New York Now Has a Psychedelic Athenaeum And It’s "Doors of Perception" Are Now Open
New York Now Has a Psychedelic Athenaeum And It’s "Doors of Perception" Are Now Open

The Psychedelic Athenaeum, presented by The Psychedelic Assembly, an organization dedicated to the conversation and education of psychedelics, is a 1000 square ft. psychedelic library, social club and community center, aiming to provide a safe space for the psychedelic curious.

It’s debatable whether Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is truly about a psychedelic trip, but as you enter the Athenaeum designed to open up your mind to the world of psychedelia, you truly feel like you are stepping through the looking glass.

Suzy Baker, the Co-founder and COO of The Psychedelic Assembly, said in an interview with NBC New York’s Linda Gaudino, “We believe that by bringing people together to integrate these profound experiences through art, through education, through community, that provides a kind of a more holistic experience for the one that is using psychedelics. As these things become legal, we just believe that it’s very important to provide space and community.”

The idea behind creating a space for psychedelic explorers was born after Suzy Baker  met Co-Founder Kat Lakey at a retreat center in Cusco. Suzy was studying ethnobotany and traditional plant medicine in Peru which is where she had the profound realization that psychedelics can be used as tools to help and heal people. “What I realized was that psychedelics can really help people. But the human container is critical – having human connection and people to listen to and talk to about these experiences afterward. This is what really, really helps people heal.”

During the 2020 pandemic, Kat was pushed to return from the Amazon and go to Manhattan where she entered the environmental activism scene. This is where she bumped into Susie at a demonstration held outside of the United Nations, and a few months later, the two came up with the idea of creating the Psychedelic Assembly.

Earlier this year, New York state lawmakers introduced a bill to legalize natural psychedelics including DMT, ibogaine, mescaline, psilocybin and psilocin. 

If passed, the bill would legalize the “possession, use, cultivation, production, creation, analysis, gifting, exchange, or sharing by or between natural persons of twenty-one years of age or older of a natural plant or fungus-based hallucinogen” and would also allow people to use natural psychedelics for religious purposes. New Yorkers will also be able to provide psychedelic services “with or without remuneration.”

The legislation is creating  a medical pathway for patients suffering debilitating mental health disorders to access psilocybin-assisted therapies ahead of FDA approval, which is anticipated in late 2025

The proposed bill, which is following the therapeutic models in Colorado and Oregon, also plans on setting up a psychedelic policy advisory board with 13 members that are experts in therapy and pharmacology who will be responsible for industry best practices, codes of professional conduct, safety standards, psychedelic facilitator education, training and evaluation.

Both psilocybin-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant depression and major depressive disorder and MDMA therapy for PTSD have received a breakthrough designation status by the FDA, and clinical trials have provided consistent evidence that the substances are effective in treating mental health ailments such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and more.

There is also a growing consensus amongst experts that the federal classification of psilocybin as a Schedule I controlled substance is not scientifically coherent.

“American psychiatrists’ perceptions about safety and abuse/therapeutic potentials associated with certain psychoactive drugs were inconsistent with those indicated by their placement in drug schedules,” the researchers concluded. “These findings add to a growing consensus amongst experts that the current drug policy is not scientifically coherent.”

Only time will tell whether New York is ready for psychedelic legalization. For now, Big Apple Dwellers will have to content themselves with visiting the Psychedelic Athenaeum.

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