Extinction Rebellion founder calls for mass psychedelic disobedience – New Scientist News

Gail Bradbrook is a co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion environmental movement

Gail Bradbrook is a co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion environmental movement

Mark Kerrison / Alamy Stock Photo

A co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion environmental movement has called for a mass ingestion of psychedelic substances in protest against the criminalisation of drugs.

“I would support a mass civil disobedience where we take medicine to tell the state that they have absolutely no right to control our consciousness and to define our spiritual practice,” Gail Bradbrook said in a press briefing as part of Breaking Convention, a conference on psychedelics in London on 16 August.

Since launching in 2018, Extinction Rebellion has moved climate change up the political and media agenda through a campaign of mass civil disobedience. In April 2019, they blocked streets and bridges in London, demanding the UK government adopt a more ambitious target for reaching net zero carbon emissions.

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Bradbrook, a former biophysicist, said it was not Extinction Rebellion’s policy to promote the use of drugs, but they had played a role in her personal journey towards founding the movement.

“The causes of the crisis are political, economic, legal and cultural systemic issues but underneath that are issues of human trauma, powerlessness, scarcity and separation. The system resides within us and the psychedelic medicines are opportunities to help us shift our consciousness,” she told the conference.

Psychedelics such as psilocybin, a compound found in magic mushrooms, and the plant brew ayahuasca are being investigated as therapies for depression, addiction and other mental health problems.

Studies have also suggested that experiences with psychedelic drugs might change people’s political views and their attitudes towards nature. Participants in a small clinical trial of psilocybin for depression scored more highly on questionnaires measuring “nature relatedness” and lower for authoritarian views after treatment, with effects persisting for up to a year. Surveys of the general population have also found that psychedelic use correlates with these.

Rosalind Watts, a clinical psychologist at Imperial College London who has guided patients through psilocybin therapy, said there is an important link between mental health and the ecological crisis. “We are in an epidemic of depression and disconnection from ourselves and our environment,” she said. “When you’re suffering from depression, it’s incredibly difficult to care and do something.”

Bradbrook said psychedelics must be used in the right way, and that we can learn from indigenous cultures that routinely use substances like ayahuasca. “Whilst I’m all for psychedelic science – I think it’s fantastic – I don’t think we necessarily have time to wait for the science to tell us these medicines are useful. The indigenous cultures have already shown us the ways.”

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