Welcome to the MAPS Rites of Passage project, an alternative to the abstinence-only drug abuse prevention strategies currently dominating public discourse. Acknowledging that experimentation with consciousness is nearly universal, we believe that the creation of socially-sanctioned contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana may be a powerful approach to reducing drug abuse. In other words, education about appropriate drug use may be more effective in reducing drug abuse than the pursuit of an undesirable and entirely unobtainable “Drug-Free” world. MAPS’ Rites of Passage project is thus an effort to provide information to families, particularly parents and their adolescent children and young adults, about the potential benefits and risks of an educated and careful relationship with psychedelics and marijuana.
The MAPS Rites of Passage project advances the idea that discussing potentially beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana is an effective technique in reducing haphazard or reckless use. Responsible decision-making must begin with honest and balanced dialogue, dialogue that reflects these substances’ potential to be helpful or harmful. Simplistic answers like “Just say no” education and criminal prohibition not only fail to protect families, they can drive families apart.
A FAMILY CHOICE
While we don’t claim to have the answers to all the difficult questions surrounding psychedelic and marijuana use, we do believe that families must take a greater role in defining the place of these substances in society. We believe that adults should have the right to decide whether or not to experiment with psychedelics and marijuana. Furthermore, we believe that the family is the appropriate locus for decision-making about the use of substances by adolescents. While we recognize that not all minors live within healthy family systems, and we support the role of social service agencies intervening in cases of abuse and neglect, we nevertheless believe that within responsible limits, families should have priority over government in educating their children about drugs. We hope this site will provide families with useful and thought-provoking ideas and information.
One unique aspect of this project is our effort to collect a group of personal accounts, either anonymous or signed, written by members of families who have created their own contexts, rituals, and rites of passage using psychedelics and marijuana. These stories, ideally written by family members of different generations, offer insight into the complexities, difficulties, and rewards of such an unusual and personal choice. We are also asking high school and college students to write accounts of what they would like to tell their younger siblings or future children about drugs, and what they would like to tell their parents. MAPS hopes that stories written by family members who are forging new ground in drug education will be helpful to other families who find the “Just say no” approach inadequate.
Have you experienced psychedelics or marijuana with family members? We’d like to hear from you.
As we continue to compile information for the Rites of Passage site, we hope to provide a broad range of resources designed to open family dialogue about psychedelics and marijuana. The Rites of Passage project will offer ideas for creating a safe and supportive context for psychedelic experiences, primarily for the passage into adulthood, but also for the passage from life to death and other transformations and stages of growth in between. We will plan to offer information on the use of psychedelics and marijuana in religious settings and in cultures around the world, illustrating how these substances can be useful and valuable tools within appropriate social contexts. We will explore drug education and may also work to develop content about psychedelics and marijuana for drug education/drug abuse prevention programs from grade school through high school.
We will also endeavor to balance our exploration of the beneficial uses of these substances with realistic information about the risks inherent in their use. The Rites of Passage project will include material on working with difficult psychedelic experiences and offer links to other sites which tackle the dangers associated with the Drug War.
It is because the issues surrounding psychedelics and marijuana are so complex that support for and communication with young people is so important. By presenting the possibilities of socially sanctioned contexts for psychedelics and marijuana, used within rites of passage and other carefully created settings, MAPS hopes to reduce the abuse of these substances, and work toward their potential as tools for growth and exploration.