the “capitalism” from the equation and create a more holistic experience. Additionally, you don’t want to have teens associate “commerce” with drugs, but rather satisfy an innate desire they have to “get lit”.
The Psychedelics I think would be “okay” for teens to use include;
For the most part, these drugs don’t have a significant negative impact on the developmental brain. At least, we don’t have enough studies to suggest that it does. However, it is definitely far less destructive than binge drinking which “damages the dendrites in the cerebellum and impai the communication between neurons. Researchers discovered that alcohol use not only disrupts communication between neurons; it can also alter their structure.” – Source
The same cannot be said of these classic psychedelics. The brain “damage” is minimal and since we can limit the legal use to 4-times per year, there would not be any significant impact on the developing mind.
However, what we may achieve though is;
Satisfy the Need for Exploration in the Youth
Focus in on Quality (many bad trips come from bad drugs with poor quality)
Create a safe environment
Learn from the experience, the impact on the brain, etc.
We can continue to theoretically study drugs, or come to the realization that “some people” will consume it irrespectively. If we accept this truth, then we can remove any ethical constraints from giving people who “consent” to taking a psychedelic substance.
If we were to embrace this model, we would learn more about psychedelics in 10 years than we would uncover in 100-years with these small clinical trials. The Net benefit for society outweighs any potential risks.
Nobody is advocating that teens “should” take psychedelics. It should not be considered as something “easy”, but it certainly should be an option.
There are many cultures around he world where psychedelics is part of their “rites of passage” and frequently it’s young teenagers that consume these psychedelics. In the mountains of Oaxaca, many of the older people you talk to will tell you that they have been taking mushrooms since they were teenagers.
Most people would not opt in to take psychedelics, even if it’s legal. This is because their “house culture” will have a lot to say about their use. However, for some people, who will find a way to get high with or without our permission, these people could benefit from this proposed idea.
If I was sixteen and someone said, “You can become part of this psychedelic trial, we’re going to teach and test you, you’ll get free access in a safe space where medical professionals will be with you throughout the experience…” I would have said, “where do I sign up!”
I think most kids are just curious and since we are keeping drugs as a taboo subject, all the while drinking caffeine and ethanol like there’s no tomorrow – we create an environment where the risks of taking drugs increases significantly.
If we’re truly honest and want to focus on the “safety” of children, we can’t ignore those that will break the law to get high. We must accommodate for everyone.
Now I may be wrong about this assessment, however, I think we should at the very least explore this as an option because what we’ve been doing for the past 50+ years has not been working and provided very little benefit to the rest of society.
MORE ON PSYCHEDELIC MEDS, READ ON…
THE CASE FOR PSYCHEDELICS FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES!