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A comedian explains why we need to challenge the stigma of psychedelics

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 10:47
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psilocybe_mexicana_53966-1-770x469by Sam Woolfe

American comedian Shane Mauss is about to embark on his biggest tour to date. A Good Trip is a science-based psychedelic comedy show. In a recent interview about the tour, Mauss explained one of his aims – to erode the stigma surrounding the use of psychedelics.

Challenging public perceptions

Mauss wants to enable people to think about psychedelic substances in a different light. He said:

The show isn’t about getting high and doing something stupid like most drug humour. The show is about using humour to highlight the potential meditative benefits of psychedelic experience as meditative, therapeutic aids.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that he won’t talk about the weirdness of psychedelic experiences. In the show he pays special attention to a compound called DMT. Mauss said:

…DMT is the weirdest thing that I’ve ever experienced in my life. It’s about the most powerful psychedelic that there is. It’s such an intense experience that it can’t be put in the same category as something like LSD or mushrooms. I talk a lot about it at the end of the show but I would sound like a lunatic trying to explain it in a couple of sentences.

But the main thrust of the show is about using humour and science together to de-stigmatise psychedelics. Firstly, Mauss touches on his personal experience with psychedelics as a way to challenge public perceptions about what these drugs actually do. Mauss emphasises:

On a personal level, psychedelics have seemingly cured the chronic depression that made my inner world miserable for 20 years. They’ve also helped me be a more thoughtful and creative person.

As previously reported at The Canary, these substances are not without their risks. Although even difficult psychedelic experiences can end up being positive in the long run.

Focusing on the evidence

Mauss also maintains a scientific approach when talking about these experiences. In his podcast ‘Here We Are’, he hosts weekly interviews with scientists from around the world. He has spoken to psychedelic researchers such as Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies (MAPS), a non-profit which is working with the US Food and Drug Administration to legalise MDMA (Ecstasy) for the clinical treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Mauss’ focus on evidence-based thinking informs a lot of his material. He said:

My show is about moving toward a more reasonable society that allows these things to be tested. I’m an advocate for scientific research.

He added:

People have lots of different opinions. This is why we research things. Are psychedelics bad? Show me the data.

The renaissance of psychedelic research

Since the Controlled Substances Act (1970) in the US, and the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) in the UK, it has been a regulatory challenge to study psychedelic drugs. But recently, we have seen a revival of research into psychedelics.


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