By Roc Morin for The Atlantic. By the time drug-policy lawyer Charlotte Walsh took to the stage on the final day of the recent Horizons Psychedelic Conference, we had already heard several persuasive talks on the benefits of psychedelic substances. Rick Doblin had spoken about the successful treatment of PTSD with MDMA, Draulio Barros de Araujo described his work combatting depression with ayahuasca, and Stephen Ross discussed his study administering psilocybin to cancer patients.
I had met Ross two years prior, while covering his psychedelic research. The psychiatrist had spent years and a small fortune obtaining the government’s permission to run an extremely limited study. The stakes were high. Without exemptions from the DEA and other agencies, Ross and his NYU team could have faced punishments as severe as life imprisonment. But the risk was worth it: The researchers were able to critically reduce end-of-life anxiety in the vast majority of their patients with targeted therapy aided by a single dose of psilocybin.