In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Joe and Kyle are back at it, talking about news and what's going on at Psychedelics Today (applications for Vital close this Sunday, March 26, and we've just announced a new neuroscience course!).
Following up on last week's news that Field Trip Health had closed five clinics, they start with more unfortunate news: that Field Trip is laying off a lot of people, Ronan Levy has resigned as the CEO, trading has been suspended, and the company has obtained CCAA Protection (which, through the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, essentially allows a struggling company a chance to restructure its finances to avoid bankruptcy, all through a formal Plan of Arrangement). And in similar news, all Ketamine Wellness Centers (an Arizona company recently acquired by Delic Holdings) would be closing immediately, with employees let go with little warning or explanation. These stories (and Synthesis Institute’s downfall) highlight the sad reality many of us in the psychedelic space forget: that just because a business is heart-centered and psychedelic-minded, it's still a business, and businesses need to be profitable to survive.
Next, they cover Melissa Lavasani and the Psychedelic Medicine Coalition creating the Psychedelic Medicine PAC (Political Action Committee) to get more government funding behind psychedelic research. Members of PMC went to D.C. last week, presenting a psychedelic briefing to begin the process of educating legislators about the realities of plant medicines and psychedelic-assisted therapy (and Joe was there).
And they discuss more: concerns over Australia's recent about-face on MDMA and psilocybin being used legally; a recent study where researchers used EEG and fMRI together to record what is happening in the brain while under the influence of DMT (and we should probably have Manesh Girn on again to explain it better than we could); and an interview with Eric Andre at SXSW where, in about 2 minutes, he brilliantly shines a light on drug exceptionalism, the lies of the drug war, and the need for more education on psychedelics – all to a bewildered reporter who didn't seem prepared to talk to Eric Andre (we are- please come on the podcast!).
In this episode, Joe interviews the Co-Founder and CEO of Beckley Retreats, Neil Markey.
Markey describes Beckley Retreats as comprehensive well-being programs, and talks about the importance of holistic wellness – that, while the retreats are centered around two group psilocybin experiences, the true benefits come from complementary factors: the four weeks of online prep and community building before the retreat, the six days in Jamaica surrounding the experiences, the six weeks of integration work after, and the depth of connections people find in the new community they may not have realized they needed so badly. He breaks down the details of the retreats and what they look for in facilitators, and tells a few success stories that really highlight how trauma, opposing ideas, and an infatuation with material objects and amassing wealth can all get in the way of real relationships and meaning.
Beckley Retreats is currently working on two new projects: an observational study with Heroic Hearts and Imperial College London on using psilocybin for-traumatic brain injury, and a study with Bennet Zelner and the University of Maryland to bring executives through a retreat to see how it affects leadership and decision-making: can they prove that these types of experiences lead to more heart-centered leaders?
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Joe and Kyle join up once again to discuss the news and articles they found the most interesting this week.
They start with the business news everyone is talking about: Field Trip Health & Wellness closing 5 of their clinics due to financial struggles (a deficit of $48.7 million since their inception and a net loss of $6.9 million reported for the last quarter), little confidence they'd be able to receive more funding, and the changing landscape of ketamine telehealth now that the Covid Public Health Emergency should finally come to an end in May. They also highlight an article dissecting the collapse of Synthesis Institute and the lessons to be learned, with both stories really showing just how new and unstable psychedelic business still is, and how the allure of first-mover advantage can be a dangerous gamble.
They also discuss four drug reform bills introduced in Vermont: two of which would decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, making a "personal use supply of drugs” a civil offense with a $50 fine; one removing penalties for using or selling psilocybin; and the last decriminalizing certain psychedelic plants and fungi.
And they look at a research study aiming to learn more about people's lives after they've been involved in a clinical trial, Time Magazine's article about psychedelics and couples therapy, and a study that found that while 64% of survey respondents said at-home ketamine helped their symptoms, 55% (and 58% of Millennials) said they used more than the recommended dose – either by accident or on purpose.
In this episode, David hosts another Vital Psychedelic Conversation, this time with Bennet Zelner, Ph.D.: Vital instructor who teaches economics at the University of Maryland Smith School of Business; and Giles Hayward: Vital student and Co-Founder of Woven Science (a company backing and building psychedelic and wellness tech companies) and El Puente, which focuses on Indigenous biocultural preservation.
Zelner believes that the traditional capitalist system we’ve grown accustomed to is an extractive and predatory one directly in opposition to a natural system we should be striving to emulate – one that circulates resources and exits largely in equilibrium with its different parts. His concept of the Pollination Approach (or regenerative economics) is about developing economic structures that are capable of balance: where communities are built to directly benefit each other and where businesses are structured to share resources and capital to all involved. In a hyper-individualistic system where loneliness and never feeling good enough are key drivers of depression, anxiety, and trauma, how could we not benefit from feeling more connected to each other, our communities, and the businesses that exist within them?
They talk about different ways the pollination approach could be applied; how psychedelics disrupt these broken systems; how we can make these treatments affordable; and why we should be focusing on the delivery and integration of substances rather than creating new ones. And since Hayward is about to graduate from Vital’s inaugural run, he shares his feelings on the program and how it fell into this concept of regenerative economics.
The application deadline for this year’s Vital has been extended to March 26, but that will be the last extension. So if you’re interested, now is the time to apply!
In this episode, Joe interviews Graham Hancock: legendary bestselling author and writer and presenter of the new Netflix docuseries, "Ancient Apocalypse," where he travels the world looking for evidence of lost civilizations likely much more advanced than historians previously believed.
Hancock talks about his early books and how ayahuasca influenced his writing; the similarities in cave art and the common link of altered states of consciousness; how integral non-ordinary states of consciousness likely were to early religion (especially Christianity); how much the annihilation of religious traditions has hidden history; why his and Rupert Sheldrake's Tedx talks were originally taken offline; new understandings of Neanderthals' intelligence and creativity; the Quetzalcóatl; and the concept of the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis: could there have been an advanced civilization 12,800 years ago that we're just starting to comprehend? Could it have been Atlantis?
He discusses the conflict with mystery and archaeology's obsession with scientism and materialist reductionism – that we keep trying to force everything into little boxes of approved science and have lost our imaginations and openness to possibility, especially when you realize how often narratives are built based on interpretations of data rather than facts (since the farther back we go, evidence becomes harder to come by). He believes science needs humility, a willingness to listen to Indigenous history, and a much more open mind when it comes to altered states of consciousness: “I'm convinced we're missing something important from our past, and if we don't look for it, we won't find it.”
Hancock has just announced that he will be a speaker at UK's Breaking Convention, April 20 - 22 at the University of Exeter, and some of the PT team will be there too! To save 10% off tickets, use code PSYCHTODAYBC10 at checkout.
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, David is joined by Kyle, who is finally home after a lot of traveling, to talk shop and dig into the articles they found the most interesting this week.
They begin with the news that Paul Stamets now has a species of mushroom named after him (Psilocybe stametsii), then take a look at a recent self-report study called “Prevalence and associations of challenging, difficult or distressing experiences using classic psychedelics,” which aimed to collect data on just how many psychedelic users (in this study, anyone who had ever tried a psychedelic) felt that they had had a challenging or difficult experience. They discuss the results and highlight some interesting data: that LSD was the most commonly associated substance, that smoking cannabis was one of the most commonly reported interventions, and of course, the question of whether or not these experiences were beneficial.
They then talk about Synthesis Institute closing its doors, the possible hope Synthesis could have, and the sadness in this – when businesses fail, it’s easy to look at numbers and profit margins and be dismissive, but we forget the people involved; not just at Synthesis, but the hundreds of would-be students.
And lastly, they look at an article about a California-based startup called the Reality Center, which uses a combination of pulsing lights, sounds, and vibrations to create a drug-free but seemingly very psychedelic experience, reminding us yet again that you do not need a substance to achieve non-ordinary states of consciousness.
In this episode of Vital Psychedelic Conversations, David interviews Vital instructor, Dr. Devon Christie: Senior Lead of Psychedelic Programs at Numinus, MAPS-certified MDMA therapist, and now four-time guest; and Vital student, Emefa Boamah: coach, facilitator, and trauma-informed intuitive guide specializing in embodiment.
We've all heard the trope, "It's all in your mind," but it's also in your heart, soul, community, support system, and body - the focus of this episode. Christie and Boamah dive deep into the various aspects of the relationship between non-ordinary states and our bodies: ways to embody our bodies more; how the body is a fundamental source of truth; the benefit of checking in with one's body after an experience (to validate or disprove what may have come up); the importance of movement and rest; the different bodies we inhabit (physical, emotional, energetic, mental, and spiritual); and ways to accept (and eventually love) our bodies in a society that's always working to make us hate them – is self-love the ultimate act of defiance?
They also discuss the post-experience plasticity in everything, and the challenge of preparing an experiencer for something we can't know; how facilitators and practitioners need to track their own subconscious feelings and reactions; the concept of embodied inquiry; the necessity of remaining curious and humble; and the idea of using integrative practices to find ways to become the person you want to be – the person you may have seen glimpses of in non-ordinary states.
And as this year's edition comes to an end, Boamah reflects on her experiences with Vital, particularly the communal aspects of the retreat and how healing it was to literally be lifted up by her companions. Head to the show notes to see a video showcasing some of the Vital experience, and if you're curious about whether Vital is right for you, please come to an upcoming Q+A. Applications close March 19!
In this episode, in celebration of International Women’s Day, Victoria interviews Tracey Tee: co-founder and CEO of Band of Mothers Media, co-producer and co-host of the Band of Mothers podcast, and founder of Moms on Mushrooms, an online educational community for psychedelic-curious moms outside the prying eyes of social media.
With similar histories of womb trauma, self discovery, and body reconnection, Victoria and Tracey discuss the complications of motherhood, substance use and embracing psychedelics in a broken culture, in which engaging with small, approved coping mechanisms is fine – where the “wine mom” archetype and numbing yourself with medications is celebrated, but where we don’t often talk about how challenging motherhood can really be, and the lasting mental, physical, and spiritual impacts of birth, loss, and grief. Tracey’s goal with Moms on Mushrooms is to bring mothers together for personal growth, healing, and most of all, for the safe, supportive container that so many women considering plant medicine need.
She tells her story of creating and performing “The Pump and Dump Show” and the psychedelic journeys that led her to creating M.O.M., and discusses much more: how those large dose journeys reconnected her with her body; how microdosing has helped her feel more vulnerable, honest, and in tune with her daughter; how psychedelics can help parents realize where problematic core beliefs came from; how teaching children the ways of the world forces parents to confront and reaffirm what they truly believe; and the challenges mothers face in even talking about wanting to try psychedelics.
If you’re a mother and this episode resonates with you, check out Tee’s Microdosing 101 (for moms) course or join the Moms on Mushrooms community for $4.44 a month.
In this episode, Psychedelics Weekly is back after a brief hiatus (everyone was either traveling or sick last week!), with the OG PT team: Joe and Kyle.
With the exception of some commentary on John Oliver's recent piece on psychedelics (which was excellent), they skip the psychedelic news this week in favor of Psychedelics Today news, as a lot has been going on!
In the last few weeks:
Joe sustained a traumatic brain injury and a broken arm;
Joe, Kyle, and Victoria attended PT's first Cannadelic in Miami, where Joe and Kyle moderated or sat on several panels, Kyle and Victoria went and saw Afroman, and we won the Psychedelic Brand of the Year award(!);
Joe experienced a music festival in different ways (completely sober, and somewhat still in a concussion daze) and did some interesting research on psychedelics and post-concussion effects;
Despite Joe and Kyle both getting sick and not being able to attend all of it, the last Vital retreat was an amazing one, capping off a year of incredible content and connection that is only fueling the fire to make this year's Vital even better;
And, due to issues beyond our control with the planned venue and the City of Los Angeles, we had to cancel Convergence.
Phew! As promised, lots going on!
In this episode, David interviews Kevin Cannella, LPC: MAPS-trained psychedelic psychotherapist and Co-Founder and Executive Director of Thank You Life, a nonprofit organization working to provide access to psychedelic therapy by eliminating its financial barriers.
Co-Founded by Dr. Dan Engle, Thank You Life is very new and still in the process of officially launching, having just obtained 501(c)(3) status in December and recently gaining its first corporate sponsor in Dr. Bronner's. The nonprofit came from the realization of just how expensive psychedelic-assisted therapy can be, and Cannella wondering: what if there was a fund practitioners could plug into when a patient couldn't pay? While access for the patient is obvious, this model benefits the practitioner as well, which is something not often discussed in the psychedelic space – we focus a lot on how much these services will cost the patient, but rarely on the practitioner deserving to be paid fairly for their time and expertise.
Cannella tells his story of immersion into a world of ayahuasca, yoga, and vipassana meditation; volunteering at the Temple of the Way of Light, living in Hawaii, then Brazil, and finally, landing at Naropa University, where his passions were finally validated. He discusses looking for signs and learning to trust intuition, ways to increase accessibility outside of a 501(c)(3) model, how it feels to be paid well for your work, and why he only wants to work with practitioners who offer therapy alongside their chosen substance.
Head to their website to donate to the Thank You Life fund, and follow them on socials for details on upcoming launch/fundraising events in April and May.
In this episode, David interviews Victor Alfonso Cabral, LSW: Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at Fluence Training and Licensed Social Worker and practicing psychotherapist in Pennsylvania.
Cabral is currently involved with the film, “We are the Medicine,” which aims to explore the reemergence of plant medicines from the perspective of people of color from all backgrounds and walks of life, with the added factor of a strong hip hop influence. Filmmakers Eric Blackerby and Esteban Serrano want the film to normalize the concept of psychedelics and healing for people of color, but also the notion of men being truly authentic with each other and building each other up with love and support – something that challenges society’s expectations on how men (and more specifically, Black and Brown men) should be in relationships with one another. Head to pictureacolorfulworld.com to donate and sign up for the mailing list for more info on future fundraisers and screenings.
He begins the episode by reading a powerful poem he read at Horizons NYC, then tells his story: his childhood and his mother’s sacrifices; how trauma caught up to him in college and led to the low point of his life; his subsequent 120-pound weight loss journey and embracing of therapy, how his first psychedelic experience resulted in an awakening of possibility; how he became a social worker and why he felt instantly aligned with the work; how he ended up working for PA Governor Tom Wolf; and how he came to be interviewed by Sway Calloway (who is also an Executive Producer of the film). His story and all of the organizations and efforts he’s been involved with prove that being authentic, following your heart, and building relationships with the right people can lead to growth and positive change in whatever path you choose in this space.
In this episode, Joe interviews Greg Lake, Esq.: Co-Founder of the Church of Psilomethoxin, author, and attorney specializing in working with entheogen-based religious practitioners in establishing their right to consume their sacraments under existing religious freedom laws.
Psilomethoxin (4-Hydroxy-5-methoxydimethyltryptamine or 4-Hydroxy-5-MeO-DMT) was first synthesized in 2021 by mixing 5-MeO-DMT with psilocybin substrate, and after initial tests and months of user reports, it was deemed safe to use.* Lake co-founded the Church of Psilomethoxin in 2022 with the goal of shifting the paradigm of religion to primary direct experiences and individual beliefs rather than a dogma everyone must follow, with a big focus on community and discussing the ultimate questions of life together – with Psilomethoxin as the sacrament of choice. While he prefers member-to-member referrals, there is an application on the site, and he hopes to grow the church through linking people up regionally, (eventually) training people to facilitate, and partnering with a data collection company to gather real-world data on both Psilomethoxin and on why people are seeking out psychedelic churches in the first place.
He discusses several cases that brought us here and inspired his work; why he believes Psilomethoxin won't be a target of the Federal Analogue Act; the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the need for states to establish similar state legislation; the importance of new churches establishing evidence in the public record; how much courts take sincerity into consideration; and the concept that, while we're quick to think of the law as the enemy, courts often don’t want to go after churches – religion is a sacred and intimate thing, so who is the victim if a court brings a church to court that hasn't harmed anyone?
*Update, April 17, 2023: Results from analytical testing released on April 12, 2023, reveal that there is no evidence to suggest the compound psilomethoxin is present in the samples of sacrament material the Church of Psilomethoxin is offering to their members online. The report, prepared by Samuel Williamson and Alexander Sherwood of the Usona Institute, states, “Psilocybin, baeocystin, and psilocin, were, however, unambiguously identified in the sample, suggesting that the claims regarding the biosynthesis of psilomethoxin may be misguided. The implications of these findings should be critically considered within the context of public health and safety.”
We are following this story at Psychedelics Today and are working to update our community with commentary from the researchers. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more on this topic.
In this episode of Vital Psychedelic Conversations, Kyle interviews Carla Kieffer: psychedelic educator, Certified Psychedelic Facilitator, Community Liaison at Maya Health, and Founder of Kairos Integration, a company offering psychedelic training, preparation, facilitation, integration, and microdosing support.
This episode was recorded in-person, in between the first and second psilocybin retreats at Atman Retreat in Jamaica, where Kyle, Johanna, and a large group of Vital students just worked with Carla last month. Many participants that attend retreats are new to psychedelics, and often don’t know each other, so it was powerful to have a group of classmates follow the breathwork model of having sitters and journeyers take turns (which is the same model she uses for her Psychedelic Guide Training and Certificate Program), and demonstrates how much one can learn when taking the role of the sitter and how the journey becomes the teacher. They talk about how big the therapy part of psychedelic-assisted therapy is, in how rare it is to have someone attending to your every need for hours on end, and wonder: How can we take that aspect of holding space for each other and apply it to everyday life?
She discusses the importance of data collection and how her Internal Family Systems training has helped her balance her love for the mystical with her more science and data-based mind; the importance in facilitators meeting some sort of baseline harm reduction and safety training (and the need to establish an agreed-upon set of standards); the need for increased accessibility; how important it is to further educate about and normalize conversations about psychedelics; and how integration isn’t just a box you check off as part of the experience, but a continuous process and part of our lives, where checking in on ourselves should be a regular practice.
In this episode, Joe interviews Dr. Devon Christie: Senior Lead of Psychedelic Programs at Numinus, educator at CIIS and Vital, and MAPS-certified MDMA therapist; and Dr. Pamela Kryskow, MD: founding board member of the Psychedelic Association of Canada and Medical Lead of the nonprofit, Roots To Thrive.
Christie and Kryskow recently co-authored one of the first papers looking at MDMA for chronic pain, “MDMA-assisted therapy is associated with a reduction in chronic pain among people with post-traumatic stress disorder,” which came about after they received access to MAPS’ Phase 2 data from a lead-in PTSD study and noticed significant improvements in pain measurements – something the study was not looking for at all. They’re looking into where chronic pain fits within the frameworks of Western medicine and psychedelic-assisted therapy, and discuss the many reasons why MDMA should be tremendously helpful for chronic pain and other conditions that fall under the large umbrella of central sensitivity syndromes and nociplastic pain. They are currently working on a new study following the MAPS protocol that will research MDMA-assisted psychotherapy specifically for people with fibromyalgia, which some believe might be physicalized PTSD. If you’d like to contribute a tax-deductible donation, visit giving.viu.ca, select “other” from the dropdown, and type in “MDMA for Fibromyalgia.”
They talk about how research trials focus too much on the molecule while ignoring what the patient is saying; how a large percentage of physicians and patients don’t at all like the psychometrics used in measuring data; how physicians regularly use expectancy bias but research trials don’t (and how that affects results); why everyone needs to place higher importance on the biopsychosocial model; the idea of being more humble with science and using “theoretical” more often; the problems with microdosing trials; and the issues with evidence: If there isn’t sufficient evidence, why isn’t there? And what exactly would be sufficient?
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Kyle is joined by another new voice from the PT team: one of the main instructors and facilitators from our Vital program, Diego Pinzon.
Originally from Colombia, Diego has been living in Australia since 2008 and has been involved in the Australian psychedelic scene, playing roles in the charity sector, research with Psychae Institute, and is one of the researchers in the St. Vincent’s Melbourne trial, Australia’s first trial using psilocybin for end-of-life depression and anxiety. Diego gives his insight into the recent TGA re-scheduling of psilocybin and MDMA for treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, respectively.
They cover the details, unknowns, and concerns: Is there enough time to train enough people? Do they have the infrastructure for this? What are the substances actually going to be? What percentage of people who apply will be granted access? What will it cost? And while psychiatrists will be able to prescribe, how much will the program really focus on therapy?
And they discuss Vancouver’s Filament Health creating the world’s first ayahuasca pill, which is close to FDA authorization to begin a Phase 1 trial. Of course this news begs some questions as well, mainly: with psychedelic use being such an active experience, how much does something like this change our relationship to ayahuasca? And with a consistent, more predictable experience, does that kill the magic?
In this episode of Vital Psychedelic Conversations, Johanna takes the helm for the first time, hosting a conversation with Jungian analyst-in-training, writer, researcher, 5Rhythms® teacher, and Vital student: Mackenzie Amara; and clinical psychologist, long time PT collaborator, and Vital instructor: Dr. Ido Cohen.
As this episode features three huge fans of Jung (Johanna wrote her Master’s dissertation on The Red Book and teaches a course through PT), they focus less on education and the future of psychedelic therapy, and instead get pretty deep; shining a light on an integral part of psychedelia (and life) we often avoid: the shadow. What is the shadow and what is true shadow work? What did Jung give us, and why is Jungian psychology so relevant for integrating psychedelic experiences?
They discuss the notion of the unconscious as a place you can develop a relationship with and access by very different means; the idea of the healer as the container; the problematic binary of good vs. evil; the flawed concept of ego death; the differences between authentic and neurotic suffering and personal and collective consciousness; the archetype of the wounded healer and why facilitators should both be wounded and in the process of healing; and how wonderful it is that society is beginning to embrace the weird and what makes us unique.
There are no shortcuts in life and there is no “cure” for the parts of the human condition we aren’t comfortable with, but in the capitalist, efficiency-above-all-else West, we aren’t raised to sit with the unpleasant, and instead learn to seek a quick fix, which has created an environment where we’ve lost the ability to feel in the ways that we need to. Can you be with someone else’s pain if you’re running from your own? Can you have real compassion if you’ve never suffered? Can you be complete without knowing your shadow?
In this episode, Joe interviews artist Rupert Alexander Scriven, who, under his brand, Vintage Disco Biscuit, recently released “The Art of Ecstasy”: a coffee table book of images of ecstasy tablets he collected for 25 years.
In this episode, David is joined by Director of Advocacy at the National Psychedelics Association, Kathryn L. Tucker, JD, who updates us on the 3 AIMS vs. the DEA cases, discussing what their outcome could mean for the future.
In this episode, Vital Psychedelic Conversations switches it up, with Kyle interviewing our Coordinator of Education and Training, Johanna Hilla, about 2022's inaugural edition of Vital. And what can students expect this year?
In this episode, Joe interviews Jessica "Jaz" Cadoch & Sovereign Oshumare: Co-Founders of ALKEMI, a consulting firm for psychedelic ethics and accountability. They discuss the Prop 122 conflict, what true access means, and more.
In this episode, Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience, Manesh Girn joins new podcast voice, Julian Bost, to explain recent research we found confusing, and to discuss schizophrenia, inflammation and depression, and the ways we learn.
In this episode, David interviews Grof-certified Holotropic Breathwork® practitioner, author, developer of InnerEthics®, and Vital instructor: Kylea Taylor: M.S., LMFT; and therapist and Vital student: Shabina Hale.
In this episode, Joe interviews Gina Gratza, MS, LMFT: Portland, OR-based research therapist and educator at InnerTrek, a psilocybin facilitator training program. She discusses MDMA, Burning Man, therapy, psilocybin, and more.
In this episode, David interviews clinical psychologist and Vital instructor, Dr. Dominique Morisano, and facilitator and Vital student, Jessika Lagarde, about their perspectives on psychedelic education, and of course, Vital.
In this episode, David interviews Raad Seraj: host of Minority Trip Report, a podcast for underrepresented views in psychedelics/mental health, and founder of Mission Club, an education & investment platform.