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How Have You Changed Your Mind?

And How do We Best Integrate Psychedelic Natural Medicines Into our Social Structures? 

So my friend, have you watched the Netflix docuseries with Michael Pollan, “How to Change Your Mind?”  It is well-produced with some lovely visual storytelling.

Although I detected agenda just under the surface, with statements about LSD and MDMA “escaping the lab”, (a subtle push for a regulated medical-style delivery system) I felt Pollan somewhat redeemed himself in the final installment.

The last episode was focused on the compound mescaline, found within both Huachuma and (endangered) Peyote cactus. There was also a story shared about the manner in which Native American human and religious rights were systematically stripped and replaced by colonial settlers who saw indigenous practices as diabolical, and therefore in need of control by white men and their institutions. 

Sound familiar?

These types of systemic issues are not limited to our history, they also color the present. The present day story unfolding includes immediate implications for “natural medicine” legal policies and regulations currently being proposed in Colorado and implemented in Oregon.

Anyone considering personal exploration or other involvement with plant and fungi allies would be well-advised to become educated about political matters before casting votes that may be on a ballot in your jurisdiction (like Initiative 58 in Colorado this November).

I am in the process of shifting the primary orientation for how I serve in the psychedelic space,

I am here to speak up about the issues, and also take action to bring tangible solutions

Some of My History and Why I Care

I became actively involved in the re-emergence of the psychedelic scene during a transitional life period that included a span of time where I committed to psycho-spiritual and bodywork training in Southeast Asia, followed by grad school at Naropa. In 2015, I was in my final year of master studies in Body Psychotherapy. MAPS phase I clinical trials were underway in Boulder, and results started coming out via public presentations. I also attended my first “psychedelic sitters training” with Medicinal Mindfulness and began an inquiry into the possibility of working in the field someday, not sure exactly how. 

Later, in 2018 I moved back to Colorado from a post-grad stint in Austin and began attending and supporting in medicinal circles on the regular. Pollan’s book came out around that time. By 2019, I began working as a Ketamine therapist in a local clinic,. “How to Change Your Mind” was one of the top influences people cited as prompting them to seek medicinally-supported therapy.  

So Pollan has a big voice as a psychedelic figure-head in American culture. I imagine this docu-series is going to inspire a new wave of interest, and I am getting myself ready to help fill some major gaps. 

Fast Forward to What’s Happening Now

By next summer 2023, people in Oregon are going to be taking mushrooms in government regulated facilities, complete with all the red tape and high costs of doing business in a federally illegal market.

Did you consider…

Who’s going to pay for all that regulation?

Consumers and Service Providers, that’s who.

Dark Rainbow Cloud

A similar fate could be on the ballot in Colorado this November. While this may seem like progress on the surface, the hidden nuances are many and varied. There are a couple major concerns that I have.

First, is the lack of integrity and truthfulness of the campaign and its messaging. Second, is the opening up for out of state corporate interests to take root. Third, is the inherent limitations that come with the above which has negative repercussions on long-term community practitioners and community-centered solutions.

Excessive regulatory and business costs, along with the influence of out-of-state lobbyists, will require millions to be an equal player in the field if that’s the game one even wants to play. I am not that person. 

Whether or not you even care about ever taking a psychedelic substance, this is a really unwise choice for Colorado citizens to stand behind. There will be implications to things like wages, property rights / usage / costs, and influence that pads the pockets and privileges of investors who do not even live in the state. 

The Healing Center model is not going to reduce costs for services. Instead, you’re looking at higher payments by consumers and lower wages for service providers.

You’re Going to Pay for all that Regulation

The Healing Center model is not going to reduce cost for services. It’s simply going to redirect funds from useful things, like service provider pay and lower consumer costs, into the massive operational costs associated with bureaucracy.

Would you rather your money go directly to practitioners or to the government and investors? I know my answer. 

Not only will this model have a high price tag for services, it locks certain people out of providing services for remuneration in sensible locations such as a private home, communal space, or small office location. 

How about Community Healing circles? If they are permitted to convene, it’s unseen where they may be allowed to take place and if any remuneration for services would be allowed. 

In other words, if you aren’t going to pay to play in the regulatory framework you likely will not be allowed to receive compensation.

It’s important to know that operating a Healing Center will require millions of dollars and above average legal, real estate, and administrative fees, while banking services will be unavailable. This is out of reach for the average private practitioner to attain, effectively removing the option of having a Healing Center from their consideration set. 

So what does that mean for the average person seeking services?

It means that all those costs will need to be absorbed by consumers and service providers in the form of higher service costs and lower wages. Estimates coming out of Oregon are $1,500 – $7,000 for a three session series that includes one prep and one integration session along with a psilocybin session that’s held at a government regulated facility. 

If you’d really like to nerd out on the details of the hidden costs of running a federally illegal business, this recording from Emerge Law Group gets into some nitty-gritty. I also discussed some of this in my Nowak talk back in April, but it’s an even bigger issue than I fully comprehended at that time. 

Psychedelic legal and regulatory policies could be one of the most important social and political decisions of our time. We have an opportunity to do it with a sense of creative intelligence this time.

Let’s give it all the discerning attention that’s deserved.

Considerations for Coloradans:The NMHA wants to vote on implementation of a Healing Center model before data is available on the rollout of the #psilocybin service center model in Oregon.

  1. Waiting until there’s data next year would expose systemic inequities, and other potential issues, that aren’t obvious to the public as of yet.
  2. Investors in the space in Oregon are banking on other states like CO so they can expand operations after investing millions to play the game that they created in order to reach profitability quicker.
  3. Given the millions in lobby funding from the PAC New Approach to push Initiative 58 through, they have demonstrated that they do not want to allow time and space for community organizing to find workable alternatives.
  4. Allowing for mushrooms to be seen as a “commodity” by decriminalization ruins the investment opportunity that comes in a therapeutic medicalized model…. You can’t “brand differentiate” a commodity (quote from Kevin O’Leary at Benzinga investors conference).
  5. Controlling the ability to own healing centers siphons talent into financially-backed organizations, perpetuating a disempowered system that attempts to direct and wield power that is not their own.
  6. Distracting people with a bunch of regulatory requirements meetings keeps folks from creating their own solutions that would actually improve the well-being of their communities from the bottom-up.
  7. The decisions for the entire state will rest upon a 15 person governor appointed Advisory Board. There are no checks-and-balances nor due process built into the measure. There is no ability for any local community to opt-out of participation, which means regardless of the needs of local communities that special interests (from out of state) can setup these centers anywhere that’s zoned for it regardless of what individual counties desire.
  8. The NMHA team has demonstrated a lack of integrity and core competencies in the interface between state and federal regulations, and the true implications of this from an operational standpoint. False messaging abounds.