Pubdate: Mon, 21 Nov 2016
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2016 The StarPhoenix
Author: Morgan Modjeski
Page: A3

Panel Discussions


Whether it's LSD or magic mushrooms, psychedelic drugs have long been
a point of contention. An upcoming event hopes to educate Saskatoon
residents on their medical uses and their potentially research-rich

Organized by Erika Dyck, a University of Saskatchewan history
professor and the Canada Research Chair in the History of Medicine,
the event is called An Evening of Psychedelics and takes place at the
Underground Cafe on Nov. 23.

"Over the last few years there's been some real interest in what
people are starting to call a psychedelic renaissance, where we're
looking at psychedelics for their therapeutic potential today," she

Four panellists specializing in entheogenic research, which is the
study of plants that cause different states of consciousness, will
present with Dyck. She said there is a rejuvenated interest in the
mind-altering drugs from an academic perspective.

"There's very little going on in either psychiatry or medicine - or
really any scientific field - looking at psychedelics in Saskatchewan,
and in fact, there's very little research going on in Canada," she
said. "But there are pockets of public interest that are cropping up
in other parts of the world."

Pointing to adjunct University of British Columbia professor Mark
Haden's research into MDMA - commonly called ecstasy - as a way to
treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dyck said she hopes the event
demystifies the drugs.

"It's really interesting to have this opportunity ... to talk about
that as a historian, not as a scientist, and to think about the power
that the public consumer has had on the shape of these drugs and the
way that we understand them," she said.

One of the four panellists set to speak at next week's event is Dr.
Matthew Oram.

Working as an Associated Medical Services post-doctoral fellow in
medicine and health care at the University of Calgary, Oram has done
extensive research on the use of LSD in psychiatry in the U.S.

While the stigma around these drugs has been reduced, it still exists,
he said.

"People think that these drugs will turn you crazy, that they're
inherently dangerous or that this is some kind of far-out quackery
medicine, and none of these things are really true," he said.

"When conducted properly under appropriate supervision, it's generally
considered a very safe treatment." He said reduced stigma may help the
case for funding this type of research in the future.

He hopes to provide attendees with a balanced perspective on the
substances and the role prohibition may have played in restricting
access to them for research purposes.

"(It's to) get away from the sensationalist understanding of the
drugs," he said. "At the same time ... they're not miracle cures, but
they are an interesting and potentially valuable research area."
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