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Can Psychedelics Help Save America? [ONLINE]

October 28 @ 9:00 am - 10:00 am

Event Description

Science has shown psychedelics to offer resilience and comfort where there seemed to be none. The Food and Drug Administration calls them “breakthrough therapies” for mental health conditions that lack effective treatments. Indigenous communities have known their benefits for centuries, but legal restrictions have stripped them of their rites and remedies. As Schedule I controlled substances, psychedelics remain illegal under federal law, and despite ongoing clinical trials, are unlikely to become FDA approved for several years. These restrictions prevent Americans from realizing their benefits.

Some jurisdictions are taking the lead and decriminalizing psychedelics. Cities in California, Colorado, and Michigan have decriminalized naturally occurring psychedelics. In November, Washington, D.C., and Oregon voters may join this movement, with Oregon poised to become the first state to offer supervised psilocybin therapy and a regulated market for production and distribution.

This panel, along with its companion Bill of Health symposium, attempts to answer the following questions: Can psychedelics benefit those not helped by modern medicine? Could they help political rivals find common ground and work together to build a better future? Can their benefits be accessed equitably, without leaving vulnerable groups behind and reinforcing patterns of oppression and exploitation? Can they revitalize the economy by creating new industries? Can they offer a model for harm reduction that could help address the opioid epidemic?

In other words: can psychedelics help save America?


  • Introduction: Carmel Shachar, Executive Director, The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School
  • Ifetayo Harvey, Founder, People of Color Psychedelic Collective; Marketing Coordinator, Drug Policy Alliance
  • Larissa J. Maier, Post-doctoral Scholar, UCSF School of Pharmacy; Member, Core Research Team, Global Drug Survey; Host, Psychedelic and Entheogen Academic Council (PEAC), UCSF
  • Patricia Zettler, Associate Professor of Law, Ohio State Moritz College of Law; Faculty Member, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
  • Dustin Marlan, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Massachusetts School of Law; Director, Community Development Clinic
  • Moderator: Mason Marks, Assistant Professor of Law, Gonzaga University; Fellow in Ethics of Technological and Biomedical Innovation, Edmond J. Safra/Petrie-Flom Centers, Harvard University


October 28
9:00 am - 10:00 am
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Harvard Law School