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"I believe MDMA has an important role to play in the healing of our country" - Emanuel Sferios on Reversing Drug Stigmas

The founder of Dancesafe and the director of the forthcoming documentary MDMA The Movie, Emanuel Sferios recently sat down with Psychedelic times to discuss the dangers of drug stigmas and prohibition. Sferios is focused on reversing negative perceptions of drugs and he explains why this is a solution for not only saving lives but bringing the country together.

With his documentary, Sferios is hoping to demystify and improve the dialogue surrounding drugs as well as to plant the seed for the reversal of drug stigmas. Sferios holds the belief that policies that rely on prohibition or instilling fear only increase the potential for dangerous situations and drug abuse.

"To the drug warriors, increasing stigma is actually considered a good thing. They see it as dissuading people from using drugs. They want drug use to be perceived as abnormal and derelict. This is why we see so many ridiculous, reefer-madness-style ads and public service announcements. One example is the Electric Zoo video they put out last year and made all their attendees watch. They may have thought they were doing a good thing, warning people about the dangers of using Molly, but the real intention was obviously increasing the stigma around using the drug. The young male they showed on the drug was acting in clearly embarrassing ways, and his female companion abandoned him even as he was having a medical emergency. The message of the PSA was clear: if you use Molly, you’re not only going to die, but you’re going to appear ridiculous to your friends. Needless to say, this PSA hasn’t reduced Molly use in New York, but it certainly contributed to a drug war culture of stigma and judgment that can only lead to less responsible Molly use."

There is a reason Sferios chose to hone in on MDMA as the subject of his film and it's not simply because of the popularization of electronic dance music. Sferios is hoping to shed light on the history of this "party drug" as well as its proven benefits.

"I think there is no drug better suited to removing stigma than MDMA. MDMA was a therapeutic medicine long before it became a party drug. It tends to bring the best out of people, increasing compassion and empathy for oneself and others, so it’s hard to make someone feel bad about themselves for using MDMA. No other drug with the exception of marijuana has such a large and enthusiastic community of advocates, and one could argue that MDMA advocates, while a smaller population, are even more enthusiastic. So I can’t think of a better drug to make a film about if one of the goals is to reveal the counter-productive nature of stigma.

That said, there are a number of other goals for the film. Demystifying MDMA and helping to improve the public dialogue around drug policy are a few, but I also want to help bridge the gap in our country today between liberals and conservatives. Since I’ve been alive, there hasn’t been a time when our country has been more polarized. I believe MDMA has an important role to play in the healing of our country, if not the world, and to that end, I want this movie not so much to be a film “all about MDMA” but more a film that produces an MDMA-like experience in the audience. This may be a tall order, but if I can get liberals and conservatives to leave the theater with a little more understanding towards one another as they ponder a drug that produces real empathy, I will have succeeded in more ways than just improving the public conversation around drug policy."

Read Psychedelic Times' full interview with Emanuel Sferios:

Part I: http://psychedelictimes.com/mdma/dancesafe-founder...

Part II: http://psychedelictimes.com/mdma/reversing-drug-st...\

Learn more about MDMA The Movie here - http://www.mdmathemovie.com

Cover photo via MAPS

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