Earlier this month, the website Psymposia published a fascinating—and mildly terrifying—article titled, “Forget Plant-Based Medicine, MDMA is Now Made From Crude Oil.” Citing an article from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies’ (MAPS) Spring 2020 bulletin titled “The Commercial Chemistry of MDMA: From Research to Patient Access,” writer Russell Hausfeld (with David Nickels) quote from the piece which describes how a petroleum-derived chemical (rather than plant-derived sassafras) called “catechol,” described as “a bulk commodity chemical made in thousands of tons per year from crude oil,” can be used as to create MDMA, which has in recent years, like psilocybin, been adopted by some as a part of therapy.
Psymposia’s article explores the environmental impacts of extracting, using, and transporting catechol and challenges MAPS’ stance that because they aren’t using massive amounts of catechol they are not required to provide an environmental impact assessment. Psymposia poses a number of serious questions: “If the commercial production of psychedelics requires extractive industry in order to effectively scale—to meet the demand of those privileged enough to afford medicalized psychedelics—are the ecological and human costs of this production justifiable? Who gets to justify such costs in the first place and why? And, how can medicines that are supposedly intended to address the mental health crisis actually achieve that goal if the manufacturing processes necessary for their production are, themselves, traumatizing and destructive?”
The Outlaw Report has discussed the issues with the growing corporatization of cannabis and The Maryland Cannabis Wholesale Association’s economic impact analysis released earlier this year went out of its way to note that psychedelics is the next burgeoning business for those who have invested in cannabis: “In the Fall of 2019, John Hopkins University announced the first-ever US-based facility dedicated to researching the use of psychedelics in the treatment of addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and many other disorders,” the report explained.
Read “Forget Plant-Based Medicine, MDMA is Now Made From Crude Oil” here.