Documentary advocates use of psychedelic drugs for terminal cancer patients

November 27, 2022
magic mushrooms
Psilocybin mushrooms are commonly known as magic mushrooms. Image: Susan Price/Green Left

Dosed 2: the trip of a lifetime
Documentary film by Tyler Chandler and Nicholas Meyers
In Cinemas

This Canadian documentary is the second in a series advocating the use of psychedelic drugs in various therapies. While the 2019 film Dosed dealt with opioid addiction, this film looks at helping people cope with the prospect of death from cancer.

Dosed 2 focuses on Laurie Brooks, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2018. Her prognosis was poor; she was given, at best, 12 months to live.

At 53 years old, having grown up in a devoutly religious family and with a theology degree, she is probably the last person to be expected to try psilocybin (the active compound in "magic" mushrooms), let alone proselytise for it.

“If someone would have told me I’d become an advocate for magic mushrooms, I’d have told them they were nuts,” she says. “And yet here I am.”

Brooks allowed the filmmakers to accompany her into therapy sessions to discuss her feelings about leaving her family behind and other emotions. They also filmed her during psilocybin trips, using animations to give a sense of what she was seeing as her voice-over relates her mental experience.

Her description is not of a gentle encounter with her inner fears. She describes waves of intense anguish repeatedly overwhelming her, but gently subsiding until she entered a heavenly experience.

Without skilled therapists on hand, such drug use could easily be disastrous. However, the experience allowed her to come to terms with her concerns and achieve a better relationship with her family and life in general.

There is a great deal more in this narrative, including encounters with various medical specialists who promote psychedelic drugs.

Brooks’ journey through cancer is very sensitively handled by the film makers. There are fascinating twists and turns that are best left to surprise the viewer.

Since this film and its predecessor are campaigning for psychedelics, it is difficult for a lay observer to objectively judge their claims. However, it appears credible that psychedelic drugs are legitimate medical treatments.

Neither film explores the political question of whether all drugs should be legalised and managed under public health administration. If all drugs (including alcohol) were legal and all advertising were banned, it would eliminate the basis of much public corruption and empty the prisons.

That is a trip that public policy needs to take, not just individuals.

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