In today's Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle sit down to discuss recent topics in the news and analyze the ongoing debate of decriminalization vs. legalization.
They first discuss the story of LSD chemist William Leonard Pickard, who was released from prison on July 27th due mostly to his age, health status and risk for contracting Covid-19, and while it's great that he's out, how it changes nothing about the conspiracy surrounding his arrest ("Halperngate") and the very questionable DEA claims of LSD availability decreasing by 95% after his imprisonment.
They then talk about Denver mushroom grower Kole Milner, who is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and all the complications surrounding state or city legality vs. federal legality, and how anyone in this space should be extremely careful about what personal information they share publicly, regardless of any perceived legal safety.
This leads to a long discussion about decriminalization vs. legalization: the need for more conversation, what the model might look like for the US, what we can learn from Portugal, how Covid-related economic issues might influence things, the "my drug is better than your drug" issue with advertising, the problem with D.A.R.E.'s "scare you straight" model and the need for truth instead of manipulation, and how advertising and corporate profit incentives may come into play- does legality mean that companies will try to convince more people to use these powerful medicines irresponsibly?
“It’s a false dichotomy to just say ‘decriminalization vs. legalization.’ As we say, decriminalization doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It can mean something for a municipality or a county or a state but it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case for the feds. And as soon as you’re crossing state lines, that’s when they can be really into it. But realistically, the DEA seems to have plenty of power to do whatever they want.” -Joe
“I remember a few years ago, I started making this comment: ‘Oh cool, so you want it to stay illegal so you can have your heady, farm-to-table LSD. Cute, but that’s not really how it works and there’s plenty of people getting hurt as a result of not having these controls in place.’ ...It just takes a couple high schoolers whipping up a shitty lab, or non-safety-oriented people just trying to make a quick buck to get a few people hurt. I want to be a libertarian, but I don’t necessarily trust people’s motives enough to fully be a libertarian. I feel like there needs to be incentive structures in place and regulation in place for a lot of things.” -Joe
“I remember them threatening us: ‘If you do this, we will come and arrest you.’ Like, whoa... What if you had somebody that was like, “Hey, psilocybin mushrooms- these were originally used in ceremonial contexts, they had these kinds of safety mechanisms built in place, and this is what’s going on, here are the risks and dangers, this is why you would want to do it in a situation like this, people are using it to find spiritual growth…” And I don’t know, is that more enticing to people? Like, “Oh. I’m really curious!” But at least when they would practice, hopefully, they’d be like, “Oh yea, remember, they told us to do it in this context” instead of being like “This is an illegal thing, we’re going to get arrested so let’s hide and do it in secrecy and not tell anybody about it because the police chief is going to kick down my door and arrest me and tell me I’m a bad person.” -Kyle
“Let’s just be fact-based. Like, ‘Ok, here are the laws, here’s where it comes from, here’s the history, here are the pluses and minuses, and here are the legal consequences at this point in time.’ I would just like the facts, you know? I don’t need to be manipulated. Because that’s all I felt it was- a manipulation of the truth and a manipulation of us. This is not science-based policy, and I think a lot of us now want science-based policy.” -Joe
In today's episode, Kyle interviews Lauren Taus: yoga instructor with 20 years of experience, host of the Inbodied Life podcast, and psychotherapist specializing in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.
Taus talks about growing tired of more traditional therapy and cognitive loops so many people find themselves in through cognitive behavioral therapy leading to her taking a break from therapy altogether, trying psychedelics with her brother, learning of psychedelics being used therapeutically, and coming out of the psychedelic closet to her father (who now works with her). She speaks about her practice, and the process and importance of building up therapeutic relationships first before introducing any psychedelics.
She discusses how Covid-19, cannabis legalization and the way our culture is set up are all exacerbating mental health issues and the challenges of fighting through that while trying to better partner with disadvantaged communities, the frustrations around the illegality of certain medicines, the power of ketamine, the concept of spiritual bypassing, what she's doing differently during this disconnected time, harm reduction around psychedelics without a therapist nearby, mindfulness, and the importance of touch and dancing.
“Healing happens in relationship, and it happens in relationship with self too. I believe that so many people (and I certainly have been one of them) are walking warzones. The violence that happens inside of an individual heart and mind is far more outrageous than what you’d read in the news, and what you read in the news is a lot. ...With my work, I want to know you, I want to feel you, I want you to feel safe, I want you to feel love, I want you to feel unconditional regard and care. And that doesn’t happen overnight, and that doesn’t happen when you take a pill.”
“When I think about what’s happening with cannabis now, there’s essentially white cartels, and there’s cannabis stores on every block of Venice Beach, and people making lots and lots of money on weed. And then there’s so many black and brown people in prison for smoking a joint. And so the inequity there- what kind of reparations can we do? I like to say you can’t bypass the 'fuck you' on your way to forgiveness. And love is big enough to hold the anger and the rage, and there’s appropriate righteous anger that’s due.”
“People are struggling to be with what is- to welcome the wildlife that courses through their veins, to sit still with their fear and their sadness, and even their joy. I have so many people who try to crush their joy and celebration because they’re afraid of losing it. And they will- it’s going to shift. But can we be in the big wideness of what it is to be human? And in our inability to do so, we create all these different unique and not-so-unique misguided defense mechanisms. All these mechanisms for evasion- flight strategies. They can look like work, they can look like sex and food and drugs and alcohol and running or even meditation. The intention is what informs it a lot- what are you doing? Are you looking to go in, or are you looking to leave?”
“Do your work and remember to play along the way. Joy is an act of resistance.”
Lauren Taus graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College at Columbia University in 2004 with a BA in Religion before continuing on to NYU for her Masters in Social Work. Lauren is licensed as a clinical therapist in both New York and California with a specialty in addiction and trauma treatment.
As a clinician, Lauren integrates alternative modalities of treatment into her work. She trained with David Emerson under the supervision of Bessel van der Kolk at The Trauma Institute in Boston in trauma sensitive yoga, and she’s trained by the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) for MDMA assisted psychotherapy for complex PTSD.
In today's Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle sit down and discuss two news stories emerging from Portland, Oregon- first, paramilitary-like federal agents showing up in unmarked cars and arresting protestors, and second, the beating and pepper-spraying of one of those protestors, Christopher David.
They look at these events from multiple perspectives- what fears are driving the opinions of people who are against these protests? Why does there always seem to be money when it comes to military expenses, but never any money when it comes to the wellbeing of people? How many police officers fully stand behind what they're doing, and how many are simply following orders or deeming certain evils necessary solely to earn their federal pension?
They analyze systems and better ways forward, like considering a bottom-up approach vs. the standard top-down approach or Ken Wilbur's framework of transcending an old system while including all the lessons from it. They also discuss decriminalization vs. legalization and the importance of regulation, and the massive scale of concepts and systems, like how MKUltra needs to be included when discussing the history of psychology.
They also discuss telehealth and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and the complications surrounding it right now, from both therapists and clients not wanting to be in an office to the concerns of self-administration at home, to the benefits of self-exploration for those who do feel comfortable and safe engaging on their own. And lastly, they talk about their upcoming Navigating Psychedelics class, which is selling fast and will never be cheaper than it is now.
“This is illegal, and people seem to forget that it’s illegal. Even if it’s decriminalized in a locality, doesn’t mean the feds can’t come in and shut you down. And that’s why they call me the party pooper.” -Joe
“How many people get into higher systems and institutions with really good intentions [of] wanting to make change, and thinking... “I’m going to change it from the top down.” ...What would a ‘bottom-up’ approach be, and how could we give power back to communities to start to create their own change, instead of thinking that we need to change it from these hierarchical systems? I always come back to Bucky Fuller’s quote about just creating a different system- you don’t change a system by trying to change it, you make a new system that’s obsolete to that old way of being. ...I’m thinking also too, from the somatic lens in therapy- approaching it more cognitively, intellectually- this whole top-down brain approach vs. a body-oriented approach and working with the trauma, working with the body and thinking about, ok, what’s the body? It’s people, it’s communities. How do we start to work that way?” -Kyle
“I just prefer to see government funds spent on stuff like the green new deal to save us from climate change. Or health care for all- those kinds of things. Why spend to put people in jail, when we could have, just like with cannabis, taxable revenue. I don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Just because it’s not equitable, I don’t think that totally excludes the thing. I’d just like to see less people going to jail, less people being harmed by black market drugs, and more clean appropriate drugs available to the people who want them.” -Joe
“How do we have the money to send these paramilitary agents in but you didn’t have the money to produce personal protection equipment for hospitals? What’s going on here?” -Kyle
In this episode, Kyle speaks with Imperial College London research assistant and past guest, Dr. Malin Vedøy Uthaug, who just earned her doctorate and published her dissertation on Ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT research.
Uthaug discusses how she started working in this field, why Prague is a good place for research, what past research has led to today, how certain factors could predict whether someone would have a more challenging or more mystical experience, how these experiences can treat people with PTSD differently, what dissociation actually means, the differences between vaporized 5-MeO-DMT and intramuscular 5-MeO-DMT injections and how injections typically lead towards better trauma resolution over the "too much too soon" effects of vaporization. They also talk about reactivation (re-experiencing parts of the 5-MeO-DMT experience at a later time) and why it might happen, how it is different from LSD flashbacks, and how expectations, the experience, and the facilitator all come into play.
They discuss her research and dissertation, which consisted of 2 studies on ayahuasca and 3 on 5-MeO-DMT, focusing on if participants saw improvement in convergent thinking and mental health variables (depression, anxiety and stress), and how her placebo-controlled study revealed that those who received the placebo still saw a marked improvement. This leads to a conclusion that often, context may play a larger role than the medicine- feeling safe and being heard in a ceremonial, community-based setting may be the biggest factor towards healing.
“Once you make the unconscious conscious, then you can learn from it, and [it’s not] so much about resisting anymore. Carl Jung says, ‘what you resist persists,’ and what I think is happening, especially with PTSD, is that you’re kind of just holding this ball underwater and it’s not allowed to float to the surface.”
“You need to feel safe, you need to experience being heard and seen. Psychedelics do help us remember things that we have repressed, but obviously, [they] also make us very vulnerable and things might come up. And having somebody witness that and validate those feelings that are expressed and shown can be incredibly healing for people.”
“What we can learn is to learn to sit with difficult emotions and to not push them aside. ...I learned that there is comfort in the discomfort. I learned that you can basically figure out so many things about yourself if you just sit with yourself for a moment and you stay in that uncomfortable silence.”
Malin completed her PhD at the department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, at the faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University, The Netherlands. As part of her PhD, she investigated the short-term and long-term effects of Ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT in naturalistic settings, while simultaneously initiating several other studies on the psychedelic substance Mescaline and the breathing practice known as Holotropic Breathwork (HB). Malin is currently working as a Postdoctoral researcher at The Centre for Psychedelic Research, at Imperial College London, led by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris. Here she is investigating the effects of 5-MeO-DMT on mental health related variables, brain activity and consciousness together with Dr. Christopher Timmermann. Besides being a researcher, Malin is also an editor for the ‘Journal of Psychedelics Studies’, a board member of the American podcast-show known as Psychedelics Today, and the co-founder of the Norwegian Association for Psychedelic Science (Norsk Forening for Psykedelisk Vitenskap [NFPV]) whose main aim is to educate the general public as well as researchers, and mental health practitioners in Norway about psychedelics.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle sit down and talk about various topics in the news and dive deep into somatic psychology.
They first discuss Canadian mushroom life sciences company Cybin Corp's recent collaboration with drug delivery company IntelGenx to create an orally dissolvable film to administer psilocybin in controlled doses. This feels to them like the early days in the expansion of cannabis offerings, and how, for people with difficulty swallowing or pill-phobia, this may be the best option for psilocybin.
Next, they talk about a recent study of 65 U.S. Special Operations Forces veterans who took Ibogaine on day 1 and 5-MeO-DMT on day 3 (with surrounding processing and integration time) and the amazing results, including most participants rating their psychedelic experiences as one of the top five most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives. Joe brings up a seldom-asked question on whether non-combat veterans should be differentiated from combat veterans in these studies and therapies.
The last article they look at highlights a study where physicians used a new selective‐dose cannabis inhaler to administer microdoses of THC (either .5mg or 1mg) to patients with great results in decreasing pain without affecting cognitive performance. They talk about their experiences with low dose edibles and how they've seen great benefits from tiny amounts.
They then discuss many aspects of Kyle's area of expertise (and often not mentioned in-depth on this podcast), Somatic psychology. They talk about how breathwork and a session with a physical therapist led Kyle to this practice, the concept of character armoring, William Reich's idea of neurosis being represented throughout the entire organism, how the western mind focuses on the material body, trying to fix things, and technique, how the smallest muscle quivering during a breathwork session can show where work needs to be done, and the difficulty people have in discussing the body- how it's almost a secret language only learned through experience or their therapist's suggestive questions on whether they're feeling a certain emotion or even seeing a color.
“Thinking about my early years exploring psychedelics, I was so focused on the mind- the experience was outside of me, the knowledge and the wisdom was in the numinous. And that’s where I was going to find all the answers. ...It wasn’t until I had my first breathwork experience, where it was such a somatic experience- where I was feeling the experience in my body vs. externalizing my experience outside of my body and viewing it more as this thing of novelty- of something I’ve never experienced before. Actually having that experience and feeling it within myself, [I realized] I have felt this before, and it’s inside of me.” -Kyle
“[Bodywork] just reveals how much is not immediately available in the day-to-day consciousness. There’s so much happening- so much stored in our body that we just don’t even really have a handle on it. ...My favorite line (which, I’m starting to feel like I’m cheating) is: “Mind is, at the very least, diffused throughout the body.” -Joe
“As a culture, we’re so body-oriented at times, right? We think about diet, exercise, yoga has turned more into more of an exercise than a lifestyle or practice. ...We’re so focused more on the physical, material body than the emotional body, and that’s something that’s really hard to tap into.” -Kyle
“Try not to set out with some of these goals that ‘we need to change this.’ What does it feel like to just maybe feel some of these things?” -Kyle
In today’s episode, Joe interviews Author Mike Crowley to talk about his book, Secret Drugs of Buddhism.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle sit down and talk about various topics in the news.
They first discuss Rise Wellness (a company focused on teaching people how to microdose psilocybin)'s recent merger with CannaGlobal and Sansero Life Sciences to become CannaGlobal Wellness, and why many smaller companies are merging, and why Canada may be a hot new destination point for these companies. Joe suggests a new idea of helping people microdose through the use of a transdermal patch.
They talk about psychology today and the idea of no theory being complete without including all perspectives (including psychedelic perspectives), the concept of re-phrasing “what’s wrong with you?” to “what has happened to you?”, a recent student’s theory that schizophrenia may actually be a protection mechanism, Amsterdam-based psilocybin-retreat company Synthesis’ recent $2.75 million funding towards developing an end-to-end professional wellness & therapy platform, and what that means to the community- are these companies focusing on the drug as the crux, or the full therapy picture?
Lastly, they talk about the death of Elijah McClain from a 500-milligram injection of ketamine, using thoughts from past guest and regular administrator of ketamine to patients, Dr. Alex Belser. They talk about how ketamine can be necessary, but how it has unfortunately been used as a weapon for chemical restraint against people of color, which brings about larger questions on whether people should be allowed to hurt themselves or not- what role do physicians, therapists and police officers ultimately have in people’s freedom to do what they want with their bodies?
And just as a reminder, Psychedelics Today is currently offering a course developed by Kyle and Dr. Ido Cohen called Psychedelics and The Shadow: The Shadow Side of Psychedelia. And the next round of Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Therapists will be starting in September, with a new self-paced option.
On William James: “As soon as he found out about other states of consciousness other than the normal waking state, he’s saying that no theory for how the world works is complete unless we include all perspectives. So, like, what is the American constitution when you’re on nitrous or on LSD? What is appropriate political idealogy, given all of these things? Essentially, he’s saying that we’re going to keep developing new tools to understand the universe, and every time we have one of these new tools, it kind of expands the scope of what we need in our theories for how the world works. ...Psychedelic states, shamanic states- how do we include that into our worldview to have a complete scientific framework? I think it’s just a never-ending process, and a fun one.” -Joe
“Even the people that I’ve worked with [who] are really really struggling, and I’ve seen medication work really well for them at times, I always come back to: ‘what has this person been through? Do they actually have this thing that science and probably psychiatry would label as a disease?’ ...Some of the trauma stuff that’s coming out, the neuroscience, some of the somatics- it’s all kind of merging. And with the help of psychedelics, I’m feeling more optimistic that maybe the field will go into more of a growth, healing-oriented route vs. this pathology [of] ‘sick.’” -Kyle
“With these clinics that are popping up- are you exclusively focusing on the psychedelic experience, or are you trying to focus on the therapeutic relationship, the rapport, the container, the trust that’s developed over time, and really developing that relationship with the client? There’s tons of research that suggests that a therapeutic relationship is the one factor in getting better in therapy. So, as money is coming into this space and more of these clinics are popping up, are you creating a center around therapy, and really thinking about how to bring wellness and work with people in this space, or are just focusing it exclusively on the substance, thinking that’s the change?” -Kyle
In today's episode, Joe interviews Jesse Gould, founder and president of the Heroic Hearts Project, a nonprofit organization that connects military veterans to ayahuasca retreats, and Keith Abraham, head of the newly created Heroic Hearts UK branch.
They discuss the similarities of their military pasts and post-combat struggles, and how they both took part in ayahuasca ceremonies at Peru's La Medicina, where they eventually met. They note the need to create the UK branch came from the realization that UK vets simply weren't getting as much attention as those in the US.
They talk about the unlikely allyship of Crispin Blunt, member of Parliament and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentory Group for Drug Policy Reform, the consideration of using psilocybin in future work as a less intense ayahuasca alternative, current microbiome studies and the excitement around new data vs. the "death by survey" complications when working with people in need, and how helpful a military mindset can be in these situations.
They share some success stories but talk about how far we need to go in helping veterans come back to society, and how much we'd benefit from a more ceremonial acceptance of the passage from one way of life to another. The corporate 9-5 world can be tough for anyone, but ultimately, finding a purpose and connecting to a community is what's most important toward these veterans reintegrating back to their "pre-army" lives.
“Ayahuasca changed everything. I came out of that jungle a very different person. I wouldn’t say that I had a 400% healing experience, but I had that massive, massive, massive catalyst where I knew that my life had to change. And it has. And from there, in the year since, when I got myself together, I started realizing, ‘you know what? I’m in a good place. How can I introduce UK veterans to the experience that I’ve had, because I see that as vitally important?’ And then I was introduced to Jesse, and it turned out that the organization that I thought I wanted to create had already been created perfectly.” -Keith Abraham
“My sons actually in the same unit as I was (in the parachute regiment.) When I left the parachute regiment and went for my ayahuasca experience in Peru, I then came back, and my son was looking at me like, “wait, you’re a grizzly old war veteran, and now you’re talking about, like ‘everything is connected, and love and peace and harmony’ um... this is… strange.’’ He’s gotten really used to it now, but yea, it’s wonderful that these plant medicines can do these things for us. [We have] such strong minds and characters, and this ingrained training as well, but it can be overwhelmed in a good way.” -Keith Abraham
“One of the things we teach through Heroic Hearts, especially in the integration process, is: it’s fine to maintain your warrior- that warrior spirit, that warrior soul. But now you need to learn to use that energy and use that strength towards other means. You might be done with the fighting for now, but that doesn’t mean you’re set out to pasture and done with society. There’s a lot of different ways you can use that energy. ...How can you continue to be a warrior, just on a different trajectory?” -Jesse Gould
Jesse Gould is Founder and President of the Heroic Hearts Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit pioneering psychedelic therapies for military veterans. After being deployed in Afghanistan three times, he founded the Heroic Hearts Project in 2017 to spearhead the acceptance and use of ayahuasca therapy as a means of addressing the current mental health crisis among veterans. The Heroic Hearts Project has raised over $150,000 in scholarships from donors including Dr. Bronner’s and partnered with the world’s leading ayahuasca treatment centers, as well as sponsoring psychiatric applications with the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Georgia. Jesse helps shape treatment programs and spreads awareness of plant medicine as a therapeutic method. He has spoken globally about psychedelics and mental health, and received accolades including being recognized as one of the Social Entrepreneurs To Watch For In 2020 by Cause Artist. Driven by a mission to help military veterans struggling with mental trauma, he is best known for his own inspiring battle with PTSD and his recovery through ayahuasca therapy. Jesse’s work can be seen and heard at NY Times, Breaking Convention, San Francisco Psychedelic Liberty Summit, People of Purchase, The Freq, Psychedelics Today Podcast, Kyle Kingsbury Podcast, Cause Artist, WAMU 88.5 and The GrowthOp.
Keith Abraham served 9 years as a member of The Parachute Regiment, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout the latter years of his military service and during this time working for an investment bank, Keith began experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety and depression. After exhausting the majority of services and options offered by the NHS and military charities without much success, Keith realized a new approach was needed. His profound experiences with ayahuasca and psilocybin convinced him of the vital role plant medicines have to offer those suffering from PTSD, brain injuries and mental ill-health.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle sit down and talk about various topics in the news.
They first discuss the duality of how Covid-19 affects different people, and how much of a privilege it is to be able to reconnect with family in new ways and use this time to grow spiritually while so many are out of work and struggling to get by.
They discuss a recent tweet from @Shroomstreet concerning psychedelic stocks and the money being invested in this emerging market, and concerns that some of these unknown companies could be fake or following the “exit scam” model of holding onto investor money and then closing up shop. How many of these companies are in it for the right reasons, and what does this all mean on a grand scale?
They talk about recent reports of psychedelic retreats in excess of $10,000 and the various aspects surrounding these prices, from the cost of education and the need for physicians and therapists to make a living while helping others, to the idea of “pay what you can” and taking a hit financially if it means helping the local community or those really in need without the finances to be able to participate in these retreats. Is pastoral counseling or group therapy the best way to help the most people?
And lastly, they talk about Oregon’s progress in getting legal psilocybin therapy on the ballot in November and the benefits of legality, most importantly towards the ability to report abusive sitters under a framework that would completely remove them from this field.
“The Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm is just so focused on the how- on the mechanics of ‘how does a psychedelic work? Oh, ok, it can treat this. How does it treat this?’ vs. thinking about the idea of final cause and thinking about the why- why do these things exist? What is its purpose, and what is the potential implication here, on a bigger level, than just thinking about this how and thinking ‘this thing does this thing and that’s all we’re really worried about,’ not thinking about that overarching why- like, what is the purpose here?” -Kyle
“I think everybody really should be able to access healing eventually. I think people shouldn’t be starving to death either, but people are still starving to death. I remember Kwasi (Adusei, in Solidarity Fridays week 10) at one point was like, ‘should we bring psychedelics to minority communities for healing?’ Well, why not bring regular mental health services first? Let’s start with clean water, as opposed to ‘let’s give them a road that they didn’t want.’ What’s the cheapest, lowest-hanging fruit that’s going to give the best reward?” -Joe
“Education programs probably would be really helpful. And I think that’s how we fit in. It’s a philosophy thing that could be helpful for both recreationalists and people providing therapeutic experiences, and the experiencers themselves too. It helps to have some education before you go to see God.” -Joe
“I think states should be experimenting with different ways of going forward. Yes, I want everything to be decriminalized- I want everything to be legal, really- personally. I don’t think therapeutic use should be the only use-case. But it’s certainly a lot better than what we’ve got now.” -Joe