Transcript: How Inner Reflection Catalyzes External Evolution – Trevor Millar
Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Trevor Millar.
In his drive to help the residents of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, known as the poorest postal code in Canada, Trevor met with neighbors struggling with addiction, and learned of the effectiveness of ibogaine as a recovery tool. Since then, he has dedicated his life to psychedelic advocacy. In this podcast transcript, he and Third Wave founder Paul Austin discuss the recent petition submitted to the Canadian government to decriminalize all psychedelics, how to blend the competing philosophies of the personal and the collective, and the drive to share the transformational benefits of psychedelics with others.
- The Canadian Psychedelic Association’s petition to decriminalize all psychedelics.
- The legal use of psilocybin for end-of-life anxiety.
- Where psychedelics currently stand in Canada.
- The opportunities and challenges presented by COVID in doing internal work.
- Trevor’s introduction to psychedelics and microdosing.
- The use of ayahuasca in breaking a cannabis habit.
- How should we define “humility”?
- Treating opiate use disorder with Ibogaine.
- Blending the individual and the collective.
- Helping others discover the benefits of psychedelics.
0:00:01 Paul Austin: On today’s podcast, we have Trevor Millar, the Executive Director of the Canadian Psychedelic Association, and Chair of the Board for MAPS Canada. We talk about the recent petition that the Canadian Psychedelic Association sent to the Canadian government to decriminalize all psychedelics.
0:00:20 PA: Welcome to the Third Wave Podcast. I’m your host, Paul Austin, here to bring you cutting-edge interviews with leading scientists, entrepreneurs and medical professionals who are exploring how we can integrate psychedelics in an intentional and responsible way for both healing and transformation. It is my honor and privilege to bring you these episodes as you get deeper and deeper into why these medicines are so critical to the future of humanity. So let’s go and let’s see what we can explore and learn together in this incredibly important time.
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0:03:29 PA: Hey listeners, and welcome back to Third Wave’s Podcast. As always, I am your host, Paul Austin, recording this from a nice little WeWork cubby in Wynwood, Miami. And in today’s episode, we’re diving deep into a recent petition that the Canadian Psychedelic Association was collecting signatures for. We recorded this probably back in April or May. And because I went on a recording spree in the immediate post-COVID era, some of our podcasts took a little bit to come out. So this one is with Trevor Millar, who’s the Executive Director of the Canadian Psychedelic Association. And like I said, they have recently sent a petition into the Canadian government to decriminalize all psychedelics. It’s supposed to be heard after September 23rd, within 45 days. So probably very soon this petition will be heard. And it doesn’t look like it will pass initially, but the petition has gathered enough signatures at least to be read in the House of Commons. And it’s phenomenal just for the general education of the Canadian government to be hearing more and more about psychedelics.
0:04:44 PA: There was also a recent announcement from TheraPsil, which is a non-profit in Canada, that a handful of Canadians were granted exemptions to use Psilocybin for end-of-life anxiety, so that’s another significant step forward for the medical use of psychedelics, which is phenomenal. So in today’s conversation with Trevor, we talk about the petition, we talk about his role and story with psychedelics. Trevor used to be the Executive Director of the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance, so he has a strong background in Iboga and Ibogaine. He is Chair of the Board for MAPS Canada, and now he is Executive Director of the Canadian Psychedelics Association, has a background as a social entrepreneur. And we just sort of weave in his personal story with the petition, what has motivated his work, and where psychedelics currently stand in Canada. So this is a really interesting conversation. And without further ado, I bring you Trevor Millar, Executive Director of the Canadian Psychedelic Association. Where are you calling from?
0:05:48 Trevor Millar: From Vancouver.
0:05:50 PA: Nice. Where in Vancouver?
0:05:50 TM: Right in East Van near Commercial Drive.
0:05:53 PA: Okay, I don’t know Vancouver that well.
0:05:56 TM: No? We’re pretty close to downtown. Probably a 10-minute drive from downtown. I daresay it’s the coolest neighborhood of Vancouver. It’s got a little edge to it.
0:06:06 PA: Really?
0:06:08 TM: Yeah, it’s very ethnical, like a lot of Italian, Portuguese, they were kind of the original settlers here. And it’s, yeah, still kinda got a gritty vibe to it compared to a lot of Vancouver.
0:06:24 PA: Did you just make up a word? Did you say ethnical? I think you said ethnical. Is that a word?
0:06:26 TM: Did I say that? [chuckle] I think I meant to say ethnic, but new words work too.
0:06:30 PA: No, you said ethnical. [laughter] That was amazing. I’m like, “Did Trevor just make that up?” That’s a great word. That’s a really good word.
0:06:37 TM: Yeah. [chuckle]
0:06:41 PA: In 2016, I went to Vancouver.
0:06:44 TM: Cool.
0:06:44 PA: I spent most of my 20s backpacking around and lived all over. I was there for a week and was couch surfing at the time.
0:06:51 TM: Nice.
0:06:55 PA: And couch surfed with someone who owned a penthouse that overlooked English Bay or whatever.
0:07:01 TM: Nice.
0:07:03 PA: And it was just like, I could go out there for sunsets, and it was a perfect location, and there was a great cafe nearby. And I would walk to the island, Granville Island. And then I was back earlier this year to hang out with Payton and Stacey…
0:07:16 TM: Nice, good.
0:07:18 PA: And we had dinner with them and did a podcast with them, and then went hiking. And I love Vancouver. I would live in Vancouver. I really do like it there.
0:07:29 TM: Yeah, I really like it too. I used to… In another lifetime, I was a cruise director on cruise ships, and so I got to see a lot of the best…
0:07:36 PA: Good thing you got out of that.
0:07:37 TM: Yeah, no kidding, right? [chuckle] There were a lot of… I got to see the best port cities in the world. And every place I landed, I’m like, “No, I still like Vancouver better.” [chuckle] I really like it here.
0:07:50 PA: It’s pretty good weather. I mean, obviously it’s a bit rainy, but…
0:07:54 TM: Yeah, it’s better than…
0:07:55 PA: It’s better than Seattle.
0:07:56 TM: The part of Canada I was born, which is freezing, Kitchener, Ontario. I prefer the mild, wet weathers to the cold, icy ones.
0:08:06 PA: Yeah, I’m from Michigan, so I get you.
0:08:08 TM: Yeah, so same difference. [chuckle] Yeah. Where do you live now, Austin?
0:08:13 PA: No, I’m in Miami, I’m in Miami…
0:08:15 TM: Oh nice. Wow. [chuckle]
0:08:16 PA: Right now. I was in Oakland for 10 months. I was in New York for two years before that. I lived in Thailand, Chiang Mai, for a little bit. I lived in Turkey, Izmir, for a little bit. I’ve been gypsy-ing my entire 20s, and now I’m about to turn 30 and it feels serious.
0:08:36 TM: Yeah, serious.
0:08:36 PA: So I’m thinking about… I like LA, I like Topanga in LA, which is sort of the mountain area, or Malibu. And I’m looking at either moving there or… Do you know Ian-Michael?
0:08:50 TM: Yeah, I do. I love Ian-Michael.
0:08:50 PA: Isn’t he great? Shoutout to Ian-Michael.
0:08:56 TM: Yes. I spoke to him yesterday and the day before.
0:08:58 PA: Oh great. So you’re aware…
0:09:00 TM: Yeah, he’s part of the Canadian Psychedelic Association that we’ve been building.
0:09:03 PA: That’s right.
0:09:05 TM: Yeah.
0:09:06 PA: So I’ve been talking a lot with Ian-Michael, and I’m really excited about what he’s building in Costa Rica, and I’m actually gonna have him on the podcast as well to talk about it. And I think that to me feels indicating. It almost feels like… What I love about the future of living, it’s like I’d love to just co-own three places in three places, or three places in three countries, and that way you have optionality. [chuckle]
0:09:32 TM: Yeah, no kidding.
0:09:34 PA: Optionality.
0:09:36 TM: This is a podcast of new words. [laughter]
0:09:39 PA: Optionality. [chuckle] For example, I was looking at French chateaus in Bordeaux. And you can buy a really nice French chateau for two million Euros. And if you get 10 other friends to do that with you, then you spend a year working on it, investing in it, building it, renovating it, putting a lot of… Building a farm, a garden. And then someone sticks around, four or six people stick around for the year, and then they run it like a woofing thing, and then you’re making food, and you can set up permaculture. And I feel like there’s a way to help build that sort of resilience and sort of… People wanna get back to the land, I think now more than ever. Cities in a post-Covid world are not gonna be great places.
0:10:22 TM: I know, I feel that big time. I was feeling the call to the land before as well. And thankfully, there’s a lot of places near Vancouver that you can get to that you can still access the city if you need to, but you’re still a world away, like a lot of the islands just off the coast of Vancouver. I’ve been looking at Salt Spring Island pretty closely, or going up to the Sunshine Coast, which is still separated by a whole bunch of water, but if you need to get in the city, you can still get in the city pretty quick. But I think there’s gonna be a large push towards people wanting to secure food, have a garden, not be reliant on the whole system, ’cause the system’s going crazy.
0:11:07 PA: And then we have psychedelics.
0:11:08 TM: And then we have psychedelics, the great reset button. [chuckle]
0:11:13 PA: Yeah, a DMN reset. Everyone’s… Default mode network, just fucking… Right now.
0:11:22 TM: Yeah, yeah. Isn’t it exactly what the world needs though? As soon as COVID started, I was moving towards giving myself some medicine anyway, and I’m really glad I did. It was just this beautiful experience that kinda said, “Well, you’ve kind of been expecting something like this, haven’t you? And you’ve largely been preparing for something like this, and so just go with it, just ride it out.” And it’s actually been… I think it’s been a fairly enlightening experience overall for me.
0:11:53 PA: Yeah, I had… Right before COVID, I had a three-gram mushroom trip, Golden Teachers.
0:11:58 TM: Nice, nice.
0:12:01 PA: And a big part of my trip was sort of this impending, “COVID is coming, COVID is coming, COVID is coming.” And I remember the thing that kept popping up for me was like, “At least I have elderberry syrup.” [chuckle] ‘Cause elderberry syrup is highly… So I was like, “I got my elderberry syrup, we’re drinking it every day.” And it was almost like we were just… I could see indicators in my life that I wasn’t aware of until I did the mushrooms where I was like, “Oh, I was subconsciously aware that this was happening, and so look at what I’ve been doing to prepare myself for it.”
0:12:34 TM: Me too. Another way that happened for me is I have been working with high dose vitamin C to help people get off opioids. Since I haven’t been able to actively work with Ibogaine up here in the last couple years, a lot of people still get in touch with me looking for ways to detox. And a physician friend of mine, actually Paul Stam, it’s his partner, to be honest, she said, “Have you heard of high dose vitamin C to detox people?” And I had heard of it years ago, but hadn’t really dug in, so she sent me some research on it, and I started working with it with people and it’s incredibly effective. And in the meantime, I started doing a deep dive on to vitamin C in general, and I’m like, “Wow, I should really be taking this.” So I’ve been mega-dosing vitamin C for five months before COVID hit. I’m like, “Wow, I’m not really worried about catching this virus. My immune system is better than it’s been my whole life right now.”
0:13:28 PA: You’re drinking glasses and glasses of orange juice? Was that…
0:13:33 TM: No, basically… So sodium ascorbate is a buffered version of vitamin C, so it’s easy on your stomach. And I was taking anywhere from 2g to 4g of that every couple hours while I was awake, while I am awake. I’ve now switched to…
0:13:48 PA: Did you inject it? Did you inject it?
0:13:50 TM: No, I just drank it.
0:13:51 PA: You just swallow pills?
0:13:54 TM: Yeah. Well, it’s a powder, so I just mixed the powder into water and neck it back.
0:14:00 PA: Interesting. I did that with turmeric in college, where I had a injury. I played soccer, and I was injured. And so to help with the inflammation, my dad was like, “Just take a fucking tablespoon of turmeric.” [chuckle]
0:14:13 TM: Wow.
0:14:14 PA: “And put it in water and just chug it down.” So I did it. I don’t know how useful it actually was. I think it helped a little bit. But I can imagine with something like vitamin C, it has a certain sort of tangy… Well, what does that taste like?
0:14:30 TM: Yeah. Well, it’s sodium ascorbate, so it’s been buffered with salt. So it’s a little bit salty. It’s almost like a very mild baking soda.
0:14:38 PA: It tastes better or worse than MDMA?
0:14:41 TM: Way better.
0:14:44 TM: Not that I know that.
0:14:46 PA: Right, of course, yeah, yeah.
0:14:49 TM: Way better than Iboga, way better than Ayahuasca. I’ll drink it all day.
0:14:54 PA: There we go.
0:14:56 TM: Yeah.
0:14:57 PA: I’ve been getting into Athletic Greens lately. Have you tried Athletic Greens?
0:15:02 TM: I used to take the Greens Plus in water years ago. Is it similar? I haven’t heard of Athletic Greens specifically, I don’t think.
0:15:12 PA: Yeah, it’s a supplement. It has like a bunch of vitamins and minerals and nutrients and sort of this complete thing, and you take a little bit with creatine and collagen protein. Yeah, I’ve been getting into some crazy biohacking sort of things.
0:15:27 TM: Nice.
0:15:28 PA: Like with all my time in COVID, I’ve been fasting and then going for long bike rides, and then microdosing and trying new diets and doing Jiu-jitsu and it’s just like… There’s so many things… There’s so much fun sort of things that you can tweak when you’re in quarantine. It’s a bit of a way to stay active. Things were getting a little monotonous for a little bit. How has quarantine been in Vancouver?
0:15:55 TM: It’s been fine. It’s amazingly… As soon as the apocalypse hit, we just started getting the best weather ever. So it’s been sunny and beautiful, and I still walk my dogs every day. It hasn’t been total lockdown here. There is social distancing. A lot of shops are shut down, of course. The streets are a lot less busy. But people are getting out, and it seems like our numbers are way down right now. And as I’ve been telling people, I have a bit of a public-facing personality in some aspects of my life, but I’m largely a hermit. I spend a lot of time at home with my partner, and I have some roommates who are pretty cool. So it wasn’t that big a stretch to say you need to stay at home ’cause that’s kind of how my life has been for the last few years anyway.
0:16:44 PA: Yeah, same. A lot of us, sort of work-from-home people and kinda set our own schedule. And to me, this is just like, “Oh, finally, everyone else understands how I feel.”
0:16:55 TM: Yeah, right. I’m glad a lot of people got a few minutes to step out of the rat race. Imagine you’ve been on that hamster wheel for the last 30 years and you’re finally getting a break. I just hope… Unfortunately, I don’t know if a lot of those people are mentally prepared to step off the hamster wheel. I saw a funny meme as all of this started happening. It said something along the lines of, “Y’all have not been emotionally preparing for the apocalypse, and it shows.”
0:17:27 TM: Whereas me and all of my friends, we’re all kind of just, “It’s fun. Well, sure. We’ll try and make sure we don’t spread this virus in any way, but we’re kinda cool with hanging out at home and doing the personal development and self-growth and meditation that we’ve been doing anyway.”
0:17:49 PA: Right, yeah. And I think building resilience and becoming more integrated and understanding how to use resources. And I think there’s a lot like… I’ve been doing psychedelics 10 years now, so there’s a lot of inner work in that process, inward, inner listening and sort of going inwards in that process. And I think that’s the opportunity a lot of people are going through right now with COVID. And to be honest, it’s very challenging to do, to go from externally focused to be internally focused, because the internal world is so much more chaotic and unknown. And I think that’s sort of the fear button. Everyone’s hitting the fear and panic button right now because there’s a lot of unknown, and we’re not good at dealing with that.
0:18:31 TM: Not at all.
0:18:31 PA: We’re not good at dealing with the chaos and the uncertainty. It’s difficult.
0:18:34 TM: No. And the media is not helping.
0:18:36 PA: It’s a frenzy.
0:18:39 TM: It’s a frenzy.
0:18:40 PA: An amygdala, a frenzy and amygdala.
0:18:42 TM: Yeah, yeah.
0:18:43 PA: Which is why MDMA is great.
0:18:44 TM: It is, yeah. Shut down that default fear response for a few minutes. Yeah.
0:18:51 PA: So tell me, how has this affected psychedelics in Canada? Where were psychedelics at before COVID? How is that changing now? Is it changing? What’s sort of the status there?
0:19:02 TM: Well, I think it’ll be difficult to say now where it is going. But here in Canada, I think, we’re a very… It’s a flourishing community and ecosystem to the point where a lot of commercial entities are getting involved. I’m not sure that is all good news at all, but I think a lot of those players are still moving forward. We have launched a decriminalization petition here in Canada, and this is tied to the launch of the Canadian Psychedelic Association, which we just launched at the beginning of the year. But we’ve got a e-petition system in Canada that actually has some teeth. It’s a federally sponsored petition. And its meaning, if you get enough signatures, only 500 signatures, it actually gets read in the House of Commons of our parliament.
0:19:58 TM: So the government then must respond. So we launched a petition towards decriminalizing plant medicine specifically. And I was brought in at the 11th hour on this project, through were a couple of guys, Chris Bennett and Jovian Francey, who were working on this, and they had found a member of Parliament, a green party MP Paul Manly to sponsor it, who is plant medicine friendly. And they… This team had seen what I’d done with a local motion in Vancouver that was against Psilocybin specifically, and we got that motion shot down last year. So they asked if I would kinda quarterback this one…
0:20:36 PA: Wasn’t that that was the Dana Larsen thing? [chuckle]
0:20:39 TM: Yeah, that was the Dana Larsen thing. He said he was gonna…
0:20:41 PA: He was getting data for the podcast.
0:20:43 TM: Have you had Dana on here?
0:20:45 PA: Yeah, I like Dana. When I was in Vancouver last we sat down and we did an in-person podcast and he’s got balls.
0:20:51 TM: Nice. Yeah, he does. He doesn’t mind pushing that envelope at all. So we had that motion shot down, and then these guys asked if I would quarterback this one. I said, Sure. And then this was right around COVID, so we were aiming to launch this petition on April 1st, but COVID was going on and we said, “Let’s just hold back on this.” And we thought we were gonna hold back for a while, but then it kind of just dawned on me, “Well, everybody’s sitting at home anyway. Let’s give them something to do on their computer, that is a little bit hopeful.” So like I say, all we needed was 500 signatures on this thing in order to get read in the House of Commons. We got those 500 signatures within 12 hours, 1001 signatures within 24 hours. It’s sitting just over 4200 right now, and we launched it on April 16th, but we’re really aiming for many, many more signatures than that, because they take the number of signatures it gets very seriously, the government is… Every time you write in a letter here in Canada, they’re tracking what you write that letter about, so Cannabis got legalized here a couple of years ago, and… That’s all… That’s cool.
0:22:03 TM: And the only reason the government actually got behind that is when 51% of Canadians polled started saying that they were in favor of Cannabis legalization, that’s when they got behind it, because they knew it wouldn’t hurt their chances of getting re-elected anymore. So if we can show that people are really serious about wanting to decriminalize plant medicines overall, I think there’s a really good chance of making that happen in today’s political climate. There’s… The petition’s available at decriminalizenature.ca/petition, if you’ve got any Canadians listening.
0:22:43 PA: Great, we’ll get that out. How is it different than the Decriminalize Nature campaign?
0:22:49 TM: Well, when we were fighting against the city hall motion… I am friends with at least one person within that Decriminalize Nature campaign that started in Oakland, and another friend of mine here in Canada, Salome Tibrizi, who got behind this city hall motion as well. Got against this motion. She reached out to some friends that she knew within Decriminalize Nature, and we just basically wanted to use the name and hoped to align with them in… At least in some small way, so they are aware that we’re using the name. And other than that, we’re not really affiliated, but the difference is, is the Decriminalize Nature campaign in the States is really focused on municipal action, whereas we’re focused on federal action. If we’re successful, then we’ve actually decriminalized plant medicines for all of Canada, would be the big difference.
0:23:49 PA: Can I ask you a question?
0:23:50 TM: Mm-hmm.
0:23:52 PA: Did the Inuits use plant medicines?
0:23:55 TM: I haven’t…
0:23:56 PA: Or part of the Inuits.
0:23:58 TM: I haven’t heard anything about the Inuits using plant medicine. I’ll tell you, there’s a few different trains of thought on this. For one, I’ve spoken at length with Paul Stamets on this actually, and he has said that a lot of the indigenous people that he’s spoken to in North America, they tend to say, “We didn’t really use the mushrooms all that much historically, it was the hippies that introduced them to us.” And he said another component to that is the Psilocybin mushrooms are actually… The spores are generally contained within wood, so it was only once massive logging started that these mushrooms were released. So, I have heard that on one hand. I actually just spoke to an indigenous gentleman two nights ago and told him that story, and he goes… He said that he knows of a historical use of mushrooms within the Lillooet area of British Columbia, which is just north of Vancouver here. And then I was speaking to somebody who’s tied to the Dena tribe in Ross River, which is in the Yukon, and I heard from them, so that’s pretty far out, that’s not quite Inuit territory, but that’s getting up there, and he said that they have a psychedelic… That they have managed to keep hidden from the Western world entirely, and he said…
0:25:29 PA: What?
0:25:29 TM: Yeah, he says that there’s some kind of an unknown to us psychedelic that they hold very sacred. So he says if I keep playing my cards right, I might get to try that one day, but that’s all I know about that, but I’m very fascinated by that.
0:25:47 PA: Well, there’s been some interesting news coming out lately about… I think there’s lichen that was psychedelic that was found in South America. And it wouldn’t surprise me if we only have sort of a, I would say not complete understanding of the actual psychoactive plant medicines. I think it was Richard Evans Schultes who wrote the book Plants of the Gods, and that’s a pretty thorough compendium of medicines that are psychotropic in nature. And there’s probably a lot that we just don’t know about yet, or that maybe are still hidden from us, or… That’s part of what fascinates me so much about psychedelics generally, is the mystery that surrounds them.
0:26:31 TM: I had LSD for the first time when I was 14 years old. It was around and I know…
0:26:36 PA: Did you microdose?
0:26:37 TM: No, I didn’t microdose then. [chuckle] My first hit was just half a hit, but I wouldn’t call it a micro… I was microdosing before it was cool too though, in the early 2000s, I took one Hawaiian baby wood rose seed on the way to work one day, and that contains a bit of LSA. Normally you’d take about six to have a trip, but I’m like, Oh, maybe I’ll take one of these on the way to work, and then I got… That was my first microdose experience. I’m like, “Wow, this is awesome, I could do this.” So I continued to do that and just take a little medicine on the way to work, but yeah, my early experience was with LSD, I had no idea it was therapeutic, although I remember saying to my friends, “This is what adults have forgotten, that has made the world so screwed up”. So something in me definitely saw the therapeutic value, but I had never heard of DMT until about the early 2000s, 2001, the same day that it came on my radar, through Erowid, it came into my hands through bumping into somebody who said, “I’ve got some DMT do you wanna trade that, what I had for it?” And, yeah, like to have had psychedelic experiences and then to have that smokable DMT experience [chuckle] for the first time, like, “Oh my God, I had no idea that this could go in that direction.” Now, that’s a true psychedelic. The mystery is definitely enticing.
0:28:07 PA: Did you see entities?
0:28:10 TM: No, that first DMT experience, I think it was actually 5-MeO-DMT in hindsight, because we used so little of it. I remember us just using the smallest little bit, he said, Just use a few grains of salt is how he described how we should use it. And I inhaled it, all of a sudden I felt complete awareness of every cell in my body and then I could feel that every cell in my body aware of me being aware of it, and then that awareness kind of exploded to the whole universe, and I could just sense every aspect of the universe aware of me being aware of it in this interplay of energy. There was this kind of a presence guiding it and seemed to indicate that every sound I was hearing, every sight I’d ever seen was sent to me almost like a FedEx package with that much intent behind it, like the present was literally pre-sent and then the present seemed to indicate that I felt like I was in the cradle of creation, and it was saying like, “You are Christ, you are Buddha, you are the one child of the universe.”
0:29:20 TM: But paradoxically so is everybody else, and then my ego kinda came back into play and said, “Well, what, what does this all mean?” And this presence seemed to, it indicated that it’s perfect, you can’t mess it up, even your ideas of imperfection come from a bed of perfection that needs to be there before anything else can happen. And then I’m like, “All right, great, can I go back to normal now?” And then the presence kind of said, “Yes, but this is your heritage, this is what you’re trying to work back to with all your spiritual practices,” which I was into even then, and it seemed to indicate that this is the state of mind that you’re working back to. And trying to work to without the use of these substances. So I kind of… Consciousness returned to my body, I got up and I started jumping for joy. In some way, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped jumping for joy, I feel like that really lifted the veil in a very profound way for me that has steered my life ever since.
0:30:28 PA: Well, I love the analogy of the mountain top and the clouds clearing from the mountain top, right, and so there’s a sense of seeing what the top looks like, right, and then of course, often times after we have even really beautiful intense psychedelic experiences, you still gotta keep walking, it’s like Ram Dass, I think his quote is, “We’re all just walking each other home.” And it’s a journey and you need patience and we get distracted by things, and living in a dual world is fun, but it comes with suffering, and that’s also fun. So yeah, I love existentialism. I’ve been reading Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and a few others. And to me, the question of why, in terms of why do we exist.
0:31:31 PA: What is existence about? I always sort of like, in some ways, I resonate with these Western thinkers like Walden and Tolstoy and Gandhi, and I said Nietzsche or Schopenhauer. So there’s something about the Western philosophy that resonates with me. So, and that’s like the individual, and then of course, we have the more collective way of being. The more, I would say, Nietzsche talked about active nihilism versus passive nihilism. And the sense that there’s no meaning in the world, but we go out and we create it, I think there’s an element of freedom there, and in a way that’s what psychedelics can help do, right, they help us to manifest, they help us to… If we have an intention to create that to become it, that’s what’s so great about them. And there’s this sort of trick of the universe that collectively that none of it really matters.
0:32:26 TM: Yeah, it is really a big cosmic joke.
0:32:31 PA: And that is the cosmic joke, right?
0:32:31 TM: Yeah.
0:32:32 PA: And life happens in between those polarities. The big part of the developmental process and the process of becoming is expanding those polarities, so there’s more energy within the polarities to play with, and that’s expansion, essentially.
0:32:43 TM: Yeah, I love that. Have you dug into Aa Course in Miracles at all?
0:32:48 PA: I have, I read Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard.
0:32:51 TM: Oh, nice, nice, yeah.
0:32:52 PA: And I had a close friend of mine who recommended it. And it’s very interesting. I resonated with a lot of it. I haven’t gone through the Course in Miracles, so I haven’t completed that. Have you tried that? Have you done that?
0:33:07 TM: Yeah. I’ve been citing that for years and years. It really resonated with me ’cause I grew up in the United Church of Canada, which is kind of the most liberal mainstream church in Canada. We were the first with gay ministers and officiating gay weddings. So it was an easy thing to swallow up until a point and then in my late teens, I’m like, “Why are all these adults believing this fairy tale?” [chuckle] Essentially, and then just set it all on the back burner until I rediscovered spirituality in another way. And then when I came to the Course in Miracles, I just really liked the way that it seems to put Christianity in a whole new context. It really flips it on its head, but put it in a context that made a lot of sense to me. So I’ve been… Yeah, I like The Disappearance of the Universe a lot, the teachings of Ken Wapnick. Both of those really helped me understand the course a lot better. The biggest thing I did for myself was got the audiobook of A Course in Miracles ’cause it’s pretty dense as you know. So if you can just have it playing so that you don’t get caught up on every freaking sentence, then it allows you to take it in a lot more. So I think I’ve been through the text itself probably six or seven times in total and I’ve done the course itself a bunch of times, but I really find that…
0:34:28 TM: Like Ayahuasca, as an example, the first time I took Ayahuasca, I really felt like it was showing me experientially what A Course in Miracles was trying to show me intellectually. A Course in Miracles essentially says that we are asleep in Heaven, perfectly at home in God, yet dreaming of exile and I always really liked that. And the way it talks about how if your kid was having a nightmare, how would you wake them up? Well, you wouldn’t shake them and say, “Hey, get up, get up. It’s only a nightmare.” ‘Cause that might scare them worse. Nor would you go into their dream and say, “Hey, look out for that monster.” Because that monster is going to become more real to them then. What you would do is you would gently say, “Hey, it’s just a dream. Wake up, wake up.” And it talks about how we’ve got two voices in our head, the voice of the ego and then the voice that it describes as the voice of the Holy Spirit, which is just really a reflection of that remembrance that “You know, you don’t need to take everything quite so seriously. It is very dreamlike, come on this way, turn back this way.” And yeah, I found it very, very good context from which to operate my Western mind as well. Logically, it’s incredibly sound, the whole course. I really like it a lot.
0:36:00 PA: Have you drank Ayahuasca? Well, yeah, let’s talk about that. You can’t just drop a line like that.
0:36:03 TM: Sure.
0:36:03 PA: What was that like for you?
0:36:08 TM: My first time taking Ayahuasca was probably six or seven years ago now and it was interesting. I’m staring at the book, Autobiography of a Yogi, and this is almost two stories in one. I never really liked the idea of a guru. My Western mind wasn’t really appealed to that when I started on my spiritual path in my early 20s. But then I read in Autobiography of a Yogi this moment across this crowded marketplace where after seeking him for a long time, the 14-year-old, the author of the book, later called The Yogananda, sees his guru across the crowded marketplace. His guru sees him, and instantly, they know each other, they give each other a hug and this… The rest of the story unfolds. But I read that and I am like, “Well, I’d be open to a guru if that happened.” If I had this across the marketplace moment where every cell in my being said, “This is your guy,” I’d be open to that. So the very next day, I walked into a Bikram yoga studio and I saw a picture of Yogananda on the wall and his lineage. And I said, “Well, isn’t that a neat coincidence?” And through my relationships that grew out of that yoga studio, I found somebody who was doing work with Ayahuasca and knew some ayahuasqueros and the ayahuasquero that I first worked with was Dave, who has been featured in numerous documentaries now.
0:37:39 TM: He’s the one that works quite a lot with Gabor Mate, or has in the past. So my first experience with Ayahuasca, it was kind of… The big thing that came out of that is the power that Cannabis had over my life broke after that. I was supposed to stop smoking weed for a week or so before… I think three weeks before the Ayahuasca ceremony. I didn’t make that happen. But then during the ceremony, I just felt heavy from it and I asked the ayahuasquero afterwards, I’m like, “What about Cannabis?” And he goes, “Well, I’ve never been a big fan of it personally.” And working with people in BC, I meet a lot of people who use Cannabis and he said, “The things that I think I know about it are that it’s sticky and that it’s seductive.” And as soon as I heard those two words, I’m like, “Yeah, that’s what’s going on with me and that I’m getting stuck and I’m getting seduced by it.” So it was almost like through knowing my enemy, I was able to stop using Cannabis and I stopped for about six months and never since then has Cannabis had really the same power over me. The next few times I did Ayahuasca, almost the next 10…
0:38:52 PA: Can we stop there?
0:38:53 TM: Yup.
0:38:53 PA: Can we stop there for a sec, and go into that?
0:38:56 TM: Yup.
0:38:56 PA: Because there are probably a lot of people on the podcast who resonate with that. I certainly resonate with that, I’ve had an onit on and off relationship with Cannabis and right now, it’s less on, although I take a tincture at night to help with anxiety and sleep during COVID. And in other areas and times, it’s been fully on with vape pens from 9 AM until 9 PM. That was the three-month period, so nothing long. But like you said, it’s sticky, it’s seductive, and it numbs out, right? So I’d be curious to hear, just for those six months, what process did you go through, in terms of how did you remove it?
0:39:35 TM: It really just stopped. That day I just stopped. It was a cold turkey from then on, for the next six months. And really, ironically… Is it ironic? I don’t know, but when I started up again was when I started with Iboga. When I started working with Iboga, the gentleman who became my business partner, Garyth Moxey, we treated three people over the course of a month, a couple of weekends in a month. Helped them detox off heroin, and he was a Cannabis smoker. So it was six months later that it came back into my life through my working with this new plant medicine. And like I say, it never really had the same power. I was able to put it down when I needed to. I could pick it back up. But it’s interesting, those sneaky little vape pens, they really did come in in full force as well. And I find that, for me, one of the things that makes it relatively easy for me to stop is the diminishing returns are there pretty quickly. If I smoke Cannabis I get hungry, I get tired, I don’t have quite the same energy and focus as I normally would like to. So I can see that pretty quick, and that turns me off enough that I can just say, “Alright, I’m gonna take another break from this.”
0:40:55 TM: But those vape pens, you can just take tiny little, almost microdoses with them. I wasn’t finding that I was getting tired or burnt out with it at all. So I could just maintain at a higher level for quite some time. The thing I noticed with it though, is it started, and this happens with regular Cannabis as well, but my short-term memory started just failing. I’d be in the middle of a conversation and completely forget what I was talking about. And that happened again and again and again, and I just realized, “Alright, it’s time to set this thing down again.” So, now I try and do it within a ceremonial context when I use it. I find that’s incredibly powerful. If you’re smoking Cannabis every single day, you forget about and are numbed to the true power that that plant has. But if you pack a bull or take a big hit off the vape and then go straight into a meditative posture and just sit there for an hour or so, it is really powerful spiritual medicine. And I love being able to leverage it that way, which I can’t do when I’m using it chronically.
0:42:07 PA: Or with sex.
0:42:09 TM: Or with sex, yes. [chuckle]
0:42:13 PA: I remember a close friend of mine, a mentor of mine, he’s like, “Yeah, I don’t really use Cannabis at all, except for sex.” And then he will save it for that, and I was like, “That’s a really good point actually,” because if you’re not sensitized to it, or if you are sensitized to it, because you only use it sparingly, then for things like sex it’s an amazing sort of potent amplifier.
0:42:39 TM: And I think the opposite is true too. If you are chronically using it, it’s really bad for sex. You don’t feel motivated at all.
0:42:48 PA: Because you numb out.
0:42:49 TM: Yeah, you numb out completely.
0:42:49 PA: It’s interesting for someone… For me, I’m a bit more anxious. That’s sort of where I’m at in my life. So I think Cannabis has helped me to ground a little bit more. So instead of it making… I do sense a bit of lethargy and I don’t pick up as much after myself, and I’m not as tidy, I wasn’t orderly, and it’s like the numbing from emotions, I think that’s what gets me. It becomes very easy just to not feel things as much, ’cause you’re constantly in this sort of, like you said, seductive cloud. There’s a dark side to Cannabis. I think it’s obviously important that it be legalized everywhere and taxed, and that absolutely needs to happen. And a lot of people just have to come to recognize it through that process. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good. It’s better than opiates, it’s better than a lot of other medications that we currently have available. And obviously the best thing is to keep our sensitivity high, not to have to numb out.
0:43:48 TM: Yeah, totally.
0:43:49 PA: That’s actually a good… That’s why psychedelics… I think you and I both have some level of optimism about, “Oh, this will help with people not just numbing out, but actually going into the things that need to be dealt with and working through them rather than just bypassing them.”
0:44:06 TM: Big time. On that note, that’s where my Ayahuasca went next, is… The next bunch of times I did Ayahuasca, I just went straight into this hell realm. It was this hell realm that… It was this feedback loop of suffering and pain and to the point where at one point, I called out and tried to pray for relief. And I prayed, I’m like, “God, help. Help me.” And this kind of presence or voice came back and said, “Oh, no. Don’t get us wrong. You are being punished.” So, I was like, “Oh, no.” [chuckle] And then what I learned from that is, I did it again the next night and went straight back to that hell realm, but where the first night it seemed timeless, eternal and that I was gonna get stuck there forever, there was still this feeling of eternity in the second night, but there was also this remembrance that, “Well, I was here last night and I broke through. I will get through this.” So there was just that quiet voice that said that.
0:45:18 TM: And then it kept happening, and I said to the next Ayahuasquero I was working with, I said, “Yeah, I really get stuck in this place and I can’t seem to get beyond it.” And he said, “Oh, you’re coming up against the edges of your ego. Just meditate, bear witness to it, and you should go beyond it.” So I did actually go beyond it by using that advice that night. But then the next couple of times I did Ayahuasca, same thing, I went into this horrible place. And like I say, it felt as though what I was being shown that A Course in Miracles was true. But from this dark place, I’m like, “If A Course in Miracles say we need to wake up from this dream, I don’t want to. I don’t wanna see what horrible entity is keeping me down like this. I wanna stay asleep in my comfortable bubble if it means waking up to see what’s actually making me suffer like this.”
0:46:14 TM: And it was actually through a Santo Daime ceremony, so Ayahuasca in kind of a church setting, in the daytime. It’s a Portuguese ceremony. It’s pretty cool actually, doing it in the daytime like that, and I still hit this hell realm. Then I got home that evening and I actually took a small puff off the Cannabis vape pen, and I realized something. And within A Course in Miracles it talks about the Laws of Chaos, and the Laws of Chaos is really the laws of the ego. And they’re completely meaningless and they’re purposefully meaningless. And to try and find meaning in meaninglessness is what I was doing in this hell realm. So I realized, “Wait a second, I don’t think… ”
0:47:03 PA: Sounds stressful.
0:47:04 TM: It was so stressful. Yeah, I realized I wasn’t coming up to the end of this story in A Course in Miracles, which is supposed to be a happy ending. I was just bumping up against the Laws of Chaos. And the other thing that happened and seemed to happen every time I was stuck in this hell realm in Ayahuasca is there was always this voice after that first time, and the voice said, “You know, you snapped through this last time, you’re gonna be okay.” When it happened in the Santo Daime church that first day, the day before I had been in the mountains north of Vancouver and Pemberton, in this beautiful mountain valley with my dogs. I’m like, “Yeah, but there’s that mountain valley too. This isn’t the full picture.”
0:47:48 TM: And I realized this evening, I’m like, “Oh, my god, that’s the voice of the Holy Spirit that A Course in Miracles is trying to point out.” And I was listening to the voice of the ego. So the voice of the ego is that horrible, hellish, “You are a measly little piece of suffering,” and the voice of the Holy Spirit was that voice that just kept saying, “No, this isn’t the full story. There’s something beyond this. There is that valley in Pemberton that you were in.” And it was such a relief, and I went into the next Santo Daime ceremony the next day, and it was still hard physically. There was a lot of purging and detoxing that happened, but I did it joyously. I was able to just completely listen to that calm, still voice that’s always there, although it’s harder to hear because the ego speaks English and speaks it loudly and speaks it first, but it was just a beautiful lesson for me that I got out of Ayahuasca in that regard. And I haven’t gone back to it since that, actually, which was probably a couple of years ago, but maybe I feel a call to do it again after all this chatting about it.
0:49:00 PA: I have a tangential question, which I think will… How do you define humility?
0:49:15 TM: I think just to realize that we really don’t know jack shit and to try and remember that in the face of it all, like as a whole species of mankind, none of us can accurately describe or recreate so that it’s functional, a single blade of grass. So I think just to remember that piece of knowing, like the Oracle at Delphi in ancient Greek times, supposedly they asked who is the wisest person in all of Greece and it responded that Socrates was. And then they asked Socrates about it and he goes, “Well, the one thing I know is that I know nothing.” So I think that’s humility is to keep in mind that even your best guesses are just that, they’re best guesses.
0:50:16 TM: And maybe this is tangential itself, but there’s something around selfishness versus altruism. The reason I came on this path to a large degree is I started reading a lot of books. I stopped halfway through some of these books and said, “Well, what am I after here? Well, I’m after happiness.” And then I said, “Well, let’s cut to the chase, like Tim Ferriss’s Minimum Effective Dose. But what do all these books say about happiness then?” And the answer came back that the happiest people or at least the people I most wanted to emulate seem to be helping a heck of a lot more people than I was. And I didn’t like that answer at the time. I was a hotel manager at the time. I figured that was my goal. I was really ego-oriented and just had this certain path in mind and didn’t really feel myself to be a social worker type at all. But at the same time, I felt it was a pretty valuable hypothesis and potentially valuable anyway. A fairly sound hypothesis. So I started looking at different ways that I could give back, and I turned my attention to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
0:51:32 TM: And long story short, about 10 years later, Ibogaine came on the radar as a way to potentially help that neighborhood. My business Liberty Root got started. We’ve treated over 200 people using Ibogaine mostly for opioid use disorder. But through that process, to myself anyway, I proved that that hypothesis was correct. There’s really nothing that feels as good as truly helping a person to transform and make a better life for themselves. And the texts and emails that I get at Christmas really stoked that fire for sure. For me, what that says is that if you’re doing selfishness right, if you take it all the way to the Nth degree, it turns in on itself and becomes altruism. And…
0:52:20 PA: This is a great point. It’s like the ouroboros.
0:52:24 TM: The what?
0:52:25 PA: The ouroboros.
0:52:26 TM: I don’t know that.
0:52:27 PA: It’s the snake eating its own tail.
0:52:29 TM: Yes, yes. It’s true. And we were talking earlier about the different philosophers and the collectivism versus the individualism. Another great metaphor is the eagle meets the condor. And the eagle is that sharp Western way of being, the condor is that more indigenous community way of being. And it really speaks to the politics of the age as well, where the Right-wing is really fiercely individual, the Left-wing is worried about the collective. And I was thinking about that, I’m like, “What’s the solution to this? Where do those two things meet?” And I think it meets at… The sharp individual is super powerful, and we need to honor that sharp individual.
0:53:16 TM: And I love the word sharp around this description because sharp can cut things and destroy them, or sharp can create things. So to honor the sharp individual. And what does the Left-wing say? What does the condor say? And why are social justice warriors freaking out perpetually? It’s because people keep getting left behind. We gotta stop leaving people behind. So if you can take those two things and meld them together, and I think you can because the whole reason the Left is saying, “We can’t leave people behind,” is because they too value that single sharp individual. And I think if you can get that sharp individualism to focus on the whole, which is what I have done with my life to a certain small degree, I think that really is an answer, and it’s very satisfying.
0:54:12 TM: I really like Ayn Rand’s writing and her philosophies to get a better idea of the sharp individual books like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. I don’t subscribe to her philosophy entirely because in that book it talks about Atlas Shrugged is John Galt, and John Galt is almost like a Christ-like figure, but he’s very selfish and just wants to let the rest of the world fall apart so he can be who he is. And I always thought, “If you can take a person like John Galt with that genius and have them focus on the solutions that would lift up the whole world, that’s the answer,” in my opinion.
0:54:53 PA: One that’s interdependence, and that’s the integration of the individual and the collective. And I think one philosophy I’ve been getting into lately is meta-modern philosophy. So if we have modernism, which is like the world, United States up to the 1960s. We have postmodernism, which is Foucault and Chomsky and psychedelics and academia. And then after postmodernism is meta-modernism. And it’s sort of built one of the fundamental principles is integral models, much of which Ken Wilber has developed in terms of, What does it look like to create integral models in culture and business?
0:55:30 PA: And I think that, to me, is that strong sense of interdependence, where you have both the sharp individual and you have a larger collective greater good that’s really… If we look at the best example in the world today, it’s the Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany to some degree, The Netherlands, Belgium, there may be a handful of others. And those models of green social liberalism, I forgot the exact term. But I think those are healthy sustainable models for nation states that are of that size and of that ilk, if you will. They’re fairly homogenous, and there are a number of other benefits.
0:56:06 PA: How do you apply that model to the United States? Or how do you apply that model to Canada? I think in particular for the United States, that’s more difficult. But I think the only way, as we were saying earlier, the only way out is through, and the only way out for the United States is to either reform the collective or disintegrate and allow states like California and New York give up a lot of its power. I think that will be the big tension of the 2020s is, nation states starting to lose power because the federal government is not responsive enough in the United States, and it’s not really representative of where we’re going. It’s representative of where we were but not where we’re going necessarily.
0:56:54 TM: Beautiful. Yeah, I hope there’s a solution. I think it does lie some place in that idea of, it feels really good to help people and to support people. One of the big epiphany moments in my life was in 2005. I had sold some stock options in a company I worked for at a good time, made a good mit full of money and I headed down to Costa Rica to learn how to surf and did that. And it was my plan to stay there for a long time. I have a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, so I figured I’d be able to make a modest living down there, no problem, and I planned on staying down there a long time. And my goal up until this point, and this probably would have been early 30s, was I just wanted to come to a place where I could do nothing if I wanted to do nothing. I just didn’t wanna be forced in to work or anything. So I felt like I finally got that in Costa Rica.
0:58:00 TM: On one day I was reading Wade Davis’s One River, which is an awesome book I highly recommend for people that plant medicines, and you mentioned Richard Evans Schultes, it’s all about him. And I had just smoked a little bit of a joint, and I’m sitting in a hammock and I put the joint down, I put the book down, and I really slipped into this beautiful state of unity consciousness. It was this next level transcendent state where I just felt at one with everything. And I knew I had finally achieved what I wanted up until this point in life, and I was sitting there and it was glorious. And then into that state crept an idea that said, “You know, you’re not gonna really be able to enjoy this until you help more people get here.” And I’m just like, “I knew that was right.” And I packed up within the next couple of weeks and came back to Vancouver and started focusing on the Downtown Eastside again.
0:58:58 TM: And I think that is within all of us. I think for all the striving that you’re doing for material success, that striving, I think if you do it right, is eventually gonna lead you to seek something a little bit deeper and a little bit more meaningful. And then once you find that deeper and meaningful, you wanna help other people get there. I find that with psychedelics as well. In people that have beautiful, transformative experience with plant medicines, almost choose a person, they then want to make sure that other people feel that transformation as well. I have a lot of hope for the world. I think if…
0:59:39 PA: It’s like a virus.
0:59:41 TM: It is like a virus. It’s like a medium. It’s this positive idea virus that once it takes hold, you just wanna spread it.
0:59:52 PA: You just wanna spread it. Well, that’s beautiful in a very non-beautiful way, ’cause obviously with what’s going on with COVID, but…
1:00:00 TM: Yeah, right.
1:00:00 PA: These medicines are transformative. The insight they provide is incredibly important, and we’re really in the process of rebuilding society to be more of a listening society, and I feel like psychedelics will be imperative in that process. So Trevor, thanks for joining us. It was a fun hour. Before we go, any last links, URLs, websites that people… Especially for the decrim measure.
1:00:25 TM: For sure. Some cool things I’m involved in are again, that decriminalization petition. So decriminalizenature.ca/petition. We have also started the Canadian Psychedelic Association, which we really want to be one umbrella here in the great white north, where people can come together and talk about some of the unique challenges and issues that come up when working with these plant medicines. So that’s psychedelicassociation.net, and we’ve got a Friends of the CPA package that you can buy that gives you a whole bunch of discounts for some of the psychedelic conferences that we’ve got, and also helps you support what we’re up to.
1:01:07 TM: We’ve got a lot of really cool webinars that are happening through the CPA. Dennis McKenna and Wade Davis were on our first one. The next one we’re doing is next Thursday. I don’t know when this is going to air, but next Thursday… Where I’m sitting right now is a week today, so Thursday the 14th. I’m going to be interviewing Adrianne Robson. And Adrianne was featured in a really cool documentary that people should see if they haven’t yet, called Dosed. And you can go to dosedmovie.com to watch that documentary. I’m featured in that movie as well, and it’s the story of Adrianne using these plant medicines to try and overcome her heroin addiction. So, super powerful. And then I’m also the chair of the board for MAPS Canada. So MAPS in the US and in Canada are organizations that need everybody’s support, so please check out MAPSCanada.org as well.
1:02:09 PA: It was a pleasure, Trevor. Thanks so much for coming on. We’ll make sure, listeners, that we get those links in the show notes as well if you wanna access them later. And very optimistic about the initiatives that you have undergoing, especially the decrim initiative, and I wish you all the best.
1:02:25 TM: Beautiful. Thanks man, and congrats to you. You mentioned at the start, you were just turning 30. You’ve accomplished a lot in that time, so please keep up the good work, the world needs it.
1:02:39 PA: Thank you, Trevor. It’s been a pleasure.
1:02:39 TM: Thanks a lot, Paul. Take care, man.
1:02:40 PA: You too.