The federal government is finally starting to realize a truth that wooks and psychedelic enthusiasts have been tapped into for years: ketamine is a radical drug.

On Tuesday March, 5th the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), approved a nasal-spray form of Ketamine, known as “esketamine,” to treat depression. It’s the first new anti-depressant to be approved since Prozac was in 1988. And unlike Prozac (and other regular antidepressants), the depression-alleviating effects of esketamine can be felt in hours instead of days or weeks.

Which is great news for anyone on the ledge.

“Many [depressed individuals] are suicidal,Dr. Dennis Charney, dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, told NPR. “So, it's essentially a deadly disease when you haven't responded to available treatments and you've been suffering for years if not decades."

The difference between an instant anti-depressant and one that takes a while to work, will undoubtedly make the difference between life and death for many acutely depressed individuals.

But anyone who understands the power of psychedelic substances like Ketamine should also remain wary of this. When the government starts getting into the business of approving and controlling psychedelic substances, there is reason to maintain doubt.

Esketamine is the chemical mirror image of its cousin ketamine. They both have the same awesome psychedelic properties and they both work effectively to treat depression and to treat it fast. Ketamine has been widely used as a veterinary anesthetic for decades, it’s been a popular party drug for a number of years and only recently have its depressive-dissolving qualities begun to be recognized.

The newly approved therapy must be done under supervision, and the drug cannot be taken home due to both its mind-bending effects and abusive potential. In high enough dosages both ketamine and esketamine can cause out-of-body-experiences and sedation: fondly referred to as “K-holing” (though, with esketamine it might be “E-holing?”).

Johnson & Johnson, the Big Pharma company who designed esketamine, says that they are taking steps to make sure that their product is only used “as intended.” They don’t want wooks using esketamine to get groovy at concerts; don’t want just anyone enjoying their product recreationally.

We’ll see how that goes for them.

Because esketamine acts so quickly and the effects last for so long, patients need only attend one session every few weeks. It’s predicted that about 5 million Americans will benefit from esketamine (out of the 14 million people suffering from depression in this country), but only those who have tried other depression treatments, without success, will be eligible to use it. For now, it remains a last resort.

“There has been a longstanding need for additional effective treatments for treatment-resistant depression, a serious and life-threatening condition,” Dr. Tiffany Farchione, the acting director of the Division of Psychiatry Products at the FDA, told the Independent.

This is the first truly psychedelic substance to receive FDA approval for depression, which is a really good sign. It means that even the FDA is getting to a point where they can no longer ignore the glaring benefits of psychedelic medicine.

But it’s also something that people should monitor very closely, and that we, as a society should be very careful of. Allowing the Feds to take control of psychedelic substances like Ketamine, LSD, mushrooms, or DMT is a dangerous game. There’s a reason these drugs are illegal and it isn’t because they are ruining people’s lives — it’s because they’re opening their minds. Should the control of these substances fall entirely into the hands of our government, it’s unlikely that The People would have a whole lot of access to them.  

So, while the FDA approval of esketamine is undeniably a step forward for depression treatment in this country, it’s also a step that psychedelic advocates should be wary of.