Last year we wrote that 2021 Will Be the Year of the Terpene and, well, we feel we nailed that one as more educated cannabis consumers caught on to the fact that buying weed strictly by the THC percentage is goofy – ya need some flavor if you want effects!
You read the headline, we are ready to make another bold prediction that 2022 Will Be the Year of the Entheogen… so, WTF is an entheogen?
An entheogen is a psychedelic, hallucinogenic, and/or psychoactive substance – typically plant or fungus-based but also derived from certain animals and insects – known to induce profound changes in perception, including changes in the experience of time or space, as well as alterations in moods, thoughts, and other mental states when ingested or consumed.
The depth and impact of these changes are dose-dependent and will affect different people in different ways particularly when it comes to those mental states.
Perhaps the most common and popular entheogen is psilocybin, derived most commonly from specific types of mushrooms either by extraction or digestion.
There is no doubt that psychedelic mushrooms have guided the entheogen movement into more mainstream acceptance, but when we talk about entheogens and the substances that are going to dominate headlines in 2022 and beyond, we cannot deny other incredibly useful all-natural gifts like ayahuasca, ibogaine, MDMA, and yes, even the secretions of jungle toads.
Definitions of entheogens often include language of culture and/or spirituality but these are not meant to be terms of exclusivity. Quite the opposite, in fact.
For me, for example, the earth is my church and the universe is my creator and that is my culture and it doesn’t get much more spiritual than floating down a river high on life and psilocybin catchin’ and releasin’ bass from sunrise to sunset.
Unfortunately, it will not be psychedelic fishing stories making the headlines in 2022.
What we can expect to see is an increase in the number of and coverage of clinical trials and peer-reviewed studies of various entheogens. We can expect to see more large municipalities, and even perhaps entire states, follow the lead of Denver, Santa Cruz, and Oregon in decriminalizing the personal possession and use of certain entheogens. And we can expect to see a deepening interest in the psychedelic space by culture vultures, venture capitalists, and a wide range of villains with all the wrong intentions.
Entheogens Encourage Evolution
As more Americans seek to optimize their own wellness, the weakened social stigma against trying something like “magic mushrooms” will encourage a significant number of them to take the “trip” for themselves.
There are already dozens, if not hundreds, of published studies showing psilocybin can be an effective tool in combatting common ailments like depression, PTSD, anxiety, substance use disorders, Alzheimer’s, headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia, traumatic brain injuries, and more.
In fact, the FDA has fast-tracked the trials and approval process for both psilocybin and MDMA, with MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD expected to be federally approved before the end of 2023.
This research comes at a time when countless Americans are waking up to the fact that traditional western medicine simply does not have a safe or effective treatment for these problems.
“The current model for treating problems like anxiety and depression just isn’t very good,” says Frederick Streeter Barrett, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
There are plenty of sad statistics to back up Barrett’s statement, but perhaps none more morose than the terrible suicide numbers that our military veteran community continues to suffer through while the VA only offers more pills. 2023 simply cannot come fast enough.
The Sad Truth About Entheogens
Another intrinsic problem with the research that has been done so far is that much like with cannabis and with a lot of drugs, the sample size of non-white participants in the studies has traditionally been far too small.
Check out this blurb from this must-read story titled The Gentrification of Consciousness, published just yesterday in Alta:
“Nationwide, a University of Connecticut analysis over a 25-year period found that only 2.5 percent of participants in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy studies were Black, 2.1 percent were Latinx, and 1.8 percent were Asian. Most tragically ironic: only 4.6 percent were Indigenous, the descendants of the psychedelic “first wave” that introduced the world to using plant-based psychoactive substances to explore altered states of consciousness. Thus far, the 21st-century third wave fares little better than the white hippie- and researcher-led second wave of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. As seen with marijuana, both pre- and post-legalization, poor and non-white users of psychedelics will likely continue to be targeted by law enforcement for taking them in their homes, at raves, and in clandestine clinics.”
The lack of representation in entheogen research is troubling, for sure, but the end of that quote foreshadows an ominous near-future for non-whites who curiously tread into the world of psychedelics.
With the low-hanging fruit of easy-ass-cannabis-busts drying up for lazy cops in almost every corner of the country, it will not be surprising if we see a sizable uptick in entheogen-related arrests, and it’ll be even less of a surprise if the ratios of White:Non-White arrests are skewed way out of proportion as we have seen for…ever… with weed.
There are about a million ways that we DO NOT want entheogen acceptance to emulate cannabis “legalization”, but this form of social injustice is right at the top of the list.
Similarly, we are already seeing the costs of inclusion into a quasi-legal psychedelic industry to be out of reach for the average American. For example, when it comes to consumers, a company called Ketamine Media is touting a service that will deliver the powerful drug to your door along with a comfy eye mask to wear while you slip into your mail-order K-hole. The price? Options range from just $400 – $2000 per delivery. Hmmm… seems like they are catering to a specific demographic and it ain’t “anyone who could possibly find therapeutic benefit”.
As you read this, well-funded corporations are working hard and spending a lot of money to lock in their “intellectual property” rights on substances that have been used freely and safely for millennia. This gift, still very much a mystery, is already being traded on the NASDAQ like wheat or corn.
Or, as this story from Vice lays out, imagine not only certain entheogens being effectively patented, but the experience surrounding them being “owned” by someone else as well.
That’s what Peter Theil, founder of PayPal and former Facebook crony, is trying to do by applying for a patent for psilocybin-assisted therapy in “a room with soft furniture, muted colors, and a high-resolution sound system while a therapist provides reassuring physical contact and holds the hand, arm, or shoulder.”
So, yeah, if you think the assault on grassroots cannabis culture has been offensive, the takeover of the entheogen movement will almost surely be far more impersonal and cutthroat.
There is Still Hope for Entheogens
I truly believe in the power of plant medicines and entheogens. My experience with psilocybin has been life-changing and positive and I would be selfish and out of sync with my entheogenic allies if I did anything to keep that healing power away from anyone.
So I don’t fear or even get angered by these corporate efforts to commoditize the medicine. That’s capitalism. They will be the ones to persuade the FDA and Uncle Sam to reconsider the prohibition of these substances and when that happens, millions of Americans (including countless military vets) will have legal access to safer and more effective solutions.
Assuming the Feds don’t crack down on state’s rights in this case, localized decriminalization efforts will only benefit from fast-tracked FDA approvals and NASDAQ numbers.
On the ground level, there are some highly intelligent, highly influential, and damn near fearless organizations holding down the culture and the grassroots community that could otherwise be left behind.
If we are talking about headline-makers in 2022, keep your eyes on Oakland Hyphae.
Oakland Hyphae is a socially responsible, Black-owned grassroots business, who’s goal is to educate and provide dependable, high quality resources and information for plant medicine cultivators and enthusiasts. Locally owned and operated in Oakland, California, we strive to create pathways that make the plant medicine accessible to members of our community.
Oakland Hyphae is not only holding it down with in-person conferences and events like their ongoing Psilocybin Cup, but they helped to change the game by offering 3rd-party lab testing on the entries to their contest – something we had never seen before. Anyone who witnessed how much legitimacy cannabis gained once it started getting tested knows how important this step was with psilocybin.
Another one to watch is Veterans Walk and Talk. For years, VWAT founder Colin Wells has crafted a safe place for his fellow military veterans to convene and walk and talk. Aided by plant medicines and entheogens, the opportunity that VWAT provides for companionship, empathy, and advice is at the very root – or mycelium – of healing.
Also as with cannabis and its culture, it will be up to us all to support frontline groups like Oakland Hyphae and Veterans Walk and Talk and to preserve the sacred stories and methods of honoring and partaking in these powerful medicines… these entheogens.
I, for one, cannot think of a more noble cause.
Beard Bros Pharms co-Founders Bill and Jeff Levers will be at Cannadelic in Miami on February 5th and 6th
If you’d like to link up with them there for promotional work or just to kick it and talk plant medicine, hit up our CONTACT PAGE
For more Beard Bros coverage of Psychedelics, Entheogens, and Plant Medicines CLICK HERE