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Join Olivia Marcus, Yarelix Estrada & Nick Powers at Cardea Space for an intimate salon style talk & panel disucssion. Enjoy light bite and drinks as you nestle in our gathering grotto and engage in conversation on the topic

Psychedelics and Social Class: An Avoided Intersection

The topic of social class is often avoided in US conversations, and is glaringly absent in discussions of the so-called psychedelic renaissance. Whereas talk of revolutions might have once stimulated imagery of embattled workers struggling for dignity and autonomy, the imagery of revolution is now concerned with how efficient we can design molecules to achieve a bourgeois sense of wellness. As Dr. Carl Hart and others have bemoaned, ‘psychedelic exceptionalism’ draws our attention away from psychedelics as drugs, a class of substances that have historically been associated in very specific ways with race and class. In this discussion, we consider the problem of class in multiple ways: first, as a social determinant of health and access to certain psychedelics and their associated therapies; second, as a social status that intersects with race, ethnicity, and gender that are fundamental for how people experience a psychedelic, set, and setting; and third, we discuss why class should be part of every research and policy discussion concerning psychedelics.


Panel Moderator: 

Olivia Marcus completed her PhD in Medical Anthropology and an MPH in sociomedical sciences. She is a T32 postdoctoral fellow at the NYU, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, where she is conducting mixed-methods research on the design and evaluation of complex interventions to address substance use and mental health issues in Indigenous/First Nations communities in Mexico and Canada. Her areas of interest are in health-seeking behavior, intervention design and evaluation, and exploring the discourses surrounding traditional and alternative medicines in relation to biomedicine. She leads the qualitative component of the mixed-methods Ayahuasca Treatment Outcome Project to assess outcomes for addiction recovery in an all-male therapeutic community in Peru. Olivia conducted her doctoral fieldwork in the upper Peruvian Amazon, where she investigated perceptions of mental wellness and healing among mestizo curanderos (i.e., vegetalistas) and their clientele.



Yarelix Estrada, MSPH, is a first-generation Central American, drug policy and harm reduction researcher, advocate, and community outreach worker. Yarelix has been a part of the underground nightlife and rave scene through peer-based harm reduction programs such as DanceSafe, and now works as a City Research Scientist and Special Projects Coordinator at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, conducting community-based substance use harm reduction outreach and research. Her work is currently largely focused on implementation of the first higher-technology drug checking research study using an FTIR machine. This work allows for hyperlocal, real-time warnings to organizations and participants about a batch of drugs that’s branded with a particular stamp, for instance. Yarelix is passionate about supporting people throughout the full continuum of drug use, from use for pleasure and healing to overdose prevention. She is dedicated to improving the quality of care for people who use drugs and historically oppressed communities by working to understand the intersectionality between health policy and the societal factors that impact the lives of people who use drugs.

Nicholas Powers, PhD is a literature professor, novelist and journalist. He has facilitated workshops from Occupy Wall Street, PEX, Burning Man and the California Institute for Integral Studies, and his writings have appeared in The Village Voice, Huffington Post, The Raw Story, Truth-Out, The Indypendent, Business Insider, Chacruna, Double Blind and the MAPS Spring 2018 newsletter. He has been interviewed by Naropa University’s “The Root” program on psychedelics and race. His latest book, a political vampire book titled, “Thirst” just came out, and his prior book “The Ground Below Zero: 9/11 to Burning Man, New Orleans to Darfur, Haiti to Occupy Wall Street” was published in 2014 by Upset Press.

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