Is Taking LSD and MDMA a Human Right?

By Zachary Siegel 05/07/15

Advocates demand bans on psychedelics in Norway be lifted on basis of human rights.

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A psychedelics advocacy group in Norway is arguing that the use of LSD, MDMA, and psilocybin are basic human rights, conducive to good health and well-being. Though the science is on their side, the push for liberal use of hallucinogens in stringent Norway may be a long and slow battle. 

“I helped myself with psychedelics and want others to have the same opportunity without the risk of arrest,” said Pål-Ørjan Johansen to The New York Times.

Mr. Johansen is a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Alongside his American-born wife, Teri Krebs, he is co-founder of EmmaSofia, a non-profit organization which advocates for “increased access to quality-controlled MDMA and psychedelics, for medical, scientific, and other legal purposes.”

On the EmmaSofia website, Mr. Johansen states, “I was a smoker, had PTSD and alcohol problems. Psychedelics and MDMA helped me quit smoking and sober up. Now I want to contribute to making these options more available to others.”

As it stands, such drugs are banned in Norway, as in most countries, but under tight supervision they can be used for medical and scientific research. Ina Roll Spinnangr, member of the Liberal Party, told the Times that in order to change strict drug policy in Norway, “You have to use a nanny argument: The government needs to take control and regulate the market instead of leaving it to criminals.”

“The argument that you decide yourself what you put in your own body will never work in Norway.” Which is why she thinks a strategic course of action would discuss regulating and liberalizing as opposed to legalizing, she said.

Supreme Court Justice Ketil Lund, who advises EmmaSofia on its legal side, supports Mr. Johansen’s campaign and feels it is part of a “bigger struggle” to fight antiquated drug war policy, which he said is “an absolute failure.”

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Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist specializing in science, health and drug policy. His reporting has also appeared in Slate, The Daily Beast, Salon, Huffington Post, among others. He writes often about addiction, sometimes drawing from his own experience. You can find out more about Zachary on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.