Psychedelic Prohibition & the Criminalization of Culture

Drug Policy Alliance Aware Project Psychedelic Awareness Salon

2017 April 11

TITLE: Psychedelic Prohibition & the Criminalization of Culture


Psychedelic prohibition is a legacy of colonialism and the repression of indigenous cultures. Thousands of people are handcuffed, arrested, branded as criminals, and serve time behind bars every year simply for using or possessing a psychedelic substance in the U.S. – and these people are more likely to be young, non-white, and socioeconomically marginalized than most people who use psychedelics. While psychedelic-assisted therapy could be approved in the next decade, that would do nothing to change the criminal penalties for people who use psychedelics outside of government-sanctioned, medically-supervised settings. We don’t want to end up in a world where psychedelics are legal for a privileged few, while communities who have historically suffered the worst harms of prohibition remain criminalized.

Join us as Morgan Humphrey and Aimee Ewell of the Drug Policy Alliance discuss the history of the criminalization of psychedelic substances , the racist and cultural factors that influence its legality, and what we can do to end the criminalization of psychedelic experiences.

Drug Policy Alliance Aware Project



Morgan Humphrey is the Policy Associate at the Drug Policy Alliance’s Los Angeles office. Humphrey works to reform California’s drug policies and implement legislative changes that prioritize human dignity, social justice and public health. Her investment in harm reduction comes from witnessing the devastating effects substance use disorders on friends and family. The ineffectiveness of the criminalization of people who use drugs, paired with the lack of effective treatment options, has led to unnecessary, preventable deaths from overdose. Humphrey hopes to change that.

Aimee Ewell is the administrative associate for the Drug Policy Alliance’s Los Angeles office. She oversees office efficiency and monitors bills in the California legislature. Providing general support for activities and projects, she assists with logistical and on-site support for conference and community events. Ewell’s journey as an advocate for compassion began in grade school with community-based volunteerism. Before joining DPA she started a clean-water access business with friends. Ewell received her B.A in Communications and Rhetoric studies from San Francisco State University.

We had trouble capturing Morgan and Aimee's slide on the video but you can get a copy here: