MDMA, the drug known as Ecstasy or Molly, should be used to “cure” people of their “hateful” and “anti-Semitic” beliefs, according to the Jewish Daily Forward.
Can we cure antisemitism with Molly?
by Rob Eshman, Senior Contributing Editor | July 15, 2023
If you learned that a single pill had led a neo-Nazi to renounce his hateful beliefs, would you:
– Demand more research to find out if the pill really works
– Ignore existing evidence and continue to outlaw the pill?
If you picked the second option, congratulations: You’ve just described the folly of American drug policy for the past 40 years.
We’ve long known that MDMA, more popularly known as Molly or Ecstasy, is an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Israel has used it for this purpose since 2019.
But there is also some preliminary evidence that the drug can turn haters into lovers, making it a powerful potential tool for deradicalization.
The FDA is expected to approve MDMA and psilocybin, also known as psychedelic mushrooms, for PTSD therapy within the next two years. But further progress on more experimental fronts has long been delayed by regulatory hurdles.
At a time when hate, extremism and intolerance threaten to tear America apart, it is mind-boggling that we are not pushing to better understand how MDMA and other psychedelics can bring people together, or aid efforts to deradicalize people lost to hate.
How MDMA changed one neo-Nazi
The most promising evidence of MDMA’s effects on hate was discovered by accident. During the conclusion of a 2020 University of Chicago double blind study on the effect of MDMA on social touch, one participant known as “Brandon” revealed to researchers that he led the Midwest branch of Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group that played a key role in the 2017 “Unite the Right!” rally — and that taking MDMA had led him to a life-changing revelation.
“Love is the most important thing,” he told a stunned researcher, who followed up. “Nothing matters without love.”
Eshman lamented how MDMA is banned as a Schedule I drug in America and detailed how other Jewish academics at Yale in Connecticut and Hebrew University in Israel are researching drugging people with the powerful hallucinogen to fight anti-Semitism.
[Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, MAPS global impact officer], a Yale graduate whose time as a social worker exposed her to the injustices of the drug war, runs the annual Jewish Psychedelic Summit, which connects doctors, rabbis, therapists and others in an online “global conversation” about the connections between psychedelics and Judaism. She is working with researchers at Hebrew University to develop metrics for exploring MDMA’s use in conflict resolution between Palestinians and Israelis. But she and Nuwer say preliminary results point to a big caveat in psychedelic research in general, and MDMA in particular: it’s not magic.
Intention, said Nuwer, is everything. Couples need to go into MDMA therapy looking to heal their relationship. Addicts need to want to kick their habits — in which case MDMA has proven to be far more effective than traditional therapies. Cult members need to be ready to leave their cults.
And former white supremacists like Brandon need to be open to change.
Before taking part in the study, Brandon had already been outed as an extremist and had been fired from his job because of it. His family was no longer talking to him. He wanted a new life.
Congress is already working on legalizing the drug for research purposes.