DiscoverVox ConversationsMichael Pollan on the psychedelic society
Michael Pollan on the psychedelic society

Michael Pollan on the psychedelic society

Update: 2020-12-1413


On November 3, as the country fixated on the incoming presidential election results, voters in Oregon approved a seemingly innocuous ballot measure with revolutionary potential. Proposition 109, which passed with 56 percent of the vote (the same margin by which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the state), legalizes the use of psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms, in supervised therapeutic settings. 


Multiple studies have found that use of psilocybin in a medical context has the power to cure depression, addiction, and anxiety at rates that no existing drug or therapy can boast (although these results still need to be replicated with larger sample sizes before drawing definitive conclusions). Scores of renowned scholars, artists, and entrepreneurs talk about their use of psychedelic drugs as one of the most important experiences of their entire lives. The details of how the Oregon initiative will be implemented still need to be worked out, but the prospect of making these drugs widely available in a therapeutic context could have transformative impacts on American mental health care and, perhaps, on our culture writ large. 


There isn’t anyone I’d rather discuss this new law and its implications with than Michael Pollan. Pollan is the author of dozens of landmark books, but his most recent, How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, is the best exploration of the transformative therapeutic potential of psychedelics to date.


My first conversation with Pollan in 2018 was one of my favorites of all time on the show, and this one didn’t disappoint either. We discuss how Pollan’s work inspired the Oregon ballot initiative, what Proposition 109 actually does and the challenges it will face, the lost history of psychedelics being used as a therapeutic tool in the 1950s, why the mental health profession in America is so excited about the revolutionary possibilities of psychedelic treatment, why the “noetic experience” induced by psychedelics has such incredible healing potential, whether widespread psychedelic use would create massive population-level changes in society, and much more.


My first conversation with Pollan

Recent Johns Hopkins study on psychedelics and depression

"What the psychedelic drug ayahuasca showed me about my life" by Sean Illing

Book recommendations:

The Overstory by Richard Powers 

The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake


Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

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Michael Pollan on the psychedelic society

Michael Pollan on the psychedelic society