Medicines are available, but not accessible to those who need them the most. Why? It’s not a simple answer. We could say it’s simply about cost. Some people can’t afford it, much less leave the country for it, but it’s deeper than that. There are many other variables on the topic of privilege and access, such as colonized minds and traumatized bloodlines.
This medicine movement will not reach everyone by having advocates go to conferences, preach to the choir, and then go back to our social bubbles. Nor will it reach everyone simply by making it affordable. As the saying goes: “It’s about each one, reach one—each one, teach one.” It’s about critical thinking, creating bridges of communication, real relationships, cultural context, and social structures to hold this work.
In other words, it’s about TRIBE.
Choices for liberation are being overlooked by a colonized mentality. We are raised on distractions of social constructs like institutional religion, pop culture, money, status, and propaganda. We are being told what to believe vs. knowing for ourselves and trusting ourselves to look. Education is key when it comes to trying to bring a horse to sacred water for medicine work. Yet, even within American English, sometimes people speak different languages. Some white people feel unconsciously uncomfortable because of the cultural differences in the way some black people speak—and vice versa. Subconscious racist mentalities and historical trauma permeate every facet of our society.
We need to come together, find our common humanity, make space for different ways of knowing and different styles of expression, and learn about our unique histories and challenges. In my experience speaking at these events, they are predominantly white-presenting male academics and wounded healers taking an appropriated path. Let us nurture true diversity, for every system in nature prospers with diversity.
We could put on a suit and tie go from door to door with our plant medicine pamphlets, offering: “Would you like to learn how save yourself from yourself?”
We need to break out of our bubbles and literally walk into new neighborhoods and find a good way to be of service. We could put on a suit and tie go from door to door with our plant medicine pamphlets, offering: “Would you like to learn how save yourself from yourself?” But it’s not that easy, is it?
Move with care and consideration, as there is much distrust in some communities when it comes to outsiders and the medical system and, thus, the medicalization of psychedelic medicines.
Move with care and consideration, as there is much distrust in some communities when it comes to outsiders and the medical system and, thus, the medicalization of psychedelic medicines. People of color have survived unspeakable violations with regards to medical trauma and treatments without informed consent.
People of color have been disproportionately harmed and stigmatized by the drug war. Prohibition must end in order to open this visionary door of healing for many. We must acknowledge that people of color have been shut down every time they step up. Black Panthers, Black Wall Street, Flint, Michigan—to name a few. We have communities of color that are totally disconnected and disassociated from their natural birth-given right roots—for a reason. Why? Those roots are very powerful.
Systemic racism does not want everyone to wake up, take the “red pill,” and unplug from the matrix. Just look at all the companies heavily invested in the modern chain gang of cheap prison labor extracted from nonviolent drug offenses. Let’s start by boycotting those companies. Let us each examine our small place in the larger systemic racist machine that seeks to perpetuate itself.
As authentic community outreach grows, high-end retreat centers and affluent medicine circles can donate a percentage to support scholarships for someone in need—all while they learn what the guest “in need” has to teach about life.
As authentic community outreach grows, high-end retreat centers and affluent medicine circles can donate a percentage to support scholarships for someone in need—all while they learn what the guest “in need” has to teach about life. It’s about reciprocity, not just charity.
With prohibition lifting, people could have access to either medical ibogaine treatments or spiritual ceremonies through nonprofits under the banner of religious freedom. Then there is the question of getting the medicine here.
Currently, many online sources are of poor quality or weak, adulterated with dangerous additives, or ripped from the ground by the hands of elephant poachers.
Exporting iboga from its native land is now difficult, as Gabon understandably wants to protect it from rapacious neocolonial appetites. The price of iboga is being driven up by foreign demand, while iboga is being overharvested in many places. Some people are selling off their sacred medicine in order to survive rapid industrial expansion and displacement. Currently, many online sources are of poor quality or weak, adulterated with dangerous additives, or ripped from the ground by the hands of elephant poachers.
To supply medical treatments, we need ethically-sourced, high quality ibogaine from alternative, sustainably grown plants like Voacanga africana. Dr. Bronner’s is exploring this option now. To support spiritual ceremonies, we need fair-trade, ceremonially harvested medicine from the villages of our Bwiti relations. Despite the top-tier government restrictions around iboga, some Bwiti elders have expressed to us their desire to share medicine with spiritual family in a sustainable way. This can help to support the communities that want to participate—in true partnership.
Ibogaine would certainly cost less than a decade of soul-crushing, toxic methadone or Suboxone.
I see a day when ibogaine will be covered by insurance. The end of Prohibition would mean that ibogaine treatments would be much safer—as there would be space and safety to develop better standards of care and accountability among providers. Ibogaine would certainly cost less than a decade of soul-crushing, toxic methadone or Suboxone. “Soul-crushing” are words from people we know who have lost many years of life to these substances and feel betrayed by the medical system. These medications are extremely painful and challenging to wean off of it, and it takes up to two months of abstinence from those substances before one can safely receive ibogaine treatment. Though we support harm reduction, there is no excuse for decades of suffering—and not educating people about all the available natural, safer alternatives for said harm reduction.
To conclude, it is a privilege for us Westerners to sit with these traditions, heal with them, learn from them, and share them. Every conference should have indigenous doctors as a part of the conversation, especially since they were often the ones who led the wounded healer to the medicine in the first place.
Medicine can be a choice for all, if we really want it to be a choice for all. I know the door is open for change. From a Universal perspective, it starts with equal access to truth. It’s time to open up the doors to a universal consciousness for ALL!
Art by Karina Alvarez.
Did you enjoy reading this article?
Please support Chacruna's work by donating to us. We are an independent organization and we offer free education and advocacy for psychedelic plant medicines. We are a team of dedicated volunteers!
Can you help Chacruna advance cultural understanding around these substances?