PT249 – Hadas Alterman, Serena Wu, and Adriana Kertzer of Plant Medicine Law Group

In this episode, Joe interviews Hadas Alterman, Serena Wu, and Adriana Kertzer: three lawyers who came together to form Plant Medicine Law Group, a law firm serving the cannabis and psychedelic space.  

They discuss their individual paths towards psychedelics and each other, who they hope to serve and work with through the firm, adversarial relationships within the psychedelic ecosystem, and what they’re most excited about in the future, ranging from bringing psychedelic knowledge to traditional Chinese frameworks to working on a Measure 110-inspired decriminalization plan for New York. 

They also talk about the problems with “manels” and “wanels” dominating the event circuit, Tina Fey, law accepting the concept of emotional harm, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the idea of using psychedelics for dispute resolution cases, and the issues with bringing new religious exercises and concepts to judges who came from traditions and viewpoints based only on the three major religions.  

Notable Quotes

“For me, being Chinese American, I don’t see a lot of Asians in the psychedelic space, and it was hard for me to come forward and be public about coming out with this law firm as well as coming out with my own story about my experiences. But the thing is, I thought: If I’m not saying something and I’m waiting for someone else to say it, then I can wait a very long time. So instead of waiting, why don’t I become that person that I’m hoping to model after or look up to?” -Serena

“If we’re not all here exchanging value within the market, for goodness sake, what are we doing?” -Hadas

“I really hope to see, one day, for certain types of disputes, psychedelic-assisted dispute resolution. I can see this working really well with certain types of family law. I would be very interested to see this in corporate settings, although I think we’re a ways off. I just feel like this basic underlying concept of oneness is inherently at odds with the traditional Western legal system because when it’s you against someone else, that’s bifurcated- that’s two. So what would the law look like if we weren’t two; if we were really treating each other as one?” -Hadas

“I’ve been compiling a list of references to psychedelics in contemporary television shows, movies, music, and fashion, and I think that we’re really seeing a moment in which, on the negative side, you have a mental health care crisis and real proof that the current medical system is failing us and that SSRIs are not the only answer; and on the other hand, you’re seeing cultural production that is normalizing or creating curiosity around psychedelics, such that a book like Michael Pollan’s [is] not landing on an empty table of cultural production. There’s a lot that’s happening, even in music videos, that makes it so that a book like that creates a tipping point (but it’s not the only thing that creates a tipping point) that then creates a kind of momentum that, in my opinion, creates legal change.” -Adrianna


Twitter: @law_plant

Instagram: @womeninpsychedelics

Instagram: @jewwhotokes

Chacruna’s Community Forum Series: Why Religion Matters: The Need for Faith-Specific Psychedelic replay (the event happened in March)

NYMHA: New Yorkers for Mental Health Alternatives (previously Democratize Healing)

Psychedelic Bar Association

Summit at Sea

About Hadas Alterman, Adriana Kertzer, and Serena Wu

Hadas Alterman is an Israeli-American attorney, born in Jerusalem and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a J.D. from Berkeley Law and a B.A. in Community Studies/Agriculture & Social Justice from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Prior to founding Plant Medicine Law Group, she worked with a leading cannabis law firm in San Francisco. Hadas was the Policy Director of NYMHA, an organization that she co-founded that successfully lobbied for the introduction of a New York bill to decriminalize psilocybin by statute, and is a Board Member of the Psychedelic Bar Association. She also serves on the Equity Subcommittee of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board.

Serena Wu is a Chinese-American lawyer, born in Hainan and raised in Los Angeles. She has a J.D. from Harvard University Law School and a B.A. in Media Studies from University of California, Berkeley. Serena began her legal career at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York City as a litigation associate, and is deeply committed to increasing equitable access to alternative healing, including psychedelic plant medicines. She is the founder of @womeninpsychedelics, an Instagram account that showcases the contributions, voices, and experiences of women in the psychedelics space, and Asian Psychedelics Society (“APS”), a group dedicated to discussions about psychedelics and mental health in the AAPI community.

Adriana Kertzer is a Brazilian-American attorney, born and raised in São Paulo. Adriana has a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, a B.A. from Brown University in Judaic Studies and International Relations, and an M.A. from Parsons The New School for Design. She began her legal career as a corporate associate on Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s Latin American capital markets team. She was Senior Advisor to the Senior Deputy Chairman at the National Endowment for the Arts under President Obama, is on the board of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, and is the author of the book Favelization: The Imaginary Brazil in Contemporary Film, Fashion and Design. She is passionate about Jewish psychedelic culture, leads the interfaith working group Faith+Psychedelics, and founded @jewwhotokes, an Instagram account that explores relationships with cannabis and psychedelics in the Jewish community. 

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Navigating Psychedelics

PTSF64 – The First Woman to Take Acid, The Drug Policy Reform Act, and Indigenous Language Extinction

In this week’s Solidarity Friday episode, Michelle, Kyle, and Joe review the most interesting articles and recent news in the world of psychedelia. 

They first talk about Chacruna’s article highlighting not only the world’s first trip-sitter, but also the first woman to take LSD, Albert Hofman’s assistant, Susi Ramstein. They then look into the new Pill-iD app coming out in the UK, which will match user-submitted pictures of MDMA with pictures from their database, using machine learning to determine purity and strength. While this is good (especially in a post-quarantine environment of people very eager to chemically celebrate their ability to be together again), how much can we really know without any chemical analysis? And how much should we trust their database?

They then revisit their discussion on California’s Senate Bill 519 (turns out it does mean legalization after all, but if so, why is “decriminalization” used in the bill’s title?), excitedly discuss the first all-drug decriminalization bill being submitted to Congress (the Drug Policy Reform Act, or DPRA), talk about psilocybin being studied for anti-inflammatory effects and Robin-Carhart Harris’ recent interview with Court Wing, and finally, get into the very real and often not-talked-about importance of ancient and Indigenous language and the danger of losing it: Are we going to lose more knowledge from the loss of language than from the destruction of habitat?

Notable Quotes

“The argument here is not only the human cost, [but] the real financial cost of an overdose is extreme, relative to getting ahead of this. So cities and governments can save money by offering this. Less dead bodies to pick up with your EMTs, less situations of overdose to respond to.  …If we can do harm reduction [and] say, ‘Hey, these are people too,’ we also save money, and we save lives, and we get those lives back into society in a hopefully meaningful way.” -Joe

“The bill is damning of the drug war, of criminalization, [and it] talks about how criminalization and the drug war have added more harm to consumption. And the fact that it passed the California Senate means that these politicians are starting to catch on to how brutal this has been. And in this post-BLM, post-George Floyd and Breonna Taylor era; hey, you guys have got to clean your act up, otherwise, you’re going to have riots on your hands.” -Joe 

“If this bill does pass, I feel like that’s sending a message to the whole world that we can be rational again. This wasn’t rational, this wasn’t based on science, and a lot of people mistrust us now because of that. …What would we be showing young people if we did this? …Not that we need more respect for authority, but we could respect authority at all if they could show us that they could rule or govern us in a rational, science-based way.” -Michelle 

“If we ever get to the point in human civilization where things start to collapse and we need to understand the environment [and the plants] a little bit more, we’re going to be very lost. Just going outside and looking around you, what plants do you know? What stories do you know about the plants around you? Do you know what’s edible? Do you know what’s medicinal? All these things that you call weeds are actually edible plants or have really great medicinal value. Do you know the story of the landscape in which you live in?” -Kyle

Links Susi’s Tram Ride: Recognizing the First Woman to Take LSD Pill-iD App Lets Users Scan MDMA Pills To See What They Contain Drug-smuggling tunnel to Mexico found under abandoned KFC in Arizona

SB-519 Controlled substances: decriminalization of certain hallucinogenic substances (the actual bill) First All-Drug Decriminalization Bill to Be Introduced in Congress Summary of the Drug Policy Reform Act (DPRA) of 2021 Silo Pharma Announces Collaboration with University California San Francisco to study Psilocybin as an Anti-Inflammatory agent in Parkinson’s and Bipolar Patients UCSF Launches Translational Psychedelic Research (TrPR) Program Psilocybin for Depression: A Q&A between Robin Carhart-Harris & a Psilocybin Study Participant Language extinction triggers the loss of unique medicinal knowledge


Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca, by Richard Louis Miller

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, by Johann Hari

The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants: Keeping the Seeds Alive, by Martín Prechtel

Drug testing resources:

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PT248 – Pierre Bouchard – Somatic Therapy, Trauma, and the Nervous System

In this episode, Kyle interviews licensed professional counselor specializing in somatics and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, regular contributor to Navigating Psychedelics, and vinyl DJ (who DJed our 5th-anniversary party), Pierre Bouchard. 

Bouchard digs into the art of somatics and the importance of adding it as another tool to the data set of one’s healing practice, and discusses how many people don’t yet understand how to interpret (or even define) these sensations, how learning to tune in to bodily sensations can often reveal what needs to be worked on before other therapeutic modalities can, and how physical touch and working with the body create an ethical dilemma. And he breaks down the polyvagal theory and how different types of trauma affect the nervous system and its go-to “fight, flight, or freeze” actions.

They also talk about the top-down and bottom-up approach, Holotropic Breathwork and Stan Grof, dissociation and ketamine, what they’d like to see in the future of therapy, and more. This is a conversation between two counselors, so if you’re behind on therapeutic modalities and concepts, this episode is for you.

Notable Quotes

“When we’re talking about learning to tune into body sensations, we’re really helping somebody develop a new language, a new way of understanding themselves. …It’s not that things weren’t happening and now they are, it’s that they’re learning how to tune into it.” 

“Before our conscious mind catches something, often, our body catches it. And we might have a belief about ourselves that then, when we actually tune into body sensations, we find out there’s actually something different going on here. To me, that’s the deep beauty of this; is that you can be intellectually cut off from an experience or belief or just something about yourself, but the body doesn’t lie. The body has no stake in negotiating. The body’s just interested in the truth.” 

“There’s a way in which so much of our wounding is about what did or didn’t happen and getting a chance to have some reparative experience around that. Finding out that you’re God and that everyone else is God; it might help that journey, but it’s not going to heal that knot in your nervous system.”

“We’re learning to be more interested in our own experience. I think this is something that psychedelics are so fantastic at. We start to have a much greater range of who we are and what’s possible. I can be screaming and raging, I can be crying, I can be in ecstatic bliss. …The psychedelic life, in this way, is about continuing to learn to be a more rich meal.”


Instagram: @pierre.bouchard.lpc drbouchard Selecting Music for Psychedelic Therapy

The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation, by Deb Dana

The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment, by Babette Rothschild

“Applying the Brakes,” By Babette Rothschild

About Pierre Bouchard

Pierre Bouchard is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Boulder and Denver, CO. He specializes in blending somatics, embodiment, attachment theory, and trauma therapy with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. A graduate of Naropa University (in Contemplative Psychotherapy), he has trained in several somatic psychotherapy modalities, most recently the Hakomi Method under Melissa Grace, and currently, in Ido Portal’s movement system at Boulder Movement Collective. He has maintained a meditation practice for 19 years, is working on opening a ketamine clinic, and in his spare time, works as a vinyl DJ.

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