Michael Pollan – What Privilege Looks Like in the Psychedelic Narratives

Michael Pollan continues trying to hijack the conversation on psychedelics in order to gain further status and authority with his recent condemnation of decriminalized psilocybin.

Following the move by Denver voters to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, Michael Pollan took to his gentrified soap box to issue a warning against legalization in any form.

“No one should ever be arrested or go to jail for the possession or cultivation of any kind of mushroom — it would be disingenuous for me to say otherwise, since I have possessed, used and grown psilocybin myself.”

That was a statement from the New York Times article in which the psychedelic sell out made a full proclamation of his petty, privileged opinion. What kind of doublespeak is this? Is he too ignorant and naive to realize that the continued prohibition of psilocybin will lead exactly to that? Or does he just not really care, since it will not affect him personally?

Since Michael seems to be so keen on getting all of the facts, lets look at some he may have missed.

  • There are 2.3 million Americans in prison, by far the highest percentage of any nation’s population in Earth’s history.
  • 86% of those imprisoned were convicted of a victimless crime, almost entirely related to the inhumane War on Drugs.
  • Those imprisoned by the War on Drugs belong almost entirely to the lower classes and minorities.

Good thing for Michael he is a privileged white guy. Harvard professors with enough money to pay legals fees rarely ever find themselves in the scope of the states legal witch hunt for cultivation, possession and use of psychedelic mushrooms. Pollan sees no reason to hurry along the legalization of psychedelics, since he is privileged enough not to have to worry about the consequences.

Let me make something clear: A bad trip on mushrooms is nowhere nearly as terrifying or life-threatening as trip through our legal system and an extended stay in our nightmarish prison system.

I once had a mushroom trip where me and my cousin sat in a basement for two hours staring at each other like knife fighters circling each other waiting for the first blade to fall. Did it suck? Fuck yes. But it sucked nowhere near as bad as the time I had to spend only ten days in a county jail. Me and my cousin laugh about our bad trip now, but I have not ever spent a single second fondly reminiscing the time I spent ten days fearing for my safety, life and sanity in our penal system.

That Michael thinks terrorizing the lower classes with the looming threat of imprisonment is an acceptable method of preventing bad trips is a strong indicator just how clueless, or maligned, this pretender to the psychedelic throne actually is.

Pollan rode his psychedelic fame onto the bestseller list and set himself up as an authority figure on the subject. Now it seems he is eager to bolster his status there by pretending to be a voice of reason. He is not so much an advocate of psychedelics as he is of the Michael Pollan brand name, which he has no shame in boosting by occasionally taking the side of the drug war pundits. He seeks to make his stance ‘fair and balanced’, so as to provide a visage of reason to feed his cult of personality, making him the FOX News of psychedelics.

As Michael himself is quick to point out – psychedelics are generally only as good as the circumstances they are taken in. If those circumstances are ambition, privilege and ego, as with Pollan, then a message of cognitive liberty and love can easily be replaced by a vision of book sales, speaking tours and fame. When I take mushrooms, the idea of authority and expertise becomes a transparent myth. When Michael takes them, he must wonder how to achieve that status and profit from it.

Michael Pollan is good enough and smart enough to handle his drugs, but according to him, you are not. You should face the wrath of the state to discourage you from exploring your own mind, you dirty little street urchin, you.

BTW- This is not the first time Herr Pollan got it wrong, nor is it the first time I have called him out on it. I just gave him way too much credit last time for potentially being confused, when it turns out, he knows exactly what he is doing by selling the rest of us out. He is just doing him.

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