Dear Reader,

Thanks so much for joining the MindSite News community and signing up for our newsletters. It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the very first of our newsletters – MindSite News Originals, where we will introduce you to our most recent original reporting and stories from the MindSite News team.

We would also like to ask you to help us build MindSite News by sending this email to friends and colleagues who you think would enjoy it. We want to bring timely, important reporting on mental health issues to as wide an audience as possible, so we appreciate your help.

This week, we will also begin sending out two other newsletters:

• MindSite News Daily, a collection of the most important mental health news from media outlets around the globe 

• Tom Insel’s Research Roundup, a weekly curated look at the most important mental health research from the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

Now, back to MindSite News Originals. Here’s a look at one of the first stories we posted when we launched Sept. 29, an exclusive interview with journalist and author Michael Pollan.

Michael Pollan on the Ebbing Drug War and the Fast-Growing Era of Psychedelic Research

For three decades, in eight books and untold articles, Michael Pollan has been writing and teaching us about the food we eat and the ways people and plants intersect in the natural (and unnatural) world. In the process, he helped create a new field of journalism centered on the food system and its impact on the economy, the environment, and human relationships – not to mention how we prepare and celebrate our meals. 

In recent years, he has turned his attention from our palate to our mind – and our use of natural substances to alter it. He is now documenting the explosion of interest, research and investment into psychedelic plants and substances and the vast potential they may hold for changing consciousness, treating mental illness and alleviating suffering. And once again, he is helping forge a new area of journalistic inquiry. I sat down recently with Pollan in the garden of his Berkeley, California, home to discuss his newest book, This is Your Mind on Plants, his work and his views on the transition from the drug war of Richard Nixon to the new “post-war” era we may now be in. 

You’ve written about this shift from a ”war on drugs” to a post-drug war or a “drug peace.” 

The drug war was presented to us as a public health campaign, but there were other agendas. What most of us think of as the drug war is this legacy of Nixon from 1970 or 71. He’s responding to the counterculture and the civil rights movement and African Americans. The drug war gave him a powerful political tool to demonize and disrupt those communities. That has been one of the big legacies of the drug war. Look at incarceration rates for drug crimes for African Americans. (Note: From 1991 to 1993, according to FBI reports, Blacks made up 12% of the US population, 36% of arrests for possessing drugs and 49% of arrests for selling them.) Mass incarceration was fueled by nonviolent drug offenses…

Continue reading…

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Thanks for reading and see you next time,

The MindSite News Team

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Type of work:

Laurie Udesky reports on mental health, social welfare, health equity and public policy issues from her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.