The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave
Cannabinoids And Moby Dick…
We welcome Lex Pelger, host of Psymposia, a platform for psychedelic discussion. Lex talks to us about his new book, which explores the medical potential of cannabinoids through a creatively illustrated Moby Dick metaphor. We talk about the importance of sharing our own personal psychedelic stories in turning the tide for the psychedelic revolution, and consider what a psychedelic future might look like.
Lex’s new book, “Anandemide; or, the Cannabinoid,” is a graphic novel series about the endocannabinoid system and how it can be used for medical benefit. Lex wanted to tell an interesting story about the boring science behind medical cannabis… so decided to create a Moby Dick metaphor with the help of illustrators and anecdotes.
Apparently, we are just beginning to understand how widespread our natural cannabinoid system is in the brain, keeping our bodies balanced and calm. Lex says that we are on the verge of developing targeted cannabis medicines that can treat medical conditions more accurately, thanks to a growing understanding of how our natural cannabinoids regulate our bodies.
When it comes to psychedelics, Lex thinks they will be rolled out by pharmaceutical companies in the same way that cannabis has been – with reluctance, and on the back of huge medical and political U-turns.
Lex sees an ideal psychedelic future as one where pharmaceutical companies or government don’t have control over exactly how we take them. The ideal society would allow psychedelics to be consumed within communities, with adequate support and guidance, allowing us to combine the advice of our elders with our knowledge of science.
We talk about Psymposia’s upcoming Blue Dot Tour, which allows psychedelic enthusiasts across the country to share their experiences, good and bad. Lex describes some of the more memorable stories he’s heard over the years, including someone sitting in a nest of ticks while tripping on mushrooms…
Finally, Lex points out that some people don’t like cannabis or psychedelics. And that’s great! Lex thinks that people should be free to find whatever substance gets them “to the top of the mountain.”
0:00:28 Paul Austin: Hi everyone and welcome back to the podcast. We have a great podcast for you today with Lex Pelger, who is the host of Psymposia Psychedelic Stories. Psymposia is a platform for psychedelic discussion, we’ve had Mike on the podcast before from Psymposia. And in this podcast episode Lex talks to us about his new book which explores the medical potential of cannabinoids through a creatively illustrated Moby Dick metaphor. So in this conversation, we talk about the importance of sharing our own personal psychedelic stories in turning the tide for the psychedelic revolution and consider what a psychedelic future might look like.
0:01:13 PA: I had a really great time speaking with Lex on this episode, I think you guys will enjoy it. Before we start, just a couple of brief announcements. If you could leave a review, I would appreciate it. Please leave a review. And that’s all I’ll say about that. And the other thing is if you get a chance, please head over to our Patreon page, patreon.com/thethirdwave, and make a brief donation if you enjoy this. I don’t want to ever have any advertising or anything of that nature on this podcast. I would prefer it to be 100% community-supported, but that is only possible if you guys pitch in. So I would appreciate your support if you enjoy this podcast. That’s it and enjoy the show.
0:01:56 PA: Hey listeners, welcome back to The Psychedelia Podcast. We brought in a second team member of the Psymposia team, Lex Pelger. He’s doing some super exciting things. He’s going on a Blue Dot Tour, which we’ll talk about in a little bit really soon, on the first, second, third week of April. And then he’s also publishing a book, or has published a book. So, welcome Lex. Thanks for joining us, man.
0:02:21 Lex Pelger: Hey, thanks so much. Thanks for having me.
0:02:23 PA: So the book that you published… I was at Mike and Brian’s place in Baltimore a few weeks ago, and it’s got a really kind of unique, creative type of design. Can you tell us a little bit about how you designed it and why you designed it that way?
0:02:38 LP: The design really came from wanting to do a graphic novel about the story of cannabis, but to pull in all of these old illustrators and classic people and artists that I wanted to feature. And so it’s great. I have an illustrator I work with, she’s a Peruvian visual artist who’s just great. She lives with me, and she’s really a witch. And so there’s a lot of alchemy underlying a lot of the thought process and the visuals of the thing. But since it’s really a book about science, to make the science interesting, it’s bringing in all of this great collage and beautiful things in the last couple of hundred years of printmaking illustration to tell the story. And so, thanks to her, it really looks like a cohesive, beautiful graphic novel. Thanks to me, some of the science makes sense.
0:03:27 PA: So you’re trying to combine the best of both worlds, even the psychedelic world, I would say, we’re seeing this as well in the psychedelic space where obviously, the narrative over the last 10 years, has been driven a lot by science. However, art, and the creative process, and alchemy, and all these things have influenced psychedelia really since the ’50s and ’60s. So I think that’s really an interesting, unique play that you’re taking with the graphic novel.
0:03:52 LP: It really does help. The whole reason I did it is because I wanted to explain the neurochemistry of our endogenous cannabinoid system, and it’s just not that exciting.
0:04:02 LP: The science has been here for quite a while, but the science doesn’t change hearts and minds.
0:04:07 PA: Right.
0:04:07 LP: And so, with this whole neurochemical allegory I’m using basing the whole thing on Moby Dick, and our brains being like the ecosystem under the sea, the thing that’s really gonna matter is all of the stories I collected from patients on the road the last years, and then collected from doctors who’ve been collecting these anecdotes for the last couple centuries as well. And if you explain the science, you might convince some people who are right on the fence. But if you have an elderly grandma in the woods who said, “I had no interest in weed, and finally, it was the very last thing I tried ’cause nothing else worked, and it changed everything, and let me throw away all my other medications,” that’s the kinda data that is not only powerful and true, it’s also the thing that’s gonna start changing people’s minds. And that’s what Psymposia wants to do overall is help people come out of the closet on whatever it is that they take or do.
0:05:02 PA: Well, and I think that’s a really interesting point that you bring up, because I think our organizations and what we’re both working on have similar objectives and similar ideas. We’ve clearly recognized that the science has created a really solid foundation on which now we can start having these cultural conversations about psychedelics specifically, but also marijuana obviously. Because I like the best… I like the way that you put it, science is great. Science is objective. Science tells us right and wrong, yes and no, black and white. However, humans naturally are very irrational, we’re very illogical, you can’t… You’re not gonna change that grandma’s mind by telling her, “There was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study at Johns Hopkins that proved that psilocybin was effective in 68% of cases for end-of-life depression.” That just doesn’t really sit well. And so, I think it’s really great what you’ve done with this book. Remind me, what is the name again? Because it’s like a crazy name that I’m never gonna remember off-hand.
0:06:01 LP: And that’s kinda the point, even though I’m probably gonna shoot myself in the foot, marketing-wise, and anyone never buying the thing, is since the whole skeleton of this graphic novel series is based on Moby Dick, I’m calling my book “Anandamide; Or, The Cannabinoid,” based on Moby Dick or the whale. Because anandamide is the key to this whole weed story because it’s the first neurotransmitter we found in our brain that is a cannabinoid. And once we found that in ’92, we realized that this is why weed is one of the oldest plant medicines, intoxicants sacraments in human history, is because it’s replicating something that we already have. Just like the morphine plant… The opium plant gave us the morphine molecule that allowed us to find these endorphins in our own brains and bodies. The same story happened with cannabis, it just happened 50 or 70 years later because the cannabinoids are lipids, they’re fats, they’re really hard to find.
0:07:03 LP: But soon, anandamide should be on the tongue of every doctor, and neuroscientist, and someone like that, because anandamide is as widespread as serotonin, or dopamine, or any of these other sexy neurotransmitters that get a lot of press. There is a ton of anandamide in our brain. And so, the joke of the book is not only did we find this brand new whale swimming around in our brains, it turns out there’s billions of them and they’re everywhere. And science is still trying to grapple with how deep this endogenous cannabinoid system goes. But it is a very old, highly-conserved piece of signaling that any animal with a spinal column already has. That’s how important it is to life.
0:07:49 PA: And I’m all more or less learning this for the first time while we’re on this call. So I really… I have a few more detailed questions for you. For just our listeners, from a layman’s perspective, what is this endocannabinoid system that you’re speaking of and why is it that… Why do we have these neurotransmitters or what impact does it have for…
0:08:09 LP: It’s a good question and it’s one we’re still figuring out. Even though we have thousands of research papers on this, it’s only starting to give the outline of the sketch of what this is. And it seems like this endogenous cannabinoid system is a homeostasis system that the body uses. Just like the endorphin system is morphing your own body uses for pain, the endocannabinoid system seems to interact with your immune system, and your hormonal system, and your neurons in your brain, and calms things down around the body. And that’s why weed can be such a good medicine for such a wide swath of diseases is because where something is out of whack, the cannabinoid system comes in and calms things down. Whether that might be some liver cells going a little crazy or the alveoli in the lungs not expanding all the way ’cause of asthma, or calming down different parts of the brain. It seems to reach everywhere.
0:09:09 LP: The pset that’s really fascinating is the first receptor we found for cannabinoids in the brain, we called CB1, and those are the most widespread type of receptor in that class that we know. They were called “G-protein-coupled receptors,” which are very complicated receptors and about 50% of all modern pharmaceutical medication is going for GPCR receptors. So of that type, the CB1 is the most widespread in the brain, which is really crazy. And it helps explain why weed gets people high in so many different ways. And not only different strains and with different people, but within yourself. The same strain on a different night can take you into a wildly different place. And now that we know you have CB1 receptor spread all across the different parts of the higher levels of your brain. So some people, it makes them sleepy, some people fearful, some people joyful, some people creative. It helps to explain why it’s such a widespread and almost unpredictable response any one person is gonna have to cannabis.
0:10:14 PA: Fascinating. A] That’s fucking fascinating. What… You said about, I think 15%, you mentioned the term 15%, like 15% of receptors have X, Y and Z.
0:10:26 LP: 50% of receptors in modern pharmaceuticals are aiming for the G-protein-coupled receptors.
0:10:32 PA: Okay.
0:10:32 LP: So like, half of all medicine is going for this receptor type. And of those many different receptor types in that class, the most widespread one is CB1.
0:10:43 PA: And so what could that mean for the future of medicine when it comes to cannabis?
0:10:49 LP: It is actually one of the most unpopular things that I love to beat the drum about and really annoys the activists, which I think fulfills part of my role as a professional devil’s advocate…
0:11:01 LP: Is the synthetic cannabinoids and the pharmaceuticalization of the pot plant is usually the quickest way to make a bunch of marijuana activists really annoyed. But it’s too bad because this endogenous cannabinoid system in humans is so widespread, it also means that more targeted medications will sometimes be a really helpful thing. Just like with our endorphins system, it’s really good that we have pain killers as weak as codeine and as strong as heroin. And for all these different situations, we have a different type of pharmaceutical that can fill that job, even though most people should probably be starting with an opium tea instead of giving them some giant horse pill of an opiate. And it’s gonna be the same thing with the cannabinoids. Because this endocannabinoid system is so widespread, more pharmaceutical drugs that are more targeted would be more helpful.
0:11:58 LP: ‘Cause then perhaps you can take a synthetic cannabinoids that doesn’t get you high at all, that only fixes your liver problems, for instance, if we find something like that. There’s already been hundreds of synthetic cannabinoids created and some of them are really lovely alternatives for getting high to just regular old weed. JWH-018 was the first of the spice synthetic cannabinoids out there, and there’s a reason people liked it. It wasn’t only because it wouldn’t come up on a drug test, it was also a nice, similar way of getting stoned on pot. But there’s gonna be others that are gonna be perhaps not psychoactive, but do the same kind of healings that cannabis does, but with less of a widespread effect, which sometimes is good. Yes, we should often defer to just taking the plant medicine if that’s gonna work for your condition. But when you’re dealing with very severe epilepsy, or cancer, or neurodegenerative diseases of any stripe, there’s a good chance that you’re gonna want a peer-reviewed, very standardized, regulated and well-studied cannabinoid to do a job that regular weed was doing okay at but a synthetic alternative might be able to do somewhat better.
0:13:09 PA: And I think this brings up a really, really interesting point which is this relationship between modern day medicine and preventative healthcare, I think.
0:13:18 LP: Mm-hmm.
0:13:18 PA: In our industrialized Western world, there’s been an over-emphasis on modern medicine, where… Modern medicine is excellent at emergency situations. However, when you stop taking care of yourself, when you stop paying attention to preventative healthcare, the diet, the exercise you get. The plant medicines that you put in your body, there’s… Because, especially in our overly capitalist system in the United States, which for a lot of pharmaceutical companies and healthcare companies, puts their emphasis and focus on profit first, they’ve done very specific things to turn the conversation away from preventative healthcare and turn it towards iatrogenic healthcare, which is like invading healthcare. And they’ve taken it to such a level that I think that’s why we have activists, for example, for marijuana who are pushing back against the synthetic systems because they see it as being an outcome of this modern day healthcare system that talks about profits first. And I think that’s an interesting dichotomy, too.
0:14:20 PA: For example, I’m in Europe right now at the time of this. They don’t have these issues or they don’t have these problems in Europe because the healthcare systems that they have set up are by and large non-profit oriented. And so people here are just much healthier in general. And so I think understanding that difference, right? Understanding the nuance between a synthetic and a plant medicine and saying, “Hey, actually synthetics are best for these situations. It’s good to understand that. However, in most cases, the plant medicine itself will be fine for X, Y and Z.” What do you think about that relationship, have you given that any thought?
0:14:57 LP: Yeah, it’s the… And some of the best writing I think on this comes from Atul Gawande, who’s just such a great thinker about modern medicine, kinda, I think in the vein of Lewis Thomas and thinking about modern medical science as the youngest science in a lot of ways. Even the state of diagnosis wasn’t perfected until the early part of the last century. And so, to someone like Atul Gawande, he makes a great point… These are…
0:15:24 PA: Remind me, what book did he write? Was “Being Mortal”… Was that the book?
0:15:29 LP: I haven’t read any of his books. I mostly read him in… He writes a lot in the New Yorker and the New York Times. He gets their op-eds on health, and some of their long essays. He’s written a bunch of books. And he’s just the best modern thinker I’ve seen on what the health… The state of the current healthcare system and what he sees wrong with it. Very compassionate, but data-driven doctor. And one of his great points is, “It’s not the fault of the pharmaceutical companies that they are only focusing on these certain diseases. Of the couple hundred ways… ” Actually, I have his quote right here. “We have 13 different organ systems, and the latest count we’ve identified more than 60,000 ways that they can go awry. But out of those ways, only the top 25 diseases or so have enough profit in them for it to make any sense to pursue a drug for that condition.”
0:16:20 LP: And so since they are in this capitalistic model of, yes, there is a lot of underhanded dealing in the pharmaceutical industry, but you can’t paint them all with a broad brush that way. There’s a lot of people who got into this work because they believe in the power of pharmaceutical drugs. And they have been a huge game changer in terms of human health, but they can’t pursue a drug that is gonna be obviously against their best interest if there won’t be enough customers to make it worth the $1 billion it’ll take to get that drug approved. And so it’s unfair to only paint the pharmaceutical industry with this black brush. That being said, some of them are putting some money into blocking cannabis ’cause it’s gonna be against their bottom line. On the flip side, not many of these companies are trying to pharmaceuticalize cannabis. It’s actually been a unlucky reef in terms of research because these pharmaceutical companies are now run by business people, not by scientists.
0:17:18 LP: And so, the first cannabinoid that ever got approved synthetically was Rimonabant, and it was used for suppressing appetite in England. And the United States actually didn’t approve it. And eventually Rimonabant got yanked because it increased suicidal ideation in people. And so the very first approved cannabinoid got pulled off the market, and that put a big halt to a lot of the research. And then just last year in France, you might remember that somebody died in research trials over there. And it wasn’t said much outside the pharmaceutical industry, but within it they knew it was a synthetic cannabinoid that that patient was taking when they died.
0:17:58 LP: And so two set backs like that in the very, very safe world of pharmaceuticals, and now there’s very few companies that have any cannabinoid research. They’re not trying to swoop in and take over this medicine, they’re too scared of it. Besides GW Pharmaceuticals out of England, and a couple other firms around the world that are focusing mostly on cannabinoids, if they’re in that game, these aren’t poised to be used like they should, which is a shame. Just like the psychedelics, we’re gonna look back on these last 40 or 50 years as a dark ages of modern medicine when we ignored some obvious tools, just like we ignored Dr. Semmelweis when he said that doctors should wash their hands when they’re going from the morgue to delivery room, and the medical profession refused to look at his data. And so, for another couple of decades, 10,000 women a year would die of childbirth fever that could have been prevented if doctors would’ve just washed their hands like the evidence already gathered showed. And you can’t blame doctors either. That’s too easy. There’s 1,000 new medicines, and all these alternative treatments, and if they’re not gonna look at cannabis, well, they don’t have time to look at everything.
0:19:06 LP: The thing that really makes me the most angry, because my entire reason writing this book is to get out the idea of cannabis for aging and weed for grandmas, and that is so important. But I have heard the story so often of elderly patients going to their doctor, mentioning that they wanna try cannabis, because that nice young doctor, Sanjay Gupta, said it on the television, or my kids said it might help. And doctors often saying, “If you mention that word again, you’ll never be allowed to come see me again.” And that might be in a medical state, or a legal state, and doctors will say that and say, “There’s no evidence for it.” It’s one thing to not work with cannabis ’cause you don’t know anything about it, it’s another to be so intellectually lazy that you say there’s no evidence for medical cannabis because then you don’t know how to do research whatsoever. No person who considers themselves a follower of peer-reviewed research can spend more than an hour or two looking into the literature on cannabis and not realize that it’s certainly indicated for some diseases. And once you look at it for a couple of years, there’s good evidence that it’s worth trying for at least 100 different human diseases. It’s a very widespread medicine, it’s the people’s medicine.
0:20:19 PA: I wanna kinda first touch on that, that last point that you made about grandmas going to their doctors. As I’ve been doing some of these micro-dosing seminars, we had one woman come up in Baltimore, when I was doing it there with Mike and Brian of Psymposia. And she mentioned about how she started to micro-dose to help with depression, and anxiety, and whatnot, but how she’s still taking her antidepressants. And I was like, “Oh, really? That’s interesting.” And she goes, “Yeah, but I told my doctor about it and my doctor definitely knows about it and he’s helping me with advice, and what to do.” So now, whenever I get that question…
0:20:52 LP: That’s great.
0:20:53 PA: I always tell people, “Hey look, if you’re gonna start micro-dosing and you’re on anti-depressants or you’re on any type of pharmaceutical, talk to your doctor first, before you do it.” And if your doctor says, “Oh, psychedelics, those are illegal, those are bad,” get a new doctor because any doctor worth his weight in gold or whatever, or her weight in gold, should be up-to-date on this research and what’s going on with psychedelic substances, especially if they have a focus on mental health, whatsoever. It’s intellectually lazy not to be with the access that we have to all this information that’s available. And so I think, obviously, grandmas aren’t gonna be quite as assertive in switching doctors but for those who can, I think that’s one alternative.
0:21:40 PA: The other thing that I wanted to mention is kinda go back a little bit further into something that you discussed in terms of, there aren’t necessarily a lot of pharmaceutical companies who are investing in cannabinoid research, because of some of these fatalities, and because it doesn’t seem to be such a good play off, or pay off. I think one common narrative that we’re hearing in the psychedelic space is there’re a lot of people who are pushing back against organizations like MAPS, for example, who are planning to make MDMA available as a prescription and somewhat capitalize on that. I don’t think it would be a patent, but they would have some sort of market share about that. What are your thoughts in terms of where psychedelics are going and how that could either impact the bottom line of pharmaceuticals or how pharmaceutical companies might try to take advantage of this growth in psychedelic interest and research?
0:22:29 LP: It’s gonna be a very tricky question. And, on one hand, the work of MAPS is so exemplary because I feel like they’re taking this research through the eye of the needle. Rick Doblin wants to get MDMA approved by the FDA. That sounds like one of the most hard, red tape bureaucratic nightmares I would hate to ever take on. It’s so much easier to start an underground Ayahuasca church, or to start giving MDMA to some people as an underground therapist. But to try to get these medicines out there like he sees it is pretty amazing. On the flip side, since they’re going that route, they will have, I believe, a five-year right to be the sole dispensers of the model for how those drugs are gonna get out there. And so, it is a built-in advantage in who gets access to this drugs. I think in the case of MAPS, they really aren’t trying to… They wanna see it open up in many different ways, and they believe in the other models, even if the route they’re taking keeps them publicly talking more about the medical-only model. But there is a lot of smart pushback against these ideas of seeing this only through the medicine.
0:23:42 LP: My buddy, Dimitri Mugianis, the anarchist and ibogaine activist says it best. The medical system is so screwed up. It is racist, it is classist, it kills people. And to try to get these ancient plant medicines out through that system, isn’t gonna be some kind of Pollyanna solve all, it’s gonna replicate some of the same problems that are going on. If the only way you can get MDMAs by having two therapists sit with you for an entire day and have six sessions on either side, getting ready, and integrating the experience, that is not gonna be affordable to a lot of people. Even though, with these drugs, and the safety profile that they have, it’s quite reasonable to say that these are drugs that you could get at the corner store. If you can buy alcohol and tobacco, which are the two biggest killers of Americans, by far, per capita, not just piles of bodies. If those drugs are available intact so freely, with the safety of these drugs, they should be too.
0:24:43 LP: And so it’s one thing that Psymposia is always trying to foster, is a place to talk about alternative models, not only the spiritual model that you would see coming out of the underground churches, and the UDV and Ayahuasca churches, and not the medical-only model of this very, very Western peer-reviewed model. But trying to find the integrate and find our own models that work for this Western world that draws on the wisdom from people groups have been doing this for thousands of years. And then the wisdom of our elders, who have been doing… Using these drugs for 40 or 50 years since the psychedelic revolution started and know a lot.
0:25:22 LP: As a drug writer, I think the most important data about psychedelics is locked away in all of these practitioners who have been giving them to patients for the last couple decades. As much as the psychedelic Renaissance and the research coming out of these academic institutions is really important for helping to change certain hearts and minds, all they’re really doing is re-proving the wheel. Anyone who’s worked with these drugs for a long time is not gonna be surprised that psilocybin can help with end-of-life anxiety, and that LSD can help someone with autism. So one of the things we try to feature with our storytellings is getting our elders on stage, sharing what they learned. And I think an old granny who’s been sitting with people with MDMA for a couple of decades, you’re gonna learn more from her about how this drug actually helps people and how to actually set up an experience than you are from all of the peer-reviewed research of giving MDMA to rats and cutting up their brains.
0:26:20 PA: And so how do you think that will play out then in the next five to 10 years, specific to pharmaceutical companies? Do you think pharmaceutical companies will get involved in this medical-only model so that they can capitalize on it? For example, I know there are certain companies right now who are trying to invent a medication for cluster headaches that has no psychoactive substance in it but still has a lot of the same kind of effect or benefit as psilocybin would for cluster headaches. It looks like there could be other things of that nature as well, not that those are bad or those are good, I think it just makes it more accessible for more people. Where do you lean in that? Do you lean towards the medical model, do you lean towards the human right to have access to explore your own consciousness, do you lean… Which way do you lean in that discussion?
0:27:09 LP: I think how the psychedelics will roll out will probably mirror how cannabis has rolled out, where it took a huge uprising of this becoming a fairly obvious truth to a lot of people before any politicians would even broach the matter, and pharmaceutical companies still won’t really broach cannabis out of fear. It’s if they live in a fear-based model. Taking a bet with a billion dollars would make you rather cautious. And so my guess is, it’s hard to imagine any pharmaceutical companies in the next five, even 10 years, seriously diving into any aspect of psychedelics that might have a psychedelic feel to them. They might be trying to pass things that don’t get you high, that micro-dose you and things like that. But when they look at something like ibogaine, which is so incredible for opiate addiction and alcohol addiction in some people, the first thought is: How do we remove the high? And again, to someone like Dimitri Mugianis, it’s like, no, no, no, no. The high, the understanding you are part of your ancestors, that the world will go on behind you, you need the perspective of the spiritual experience to help lock into place the physical benefits of no longer being in physically addicted to opiates. But just removing the physical addiction isn’t the entire battle, you also need to know why you wanna stop doing that, and that’s where these psychoactive effects come in.
0:28:39 LP: What I would really want to see evolve is laws that are like the best of the cannabis laws that Ethan Nadelmann is always pushing, that there has to be right to grow your own cannabis. That will keep any kind of big, ugly monopolies at least somewhat pushed down. I think for cannabis specifically, I might wanna see a recreational market that is lightly tested, heavily taxed for anyone who wants to pick up their bud but there’s also medical grade cannabis available that is untaxed, very, very high quality though and very well-tested and very known and that might be the three levels of government regulation for letting cannabis get out there. How that would happen for the psychedelics, it’s a lot trickier in one sense because they’re such powerful drugs. In the other sense, they’re easier ’cause they’re not a whole bunch of other things as well, like cannabis is.
0:29:39 LP: I think the best model is, that I’ve ever seen of any academic or writer is still Aldous Huxley’s, the Island. He just curated a world with a nicely integrated relationship to psychedelics that somewhat resembles some of the people groups of old human use where at certain rights of passage in your life, under the guidance of your priest, or your mom, or your grandmother, medicine woman, you take a certain dose of psychedelics in a certain setting. Perhaps at 14, you take it in the woods by yourself. And at 25, you take it with your priest. Then at 45, you have a gathering with your loved ones and there are certain spots where if you’re in a good mental health state and it’s that time, you have a psychedelic experience. Could that happen in this country, could we integrate drugs that sanely? Maybe. The cynic in me might wanna doubt a little bit but…
0:30:35 LP: Gary Snyder, the Beat poet, said that it’s gonna take us three generations to integrate these psychedelics into this American specifically society because they’re so powerful and they’re so different. And the first generation was the teenage years with all the fervor and the hope and then the crash and dad taking away the car keys and the crack down. Then there was a psychedelic renaissance of the second generation with a very cautious approach to reprove the safety of these drugs and start to find clinical indications in a very peer-reviewed manner. And my hope is, this third generation will be an integration of the two. Listening to the elders from other people groups and from within our own people and then merging that to what we know from the neurochemistry, and the animal model work, and the peer-reviewed work, and finding models that work for us in this crazy, chattery, intense Western society.
0:31:32 PA: Well, I think, this is basically then the underlying principles that you’re touching on are this fusion of primitive wisdom and modern knowledge. And I think these substances, specifically psychedelics but also cannabis have been used for thousands of years. And as Aldous Huxley did lay out in his novel, “The Island,” they can be integrated into a complete societal framework, just like the people have done in the Amazon with Iowaska, kind of like what happened in Ancient Greece with the Eleusinian Mysteries and the kykeon beverage, and of course, in various other circles. And I think what you’re touching on is something that we talk about at Third Wave as well, this idea of it being the third wave of psychedelics, this third generation that’s coming on. One question that I would have in terms of that is: Does the integration of psychedelics into our mainstream society, does it happen at a similar time as to when we see the failure of nation states as we know them, or the evolving of nation states into the next political way of organizing human intelligence and human experience?
0:32:38 PA: Because obviously, with the printing press and the mid-15th century, that really is what shook up the feudal system and helped usher in a new system of politics. John Locke and Rousseau, and all of these thinkers from the enlightenment who basically set up the nation state system that we have today. However, with the internet, we’re clearly entering a new phase, we’re clearly entering a new way of organizing a more decentralized model that relies more on autonomous giving and the autonomous way of human nature. And again, this idea of primitive wisdom, we’re starting to recognize that from evolutionary psychology that humans work best in smaller systems, 90 to 180 people.
0:33:23 PA: In fact, one of my friends who I was recently speaking to was like, “Yes, that’s true.” And I know this real estate developer who thinks that the next big thing from a real estate perspective, is like family living units, where you have like 20 families living together in a unit that’s coalesced around a commonality like a common subject, almost like a commune, for more modern day people. And so I think one question that I have that I don’t want you to answer but that I think would be worth thinking about is like: Will the integration of psychedelics also come at a similar time as the disintegration of the nation state that we know, at least here in the United States? Where I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that the federal government is losing legitimacy in the eyes of the populace, and some system is going to come out of that, I believe.
0:34:10 LP: Yeah, I hope so.
0:34:12 PA: But there’s… Yeah, there’s a lot. [chuckle] Yeah, there’s a lot there, you know?
0:34:16 LP: Yeah, the pessimist in me sees the next great war having it come before to sweep that away to kinda end this middle evil time. I feel like we might be just on the verge of our next Archduke Franz Ferdinand the second, getting it right in the puss and sparking it all. I hope that’s not true, but I suspect that might be what it takes to allow the next big change to happen.
0:34:38 PA: Yeah, I mean…
0:34:38 LP: But we don’t need to get into my dark sense.
0:34:40 PA: [chuckle] Well, no, this is…
0:34:41 LP: I’ve been reading too much history lately and it just depresses.
0:34:44 PA: It does, ’cause on that same topic, I just read Rise and Fall of The Third Reich by William Shirer, who was a journalist, an American journalist who lived in Nazi Germany. I’m well-read on Russian history, including World War I, World War II, and revolutionary Russia. And there’s a modern author and philosopher, Nassim Taleb, who wrote this book, Antifragile, who basically is trying to pick fights with people like Steven Pinker, who wrote Better Angels of Our Nature. So, Steven Pinker is like this dude who said, “We live at the safest time in human history, everything is better than it ever has been before.” I think I read his… He tweeted out at the end of 2016, like, “Just remember, things are greater than they have ever been before.” And Nassim Taleb is this guy who says, “Yeah, we say that until this next worst event comes,” until what Taleb calls a Black Swan event happens.
0:35:35 PA: And I think… I agree with you, to some degree, that we could see some massive war or the integration of a police state using modern technology and AI. I don’t know, I’m an optimist. So, worst case, I figure I’ll move to like, I don’t know, Australia or New Zealand. Best case, we never have to face that, but that’s kind of going slightly off topic. Let’s kinda bring it back around to the Blue Dot Tour, because I would like to talk more about that, and kind of what you hope to achieve with that. So can you just give our audience kind of an overview of what the Blue Dot Tour is?
0:36:11 LP: The Blue Dot Tour is our storytelling tour that we’re taking across the country. It actually sparked because for the Psychedelic Science conference 2017 in April, that’s happening in Oakland, MAPS gave us a stage to feature all kinds of different speakers there. We’re gonna be running about 12 hours of content for three days straight of authors, and underground wisdom people, and all kinds of fellow travelers. I’m excited by what a wide swath of voices we get to hear from. And so because of that, it gave me the idea to cross the country and do storytelling stops along the way at all these different cities. And the reason I liked the name, The Blue Dot Tour, is the initial idea was to hit all of these blue dots in red states, which can be such pressure cookers of activism, and art, and psychedelic thinking, but the best part is how many different places are coming forward? And we’re gonna be going to red cities in blue states, and purple cities in green states, and orange cities in black states, and all over the place. And it’s amazing to see these events because so often, people have been looking for a community where they can talk about these drug experiences.
0:37:24 LP: It’s… One of the most powerful things is you just put a naked microphone in the middle of the stage and tell people, “Tell me your drug experiences,” and people just are waiting for that opportunity, whether the experience is good or bad or just strange as hell, it’s very close to someone’s heart and they wanna share it. And in sharing it, they often teach something to someone else in the audience who might be around the same spot. And the thing that’s somewhat amazing to see is, the more nervous that someone is to get up there and tell their story, the more likely it’s gonna be one of those powerful ones that just blows you away. And I’ve been collecting people’s drug stories for 10 years now as a writer on this kinda stuff, and every single one of these storytelling events, I learn something brand new about drugs. I’m like, “I didn’t know you could take that thing and it could go that way.” Though the funny part is, how often it just makes complete sense. It’s like, “I never thought about it that way, but of course, some human got high and it went this direction.” It’s really fascinating to see how similar these can be when you get down to it, and how much people teach and learn from each other at these events.
0:38:36 PA: Could you give us an example of maybe one of the stories that really moved you, if you have any specific ones that you remember?
0:38:42 LP: There’s one that moved me a lot, there’s one I never expected. The one I never expected was a kid who at 18 months, just remembered a crazy day, it was his first memory. And finally, 20-some years later he asked his mom, “Why do I just remember this day?” She’s like, “Oh, that was the first day I took magic mushrooms and I was still nursing you, so I guess you had a trip.” [chuckle] And that’s what he remembered. That’s possible. But the story that always stuck in my mind is one that speaks to the power of psychedelics, briefly, was that it was a guy with a back story who was really horrible between abuse and a psychotic brother who would tell him to… “Either choose to torture the family dog or you today. And in either case, you have to watch it happen,” that kind of torture.
0:39:28 LP: And this young man always thought that acid might be something helpful for him, and his anxiety coming out of this situation. And so, he had a little bit at a party and it went well, so he went… Took a decent dose and went to the woods for a trip after really preparing himself for it, a very spiritual experience. And it’s starting to come on and he’s loving it, and he sits down underneath a tree, and he’s looking around, and he sees these little bugs crawling up his skin. He’s like, “Look at those visuals, they look so real, those little bugs.” And it turns out, they were real. He had sat down in a nest of baby ticks.
0:40:03 PA: Oh no.
0:40:03 LP: And he now had hundreds of them crawling all over his body and sticking themselves into him. And he distinctly remembered, his brain at that moment, when he realized that he had the power to make the decision whether he was gonna consider this one more kick in the pants from God and one more awful thing to happen to him, or he could choose to laugh at this and see it as pretty damn funny, which it was actually to have happen. And so, for the rest of his life, he said so far that moment changed him ’cause he realized how much of how he approached these things in his life was under his own power. And so he went home and he tried to shower off the ticks and he still couldn’t get ’em off, but the moment never did wash away. And it was one of those teaching moments where he told it so well and he was so nervous about it, and it came so deep from his heart that it simply transfixed the entire room of people who came out to hear these stories.
0:41:06 PA: That’s a phenomenal story. I can’t imagine what I would do if I got covered in ticks. I think, my first line of thought would be like lyme disease. And then I would be like, “Well shit, I gotta do something about this.” And that’s really interesting that he just kind of laughed at it, right? That he let it happen. I think that says something about these experiences that we often have. Life at times can be very dark, and it can be very difficult, and it can be very suffocating, and overwhelming. And I found whenever I get into those moments of time, it helps to almost try to laugh it off and try not to take life so serious because I think life isn’t meant to be taken serious. It’s like, “This is just an experience, it is just an event that’s occurring. As long as I have my health, as long as I have relationships, and friends, and sunshine, and food, and some water, things are gonna be okay, regardless of whether or not ticks are crawling all over my body.” Although that wouldn’t help, it definitely wouldn’t help.
0:42:05 LP: Yeah, so many of these stories I’m really glad you lived it and told me about it and…
0:42:09 PA: Exactly.
0:42:09 LP: I didn’t have to go through that one. Yeah, people sometimes come up and tell their beatific trips with the ineffable beauty of the world, but not so often. There is I think a natural tendency today in general just to share the things that were painful and hard, and it might have taken you months to learn why the experience was so difficult. It’s so hard to describe the beauty and the interconnectedness of everything that you might realize on a trip, and you get that everyone else saw that already, or many people saw it already. And so, they don’t usually turn into just singing the praises of drugs. More often, it focuses on people’s dark trips, which seems like where a lot of the real learning happens.
0:42:52 PA: It does. Yeah, absolutely. I think some of my biggest therapeutic breakthroughs have been with bad trips, or as we’re supposed to call them, challenging experiences. There’s this insight and understanding in terms of, “Oh, that’s what’s been bothering me.” Or, “Oh, that’s what’s been underlying the stress or this issue.” And when you have that objective clarity, it becomes so much easier to just change it or to just get rid of it, or to process it and deal with it, or find support for it. I think there’s so much of trauma or whatever you wanna call it, that’s buried deep in the subconscious and that we don’t even recognize is maybe dictating our behavior. And it’s only through some of these psychedelic experiences and oftentimes, through challenging experiences, that we start to understand, “Oh, that’s what’s going on, that’s what’s been bothering me.” Have you… What, for you has been… ‘Cause I like to usually get this out of the people that I have on the show, what’s been one of your transformative experiences with psychedelics, or what was even your first psychedelic experience? You can pick or choose either.
0:44:02 LP: Yeah, it’s actually the first ones that made the most sense. And I think one of the best thoughts on this ever, comes from Viktor Pelevin, that great Russian drug writer. He said that, “Your first good experience of sex and drugs will forever flavor the rest.” And I so often hear that being true, that I ask someone what their favorite psychedelic is, and then I ask them what their first good psychedelic was, and it’s often the same drug. And I think just like if your babysitter wore a certain color of tights, those will be a turn on for you for the rest of your life. And humans… That’s how human’s memory seems to work. If you get a big rush of adrenaline, that seems to consolidate the formation of memories. And so a car accident, the first time a sexual experience, the first time of a drug experience, that’s part of the reason you never forget it.
0:44:55 LP: For me, my first trips informed the rest because it’s how I still like to do it the most. I was in Boston going to school and we had magic mushrooms. And so we went down to the Boston Commons and we ate them there and then we walked along the Freedom Trail, the historical route through Boston that goes through touristy areas in old Boston and then up to Beacon Hill, and it’s a great walk. And to do it with friends who are on the same vibe when you’re at just the right level where you can be out in public and enjoying it, but not be fearful about your state, it was magical. It was a taste of maybe what birds feel like in flight where you’re all just responding almost like a dance, moving together so perfectly. And so that set the pattern for what I always enjoyed. It’s either fairly high doses by myself in the woods or in a room for my solo experiences or getting some people together in a… New York City parks are the best and just walking around, especially New York City parks, if you’re around this area, because one of the fears in public is always, “Am I too high, are people looking at me?”
0:46:02 LP: The great part of New York, no matter how high you get in the city, it’s rare you’re ever gonna think that anyone else is paying attention to you because New Yorkers care so very little. If you got naked in the middle of Prospect Park and twirled around, almost nobody would even glance in your direction because, “What do I care? I’m a New Yorker.” And so it can be very safe to do it here in these public parks. I know a lot of people like to go back to nature for their experiences, but I’m a big advocate of the museum dose and going to see beautiful things made by human beings or going to a local park in your city, where you can at least get out of site of the buildings and get a little bit of the country vibe if you can’t get all the way out there.
0:46:41 PA: So there’s a new idea: Psymposia sponsoring naked walks through Prospect Park on magic mushrooms coming at a date…
0:46:50 LP: Well, we did start a religion for that one.
0:46:52 PA: [chuckle] Coming at a…
0:46:52 LP: That’s an old… That’s really the old chain tradition. I’m just stealing from India, like all the good ones do.
0:46:58 PA: We’ll create a religious tradition around it. We can give it like an acronym.
0:47:03 LP: Yeah, Well, “The Church of Why Not,” is the working title.
0:47:07 PA: Is that what it is? Is that what they call it, the church of why not?
0:47:08 LP: Yeah, I would say that’s our… My pap is pope.
0:47:11 PA: There you go.
0:47:12 LP: Recently deceased, yeah.
0:47:14 PA: There you go, perfect, that’s too funny. And how has been… So, typically is it for you, magic mushrooms, or do you have sometimes prefer like LSD, compared to magic mushrooms or what’s that relationship like for you?
0:47:27 LP: Magic mushrooms have always been my favorite, I’m sure partially because they were my first one. But personally, LSD just never really agreed with me. Maybe I never got a good dose over the years. That’s always a possibility in the generation I came of age with these drugs. But it’s also a really important lesson in this is that one of these drugs isn’t gonna agree with you. Of all different types of medicines, there’s always… Any drug can be anyone’s Achilles heel, and it might be weed for one person and ketamine for another, and acid for another, where they just have uncontrollable use that takes away from the rest of their life. Of course, some drugs are more tricky and easy, you’ll-fall-down-the-rabbit-hole than others. But I so often hear people… I hear ’em writing a book about pot and they apologize to me, it’s like, “Oh, I just not into it, it always makes me paranoid. I just can’t do it, even though I know I probably should.” It’s like, “No, that’s great. You know it doesn’t work for you? Excellent, go take a drug that does work for you.”
0:48:21 LP: And I think even within psychedelics that can be true, that’s… There is one psychedelic that seems to be someone’s heart medicine, and there’s usually a couple that agree with people. But if you find one hasn’t worked for you for a couple times and it doesn’t seem to be a learning experience, it’s simply unnecessary darkness, don’t… Give up on it. Use the things that work for you. And so for me, I’ve always liked mushrooms. I think it’s also part of my cavernous background, is I like that you’re gonna get a little bit stomach-sick on ’em, I like that you have to pay for your fun a tiny bit.
0:48:56 PA: Penance.
0:48:56 LP: And…
0:48:56 PA: Penance for your sins. [chuckle]
0:48:57 LP: And I like the timeline, a couple of hours. You know, in New York, no one wants acid in this city. I talked to dealers here and they’re like, “Yeah mushrooms, a couple hours in the afternoon, people can deal with. But acid, it takes all day, and I gotta go do the laundry, and see the person about the thing.” You often can’t move acid in this city.
0:49:15 PA: “I just don’t have time for it,” that’s probably what you hear, “I don’t have time for this 12-hour shit. I just gotta get in and I gotta have my psychedelic experience, and I gotta get out.”
0:49:22 LP: Yeah. And it is one of… Alan Watts great line, “Once you get the message, hang up the phone.” It’s an important idea to remember, and you see it a lot happen naturally, I think. As people start to hit their late 20s and early 30s, they stop using cannabis quite so much ’cause it stops giving back to them like it used to and life gets busy. And they might only take psychedelics every couple years after this because they mostly remember the lessons they got outta that. And at a certain point, you probably won’t be learning that much from it, you’ll be re-confirming what you already knew. Not to say there isn’t always something to be learned there, but when you look at the birth of Zen Buddhism in this country, so much of that was the seeds of psychedelics being planted, and then emerging as an alternative practice. That great book, Zig Zag Zen, Allan Badinar interviewed really all the great founders of Zen Buddhism here in the West. And he found all of them, except one said that it was psychedelics who showed them how to get to the top of the mountain. And then eventually, they didn’t like the up and down helicopter effect of what psychedelics did, and they started seeking out other ways for their brain to get to that point. And that’s where Buddhism came in.
0:50:37 LP: And it turns out that the one woman who said she didn’t use psychedelics to get where she was, she was lying. She actually did use psychedelics, she just didn’t wanna tell him that, they were friends… To him. So that’s an amazing to hear. The only thing that shoe horned Buddhist practice into the rough-and-tumble, Manifest Destiny, American mindset was psychedelic drugs. And that’s a… And you could argue that so much of the green movement and these yoga alternative practices, they only finally bore fruit once psychedelics had started to pave the way for the mass of society. The Beats had been into this stuff before, but it wasn’t widespread. Now, there’s yoga studios in most towns and that might be thanks to acid. Surprising.
0:51:25 PA: Well, and I’m totally with you on that. This is something that I talk about when I do some of these micro-dosing talks. It’s like, what’s going on with micro-dosing right now is a fascinating phenomena, not just because, okay, people are taking small amounts, blah, blah, blah, but because of all the other implications of it, about how culture in general seems to be moving towards this point where we’re getting back in touch with some aspect of spirituality. You could call it preventative healthcare, this farm-to-table movement.
0:51:56 PA: Michael Pollan’s, last book, The Omnivorous Dilemma, was all about building relationships with the food that you eat. Now, unsurprisingly, look at the next book that he’s writing. It’s about psychedelics. There’s a correlation there. There’s a correlation with the resurgence of psychedelic research and the resurgence of interest in psychedelics with these larger cultural phenomena. And I think micro-dosing is particularly interesting because of the reasons that you just mentioned, a lot of people who have had these transformative, breakthrough experiences when they were 19 or 20 or 25, a lot of them now, 30 years later, 40 years later, 50 years later, they haven’t touched psychedelics for a very long time, but they’re becoming interested in micro-dosing again because they’re like, “Well, I had that experience, it was interesting,” for some, it was negative. For many, it was positive. And now they’re like, “I wanna get back in touch with that, but I wanna do it in a way that’s a little bit more manageable and that is more of a reminder, rather than like a complete rearrangement of my entire world paradigm.”
0:53:00 PA: Neil Goldsmith is a guy that I’ve interviewed, you know Neil, and who was… Kind of said something very similar to that. He’s like, “I don’t really do a lot of macro-doses anymore. I prefer the micro-doses, I prefer the smaller amounts.” And I think that’s really interesting and I think it’s really fascinating, I think it speaks to this need and desire in our world for connection, for understanding, for even a sense of spirituality that helps us to transcend a lot of the benality of the culture in which we live, which for so long has been so one-dimensional and so focused on materialism and consumerism.
0:53:39 LP: Yeah, it is amazing to see how sexy micro-dosing has gotten in just the last year.
0:53:44 PA: Yeah, isn’t that crazy?
0:53:46 LP: I just interviewed Ayelet Waldman, who wrote her book, new book, A Really Good Day, for the… Our first contribution to the Psychedelic Salon 2.0. And it’s just, it’s taking off, it’s really getting out there. In fact, the best line I’ve heard was Hamilton Morris was recently on the Duncan Trussell Show here at The Bell House in Brooklyn, and his line was great. In that deep voice of his, he’s like, “Who woulda thought that the way to make psychedelics popular was to make them completely non-psychedelic?”
0:54:17 LP: But hell, it’s working, and it’s probably gonna be one of the great breakthroughs of mental health. I mean the stories I hear after… People’s psychedelic stories and the mental health complete clearances, that I’ve heard from people who have no… These were patients, these were not heads looking to advocate. The craziest story I ever heard with psychedelics and their ability to create new brain cells, which is phenomenal in itself, ’cause we didn’t even know that was possible up until 10 or 15 years ago. But there was someone who came by my house once and he had a son who was 21 and on the autistic spectrum to the point where he was non verbal. So this was a young man who’s never gonna leave the house and supervised care.
0:55:01 PA: And so, at the age of 21, his father gave him a full hit of acid, just try and see if that would help and work. And he had his first full conversation with his son during those couple hours of that acid trip, it brought his son to a level that they didn’t even know was possible. Unfortunately, the kid’s mother found out, and this gentleman almost lost complete access to his son because of this, even though the medicine worked. And with the toxicity of what that medicine is, compared to whatever they’d be giving him for this, it’s just, it’s not even in the same ballpark. Not that I’m gonna be any Pollyanna, doesn’t say psychedelics can exacerbate mental health disorders, it certainly can. And as Dimitri Mugianis says, “Psychedelics help sociopaths become much better sociopaths.” These drugs are no cure all for everything but the power of what we’ve seen in the academic literature and the anecdotal literature contrasted to their extreme non-toxicity that we discovered through all of the animal models that we worked in. They’re phenomenal class of drugs, and it is just so typical, actually, of the West and modern medicine. I mean it’s…
0:56:14 LP: It’s funny to read Richard Burton’s, Anatomy of Melancholy, because everything he makes fun of in doctors and the pig-headed-ness, and stupidity of modern society, he’s writing the same things 400 years ago, except with great quotes coming from all the Greeks, and all the Romans. It’s, in one sense, it’s very comforting that we’re not that stupid, we’re just as stupid as we’ve always been.
0:56:40 PA: And then at the end of it, it’s incomparably sad that we prevent people from accessing these medicines in a way that’s regulated, and that is safe, and in a way that can help facilitate transformation. I think this is something I continued to emphasize and when I talk about micro-dosing is, yeah, micro-dosing is cool. It’s interesting, but I think the biggest, the most exciting, interesting aspect of it is it’s making these substances more available to more people in a way that they can handle and that they can understand, and that I think it’s gonna help to de-stigmatize and shut off a lot of the propaganda or misinformation that a lot of people believe about psychedelic substances with hopefully, the end result of actually making them available to those who would like to use them. And I think I’m an optimist. I hope this happens sooner rather than later, but obviously, this is largely what both of our organizations are pushing for.
0:57:29 LP: Yeah, amen. And all of this, all of this, getting the medicine out to people more is the light side of what we’re trying to do. And it can be easy, especially in the psychedelic world, which can be rather white bread, to forget the dark side of why we need to fight this thing. The humanitarian side of the tens of thousands of people whose lives are being thrown away in prison for taking a drug that is… If it’s gonna harm anyone, it’s only gonna harm themselves. And the cognitive liberty of not being able to alter one’s own consciousness and the sheer awfulness of the war on drugs and how racist it is in its application, it is the dark side of this coin that needs to be one of the great calls to battle on why we fight this war on drugs.
0:58:18 LP: And any regulations that we push for need to help in that dark side, because it would be very easy to foresee a psychedelic world, similar to the cannabis world in Washington State, where it’s a whole bunch of white business guys who’ve never smoked a plant making a ton of money on it. And on the Eastern side of the state, the kids of color are getting arrested at the exact same rates that they always have. And so in this society, it’s very, very possible for it to be functionally legal for white people and accessible and still used as a tool of oppression against those people of any stripe that it’s been used against for the last several generations.
0:59:05 LP: I mean, seeing… It’s one of the lines I end my latest book on is, “Who dares call the war on drugs a failure?” It is one of the most successful pieces of bureaucratic technology ever created to do exactly the job that it was created. Yeah, Dan Baum got that great quote from Ehrlichman, I guess, Nixon’s man, saying, “Of course we knew that these drugs weren’t as dangerous as we said, but we knew if we associate the blacks with heroin and the hippies with marijuana and pounded them every night on the nightly news, it could be our tool to be used against them.” And that was very successful, and continues to be successful.
0:59:44 PA: Political maneuvering, political machinations. I think the best book to read on that is, The New Jim Crow: The Rise of Mass Incarceration in America.
0:59:53 LP: Amen.
0:59:55 PA: Mike was… Mike recommended that. I read that, and I just finished it and it’s just like…
1:00:00 LP: Nice.
1:00:00 PA: A really powerful insight into how racist the war on drugs really is and how it was really just instituted as “The New Jim Crow,” with the mandatory sentences of the ’80s. It really started to take off in the ’80s, and then Bill Clinton in the ’90s, we… She wrote this book, I think her name is Michelle Alexander, she wrote it in 2008 just when Obama had been elected, and she also harps on that. “You had a president who was black, who had smoked cannabis, who had, I think, done cocaine,” and still, he did some stuff, but I think a lot of people felt like he underperformed in specifically that area of the war on drugs.
1:00:40 LP: Yeah. And there were more raids under his administration in out West on legal operations than there were under George W. Bush, which is a point that’s often ignored by advocates because it’s…
1:00:54 PA: Inconvenient, it’s an inconvenient truth, so to say.
1:00:56 LP: Exactly.
1:00:56 PA: Right, yeah. Cool, well, Lex, let’s wrap up now. Where can… I just wanna give people your details, so maybe just the name of your book, where they can support you, where they can get it, and also any other details you think they should know about the Blue Dot Tour or anything like that?
1:01:11 LP: Alright, cool. Yeah, my work you can see on lexpelger.com, and then the two completed chapters from the Moby Dick pot books series are both on the Psymposia store. Psymposia is P-S-Y, like the old played those gatherings. And also on the Psymposia page, you can see the stage we have at MAPS, at the conference, as well as the current stops we have scheduled for the Blue Dot Tour. It looks like I’m gonna be on the road for April and May. But we wanna be on the road more, so we’re always looking for hosts anywhere in the country. If you can help us find a venue and get the word out to local community, if I can afford to get there, and perhaps a truck, I’ll show up. And it’s just the smaller, the newer, the cooler spots we can get into, the better it sounds. We’re just hoping to foster community around the country and get involved with other drug organizations.
1:02:02 LP: And also, with our contributions out of the Psychedelic Salon, if people want to announce any events or conferences they’re having around the community, let us know and we can let people know. It sounds like, Paul, you’re doing the same thing, so to be message boards for the people. And we just, we wanna get people together in the same room. There’s so much good digital content out there, and we’re trying to make more with the Psymposia Magazine as well. But people are hungry for a place to come and gather and talk about these experiences that are so important to them and to listen to experts in the field who wanna share on the thing that they might’ve been studying for the last couple of years or decades. And so that’s what’s really important to us is in-person education and gatherings.
1:02:43 PA: Great. So check out Lex’s new book, which I’m not gonna try to remember the name of, but we’ll have all those show links and notes and you can get it on psymposia.com, P-S-Y-M-O-P-S-I-A.com. And then the Blue Dot Tour is coming up. And I went to Horizons in New York in early October when Psymposia did Psychedelic Stories there and Lex did a phenomenal job MC’ing. He is a hoot, he’s ton of fun to spend time with. So if you guys are listening to this and you have a chance to host him for his Blue Dot Tour, please do that, you won’t regret it.
1:03:17 LP: I’ll give you a free Elephant book…
1:03:19 PA: A free Elephant book.
1:03:20 LP: On cannabinoids.
1:03:21 PA: On cannabinoids. [chuckle] What could be better? Awesome. Well, Lex, thanks again for joining us, man. It was really a pleasure to have you on the show.
1:03:30 LP: Great talking to you.
1:03:32 PA: This Week in Psychedelics is back with another This Week in Psychedelics. So this is the second time that we’ve done it, and consider this an overview of what’s going on in this world, in this space. And updates, and news, and research, and events, and all of those things will be covered in this weekly segment at the end of every podcast, so I hope you guys are still listening. First of all, I will be attending the Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland, it’s April 21 through 23, and we are planning to do a Third Wave event at the conference. Somehow, some way, we’re planning to do an event, and we’ll provide more details about that as the conference approaches. So I would imagine in the next couple weeks or so, we’re going to finalize some details to get Third Wave’s community together for some sort of event, or meetup, or anything like that. So stay tuned for that because there will be more information about that.
1:04:31 PA: Erowid is accepting donations, so they need to replace their primary server. It runs erowid.org as well as ecstasydata.org. Erowid operates three dedicated physical servers and three virtual servers. The main server is a powerful machine owned by Erowid Center and housed inside a locked cage at a high-grade facility in San Francisco. Erowid continues to operate their own hardware because it provides visitors with more legal privacy protection than rented hardware or services. And as many of you know, Erowid prioritizes privacy and interests of their visitors. So just go ahead and go to erowid.org to find more information about that donation. So far, they’ve raised about $1300 and they need to raise 7700 more dollars to get the Erowid server. So please take a look at that, if you guys get a chance.
1:05:24 PA: Second thing, a new little project launched at thepsychonautshop.com. The Psychonaut shop is a way to sell basically psychedelic merchandise, and help fund psychedelic research. On their website, the title is Help Fund Psychedelic Research by Purchasing Eye-catching and Original Apparel. As many of you know, a psychonaut explores their psyche through altered states of consciousness in order to seek healing therapy and spiritual guidance. This organization is hoping to raise awareness about the benefits of entheogens, commonly called psychedelics, and create awesome original clothing to help fund psychedelic research. 30% of all their profits go to the Heffter Research Institute, which is an institute that studies the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of traditional entheogens. So every time you make a purchase, you help fund psilocybin, or also magic mushroom research. Psilocybin has been shown to help those suffering from cancer and addiction. It’s also opening new doors in neuroscience and spirituality. So go ahead to thepsychonautshop.com. They have some pretty cool stuff in terms of merchandise and of course, 30% of profits go to support psychedelic research, so that’s pretty cool.
1:06:37 PA: Last announcement, The Blue Dot Tour begins April 1st, which if you’re listening to this on Sunday, our release day is the day before ’cause April 1st is Saturday. But that’s okay because it’s a two-month open mic Psychedelic Stories road trip across the continent, starting on the way to the Psymposia Stage of Psychedelic Science in Oakland. Their goal is to hit blue cities in red states, blue cities in blue states, red towns in red states, purple villages in green states, etcetera, etcetera. They’ll be in Boston, Philly, Baltimore, Athens, Georgia, Austin, Texas, Boulder, Colorado, Los Angeles, San Diego and many, many more places. So go to psymposia.com, P-S-Y-M-P-O-S-I-A.com/bluedottour to get more details and information about the tour.
1:07:28 PA: So guys, that’s it for this week in psychedelics. Thank you so much for tuning in, and we will see you next week for the next show. It’s going to be with Daniel Pinchbeck, so get excited about that. We’re gonna talk about his new book, How Soon Is Now.