Psychedelic drugs in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, it’s not difficult to find a shop selling psychedelic drugs – magic truffles, cacti, 5-Meo-DMT, iboga, and the like are all widely available at ‘smart shops’. Retreat centers are also accessible within the country, where individuals can pay to trip in a safe environment, and undergo therapy sessions. Critically, the Netherlands has a national drug testing system called the Drug Information and Monitoring System, with 33 locations and testing around 18,000 samples annually. The Dutch pride in a liberal drug policy is epitomised in Leeuwarden, a municipality home to an annual psychedelic music and arts festival called Psy-Fi, where psychedelics are not only promoted, but sold on the grounds.
Which psychedelic drugs are legal in the Netherlands?
While the Netherlands have a more liberal view to drugs compared to most countries, it is not without some legal limitations. Although truffles are legal, psilocybe cubensis mushrooms (AKA magic mushrooms) are currently illegal, as are pure extractions (eg. psilocine, mescaline, DMT), and ayahuasca – even for religious use. While retreat centers are available for ensuring safe trips, it is illegal for these centers to make medical claims regarding treating or curing health conditions.
History of psychedelics in the Netherlands
The history of psychedelics in the Netherlands is not straightforward, however. In the mid-1900s, a Dutch counterculture movement called Provo sought to protest the marriage of the Dutch Princess Beatrix to Claus von Arnsberg on account of his past association with the Hitler Youth. Their form of protest was to spread rumours that they would give LSD sugar cubes to the horse carriage taking the princess. Naturally, the newspapers took the opportunity to capitalise on LSD-related hysteria, immediately printing headlines claiming LSD consumption will lead to insanity. Deciding to act quickly, the Dutch government elected to ban LSD and many other psychedelics that very night – ignoring the existing medical research establishing the therapeutic potential of these drugs.
Should psychedelics be legal?
Amidst the controversy regarding psychedelics, the value of the drugs and associated culture is often overlooked and forgotten. Mystical experiences are healthy and useful, as they assist individuals in developing connections with others, and grasp a deeper understanding of themselves. These drugs and experiences do not exist in isolation – the associated rituals, traditions, and culture create a crucial context for fulfillment and spirituality. It is important to recognise that the use of drugs is not an indicator of cultural decay, but rather a cultural development.
What could accelerate the legalisation of psychedelics?
- Addressing the importance of spiritual experiences, which are a key western value.
- Setting boundaries for acceptable dangers, no compound is without danger and there are many substances ingested legally in society which have an acceptable degree of risk.
- Proving medical efficacy of psychedelics through research
- Highlighting psychedelics as a cultural phenomena
- Maintain good relationships with journalists and keep them informed on the latest updates on psychedelics
- Start small-scale religious groups that use psychedelics as a sacrament which provides a strong legal basis for legal use of psychedelics by comparing it to other religious practices
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