Rick Doblin has been making predictions. Ones that visualize a pro-psychedelic future, with mental health for all… and psychedelic driving licenses?

The Future According to Rick Doblin

It may sound fantastical, but Rick Doblin is possibly one the most qualified people to be making predictions of this nature. The founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), he has been deeply involved in the psychedelic renaissance, pushing forward many of the advancements in research and legislation that we regularly report on. When Doblin began MAPS in 1986 it would have seemed almost laughable that we’d be where we are with psychedelic research and acceptance today. So if he makes some predictions we just have to sit up and listen. He has a habit of being quite accurate. 

So what does the future have in store for us according to Mr. Doblin? Let’s find out!

Photo: Bret Hartman (via Creative Commons)

*based on a recent interview Rick Doblin gave to GQ.

The Near Future: Breakthrough Treatments

MAPS has been studying and championing MDMA therapy for a very long time — 31 years in fact, according to Doblin. Currently it is being studied as a treatment for PTSD, eating disorders, social anxiety in autistic adults, and anxiety associated with life threatening illness. In 2021 MAPS reached a milestone that a few years before would have been unthinkable. This was getting MDMA approved by the FDA as a breakthrough treatment for PTSD. By advocating its efficacy for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in war veterans, Doblin presented an urgency for change that no one could really disagree with. He explains;

“We needed a patient population (veterans) that people are sympathetic to, and we needed a condition which is very serious, and, if left untreated, could lead to death, where the available treatments only work for some people. So the fact that we have chosen PTSD, and worked with that… [means] we have built bipartisan support, both in our funders and in our political supporters.”

Due to this success, Doblin is optimistic for the very near-future of MDMA-assisted therapy;

“We will finish our second Phase 3 study in October 2022. From there, we think it’s a year to where we have FDA approval and DEA rescheduling… If the FDA approves a drug for medical use, the DEA must now, by law, reschedule it within 90 days. Somewhere in the fourth quarter of 2023, we should have prescription access to MDMA.”

And, it’s not just the US either — Doblin states that Europe is “basically one year behind.” Exciting news for those Europeans waiting with bated breath! 

MDMA Will Open The Door For Psilocybin

And these MDMA advances will start a wave for other psychedelic substances:

“What I think is going to happen is, at the end of 2023, once MDMA is approved, there’ll start to be more and more ketamine clinics that will adopt MDMA, and other therapists that will just work with MDMA. Then a year or two later comes psilocybin. So we’re going to have a lot of additional clinics, and therapists will all want to be cross trained with ketamine, MDMA, psilocybin, eventually 5-MeO-DMT.”

A DMT assisted therapy session (via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s a tantalizing menu of prospects from the man who knows best!

Further Ahead: Licensed Legalization

But what about further ahead?

Doblin forecasts that within a few years there will be many clinics offering psychedelic treatment options. The FDA has to take data into account, and this is sure to be positive. However, the change of wider public opinion might take slightly longer. Those who are not aware of current research trends and findings, and grew up with anti-psychedelic sentiment and fear mongering, could take a while to convince. 

 “The FDA responds to data, but people respond to stories…there’s going to be a lot of people telling a lot of stories about hopefully most of them having gotten better, and this will also be compounded with psilocybin. So I think what’s going to happen is that it will take 10 years for the culture to really move to the point where we’re ready for a licensed legalization. That will be 2035.”

A ‘Driver’s License’ for Psychedelics and Alcohol

In fact Doblin predicts there could be quite a few changes around intoxicating substances by this time. He imagines that psychedelic users will be able to apply for a special license to get access to them. Sort of like a driver’s license. Interestingly he also expects a change in the way we approach alcohol; 

(The license will be) ”… not just for psychedelics. It’ll be for alcohol, and for other things. Maybe it’ll be looser than that. Maybe it’s just legal. But I think we don’t regulate alcohol tightly enough, maybe. I don’t think we should block people from getting it. It shouldn’t be prohibited, but if you’re a drunk driver, we should make it hard for you to buy alcohol and also you should lose your driver’s license.” 

Photo by Andreas M on Unsplash

When you think about it, it’s kind of a logical idea. As a man who fights to get so-called ‘dangerous’ substances legalized, it must seem utterly bizarre to Doblin that alcohol, judged far worse for health than any psychedelic, is totally legal. When we consider all the good psychedelics have the potential to do, while all the potential for damage alcohol has— well, it seems like a no-brainer. Only time will tell! 

How To Realize The Psychedelic Future

Doblin has hope for the world and humanity, healed with the help of psychedelics. And he’s playing the long game;

“I’m hoping by 2070… basically around 50 years from now—we hope to have a spiritualized humanity that has dealt with all the crises that we have coming up, and has finally come to the point of embracing global thinking, global humanity, and dealt with economic inequity.”

Sounds like utopia Rick! But is there anything we can start on now to help realize this dream? 

The key is to educate, educate, educate;

“We’ve done a lot of good cultural work. The groundwork has been laid…there’s a lot of work to be done, to build a psychedelic-informed culture. That will take decades.”

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

So! You heard the man, spread the word psychonauts! Tell your mother, your friends, your local council and your political representative all about the world psychedelics can help us build! The future could be bright…