When Lynn Marie Morski, M.D., was first introduced to psychedelics at age 35, she had the kind of transformative experience that she knew would greatly help her patients at the VA. But with no legal way to recommend plant medicines, she decided to turn her attention to educating doctors about the benefits of psychedelics. Unsure of where her new venture would take her, Lynn Marie quit her job, started the Plant Medicine podcast, and created the Psychedelic Medicine Association. In this episode, Lynn Marie and Paul discuss bridging the gap between medical practitioners and the advances taking place in the psychedelic research world.
Lynn Marie Morski, M.D., J.D. is the president of the Psychedelic Medicine Association, host of the Plant Medicine Podcast, the founder of plantmedicine.org, and the medical director for wayofleaf.com. She is a Mayo Clinic-trained physician in family medicine and sports medicine, as well as an attorney and former adjunct law professor.
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0:00:00.0 Paul Austin: Today we are joined by Dr. Lynn Marie Morski, the president of the Psychedelic Medicine Association, host of The Plant Medicine Podcast and the founder of plantmedicine.org, as well as the medical director for wayofleaf.com. 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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0:02:09.9 PA: If you're looking for your depression or anxiety breakthrough, Mindbloom provides a fully guided and clinician monitored experience tailored just for you. Some clients see results as soon as 24 hours after their first session. Mindbloom is in fact our first official partner here at Third Wave and a company, an organization that we support. In fact, I'm going to start my own Mindbloom experience in the coming weeks, and will write about my experience going through Ketamine therapy to address both Cannabis addiction and general anxiety, the Cannabis was to cover up the anxiety, and I can't wait to share my own transformation with you.
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0:05:25.4 PA: Hey, listeners, and welcome back to Third Wave's podcast. Today we are joined by Dr. Lynn Marie Morski, the president of the Psychedelic Medicine Association, host of The Plant Medicine Podcast and the founder of plantmedicine.org, as well as the medical director for wayofleaf.com. She is a Mayo Clinic-trained physician in family medicine and sports medicine, as well as an attorney and former Adjunct Law professor. Dr. Lynn Marie Morski, welcome to Third Wave's podcast.
0:05:52.5 Dr. Lynn Marie Morski: Thank you so much for having me, Paul, I'm really looking forward to our chat.
0:05:55.2 PA: Yeah, we've been meaning to do this for about a year now. We had first met at Horizons, I believe, in 2019, through Joe Moore, who's the host of the Psychedelics Today podcast, and had briefly spoken at that point and then had planned to do a podcast in person at the PsyTech conference in Tel Aviv, and then COVID hit and we had to cancel, we had to postpone. So I'm still excited to at some point come on your podcast, I know we'll make that happen, but for the time being, I think what I'm really excited about diving in today with you is just this intersection of your background, why you started the Plant Medicine Podcast, how that led to the Psychedelic Medicine Association, and then with your background as a lawyer, you're sort of a rare breed in the psychedelic space and definitely an over-achiever as it relates to that intersection, so I think it'll be really, really great to dive into those topics today.
0:06:47.6 DM: Well, I'm excited to dive into all that, and like you said, to have you on the Plant Medicine Podcast for sure. Everything's... Our rescheduling from COVID is all gonna happen, and so I'm looking forward to... I had your good friend, James Fadiman on, and I... Whenever I think of...
0:07:00.0 PA: Oh, for microdosing?
0:07:01.7 DM: For microdosing... I think of you two, like almost in the same breath, so we've gotta get you on as well.
0:07:05.8 PA: I would love that. So let's just provide a little bit of context for our listeners. What I always love to start with is, what led you to getting involved in the psychedelic space? So you had started the Plant Medicine Podcast a couple of years ago now... Where was Lynn Marie before then? What sort of led to your decision to really come out publicly in support of these powerful medicines?
0:07:28.0 DM: Well Lynn Marie, way before then was raised super conservatively. I didn't drink 'till maybe 26. I had not touched Cannabis at age 35, so I definitely had never done a psychedelic, and I distinctly recall... 'Cause I worked at the Department of Defense, I was a VA employee. I was a doctor for veterans at this point, and you cannot... You can't be doing CBD. They are gonna... They said they can drug test you at any time, and so I was not gonna get near anything that would jeopardize my job, and comically, sometime in my 35th year of life, somebody said, "Have they drug tested you yet? You've been there like four years." And I was like, "No." And he's like, "Try this." And it was like Cannabis vape or something like that. And I was like, "Alright, well, sure." And then comically, I think I went to Burning Man like the next month, and somebody there... And of course, I know nothing about what I'm doing and somebody gives me some LSD and I don't have any idea the amount or what was going on. Luckily, it was not a high dose, but that night I had the most therapeutic realization and I had no basis for realizing that these were even a thing, 'cause I had never done psychedelics and I had heard nothing about psychedelic science.
0:08:38.7 DM: MAPS at this point is like 30 years old, and I... Our normal medical school training does not mention psychedelic medicine at all. And so I was like, "Wow, that was really cool to have that realization." And then I had done a few other psychedelics over the next year or so, and both times... Or every time I was like, "Oh, learning something new about myself." And then it's 2017 finally, 'cause that happened in 2013, 2017, I hear the Tim Ferris podcast episode about, I think MAPS, something related to MAPS, and I was like, "Oh, this is a field. This is not just isolated I'm having these therapeutic realizations, this happens to every... Like, many people that do it, and there's a field of... " And so right then I became very interested in it, and I wanted to get more involved. And then I did Ayahuasca in 2018. Now remember, I'm still a Department of Defense employee, so I still have to keep this completely on the down low, and I have a book out and I have a podcast out on this other topic, and people would interview me on their shows or for articles, and they'd be like, "Is there anything we can't ask you about?"
0:09:38.8 DM: And I was like, "Yeah, unfortunately, you cannot ask me about the most transformative things I do, like Ayahuasca or these other medicines." And I was so out of alignment for me, going... Especially I'm going to work, seeing veterans who could all benefit from these things, and I can't tell them they could be doing them, I can't tell them I've done them, I can't tell the world that I've done them. It was just, it was not me, I like to be the full me, and out there and be able just to share all aspects of my life. And so finally in 2019, in May, without any backup job whatsoever, I quit the VA. And I did not know what was gonna come next, but I made it my mission to spread the word about plant medicines and psychedelics to other practitioners, other clinicians, because you know you can spread it to each person, one by one, individually, but if I could convince one doctor about their efficacy, then that person can touch 100 people a week.
0:10:36.1 DM: And so... And I know that we don't know about these. I would talk to... I'd go to these when I would speak at conferences for that other topic I spoke about, and I would talk to my colleagues there, and none of them knew this was a thing. Maybe if they were into psychiatry, they'd heard of Ketamine, but even most Family Med docs didn't know Ketamine was available, and so I was like, "This is my calling, this is where I need to take the reins and try to educate clinicians." And that's how I started the Plant Medicine Podcast and plantmedicine.org. And then I started the Psychedelic Medicine Association, when I realized doctors don't learn from podcasts necessarily, so I wanted to find some way to more officially let them...
0:11:09.6 PA: It was the continuation...
0:11:11.4 DM: Exactly. I was like, "How do I get into their inboxes? That's where they get their info." And so, that's how the Psychedelic Medicine Association came to be.
0:11:18.5 PA: So when you started the Plant Medicine Podcast, what was your thought process just around being a medical doctor, having those credentials, there's a board that you're probably certified through... What went through your mind, what... Did you do any due diligence as part of that, or were you just like, "Screw it, this means too much to me, I'm just gonna come out and start interviewing folks about this."
0:11:42.4 DM: It's funny you ask because I think it was just two or three days ago, I had to laugh at myself because I tend to struggle a little bit with anxiety, and yet for some reason like I'll... I'm really worried every time I walk outside, that my car has been stolen or other things that are so unlikely, but I did not for a second, worry about that thing you just talked about. It's like going... Not only do I have a medical license, but at this point, I'm in the California Bar Association, right? I've been barred by California, so I'm like, a California barred lawyer. And of the California Medical Board exists, and I was licensed there, for some reason that didn't stop me. I don't know why, I would look to people like Julie Holland, Dr. Julie Holland, who was also a physician, and very out there about psychedelics and other people in the industry who were out talking about these things with medical letters behind their names, and they were doing it and seemed to be okay so far, and I was like, "Well, I think I just have to be fairly smart about it."
0:12:45.0 DM: Most of these things that I've done can be done in other countries, so who's to say if I did Ayahuasca... If I come out and say, "I did Ayahuasca," who's to say where I did it? You know, and that kind of thing. So I would... That's how I convinced myself that it was going to be okay, but as these things became more... Like, luckily, more and more research comes out showing their efficacy and people are... The #ThankYouPlantMedicine Movement comes out and more people are talking about it, and then all these decrypt movements. And so that all keeps me feeling safe about this decision, but I also thought, "Maybe the fact that I'm a doctor and a lawyer gives me an extra little piece of confidence that your average doctor might not have. Like, I know the legal system a little bit better." So somewhere in there, I got the confidence to just talk about it. It wasn't so much like, "I'm just gonna tell you that what I've done, psychedelic-wise," but I thought, "If I'm just bringing information... " Especially just for podcasts, "I'm just bringing information, how can they cite me for just bringing out scientific information?" And so that was my hope at that point.
0:13:45.7 PA: How many interviews have you done at this point for the Plant Medicine Podcast?
0:13:49.9 DM: We just released Episode 82. So...
0:13:54.4 PA: So you've been doing this basically weekly.
0:13:57.7 DM: Yes. Until this year it was weekly. Yeah, it...
0:14:00.9 PA: Okay.
0:14:01.0 DM: Yeah, I have a number of jobs. And so it got to be a lot. And also, the first 60-something episodes was an encyclopedia of medicine, so I knew exactly what I was going to do. So here's... Okay, we've got the four on MDMA, for example, you've got a patient episode, a patient experience, a scientific research episode, a practitioner episode and a history/legality, so it was just kind of easy to find that. Now that those are done, it's more like, "Okay, what esoteric topic are we gonna discuss today?" It's a little bit harder to find things, 'cause what I want to cover now that we've covered all the medicines, is I want to cover all the conditions and what psychedelics are good for them, so let's do MDMA for PTSD, or Ketamine for suicidality. But I had to slow down a little bit, or we're gonna run out of those really quickly. So because the podcast was churning faster than research was coming out, so now it's every other week. But yeah, we've had... And we've had some great names, Julie Holland, like I mentioned, she just recorded with me and she recorded an hour and a half straight and let me cut it into three, and so, these are three of my favorites because she's just an idol of mine and somebody I really admire. And so... And I've had, like I said, James Fadiman has been on twice and a lot of repeat people, 'cause once I have them on and I love them...
0:15:06.5 PA: You're like, "Come back on up, I wanna have you again."
0:15:09.5 DM: Yeah, yeah. So probably like 75 people, but 83 episodes.
0:15:14.4 PA: So when it comes to then, medicine, you had mentioned you had gone through medical school... And this was early 2000s when you were in medical school?
0:15:24.7 DM: Yeah, I graduated in 2005.
0:15:26.7 PA: So what was taught about Cannabis or psychedelics, or was there anything that you learned in medical school that would have been applicable to what's happening now?
0:15:40.6 DM: I recall exactly zero mentions of either of those things. I don't think they taught the endocannabinoid system, I don't remember Cannabis being mentioned, definitely not psychedelics. If they were mentioned, perhaps it was in some kind of pharmacology class or something, but I have no recollection of those. And like I said, even when... You go through, and for example, we use Ketamine as an anesthetic in the emergency room for kids, and so that's... I didn't think it was a horse tranquillizer, I thought it was a kid anesthetic. And then the first time I worked at Envision Festival in the medical tent and people are doing Ketamine, I was thoroughly confused. And so... I had no... Because I was a combination of somebody in medical school who heard nothing about psychedelics with a person who didn't use any drugs, so I was just very blindsided by a lot of things. So yeah, they taught us nearly nothing, and I'm very interested to talk with the medical students of today, 'cause many of them have joined the Psychedelic Medicine Association, to ask like, "Are you even educated on the endocannabinoid system? Something as basic as that. Like we know about this. Are they starting to tell you about that?" And I hope that they are.
0:16:45.2 DM: But that's where a big gap is... That's what the Psychedelics Medicine Association is trying to fill, is that gap where medical schools will not have this as part of their curriculum for a long time. And the CME is catching up, there are a few CME courses on it, which is Continuing Medical Education, which every doctor has to do, but they get to choose, pick and choose which ones they do of that, so it's still not guaranteed they're going to be getting to all the people who need to know about it. So that's our goal, is to try to get to... And not to psychiatrists or the mental professionals, 'cause they're actually more likely to learn about it through their own specialties, but 80% of antidepressant prescriptions are written by primary care docs. And so that's who we want to get to, because we want patients who have depression, PTSD, anxiety, etcetera, to know that there are... It's a full range of options and anti-depressants and therapy are just two of them. So I want them to have hope that there's more, and ones that frankly work better.
0:17:39.5 PA: Yeah, this is a huge gap right now. I was even talking with a supporter of ours at Third Wave, and he had mentioned he sees a therapist in Toronto, he's based in Canada, and how the therapist knows about psychedelics, but for whatever reason, isn't going that path or hasn't gone that route, and he had an interesting sort of reason for that, which I don't know if I fully agree with necessarily, but he essentially said says, a lot of the therapists who have full practices or maybe this could be primary care physicians, whoever it is, it's a big risk for them to all of a sudden start talking about psychedelics because there is so much stigma that still exists, so he's like, "I've noticed that a lot of the therapists who maybe don't have full caseloads are getting into this because it's sort of the new hot emerging thing, right? And so what he kept speaking to was, there needs to be... We need to fill that gap in terms of professional education for clinicians and therapists and doctors and psychiatrists, because ultimately educating that sort of that class of folks is exactly gonna do what you said, it's gonna have these downstream effects where then their clients and the people that they work with actually recognize the potential of these substances.
0:19:00.0 DM: Absolutely, and I get the fear. And I remember speaking early on with Sean McAllister, who was the attorney for Decrim Denver, and I said, "Can... " I had a meeting with he and his partner and I asked, Can doctors talk about... Because we didn't cover... Even in law school, we didn't cover talking about... I didn't take a specific health law class, it would've covered this, but we didn't talk about can you legally talk about illegal things, but you have to think about it for a second, of course you can, because think about if a doctor finds out somebody is on heroin or something and that person comes in, of course, they're gonna have a conversation about heroin with that patient. "Here's the dangers of you continuing to do heroin, etcetera." And so forever people have been having conversations about illegal things.
0:19:47.4 DM: Just that this is a newer thing that may not be legal for long, We start to think of it differently, but no, you can have those conversations. I think we get into a bigger legal gray area when it's something like actual referrals. I was even discussing this with Dr. Holland on the show, it's like she can't say, "Go to this specific... Here, let me write you... " 'cause doctors, you can write referrals to please go see a gastroenterologist, because most doctors... And I'm just rambling, 'cause there's so many things to cover with this, but most doctors are not going to be doing the psychedelic therapy, they are going to be referring to someone else. I'm not... If I was a family medicine doc, I'm not gonna start doing Ketamine infusions in my office, I'm not gonna start having one-hour appointments where I'm guiding people through a DMT churn here or eight hours where I'm doing MDMA therapy, right. That's not part of their purview, it's just gonna be knowing when to refer to somebody who does do it But that's where the legality comes in, can I refer... Can I suggest a patient go seek out this illegal therapy, and then what about if it's illegal here, but not there.
0:20:52.9 DM: Like what if you say, "Okay, maybe you look at synthesis," or you recommend a therapy that is legal in the place where it is. And I have to say there's not a lot of great answers to that, but I understand the trepidation, but just know that speaking about psychedelics... And if you pulled up, if you're a therapist and you pull up your little Google on the computer while the patient is there and put in Psilocybin plus depression and you read off what it says, is that illegal? No, that patient could have done that themselves at home, you are just saying, "This is what research has found." That is not illegal to do. And I think at least if the doctors, therapists, etcetera, can get that far to where they say, "Hey, patient, there's hope." 'Cause if a patient doesn't know about psychedelics and they're thinking, My gosh, antidepressants didn't work. Therapy hasn't worked. I'm at the end of my rope. Well, first off there's Ketamine, there's always... That's one thing everybody should know about now because it's legal and available. But say they've done Ketamine and they wanna further address trauma, just to know Ayahuasca exists, to know Psilocybin exists, these other things, then if they wanna seek out further on their own, great.
0:21:57.8 DM: But I think just it's crucial that the providers arm them with that knowledge, and that's how it's gonna be safer too, because if they are on antidepressants, there are certain psychedelics they shouldn't be doing. So they should at least be able to have that conversation. Just think about it like somebody came in to you and they were on heroin or crack or whatever else, and you wanted to help them still manage with their health, you still have to talk about interactions of their medicines with the things that you know they're doing on the outside, you can't be like, "Oh, can't talk about those interactions, 'cause heroin's illegal." No you have to do what's best for the patient. I think that's that same paradigm we have to realize as far as psychedelics go.
0:22:33.9 PA: Well, a lot of this comes back to education, this is why we even started Third Wave in the first place. Was back, five, six years ago. I noticed that whenever someone typed Ayahuasca or MDMA or Psilocybin into Google, the first things that popped up were like the National Institute of Drug Abuse saying all the terrible reasons why you should never do any of these things because they're illegal and they're very harmful, and so... I made it our goal and our mission to, Okay, how do we at least get to the top of that, so that way when folks are searching for their own information, they can actually find reputable science-backed research and information, because then it's just sort of this continuous sort of corrupt cycle where people get... People stay stuck in this mindset of, "Oh no, Psilocybin is bad, because it's illegal and it's illegal because it's bad." Well, actually, there's this whole different perspective that most folks aren't even considering, and I feel like that even then goes into doctors, like you said, if they can't, at least if they can't now, say, "Okay, go work with an underground practitioner with Psilocybin, which they can't do they can't have referrals for at least in the United States.
0:23:42.2 PA: At the very least, they can say, "Hey, I've heard Psilocybin is efficacious in clinical trials, you might want to check out this resource," whether it's Third Wave or Psychedelics Today or another sort of educational platform, so that way patients can start to make better and better decisions for themselves, because this isn't just... Like you said, this isn't just like a one-way road, it's not like we're only trying to educate the medical professionals, it is sort of a virtuous cycle where the medical professionals learn about it, but ideally also the mass population knows about it because only then can people make informed decisions about what is really best for them rather than just a doctor prescribing a pill so to say.
0:24:26.5 DM: Yeah, absolutely, and that goes both ways because for sure, we want all patients to know about these, and there are plenty of patients that are, especially in probably the circles we run in that are like, "Doctors are so behind the times in education and we don't need them to tell us what to do." Fair, very fair in lots of areas, but there are also... We gotta think about the people who are like my parents' age living in Southern Illinois that don't have a psychedelic community and they are looking to their doctors for what is okay and what is not, especially that generation. My parents are in their young 70s, early 70s, and they grew up with the, in the '60s, where these were things used to tune in and drop out and all that, and so now they have whatever kind of stigma against it. And I'm sure they would be much more comfortable taking it if a doctor said to them besides their daughter, "This is a legitimate treatment at this point." So for both reasons, to stabilize and de-stigmatize things for those who really do trust doctors and just to get the information to those who, whether or not they trust their medical professionals who are able to make their own decisions.
0:25:35.6 DM: Either way, I just think it's crucial because once we get these things FDA approved, say like Psilocybin and MDMA, in addition to Ketamine, what good does it do if no doctor prescribes them or no, doctor refers to them? They're gonna get to so few people, and I think the goal that we all have is getting these to everybody who can benefit from them.
0:25:57.3 PA: Let's go back into a little bit of the origin story, and I think that'll help us continue to make waves through your path and why you chose what you chose to do. So you started the Plant Medicine Podcast in May 2019. You were working for the VA before that, you quit your job as a doctor for the VA, decided to fully commit in many ways to psychedelics, even though you just started the podcast at that time and you probably weren't sure how it would turn out...
0:26:23.9 DM: Right, that's definitely not paying any of my bills that is not.
0:26:27.7 PA: As we know, a podcast is nice to have, but it's not like we're the Tim Ferrisses and Joe Rogans of the world getting $100 million Spotify deals by any stretch of the imagination. So you start the Plant Medicine Podcast, you're publishing weekly podcasts, and then end of 2019, beginning of 2020, there's more and more investor attention, there's more and more money coming into the space, how did you then make the leap to going from, Okay, I'm just gonna host a podcast to starting really the preeminent Association for psychedelic medicine in the space today.
0:27:03.0 DM: Well, I appreciate that. I don't know that there's a second one, but I'm very glad that we're preeminent.
0:27:09.9 PA: It's always good to be the only, you know.
0:27:13.3 DM: Right. Well, so I have to give credit where credit is due, because I had gone down to Colombia in late January, and I had done Yagé down there, very difficult. I always said, I'm not gonna do jungle Ayahuasca, and I did it, but afterward, my friends and I were still down in Medellin, and they're both big in business, and I was like, "Guys, I need to get information to doctors, and it's not like working on the podcast," and one of my friends Valerie, she said, "You need to form an association." And I think she had a different idea for what it was than I did, but somehow I just was like, Okay, noted. And then COVID struck, I had moved to Austin, I was stuck in an apartment by myself in a new city, and I remember going to Go Daddy and I was like, I'm just gonna buy this URL Psychedelic Medicine Association, and maybe we can see where it started from there. Then I get a message on LinkedIn from Henri who we both know of The Conscious Fund, and he was asking me to help with to make some continuing medical education for psychedelics.
0:28:10.0 DM: And I said, "Yeah, I said, I'm totally happy to do that." I said, "I'm trying to start this Psychedelic Medicine Association. So maybe, we could promote the CME course through that." And he's like, "Hold on what?" And apparently he and his people had tried to buy that URL like two weeks prior, and it was gone 'cause I had bought it. I was like, "What are the chances of those people being brought together." So at that point, they helped us like, Okay, here. Here's a... They gave me Barney, who is our tech CTO, and they said, "All right, you two make this happen." 'Cause otherwise, I would have been using Fiverr and this would have taken two years, but now suddenly I had a tech guru to make the website and everything, and then they gave us some connections to a lot of the big players in the industry, and we just got... It was just like a lot of things happened very quickly and we're very grateful, and so now we have over 200 members, individual members, and we have over 50 organizations, and we're putting out a newsletter every month that keeps everybody up-to-date in psychedelic science and starting at the end of April, we're gonna put on our first...
0:29:12.1 DM: We're doing monthly panels that are for members only, and for example, our first panel I'm very excited about is increasing access to Ketamine because it's so unaffordable for so many at this point. And there are a lot of providers out there using different kind of creative techniques to be able to get people who need Ketamine into those therapies. And so that's the kind of thing we're doing at the association, so that's essentially... It's been a year since somebody... A year and two months since somebody mentioned the word association and definitely under a year since I bought that URL, and so just... It's the ultimate test or testimony to synchronicity that myself and The Conscious Fund people were all brought together and made this happen, and I'm very grateful.
0:29:54.5 PA: And so what's the legal structure of that? Is it a non-profit? Is it a... How are you...
0:30:00.7 PA: It's a benefit corp.
0:30:01.3 PA: And so what's your five to 10 year plan in terms of what you envision the Psychedelic Medicine Association becoming?
0:30:08.7 DM: So what I want to clarify, because the fact that... And this is why I said it's... Maybe Valerie had a different idea of association because in the US, when you have a medical association, for example, the American Psychiatric Association, that is an association of psychiatrists in America, the name is very clear. Our name sounds like we are an association of people who do psychedelic medicine. No, we are actually an association of people who need to learn about psychedelic medicine, but that is a very long title, and also we're not just American, we are worldwide. So we've got a ton of people from the UK and Canada and Australia. So my giant goal is whatever it looks like, I'm not the the world's best strategist, I want this number of organisations and this number of members. What I want is that when psychedelics come up in a conversation and somebody doesn't know about it, at least somebody in that circle can say, "Hey, head on over to Psychedelic Medicine Association, join up, they'll get you started from the ground floor up and they can look through... " Once you join, you get the backlog of all the months you missed, you get the primer on psychedelic medicines, which comes with just the basics, you get your indications, what it's good for, what it's been studied for, and contraindications.
0:31:19.5 DM: For example, if you've got a patient going to do an Ayahuasca ceremony, make sure they are not on these certain psych meds, those kinds of things, just enough information for them to at least get a conversation started, and I just want us to have sub-groups where there is maybe a sub-group of people that love talking about Ketamine-assisted therapy, or a sub group that talks about psychedelic research, a sub group that works on new ways to do DMT therapy, I would love to have little groups in little cities. I just want there to be this overall push worldwide to get... To close that gap to bridge that gap, especially between doctors my age and older that definitely didn't hear anything about it in our school, in our training, all the way to ones now that hopefully are hearing something about it. But I don't want it to be... To where you go to one doctor, they know everything about it, and you go to another doctor, and those patients are not getting any information, hopefully, as it spreads more and more, that's my goal, is that patients don't walk in to an appointment and their doctor stares at them like a deer in the headlights, if they mention psychedelics and they don't walk in and saying, I'm having all these mental health issues and psychedelics aren't mentioned.
0:32:22.5 DM: My ultimate goal is that just that psychedelics are mentioned and everybody feels comfortable enough to have that conversation.
0:32:30.3 PA: Which is a big goal, and thankfully, you aren't alone in that because of all the research that MAPS is doing, my mom, for example, who's in her mid-60s, works as a social worker at a hospital, like a small hospital in West Michigan, and she got an email a few weeks ago from this organisation called Sana, I think S-A-N-A, if I...
0:32:57.1 DM: Sana symposium.
0:32:58.8 PA: Yeah, about a sana symposium, 'cause they were doing a webinar on MDMA for PTSD, and so I of course, have been talking to my mom about psychedelics for seven years now since 2014, so she's well aware. Initially she was very skeptical, but now with all the research coming out she also understands, but she just forwarded that to me as sort of a sign that even... She works in a small hospital in West Michigan, and now they're even getting information about MDMA for PTSD, she's had webinars about Ketamine already where doctors are coming in to teach about Ketamine. So it feels like having an organisation like the Psychedelic Medicine Association just lends additional legitimacy and credibility and ideally acts as sort of a centre of gravity for the medical community to actually have, like you said, all of these fantastic assets and resources and webinars that you're putting together for them.
0:33:54.5 DM: Thank you. I think somebody from the medical director from Field Trip had brought that up, I think he's a family medicine doctor and he said, "It feels like just coming... " Because we have a forum on the... Once you're a member, you come onto the member forum and you can talk with other members and ask questions, etcetera, and he said, "I can just imagine what a safety in numbers feeling that will be to have other doctors come in and be like, "Oh, we're all talking about this, I'm not going way out on a limb mentioning this to my patients."" And like you said, centre of gravity wise, I like that, that visual because that is what I want because if they come in and they not only see, okay, we've got hundreds of other clinicians that are having these conversations, but they see the 50 different... Fifty-plus organisations that are all working on this, and "Oh, we've got ones that are doing research, we've got ones that are doing legislation, we've got ones that are helping increase access," that it feels like, "Okay, I'm not so alone in this," and like you said, resource-wise, if they're like, "I'm thinking of maybe doing Ketamine therapy," we're like, "Here, here's people who do Ketamine education, Here's ones that are doing great Ketamine assisted therapy training." We can provide them those resources to feel even more supported.
0:34:57.9 PA: So one thing that you had touched on a few minutes ago was accessibility, and I think that's a really important point to come back to because this is a huge topic of conversation in the psychedelic space right now. There was just the recent discussion between Tim Ferriss and Christian Angermayer about patents and IP and how that might limit accessibility. A lot of folks have not been super gung-ho about COMPASS Pathways because they sense that what COMPASS Pathways is doing will limit accessibility. COMPASS Pathways says what they're doing will help accessibility, because it ensures that insurance coverage will then come to help with psychedelic medicine. What's sort of the current state of accessibility for Ketamine therapy, in particular in the States, is it covered by insurance? How expensive is it for folks to get access to? Can you just give us sort of an overview of that? Where it stands now, at least?
0:35:50.2 DM: Sure. As best I know, there is no insurance covering plain old Ketamine, like the kind you get IV, I'm. Except for, I was in contact because I continue to tell everybody like if you know of somebody doing Ketamine in a way that's out of the box and not thousands of dollars, please tell me. And so somebody turned me onto a group called Klarisana and I spoke with them, and in Colorado and Texas, they are doing Medicare... I think it's Medicare or Medicaid. Forgive me, it's one of the medic-somethings, is covering it, but essentially what they're billing for is not the Ketamine itself, because that's an off label use and you can't bill for that in that way, but they're billing for the services, we're billing for our therapy, we're billing for our doctor's visit, that kind of thing, and then there's also Spravato which is the one FDA-approved Johnson and Johnson esKetamine nasal spray.
0:36:41.5 DM: And so if you have insurance because it's extremely expensive on its own, but insurance will cover it to where maybe your co-pay is $5 or $10, so that you're not paying that hundreds... Society is somewhere, but not... The patients are able to at least get it that way. But in between those, we have so many Ketamine clinics that are charging thousands of dollars per infusion, and I would just love to have a sit down with all of them and just say, "Why?" Because Ketamine, the actual fluid itself generic is like dollars per bottle, and so I don't understand, unless there's a therapist, a PhD level or social worker level, whatever, or hire sitting in the room for that entire time even then like, what is that, $300, $400? I don't know why it's costing so much, especially the clinics that don't have somebody beyond a medical assistant sitting there with the person, I am not a... Business is not my specialty, and I am not judging at this point, but I want to know what the cause is, because I want to be able to offer some alternatives.
0:37:45.2 DM: So like I said, our first panel we're having is gonna have people on who are doing different methods, maybe... I think Dr. Pamela Kryskow, she's in the Canadian Psychedelic Association. She does group sessions with first line first responders, and those are subsidized in a certain way, so they're definitely not paying these thousands of dollars, and so group sessions is an option and sliding scale is an option, but... Yeah, right now, it's a little bit frustrating that the one that's available is only available in quotes because it's not that accessible to a lot of people. And so luckily there are some...
0:38:18.0 PA: And that's Spravato? Spravato is the one?
0:38:20.8 DM: No, I mean Spravato is the one that is FDA approved, so if you have the certain insurance that covers it and certain insurance is right. I don't think all of them cover it, I think there are still issues with whether the VA covers it or not, I have not heard the latest, but I know it was maybe one day they did one day they didn't.
0:38:35.6 DM: And VA has got a massive population of people who need these kinds of treatments, but I'm talking about just the regular Ketamine, it may be thousands of dollars for you to be getting Ketamine infusions, if that's what you need. And so that's where I'm hoping that we can get together and talk about... There's two sides of this. I want to increase accessibility to it, but I also want to increase the quality of what happens when people go for it. You know that there's some... You just go in, they put a needle in your arm, you sit there with somebody who has no discussion with you, maybe you chit chat with somebody before you walk out, and then there's Ketamine assisted psychotherapy, where there's somebody there with you the whole time. Like in MDMA trials that we hear about, and I'm not the arbiter of what is good or bad, but there are a lot of Ketamine guidelines coming out of places, and it's part of my drive and what I do in the Psychedelic Medicine Association is that as the ones that are legal, are here, I want them to be both accessible and done well. Because if people look at Ketamine clinics like, "Oh, these are popping up because they're cash cows and people aren't really getting better because there's no therapy." That's not helping the movement as a whole, and that's not helping patients individually, so accessibility and quality of care are big points for me.
0:39:48.0 PA: One... Two things come up on that point, one, Lucid News just published a piece a couple of weeks ago about Ketamine providers arguing over what's ethical and what are the appropriate standards. You had on one hand, like you said, the Ketamine assisted psychotherapy saying there needs to be prep, there needs to be the experience, there needs to be integration, and then on the other hand, you had someone representing more Ketamine infusions and just saying like, "We have this methodology, we've been doing it. It's worked for thousands and thousands of people." I've heard horror stories of folks who go in to get a Ketamine infusion with no prep or support and come out and their ego has been shattered and they're actually retraumatized to some degree rather than being helped. And at the same time, I'm sure there are lots of folks who find that temporary relief, even if it's just a Ketamine infusion, but there isn't the sort of integration that's so often talked about as necessary in the psychedelic space. Now, one thing that's popped up as of late has been telemedicine, Ketamine therapy. Which we haven't hit on yet. What's your take on that?
0:40:58.8 PA: I personally... We've done a little bit of a partnership with Mindbloom, I've gone through the Mindbloom experience, but I don't... I'm fairly healthy, I've just had some anxiety through COVID and it's been helpful, I had to have a peer treatment monitor, like a friend who was there in the room with me when I was doing the Ketamine, and then I had a virtual guide before and after who helped me prepare and integrate, and yet I also just watched this... I don't know if you saw this video of Jamie Wheal with Rebel Wisdom that he did maybe a week or two ago, basically bashing Mindbloom and saying, "Oh, now we're just sending Ketamine to anyone and everyone, and there's very little support. And you just get the virtual help." What... Is there a middle ground? What's the middle ground when it comes to accessibility, what do you feel like is a good balancing point, maybe now and maybe where it's going as well?
0:41:53.7 DM: Yeah, I think you brought up a great point, which is, can we get it to a lot of people but it's quasi effective or can we get it to nobody but it's super effective? And what's the middle ground? And I'm thinking like, I believe Dr. Mark Bronstein, who I've had on my podcast more than once, I know he does, especially when COVID hit had to do the telemedicine version. But the impression I was getting is like, these are already long-standing patients, and he's a psychiatrist, and he happens to say, "Okay, now that I know you let's... And I think you can benefit from Ketamine therapy, let's do that." By the way, if Mark hears this, I hope we're not grossly mis-quoting what you do, but it seems like, okay, if it's part of your therapist's plan, I think... And I don't know Mindbloom's, but if it's a situation where it's like, you didn't know me yesterday, you're gonna watch me do this for one session, like I don't know how it's set up, but I think the longitudinality of care is important, and I think the psychotherapeutic, before and after, so that the first time you're not...
0:42:48.5 DM: You're conversing isn't the same day, because if the same day you probably have so many jitters and things going through your head that I know if it were me, I'd be like, "Just get to the Ketamine," I'm so excited for the actual treatment, so I probably wouldn't be like as present for the therapy session. But if they're like, "You have an entire day ahead of time set aside for your intentions and your therapy, and then we'll do the therapy and then we have an entire day afterward, then I think I'd feel more comfortable with the model, but I also feel most comfortable if it's somebody that you have a long-standing relationship with, because that's just three points in time. Think about something maybe after that closing session happens to you and it drags up some trauma that came back and... Well, where's your longitudinal person to follow up with on that? You know, I think everybody... I say this as I don't currently have one, but I think everybody should have a long-term therapist, right. I'm still just in the process of finding a somatic therapist that I jive with, but to have somebody just like your personal trainer, just like your trainer for the mind, somebody, that's always there helping you as needed...
0:43:48.3 DM: Maybe you don't need to go all the time, but if you need somebody, you've got a relationship with somebody, you can pop back in and say, "Hey, that thing that's been flaring up three months ago is kind of back." That makes me feel more comfortable than the kind of one-off telemedicine things, but again, we're back at the point where is whatever is that saying is.
0:44:04.8 PA: Mindbloom?
0:44:06.6 DM: "Is perfection the enemy of good?" Oh no just like, Is this a good way but not perfect? And then because it's not perfect, do we cut out that accessibility? So I'd say like the things that I think would be helpful is this longitudinality of care and a big psychotherapeutic element to it.
0:44:26.0 PA: There was the... 'Cause there was the short story, We Will Call It Pala, which I'm sure you've read and are familiar with, and that was a core, core point in that long form piece was essentially what if... I think there's a quote in there something about, "We'll just milk you like a cow and then kick you out on the street," which speaks to the importance of community, speaks to the importance of feeling held before, during and after, speaks to the importance of longitudinal care. And it feels like just with where we're at right now in April 2021, Mindbloom has this model where I think it's $1,200 for four experiences, and their whole thing is normally if you went in to do Ketamine infusions, it would be four times that amount, or three times that amount, so it's not even accessible. And yet, I've even realised that having done the Ketamine therapy at home and also having obviously a wide range of experiences, the Ayahuasca and Psilocybin and more potent plant medicines that the Ketamine is nice, but it has this sort of temporary stress relief, it sort of like de-pressurizes things, but it doesn't have necessarily the full-blown profound insight, like deep, deep healing potential if it's just done at home by yourself.
0:45:51.1 PA: And I don't know what to make of it, because on the one hand, it's like it's great to provide people with relief, especially in COVID, and help them to see that there is hope and an opportunity on the other side. At the same time like you don't want this to become the next sort of SSRI or pharmaceutical where people are like, Okay, if I wanna get back to that state, I just need to keep purchasing more generic Ketamine and keep doing Ketamine again and again and again, there's really very little middle ground at this point in time. I'm hopeful for a future where these sort of new churches pop up, where you can go into like a synthesis and you can do it in a group ceremony, and you can have the support of not only an individual therapist, but also a community of people who support you, who see you through that, and as we both know, we're in COVID right now and getting together in groups is just a little tricky, so that's where it feels like... It's a tricky issue, there's no simple answers for this, getting medicine in the hands of folks who need it is important, but just as critical as set and setting, just as critical as the support that you have as you're going through these experiences.
0:47:00.3 DM: Yeah, I think you brought up a lot of good points there. And one thing I wanna harken back to is just, I think two or three weeks ago, we released an episode called The Dark Side of Ketamine, and it's a huge thing to... Like you just said, is if it gives you that little stress release, well, so does alcohol, so does other recreational drugs, what's to stop it from starting to be used that way? And it has been, and we're seeing misuse, and we're seeing suicides, and we're seeing deaths from other complications. And it's the one psychedelic that is actually addictive, like the irony is that all the ones that are not addictive are the Schedule 1 ones. And here we have Ketamine, it's legal, but also kind of addictive.
0:47:35.1 DM: So that is the... And Dr. Bronstein had talked about there's the psycholytic, and there's two forms essentially like one is what you did with Mindbloom, which is where you didn't really blast off, right, you're just a little bit of a changing of the neuro-chemistry, and then there's like, I've never done that version I've only done IM and IV where yeah, you have ego disillusion and you've disassociated and all that. I have no desire to go back and do that a million times, and also I think it's much more profound, right. We have the... That essentially, those seem to be getting at the core issues, and these home versions are kind of just like you said with SSRIs, like these smaller band-aids that if... Yeah, they can help. I think they can help if for some reason you're having a hard time letting go with a therapist, it can foster that kind of ease of connection in it, and it may rewire things in another way, but you're right, it doesn't have that same effect of necessarily like digging out that old school trauma... Again, I have not had it, but I am, as far as I'm understanding from the Ketamine practitioners, that those are like two very distinct and different levels of Ketamine therapy. And you're right, that's something we really...
0:48:47.9 PA: And I think a lot of people are watching out for now is what are the implications from this longer term, smaller amount of Ketamine therapy? And so I appreciate you bringing that up 'cause that's absolutely something we need to watch out for.
0:49:00.9 PA: I think it's like psycholytic therapy, it's usually a smaller amount as like an opening so that the therapist can work with it, and then I think the other one is just... I think it's Psychedelic-assisted Psychotherapy would be the technical term where...
0:49:13.0 DM: Yeah. I was trying to think of the name of the... Did they just call it psychedelic therapy and psycholytic therapy? Perhaps.
0:49:18.3 PA: I think it was that. 'cause... And then Stan Grof had written about this even back in the '60s, the difference between those two, 'cause he used to load people up with a thousand micrograms of LSD, and he would call that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, 'cause they would go into the birth matrix or whatever... The sort of COEX that he had came up with, and that was much different than psycholytic, 'cause the ego is still present in psycholytic therapy, but you're just learning how to sort of help it heal and come back to a place of sort of balance rather than trying to dissolve it completely.
0:49:52.7 DM: Yeah, that makes sense. So whatever it's called, there's definitely those two, and I think a lot of us in psychedelics see that a lot of the more curative type things where you don't have to continue to put band-aids over it are happening at those higher levels, those higher doses that like you said, when the ego is gone or whatever kind of things happen, and so it's gonna be interesting to see what those smaller doses over time... This is all new-ish. So very, very interesting to watch how this develops.
0:50:22.2 PA: So we talked a lot about your medical background, which is part and parcel and central to the Plant Medicine Podcast and the Psychedelic Medicine Association. We haven't yet really discussed much about your legal background, and I'd love if you could just bring listeners into that a little bit, what made you... What inspired you to get a law degree, and then how has that law degree helped you as you've started the Plant Medicine Podcast and the Psychedelic Medicine Association, what role does it play in your professional life at this point in time?
0:50:53.1 DM: I should have always been a lawyer instead of a doctor, it's very clear if you look at my grades for the two different schools, vastly different. But life takes us on its certain path. But I got my medical degree and I had gone to residency and Family Medicine and then I'd done fellowship in sports medicine, and then I realised I didn't wanna do any of those things, and so I got the job I had at the VA, moved out to San Diego, and the apartment I moved into was next to a law school, they were building. And I've always been really good at checking in with the intuition, and my intuition was like, go there, go there, go there, and I'm in a brand new city, and I thought, Oh, I'll have a community, I'll be with students. And I read a book called How to take the LSAT when I was in eighth grade for like the... You need to read a book over the summer, kind of program they had, and so I had tutored multiple people on how to take the LSAT, and I had never taken it myself, and I was like, "Oh, I could take the LSAT," I super nerded out at the possibility of going to law school, and so I just said, "Okay, I have a quarter million dollars in medical school debt, but if I can get in and they'll give me a scholarship, I'll go."
0:51:50.6 DM: And that was in August, and I started in January, like everything just lined itself up, and so how they had a mid-year start, and so I started law school and I just thought like, it gives you tools for how to think. It improves your writing. I will know how to review my own contracts just basic things in life. But since I never loved the traditional practice of medicine, I thought, "Okay, there's gotta be some way that if I get this law degree, I can combine the two and the combination together will be powerful, and I won't necessarily have to just practice medicine or just practice law, I'll find some way to make these into a new career." And I'm not gonna lie, it took a very long time for that to become a reality. But finally, it has because now my job that does pay the bills is I'm the medical director of WayofLeaf.com, which was a Cannabis website, and now is a Cannabis and psychedelics website, thankfully. And the way I got the medical director job is I was just an editor for them, and then I finally said like, "Legally, you shouldn't say this and legally you shouldn't... "
0:52:50.0 DM: They're like, "What do you mean?" I was like, "Oh well, I've got this law degree," and so then once I was able to be useful on both fronts, that's how I got the job I have now, and when I started Plant Medicine Association and... Sorry, when I started the Plant Medicine Podcast. Like I said, every medicine has an episode on legality, and so I remember I had Ismail on from MAPS talking about Ayahuasca legality, and he's talking about like RFRA. And I was like, Okay, look, I know what that is, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. So it helped me speak with all the lawyers that I had on the podcast, and it also just helped me write my own disclaimers knowing how to balance that line. Because as a doctor, let me tell you, the questions I get on Instagram and that people send to the... Through the website, they wanna know medical advice, and I know I've got my own disclaimer on the beginning of the podcast, I disclaim everything I put out and all the websites have disclaimers that I've written, so I think it's just helped me, like I said in the beginning feel more secure balancing the life of a person with degrees and certifications that they have to protect and living entirely in an illegal substance world, basically.
0:53:56.8 PA: It's Tricky. Tricky to balance that. And it's even trickier because legally... We'd already touched on this in the podcast, truffles are legal in the Netherlands. Mushrooms are legal in Jamaica, Health Canada now with TheraPsil, physicians and therapists can start to prescribe Psilocybin for end-of-life anxiety. We're looking at FDA approval for Psilocybin and MDA in 2023-2024, ideally. Ayahuasca has been legal from a religious perspective in I think New Mexico, and Oregon, Oakland has decriminalized all plant medicine, so there's this sort of wide swath of legal challenges and issues, and one thing that I wanted to ask you about was specific to the places where it's decriminalized, how do medical professionals... Is it different for medical professionals to navigate in the decrim space than it would be in a place where it's fully illegal? So in other words, if there's a physician in Oakland who knows there's local experiences going on that are protected under decrim... And I'm not saying this is the case now, but I know this is what they're pointing towards, can they refer people there? Can you talk us through some of the sort of nuance around the different legal stuff specifically just in the United States between legal Ayahuasca, FDA, decrim, Oregon legalization. How... It's a mess.
0:55:28.2 DM: I can try, but I think that a lot of... As you and I were discussing before we started recording, is that... And by the way, Sean McAllister is definitely the person to have on to talk about this more specifically. I go to him with all my questions, but if I'm just looking at this from what we know generally, is that there... A lot of things that aren't written in statutes end up as case law, for example, that's how the different Ayahuasca churches ended up being able to go ahead and practice if they have their certain exemptions is because it ended up going, I think, to the Supreme Court. So a lot of things have to get taken to court because it's the first time somebody has brought up that question. So this may be the first time somebody has a brought up the question in a decriminalized city, can a medical practitioner refer to a ceremony that's happening. That is probably not a question I imagine any statute in Oakland has covered. The Oakland medical society would have to very... Have written something new in the past year like, "Okay, doctors, you can or can't say this," right? But what we have to realize with decriminalized things, they're still illegal, they're still illegal things, they just are not going to be enforced.
0:56:34.0 DM: And a lot of these things are definitely still illegal, even Cannabis federally, right? So I don't know that being in a city where they have been decriminalized changes the doctors, because there's definitely still talking about an illegal substance. It changes the liability of the person who's caught doing it, you know, that's where the decriminalization comes in is if you're found with... And even we have to remember like we say decrim like it's, "Oh, you can just carry in like a pound of shrooms." Oregon, it's like 12 grams or something, and it's like 12 grams if you have a 12 gram candy bar, if 11 of those grams are chocolate and one gram is Psilocybin, that counts as your 12 grams. So even though we say decrim, this is not a free-for-all in any of these cities. And so to say like, "Yeah, you know, I'm your doctor and I think you should just go do a bunch of mushrooms," and then they're caught with more than the amount then they can still... There's still a possibility of penalty, etcetera. So I don't know that in the decrim cities it's significantly different, but I'd still say doctors, you can still talk to patients about this.
0:57:38.7 DM: And I always think back to Jonathan Lubecky, who was one of the people in the MAPS trials, and he's been very vocal. He was in the military and he said that the way he even found out about this is somebody at the VA, I believe, had written like MAPS.org on a little shred of paper and just slid it to him secretly in an appointment. And that has changed his entire life. And so they didn't say, "Hey, I think you should go do this." It was essentially like MAPS.org. And I always think like, what's the equivalent of just saying, "Here is data on Psilocybin. I hear Psilocybin is decriminalized here, maybe Google," but then I guess once they find out about it, the bigger question is, and this is what's trying to be addressed by other associations that are maybe more of the national variety that when they pop up is like, "Okay, now how do we know who's good?" Like saying, "Go Google this for yourself," you could end up with one of those... One of those 5-MeO providers that has killed four people, like you don't want that to happen, and definitely, they've been featured on Vice, etcetera, so their names are out there, and we don't want that to be who pops up when a person goes and does this on their own.
0:58:51.9 DM: So that's like the whole second thing is like the doctor can say, "Go look this up," and then now there are people all over the psychedelic industry, hopefully working on finding ways to make sure that the good apples are the ones that they find when they do go Googling.
0:59:04.7 PA: This is exactly what we're working on, and we'll launch soon is essentially a basically trusted resource, trusted directory of... We were initially... Initially we had thought about it, just go out with all the retreats and all the clinics and all the practitioners, and then when we thought about it a lot more... Exactly what you were saying, so much of psychedelics come down to trust, and so there has to be a specific level of vetting before you highlight or amplify because there are even retreat centers that might look "legit" on the outside, but... If you do some digging, you come to realize that they've had a number of ethical issues or sexual issues or whatever it is, and it's just like it's a mine field out there for folks who are coming into this, and it's almost like... How do you keep people safe as they're looking for specific practitioners to work with their specific therapists to work with, and it's even tricky in our perspective, 'cause we've even thought from a liability perspective, if you're bringing up recommended providers, then as a company, we might have liability because we supposedly recommended them. And so there's...
1:00:16.8 PA: It's not easy, and it goes back to even what you did with the Plant Medicine Podcast, you have to trust that it's coming from a pure place, that it is coming from the best of intentions that you're gonna hit at about 95% to 97%, and every now and then there might be not such a great experience, and that's why you have specifically with practitioners, that's why there's a board, because then if any issues were to come up, then the client would go to the board to talk about it or whatever it might be.
1:00:48.4 DM: Yeah, that's the... Dr. Holland had said on our thing is like, "I really wanna talk about the need for this board, this governing board." And I know that there are people who are trying to form an association of people who do psychedelic therapy, and hopefully that becomes like a credentialing, but I think they had said to me,"Well, we can't form a thing that's illegal at this point." And so you've got the American Society of Ketamine Practitioners, and I think that's as close to a board, if there's... It's not a board. So I think it's like an organization, but you're right, without a board to report to and without guidelines, how do we even say... Because, for example, there are things that I know about going on in some of these Ayahuasca retreat centers that I think are extremely appalling because they sound like really manipulative NLP and is it criminal? No, like the sexual abuse stuff is criminal, but I don't wanna recommend a patient go to a place that says like, "Oh, did you get this certain outcome?" If not, they're gonna feel like they failed Ayahuasca, I had that happen to somebody that I recommended to go to a place, he's like, I failed Ayahuasca, I didn't get my miracle.
1:01:45.3 DM: And I was like, "Oh my God, now I have... " To me, that's a thing that I would not wanna recommend somebody go to do, but... Is it criminal? No, so then it's like, whose standards do we use in deciding who gets to be on like you know, I have... Don't pay any attention to it now, but in the beginning, I was really big on putting certain resources on plantmedicine.org where they can find, and I had that same realization is like, I don't wanna be liable vouching for these. So I have a big disclaimer at the top, and then the second I would hear anything bad about them, I would take them off because I figured I just have to err on the side of caution at this point. I can't launch a full-scale investigation into what happened there, but I just need to take it down in the meantime, and kudos for you guys working to try to figure that out because before there's a board... And it's again, how do you have a board of something that's like an indigenous healing modality? Ketamine's one thing, but how we can have a board on what's okay in an Ayahuasca retreat, there's 50 different lineages, and like this, you said, it's a total mine field, and it's an exciting but also overwhelming place to be sometimes.
1:02:52.6 PA: Well and where we started is just start small, right. So if there are 100 retreat centers, start with 15. If there are hundreds of clinics, and what we even decided is, we're not even gonna highlight the infusion Ketamine infusion clinic, 'cause that's not technically like psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, just highlight the clinics that are doing integrative work. With the practitioners, it's partly a personal network thing, the folks that I know and that I trust and that I hear really good things about, as well as those who have medical credentials or are licensed clinical therapists.
1:03:27.7 PA: Where we've kinda gotten stuck is coaches, non-clinical people, 'cause as we know there are a lot of people who don't have clinical credentials, who have been doing underground work for 20, 30, 40 years and our incredible healers, but they don't have these clinical credentials, which means liability is there as well. So I think with anything, it's start small, like you said, be conservative. We're also rolling out a public rating and review system, so that way people can leave ratings and reviews in terms of the experience that they've had, and then it's just a matter of being open for feedback, like ensuring that we're listening, ensuring that there's reciprocity there, ensuring that we're iterating, and ultimately, it's to serve the greater public, to serve our audience, it's to serve the community, it's to make sure there's an asset and a resource there, but it definitely is not a simple thing to do.
1:04:26.0 DM: Yeah, absolutely, and that's why... What's interesting is that on the opposite end, you've got, like you said, with COMPASS and all that, there are lots of companies that, those of us who start off in grass roots are just like, "Oh, oh no, pharma," but they're gonna bypass those issues, they're going through a 15 million steps and paying all these billions of dollars to get something that's probably an FDA-approved therapy, and then it will have a way that it can be like, there aren't all these. So there's pros and cons to each end, and hopefully by the time that all these things come to fruition, there's an option for everybody, if somebody doesn't want to take a website's recommendation for what retreat centers. Okay, then there may be a Psilocybin FDA-approved thing you can go do through Usona or something, so hopefully, somewhere in there... Gosh, I'm just... I'm 43, so who knows how long I'll be around for the... For the super next wave of it, but I'd love a time machine into the future and see how this all plays out.
1:05:31.5 PA: Yeah, me too. That would be nice to have, especially from a business perspective. I get some really good... Good insights that way. Okay, so the Psychedelic Medicine Association, give us a little bit more about the brass tacks. How do people become members of this? What's sort of the... Is there an annual fee that they're paying, how are... Are you vetting people? What's just the process for enrollment for getting more and more folks involved into the association?
1:05:58.9 DM: Sure, and thank you for this. So we have two types of memberships. One is for the individual clinicians, and we're talking anybody from medical students or therapy students maybe, you're getting your Social Work Master's. Students are free and because yes, there is a yearly fee, the fee for a full-fledged clinician is $275 a year. And we also have a training, so if you're a resident or if you're in a training program, I think it's like $99 or something a year. And clinician-wise, nobody who can't pay will be turned away, we have made that our promise. Because we've all been there right especially with COVID, this is a difficult time to be paying for lots of things, so please come... There's a place where you can write to us and if you need a membership and we'll get you one. But yes, it's a year fee for those individual clinicians and you do just have to show us, I think for the student ones, you have to have a.EDU email address and for everybody else, you just have to show us your copy of your license or something like that, some document that shows us you're a clinician. Because, if you're a clinician, then when you're in the forum with everybody else... And the forum is now clinicians, plus all the people from the organization.
1:07:03.6 DM: We have a clinician's only forum because there's a lot of ways that we can talk about patients that may seem very bizarre to others, but we don't wanna feel like, "Oh, people from the media or something you're gonna hear about how we talk about... " We have our own shorthand and so we want clinicians to feel safe speaking amongst themselves. And then we also have a second type of membership, and that's the organizational membership, and that's for organizations. We've got MAPS, TheraPsil, Canadian Psychedelic Association, all kinds of groups that are working toward different aspects of getting psychedelic medicines to people, because our mission is to educate the clinicians, that is our sole focus, and there's only so many of us as in it's generally me and Barney and a few other people and our lovely board. But we also wanna tackle the other things that increase accessibility, so we've got legislation we have to tackle, ways to get them to diverse communities, we have to tackle let's get more research and how do we increase research and all those things we want to have tackled by our health or member associations, but we want them to be able to talk to each other, like like you said, that center of gravity, and so organizations that join, they get three log-ins and same thing, there's a yearly membership fee for them and they can...
1:08:12.9 DM: So they don't have to be a clinician. The person who's trying to think of new research could be the person who joins and they can go into our forum and say, "Hey doctors, what is your hardest to treat condition and that people have brought to you and said, 'Oh, Psilocybin has helped me with this', or just start having those... " Once things are maybe FDA approved to somebody from MAPS can come in and say, "Hey, docs that are recommending MDMA therapy, how have your patient's been doing six months out?" To where they can follow up on how the medicines that they're producing are working. And so, those are the two memberships, individual clinician and organization. Organizations, they don't have to show us their credential card, but they do have to abide by the North Star principles, that is how we have set it up because we firmly believe in those and we want our members to do the same.
1:09:00.1 PA: What are the North Star principles?
1:09:00.8 DM: Are you gonna pimp me on this, that's what we call it [unclear speech].
1:09:03.6 PA: Or to the best of your knowledge, so maybe provide a little context for folks and then anything that you can remember in terms of the ethics pledge, 'cause I don't remember off hand, but if you do it would be...
1:09:16.6 DM: I have googled it because I [unclear speech].
1:09:19.1 PA: That's acceptable, that's acceptable.
1:09:21.1 DM: Thank you, thank you. So the principals here, it says, Because I love these so I'll read them anyway. Start within, is number one. Is, I pledge to ground my work in the field with work on myself and to treat personal growth as a lifelong process. And I think that's huge because that's essentially what those of us fear that they fear, the explosion of psychedelics is that people who aren't even working on themselves, who are just... I don't know, money hungry or whatever. That's our fear, right? That these precious medicines get into the hands of people that maybe are operating without a conscience. And so I think that's what we're hoping is that everybody working with these is doing their own work. Number two, is study their traditions, like we were talking about with the different Amazon lineages etcetera. And number three is build trust, which is: I pledge to invest in building trust in my relationships across the psychedelic field and repair trust where possible. I love that. We don't want people to come into our forum for example, and talk disrespectfully to each other, no, that's not gonna happen.
1:10:21.4 DM: You have to be a community of trust in our forum and in our association. And number four is, consider the gravity. I pledge to consider the implications of the choices that I make. That's what you and I were just talking about. The gravity of what we're doing, we have to have people that are grounded in those kinds of considerations and not just like, Oh, I can make a quick buck putting up a Ketamine therapy center. I'm gonna do it that right there. Number five is focus on process, and it says, I pledge to make the processes as important as the outcome. Number six is create equality and justice, and this is one of our highest principles. We have a Diversity and Inclusion person, May. She came to us from Numinus, she helps us with that. We have Kwasi Adusei who's come on to our board to help us increase access to diverse communities, that is a big push for us, and we've always said, "If anybody, in a diversity or not needs a membership, please come to us 'cause we do not... We want this to... We want this, number six, create equality and justice to be a big focus for us because we don't want psychedelic medicines to be another thing that the privileged are the only ones who have access to.
1:11:24.5 DM: And number seven is pay it forward, and it says: I pledge to support the flourishing of the psychedelic field in the communities in which I work and to give back should my work lead to personal gain. And that's... We think that pay it forward also shelters us a little bit from that fear of people who are just out for themselves patenting the world away and not thinking about how they can benefit others with the progress that they're making.
1:11:46.3 PA: And what's the URL, just so that we can link to that in the show notes.
1:11:50.1 DM: It is Northstar.guide/ethicspledge.
1:11:54.9 PA: Norths.guide/ethicspledge. And that was put together by the same folks who did the, We Will Call It Pala, it's sort of a sort of a collective. I know David is part of that and Liana, and it's kind of mixed and matched. There's an art studio involved with it, but then there's the North Star crew and what... I mean, they came out with this maybe a year and a half ago or so, and there are a lot of companies that have now signed up for that North Star Ethics Pledge, and it's just... Again, it's a good North Star in terms of why are we here, what are we doing, what matters? And that's really, really critical as this space grows and develops and becomes more and more mainstream.
1:12:38.4 DM: Yeah, we had... Especially because I'll be very honest, is that when we first came out, people were like," Why do you... Why do you have corporations as some of your organizational members?" And like I said, it's because without some corporations getting involved, your 65-year-old person in Wichita, Kansas may never see a psychedelic medicine. Right, they are probably not gonna go to Peru or synthesis, they may be the one who benefits from this psychedelic pharmaceutical that is made.
1:13:08.3 DM: Or they may not go to a one-off clinic, but if they see that a Ketamine clinic is long-standing and well-established that corporation may be their way to get the medicine they need. But on the other hand, we wanted the good players in, and you can take a look at our list and question how well they all are actually abiding by the ethics pledge. It's the same thing with at the point that you were talking about is like, How do we make the cut off, who's doing well enough? Etcetera. But we just had to put some kind of bar there like These are great, like you said, a great starting point.
1:13:41.1 DM: Let's tell people that we were holding them to this, if nothing else, when you get... When you enter the Psychedelic Medicine Association, you are asked if you abide by these, you have to tell us how you abide by them. It's not like it surprises somebody, if we come back to them later and say, "We're sorry, you can't be a member anymore, you've had this violation." Or what we'd rather have is instead of calling out the whole new calling in like, "Hey, we would love to see you change these so we can keep you as a member." Because that was our other thought when people say, "Why do have corporations?" We're like, "Well, they're gonna do what they're gonna do, either we can invite them into our sandbox and hope that they play well with others and encourage them to play well with others, or we could just leave them out there, ostracize them and give them no reason to behave like good actors. And so we're going with the bring them in and whatever positive peer pressure we can with the ethics pledge and all those kinds of things, hopefully that has a positive effect overall."
1:14:31.1 PA: And I think that's the best way to do it. We are trying to create a more inclusive world, a more interconnected world, there's often a lot more that's accomplished through dialogue, even when we disagree on things to sort of help bring people back to the point of all of this, which is... How do we help millions and millions of people have access to these powerful medicines in containers where they feel safe and supported. And it feels like that's what you're doing with the Psychedelic Medicine Association with the membership that you've rolled out, that's what you were doing before with the Plant Medicine Podcast and the education that you were starting to roll out. So it's just so reassuring to know that someone like you who has both a medical degree and a law degree who has been working with these substances now, I think for eight or nine years is what you had mentioned, is really sticking your neck out there to make a significant difference for the future, and it's just been... We had a chance to hang out in Austin over the summer, randomly at a party... I know we got a chance to connect at Horizons, this is the first really long-form conversation we've had, but it's just been a real pleasure to sit down with you Lynn Marie and just hear a little bit more about everything that you're up to, everything that Psychedelic Medicine Associations is up to.
1:15:48.9 PA: And I think just as a last note to leave our listeners, where can they find out more information, what are some good resources that they can go to after listening to this conversation today?
1:16:02.0 DM: Well, thank you for that, and thank you for all those kind words. Obviously, the admiration is very mutual, because when I started the podcast and plantmedicine.org, I was on Third Wave every day looking up things. So you were definitely there in spirit while I was starting all of these things. And if people are interested, if you are a clinician and you're looking to join, or if you're an organization and you'd like to be a member, head over to psychedelicmedicineassociation.org, and you can fill out the membership form there. If you are a patient and you would like your provider to know about psychedelics, tell them about us. Say, "Hey, have you heard of Psilocybin or MDMA," or whatever is your psychedelic of passion that you think may be helpful, and have them go to the Psychedelic Medicine Association. And $275 is the most anybody would pay or they'd pay zero. We want everybody in there because we just want clinicians to be educated. And then if you like listening to podcasts, the Plant Medicine Podcast is on all the podcast places, I believe, and on Instagram we are @plantmedicinedotorg.
1:17:09.2 PA: And are you on Instagram with the Psychedelic Medicine Association as well? Do you have social?
1:17:12.7 DM: Technically. It's so funny because what I think is gonna work in social media landia is always surprising to me because I'm like," Ok, I'm making a professional medical association, I'll put on Instagram, but don't think anybody's gonna follow it. I've posted almost nothing, and I think we have 1400 people already. So that one... Yeah, I can't explain it. I have 14-something thousand people on the other one, and all I've ever posted is nerdy science articles and I've paid for nothing, so I don't know, the Instagram gods are fond of psychedelics, but that one is Psychedelic Medicine Association on Instagram, and the other one is... It's currently @plantmedicinedotorg. I may change it to Plant Medicine Podcast, but either way, you will find me there.
1:17:56.4 PA: Again, thank you so much Lynn Marie for joining us.
1:18:00.2 DM: Thank you for having me Paul.