In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Kyle and David meet up to talk news, but end up mostly having a discussion about the numerous challenges facing the rapidly growing industry of psychedelic therapists, guides, and facilitators.
That discussion comes from the article, “Psychedelic workers of the world, unite!”, which breaks down the shortcomings and risks of an industry many are flocking to without realizing what they’ll likely have to deal with: unprecedented legal and financial risks, burnout, misalignment with management, transference and countertransference, and what happens when one finds themselves in the middle of a genuine emergency? While these issues could be found in any industry, a big reason why they seem so prevalent and dangerous in the psychedelic world is our lack of elders and passed-down experience – and the faster this all grows, the more we need that guidance.
And for news, they talk about Ohio State making history as the first U.S. University to receive a license to grow psilocybin mushrooms; a new study showing that LSD enhanced learning, exploratory thinking, and sensitivity to feedback; and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funding $1.5 million to research the efficacy of psychedelics for substance use disorder – which spurs a conversation about research, funding, and the idea that maybe we’re spending too much time and money on neuroscience.
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Joe and Kyle are both on the road, so David and Alexa take the helm.
They cover news stories about:
-a man in Colorado facing a Class 3 drug felony for giving people psilocybin mushrooms in exchange for monetary donations – pointing out the bold (or stupid?) stances some are taking to highlight the absurdity of legislation that allows possession and donation as long as no money changes hands;
-a study showing what many of us have felt ourselves: that the day after psilocybin-assisted therapy, depressed patients had a stronger brain response to music and saw improvements in the ability to find pleasure in previously empty activities;
-a trip report from a psychedelically-naive 50-year old, showing the power and beauty of MDMA-assisted therapy;
-the New Hampshire state Senate continuing to be behind the times and voting down House Bill 639, which would have created a legal recreational cannabis framework for the state;
-a video where people on the street in Oregon were asked how much they thought psilocybin therapy would cost, showing a drastic misalignment between public perception and reality;
and a local TV news feature touring Rose City Laboratories, the first licensed psilocybin testing lab in Oregon.
And in conversation, they talk about some of the lesser-discussed (and often dismissed) tools like CBD, THC patches, and very low-dose edibles; the problem with drug dealers and harm reduction; the power of music in guiding a psychedelic experience (and in living a pleasurable life); and the importance of dosing and listening to your body to know what’s right for you.
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Joe and temporary-Colorado-resident Kyle once again record in-person, discussing how psychedelics could change business, the drug war and safe supply, and more.
-a Rolling Stone profile on David Bronner, who makes the case for multi-stakeholder capitalism; where businesses are accountable to their workers, customers, the environment, and surrounding Indigenous communities instead of just investors – an idea more people would likely align with after a psychedelic experience;
-The first psilocybin service center in Oregon (EPIC Healing Eugene) finally receiving their license via the Oregon Health Authority;
-A man who saw his color blindness improve for four months after a 5g mushroom experience;
-The opening of ‘The Drugs Store’ in Vancouver, British Columbia: a mobile store selling drugs illegally as a response to the opioid epidemic and constant influx of untested and laced drugs – the “inevitable result of the government doing nothing” towards offering a safe supply;
-and a survey from the CDC showing that cannabis use among teenagers has declined since legal dispensaries began opening, disproving one of the most common prohibitionist arguments that legalization would only increase use.
And of course, these topics bring on a lot of conversation: how businesses need to be more reflective on how they’re operating; concern over if too much regulation is nerfing the world; the human cost of the drug war and the ever-escalating amount of ODs and drug poisoning cases; HPPD and the need for research around psychedelics and vision/perception; why we will always need both clinical access and the recreational underground, and more.
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Joe and Kyle record in-person again, discussing psychedelics and parenthood, sports, music, and more.
-an Elle (!) article about how mushrooms are becoming the new ‘Cali sober,’ with more and more people starting to microdose – including parents;
-ESPN’s documentary, “Peace of Mind,” highlighting the rise of psychedelic use among athletes, including retired NHL player, Riley Cote;
-An article discussing how interest in psychedelics has skyrocketed in Oregon since the passing of Measure 109, and how over-regulation and the glacial speed of the government is only driving the growth of the black market;
-An essay attempting to define what it is that leads people to describe music as psychedelic (with several recommendations from Joe);
-DMT aficionados using AI to create and catalog depictions of the entities they’ve seen;
And they have larger discussions about the drug war, how famous athletes are opening people’s minds to psychedelics, how strict regulation in psychedelic legislation can create more harm, how we need to collaborate more in the psychedelic space, the concept of a DMT ‘hyper-slap,’ and the problem of psychedelic exceptionalism and thinking your drug is good while others are bad.
In this episode, David interviews two of the founding members of Fireside Project: activist, healing justice practitioner, musician, and Chief Ambassador, Hanifa Nayo Washington; and lawyer, aspiring researcher, and Executive Director, Joshua White, Esq.
Fireside Project was created after White volunteered for a help line for years and realized a few things: that follow-up calls made a big difference; that the state of mental health in the U.S. was a disaster (he was talking to some of the same people for years); and that while psychedelics were becoming popular, they would likely only be accessible to the wealthy. Alongside Washington, they realized the most effective thing they could do would be creating a free help line where people could call for peer support during a psychedelic experience, and receive support in integrating that experience afterward. They’ve focused on finding volunteers who may be marginalized or who have been persecuted from the war on drugs, but most importantly, have real experience and true compassion (rather than letters after their name proving their credentials). They are on track to receive 10,000 calls over their first two years.
They discuss Fireside’s Burning Man origin story; the serendipity they’ve seen in the organization’s beginnings and so many calls; where the name came from; how they prepare volunteers; what true equity looks like; and how, while it’s a common challenge for therapists and facilitators to hold back and not try to fix a problem, that may be even more important here.
Fireside Project takes calls every day from 11am – 11pm PST, and while there is an app you can download, they recommend saving their number in your phone for when you need it (62-FIRESIDE). And to destroy the notion of being afraid to ask for help, they encourage everyone to share their stories on social media: the times that you’ve used Fireside Project or the times you had a challenging experience and wish you had known about them. Many newcomers have no idea this support exists, and it could truly be life-changing for them.
“What’s revolutionary about what we’re doing in this idea of democratizing care is that these are volunteers, and they come as peers. They come to the experiences having had their own experiences, and desiring to hold space for others as they navigate their experiences and navigate their processing afterwards. …They’re not doing therapy. They’re not diagnosing. They’re really with the person (the caller, the texter) as somebody who gets it.” -Hanifa
“I think some of the most powerful moments on the line come when we say absolutely nothing at all, when we just allow the silence to become almost palpable, to really feel that ember. I think silence has led to so many of the most beautiful moments that I’ve been lucky enough to see on the line.” -Josh
“By being able to create a safe and non-judgmental space for people by phone, then yes, that absolutely can reduce the risks of their psychedelic experiences. And I think there’s kind of a yin and yang here, which is that when a person is in a space of non-judgment, and when they do feel deeply seen and heard and listened to, then that not only reduces the risks, but it also allows someone to really turn towards their psychedelic experience and to unwrap the gift that’s before them.” -Josh
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, David speaks with Kyle, who recorded at Joe’s place while he was away atTrailblazers in NYC.
They talk about David’s trip to the UK last week forBreaking Convention, then discuss a recent Vice article about looking outside the binary and confined thinking of Western medicine and embracing the underground – that there are cheaper and more accessible peer support models and affinity groups for everyone, but in going underground, we need to be careful that more accessible models aren’t dangerous or re-traumatizing. While businesses are competing to make headway in the psychedelic space, nobody is controlling all of it, which leads to both possibility and risk.
They cover SB23-290, the bill Senate President Steve Fenberg created to establish a regulatory framework for psilocybin access and administration in Colorado in lieu of the advisory board that should have been put in place as part of Prop 122. They break down the positives and negatives of this framework, and ask: how much do these committees who are passing legislation really know about psilocybin?
And they briefly discuss an article on what MDMA therapy may look like when MAPS hopefully gets approval via the FDA early next year, Rick Doblin’s speech at Breaking Convention, and his concept of society eventually having “net zero trauma.”
In this episode, Joe interviews Deborah Parrish Snyder: ecologist, Director and VP of the Institute of Ecotechnics, and Co-owner and CEO of Synergetic Press, which has published over 40 books on ethnobotany, psychedelics, biospherics, and social and ecological justice.
Straddling the line between ecology, psychedelics, and psyche, she discusses the many projects of the Institute: Biosphere 2, the large-scale closed ecological system she helped design in 1986; London’s “October Gallery,” a man-made city biome project that could be a model for other cities; their “Eden in Iraq” wastewater project; and the Heraclitus, an 82-foot ship which has sailed 270k miles around the earth, studying different cultures, mapping coral reefs, and more, and will soon be setting sail again after being rebuilt for the last decade.
She talks about where we’re at as a society in regards to the environment: how we’re in a period of consequences and it’s easy to feel hopeless, but much of the youth are “solutionists” who don’t want to hear apologies, and instead, want to do something about it. She believes that while schools don’t teach ecology, it’s never too late to learn, and non-ordinary states of consciousness could help people remember our connection to nature, care about our planet, and find the others who feel the same way. Consider pairing your self-exploration with improving the world around you: what can you do to turn your perfect, overly fertilized lawn into a regenerative landscape instead?
“We are nature. It’s not like we are part of nature, we are actually nature. This is an Indigenous concept that Western culture has abandoned (or never had to begin with, I’m not sure). Whenever our industrial, technological revolution gave us ways that we could start to live without nature as our main support system, that’s when we started to lose the plot, because there wasn’t closed loop thinking, there wasn’t [understanding of] what would be the long term effects of these things. So we’re starting to see that now. I don’t think humanity went into this intentionally, but at the same time, as we start to recognize the science, we should not be in denial; we should be activated to right the course of the ship.”
“I think that economics continues to drive that complex, but the more people that are awake and connected, the better. And as the war on drugs begins to become rational, and decriminalization of these tools becomes more accessible, we can start to build a society, I think, that is a bit more connected with nature and a bit more connected to each other, because these things don’t just give you an ‘Aha!’ connection with nature, they also give them connection with yourself and they can give you connection with others. …So keep your eyes open. If you’re not happy in your community, look for the others. Find the others; they’re out there.”
“The Western mindset of ‘we are going to conquer nature’: hopefully that worldview is starting to crack. It’s better that we become more like gardeners of the Earth, instead of plundering and pillaging.”
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Joe and Kyle once again record in person, diving into novel compounds, changing opinions, Bicycle Day, and more.
They start by dissecting a very recent controversy around The Church of Psilomethoxin and whether the sacrament they label as psilomethoxin – supposedly created by adding 5-MeO-DMT to the substrate of cultivated Psilocybe mushrooms – actually contains any psilomethoxin in it. Usona Institute published a paper last week reporting on their analysis of a sample they allegedly collected from the Church, which only showed what we’d see in a sample of a typical psilocybin-containing mushroom. While the Church has issues with Usona’s data collection, analytical methods, and motives, they also reiterate a main component of the church: that their “claims to the existence of Psilomethoxin, at this time, are solely based on faith,” and bolstered by their “own direct experiences with the Sacrament.” It’s a very interesting story that touches on faith, consent, personal safety, and the harms of the drug war, which Joe covered extensively in a Twitter Space last night with Andrew Gallimore and the writer of a very critical article, Mario de la Fuente.
They also discuss:
-a Time magazine article about the mystery of Long COVID, and how many believe the anti-inflammatory and neuroplastic benefits of psychedelics could be the answer;
-how Bicycle Day may soon become more popular than 4/20, likely due to society’s warmer reception to the life-changing effects of psychedelics (as opposed to their propagandized and unmoving beliefs about cannabis);
-how some analysts believe that seven in 10 ketamine companies will likely face financial challenges as the industry grows too quickly;
and why Snoop Dogg apparently microwaves blunts before smoking them (and does that actually do anything?).
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is hosting its fourth Psychedelic Science conference this summer: Monday to Friday, June 19 to 23, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
With over 10,000 expected guests, never before has the global psychedelic community gathered at this scale.
Evolution of the Psychedelic Science Conference
Since 1990, MAPS has organized gatherings to support psychedelic research. These events have strengthened the global psychedelic community, occasioning new research collaborations, business partnerships, and lifelong friendships.
MAPS Founder Rick Doblin, Ph.D., and Alise Agar Wittine, Coordinator at the Omega Foundation San Francisco, initiated the first single-day gathering, “Regulation or Prohibition: Psychedelics in the 1990s,” at the start of that decade. Psychedelic luminaries Ram Dass, Terence McKenna, Ralph Metzner, Timothy Leary, Laura Huxley, and Native American Church President Emerson Jackson all spoke at the initial event.
Over the next 27 years, MAPS organized the 1993 Psychedelic Summit, the 2006 MAPS 20th anniversary celebration at Burning Man, the first Psychedelic Science conference in 2010, followed by Psychedelic Science 2013. Finally, Psychedelic Science 2017 took the conference to new heights, hosting over 3,000 attendees and hundreds of talks, vendors and exhibitors, film screenings, entertainment acts, and community forums.
As an event both responsive to and generative of the rising interest in psychedelics, MAPS’ Psychedelic Science conference has proved to be in a fractal relationship with the field itself – growing and changing as the field grows and changes.
And there has been growth indeed in the five years since PS17. Regulated adult use of psychedelics is no longer just a policy goal: it is underway in Oregon and Colorado. Mainstream audiences are tuning in, and many have been seeking out ketamine clinics to treat mental health conditions. Even once-unbudgeable federal attitudes could be softening.
Psychedelic Science 2023 aims to cover it all.
Psychedelic Science 2023
To provide orientation in the deluge of exciting talks, the conference’s 300-plus speakers have been sorted into multiple tracks: therapy, clinical trials, studies, science, business, veterans, policy, society, and plant medicines. Attendees can pick their own adventure.
The Business track will take a close look at the state of the industry. Executives and entrepreneurs will have a chance to tap into the thriving network of industry wisdom while considering the big question: how can we steward a culture of cooperation and reciprocity in this new field, and even “psychedelicize” our idea of business itself?
The Clinical Trials, Science, and Studies tracks will provide that nourishing chicken soup of psychedelic conferences: updates from the latest clinical research and neuroscience findings, and considerations for future studies and study design.
The Plant Medicine and Society tracks offer an opportunity to explore and celebrate ancient ceremonial traditions and underground communities. How can we match the healing potential of plant allies with ethics, reciprocity, and harm reduction practices?
The Policy track will explore the front edges of drug policy reform, including updates from federal-level reform efforts, and the challenges and opportunities of implementing psychedelic legislation in Colorado and Oregon.
Finally, attendees invested in the intersection of psychedelic treatments with veteran populations, as well as first responders and athletes, will have a chance to hear from Super Bowl champion quarterback Aaron Rodgers and combat veteran Jesse Gould, among others, on the Veteran track.
Through over half a century of prohibition, the psychedelic community has kept its fire lit through small and often clandestine meetings and underground networks. But things are changing. With psychedelic conferences happening year-round across North America and Europe, it’s easier than ever to connect.
Psychedelic Science 2023 aims to create something more special still. With thousands expected to descend on Denver in June, the event will bring together folks of all stripes from across the world. A gathering of this scale represents a chance to step out of our digital environments and truly experience the strength and diversity of the growing field. It is a chance to participate in the community it offers, and to have a say in its unfolding culture and values.
To this end, the conference will offer a number of networking spaces, including a dedicated community partner stage for the many local psychedelic societies, non-profit educational and advocacy groups, harm reduction services, and indie media efforts supporting the conference. These are the groups setting a high bar for the field’s values and creativity.
And these are the groups running the conference nightlife, because friends aren’t made by sitting next to strangers in auditoriums! From Psychedelic Drag Bingo, to a 5k run with veterans, to grad student mixers, to cacao ceremonies, to end-of-week dance parties, PS23 will have endless opportunities to connect.
Many come for the talks and panels, but those who know, know. This is where the magic happens.
The Start of A New Era
The legacy members of the psychedelic community have seen this field reach a public recognition that many did not anticipate in their lifetime. Among those who made this possible, few may be as significant as Stanislav Grof, MD, and Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D. Both will be present at the conference.
Stanislav Grof is best known for his work with LSD extending back to the 1950s, as well as his development of holotropic breathwork. It is hard to overestimate his influence on psychedelic research and integration practices. He will give the conference’s opening address.
Roland Griffiths’ research on psilocybin and consciousness at Johns Hopkins University is often cited as igniting the current renaissance of psychedelic research. Recently, he has reflected publicly about his cancer diagnosis. He will be guiding some of the Science track sessions, and will be present for a three-course dinner in his honor.
For these two luminaries, PS23 may mark their last major public appearances. Indeed, with so many other prominent psychedelic figures present – including Dennis McKenna, Ph.D., Amanda Feilding, Paul Stamets, Rick Doblin, James Fadiman, and William Richards, Ph.D. – the event may be the last time this particular generation of psychedelic elders find themselves under one roof.
This is a chance for attendees to mark the end of an era, and to celebrate the start of a new one.
In this episode, on the eve of Bicycle Day, Victoria and Kyle interview two long-standing icons of visionary psychedelic art: Alex and Allyson Grey.
They talk about the LSD trip that saved Alex’s life, connected him to Allyson, inspired his art, and even made him change his name; his decades-in-the-making “Sacred Mirrors” project of 21 7-foot tall pieces depicting the complex layers of human existence; the interconnectedness of life; the history of psychedelic art; how imagination and non-ordinary states help us connect with the divine; and the value of art in conveying the mystical experience.
Alex and Allyson are the Co-Founders of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, an interspiritual church/retreat center in upstate New York that, after years of work, is debuting Entheon: an art sanctuary and psychedelic reliquary featuring much of their art and work from favorite artists, a shrine to Tool (who Alex has worked with for most of their career), and a collection of relics from psychedelic legends that includes Albert Hofmann’s glasses, art signed by Stan Grof and the Shulgins, and even Timothy Leary’s ashes. Entheon opens on June 3, on the anniversary of the first acid trip the Greys took together, which gave them a framework for understanding life and an inspiration for art they still follow to this day.
And in honor of Bicycle Day, Alex talks about two pieces dedicated to Albert Hofmann, and continues his Bicycle Day tradition of reading a statement Hofmann made a year before he passed about psychedelics being the “absolute highest importance to consciousness change.” In celebration of Albert Hofmann and the gift he gave us, and with inspiration from the incredibly complex and beautiful art Alex and Allyson create, have a happy, safe, and creative Bicycle Day!
“I hadn’t had any insight that would prove to me any kind of spiritual reality was really there, even though I was making art. And I think from my perspective now: hey, if you’re being creative, you’re evidence. The creative spirit is what birthed the universe, and you’re an expression here and now of it. You’re evolving on that wavefront of reality that is binding time together and our beings together.” -Alex “We could see the vast vista of fountains and drains of everyone, and every being and thing in the universe was interconnected and made of light, and in that, I think we felt connected rather than disconnected. We felt like we were individual and independent, but also interconnected with all beings and things. [It] makes you feel like there’s some importance to yourself, that you really are necessary in the web of the eternal.” -Allyson “You’re making love with the divine in the mystical experience, in the divine imagination. That’s where the small self meets the larger self and becomes no self. So I think that the mystical experience is the cornerstone of the sacred traditions, and the artistic sacred traditions as well.” -Alex
“It took me right outside of my miserable psychodrama self and immediately, I got a psychic swirlie to show me the way. So that was a confirmation, and all my prayers basically were answered in that, and I got to meet the love of my life, really, because of it. So we’re very thankful, and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve always loved celebrating Bicycle Day.” -Alex
She discusses her path to psychedelics, how she ended up running the Initiative 81 campaign (the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020), and how she came to realize that decriminalization efforts can’t be the only option we go for – that, like it or not, we live in a system where politics and money are major factors behind any systematic change, and if we want to make any headway, we have to play the game. The Psychedelic Medicine PAC (Political Action Committee) was created to open up federal funding for psychedelic research, as nearly all research today (of which there still isn’t enough) is being funded by private companies. They will use donations to support politicians who are on our side and can advance psychedelic progress, who will push for federal funding to get the new and necessary data people who aren’t bought in yet need to see.
They talk about speaking with people from the other side of the aisle at a recent education campaign in DC; how federal funding is neutral money; what she learned from DC’s deprioritization of cannabis policing; how personal stories and one-on-one human connection can change minds better than traditional confrontational activism; and the need to get ahead of the inevitable wave of big pharma propaganda they’ll bring when they officially step up to the table. She believes the path to helping the most people is advancing science and data through federal funding, and that begins with education and getting more politicians on our side. If you agree, follow them for details about their upcoming event in May, visit their table at Psychedelic Science this June (use PT15 for 15% off tickets), and donate to the PAC or the coalition.
Also, as a bonus, this episode begins with a mini version of Psychedelics Weekly. Joe and Kyle didn’t have enough time to record a full episode, but still wanted to check in and review a few notable stories and highlight our recent Vital graduation ceremony. See you next week!
“I dipped my toes with the microdosing [and] I found immediate effects of that. I engaged with my children for the first time in many years, and with my son for, really, the first time since he was born. So that was a really mind-blowing experience of taking something for only a few days and feeling my humanity come back again.”
“I think when you take the media out of it and you isolate them in a place they feel very safe (in their office) and there’s no cameras around and they don’t feel the need to get their talking points across, and you have a human-to-human conversation with them about this issue, the result is that much better because you isolate all of these external influences that they’re constantly under and you say, ‘Listen, I am talking to you as a human being. This was my experience. This is what I did to heal myself.’ …Watching them have their epiphany about this is so fun.”
“When these campaigns win with very small margins (like 1%, 3%, 5%), that means half of the state voted against it, and that means half the state wasn’t being spoken to in these campaigns in the right way. …The U.S. is extremely diverse, and not just racially, but within perspectives that exist in this country, and we cannot just be speaking to one side of this issue. We have to really engage with the public in a meaningful way, and that is speaking to the half of the country that doesn’t understand this.”
“We forget that the traditional pharmaceutical industry has yet to step in on this issue. I think that they’re very closely watching what’s going to happen with psychedelics, but they have yet to stick their lobbyists on the hill. And that is the day that I am not looking forward to, because they have one of the most powerful lobbies in the country and they have budgets for this kind of work in the billions of dollars, really. So how is the psychedelic industry going to compete with that? How you counter that is: you educate members of congress, you educate those influential people before the pharmaceutical industry gets there so they can’t fill their heads with misinformation.”
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Kyle is back in Colorado and in-person with Joe, and they discuss what stood out to them in the news this week:
-A New York Times interview with Roland Griffths, where he talks about his cancer diagnosis and how meditation and psychedelics have helped him prepare for the inevitable end;
-An article on the rising popularity of psychedelics among mothers, and the benefits and risks of moms rejecting alcohol culture in favor of something new (and largely illegal);
-The NBA removing cannabis from its list of banned substances and allowing players to invest in cannabis companies, which follows years of other sports slowly accepting that cannabis is a part of our culture and there’s no need to play the part of “big brother” anymore;
and an article looking at legalization from the perspectives of people who were against recent measures like Prop 122, and how some towns in Colorado and Oregon are looking for ways to prevent the creation of psilocybin service centers from being built in their backyards.
They also go further into the Psychedelic Medicine Coalition’s recently created Political Action Committee and the work they’re doing to educate lawmakers; Harvard Law School hosting webinars comparing psychedelic legislation and the role of psychedelics in Indigenous groups in Europe, Australia, and North America; Arizona’s HB-2486, which would give $30 million in grants to universities and non-profit organizations to conduct psilocybin research; and Rick Doblin’s recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience.
They also discuss the many events we’ll be at in the coming months, and the excitement and often overwhelming aspects of psychedelic conferences, which are outlined in this week’s blog from Dennis Walker. If you’re attending any, come say hi! And for discounts: use code PSYCTODAY for 30% off tickets to DiscoveryCon, use PSYCHTODAYBC10 for 10% off tickets to Breaking Convention, and use code PT15 for 15% off tickets for MAPS’ Psychedelic Science 2023.