This Wednesday, federal agents peering out the windows of the DEA headquarters in Virginia were greeted by the sight of giant apes erecting a 9-foot-tall monolith. At first, DEA staff may have thought they had accidentally been dosed with some of the psychedelic drugs they have been fighting to eradicate, but what they were actually witnessing was a protest against the agency's neanderthal drug policies.
The protest was staged by a group of criminal justice and drug policy reform activists calling themselves “Anonymous Apes.” The activists, dressed head-to-toe in ape costumes, wheeled a metal monolith weighing over 2,000 pounds onto the grounds of DEA headquarters, hauled it upright, and then danced around it while smoking joints. The protest is a reference to Stanley Kubrick's classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which an alien monolith triggers the evolution of apes into modern humankind.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration of the Department of Justice has failed the American people for too long,” Anonymous Apes wrote in a statement to advocacy group DC Marijuana Justice (DCMJ). “This monolith of government oppression has imprisoned 10’s of millions of American citizens for seeking healing relief with natural substances.”
“The DEA, much like a floppy disc or VHS tape, must innovate to represent current science around plant medicines and end its lopsided enforcement practices which disproportionately affect people of color,” the group wrote. “We believe this monolith has arrived to guide us to a better future, and joins with us to demand that the DEA be brought to justice.”
Specifically, the Apes called out the DEA for arming local cops with military-grade weapons, using civil asset forfeiture to steal money from innocent Americans, and supporting “no-knock” raids that have led to the death of Breonna Taylor and thousands of other innocent people. The group also decries the feds' support for incarceration over treatment and rehabilitation and their efforts to block research into “numerous life-saving natural substances, including, but not limited to: cannabis, mescaline, iboga, ayahuasca, and psilocybin.”
After fifty years of blind commitment to the War on Drugs, the DEA is actually already making some effort to support research into cannabis and psychedelic medicine. Earlier this week, the agency detailed its plans to vastly increase the quotas of legal cannabis and psychedelics that it would make available to researchers next year. Under this new plan, the feds intend to authorize a 6,300 percent increase in legal MDMA production, an 1,150 percent boost in LSD production, and a 60 percent increase in legal cannabis cultivation.
The DEA will make these Schedule I drugs available to researchers who are conducting federally-approved trials to study the benefits and risks of psychedelic medicine. The FDA has already granted “Breakthrough Therapy” status to MDMA and psilocybin for treating PTSD, anxiety, and other conditions, and if clinical trials continue to be successful, these medicines could become federally legal within the next two years.
But even as these psychedelic medicines inch towards legalization, the Biden administration remains committed to the senseless prohibition of cannabis. In a statement, the DCMJ condemned “the contemporary policies of the DEA, which stymy research, development, and the full legalization of the cannabis plant.”
“Former presidents of the United States of America lawfully grew cannabis and it is anathema that American citizens are presently prevented from doing so without onerous licenses and red tape due to the DEA’s monolithic presence in drug policy,” the group continued. “DCMJ supports these demands and calls upon the Joseph Biden administration to right the wrongs put in place by the DEA while he was a member of Congress.”