In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Joe calls in from Los Angeles to cover the week's news with David.
-Dr. Julie Holland's recent appearance on the The Cannabis Investing Podcast, where she discussed the concept of cannabis being a psychedelic;
-Vancouver Island University in British Columbia, Canada, planning to establish a Psychedelic Research Centre, with a focus on the historical and ethical context of psychedelic substances, using a "two eyed seeing" approach that combines Western-style science with Indigenous perspectives;
-A group of investors creating a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) to purchase real estate for the purposes of psychedelic therapy, which, if used as the collaborative model we imagine it could be, could solve a lot of problems;
-Diplo completing the Los Angeles Marathon in 3 hours and 35 minutes while under a reported 4-5 drops of LSD, and the dismissive spin mainstream media added to the story;
and a Rolling Stone article focusing on (and somewhat oversimplifying) the conflicts between the medicalization and decriminalization/legalization camps (can we just do both?).
The articles of course lead to much larger discussions: how cannabis has helped David overcome OCD; the need for more transparency and a review system based on abusive behavior in the psychedelic space; the idea of collectivization in therapy models; why we need to agree on ethical foundations; and our general misunderstanding of IP and IP law: was all the criticism of Compass Pathways unwarranted?
In this episode, David interviews Sunny Strasburg, LMFT: Clinical Director at TRIPP PsyAssist; psychedelic trainer, consultant, therapist, and writer, specializing in EMDR and Internal Family Systems, and offering ketamine-assisted therapy as well as ketamine therapy retreats (often co-led by Dr. Richard Schwartz).
She talks about her family history with magic, and how the act of calling energy in and out pairs with psychedelic work; how the human experience is made up of contrasts; why we need to embrace the recreational part of psychedelics; how art can be used more in therapy; and how post-experience group integration is the act of creating mythology, recreating the small-community-sitting-by-the-fire archetype – that community we so desperately need. And she discusses ketamine: different ways she uses it; how it pairs perfectly with Internal Family Systems; and how it’s autobiographical medicine, making us an observer and allowing us to separate ourselves from our story.
While passionate about the mystical, magic, and reconnecting to nature, she is also very involved with virtual reality, and she discusses how VR and meditation apps are easing people into non-ordinary states and familiarizing people with breathwork. With the help of pioneering psychedelic DJ, David Starfire, she created PsyAssist, an app with music playlists and voice integration for people to enhance ketamine experiences that don’t otherwise include therapy or integration work. PsyAssist was acquired by VR company, TRIPP, and they’re running a study on people using VR before a psychedelic experience to see if data proves that VR really does reduce the anxiety so many of us feel before taking that big journey. But she reminds us: as we become more connected to technology, VR, and AI, being connected to other human beings will become more and more important.
In this episode, Joe interviews Ph.D. student in the Drug Use and Behavior Lab at the University of Alabama Birmingham, Haley Maria Dourron.
She talks mostly about the paper she co-authored last year with Dr. Peter Hendricks and Camilla Strauss: “Self-Entropic Broadening Theory: Toward a New Understanding of Self and Behavior Change Informed by Psychedelics and Psychosis,” which analyzes the long-standing comparisons between the psychedelic state and psychosis, and points out important distinctions between the two – that science should be looking more at the way one processes information and their level of self-focus rather than similarities in outward behavior. She discusses what she calls entropic processing, which is essentially how one’s brain creates novel ideas, relations, and insights based on very loosened mental schemas: with new information being considered in new ways (with no filter), do the connecting pathways that seem like eureka moments actually make sense?
She discusses the broaden and build theory and the broadening of intentional scope; entropy; chronic LSD use and risk of psychosis; schizophrenia and psychedelics; why science needs to embrace naturalistic research, and more. As of this release date, there are still a few participatory spots left in her current study on the effect of psychedelic experiences on people who have a history of psychosis, so if you had an episode of psychosis at some point and have gone on to use psychedelics, she wants to hear your story. Head to the show notes for the link.
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.