Psychedelics Today
Psychedelics Today
Psychedelics Today
A show discussing the important academic and other research in the field of Psychedelics. We discuss how psychedelics relate to human potential and healing.
PT233 - JR Rahn of MindMed
In this episode, Joe interviews the founder and CEO of MindMed, JR Rahn. This one's a bit different and plays out perhaps unsurprisingly, as Joe's well-established talking points against the drug war and DEA, legalize-everything stance, and all-inclusive focus on the many branches of drug-use (medical/therapeutic use, religious use, celebration/partying, inner work and exploration, and creative problem-solving) meet an addict businessman whose life was saved by psychedelics and who doesn't want to talk about the battle but instead wants to push forward, all-in on the method he thinks will get people in need the medicine that could save them the fastest: not putting so much effort towards state-by-state decriminalization and demonizing the DEA, but instead, working with them towards medicalization, and telling them what we want by passing measures that allocate more capital and resources towards infrastructure that will help people.  Rahn talks about what MindMed is working on: the first approved commercial drug trial studying the effects of microdosing LSD on adult ADHD, and their more long-term plan, developing a trip-neutralizing drug that would be a safer option than Xanax for ending a challenging trip and getting people back to stability. He also discusses the importance of scalability and lowering healthcare costs, changing anecdotal evidence into real science, and his life-saving (and cheaper) hope of patients being able to work with therapists in their homes rather than in expensive, anxiety-increasing medical environments.  Notable Quotes “As a society, we need to prioritize treatment and we don’t. ...It’s just completely illogical to me that, as a society, we stare it in its face every day and we blame the opioid crisis and we blame drug addiction for our crime and all these things, yet, as a society, we don’t allocate the resources necessary to solve it.”“I think there’s that Forbes article where I was like, ‘Oh, I want nothing to do with the decrim people.’ I definitely said that, but that’s not really what I meant. What I meant was: if we’re going to make psychedelics into a medicine, and we’re going to make it scalable and accessible, I think we should be having a federal conversation about it, and to me, the most efficient pathway to do that is the FDA. And I’m concerned that we’re going to go through this process of state-by-state legalization that happened in the cannabis days and we’re going to get some pretty unsavory people involved in this community ...and I’m just concerned that, if it happens in that manner, it becomes a political battle, and it doesn’t become: How do we help people? How do we get medicine to folks that are in need?” “If we’re going to get people willing to healing themselves and get over the stigma, I think it’s important to have the feature of: ‘Look, we have the emergency stop button. Your therapist can press it if they need to when they feel that you’ve reached a point that is not good anymore.’ And I think that, ultimately (and we’ll have to study this), it might make the experience even more therapeutic. ...They should be walking into a cocoon and we’re taking care of them. They should not be walking into [a room] or sitting on their couch, going, ‘Holy shit, am I going to die?’” “I’d love to get to the point where we have destigmatized these substances enough in society that people value them for what they are, and I think we will be a much better society when we get to that point, but I don’t think we can do it all at once. People tried that- didn’t work. I would just hate to watch the potential for so many people that are actually suffering from mental health and addiction [to] not get access to this treatment because we went too fast.”  “ best podcast in psychedelics.” Links MindMed Expands Psychedelic Microdosing Division, Adds Groundbreaking Study Evaluating LSD Microdosing Through Next-Gen Digital Clinical Markers MindMed Develops LSD Neutralizer Technology To Shorten and Stop LSD Trips This New York City Pharma Startup Wants To Turn LSD Into An FDA-Approved Medicine For Anxiety Disorder (the notorious "Forbes article") Rahn’s Twitter follow-up (scroll up to read the full convo) ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic, by Alan Schwarz Suicide Risk Elevated After Psychiatric Hospital Stay Benzodiazepines and Opioids (increased risk by combining them) About JR Rahn JR is a former Silicon Valley tech executive who realized that transformational solutions to mental illness and addiction might lie in psychedelic medicines. He spent 2 years researching and began personally investing in psychedelic research through his investment company. JR partnered with drug development veteran Stephen Hurst to start MindMed in 2019, assembling a leading clinical drug discovery and development team with vast experience conducting clinical trials and research on drug candidates derived from psychedelics. Before starting MindMed, JR worked in market expansion and operations at Uber. Support the show Patreon Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes Share us with your friends Join our Facebook group - Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community. Navigating Psychedelics  
Mar 2
1 hr 14 min
PTSF48 - Decriminalization, Embracing the Mystical, and a Plea for More Ethical Exploration
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Kyle and Joe are joined once again from Mexico by Michelle Janikian, and let's take a moment to do what wasn't done last week: welcome Michelle to the podcast, as she will be joining the guys on SFs for the foreseeable future, and possibly on other podcasts soon as well. Welcome to the revolution, Michelle! As you’d expect, they discuss the news: Norway's plan to decriminalize personal drug use based on recommendations from the U.N. and W.H.O. and why that may be related to Norway's high rate of drug-related deaths (or maybe even a high suicide rate), a new bill in California to not only decriminalize psychedelics (including MDMA and LSD, and excluding peyote) but expunge records as well, a new Massachusetts bill to decriminalize all drugs and study psychedelics, a study where researchers achieved real-time communication with lucid dreamers, and Alex Jones' (likely true) claim that government officials regularly use DMT to communicate with freaking aliens. The most-discussed articles though, are Vice's post about how psychedelic therapy needs to embrace the mystical side of things, and Tim Ferriss' recent blog, pleading people to follow more ethical, safer, and more environmentally-friendly paths in their explorations of different medicines. They also talk about Ferriss' concept of a minimum effective dose, the progress of cannabis legalization in Mexico, using caution with frameworks, Pascal's Wager, how the idea of a psychedelic community is becoming antiquated, and whether or not Kyle is regularly astral projecting without realizing it.  Notable Quotes “This concept of political capital- you only have so many ‘politics tokens’ to put in the machine, and being a politician, you kind of have to play the game of not only influencing what you and your constituency want but [also] ‘how do I get re-elected too?’ It’s not spending political capital to be anti-drug in most states. [To] be a really hardcore prohibitionist, you actually gain political capital in a lot of ways. But putting your neck on the line for something like this is quite risky for a politician, so, good on ya!” -Joe “It just doesn’t fit into that narrative where it’s like: ‘Can psychedelics revolutionize mental health?’ Yes, but not just help people and cure, heal- we have to change the way we think about the human experience and we have to let in so many other weird, unworldly experiences to really, fully-- like, yea, it’s going to revolutionize mental health. It’s going to revolutionize everything if we really integrate it and take all aspects of it into consideration. But that’s really hard for doctors and these psychiatrists in-training to really do- they just want a new medication to help their patients. Do they really want to like, rethink reality? [sarcastically:] That’s just for weirdos like us.” -Michelle “Sometimes when I’m in conversations with other clinicians and it’s so pathology-oriented, I’m like, do we need to keep continuing that language? Could there be other ways of viewing and seeing this? How [can] psychedelics- or not even psychedelics- just extraordinary experiences in general help shift our view of what it means to be human? What does it mean to be well in the world? Do I always need to be sick when I come to a mental health professional? Do I always need some sort of diagnosis? I think these are the questions that my exceptional experiences have made me think about- traditional systems and how they’ve really shifted over the years.” -Kyle “The dream world, to me, has always been so fascinating, because it’s like the natural psychedelic everyone has every night. Dreams are so weird. There’s no psychedelic that really touches how weird dreams are. And yet we go to that place every night.” -Michelle Links Norway to Decriminalize Personal Drug Use in ‘Historic’ Shift New California bill would decriminalize psychedelics, expunge criminal records New Massachusetts Bills Would Decriminalize All Drugs And Study Regulated Sales of Psychedelics Viva la Cannabis? Not so Fast (Michelle’s article) Tim Ferriss’ blog: An Urgent Plea to Users of Psychedelics: Let’s Consider a More Ethical Menu of Plants and Compounds DMT Research From 1956 to the End of Time, by Andrew R. Gallimore and David P. Luke Pascal’s Wager Psychedelic Therapy Needs to Confront the Mystical The Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness (Kyle was right, Joe had it wrong) Scientists establish freaky two-way communications with lucid dreamers Real-time dialogue between experimenters and dreamers during REM sleep (the actual study) Youtube: Qualia Research Institute’s video (that’s causing debate in the facebook group) Matthew Segall’s appearance on Psychedelics Today Alex Jones Says Secret Government Program Uses Psychedelics To Communicate With Aliens Alien Information Theory: Psychedelic Drug Technologies and the Cosmic Game, by Andrew R. Gallimore Recursion, by Blake Crouch Support the show! Patreon Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes Share us with your friends Join our Facebook group - Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community. Navigating Psychedelics  
Feb 26
1 hr 10 min
PT232 - Dr. Ryan Westrum - Who We Are Without Medicine
In this episode, Kyle interviews clinical psychologist focusing on sexual trauma, health, and identity, and author of The Psychedelics Integration Handbook, Dr. Ryan Westrum. Westrums' biggest focus and conversation with clients right now in our age of Covid concerns who we are without medicine- how we fill the liminal states between our sessions or rituals. He talks a lot about the work people can do on their own now: learning to listen to our inner healers, honing and sharpening what we already know, stretching ourselves, listening to the different parts of our intuition (our physical bodies, emotional hearts, and cognitive thinking) and realigning when one is out of sync, and maybe the most important lesson: embracing the idea that self-work doesn't have to be built on trials and tribulations, and often, challenging ourselves to use our hands and practicing something we know we're good at or getting back into a long-forgotten hobby can be just as effective towards growth and feeling better about ourselves.  He also talks about solitude, how to use technology the right way and not fall into false engagement, what safety means to people in today's climate, the importance of tethering yourself to trustworthy allies, how psychedelics and his work with sexuality converge, and how to embrace the wonder and beauty of what we discover through psychedelics in everyday life. Notable Quotes “We have to consciously watch what we’re consuming, being prudently aware of this mindful consumption rather than this inappropriate consuming of information when we don’t even know why we just touched our phone or why we just engaged in learning more. Without sounding blasphemous (because I love the internet), what’s it for? What are we doing it for? ...How often are you getting lost in people you don’t even know? And how often are you reaching out to people that could actually be there for you? And it leads to psychedelic medicine work- are you leaning on the people that could actually support you?”  “What is the higher level of intention we’re living? If we are going to take the challenge to dive into medicine work by ourselves, we should still be constructing something that’s higher level, and to speak volumes of motivating the purpose of why we’re doing it. If you’re just doing it to do it because you think that’s the next thing, I’d ask you: what are you doing in your life away from the medicine?”  “Some of the most amazing transcendences are personal, and without being disrespectful to the medicine, do we need it to evoke that? Is that a state of being that we can find within ourselves through evocative breathing, through a great song, sexual pleasure with your partner, whatever? There’s other avenues. That’s what that leads me to, is the plethora of opportunity outside of taking psilocybin or doing an ayahuasca ceremony- [the] plethora of experiential experiences that are very evocative towards healing.”“Without going into hours of conversation, even in couples, people are unaware of what they can share, unaware of entering into what they want to ask for. And that’s where the intersection of psychedelics happens, is it gives them this embodied expression of: ‘This is genuinely who I am, sexually, emotionally, spiritually,’ and it’s quite beautiful.” Links The Psychedelics Integration Handbook, by Ph.D. Ryan Westrum His last appearance on the podcast About Dr. Ryan Westrum Support the show Patreon Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes Share us with your friends Join our Facebook group - Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community. Navigating Psychedelics  
Feb 23
1 hr 6 min
PTSF47 - Covid, Ketamine, and Human Rights
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Kyle and Joe are joined from Mexico by freelance journalist (who has been featured here several times) and writer of Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion, Michelle Janikian. They first get into an email from a listener in Costa Rica highlighting a problem Michelle has seen in Mexico (and that mirrors last week's discussion about ayahuasca gatherings): expats' disregard for Covid safety protocols showing an egotistical disrespect for the communities that have welcomed them. The episode then shifts to a bit of a callback to the early days of solidarity, with fewer philosophical ponderings and a whole lot of articles (just scroll down to view the wall of links). From ketamine reducing suicidality (and is ketamine a cure-all silver bullet or just an overhyped respite?) to a Rick Strassman-backed study of DMT for stroke patients, to a college in Jamaica opening a Field-Trip backed psilocybin lab, to Vermont and New Jersey's progress on decriminalization bills, to a discussion on if drug laws violate human rights, to extremely mainstream Vogue and Rolling Stone both reporting on psychedelics, this episode has it all. And yes, it does also include anti-government and drug war rants from Joe, so it's truly a complete episode.  And if you forgot, the next round of Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Therapists goes live on 3/11, the new, cheaper, student-focused version of Navigating Psychedelics starts on March 2nd, and our giveaway to win 2 Sasha Shulgin books ends today, so smash that link to win!  Notable Quotes “If we are at home working with psychedelics because we can’t do group work, I think it’s still really important to be talking about it with other like-minded folks, because when we don’t have any community and we just are using psychedelics, it can get a little delusional. ...We can still take psychedelics, but we have to live in reality.” -Michelle  “Everybody’s saying psychedelic integration is important [and it] makes me roll my eyes. Like, yea, true, but how many times do we have to say it? I guess ‘until everyone’s doing it’ is the answer.” -Joe “A lot of my anxiety and depression stems from an existential, spiritual root, and a lot of my experiences with breathwork or psychedelics in the past would get me there and provide that deep level of insight of: ‘I have a choice here.’ And it allowed me to change my relationship (or at least provide insight on how I could change my relationship to that), but then coming back to do the work was the challenge. Like, ‘Oh shit, I need to actually change this. And how do I do that?’” -Kyle “Ok, Federal government: what can you do to win my trust back? And I don’t know what the answer is, honestly. I don’t think I will, at large, ever really trust the US Federal government. I don’t really hold out hope that I’ll trust them again in my lifetime because they’ve shown to be a corrupt, gross, crony, capitalist system that does not care about human well-being.” -Joe (big shock) Links Michelle's last appearance on Psychedelics Today This Week in Virology podcast Donate to help the people of Huautla de Jimenez Regular oral doses of ketamine significantly reduce suicidal thoughts Contemplating the complexities of being in relationship with substances Algernon targeting psychedelic drug DMT for stroke program Psychedelic Drug DMT To Be Trialed On Stroke Victims Can Microdosing Make You a Better Athlete? “Spirit Molecule” DMT Keeps Cells Alive When Oxygen Levels Are Low Could the Embrace of Psychedelics Lead to a Mental-Health Revolution? Will the Federal Government Finally Embrace the Psychedelic Revolution? New Vermont Bill Would Decriminalize Psychedelics And Kratom (from last year) Lawmakers, prosecutor say it’s time for Vermont to decriminalize drugs (update) Our.Today: UWI opens Caribbean’s first ‘magic mushroom’ lab in Jamaica St. Vincent and the Grenadines Launch Psychedelics Initiative Do Psychedelic Drug Laws Violate Human Rights? Support the show! Patreon Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes Share us with your friends Join our Facebook group - Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community. Navigating Psychedelics  
Feb 19
1 hr 12 min
PT231 - Dr. Hassan Tetteh - Human Care Over Health Care
In this episode, Kyle interviews board-certified heart and lung transplant surgeon and author, most recently of The Art of Human Care, Dr. Hassan Tetteh. Tetteh talks about his book, a "manifesto of sorts" about what human care is in relation to what we traditionally see in standard health care and how the model is rooted in empathy and listening, and was inspired greatly by both his near-death experience with bacterial meningitis (and seeing what it was like to be a helpless patient) and his work with transcendental meditation (which has helped him deal with past trauma and connect him more with the here and now). He talks about his Human Care "LEARN" framework, an amazing "Death Over Dinner" experience where he and randomly-assigned strangers contemplated 3 simple (but not so simple) questions over dinner, how he sees death as a doctor and as someone who came close to death himself, how to discover what a patient's purpose is, and why he's excited about psychedelics becoming medicines. Notable Quotes “I’ve told this to my colleagues- I said, ‘I think everyone in healthcare should have an experience where they feel like they almost died as part of their educational experience,’ because sometimes, it takes that empathy to really identify and relate to some of the patients that you’re taking care of, but more importantly, I think gives you this real deep sense ...of gratitude, and this longing desire to ask yourself, always: ‘Why did that happen?’” “I think death, in its natural form, is absolutely something that’s going to happen. It’s just the way we’re designed. We have a beginning, we have a middle, and we have an end. And I think it’s our duty and our responsibility, in my opinion, to make your life as meaningful as possible while you’re here, so that in your death, your music continues to play, so to speak. Bob Marley, to me, is never going to die.”  “A lot of patients will come to seek medical attention with a so-called complaint or an issue, and it turns out that if you do take that time (like you said) to listen and empathize and sort of understand what their now is, you’ll realize, ‘Hey wait a minute, they’re not really here for the problem they told me about. They’re seeking something else.’” “If you give someone a minute or two, they’ll tell you a lot. But you know what you have to do in that whole time? Don’t interrupt them.”  “We don’t have the monopoly on the best healthcare, because no, that’s been done for ages, well before we came into existence.”  Links Twitter Facebook The Art of Human Care, by Hassan A. Tetteh About Dr. Hassan Tetteh Support the show Patreon Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes Share us with your friends Join our Facebook group - Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community. Navigating Psychedelics  
Feb 16
1 hr 9 min
PTSF 46 - Patents, Prohibition, Health, and Happiness
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Kyle and Joe cover several news stories, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison creating a Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation masters program, a non-profit called the Healing Advocacy Fund being created to implement therapeutic-use psilocybin in Oregon, legislature in Hawaii filing a new bill to legalize therapeutic-use psilocybin and psilocin (and remove them from their Schedule I controlled substances list), Cambridge, Massachusetts joining its neighbor, Somerville, in decriminalizing entheogenic plants, and the biggest story: Compass Pathways attempting to patent such common aspects of psilocybin-assisted therapy as soft furniture, muted colors, and providing "reassuring physical contact." This leads to a discussion on patents and what companies are really trying to do with this behavior.  They then discuss why mescaline isn't researched more, why psychedelic exceptionalism is a problem, Dr. Carl Hart, The Weeknd, and one of everyone's favorite topics: the drug war and why it sucks. And they let us know that seats for the next round of Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Therapists (beginning March 11th) are about half full (so sign up!), the panel discussion on "Light Years" with director Colin Thompson is happening tonight (so hurry up and register for it!), Mind Bending, Mind Mending - A Series Exploring How Psychedelics Affect the Brain premieres on February 22nd with the first edition on Ketamine and featuring Kyle and Dr. Melanie Blair Pincus, and a new, cheaper, student-focused version of Navigating Psychedelics has been created and begins on March 2nd.  Notable Quotes “Are we in a little bit of a fantasy land when we’re trying to separate ourselves from the rest of drug culture? Big portions of psychedelic culture overlap with other portions of other drug cultures. And we’re not mutually exclusive. We’re prosecuted and surveilled by the same government agencies. Prohibition hits us all really hard.” -Joe “I think that’s how a lot of politicians win votes, is by being ‘tough on drugs’ when we should be tough on the drug war.” -Joe “What does it really cost to end the drug war? What do we save by ending the drug war? It’s probably actually better for culture to end the drug war than to medicalize psychedelics. It’s going to be cheaper, we’re going to have a lot of our citizenry back, we’re going to have less felons, ...much less racist culture, all of that. I know this is Psychedelics Today and once in a while, I feel like I’m going, “This is Drug War Today!’ but this is just a thing that keeps coming back to me, and I think it’s important that we examine our cultural baggage around our traditions. Should we really be demonizing people who use PCP? I don’t think so.” -Joe Links Can a Company Patent the Basic Components of Psychedelic Therapy? End of the Road - Navigating Psychedelics and Patent Law University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation, MS program New nonprofit aims to advise on creation of Oregon’s psilocybin-assisted therapy system Hawaii Could Legalize Psychedelic Mushroom Therapy Under New Senate Bill Boston Suburb Votes To Decriminalize Natural Psychedelics podcast: #13: The Best Kind of Counter-Culture: Drug Using Criminal Rick Doblin, Pt. 1 Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic, by Mike Jay Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, by Dr. Carl L. Hart Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, by Johann Hari Support the show! Patreon Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes Share us with your friends Join our Facebook group - Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community. Navigating Psychedelics  
Feb 12
1 hr 2 min
PT230 - Penny White of NeonMind Biosciences
In this episode, Joe interviews Vancouver-based serial entrepreneur, co-founder, president, and CEO of Better Plant Sciences Inc., and founder and CEO of NeonMind Biosciences, Penny White.  White works to take companies public, and was running Better Plant Sciences before creating NeonMind as a subsidiary, largely inspired by Michael Pollan and research by scientists at the University of British Columbia who were looking to treat addiction with CBD.  Now that NeonMind has successfully gone public (which just happened at the end of December), her goals with the company are to develop a protocol around using psilocybin to tackle obesity (they're in pre-clinical trials now and have 5 patents filed), to work more with medicinal mushrooms and sell products with proven health claims (they sell mushroom coffees now), and eventually get into work involving drug addiction and preventing the effects of Alzheimer's- also likely with psilocybin.  This podcast feels like a meeting of 2 minds fully immersed in the psychedelic world having a bit of a check-in about where we find ourselves at the beginning of 2021. Among other topics, they talk about NeonMind's path, taking companies public, how cannabis and psilocybin are regulated in Canada, the benefits of being able to prescribe psilocybin, the worries of oversaturation in Oregon, and the complications of trying to make legal cannabis businesses work in federally-illegal land. Notable Quotes “It’s cool for younger people who are coming of age and having money for the first time and deciding what to do with it, and people that are just interested in promoting things they believe in. It’s an opportunity for people to say: ‘I love the idea of psychedelics becoming legal or becoming available as drugs to help humanity, and so I’m going to buy some of this stock.’ It’s empowering in a way.” “We may end up doing some compound work. We may end up looking at other mushrooms and maybe combining more than just one compound- psilocybin maybe being the key compound. So we’re still at the early stages of what we’re doing, but by no means would we ever have any kind of monopoly on the use of psilocybin. I mean, it’s a plant, right?”  “There’s a lot of people who really very religiously rely on the advice of their doctor, and for them, health is going to your doctor and doing what your doctor says. And so, a lot of people won’t have access to alternative medicines unless they’re prescribed by their doctor. I think those people are going to benefit the most from a drug that contains psilocybin that can be prescribed.”  “I’m still very, very interested in drug addiction and how psychedelics can help people get off drugs, and so, if I come across any companies that are focused on this, any clinical work- if I can get involved in that or help in any way, to be a co-sponsor, something like that- that would be something I’d be really interested in.”  Links NeonMind Announces Closing of Oversubscribed Initial Public Offering and Exercise in Full of the Agent's Over-Allotment Option Dosed About Penny White Penny is a serial entrepreneur with over two decades of experience building companies. She was recognized in PROFIT Magazine's W100 most successful entrepreneurs and her private company was included in PROFIT 500 Fastest-Growing companies in 2015 and 2016. She is also Co-founder, President and CEO of Better Plant Sciences Inc. (CSE: PLNT, OTCQB: VEGGF). She was an initial officer and director for 2 years at Merus Labs Inc. (TSX: MSL), a speciality pharmaceutical company focused on acquiring and optimizing legacy and growth products, which was acquired by Norgine B.V. for $342 million in 2017. Support the show Patreon Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes Share us with your friends Join our Facebook group - Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community. Navigating Psychedelics  
Feb 9
1 hr 10 min
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Kyle and Joe first talk about some great news stories pushing forward the psychedelic movement: Massachusetts General Hospital creating the Center for Neuroscience of Psychedelics with backing from Atai Life Sciences, Florida pushing forward a bill to establish a legal therapeutic-use psilocybin model similar to Oregon's (with a task force responsible for studying psilocybin), Connecticut pushing forward their own much simpler bill to establish their own psilocybin-studying task force, and a recent study using fMRI to examine brain connectivity that found that under the influence of LSD, the relationship between anatomy and brain structure on brain function (similar to phrenology) weakens, thereby allowing the brain to explore other functional connectivity patterns.  They then dive into the hot and oddly polarizing topic of ayahuasca centers continuing to hold ceremonies with as many as 80 people and 3 sessions a week during a time when people should be doing their best to avoid large groups for the hopeful eradication of the constant thorn in our side known as Covid-19. Even for centers testing people before allowing entry, tests aren't 100% accurate, and that only really addresses people's time at the center and not the travel and interactions afterward. When considering risk management and harm reduction, do people attending these events really need to do this now? Could talk therapy or breathwork over the internet (or taking LSD or psilocybin safely with a trusted friend) be a temporary tide over until gathering in large groups is safe again? What's ethical here? And they let us know about what's going on at Psychedelics Today: the next round of Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Therapists (beginning March 11th (yea, 311!)), a giveaway to win 2 Sasha Shulgin books, a "Light Years" panel discussion on February 12th with director, Colin Thompson, 2 new class offerings, a project to help religious leaders learn more about psychedelics, and a new, cheaper, student-focused version of Navigating Psychedelics, which begins on March 2nd.  Notable Quotes “A lot of people fear that folks like you and I and the psychedelic culture at large might destroy this whole medicalization thing by perhaps being too wreckless, making regulators nervous. But I think because a huge money company like Atai and Mass General are working on this (and there’s so many other big institutions), that this is the kind of ballast that would resist any kind of backslide into a deepening of the drug war. ...This is a nice way to say, ‘Ok, we can’t really go backwards from here.’” -Joe“Politics is regularly about gambling: ‘What is going to be politically popular, possibly make a big difference, or get me re-elected?’ And it’s kind of a weird political calculus that people have to make. The fact that politicians in these states are willing to put their name on the line and say, ‘Hey, I believe in this. I think you should too’- that’s a pretty big deal. They’re spending their political capital. Whereas years ago, it would have been maybe, ‘Let’s stop the Iraq war,’ now, it’s: ‘Let’s get these people treatment with psilocybin’ and that’s really cool progress.” -Joe “When you’re talking about magical thinking and ‘The spirit of ayahuasca’s going to protect me,’ well, I guess we have to look back into history- did shamanistic beliefs help protect a lot of Indigenous people that fell ill from a lot of the European sicknesses and disease that came over in the early years? ... A lot of people died from illness being transmitted within those communities.” -Kyle  “Does your organization have a contact tracing plan? Even if you have a contact tracing plan and testing, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to die as a result of you doing this” -Joe Links Mass General to conduct research on how psychedelics affect the brain Psychedelic Mushroom Bills Filed In Florida And Connecticut As Movement Expands To Multiple States Neuroscience study indicates that LSD “frees” brain activity from anatomical constraints LSD alters dynamic integration and segregation in the human brain Why Pioneer Neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield Said the Mind is More Than the Brain William James on Consciousness and the Four Features of Transcendent Experiences What Are the Coronavirus Risks with Ayahuasca Ceremonies? Drug Ritual is ‘Biologically Explosive’ During COVID. Some Devotees Don't Care. Psychedelics Today giveaway: PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story and TiHKAL: The Continuation, by Sasha & Ann Shulgin Psychedelics Today: “Light Years” panel discussion with director, Colin Thompson Psychedelics Today: Connecting Clergy Support the show! Patreon Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes Share us with your friends Join our Facebook group - Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community. Navigating Psychedelics  
Feb 5
1 hr 6 min
PT229 - Dr. Matthew Johnson - What is Consciousness?
In this episode, Kyle and Joe interview Dr. Matthew Johnson: Professor at Johns Hopkins, writer of the recent paper, "Consciousness, Religion, and Gurus: Pitfalls of Psychedelic Medicine," and researcher (with others) on several trials through Johns Hopkins involving psilocybin: for smoking cessation, anorexia, mood and effects of early-stage Alzheimer's, opioid addiction, post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, co-morbid alcoholism with depression, and soon, LSD for chronic pain.  Johnson talks about his paper, which largely deals with the ambiguity of the term "consciousness" and how it applies to David Chalmers' hard problem, and asks many philosophical questions: What is consciousness? What is phenomenal consciousness? Are things that seem like you actually similar? Do they have similar experiences or agency? How would you even know? If you built a robot that displays perfectly human-like qualities similar to yours and appears to have agency and experience, does it? Can you prove that it doesn't?  They also talk about how clinicians and investigators bringing their own religious and spiritual frameworks to psychedelic and breathwork sessions can create unnecessary expectations and narratives and make many people think the experience isn't for them, the theory that the default mode network decoupling just makes you feel not quite yourself and that this action can be observed with other non-psychedelic drugs, access consciousness, how it’s ok to feel things that can’t be proven scientifically, shamans, gurus, and the idea of enlightenment, the nuance in everything, and the beneficial sense of ownership people feel after getting through a challenging psychedelic session. Notable Quotes “It may very well be that the default mode network is a key or one of the keys that explains quintessential psychedelic effects, although it’s also possible that it’s not so special- that it explains maybe some of the effects sometimes, and that these aren’t so quintessentially psychedelic.”  “You don’t have to pretend like you have the answers. I don’t know, frankly, I think we’d all be better off if physicians had more humility. …There’s a whole lot about the human body we don’t know.”“Whether we’re talking about a Richard Dawkins style- you know, kind of a hard atheist who might be inclined to be of the spaghetti monster variety-appreciating person, or whether it be [a] Muslim- like, do we want a statue of a Buddha to tell either of those people that ‘this is not for you’ if they’re incredibly suffering from end-of-life anxiety, if they’re suffering from a decades-long addiction, if they’re depressed and are at risk of suicide? I don’t know, it just seems like we really need to think: how is this going to play out in the world and how are we really going to help people? Do we really want someone to think, ‘Oh no, this stuff is for hippies or new age folks’? They might be a political conservative, they might be a veteran, they might be someone who would never touch an illicit drug in their life. Do we want those types of people saying, ‘This is not for me’? I just see these as human experiences.” “One of the reasons why psychedelics and probably breathwork can be so effective is that people are doing their own heavy lifting. ...At least in the type of work that [I do in] clinical research with psychedelics, people come out feeling they have done (rightfully so) the heavy lifting. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I took some pill, and thanks to Pfizer, who was able to figure out a way to manipulate my serotonin system, I’m feeling better. Thanks to Doc So-and-so who knew that I needed Lexapro rather than Prozac.’ It’s like, ‘No, you faced your own demons, dude. You did the hard work. You cried your heart out about that thing you did you don’t feel good about and you came out with a laundry list of what you need to fix with your life, and with this renewed sense because you feel like you’ve earned it.’”   Links "Consciousness, Religion, and Gurus: Pitfalls of Psychedelic Medicine," by Matthew W. Johnson The Hard Problem of Consciousness explanation About Dr. Matthew Johnson Support the show Patreon Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes Share us with your friends Join our Facebook group - Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community. Navigating Psychedelics  
Feb 2
1 hr 12 min
PTSF 44 (with Colin Thompson, director of "Light Years")
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Kyle (or "Jimmy New Jersey")'s spot is taken by Vermont-based filmmaker Colin Thompson, and Joe interviews him about his newest movie, "Light Years," released in 2019 with help from Free Association (Channing Tatum's production company).  Thompson, a very sarcastic and down-to-earth writer and director, talks about his past films, the trials and tribulations of making a movie and trying to sell it, how Free Association got involved, Phish, Rickie Lee Jones, and the importance of good music to film, how a heroic dose of mushrooms and a sunrise hike helped him complete the movie, why there aren't more psychedelic films, and how it came to be that he ended up playing nearly every part in a movie that he originally didn't want to be in at all.  “Light Years” is summarized on as: "A thirty-something man goes on an annual cosmic vision quest to visit a dead friend. But a stick gets stuck in the spokes of his psychedelia and in every face, friends and family alike, his own looks back at him. All but his dead friend." You can buy or rent Light Years on Amazon. Notable Quotes “I wanted to make 'Superbad,' but on mushrooms.”“There is a lot of hysteria, obviously, in tripping your nards off, but also, with the waves and the troughs of a trip, it’s a lot like the conflict resolution that you want with every scene in a movie that you’re just kind of bouncing in and out of. And anything that doesn’t have that kind of conflict gets left on the editing room floor. So you always want that push and pull.” “It was up on top of that mountain in Malibu where the line from the movie came to me, because it was my mantra of however many hours as I was walking and the sun was coming up and I was losing my fucking marbles. But in those peaceful valleys, I kept saying to myself- I was like: ‘When it’s not scary, it’s fun. When it’s not scary, it’s fun. When it’s not scary, it’s fun.’ As with life.”“We did this little kind of animated short. It’s longer than it feels. It’s on the page. If you scroll down a little bit, it’s called “I was not supposed to be in this movie.” And there you see me. And I do an explanation on how this all came to be. It’s like a lengthy trailer and a disclaimer, that is much like the last almost 38 years of my life: one lengthy disclaimer.” Links Loser’s Crown Productions Buy or rent "Light Years" on Amazon "Malibu Road" "Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus" Watch “Debbie & Doug Drop Acid in the Desert” the range of light wilderness  Support the show! Patreon Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes Share us with your friends Join our Facebook group - Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community. Navigating Psychedelics  
Jan 29
1 hr 13 min
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