Mike Margolies – Psychedelic Seminars: the Benefits, Risks, and Complexities of Psychedelics

In this episode, Kyle and Joe interview Mike Margolies of Psychedelic Seminars. In the show, they cover topics including guests and conversations from the Psychedelic Seminars, the decriminalization of all drugs, and the importance of allowing psychedelic use to be a part of training therapists for psychedelic therapy.

3 Key Points:

  1. Psychedelic Seminars is an educational conversation series deepening awareness of the benefits, risks, and complexities of psychedelics.
  2. There are large topics of decriminalizing psilocybin or the movements for ‘decriminalize nature’, but the conversation on decriminalization of all drugs is rare, which is what’s really important.
  3. Some companies (MAPS for example) allow the option to use MDMA as a part of their therapist training program while other companies who are training therapists for psilocybin therapy, don’t have the option to use it. This leaves the question, “Should the psychedelic experience be part of the psychedelic therapy training?” 

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Show Notes

About Mike

  • Mike used to work as a chemical engineer in corporate America, and then he did Ayahuasca
    • When he returned, he thought to himself about what he wanted to do with the rest of his life
    • He took a look at the pulse of the country and looked at what it needed
    • There wasn’t anyone organized locally in Baltimore, so he started Psychedelic Seminars
  • Now he is living in the Bay Area, doing events locally
  • He has been interviewing people and putting the videos out globally

Psychedelic Seminars

  • They will be having some Indigenous people at the seminar
    • It’s hard to get Indigenous people to seminars and conferences, because, what’s in it for them?
  • The goal is to ramp up the project and do a seminar every month, where it usually takes place every few months
    • They are doing it all in a home, privately
    • The whole project is donation dependent, they are doing it all for free
    • You can support the mission here
  • After Michael Pollan, they did one with Jim Fadiman
  • He did another with Ayelet Waldman
    • The talks were on microdosing and the unknowns of microdosing
    • Just because there is no real harms taking a large dose of LSD, doesn’t mean there aren’t any harms taking a low (micro) dose of LSD frequently
    • Mike thinks that the term Jim Fadiman uses is its ‘sub-perceptual’, in that you have a noticeable effect on the mood, but no other way of noticing it


  • Drug Policy tends to stay in the realm of psychedelics only
    • There are large topics of decriminalizing psilocybin or the movements for ‘decriminalize nature’, but no one likes to talk about the decriminalization of all drugs, which is what’s really important
    • Poppy is not considered in decriminalize nature, which is selective nature decriminalization
  • It’s not a real decriminalization, it’s just a low priority for law enforcement
  • He’s been asking in his conversations, opinions on decriminalizing all drugs
  • Different drugs have different risk profiles
  • Just because you’re not using criminal justice as your mechanism for reducing risks of drugs, doesn’t mean you do nothing. The last thing we want to do is add criminalization to those who are already suffering, this is why we should decriminalize all drugs” – Mike
  • Laws should be written in terms of what are you not allowed to do, not what you’re allowed to do
    • He is allowed to walk down the sidewalk, but not punch someone he walks past, but the law shouldn’t be to get a license for walking down the street so long as you don’t punch someone
  • The communities that are marginalized continue to be marginalized by the drug war

Psychedelic Therapy and Experience with Use

  • With MAPS, there is an option to do MDMA as a part of the training
  • With psilocybin, at least with Compass Pathways, there is not an option to use psilocybin. Mike says that’s a huge issue
  • When you scale treatment, there is the risk of losing the quality of care
    • “We aren’t going to solve the problems of our future by mass distributing psychedelics” – Mike
  • The fact that we have such mass amounts of widespread depression, means that we have a deeply ingrained systemic issue at hand
    • Psychedelics treat the symptoms, but we still need to fix the underlying cause
    • “If you are distributing psychedelics, but still exacerbating the same underlying issues, you now have the problem and solution in the same hefty package” – Mike
  • “Psychedelic experience is intrinsically something spiritual. How can you guide someone in spiritual practice if you haven’t experienced it yourself?” – Mike
  • “Inducing a state intentionally, and guiding someone through a process, its completely unethical to guide someone through a spiritual process that you haven’t been through yourself.” – Mike

New Economy

  • Burning man is not a barter economy, it’s a gift economy, where things are given without an expectation of receiving something in return
    • We are far from that economy
  • What if we had a world where instead of trying to extract value, we were trying to create value?


Psychedelic Seminars Website

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About Mike Margolies

Since 2015, Mark has worked full-time in the psychedelic community, starting and contributing to a number of projects as an event and media producer, connector, and advisor. He is the Founder of Psychedelic Seminars, an educational conversation series deepening awareness of the benefits, risks, and complexities of psychedelics. On the PsychSems stage, he has interviewed a range of leaders including bestselling author Michael Pollan, Dr. James Fadiman and Ayelet Waldman on microdosing, and therapeutic ketamine expert Dr. Raquel Bennett. He started the project in 2015 after returning to his home city of Baltimore to build community for open and honest conversations about psychedelics. The project now operates primarily out of the San Francisco Bay Area and livestreams globally. Through his psychedelic community work in Baltimore, he seeded the Baltimore Psychedelic Society. He has sparked and mentored similar Psychedelic Societies around the world from Washington DC to San Francisco to Portugal. He helped start the Global Psychedelic Network to connect them.

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