History has shown time and time again how innovative research and experimentation is sometimes deemed too radical for the current paradigm, so much so that it is shunned by the societal structures that fail to understand it, and in some cases even made highly illegal. Whether it was persecuting heretical alchemists and “witches”, indigenous people across the world holding rituals with plant medicines/teachers, or students nabbing cadavers from the cemetery at night in order to further their understanding of the human body, humanity is no stranger to these completely insane fear-based witch hunts. It’s no secret that the biggest witch hunt today goes by the name “The War on [some people who use certain] Drugs”.
David Nickles, an underground researcher who has presented novel information at major psychedelic conferences on behalf of the DMT-Nexus, elaborates on the need for underground research via The Nexian :
Shortly after presenting on behalf of the DMT-Nexus at the Psychedemia conference at the University of Pennsylvania, in September 2012, I was interviewed by a Harvard Graduate student for a paper he was writing. The purpose of the interview was to discuss “the decision-making process related to pursuing psychedelic research.” By and large, it was a positive discussion that I hope was as enjoyable for him as it was for me.
During the interview, I was asked a question that I couldn’t get out of my head, even after the interview had finished. I was asked why I felt there was a need for underground psychedelic research. I found myself somewhat caught off guard by this question, as the need for psychedelic research has always seemed self-evident to me. Psychedelics challenge so much of what we are commonly told about the nature of the world around us, how could they not be deserving of research? At first glance, this need for psychedelic research, combined with the fact that these substances are currently criminalized, generates a de facto need for underground research. That is to say, if there’s a need for researching psychedelic compounds and these compounds have been criminalized, then becoming a criminal in order to research them seems to be a viable, or perhaps even necessary, route.
I do not deny that there is sanctioned research being done on psychedelics, nor do I deny that there are groundbreaking results coming out of sanctioned psychedelic research. However, the fact of the matter is that there is not “enough” psychedelic research being done, nor do I believe it is possible to ever pursue “enough” psychedelic research within the confines of sanctioned institutions set within a prohibitionist paradigm. Underground psychedelic research has pushed the envelope in many ways, at times going beyond the limits of sanctioned science in significant ways (examples range from extraction methodologies to phytochemical and ethnobotanical research, and beyond). These underground contributions to psychedelic science are indivisible from the broader context of psychedelic research, but are paradoxically dismissed by some (but certainly not all) sanctioned psychedelic researchers.