Mom Shares Psychedelic Drugs with Dying Daughter

Originally appearing at The pain involved in losing a child is arguably the most difficult experience that a human being can face, as it seems to go against the flow of nature. Although we all must face our own death eventually, being confronted with life’s impermanence at an early age can be far more difficult than at the end of a full life span, and watching helplessly as one’s child loses their embodied form is devastating beyond what words can express. This is why, out of love and compassion, we will all do almost anything to help ease the suffering of our children when they are dying–including giving them illegal drugs. The Santa Cruz Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)–which supports medical research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs–recently published a powerful new book by mind-body educator Marilyn Howell that shatters Western culture’s preconceptions about how to approach death and dying. Howell’s beautifully-written book Honor Thy Daughter repeatedly brought tears to my eyes and, although often difficult to read, it allowed me to appreciate my own life in profound new ways. It also highlighted just how vital and important psychedelic research is, and how ill-conceived our current drug laws are. Honor Thy Daughter was one of the most powerful and important books that I’ve ever read. I think that every human being should read this valuable book, as the lessons are so universal. Howell did an amazing service for so many people by writing this extraordinarily intimate book and sharing her inspiring personal story. It was painful to read a lot of it, of course, absolutely heart-wrenching to hear what she went through–but the end came so beautifully that all the suffering seemed to transform into an exquisitely precious gift. When I spoke with Marilyn about why she wrote the book, she said, “My primary motivation was to let people know about the potential of MDMA and psychedelic drugs in general–in a good and and positive way–and how they can be used in a therapeutic environment. I had run into so much prejudiced, biased misinformation from doctors, and I thought that Mara’s story would help dispel some of that misinformation.” Marilyn’s daughter Mara was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer at the age of 32, which quickly progressed into Stage 4, despite trying every conventional and unconventional medical treatment available. Mara’s courage and determination to battle the cancer are certainly inspirational and admirable, but the cancer’s progression was simply unstoppable, and the strong-willed determination that kept her alive began to prevent her from accepting her impending death and come to peace with it. As the pain and suffering grew, and the end drew near, Mara and Marilyn considered their limited options, and decided to explore the possibilities of psychedelic psychotherapy. Early LSD studies with advanced-stage cancer patients showed that LSD-assisted psychotherapy could alleviate symptoms of anxiety, tension, depression, sleep disturbances, psychological withdrawal, and even severe physical pain. As I have reported in previous columns, MAPS is currently supporting research into how LSD and MDMA can be helpful in treating end-of-life anxiety. Marilyn found an underground psychotherapist who provided several sessions for Mara with MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, and cannabis. The MDMA especially appeared to help considerably. For a time, Mara was pain-free, peaceful, able to easily communicate about emotionally-difficult topics, accepting of her situation, and, seemingly, genuinely happy. In the midst of so much trauma and darkness, the psychedelic psychotherapy appeared to be a Godsend, and Mara died peaceful and “radiant.” “I’d like to see the full spectrum of psychedelics be integrated into hospice care,” Marilyn told me, “I think that different drugs are appropriate for different people at different stages…It would be lovely if all of those drugs became available by prescription.” This book highlights just how out-of-touch our medical profession is with the value of psychedelic psychotherapy, and just how primitive our current political system is, which criminalizes compassionate and spiritual treatments for those among us that need it the most. All of the proceeds from the sale of Honor Thy Daughter go to support psychedelic research. To order a copy, visit: To “like” Marilyn Howell’s book on Facebook, go to: To find out more about MAPS see: If you enjoy my column, and want to learn more about psychedelic and cannabis culture, “like” my Facebook page: and follow me on Twitter:!/DavidJayBrown In his most recent column, award-winning writer David Jay Brown praises Honor Thy Daughter, Marilyn Howell’s new memoir about her experience seeking out underground psychedelic therapy for her daughter suffering from colon cancer. True stories like this are reminders of the urgent need for research into the real risks and benefits of psychedelic therapy.