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10 Best Answers to Questions About Using Psychedelics

Our pick of the best insights that came out of this Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Spectral-Design


Rick Doblin—founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), appeared on Reddit’s AMA feature (Ask Me Anything) to openly  answer questions along with a team of 10 from MAPS. 

For those who are unfamiliar, AMA is like the town hall meeting of the digital age, providing a chance for anyone to ask about anything and, if the comment is promoted by other users to the top of the pile, they will receive a response. When President Obama made a  surprise AMA appearance as part of his 2012 campaign efforts, he was bombarded with so many questions the flood of traffic momentarily took down the site.

In Doblin’s introduction to the AMA session he described MAPS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. Then, he noted that the staff could answer any questions about: 

•    Scientific research into MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca, ibogaine, and marijuana;

•    The role of psychedelics and marijuana in science, medicine, therapy, spirituality, culture, and policy;

•    Reducing the risks associated with the non-medical use of various drugs by providing education and harm reduction services;

•    How to effectively communicate about psychedelics at your dinner table;

•    and anything else!

Doblin also noted that  currently the most promising research at MAPS focuses on treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

The MAPS team was inundated with more than 2,000 questions and responded to more than 75. According to Brad Burge, director of communications and marketing for MAPS, "Educating the public honestly about psychedelics and marijuana is a core part of our mission," he said. "This is one of the most exciting and inspiring parts of what we do: interacting with people who are actively trying to broaden their perspective about the risks and therapeutic benefits of psychedelics and marijuana.“

Here are ten of the most fascinating questions and answers to come out of the AMA:

1. Question from luttnugs:

Is it possible for people to have completely different reactions/symptoms from the same psychedelic? Say hypothetically I eat mushrooms and my friend eats the same amount of said mushrooms. Should we experience similar symptoms or is it possible that genetics could lead to completely different reactions?

Answer from Rick Doblin: 

Yes. The beauty of psychedelics is that we don’t have psychedelic experiences; we have experiences of ourselves catalyzed by psychedelics. Stan Grof has said that LSD is a “non-specific amplifier of the unconscious,” so that what we experience depends on who we are.

LSD is like dreaming—it’s not uniform content, it’s a way of processing content.

2. Question from SkittleSkitzo:

How bad is marijuana for the lungs? Also, is it actually possible to "re-trip" (where you hallucinate years later because its in your spinal fluid) on acid?

Answer from Rick Doblin:

Marijuana does not cause lung cancer, nor does it cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The cannabinoids in marijuana have anti-tumor properties; however, people who smoke marijuana can sometimes get colds and respiratory infections. I think unbiased risk/benefit analysis by the FDA could result in marijuana in smoked form becoming an approved prescription medicine.

LSD is not stored in the spinal fluid and it is not possible to “re-trip” years later. That is entirely a drug war fabrication.

3. Question from Quasarstoquarks:

Do you believe that spiritual drug experiences (such as shamanistic rituals involved with ayahuasca) will ever have a place in modern medicine?