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Minorities’ diminished psychedelic returns

Little figures standing on coins


Sean M Viña and Amanda L Stephens


June 23, 2023


Although there is a growing support for the use of psychedelics to improve the health of marginalized groups, there are some critical gaps. First, no empirical studies have examined the effects of psychedelics on Black Americans. Second, there is little research on population effects of psychedelics. Third, little research has tested how cultural set and setting may affect the relationship between psychedelics and health. Specifically, how could economic inequality or the criminal justice system jeopardize the relationship between psychedelics and health for Black people. This study tests race and gender differences in multiple aspects of lifetime classic psychedelic use, specifically drug use, arrest history, economic inequality, and psychological distress. This project uses pooled data of Black and White respondents from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (2008–2019) (N = 490,586). The analysis includes a series of logistic and ordinary least square regression models conducted in Stata 17. Results demonstrate that Black people are policed more even though they use less drugs than Whites. Higher class White men are more likely to use psychedelics, while class does not predict use among Black people. Finally, for White men and women, the positive association of psychedelics are enhanced by class, while the negative effect of arrest history on health are buffered by psychedelics. However, Black people do not gain health benefits from psychedelics regardless of class or arrest history. Results suggest that systemic inequality deters use and eliminates all health benefits of psychedelics for Black people.

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