The blurred line between political activism and scholarship is often hard to avoid. That tendency seems on display at Harvard University.
A Well Worn Path
The case is the “Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation” (POPLAR). The medical school isn’t doing this research, nor is the public health faculty. The law school is behind this deeply troubling project. The “legal eagles” at Harvard are steering the nation toward a replay of the deceptive show that brought the country “medical marijuana.” Psychedelic hallucinative drugs may be the new marijuana.
The simple ploy has played out in many states across the nation. Step one popularizes the idea that the forbidden substance may have some medical value. Next, the media assert that denying beneficial effects to sufferers would be inhumane. Bills allowing “medical use” then sail through state legislatures. Profiteers then set up special “dispensaries” which can dispense the substance and quick “prescriptions” easily—often without seeing a real doctor. Finally, so many people use the substance that the state encounters little resistance in making its “recreational use” legal.
A Whole New Class of Property Law
The new Harvard project examines five “key areas” of the psychedelic drug problem. Three of these raise red flags.
The first goal is to face “Challenges at the Intersection of Psychedelics and Intellectual Property Law.” At this “intersection” lie many future investment opportunities. One major sponsor of the project is the Saisei Foundation, a Japanese firm. The POPLAR web page informs the public that the project was “Launched in summer 2021 with a generous grant from the Saisei Foundation.”
The “foundation” is not a foundation in the ordinary sense of the term. Most people link the word “foundation” with a non-profit organization. However, Bloomberg says the “Iwate Saisei Ikai Foundation was founded in 1920.” It continues, “The Company’s line of business includes providing psychiatric diagnostic medical services and inpatient treatment.”
Is Saisei Ikai financing POPLAR so that the “company” might garner some profit once psychedelics are liberated? It is a matter of concern.
Pushing Psychedelic Drugs and Equity
Another one of POPLAR’s five goals is “Access to Psychedelic Therapies and Equity in Emerging Psychedelics Industries.”
The keyword of concern in the second goal is “equity.”
Social commentators like to put labels on decades. This decade is the “woke” twenties or the “age of equity.” No academic journal or study is complete without some hand-wringing over equity. The POPLAR project is keeping up with academic fashion.
Mentioning equity calls to mind another parallel with marijuana. In 2017, the marijuana industry publication, The Cannabist, ran an article that spelled out ways in which some states and localities tilted the developing “legal” marijuana market in the direction of racial and ethnic minorities.
Oakland, California reserved “half of the city’s marijuana licenses for low-income residents who have been convicted of a cannabis crime or who live in a specified neighborhood where drug enforcement has been intense.” Florida’s legislature made “three additional cultivation licenses… available, with one of them designated for a member of the Florida Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association.” Maryland allowed “up to seven more licenses to grow marijuana with two going to… minority-owned companies.” Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington (State), and West Virginia also took similar steps.
The future production and use of psychedelic drugs may also find racial overtones at its intersection.
An Objective Study?
A third goal may be the reason that Harvard is allowing POPLAR to use its facilities—“Opportunities for Federal Support of Psychedelics Research.”
Since the Cold War, federal government research dollars have been “mothers’ milk” to university labs. An opportunity to drink even more deeply is not to be overlooked.
Harvard’s Dr. Mason Marks is in charge of POPLAR. He is no stranger to this field. In addition to his duties at the Harvard Law School, he is also an “affiliated fellow” at longtime rival Yale Law School’s “Information Society Project.” He also teaches Drug Law and Pharmaceutical Innovation at the University of New Hampshire.
A hallmark of academic work is objectivity. For research to be valid, the team conducting it should go where the facts lead them, without preconceived notions.
Is Dr. Marks’s “study” intellectually objective? His bio reports that “Mason’s academic research focuses on drug policy, health technology, and FDA regulation. He is particularly interested in state and federal controlled substance regulation, health privacy, and the application of artificial intelligence to medical decision making.”
Earlier this year, “Governor Kate Brown appointed Mason to the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board, which advises the Oregon Health Authority on the creation of a statewide psilocybin industry.” Psilocybins are naturally occurring psychedelic drugs, sometimes called “magic mushrooms,” whose use became legal in Oregon in 2020.
It seems that Dr. Marks might be an effective conduit between Harvard and those tempting “opportunities for Federal Support of Psychedelics Research.”
The acceptance of marijuana use is a victory for the left, which has always sought its legalization. Radical libertarians joined the leftists during the nineties and successfully pushed the “medicinal marijuana” message. In many places, the “dispensaries” are now so well established that it is easy to forget that marijuana use and sale remain criminal acts under federal law.
It will be years before American society grasps the ramifications of expanded marijuana use. However, the leftists will not let the grass grow under their feet. The academics at Harvard are all too ready to push out into more treacherous and less charted waters of psychedelics.
The Moral Dimension
The goal of this research is not just profits, social justice, or government dollars. This project is an attack upon limits that keep society safe and virtuous. Behind the scholarly veneer is the cry to rid society of all restrictions so that all can live lives of frenetic intemperance.
The liberals-libertarian coalition sees drug use as a “victimless crime.” They want to remove drug abuse from the moral sphere.
Such a separation is impossible. Illicit drug use mutilates both the mind and the body. It encourages other immoral behaviors. Drug abuse and crime are intimately linked, and that linkage does not vanish if “recreational use” becomes legal. Addicts consume their resources, and many then go on to theft and other criminal activities to obtain more drugs. Drug-induced paranoia is common and can cause the user to attack others physically—often resulting in permanent injury or death.
Please, Harvard University, use your resources to build a better society instead of contributing to its decay!