Psychoactive substances are subject to law control, imposed through the system of medical prescription or legal prohibition, with legal penalties for their unauthorized use. The consumption of drugs in a non-medical contexts is often labelled as "drug abuse", and the substance used in this way as a “narcotic” - the term endowed with illegality (Goodman et al. 2017). While legal, medical and popular discourses attempt to establish the distinction between what is an illicit drug and what is a medicine by creating the presumptive ontologies of drugs, this way of approaching substances has become the object of critique within drug research associated with the ‘ontological turn’. Scholars in this field of study have destabilised the assumption of a fixed, ready-made, singular drug objects, postulating thinking about substance use as a mutable system of relations intertwined in the broader assemblages and ecologies of drug use.
In this article, by using ethnographic examples and through the analysis of research conducted within the so called “psychedelic turn” movement, I demonstrate the fluidity and multiplicity of psychoactive substances and examine diverse ways in which the dominant – Euro-American – drug categorizations are undermined. I pose the question of how the border between what is an “illicit drug” and what is a “medicine” is stabilized and destabilized through the embodied users’ practices and scientific discourses.
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