The Brave New World of Legalized Psychedelics Is Already Here

If a single line endures from the psychedelic carnival of the 1960s, it’s probably Harvard psychologist and psychedelic cheerleader Timothy Leary’s catchphrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” A call to wake up, reject the norms, defy authority, protest the war.

oday, there is a new psychedelic fervor, best captured in a very different sort of pithy quip: “I finally understood Bitcoin.”

That was German billionaire Christian Angermayer, expounding last year on the ability of magic mushrooms to not only light up his world with colorful hallucinations but also facilitate a deeper understanding of cryptocurrencies, which are ideally suited to tax avoidance and money laundering.

Welcome to the strange new world of “psychedelic capitalism,” where dozens of start-ups have already raised millions (and in some cases billions) of dollars to commercialize psilocybin (the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms), DMT (found in the Amazonian brew ayahuasca), mescaline (peyote’s active component), and LSD—despite the fact that all of these “classic psychedelics” are still ranked as Schedule I drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Manufacturing any of these drugs without a license can still land you a long prison sentence. But marketing one, even though they all remain illegal and none have passed all the clinical trials required for approval? That can make you a millionaire.