Interview with the two co-founders of the thank you plant medicine movement.
Today we have a bonus episode so that you can hear from the founders of the #Thank You Plant Medicine movement. David Grillot and Jonathan Glazer are two of the leaders of this movement which aims to remove the stigma around the use of plant medicine.
On February 20, 2020, there will be an important event for people who have been affected by the power of plant medicines to come out and let the world know of their experiences. David and Jonathan strongly believe that, like so many other social movements, this can be instrumental in leading to progressive change.
David and Jonathan believe that this is a crucial time for this movement because it seems that more people are using plant medicines than ever. However, the legal and pharmaceutical landscape still doesn’t support this. To that end, we talk about how to delicately approach this topic in circles where it might not be totally accepted.
David and Jonathan explain the phases of their project and how many different people are coming together to make it happen. They are bringing in individuals and organizations from all around the world to make this a truly grassroots movement that reflects the diversity of all plant medicine users.
David Grillot’s experience with ayahuasca was so profoundly positive that it led to him creating a global campaign to increase awareness of the benefits of such medicines.
The 32-year-old from Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica was at a low ebb in his life last year after Karma Tribe came to an end. The humanitarian project was dear to his heart for five years and had grown to involve 4,500 people in 63 countries.
The project was born out of an idea for the good of all,” he explained. “It didn’t yield financial returns but it did send out ripples of love, connecting people and touching many lives.
Large-scale beach and river clean-ups were among its many activities, but it became unsustainable. We never had a clear business model, after all, it was about people helping each other, not having to use money.
I’d put my blood, sweat, and tears into the project and when I had to let this part of my life go, I felt a sense of vertigo and emptiness. I was very unsure what I could bring to the world.
In this semi-depressed state, I got a timely invitation from a trusted friend to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony. The experience was extraordinary. Suddenly, I found so much light and love inside of me. A new confidence came over me and my zest for life reborn. I also saw how the ayahuasca affected my companions, causing massive transformations. I instantly became an advocate of plant medicine. Last summer David and Jonathan Glazer, co-founders of the #ThankYouPlantMedicine campaign, agreed its aim should be to increase awareness of the benefits of plant medicines and remove the stigma surrounding their use. David said, “in a time when humans are creating tragic ecological imbalances, and psychological ailments are rampant, I believe it is extremely important to raise awareness about these natural, traditional medicines.
Jonathan was born in Israel and since 2003 has lived in Costa Rica. He is 41 years old and has been an entrepreneur since his early 20's and today has a 12 years old security company. In parallel to his professional career, he has developed a meditation practice over 22 years. Initially through Yoga style and in the last 15 years with a teacher for Tibetan Healing Meditation. Jonathan graduated in psychology and has an interest in Neuroscience and the mind-body connection.
Meditation was Jonathan's spiritual practice until late in 2016, when he had his first entheogenic plant experience. One of his meditation students with whom Jonathan had six months' classes felt he is not advancing fast enough in his meditation practice. At that time Jonathan was aware that people who experienced ayahuasca had in some sense similar experiences to deep states of meditation, including the sensation of being one with the universe, ability to go deep inside oneself, a form of ego dissolution, greater connection to nature, access to long-forgotten biographical memories as well as access to what seem as past generations memories and experiences. He invited his student to go with him to their first entheogenic plant experience in the context of an ayahuasca ceremony.
Since then, Jonathan has combined meditation and entheogenic plant medicine to further his own practice, to make changes in how he manages his company, to improve how he relates to people and the world and to better understand his purpose in life.
From the beginning of Jonathan’s experience with entheogenic plants, he felt that entheogenic plants are greatly misrepresented, and it did not make sense to him that such beautiful and healing experiences are banned by western society that claims to be modern and open. In early 2019 he decided to go to Girona for the World Ayahuasca Conference and to Horizons in NY, with the goal to find out what he can do to help bridge the gap. Jonathan was also looking to learn about education opportunities within the Neuroscience - Psychology - Psychedelics sphere.
00:29 Paul Austin: Hey, listeners and welcome back to The Third Way Podcast. We have a very special bonus episode for you this week with the two co-founders of the Thank You Plant Medicine movement, Jonathan Glazer and David Grillot, I want to welcome both of you to The Third Way Podcast.
00:45 David Grillot: Thank you, Paul. It's so great to be here.
00:47 Jonathan Glazer: Thank you so much, Paul. It's a pleasure to be here.
00:49 PA: You know, what you two have been working on over the last... It's probably been five to six months now, was really exciting. I first heard about it through Barry Stamos at 1heart and Ben De Loenen at ICEERS and immediately when I saw it I was like, "Yes, this is exactly what we need to spread further, awareness about the healing potential of plant medicine because there are still a lot of stigmas and a lack of sort of education around it so I'd love if we could just start a little bit with the back story. What are both of your back story and how did that sort of converge to come with the Thank You Plant Medicine movement?
01:24 DG: Sure, well, Paul, maybe I'll go first here. At the end of 2018, I found myself in a life situation where basically I had built a social network where people could help each other. It was called Karma Tribe. It was a gifting economy where you offer your services of I'll teach someone French, can someone pass me vegetarian recipes? Can someone give me a ride? And it was a... Yeah, a pay it forward project. And I got so much fulfillment, so much satisfaction it grew to be in 63 countries, but in December 2018 it died because it had no business model. And there I was with having invested five years into what I thought was my gift to the world and it just died. So I felt like in a vacuum of just not knowing what to do with my time, not knowing who I was, I felt like I'd cut off my left arm. And in that time of brief severe depression, my friend Jon, who is a very trusted friend, he told me, "Hey, there's gonna be an Ayahuasca ceremony coming up in a couple of weeks. Why don't you come along? I think you'll like it." And I said, "Dude, I trust you. Let's check it out."
02:43 DG: And my experience in the ceremony was so extraordinary and there I was thinking like that I was at the end of what I could offer to the world but I realized I had so much light and so much love in my heart and so much more to offer and things are just beginning for me like a new belief in myself was born actually. And as I went through the several days of ceremony and I noticed what was happening to my companions that they came in with the weight of the world on their shoulders because of relationship issues, because of childhood trauma, because of different life problems and by the end of the three days, everyone was as light as a feather and just feeling so good and laughing and feeling of community and all the people were now my close friends and I was like, "Wow, what a special, special substance this is." And so, since then I've been seizing as many opportunities as possible to sit in ceremonies and also experimenting with other substances and learning so much about myself, shedding different layers of fears and issues that I didn't even know I had, flowering, feeling better and better, communicating better with my family, with my friends and...
04:03 DG: Anyways, in this tremendous enthusiasm and appreciation for Ayahuasca culminated in Jon and I deciding to go to the World Ayahuasca Conference in Girona, Spain in June of this year with the attitude of let's just learn as much as we can and just soak up the experience of these individuals and let's see what we can possibly bring to this amazing community. 'Cause we were really feeling like many do of like that there's really a potential for this to help a lot of people so what can we do to expand this? In a chat on the last day of the conference, in a chat with Rick Doblin, a talk that he was giving on the third floor, he was saying that in his 30 years or however many years of trying to bring psychedelics more into the mainstream, he continuously comes against the stigma that is like just an oppressive wall because of the culture and just because people have a lot of fear about it and misconceptions and it's... And he was saying we should look to the gay rights movement and how they were able to really stand together and speak in one voice and kind of march and basically get organized. And as they organized together, one state after the other in the '70s and '80s started passing legislation allowing gay marriage until today where it's mostly accepted, I would say, in most of the United States, culturally, it's accepted.
05:31 DG: So as he was describing this, I was thinking in my mind about what would it look like if everyone who had benefited from psychedelics or plant medicine were to come out with their story on the same day on social media and we could perhaps ignite something with some parallels to the Me Too movement, which is to use social media in a beautiful way of raising awareness about something that no one knows about and no one has the courage to speak about alone, but together it can really make a loud voice. So Rick Doblin and the other folks in the room said, "This is a great idea. We support you, this is awesome." So then we walked down to the final talk of the World Ayahuasca Conference and it was a talk about Ayahuasca and the future of society and as the talk finished up, there was no specific action to be taken by the community so they said that we have 10 minutes before the closing ceremony, would anyone like to ask us something. And I kinda nudged Jon and I said, "You know, this might be a good time to propose this kind of coming out day to the crowd, and see what people feel about it."
06:46 DG: And he said, "Yeah, it's a great idea." And I said, "No, well, actually, probably now is not the time," I don't know like it's not really the time. And he said, "No, go for it, come on bro. You can do it, go for it." Okay, so I made my way down the audience and I was kind of trembling. Of course, there were 1000 people in the hall, all different researchers, doctors, shamans, amazing people from around the world and I grabbed the mic and I turned to the audience and said, "This question is for you. Me personally I don't share about the healing I've experienced through ayahuasca on my Facebook because I'm afraid of what people will think of me, and I don't see other friends talking about it much. What if we all told our stories of healing together and we said thank you plant medicine and is this something that you think would be valuable? Or is anyone here interested in this kind of thing? I'll be over here for the next five minutes taking your contact information if you wanna be a part of this." And then we got an applause and then people started streaming down the audience and dropping their business cards from the upper balconies and telling me like, "Dude, I've been using this medicine for 13 years and it has changed my life and I haven't even told any of my family about it, and I'm behind you on this. Let's do this, it's time."
08:08 DG: And other people saying that "Oh, I had this exact same idea but it's amazing that you're saying this. I had this idea, let's do it. My organization is behind you." So we really felt like it was something that people really liked, this idea. So Jon and I came back to Costa Rica, we made a video proposing the idea, we shared it in a few Facebook groups. We called for 35 volunteers to make this happen, saying we wanna invite the mushroom communities, the Iboga communities, the Cannabis communities, the Ayahuasca, the San Pedro, bring everyone together in a symphony of gratitude on February 20th, 2020 to tell their story of healing and let's end the stigma. Let's create awareness about the power of this stuff. And within about a week we had 100 volunteers. And here we are, a few months later we have 550 volunteers, we have over 40 organizations; MAPS, chacruna, ICEERS, Beckley Foundation, Psychedelic Society, United Kingdom, of Netherlands, Vienna, Austria, Australia like tons of organizations are saying, "Yes, the time is right. Let's do this, let's tell our stories."
09:16 PA: Hey, Jon, do you have anything to add to that?
09:18 JG: Just laugh about it and enjoy the moment. I don't have much to add to that. I just say that when I met David in Costa Rica maybe a year before that, there was a special connection from the beginning. David was very much into yoga meditation, I was into Tibetan meditation and David was there holding a Dharma circle for the community as well as doing a lot of beach cleanups. We had an immediate connection there. And as our relationship evolved I was finished in my psychology degree and was looking to study a further degree, actually, something I was looking for a place to study the relationship meditation, know your science and psychedelics and we set up the year to go to the World Ayahuasca Conference and to the Horizons Conference and somehow everything flowered since then, it's been a very intuitive process, I'd say, and there was a sensation in the global community that people are ready to come together. We had almost nothing but, "Yes, how can I help?" Which was amazing. And that's a sensation we have still today is, "Yes, how can I help? What can I do to make it happen?" And that's all across the board [unclear speech], it's people in imperial college, if it's [unclear speech] master university, if it's advocate groups in the US, in nature and to being an ongoing yes yes yes, and that's actually what made it happen.
10:50 PA: Well, and, I think that's the beautiful part of creating a vision that everyone can get behind, because when you have something that's this expansive, that there, you know, are so many of us. I as an entrepreneur compares to someone else who's a researcher, compared to someone else who's an activist, compared to someone else whose a shaman, compared to someone else who's a university student. It's like, you know, this sense of feeling gratitude for what in particular Ayahuasca as a plant medicine has helped to facilitate all of our own healing processes. I think just like how this has emerged in such a beautiful way speaks to both the importance of what you're doing, but also the relevance of it in 2020 and how ready we are as a culture and society really begin openly talking about this.
11:39 JG: You can see that from the beginning of the movement, the main tenets were inclusiveness, open-source, nonprofit. And that allowed, like for example, inclusiveness allowed us to include everybody on board, and everyone has a story to share. Especially from the community, and their interaction in healing and transformative experiences. Open source allowed it to grow quickly because there are no barriers for people to get the information they need in order to move the ball forward. And it was really essential for our rapid grassroot movement's growth. And non-profit allowed us to focus on the goal of just, let's share it together. There are no capital gains to be made. There are social gains, community gains, individual gains, but, that allowed us to be, also associate ourselves with other nonprofit organizations such as ICEERS, such as [unclear speech] institute, and for them to support this, so ss beautiful how it happened.
12:41 DG: I do feel like ss a very timely thing. I am, like many people, concerned about the fact that we're cutting down the rainforest, we're poisoning our rivers, and desertification. All these problems, right? And the truth is that we have the science to... We have the food production, for example, to feed everyone on earth. We have the science to solve global warming even like, we have the manpower to plant trillion saplings and all of the issues that we're facing, we actually have the science to solve. The only thing that's missing is a more inclusive consciousness of caring about our world, caring about nature, caring about our friends and every human being. I think that psychedelics and plant medicine have an impact there, in your sensitivity to living things, they certainly have for me. I think that sadly, probably only, I don't know, but maybe like 0.1% or 0.01% of the world population has ever tried it. What if it was 1% or 2%, how would that transform the economy?
13:58 DG: So I really believe in it, and I think that this movement, we're doing it in the right way in that we're not preaching like we're not saying everyone should do this, everyone should do this. We're not saying Big Pharma is the enemy, they are devils and the man is out to get us in this. We're not saying any of that, we're just saying, thank you for what happened to me, I'm so thankful for this substance that really helped me.
14:24 DG: And so by speaking from a place of gratitude and pure non-violence, no enemies, no ranting, no preaching, there's something very powerful in that I think. I think that might be why this is uniting a lot of people, why people are getting excited about it. Because it comes from a really pure place, that everyone can participate in.
14:47 DG: I'm hoping that, much like Gandhi's movement in India, which eventually through the power of non-violence and he said, I have no enemies, and this is a non-political movement, he said. Through the power of this non-violent approach, he really rallied the masses and toppled the most powerful empire in the world. So, we're leading with love and it feels like the timing is right.
15:10 PA: And that's beautiful, and in many ways, that's what Ayahuasca and plant medicine has taught many of us is what it means to embody love and what it means to feel safe and secure, and the wisdom of a plant that's thousand and thousand... Thousands and thousands of years old. Because a lot of what you're talking about David is really just a return to our roots, it's a return to the wisdom of who we are as humans and our relationship to these plants that we've been cut off from for so long.
15:35 DG: Yeah, absolutely, and it's interesting if you look at like the tribes of the Amazon. From what I've read, they don't have problems with... They never previously had any problems with addiction or any of the diseases in the western world or alcoholism, or anything like that because of the... From my understanding, because of their use of these plants frequently, and their symbiotic, very close relationship with the plants, they are always were very sensitive to the natural world and not being destructive towards it. And it's the modern human that has got so caught up in profit and losing track of the importance of nature. So exactly, it's coming back to a more traditional relationship with nature that we come from.
16:29 PA: Yeah, it's sort of the integration of... 'cause like you said, there's all this science that exists. There's all these tools and technologies that we have at our hands that can likely save us from our own disaster but the issue is more, it's not the... It's more like consciousness. The issue is not necessarily the tools that we have, but it's how we approach and use the tools that we have.
16:54 PA: And that's where plant medicine and psychedelics help us to mature, right? They help us to see that we're more than just these isolated figures in this isolated world, but that we are in fact interconnected to everything around us and that... And for that reason, like, our well-being and our nourishment is directly tied to the nourishment and well-being of what we live in, of the communities that we live in, of the families that we live in, of the environment that we live in. And that relationship is, it's the integral perspective, is really, it sort of like signifies this next leap that we're had.
17:36 JG: Absolutely, and plants, endogenic plants, and psychedelics, what they create is a connection with oneself, but also community sensation. So they were many times traditionally practiced in other to, in the hill or also to solve conflicts or to come together and commune. So they're definitely related to greater connection and it's something that there is a... It can be missing in Western society with a hectic life and people are a little bit disconnected and as you can see depression is rampant and depression is related to disconnection from oneself and from the environment, so it definitely has the capacity to create greater connection within our communities.
18:23 PA: So in terms of like... I'd love it if you could just give our listeners then an overview of like how is the Thank You Plant Medicine campaign working? So if they're interested in participating, if they're interested in telling their story, how are you rolling this out, what's that process like, what is the date that it's going on? I'd love to just get into that a little bit so that our listeners have a little bit more context about how they can get involved in this amazing project.
18:51 JG: First of, I think it's important to know that we're inviting all people that had benefited from psychedelics or endogenic plants. So there is also psychedelics, there is also synthetic, but people have benefited from then like ketamine, LSD, MDMA, and others. So though anybody that has benefited has a story to share, we invite you to share it. If you will, you can use the hashtag of the movement, which is hashtag Thank You Plant Medicine. But also you can add hashtag thank you LSD or hashtag thank you Ayahuasca or hashtag thank you MDMA and tell your story in the most creative way you feel. Another way is just to post the information of the logo, of the frame we're going to put out there and you can show your support in that way and this is also a grassroot movement. So if you just wanna tell your mom or your dad, you're invited to do so as well. The coming out date is February 20th, 2020. On that day we are going to create an online panel here in Costa Rica and there are also events happening around the world.
19:57 JG: There are local events, local gatherings, you can learn about those in our Facebook group, Thank You Plant Medicine Community, and there you can learn about all the organizations for the coming out day. The events, the local events are going to be organized around sharing stories and bringing out the stories to light, so that's, it's going to be a storytelling events around the world. We're also working on creating interesting content for those events, so people will be more enticed to join them and be part of them.
20:29 JG: So the coming out day is a sort of the beginning for the movement. We see it as a launch of the movement, and we hope the movement is going to roll forward as the time passes, getting more and more people on board until we destigmatize psychedelics and endogenic plants in society. Now, we have many working groups, there is a social media group, a design group, a documentary team working, so there are many, many groups working in the campaign. You're invited to send us a message. We reply pretty quickly and we can onboard you to the volunteer team, we have people that are in charge of that part. We're right now in 55 countries, so just join the group and see if you have friends in your country that are part of the movement, and we will help you connect with them and connect with the movement, so just contact us. Also, the website is thankyouplantmedicine.com, and we are on Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, so yes, join us.
21:22 PA: Before we wrap up, I wanna get into a couple more things. What's the vision for this going forward? So you mentioned that this is just really the launching pad, how do you hope this develops in the next three to five to 10 years as a movement, and as a nonprofit? And what's that process like or how do you perceive that?
21:40 JG: We believe there is a lot of power in connecting the communities around the world. There are so many organizations working and a lot of organizations have been working for 20 years, and this is an intent to bridge the organizations from many, many parts of the world, and then help local initiatives through that pool of resources that are being created throughout the movement. So, for example, you have the Cream California initiatives, that might need help with resources from the Thank You Plant Medicine movement, for example, [unclear speech] and psilocybin stories of healing that can help the local initiative in California. You have initiatives that are happening all over the US, you have initiatives in Europe and the Thank You Plant Medicine can be a sort of, a pool of resources that then can help those initiatives. For example, the Battery Foundation brought up the idea of doing a one million people signature initiative that then can be presented to the European Commission and then Europe information will need to look at the science and give a reply.
22:45 JG: So all these sort of initiatives can blossom and flower out of this global unification of hearts, I'd say. So there is a lot of ways we can go forward, but right now, we're just focusing on getting this done and really getting to the goal of 100,000 healing stories shared on and after, and then we will see where we take it forward. The end point is a world where students in universities can study these medicines, can learn about these practices, a world where there are spaces safe and professional for people to be able to have those experiences and it's somewhat like Third Wave is doing already, by creating safe space and based on science, very grounded for people to have a first contact with this mind-expanding substances. So we believe the world will benefit from that and we wanna support that.
23:40 PA: That's beautiful, thank you, Jonathan. And David did you have any last things to add just about how you see it kind of rolling out or what you're most excited about?
23:48 DG: There's a few things, for example, we're gonna have a software on our website that is gonna archive all of the public posts that use the hashtag, #ThankYouPlantMedicine. So, if we reach 100,000 stories of healing, which is our objective, imagine this library of stories, right? What could be done with that, it could be publications, it could be organized by different themes like depression or eating disorders, the stories could be curated into different categories and books could be published, for example, if someone gets arrested in Australia because of magic mushrooms, imagine someone strolls into the courtroom with a giant binder of 10,000 psilocybin healing stories that could help save that person. So that's one exciting thing that we're doing is, we're gonna make these stories available to everyone. And the other thing that we've been doing is that we've been holding space for leaders of all different organizations to come together, so we've been having these tribal council meetings where the leaders of Decrim Nature and DoubleBlind magazine and the One Hearts, ICEERS, [unclear speech] coming to sit together and talk together about what could be done together.
25:03 JG: Now, what we're doing, it doesn't have a specific political agenda and we don't... We're not really like, we don't even really have a personal agenda in a way, on one level or holding space for everyone to tell their stories and on another level, we can also hold space for organizations to come together and work together. So, the potential of that is really big, I think, and it's almost something that, just like a suspicion, an intuition that's kinda sizzling it within me of like, "Wow, if the 50 leaders of all the biggest psychedelic organizations sit down together and brainstorm and come up with what could be done together, then they're gonna be so powerful instead of everyone just doing their own thing in isolation." So, we see ourselves as having that kind of unification rule.
25:26 PA: Hive mind, the collaborative hive mind approach, right? [chuckle] I like that.
25:26 DG: Exactly.
25:26 PA: Well, I love it. So just as a final note for our listeners Jonathan, if you could mention one more time where they can go to get more information about the Thank You Plant Medicine campaign that would be great and then we'll wrap up.
25:26 JG: Thank you so much, Paul, so Thank You Plant Medicine community on Facebook, it's a private group, where you can ask to join, we'll add you to the group and you can see where we are preparing everything. Thankyouplantmedicine.com is the website where we're going to have a pledge and scientific information, harm reduction, risk, and also how to best utilize the endogenic plants in psychedelics, it's actually the third way of helping us out with content for the website. So thank you so much. And then you can also join our Instagram, Thank You Plant Medicine, Twitter, and Reddit. So, just PM us and we'll reply quickly.
26:48 PA: Beautiful. And we'll also, for all the listeners, we'll have a resource on the website, a page that will have links to all of those as well. So if you do wanna find out more, you can just go to thethirdwave.co and find out more. I appreciate your time, I feel like we covered the meat of everything. We'll be in touch over the next few weeks as we see how this rolls out. I'm really excited to see what happens with it, we're really excited at Third Wave and we're also very appreciative of both of you having taken on this responsibility and you're doing something really incredible, so thank you.
27:19 JG: Thank you so much, Paul, thank you for your time.