Morisano was researching the small percentage of people who experience negative effects from cannabis dependence, but in 2013, her boss retired to pursue ayahuasca research around the same time she was reading Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind, and she wondered: Is there a tangible future here? She discusses the emergence of psychedelic medicine and the importance of reciprocity and inclusivity, pointing out how we often lump very different traditions together under the umbrella of “Indigenous.”
Three years in the making and planned as a one-time event, she considers the “From Research to Reality” conference to be a state of the union of the field of psychedelic science, where people from all fields in psychedelia will meet and discuss what we know, what the future could look like, and how we can get there. Each presentation was submitted and reviewed by a committee of peers, and will largely feature new research. The conference takes place May 27th to May 29th in Toronto, and a virtual option is available, with a special “Saturday night special” featuring David Nutt, Rick Doblin, Monnica Williams, and others. Check out the website for more details!
“We can’t just pick and choose what we want to gain from Indigenous knowledge. It has to be gifted to us. It has to be given freely. And if people want to incorporate Indigenous practices into their modern Western clinical practice, I think it should be done in consultation with multiple folks across different groups of different nations, and done with reciprocity in mind.”
“One person can’t speak for everybody. Three people can’t speak for everybody. 10 people can’t speak for everybody. But the more we listen to different perspectives of people coming from different nations, the more we will learn. And we includes everybody. It’s not just like we’re in one group and they’re in another group, it’s like we’re all having conversation together, hopefully learning from each other.”
“This is a place where everybody’s going to come together – government, regulators, policymakers, traditional medicine providers, neuroscientists, clinical practitioners; they’re going to all come together for the conversation. It’s a single track event, so there’s not going to be: ‘The neuroscientists are going to that room, the clinical people are going to that room.’ It’s like: No, everybody’s in the same room at the same time, listening to all the same stuff, and they’re going to learn from each other. That’s the idea. We’re going to learn from each other so that when we’re making decisions moving forward about what works best for people and for us, we’re going to have a lot of different viewpoints in the conversation.”
This talk covers a lot but really hits home on a few very important topics: the clinical model’s limited perspective; the importance for psychedelic boards to self-organize before government agencies step in; and how cannabis can actually be as powerful a psychedelic as DMT. They mull over where the field of psychedelics is going and wonder: Who gets to do this work? And can psychedelics really fit within our current medical models?
McQueen digs into the non-licensed approach to facilitation; the difference between coaching, counseling, and psychotherapy; and describes valuable harm reduction strategies, vital self-care practices for facilitators, and ways to navigate the (not talked about enough) transformational process of being a guide for others. If you experience anxiety or paranoia from cannabis, you’ll learn how Nano CBD can shut it down almost instantaneously. Last but certainly not least, McQueen shares all about the transformative work and trainings he and his colleagues are doing at both the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness and Psychedelic Sitters School.
“We’ve got to have our boards, we’ve got to become members of those boards, and we’ve got to self-organize and regulate. Otherwise, the government agencies are going to do it for us. It’s going to become super clinical, super medical. It’s going to limit the scope to only people who are really suffering and I think that’s a trap.”
“I’m thinking [cannabis is] probably one of the best psychedelics for trauma resolution work and other things. So I’m way past ‘Is this psychedelic?’ I’m stepping into: ‘This might be one of the best medicines for psychedelic therapy and guiding that we have available.’”
“I just was intuitively drawn from the beginning to do blends – to blend multiple strains [of cannabis] together – and I started to experiment on my friends. …One of my friends …sat up and said, ‘Daniel, if I didn’t trust you, I would swear you put DMT in that.’ And I hadn’t, it was just pot. And that was the moment. I’m like, ‘Okay, maybe there’s something to this.’”
“Sometimes these stories that we hear are the hardest stories to hear from another human being. So there’s an emotional impact to process. I’ve had to really evaluate my existential understanding of reality because of this job, so there’s that whole thing too. It’s not the same as psychotherapy, it’s just not. Professionally speaking, I tell people it’s more like being an emergency medicine doctor. You’ve got to take time off. Self-care is vital.”
This week, we celebrated a humbling achievement at Psychedelics Today: three million unique downloads of the Psychedelics Today podcast!
This milestone couldn’t come at a more fitting time. It seems like the stars are aligning and shining a spotlight on progress in psychedelics, with Bicycle Day and the kickoff of our new, 12-month practitioner training program, Vital, both occurring in a 48-hour window last week. Amidst it all, the podcast download counter kept going, and rolled over to an incredible three million just a few days later. We couldn’t be more grateful to all our listeners who enjoy, support, and engage with the podcast. You’ve helped Psychedelics Today get to where we are simply by tuning in.
Psychedelics Today has also achieved the #9 rank of all Apple Life Sciences podcasts in the United States, and it stands alone as the only psychedelics-themed podcast in the Top 100 list!
When it comes to podcast guests, we’ve been lucky over the years. Our team has recorded with many world-renowned figures in psychedelic science, culture, and advocacy. But from the day we started recording in 2016, we wanted the Psychedelics Today podcast to be more than a platform for well-known figures.
Intentionally, we’ve made ample space for conversations with people who are quietly doing important work behind the scenes, too. Because this is an area of great complexity and one in which experience matters, the Psychedelics Today podcast is designed to give listeners a richness in perspective they won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to us. We are humbled by your support and your willingness to listen to all that we and our guests have to say – which, over the past six years, has been more than a mouthful.
Looking for some essential listening? These are the Top 8 most downloaded Psychedelics Today podcasts of all-time, and some of our favorite discussions:
Joe had been raving about Dr. Carl Hart’s Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear for months before we were able to get him on, and the nearly 2-hour conversation shows just how much Hart’s views align with ours: that the drug war is doing exactly what those in power created it for, that drug exceptionalism and only seeing one path towards progress is limiting, that our job is to use facts and logic to battle inaccuracies and people clearly pushing a false narrative, and that drugs can be fun and coming out of the closet about responsible drug use only opens up the dialogue more.
This is one of Kyle’s favorites, since it highlighted so much about cognitive liberty and failed drug policy – two ideas central to the Psychedelics Today ethos. And it may be Joe’s favorite episode: “That was a scary one, because I wanted to do it so well and I respect him so much, that I’m like, ‘Can we do this well?’ And we did. So please check that one out. That one’s really important to me.”
“When these people say that they are worried about drug addiction or [that] what I’m saying might increase drug addiction, that’s some bullshit distraction. If you’re really worried about the negative effects of drug addiction, you would make sure everybody in your society is working. You’d make sure they all have health care. You’d make sure that basic needs were handled. Because if you did those things, you don’t have to worry about drug addiction.”
Manesh Girn is a Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at McGill University and co-author of over a dozen scientific publications, most recently on the neurocognitive processes behind creative thinking and the potentiality for psychedelics to enhance creativity. He’s been on the podcast twice, runs a YouTube channel called The Psychedelic Scientist, and is now part of the Vital faculty as well.
This one went deep into a lot of neuroscience; covering neuroplasticity, the similarities between psychedelic mind states and dream states, distinctions in creativity, how psilocybin can affect creativity, and the complicated idea of ego dissolution: Do we really understand what it is? Do ego death and a mystical experience always have to go hand-in-hand?
“Other research has exclusively linked psychedelic experiences to the dream state, and seeing that they’re phenomenologically similar. There’s a lot of overlap in a number of different ways of looking at it. So then, on the basis of that, I was like, ok, so if we conceptualize psychedelics as almost being like dreaming (but awake), then that could be a great source of novel ideas and creative ideas because you’re now in this mental state that’s unconstrained by logic, it’s unconstrained by a need to make sense, and you can get this more free flow of ideas.”
Before Michelle was a member of the PT team and featured in many solidarity Friday episodes (and a follow-up to this episode on Magic Mushroom day), we just knew her as an extremely knowledgeable mushroom connoisseur and the author of Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion, an easy-to-use guide to understanding magic mushrooms, trips, microdosing, and psychedelic therapy. Reflecting back, Joe said: “Michelle saw that there [weren’t] really great resources for people and put this book together. …I actually don’t know of anything better that’s mushroom-specific, still to this day.”
In the episode, she tells her story and why she wanted to write the book, which she also talked a lot about on Solidarity Friday episodes: that despite what many mainstream minds will tell you, there isn’t one right way to use psilocybin.
“As long as you’re being safe with your surroundings and with yourself, any way is the right way.”
In this episode, Joe interviewed computational neurobiologist, pharmacologist, chemist, and writer, Dr. Andrew Gallimore; one of the world’s most knowledgeable researchers on DMT. They discussed all things DMT, from entity encounters to his intravenous infusion model, which would allow a timed and steady release of DMT to induce an extended-state DMT experience – the goal being to slowly make that space more stable (and comprehensible) over time, to eventually live in the DMT space as you would in this reality. “We’ve nerded out and talked about the extended state DMT stuff for a bit. That’s highly fascinating,” said Kyle.
“We know how the brain learns to construct worlds, but we don’t know how the brain learns to construct DMT worlds.”
In this episode, Joe and Kyle finally got to interview legendary author and microdosing popularizer, James Fadiman, Ph.D. Fadiman talked about transpersonal psychology, microdosing and how it emerged, how researchers are finally starting to look at brain waves of microdosers, and his newest book, Your Symphony of Selves: Discover and Understand More of Who We Are, which says that we are all made up of different selves which take lead depending on the situation.
Kyle (who has an undergraduate degree in transpersonal psychology) lists this as one of his favorites, as Fadiman laid out the emergence of transpersonal psychology and the early days of the Transpersonal Association: “I think one of my favorite parts about this was just exploring some of the history of transpersonal psychology. It was really cool to chat with him about that.” Joe added: “He was there. He is named as one of the 4, 5 people, in a sense ‘in the room’ when this came about. He’s got a lot of connection to this stuff.”
“The secret of microdosing is if you’re noticing it, that’s a little too high a dose. …The perfect definition of a microdose is: You have a really good day; you get things done that you’ve been putting off; you’re nice to someone at work who doesn’t deserve it; after work, you do one more set of reps at the gym than you usually do; you really enjoy your kids; and at the end of the day, you say, ‘Oh, I forgot I had a microdose.’”
Davis discussed his history with Richard Evans Schultes, the strange phenomenon behind the growth of ayahuasca, Haitian zombies, Voodoo, and Colombia and its relationship with cocaine and coca. This one covered a lot of ground other podcasts haven’t, and it was awesome to have him on, as Joe called him “possibly the most famous person on the show, other than number 1.”
“This quest for individual health and healing, for individual enlightenment, individual growth – which, at some level, is completely understandable, but it is also a reflection, in good measure, of our own culture of self; the ongoing center of narcissism, the idea that one’s purpose in life is to advance one’s own spiritual path or one’s own destiny – that is, in my experience, very much not what is going on in the traditional reaches of the northwest Amazon, where the plant (the medicine) both originated, but also, where today, it’s taken very much as a collective experience, such that the ritual itself becomes a prayer for the continuity and the wellbeing of the people themselves – where you’d never even think of this in terms of Self or I.”
In this episode, Kyle and Joe interviewed Chris Bache, author of LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven. Bache talked about music in psychedelic sessions, the debate on whether facilitators should have experiences before helping others, and the five levels of the universe as he understands them. But he mostly discussed what he learned about psychedelics, the universe, and integration from going through 73 high-dose LSD sessions (after which, he doesn’t recommend working with high doses).
Looking back, Joe said, “I think the most important part are his lessons learned and like, ‘What would you have done if you knew what you knew now? What would your protocol have been?’ I think that’s a big deal. [There’s] no way for him to go back in time but we can all learn from what he did.”
“We are moving toward a collective wake up, it’s not a personal experience, it’s a collective experience – an evolution of our species.”
While most of these episodes have been in the Top 8 for a while, we knew James Fadiman would likely end up here pretty quickly. And we were all certain that it would take no time at all for Hamilton Morris’ episode to take the top spot (also by far our most-viewed YouTube video, even though we weren’t even able to record video for the episode). How could it not take the top spot? From his work with Vice, Morris has become the go-to media consultant around psychedelics, and specifically new psychedelics, as many consider him to be the next Sasha Shulgin.
While they discussed what you’d expect (including his controversial 5-MeO-DMT episodes of “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia”), this episode is especially notable because it’s the first time Morris had really publicly talked about his relationship with Compass Pathways – a development seen as problematic by many in the space, but a relationship that’s helping him create massive amounts of new compounds week after week.
This was an in-person recording, as Joe traveled to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia to meet him, and they recorded just outside Morris’ lab. “It was fun,” Joe said. “[I’m] really grateful for Hamilton spending time talking to us and going into some of these fun topics.”
“Yes, there are very serious differences between [psychedelics and other drugs], but if we fall into the same moral binary, then we’re ultimately no better than people that think that the distinction between licit and illicit drugs is a pharmacologically or medically meaningful distinction.”
Psychedelics Today Team Recommendations
The members of the team who have been here the longest (and therefore listened to years worth of episodes) talked about some of our favorite episodes as well, and we thought it’d be cool to share which ones we liked the most.
Having been involved in the majority of episodes, Joe was a bit overwhelmed with this question. Dr. Carl Hart’s episode was the first he mentioned, but these were some he particularly liked as well:
“Grof’s work has been at the foundation of PT, so this episode felt like a huge milestone for us and I’m so grateful for Stan and Brigitte’s time,” said Kyle. “One thing I really enjoyed about this episode was hearing what Grof’s vision is for the future of psychedelics.” A few others he really enjoyed were more recent:
In addition to managing several projects, Marisa handles most of our social media, our affiliate programs, and contributes a lot of art and graphics. Marisa wrote the show notes for each episode up until June of 2020. “There are so many episodes that I love, but the ones that make me feel are the ones that resonate.” She particularly loved these three:
“These episodes stand out to me because they are extremely moving stories of how psychedelics have the power to heal, leaving me in tears of inspiration.”
Other than the very early episodes, every episode of Psychedelics Today sounds much better than it originally did because of Rob’s work. In addition to being our main audio engineer, he’s helped with video on many courses at our Psychedelic Education Center. The episodes that came to him right away were:
I didn’t listen to many episodes before (sorry, Joe), but since I took over writing the show notes in June of 2020, I’ve listened to every one. Dr. Carl Hart was also one of my favorites, and although it was hard to listen to, I strongly recommend the same Dena Justice episode Marisa picked. Other than those, the ones that stand out to me are the episodes that make me think of things differently or present opposing viewpoints to what we’re used to. A few that instantly come to mind are:
Between our regular Tuesday episodes and different Friday episodes (Solidarity Fridays and Vital Psychedelic Conversations), there are over 400 episodes of Psychedelics Today to listen to. And the best news of all? With that many episodes and three million downloads now under our collective belt, we’re just getting started.
Keep listening, and we’ll keep bringing you psychedelic conversations that you won’t hear anywhere else.