THE RIGHT TO ALTER OUR CONSCIOUSNESS: COGNITIVE LIBERTY AND THE POWER OF GRASSROOTS MOVEMENTS
In this talk Charlotte will explain what cognitive liberty is, and on which principles we can fight for drug decriminalisation, based on our right to freely alter our perception. This is a non-trivial claim, with substance-induced experiences often being at the heart of who we are, individually and culturally. A talk on cognitive liberty and on which principles can be used to fight for drug decriminalisation - where do we draw the line between the individuals' right to alter perception and states of consciousness, and the state?
Drug policy is interesting because it raises crucial questions about where to draw the line between the individual and the state: the essence of liberalism is that the criminal law should only be used in response to acts that harm others.
The current situation in the UK will be taken as an example, where a recent ban on all psychoactive substances that affect a person’s mental functioning or emotional state has been enforced, with no reference to harm in its text.
Alcohol and tobacco are exempted, exposing the hypocrisy at the heart of the system. How can we challenge drug prohibition? Which values and which rights can we appeal to? How can our rights - to privacy, to religion, and, most fundamentally, to cognitive liberty, the right to control our own consciousness - be used effectively to bring forth drug policy reform? Is the breaking of ill-conceived, repressive laws a form of psychedelic activism? How can a grassroots movement generate the much-needed revolution?
Charlotte Walsh (Bio)
Charlotte is a lecturer at the Law at Leicester Law School, where she gives a course on Criminology, largely concerned with drug policy. Her research focuses on the interface between psychedelics and the law, viewed from a liberal, human rights-based perspective. Charlotte has published widely on this subject - in journals and edited collections - along with being a regular speaker at psychedelic conferences.
She is a member of the ICEERS Legal Advisory Committee and is on the Steering Committee of the Ayahuasca Defense Fund, thus involved with legal defence work, education and protection, along with advocacy for policy reform.