The Prettiest, Trippiest Video Games To Play While High

In the past, I’ve written about how marijuana can make a great movie or show even better than it already is, and the same is true for video games. Small wonder, too. When you play a game, you’re not just watching – you’re actively involved in what’s happening. Add a joint into the mix, and you’ll soon forget that the world you’re interacting with isn’t real.

Maybe you already have a go-to game to play while high. But if you’re looking for suggestions, High Times has you covered. Most of the games in this list feature satisfying gameplay and stunning visuals. I tried to not just include blockbusters in this list, but also some lesser-known games you may not have heard about. Indie developers need all the love they can get – and deserve. 


I believe it’s an unwritten rule in the game world that everyone who talks about pretty, trippy games has to mention Journey. This game, developed by Thatgamecompany, directed by Jenova Chen and released in 2012, only takes between 2 and 3 hours to finish, meaning you could complete it in a single smoke sesh. If there’s a story here, it’s for you to piece together. 

Elden Ring

Speaking of piecing things together, go play 2022 Game of the Year-winner Elden Ring if you haven’t already. Bluepoint’s Demon’s Souls remake from a few years ago has better graphics, but Elden Ring is better designed. It’s honestly the closest any game has ever gotten to making you feel like a hero setting out on an adventure in a strange, colorful land – which is something 99.9% of games try to do. 


Do you ever use those apps on your phone that help you unwind with relaxing music and videos of rolling waves and northern lights? Basically Becalm is those apps, but in game-form. There’s not much to it, but that’s the point. You sit in a sailboat that gently steers past colorful oceans and an even more colorful sky. I don’t think this game is on VR yet, but it really should be.


Psychonauts will blow your mind – literally and metaphorically. Inspired by those old-school platformer-collectathons from your childhood, you play as a secret agent/psychiatrist who travels into people’s minds to solve crimes and treat childhood traumas. The developer took concepts from psychology – social anxiety, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder – and turned them into gameplay mechanics.

Little Nightmares

There’s a ton of atmospheric 2D platformers out there worth playing – Limbo, Rayman Legends, Ori and the Blind Forest – but Little Nightmares takes the cake for me. This is, in part, because it’s not just a platformer but also a horror game, and a terribly effective one at that. You play as a tiny kid in a dystopian world ruled by giant, ugly, child-eating adults. Fun for the whole family. 


The portal-shooting mechanic is trippy enough on its own, but when you combine it with weed you get something very special – and fun. The plot is great, too. In both games, you venture through an abandoned tech facility while getting chased by a menacing yet hilariously written robot. One of the most innovative, well-crafted games in the history of the medium in my opinion.  

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Unpopular opinion perhaps, but as far as Zelda games are concerned, I’d pick Wind Waker over the more recent and technically impressive Breath of the Wild any day. The game may look a bit childish at a glance, but over time the more cartoonish art style grows on you. More importantly, Wind Waker has this amazing nostalgic ambiance that I just haven’t found in any other game. 

Shadow of the Colossus

Ethereal is the word I would use to describe Shadow of the Colossus. This classic, still regarded by many nerds as one of the best games ever made, is unlike anything you’ve ever played. It’s a massive open world with a dozen or so free-roaming bosses for you to find. Those bosses, the titular colossi, are also the game’s levels. To defeat them, you’ll have to climb on top of them. 

Death Stranding

Sorry to all the Kojima purists out there, but I feel like Death Stranding is a game that’s incredibly boring when you’re sober, but unbelievably captivating when you’re high. The game’s deliberately awkward and difficult movement controls have led some to label it as a walking simulator, and I’m willing to bet stoners will have the time of their lives trying to do something as simple as climbing up a hill. 

Baba is You

Good luck to you as this is one challenging puzzle game, and a highly original one at that. In order to proceed to each next level, you have to literally rewrite the rules of the game itself. It’s made by a guy from Finland and has this hard-to-define Scandinavian aesthetic that I find strangely comforting, like some 90s kids shows or furniture from Ikea. 

Snake Pass

Snake Pass is a platformer where you play as – you guessed it – a snake. Pretty clever design decision that, because snakes cannot do the things that most platformers are built around, like running and jumping. To succeed at this game, you’ll have to move like a snake. And to move like a snake, you’ll have to think like a snake. If this doesn’t make any sense at this moment, it will once you start playing.

Dinner with an Owl

If this was a movie it would have been produced by A24 and plastered all over your favorite meme forum. It looks, feels, and plays like a nightmare. You have a vague idea of what’s going on, but for the life of you, you couldn’t accurately describe it to someone else. There is this owl, and he wants you to have dinner with him. Over and over and over. 


There are a bunch of indie games that try to recreate the experience of taking ayahuasca, but this one won an award at the Tribeca Film Festival and Raindance. It’s not really a game so much as it’s a film, but it’s played on a VR headset and the player does appear to have a choice in what kind of person their character is and what kind of vision their life experiences would inspire.

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Michigan City Decriminalizes Psilocybin, Other Psychedelics

City leaders in Ferndale, Michigan voted this week to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms and other natural psychedelics, making the city in the Detroit metropolitan area the fourth municipality in the state to reform laws prohibiting the promising drugs. The Ferndale City Council voted unanimously on February 27 to approve a resolution decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi including psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT), all of which are psychedelics that show promise as treatments for a variety of mental health conditions.

The resolution passed by the city council does not legalize psychedelic drugs outright. Instead, the measure directs that the “investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds which are on the Federal Schedule 1 list shall be the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Ferndale,” according to the text of the resolution.

The city council resolution was sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Kat Bruner James. The measure was supported by Decriminalize Nature, a national organization working to reform psychedelics policies from coast to coast, and the Ferndale chapter of the activist group. 

“The Ferndale community continues to demonstrate mindfulness and integrity as we move towards collective well-being and community healing in allyship with nature and her medicines,” Decriminalize Nature Ferndale wrote in a social media post after the city council passed the resolution. “We are grateful for all the community support and to Ferndale City Council for passing the resolution to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi.”

Psychedelics As Plant Medicines

The two-page resolution includes findings from the city council recognizing that natural psychedelics have been used as plant medicines by humankind for thousands of years. The measure also notes that research has shown that the use of psychedelics can be beneficial to the health and well-being of communities and individuals.

“The use of Entheogenic Plants, which can catalyze profound experiences of personal and spiritual growth, have been shown by scientific and clinical studies and traditional practices to be beneficial to the health and well-being of individuals and communities,” the resolution reads.

After Monday’s vote, psychologist Billy Horton, the co-chair of Decriminalize Nature Ferndale, thanked the city council for the members’ unanimous support of the psychedelics decriminalization ordinance. The activist added that the group would continue to educate the public on the safe use of plant medicines.

“I just want to continue to emphasize the importance of psychedelic and entheogenic plants and the work that’s going on, the research and the science that’s supporting it for psychological and for physical wellness,” he told the council in a statement quoted by the Detroit Metro Times.

Ongoing research has shown that psilocybin has the potential to be an effective treatment for several serious mental health conditions, including PTSD, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and substance misuse disorders.

A study published in 2020 in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a quick-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. And separate research published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.

This week’s approval of the psychedelics decriminalization measure in Ferndale marks the fourth time a Michigan city has decriminalized natural psychedelic drugs. Ann Arbor became the third city nationwide to decriminalize psychedelics with the city council’s adoption of a resolution in September 2020. That was followed by a similar move in Detroit in November 2021, while Hazel Park approved a measure last year. After Monday’s vote in Ferndale, the national headquarters of Decrimalize Nature took to social media to mark the occasion.

“Congrats again to the @decrimferndale team for all of their hard work and effort to pass the resolution in support of entheogenic plant practices in Ferndale Michigan last night,” the group wrote on Instagram. “That’s 4 wins in Michigan so far! Let’s get some statewide decriminalization legislation on the table!!! Go team Nature!”

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Aaron Rodgers To Speak at Denver Psychedelics Conference

NFL star quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be a featured speaker at a psychedelics conference to be held in Denver this summer, less than a year after Colorado voters decriminalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms. Touted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) as the “largest psychedelic gathering in history,” the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference will take place in June at the Colorado Convention Center.

Last year, the Green Bay Packers star quarterback revealed that he had traveled to South America to try the psychedelic ayahuasca on more than one occasion. Rodgers said that the experience changed his mindset and had a positive effect on his mental health, crediting the drug with helping him subsequently be selected as the NFL’s most valuable player two seasons in a row. In December, he added that using ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms has helped him cope with a strong fear of death he has had since he was a teenager.

Rodgers has been very open about his use of psychedelics and has said he hopes that sharing his experience can help dispel the stigma attached to the powerful compounds. And in June, he will be one of more than 300 speakers to address the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference in Denver. Presented by MAPS, the gathering has been hailed by the psychedelics research and advocacy nonprofit organization as the “definitive event of the psychedelic renaissance.”

“Aaron Rodgers will be interviewed by Aubrey Marcus at Psychedelic Science 2023 about his experiences with Ayahuasca, which he’s previously spoken about on Aubrey’s podcast,” said MAPS founder and executive director Rick Doblin. “We’re delighted Aaron is open to sharing his views at what will become the world’s largest psychedelic conference ever.” 

Psychedelic drugs including LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca have received renewed interest from researchers for their potential to treat a wide range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance misuse disorders. In November, Colorado voters took new steps in psychedelic policy reform with the passage of Proposition 122, a ballot measure to legalize the possession and therapeutic use of certain natural psychedelic drugs including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline, for people age 21 and older. The measure also authorizes the establishment of “healing centers” where adults can obtain access to natural psychedelics for therapeutic purposes. The measure, which passed with more than 53% of the vote, is now in the process of being implemented by state officials.

Aaron Rodgers And Psychedelics

Last weekend during an appearance on the The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers said that he would make a decision about retiring from professional football after he takes a four-day “darkness retreat” later this month. The 18-year NFL veteran said that the retreat will include “‘sensory deprivation isolation’ that will simulate the drug DMT with the potential for hallucinations,” according to a report from CBS Sports. 

“It’s an opportunity to do a little self-reflection in some isolation and after that, I feel like I’ll be a lot closer to that final, final decision,” Rodgers said on Tuesday. “I’ve had a number of friends who’ve done it and they had profound experiences.” 

In August, Rodgers revealed that he had traveled to South America to take ayahuasca before being selected as the league’s most valuable player in back-to-back seasons, saying the traditional psychedelic brew changed his thinking and significantly improved his mental health. Rodgers made the revelations about ayahuasca experiences during an appearance on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast, saying that the psychedelic drug helped him find self-love and mental wellness.

The Super Bowl champion quarterback said he made the trip to South America before winning the MVP award for the third and fourth time. Following the ayahuasca experience, he said, he “knew that [he] was never going to be the same.”

“For me, I didn’t do that and think ‘oh, I’m never playing football again,’” Rodgers said, as quoted by USA Today. “No, it gave me a deep and meaningful appreciation for life. My intention the first night going in was ‘I want to feel what pure love feels like.’ That was my intention. And I did. I really did. I had a magical experience with the sensation of feeling a hundred different hands on my body imparting a blessing of love and forgiveness for myself and gratitude for this life from what seemed to be my ancestors.”

The Psychedelic Science 2023 conference takes place at the Colorado Convention Center from June 19 through June 23. Other featured speakers include Doblin, groundbreaking researcher Robin Carhart-Harris, wellness guru Deepak Chopra, and Amanda Feilding, the executive director at the U.K.-based psychedelics advocacy organization the Beckley Foundation.

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DMT for Depression? Clinical Trial Finds Hallucinogen Significantly Reduces Symptoms

As we venture further into this new era of psychedelic innovation and discovery, more folks are becoming aware of the potential benefits of substances like psilocybin, LSD, or ketamine. But what about dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, an active chemical in the hallucinogenic plant brew ayahuasca?

U.K.-based biotech company Small Pharma is conducting the first major study of DMT and its potential for treating major depressive disorder (MDD). The company, which focuses on short-duration psychedelic-assisted therapies for mental health conditions, completed its Phase IIa clinical trial, finding a “significant and clinically relevant reduction in depression symptoms” two weeks after dosing, compared to the placebo group, according to a news release.

“SPL026 (intravenous DMT) with supportive therapy was shown to have a significant antidepressant effect that was rapid and durable, with a remission rate of 57% at three months following a single dose of SPL026,” said Dr. Carol Routledge, Small Pharma’s chief medical and scientific officer.

Because of DMT’s short hallucinogenic duration, it’s possible the substance could be an even better clinical alternative to other psychedelics requiring longer treatment sessions. 

The trial, and one of the largest for a short-acting psychedelic, involved 34 patients with moderate to severe MDD, and those who were already medicated were withdrawn from treatment prior to dosing. Participants were given a short IV fusion of 21.5 mg of intravenous DMT, resulting in a 20 to 30-minute psychedelic experience. 

The two-phased study also included a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled phase, where the primary endpoint assessed the DMT group versus the control group at two weeks post-dose. All participants were enrolled into an open-label phase of the study, which enabled the assessment of the “durability of the antidepressant effect,” along with comparative efficacy and safety of a one-dose versus a two-dose regimen of DMT.

Researchers said, following analysis of key secondary endpoints, that there was a rapid onset of antidepressant effects one week post-dose, though no apparent antidepressant effect was observed between a one- and two-dose regimen of intravenous DMT.

The intravenous dose of DMT was also well tolerated by all patients who received an active dose, with no drug-related serious adverse events, including suicidal ideation or behavior, reported. 

“The results are exciting for the field of psychiatry,” said Dr. David Erritzoe, a clinical psychiatrist at Imperial College London and chief investigator of the Phase I/IIa study. “For patients who experience little benefit from existing antidepressants, the potential for rapid and durable relief from a single treatment, as shown in this trial, is very promising.”

Small Pharma CEO George Tziras also spoke to the potential impact of the trial’s results, particularly for those hundreds of millions of people who live with MDD worldwide. Citing the greater confrontation of psychedelic medicine, addressing the decades of failure on behalf of pharmaceutical drugs, Tziras said the “scale of unmet needs” merits the further investigation of other more effective remedies.

“Our goal is to develop proprietary, scalable and reimbursable short-duration psychedelics with supportive therapy to address this need,” Tziras said. “I am delighted with our top-line results, which demonstrate proof-of-concept for SPL026 and provide encouraging support for our broader portfolio. I want to thank each patient who took part in this trial, as well as their families, the trial investigators, the employees of the trial sites and everyone who has supported the successful completion of this study.”

Research surrounding DMT, and ayahuasca, is still limited—as is psychedelic research surrounding mental health in the grand scheme—though it’s slowly beginning to amp up, as similar studies boast promising results for psychedelic treatment of otherwise treatment-resistant mental health conditions.

One recent study found that ayahuasca use, although a different experience than that of Small Pharma’s study participants, resulted in a high rate of adverse physical effects and challenging psychological effects, though they were generally not severe. In fact, the study found that many participants continued to attend ceremonies and generally perceived that the benefits overshadowed any adverse effects—88% of people surveyed considered adverse effects as an expected part of the process of growth or integration.

Next up, the detailed results of the Phase IIa trial are expected to be presented at upcoming scientific meetings and published in a peer-reviewed journal. 

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Two Bills to Decriminalize Psychedelics Filed in Massachusetts

Two bills were filed in Massachusetts to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, mescaline, and ibogaine. The bills would end the prosecution of psychedelic substances in the Bay State.

The Boston Herald reports that companion bills were filed in the Massachusetts House and Senate. The House bill, “An Act relative to plant medicine,” or Bill HD.1450, was filed by Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa. The Senate bill, titled “An act relative to plant medicine,” Bill SD.949 was filed by Sen. Patricia Jehlen.

Adults ages 18 and older would not be prosecuted for personal amounts of psychedelics.

The bill would decriminalize “the possession, ingestion, obtaining, growing, giving away without financial gain to natural persons 18 years of age or older, and transportation of no more than two grams of psilocybin, psilocin, dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, and mescaline.”

The bills would amend the state general law’s Section 50: Entheogenic Plants and Fungi.

The bill however does not allow for the sale of psychedelics: “‘Financial gain’ shall mean the receipt of money or other valuable consideration in exchange for the item being shared,” the bill adds.

“Mushrooms are life changing,” James Davis, co-founder of Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, said in a statement. “From depression to addiction to painful cluster headaches, they are a tool that people should use in a caring community.

“There’s no better way to promote intentional and mindful use than to decriminalize minor amounts for home growing and sharing without enabling commercial sale,” Davis added.

“Humans have used psychedelic plants and fungi, non-addictive by their nature, for spiritual relief for more than 13,000 years: from Northern Africa and the Americas—to Greece and the Middle East,” Bay Staters for Natural Medicine states on their website. “President Nixon banned these plants as Schedule One “drugs” through the Federal Controlled Substances Act without scientific basis to purposefully criminalize Black Americans and anti-war protesters. We work to reverse these policies and stop for-profit corporations from monopolizing the facilitation market to needlessly charge desperate people thousands of dollars.”

The statewide move comes after a handful of cities decriminalized psychedelics at the city level. Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton, for instance, voted to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and other entheogenic plants.

The reasons to decriminalize are growing: The global market for psychedelic drugs including psilocybin, ketamine, and LSD is expected to grow to nearly $12 billion per year before 2030, according to data from a recent market analysis. In a report released last Thursday, Brandessence Market Research revealed that the psychedelic drug market is anticipated to reach a valuation of $11.82 billion by 2029, growing from an estimated $4.87 billion in 2022.

Psychedelic-assisted therapy is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. Belief that psychedelics could help control the opioid epidemic is growing. A 2017 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study, involving 44,000 participants, found that psychedelic use was associated with a 40% reduced risk of opioid abuse. A more recent study that suggested an even stronger reduced risk—55%.

Meanwhile, Tryp Therapeutics signed a letter of intent earlier this month with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, to fund and conduct a Phase 2a clinical trial. The team of researchers will be investigating the effects of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of patients aged 21 and older who are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

More states are moving to loosen laws surrounding psychedelic use for therapeutic purposes. Colorado and Oregon decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms.

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The Rise of Entheogenic Plants: What They Are, And Changing Policies

The word ‘entheogenic’ might not have been very popular a few years ago, but it’s sure making headlines now. Why? Because more and more US locations are passing legalization and decriminalization measures for entheogenic plants. So what does this word mean? And which plants does it refer to? Read on.

Entheogenic plants – what are they?

The word ‘entheogen’ refers to any substance that can alter perception, mood, behavior, cognitive abilities, and/or consciousness. They are specifically psychoactive substances meant to help spiritual development, in some kind of religious or sacred way. Throughout history, such substances have been employed for religious, magical, shamanic, healing, or spiritual traditions, all over the globe.

Entheogens are used to drive forward different traditional practices meant to bring a person to a higher spiritual level. These include but are not limited to: meditation, yoga, healing, prayer, and divination. Psychedelics are one of the more popular forms of entheogens, but we’re not looking at all entheogens right now, and not all psychedelics qualify. What we’re specifically looking at is entheogenic plants, meaning this no longer includes synthetically made entheogens like LSD or MDMA.

The term ‘entheogen’ came about in 1979 by some ethnobotanists and mythology academics. It comes from the combination of two words from Ancient Greek: éntheos and genésthai. The former translates to “full of the god, inspired, possessed,” and is where we get the word ‘enthusiasm.’ While the latter translates to “to come into being.”

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Put together, and it translates to the idea of being inspired; whether for greater spiritual understanding, personal growth, or something else related. The word ‘entheogen’ is sometimes confused for the words ‘psychedelic’, and ‘hallucinogen’, but its not exactly either, though it can encompass drugs of those specifications.

The term ‘entheogen’ is not more specific than this, partly because its not an actual part of nomenclature. Rather, it’s a broad term that can be used in different ways. Since it implies any psychoactive substance used for spiritual purposes, or some kind of personal development; it refers to many different substances, and personal opinions on whats included, can vary.

Some publications list entheogenic plants as plants with psychedelic properties alone. Other publications look at in terms of drugs used specifically in rituals. Regardless of exactly how you want to break it down, an entheogen is a plant with psychoactive effects, that’s used in some kind of traditional practice of spirituality or healing.

The most common plants that find their way into this definition include DMT, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, amanita mushrooms, iboga, and Salvia divanorum. But it can also include plants like kava, datura, and plants like African Dream Herb which is in a class called oneirogens, which are characterized by a dreamy state of consciousness.

Entheogenic plants in recent legislation

As hallucinogenic substances (often lumped together under the heading ‘psychedelics’) gain popularity, we see this reflected in new legislative measures that have already passed in different locations; which have been proposed, but didn’t make their way through; or are currently in the system. Different locations define what they want to legalize or decriminalize differently, but more and more often, there’s a designation specifically for entheogenic plants.

Right now, Colorado stands as the best example for changing legislation regarding entheogenic plants. In the November 2022 elections, the people of Colorado voted on Proposition 122, which passed with 53.64% of the voting public saying yes, meaning 1,296,992votes. 46.36% of the voting public – 1,121,124 votes – didn’t want this change.

Entheogens (ayahuasca)

The bill is called the Decriminalization, Regulated Distribution, and Therapy Program for Certain Hallucinogenic Plants and Fungi Initiative. This new law defines certain plants containing psychoactive and entheogenic compounds, as natural medicines, including DMT, ibogaine, mescaline (excluding peyote), psilocybin, and psilocin. The measure does not mention the word entheogen, but that’s exactly what it’s talking about.

It decriminalizes the personal possession, use, transport, and cultivation of the plants with the compounds mentioned above, so long as the user is 21 or above. It also creates the Regulated Natural Medicine Access Program which is to be an industry of regulated healing centers where these compounds will be administered as natural medicines.

Incidentally, as a showing of how much Colorado is in support of hallucinogens, it passed HB 1344, which was signed into law June 8th of 2022. This first-of-its-kind law pre-emptively legalized the medical use of MDMA, but is contingent on the federal government passing a legalization measure first, before it becomes valid. MDMA, however, as a synthetic drug, is not considered an entheogenic plant.

Did Oregon legalize entheogenic plants?

Oregon became the very first state to legalize a previously illegal entheogenic plant, when it put Measure 109 before its people, called the Psilocybin Mushroom Services Program Initiative. 55.75% of voters were all for this change, while 44.25% of voters were a bit more hesitant. This measure was not as well defined as Colorado’s upon the vote, and it wasn’t until 2022 that some things became clear. Although one point that was clear at voting time, was that this only applied to magic mushrooms.

When draft rules finally came out, they stipulated that not only is it only magic mushrooms allowed, but limited it to only one species: Psilocybe cubensis. Colorado, much like Oregon, is looking to set up treatment centers where the drugs can be given as natural medicine. Only, it seems Colorado is more geared to doing this medicinally, and Oregon doesn’t make that stipulation. How much Colorado allows ‘spiritual’ and ‘medical’ to overlap, is hard to say at the moment.

Colorado decriminalized the use of these plants as well for adults. Oregon did likewise through a different ballot measure called Measure 110, which decriminalized the personal possession of controlled substances, bringing them down to a class E violation which comes with no more than $100 in fines. Between Oregon’s two measures, and Colorado’s one, they do provide similar overage, with Colorado going just a bit farther for what it will offer in treatment centers. In neither state was a full recreational legalization made.

Entheogenic plants like peyote
Entheogenic plants like peyote

Where else is there legislation for entheogenic plants?

Different individual locations within the US have passed decriminalization measures for different hallucinogenic substances. These vary between locations in exactly what they permit. One of the more recent additions was San Francisco. In September 2022 its Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution which doesn’t make a legal change, but which does instruct law enforcement to put possession and use of the included plants as the lowest priority for arrest. And it does specifically define them as entheogenic.

The resolution, called Supporting Entheogenic Plant Practices (resolution 220896), decriminalizes the “full spectrum of plants, fungi, and natural materials that can inspire personal and spiritual well-being.” It even stipulates that this covers “planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with” these plants. This decriminalization does nothing to limit punishment for drugs like LSD and MDMA.

Seattle did something similar in October 2022, also not making it fully legal, but passing a resolution which states “that the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of anyone engaging in entheogen-related activities should be among The City of Seattle’s lowest law enforcement priorities and stating the Council’s support for full decriminalization of these activities.”

Detroit also went the way of specifically decriminalizing entheogenic plants. Voter measure Proposal E, which was voted in on November 2nd, 2021, asked the question: “Shall the voters of the City of Detroit adopt an ordinance to the 2019 Detroit City Code that would decriminalize to the fullest extent permitted under Michigan law the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults and make the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority?” The city responded yes with 61.08% of the voting population onboard with this.

On a state level, Michigan attempted to legalize some hallucinogens, but the bill was defeated last spring. California also attempted a psychedelics legalization, but the bill tanked out as well. It has, however, come back, introducing Senate Bill 58 in December which would “decriminalize the possession and personal use of certain psychedelic drugs.” These include “psilocybin, psilocyn, Dimethyltryptamine (“DMT”), mescaline (excluding peyote), and ibogaine.”

Washington also had a failed bill to legalize psychedelics, and is also already back in the saddle with the “Psilocybin Services Wellness and Opportunity Act” which was introduced on January 11th, 2023. The bill aims to “facilitate the establishment of safe, legal, and affordable psilocybin service centers to provide citizens of Washington who are at least 21 years of age with opportunities for supported psilocybin experiences for wellness and personal growth.”

Salvia flowers
Salvia flowers


The term ‘entheogens’ includes many different substances. Many of these substances, particularly of the entheogenic plant variety, are now making their way to decriminalized or legal status; as hallucinogens in general rise in popularity.

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Dr. Dennis McKenna on the Mechanisms of Psychedelics

What are the mechanisms of psychedelics? How did indigenous people discover the plant cocktails that produce psychedelic effects? Are the hallucinations that psychedelics produce real? How can psychology harness those applications to benefit patients? These are just some of the questions that Dr. Dennis McKenna PhD explores in this podcast with Dr. Jordan Peterson. Dr. Mckenna is an ethnopharmacologist, researcher and author. He’s also the brother of famous psychedelics advocate, Terrence McKenna.

What is Ethnopharmacology?

The work that Dr. McKenna is best known for is his research into ethnopharmacology. He defines ethnopharmacology as the “interdisciplinary scientific investigation of biologically active substances used or observed by humans in traditional societies.” He highlights that this investigation is not confined to plants or the study of medicines, but includes anything that contains “biologically active substances.” He gives the example of arrow poisons or fish poisons used by indigenous people.

“Ethno” specifically refers to the study of traditional people, and the research of pharmacology in this context aims to collate the knowledge of pre-scientific communities in order to preserve their unique medicinal cultures. As Dr. McKenna points out, indigenous people are “ingenious” at discovering these botanical elements in the biome and putting them to good use. However, today, the ongoing loss of habitats and species along with climate change, are contributing to the loss of this knowledge at a rapid rate.

In 2018, Dr. McKenna founded the McKenna Academy with the specific goal of preserving this knowledge, and being a bridge between traditional practices and modern science in order to foster a greater understanding of “nature, consciousness, the cosmos and their interweaving with humanity.” Dr. McKenna is involved with many projects, but his current focus is creating an online digital library of plant species in Peru, which will be an invaluable resource for future generations.

What is Ayahuasca?

Dr. McKenna has spent more than 40 years studying ayahuasca. In fact, the focus of his PhD at the University of British Colombia was ayahuasca, the chemistry, botanical sources and traditional uses of the plant, as well as comparative analysis with another plant containing dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, the plant’s active ingredient. DMT is a psychedelic compound found in the human body and at least 60 plant species worldwide. Terrence McKenna referred to DMT as “the most powerful hallucinogen known to man and science.”

What makes DMT unusual, according to Dr. McKenna, is that it’s not orally active by itself due to enzymes in the gut that inactivate it. But what indigenous people discovered was that if the plant is mixed with other plants containing beta carbolines, which inhibit the activity of the enzymes, the psychedelic effect of the plant is more powerful. The main plant ingredient in ayahuasca is the stem and bark of the tropical liana Banisteriopsis caapi mixed with the leaves of the chagropanga plant, which act as the inhibitor. The plants are stewed to make a sort of herbal tea. Ayahuasca is also known as caapi or yagé.

DMT can be consumed by smoking or vaping, which circumvents the gut enzymes to produce a short – about 20 minutes – and intense effect. While this effect can be a profound experience, it’s not long enough to create any impactful change in perspectives on life. However, by adding the beta carboline ingredient, the psychedelic effects are prolonged, and can last up to 7 hours, enabling a person to remain far longer in an altered consciousness, with far more room to explore any information uncovered by that state.

How did indigenous people discover this cocktail out of the more than 80,000 species that exist in the Amazon? This is a question that comes up often, and Dr. McKenna has an answer, thanks to the work of one of his colleagues who discovered the presence of beer-making cultures in the north of the Amazon about 1,000 years ago. In the same way that craft-brewers today experiment with an array of ingredients, so too did these people, and by experimenting with that plants available to them, they stumbled upon the formulation that we know today as ayahuasca.

Are Hallucinations Real?

In experiments with DMT, the psychiatrist Rick Strassman, author of The Spirit Molecule (2000), recorded the experiences of people who reported encounters with alien entities. When Strassman suggested to these people that the encounters were mere dreams, the study participants claimed the experiences were “more real than life itself” – according to Dr. Peterson.

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Drawing on the work of other researchers, Dr. Peterson posits that the psyche is divided into two frameworks: one that determines life values, and another that takes care of day-to-day decision-making, as influenced by those over-arching life values. He suggests that hallucinations can result in a shift in perspective by causing entropy in the framework that determines life values, in effect, “loosening the constraints on fundamental presuppositions” about life.

This idea that psychedelics have an entropic effect on the brain by temporarily disabling “the default mode network” comes from the work of another researcher, Professor Robin Carhatt-Harris, who introduced the concept in 2014. Dr. McKenna concurs with this hypothesis, citing the neuroplasticity of the psychedelic effect. He refers to the over-arching framework as “the Reality Hallucination,” which in his opinion, is the reality that we inhabit, a sort of “model reality” that allows us to navigate our lives.

In this instance, he explains, the function of the brain is to act as a gatekeeper, by keeping out extraneous information that’s not essential. If the brain did not provide this function, we’d be overwhelmed by information to the point of dysfunction. However, people can get trapped in their default mode network or reality hallucination, resulting in conditions such as addiction or PTSD. But psychedelics throw the gates open, flooding the brain with new information that’s not normally accessible.

Can We Trust the Psychedelic Experience?

This creates possible therapeutic benefits, by allowing a person to step outside of their normal frame of reference, and gain insights into psychological conditions such as trauma or addiction. This happens due to the ability of psychedelics to activate changes in neural architecture, also known as neuro-plasticity. Dr. McKenna compares the action of psychedelics on the brain to the act of rebooting a computer. Once the computer is shut down, extraneous information is purged and the computer works more efficiently. This is the “psychedelic promise,” its ability to reconstruct the function of the default mode network in an optimal way.

Dr. McKenna points out that there is still a lot to learn about psychedelics, both in terms of how they work and their effect on the brain. For now, what we’re mostly dealing with are hypothesis. However, what is known is that psychedelics produce an increase in trait openness, which is the trait associated with creativity. Therefore, it’s possible to say that psychedelics put people into a more creative state, and the effect of a creative state is that it’s possible to see things from new perspectives.

Dreams are products of our creativity or imagination, and there are parallels with the psychedelic experience insofar as the entities encountered under psychedelics are also products of the imagination. Or are they? Do they come from the imagination or somewhere else, for example, an astral plain that can only be accessed via psychedelics? This is a question that researchers have been asking about psychedelics forever.

It’s a question that Dr. McKenna has heard often: are the entities experienced under psychedelics real? His answer is prosaic: “define real?” he says, and adds a caveat: anything that can be experienced is real. However, he can’t know where the entities come from and is slow to talk about it, as it leads to an “epistemological nightmare.” To his mind, what psychedelics do is breakdown the artificial boundaries between dimensions, teaching us that it’s “all one.” Therefore, any effort to single out individual elements leads to a zero sum game.


Dr. McKenna says more practical questions to ask are: Is the information that psychedelics transmit useful? Can we learn anything from it? Can it teach us something we might not otherwise know? He gives an anecdotal account of his brother’s use of mushrooms to provide an answer: Terrence would take high doses of mushrooms in the dark and enter into dialogues with entities, asking them if they were real. The entities replied that they didn’t care whether they were perceived as real or not.

Which brings the issue back to the question of how can we know anything is real? This mind-bending concept is just one of many covered in this fascinating podcast – which has already ranked more than 5 million views on Youtube – and is one everyone with an interest in psychedelics should watch. Other topics covered include Jungian archetypes, psychedelic rituals and bad shamans.


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Study Finds Benefits Outweigh Risks of Ayahuasca Use

Given the recent Western uptick in ayahuasca use, a new study from the University of Melbourne took a closer look with data from an online Global Ayahuasca Survey, carried out between 2017 and 2019, of 10,836 people over the age of 18 who used ayahuasca at least once.

Ayahuasca is a concentrated liquid made from prolonged heating or boiling of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of the Psychotria viridis plant to create a tea containing DMT, the psychedelic active element of the brew. 

The drink has been used for spiritual and religious purposes in the past and is still utilized for similar purposes. Often a shaman or curandero, an experienced healer and spiritual leader, prepares the brew and leads the ceremony, which are often held at night. The experience typically lasts between two and six hours and may usher in a number of effects, both positive and negative. 

Similar to other therapeutic psychedelic experiences, participants often seek out ayahuasca ceremonies to gain a new perspective, to confront trauma and seek long-term, life-altering changes, among myriad other reasons. Because it typically contains DMT, a Schedule I substance, ayahuasca is illegal under U.S. federal law.

Ultimately, the study found that the benefits and positive experiences from ayahuasca use outweighed any adverse effects. Researchers found that acute physical adverse effects, primarily vomiting, were reported by 69.9% of respondents, and 55.9% reported adverse mental health effects in the weeks or months following consumption. Though the majority, around 88% of people surveyed, considered these effects as part of the process of growth or integration after the ceremony, and those who experienced these side effects said they were expected.

Researchers noted that physical effects were related to older age at the time of initial ayahuasca use, having a physical health condition, higher lifetime and last-year ayahuasca use, having a previous substance use disorder diagnosis, and taking ayahuasca in a non-supervised context. 

Dr. Daniel Perkins, one of the study’s authors and a University of Melbourne research fellow, nodded to the increase in ayahuasca’s popularity when speaking with Healthline

“Recently we’ve seen a booming underground retreat culture in the Western hemisphere in which people pay hundreds of dollars to go to these retreats,” Perkins said. “It is a spiritual experience, but it is not something you get up and dance to. There is no real recreational use other than for alternative healing. Overall, it is not widely consumed.”

The study ultimately confirmed that ayahuasca use results in a high rate of adverse physical effects and challenging psychological effects, though they are generally not severe. Not only that, but many participants continue to attend ceremonies; authors suggest this means participants generally perceive the benefits as overshadowing any adverse effects.

Moving forward, researchers suggest further examination of variables that might predict eventual adverse effects to better screen or provide additional support for vulnerable subjects. They add that improved understanding of the risk.benefit balance users associate with ayahuasca could assist policy makers in decisions around potential regulation and public health responses.

“Many are turning to ayahuasca due to disenchantment with conventional Western mental health treatments,” the authors write in a media release, “however the disruptive power of this traditional medicine should not be underestimated, commonly resulting in mental health or emotional challenges during assimilation. 

“While these are usually transitory and seen as part of a beneficial growth process, risks are greater for vulnerable individuals or when used in unsupportive contexts.”

The post Study Finds Benefits Outweigh Risks of Ayahuasca Use appeared first on High Times.

Dr. Dan Engle on Using Psychedelics to Heal Trauma 

Podcaster and Onnit co-founder, Aubrey Marcus, is a proponent of using psychedelics for both self-development and healing trauma. He regularly talks to guests who are experts in this field. On a recent show, he talked with Dr. Dan Engle, a psychiatrist, entrepreneur and author, who has a unique background in neurocognitive restoration and psychedelic research. 

Marcus refers to Dr. Engle as a “thought leader” in the psychedelic research space, and praises the doctor’s recent book, “A Dose of Hope,” about MDMA-assisted therapy. The book is a No.1 bestseller on Amazon. In this podcast, Dr. Engle dives into the current psychedelic renaissance, exploring the healing traits of individual psychedelics, explaining why and how they work differently. 

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Dr. Engle’s Background

It’s worth mentioning that Dr. Engle’s is a hands-on researcher. He and Marcus met around 15 years ago in the desert town of Sedona. Even back then, Marcus thought of Engle as the “future of medicine” due to his experience as a medical doctor, holistic therapist and psychedelic researcher. He has spent years in the Amazon Jungle. 

Engle sees “all the medical interventions as having a place at the table.” He gives the example of the time he broke his neck, saying: “When that happened I didn’t go to see my homeopath.” He recognizes that emergency care services, pharmaceuticals and surgery are essential in some cases, but also that the body’s natural healing process can be enhanced with holistic and psychedelic modalities. 

Over the course of his career, Engle has explored different “dogmas,” but thanks psychedelics for opening his mind to the possibility of integration. For five years before going into the jungle, he went the “other extreme,” and was “against all allopathic medicine.” So much so that when he picked up a virus during his first ayahuasca experience and his body went into septic shock, he refused to take antibiotics. 

However, ayahuasca changed his thinking. “I learned more about myself in one weekend with ayahuasca than one decade of psychiatric training,” he says. Back then he was angry with the psychiatric field for “bastardizing sacred plant medicine technologies.” But ayahuasca gave him new hope because he could see the value in being a “bridge” between the allopathic and plant medicine

Meeting Ayahuasca

Dr. Engle stresses the importance of having the right mindset, attitude and grace when interacting with any plant medicine. Ultimately, he sees plant medicine as a vector that teaches a person about themselves, and warns: “Those that come into our lives to be reflections of our power, integrity and value system, sometimes … come in really uncomfortable ways.” 

He believes there’s a valid reason why he got so sick during his first ayahuasca experience, and it had to do with his attitude. He explains how he had been on a “diet” for weeks at that point. “Dieting” is the term that’s used to describe the traditional way of working with plants to get to know them better and receive their energy or gifts. It involves food restrictions but only to allow deeper connections with nature. 

During his diet, Engle was receiving lots of information about integrative medicine, and got so excited about all he was learning, he approached the ceremonial shaman, and in bad Spanish, told him, “You’re my teacher,” and offered a gift. Shortly after, Engle got sick, and for years after that first experience, his ayahuasca journey was “blocked,” meaning the plant had mild to no effect on him. 

It took him years to piece the story together and fully understand what had happened. First, he realized his audacity to walk into a “sacred space that had been held for lineage of shamans,” and demand to be a student. But also, he had given the shaman a gift, which in the world of plant medicine enabled a part of Engle’s energetic field to be drained. 

Five years later, he went to a retreat, and on the first night, he dreamt of being visited by a different shaman who told him he was “carrying a blockage.” During the ceremony he attended that evening, the ceremonial shaman performed intense icaros over him, and Engle could feel the pressure inside his body. Until finally there was a release and “the visual landscape opened up,” and suddenly he felt, “whole, free, light and inspired.”

Seeing Trauma as an Ally

Engle admits that when he came back from the Amazon, he was dealing with suicidal depression due to the personal challenge of re-integrating back into day-to-day life. After experiencing the ceremony where his blocks were released, he realized everything that had happened over the previous five years of his plant medicine journey was exactly what he needed, it was all “for him.”

ayahuasca medicine

During his meditations, he was focusing on principles that were of value to him: humility, integrity, reverence and gratitude – using them as guides for his interactions, for how to “walk in the world.” Though he wasn’t aware of it at the time, that mindset was causing him to live with a sort of “victim mentality.” In many ways, his first shaman, the one who blocked him, turned out to be his best teacher.

He revealed, the “shamanic path is a power path, not a spiritual path.” This discovery prompted a “total reframe” for Engle. For the first time he could see that life was happening “for him not to him,” and he came to understand that whatever lessons come along the way, it was up to him to imbue his “power with spiritual virtues and values.” The experience taught Engle the hardest life lessons are typically the best teachers, and it’s possible to “turn trauma into an ally.” 

Marcus picks up on this point, describing his own run-ins with the “dark side” on psychedelics, saying that the experience can be “scary” but “what it’s showing you is a mirror,” and with it, the knowledge that “the darkness is within you.” Engle agrees, and says it takes “a lot of courage to come face-to-face” with that dark force. Both men recognize that this is often the most challenging aspect of using psychedelics. 

As challenging as it is, Engle believes it’s also vitally important, as the “darkness” is needed to “hone the light.” He explains that there’s a spectrum of consciousness along which everything exists, both good and bad, and we always have the choice to enter “the dark path, whatever that means,” but the adversarial force is necessary, as it prompts us to cement our values. 

New Perspectives with Psychedelics

“The ego doesn’t know the difference between annihilation and transformation because the ego experiences them as the same,” explains Dr. Engle, “We go through this annihilating process so we can deprogram all of the ego constructs that we’re imbued with [through childhood, as well as] trans-generationally [and] collectively. We have to be deprogramed of all those things to come back to our inherent nature.”

He calls this process both “disorientating,” “highly uncomfortable” and “highly inconvenient,” especially in today’s society, where “we don’t have the time or the space for that.” Current mental health models that reduce the mind to “chemical components” don’t hold up for him, as he’s an advocate of what he calls “soul-centered” medicine. In this model, he takes into consideration a person’s “karma” (past experience), “persona” (current state) and “darma” (sense of purpose.)

Engle is a proponent of taking “radical responsibility” for our lives, and in that action, he believes it’s impossible not to feel the power that each individual possesses. He takes the idea one step further, saying that each individual is responsible for the ongoing “expansion” of the universe, and that’s what makes us to powerful on both an individual and collective level. 

However, he also notes that our psychology has yet to catch up with the speed of our technological evolution, which is why so many people feel overwhelmed. He doesn’t want people to overlook the travesties of modern life, he wants people to be able to see the catastrophes and understand that they are part of life. For him, this is where psychedelics play a key role, as they can help people get to the point of being able to hold and accept both the beauty and horror of existence. 

Final Thoughts

Dr. Engle is a fascinating character, a doctor who takes his practice so seriously, it’s not enough for him to read the research of others, he has to experience it firsthand. That not only gives him an edge, but also means he’s full of hard-won wisdom. One of his heroes is Victor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist, and he quotes him, saying: “The last of the great human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” For Engle, plant medicine and psychedelics have the unique ability to guide people towards that choice. Check out this podcast, it’s well worth the watch, and may just change your understanding of psychedelics. 

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San Francisco Supervisors Vote to Decriminalize Psychedelics

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last week voted to pass a measure to decriminalize natural psychedelics such as magic mushrooms, giving its unanimous approval to a proposal to reform city policy on the drugs that show promise in the treatment of several serious mental health conditions.

The ordinance calls on the San Francisco Police Department to make the enforcement of laws prohibiting the possession, use, cultivation, and transfer of entheogenic plants and fungi including psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca by adults “amongst the lowest priority for the City and County of San Francisco,” according to the text of the proposal. The ordinance also requests that city resources not be used for “any investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law regarding the use of Entheogenic Plants listed on the Federally Controlled Substances Schedule 1 list.”

The measure notes that psychedelics “can benefit psychological and physical wellness” and “have been shown to be beneficial” for people dealing with addiction, trauma, and anxiety. Additionally, the ordinance encourages the State of California to reform its laws to decriminalize natural psychedelic drugs statewide.

Psychedelics for Mental Health

The proposal was introduced in July by Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Dean Preston with the support of Decriminalize Nature, a group working to end the prohibition of entheogenic plants and fungi. Noting that the natural drugs have the potential to treat serious mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, grief and end-of-life anxiety, the group said that there “is an unmet need in San Francisco’s communities for the compassionate and effective care that these medicines provide.”

“I am proud to work with Decrim Nature to put San Francisco on record in support of the decriminalization of psychedelics and entheogens,” Preston said in a statement after the measure was approved by the Board of Supervisors on September 6. “San Francisco joins a growing list of cities and countries that are taking a fresh look at these plant-based medicines, following science and data, and destigmatizing their use and cultivation. Today’s unanimous vote is an exciting step forward.”

After introducing the measure earlier this year, Preston noted that the measure would bring San Francisco policy in line with the movement to look at psychedelics in a new light after decades of stigma and criminalization.

“The law hasn’t evolved at all since then, and these substances are treated the way they always have been,” Preston said. “At the same time, the scientific community has been expanding their study and research into their therapeutic use.”

With the vote from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the city is the largest municipality in the country to enact a psychedelics decriminalization measure. Denver was the first city in the nation to decriminalize psychedelics in 2019, and since that time others including Washington, D.C., Oakland and Santa Cruz, California, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Easthampton, Massachusetts have adopted similar ordinances. And two years ago, voters in Oregon approved pioneering legislation to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use.

The San Francisco ordinance is similar to a California bill introduced by Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener that would have decriminalized psychedelics statewide. After facing opposition, the legislation was amended to drop the decriminalization provisions and instead only authorize a study of the drugs.

“While I am extremely disappointed by this result, I am looking to reintroducing this legislation next year and continuing to make the case that it’s time to end the War on Drugs,” Wiener said after the bill was gutted. “Psychedelic drugs, which are not addictive, have incredible promise when it comes to mental health and addiction treatment. We are not giving up.”

Joshua Kappel, founding Partner and head of the Entheogens and Emerging Therapies division of the law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP, lauded the unanimous approval of the ordinance by the Board of Supervisors after the vote.

“This is a great step forward for any city, but it’s surprising it took San Francisco over 3 years after Denver and Oakland decriminalized certain plants and fungi,” Kappel wrote in an email to High Times. “Hopefully, this paves the way for meaningful reform at the state level.”

The post San Francisco Supervisors Vote to Decriminalize Psychedelics appeared first on High Times.