"Do you feel that some drugs are inherently worse for the user than others?”

A man had approached the stage at the Horizons NYC 2019 psychedelic conference on Saturday, where Dr. Carl Hart, a Columbia University psychology professor and harm reduction expert, was taking questions after his keynote address.

“I have seen methamphetamine have very destructive consequences for a lot of people, and opioids even more so in my view,” the man continued.

“You should probably broaden your scope of people who use them,” Hart responded. “You’re looking at someone who uses all of those drugs.”

Hart’s closing address at New York’s largest annual psychedelic science event, held at The Cooper Union, was titled Dispelling the Lies that the Psychedelic Community Believes About Drugs.” He explained to an audience of psychedelic researchers, advocates, and enthusiasts why the concept of “psychedelic exceptionalism” is so destructive (among other topics).

Psychedelic exceptionalism is an ideology that claims purportedly less-harmful or less-addictive drugs—such as cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, or ayahuasca—to be inherently better, safer, or more desirable for people to use than other drugs.

Heroin, alcohol, or crack cocaine are treated as their contrast. When taken to its extremes, psychedelic exceptionalism stigmatizes not just certain drugs but also the people who use them.