Lights came on to reveal bodies seated at desks, leaning on walls, crowded cross-legged at the feet of the speaker. Wherever they found a sliver of space, attendees of the 2019 Arizona Psychedelics Conference were piled into the lecture hall.
Having just educated the audience about his clinic’s cannabis-based method of trauma therapy, the presenting psychotherapist went on to advertise clinical training programs, available at the price of $1,433 a month for three months.
A Navajo man raised his hand, its brown color pronounced in a room crowded by mostly middle-class white people.
“You’ve attached your ego to it. The plants do the work, not you, not your training. They don’t need your help to heal,” he said.
The presenter waffled unconvincingly, then moved on to another commenter, a young white woman who offered shallow praise and swept the conversation away from the criticism. Meanwhile, the Navajo man moved to exit.
Later in the hallway, he expanded upon his thoughts.
“It’s good for people to start, from a medical standpoint, incorporating natural-based medicines, plant medicines, into treatment,” he said, calm yet frustrated. “But when we get into where professionals begin to claim that [the healing] is because of them, then they’re starting to get into the controlling of the medicine.”