04/18/10 - Rick Doblin

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Report from Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century, from San Jose California, featuring Dr. Rick Doblin, Robert Jesse, Dr. Charles Grob, Dr. Alicia Danforth + Earth & Fire Erowid

Audio file

Cultural Baggage April 18, 2010

(Donovan’s Atlantis)
…and as the elders of our time choose to remain blind,
Let us rejoice and let us sing and dance and ring in the new.
Hail Atlantis!
Way down below the ocean where I wanna be she may be

Dean: Hang with us for this special edition of Cultural Baggage

We’ve got a very busy show scheduled for you. We’re going to start this off with the opening session from the conference ‘The Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century‘. Held in San Hose, California. That’s where we’re producing this program, as well as this weeks Century of Lies. Mark Kleinman the attorney, is going to introduce the President of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics, Dr. Rick Doblin.

Mr. Mark Kleinman: …that could never happen. The government wouldn’t permit it. So, without further a-do, let me introduce Rick Doblin.

{Applause…….. Dean Becker: I’ve got to interject this thought, that Rick Doblin got a long standing ovation and he got a lot of applause and a lot of ovations during his speech. We’re going to cut a lot of that out, ’cause we’ve got a lot of other stuff to deal with.}

Mr. Rick Doblin: Thank you so much. Right here, right now. In this place, at this time. We’ve assembled most of the worlds experts on psychedelic science. On the science of the mind, on therapy, on psychedelic spirituality, on the mind, the heart and the spirit, and the eyes of the world are on us. They are on us because these tools connect us to what most makes us human. To love; to spirituality; to meaning; to forgiveness; to healing.

There’s an intense interest in what these tools can bring us to, into the human spirit. Because there is this interest, there also is this necessity on our part to try to refine what we’re doing. Right now there’s more psychedelic research taking place, than at anytime in the last forty years. {applause} We’re still in the fledgling stages, through the groups that are all represented here.

Through Dave Nichols and the Heffter Research Institute and Amanda Fielding and the Beckley Foundation and Bob Jesse and the Council on Spiritual Practices. All of us working together. The success of this conference is due only because we’re all working together and we’ve brought this community together. {applause}

As we start completing the various pilot studies that we’re doing; as we start getting promising results, we’re going to be gathering momentum. It’s like a wind tunnel, almost. As you gather speed, little imperfections that didn’t matter that much. When you’re going slower, suddenly it can veer you off course.

So we’re having a conversation here and I encourage all of you to bring your skeptical minds. To bring your fears to the surface. To bring your doubts and to ask the speakers to have a dialog here, that refines and polishes and makes what we’re trying to accomplish, more likely to move to the next stages.

The moment that we are now sharing together, is just very precious and it’s taken so much for all of us to be here. There’s an opportunity here. I’ve been thinking about this conference for many, many years and we’ve had several different dates that we would abandon, because it didn’t feel like we were ready. Finally we set this date. We’ve stuck to it and all of you here have testified, ‘It is ready‘. ‘This was the right time.’ In part it’s the right time, because we’ve learned the lessons of the sixties. Some of the key parts of what splintered this whole society apart. For me, one of the key lessons is that there is no hope in counterculture. There is no ’away’. There is no ’Isle of Utopia’. There is no way that we can be safe and free outside of a dominate culture. That we have to have our goal be to move into the heart and be part of the mainstream, and we are. If we look at all of us here, how much we’ve contributed. {applause}

So I think just that identification of where we’re going. We’re trying to be, and we are, being accepted. I had thought that this was going to be a plea. Like a message in the bottle. To show all the different topics, the things we were working on, that we’re bubbling up and to show to society, ’Let us be free.’ ’Let us continue.’ ‘Do not have another backlash.’ ’Do not lock us out of the laboratories.’

Over the last several months, I’ve been coming to realize that, it’s not a plea. This conference is not a plea. Our plea has been asked and answered and we do have the opportunity to do the work that we’re talking about. Regulators all over the world are saying, ’If you bring us rigorous, methodologically wise protocols, we will eventually give you permission. {laughter in audience}

The funders have said, ’If you can show us that you can use this money efficiently and strategically and leverage it, as we’re doing through the public education, we will fund your endeavors.’ The patients have been saying, ’We will bring our pain and our suffering and our struggles to you, to see if you can help.’ The researchers have been stepping up and saying, ’We will put ourselves to the test.’ ’We will put ourselves also, under the microscope.’ ’We will be video-taped and audio-taped as we do therapy and we will analyze ourselves.’

So, it’s actually scarier to have permission and authorization. It’s nice to be the voice in the wilderness saying, “I’ve got the solution to the worlds problems. But you won‘t let me prove it.” Now that we have this opportunity to prove it, it’s really kind of frightening. Because it’s a lot harder to actually prove it than we might initially think. The research is more complicated.

There’s factors that we haven’t realized, that influence what we’re doing. Trying to refine a method. Trying to standardize a method. Trying to teach a method. It’s all much, much harder. But it’s real and it’s solid. That’s what makes our conversation, here in this moment, so critically important. Because there is such a need in the world, for what we’re trying to accomplish and there is such an incredible wealth of intelligence and good heart and courage, in this room. www.maps.org

Dean Becker: OK. Needless to say, I did cut that rather short. Rick went on for quite some time. Got a lot more ovations and applause. But I wanted to share the words of some other folks with you. To update those who may have just dropped in on the program, we are in San Hose, California. We’re reporting on the Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century Conference.

Mr. Mark Kleinman: Our next presenter is the Convener of the Council on Spiritual Practices. This is Mr. Robert Jesse. {applause}

Mr. Robert Jesse: Wow! I really can’t see everyone, but I can feel everyone. As I’ve told friends back home, in the past twelve hours or so, it feels like I’ve dropped into ‘divine overwhelm‘. Great thanks to Rick and MAPS from the MAPS Staff, all the volunteers here. I know that for all of them and I think probably for all of us, what we’re doing here, is really a calling. It’s a work of passion.

Boy, what a great day… and thank you for welcoming me. I am here, mainly as a representative of a collaboration called the Council on Spiritual Practices. I’m also here wearing a somewhat different hat, as a member of the John Hopkins team. Which you probably know something about and we’ll hear about more later today and in the weekend. Many of you probably have not heard very much about CSP. That‘s because CSP has, intentionally over the years, typically stayed a little in the background. Preferring to organize and inspire in quieter ways.

CSP is a collaboration of spiritual guides and scholars and experts in the behavioral scientists. All of whom think it would be a good thing if on planet Earth there were more opportunities for people to have experiences of non-dual consciousness, primary religious experience, Buddha consciousness, Christ consciousness, mystical experience. That loose collection of very profound experiences that can be pivot points in peoples lives.

Many years after CSP convened, going back to last Monday, look what happened. Front page of the New York Times, a wonderful *article. Who could have predicted such positive and pretty much spot-on reportage, of a reporter explaining to a ‘lay public‘, what the consequences can be of a profound experience of this nature. So this needs to be seen as one of a growing set of signs of a ‘see change’ and very welcome.

Imagine the number of people in the next year or two or three, who will be lucky enough to be volunteers in a clinical trial of Psilocybin or MDMA or LSD. Look ahead another few years to the hoped for rescheduling/down scheduling of some of those materials. So that they could be put into the hands of psychiatrists and psychotherapists and we have a larger group of people that will get to benefit from them.

But what’s left out? A whole vast number of people who aren’t going to be under medical or psychiatric care. In some cases, who are already using these materials. Often without a lot of knowledge about what they’re doing and always, in most countries, under some threat of unwanted legal repercussions of doing that. www.csp.org


Dean Becker: OK. Once again, we’re at the Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century Conference in San Hose, California. That was Robert Jesse of the Council for Spiritual Practices. I wanted to inform you that, all of the audio from this conference; all the panels and various proceedings, are available through Conference Recording Service. Their website is conferencerecording.com.

Alright. Next up we’re going to hear from Dr. Charles Grob. He’s Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine.

Dr. Charles Grob: It’s really wonderful to be here today, with everyone. To talk with you about our work using Psilocybin, with a population of individuals with advance stage cancer and anxiety. We’ve been working on this project for many years. We have completed our study and are really happy to share with you the process we went through and a little bit at least, of what we have found. I’ll mention ahead though, that we will not show the quantitative analyzed data, as our manuscript has not as yet been published. But we will certainly tell you about our work with our subjects.

Essentially we know that there are a variety of mushroom species which contain Psilocybin. The species that we are most familiar with of course, is Psilocybe cubensis. Psilocybin mushrooms have been identified in various places, in the American Northwest and the Northern middle West as well as parts of Northwestern Europe and Latin America, Central America and South America.

There is an increasing distribution of psilocybin mushrooms. Which is very intriguing and they appear to follow human expansion and found where new development has occurred. They also have co-evolved with cattle and are known as being corporaphilic. They grow and they thrive on a medium containing cow dung.

It’s very important to note that psilocybin mushrooms, as well as a variety of plant hallucinogens, have been used in memorial by indigenous cultures and there’s much to learn from how the indigenous people utilize these compounds, how they optimize safety parameters, and how they developed their focused intention and what it was utilized for. Again, critical to acknowledge the debt we owe to the ancient peoples, the indigenous cultures and also to learn from their accrued wisdom of over many, many millennia.

In the sixteen century, the Spanish and Portuguese invaders of South America, noted that many of the local indigenous people utilized a vast pharmacopeia of plants. Local plants and utilized them for Healing Ceremonies and their Religious Ceremonies.

Not to forget, long before the sixties there was a horrific drug war. These compounds were taboo, as perceived by the power structure of the invading Europeans. They were thought to lead individuals taking them, into heresy. Which of course was the most severe crime from that time in history and they were responded to with some of the harshest treatments that the inquisition developed. So again, the indigenous people of South America and Central America paid a horrible price for their reverential use and valued use of these plant substances.

We know historically over many millennia, these plants have been used for religious and medicinal purposes and utilized by widely diverse cultures. Psilocybin is chemically closely related to the neurotransmitter, Serotonin. It is in the tryptamine family of indoles. It is for phosphoryloxy, an anti-dimethyltryptamine and is active at the 5HT 2A and 2C receptors.

The medium dose of Psilocybin produces a well controlled altered state of consciousness. We had a medium dose that we utilized in our study and the effects last from four to six hours. Psilocybin peaks around the two hour point and it’s pretty much out of the system between five and six hours.

Paul Stamets, the very eminent ethnomicologist said, ’You’d have to eat your own body weight in one sitting, to ingest a toxic dose of Psilocybe mushrooms. Here he’s referring to physiologic toxicity and you can see that Psilocybin compared to other common drugs, has a very favorable ED50 to LD50 ratio. But again, Stamets’ comments are limited to physiological toxicity. Again, for psychological response, there are many variables that play and one needs to approach that with somewhat more caution.

Two very prominent individuals in the early history of working in this area where Albert Hoffman… Hoffman is really a remarkable individual who’s most known for his rather serendipitous discovery of LSD. What many people are not aware of, is that in the late fifties, when Lawson returned from Mexico with samples of the Psilocybe mushrooms, he sent samples to the leading medicinal chemists around the world. To isolate the active alkaloids. None were able to do so until Hoffman essentially broke the code and was the first to identify Psilocybin as an active alkaloid, in these hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Then Huxley, although not a user of Psilocybin or mushrooms, had taken mescaline and later LSD. In the last decade of his life, felt there was extraordinary potential for these compounds to be utilized. To alleviate suffering and to expand awareness. He also felt they had remarkable potential to facilitate the transition from life to death.

Huxley not only talked the talk, he walked the walk and as he was dying, he had arranged for his doctor and his wife Laura, to administer an injection of LSD. Huxley was perhaps the first individual, at least in the modern era, to utilize a psychedelic to help facilitate this vital transition. www.heffter.org

Dean Becker: OK. You are listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network. We’re in San Hose, California. Reporting on the Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century Conference. That was Dr. Charles Grob of the Heffter Institute. We cut out a big slice of his presentation. But I’m going to allow him to introduce our next speaker.

Dr. Charles Grob: …I will turn the mike over to Alicia Danforth, who was a research coordinator and co-facilitator for the study.

Dr. Alicia Danforth: OK. This talk is about to make a big transition. But I’m going to provide some help for all of us to make the transition together.

Several weeks ago a professor of mine, who may very will be in this audience I’m not sure, made a passing comment in class. He said, “Different philosophies of science, reap different knowledge’s.” That really stuck with me and really got me thinking about how dominant the Western world view has leaned towards the scientific end. Since I began this work, I’ve been exceptionally interested in the qualitative information.

The quantitative information is captured nicely in the ‘findings’ paper and there’s some really wonderful data there. But what else is there? So, I consulted an expert, Houston Smith and came across an interview in which he was referring to what he called, ‘The meaning’s by which we live’ and this is what he had to say.

Houston Smith as read by Dr. Alicia Danforth: “These values are not themselves turned up and revealed by science. They are assumed for science and science itself cannot come to grips with values, purposes, meanings and qualities. It deals with quantities, rather than qualities. But look at what we’ve left out, if we leave out those four things. Values, purposes, meanings and qualities.”

He goes on to say, “I think this is a direct result of moving our beliefs into the confinement of a scientific view of reality. But it’s nothing wrong with science, itself. In fact, that’s an understatement. It has given us incredible good. The problem is not science, but scientism. Namely, to assume that what science turns up and can turn up, is the sum of all there is.”

Dr. Alicia Danforth: So, I want to state right up front, that this was a small study, essentially looking at safety and feasibility. There wasn’t a formal, qualitative research method in place from the outset and I would encourage anyone in the audience, who is an up and coming graduate student or rising researcher; someone who’s thinking of drafting a protocal or even drafting a study to ask, ’Will there be a qualitative component to your data collection, for this study?’ I’m about to show you why I feel so strongly about this.

We did collect some qualitative data in the form of written statements, by some of the participants who wanted to leave a legacy of their experience in writing. We had session notes taken throughout the entire six hour treatment sessions and several of our participants, three of the twelve, became activist’s and devoted a significant amount of their time and energy, near the end of their lives, to promoting the value of this work.

Dean Becker: OK. We’re going to leave the plenary stage for now. Didn’t bring any data with me to do a ’Name that Drug: By it’s side effects’. But here’s how it’s going to work today. Turn on your TV for ten minutes and you’ll see this commerical and I can tell you up front, the answer is Omnaris.

She’s losing her battle against nasal allergies. But we found a way to fight it. Omnaris, to the nose!

Omnaris works differently than many other allergy medications. Omnaris fights nasal allergy symptoms, that occur from allergic inflammation. Relieve those symptoms with Omnaris.

Side effects may include headache, nosebleed and sore throat.

Mission accomplished!

Hoe! Incoming!


Say, what?

Side effects may include headache, nosebleed and sore throat.
Mission accomplished!

Dean Becker: Alright. It’s Omnaris from Sepracor. Aren’t nose bleeds a sigh of allergic reaction?

Here to close out the Cultural Baggage show are two people who’s work has made it possible for yours truly, to be truthful and accurate over the years in regards to drugs, their effects, etc.

Hi! I’m Fire Erowid. I’m one of the two cofounders. Erowid is a website that provides information to the public about psychoactive plants and chemicals.

Dean Becker: You, sir?

I’m Earth Erowid. I’m another cofounder.

Dean Becker: Now, you guys have provided accurate information for peoples’ use over the years and that type of information is being seen more and more as of a necessity as we begin to re-approach our use of psychedelic and other drugs. Correct?

Earth Erowid: One of the things that’s very, very important is that if people are using substances, that they know as much about them as possible. One of the things that we advocate is, public full information for adults. The ‘How to introduce children to the information,’ I think is an open question and we don’t really, exactly address that. Our information is more focused on college students and older.

Fire Erowid: I was just going to say that one of the things that we really try hard to also indicate is that, the people who are choosing to use psychoactive substances have access to the exact same information that the people who are doing research have or the educators have or that the government have. That everyone’s working off the same information so that people are gaining the same understanding and we’re all working from a common viewpoint. Rather than having disparate views that don’t really match.

Dean Becker: That if one goes out on the internet and checks the Government website and their stats, as compared to yours, you’re going to find huge disparities, with them laying more blame or potential blame on these drugs than is necessary and if you weren’t careful, you could go out and find legalizer sites that are telling you stuff that could harm you. It is important to get to the heart and the truth of this matter. Correct?

Earth Erowid: Yeah. I think it’s very important to try to head towards more and more accurate information. I think there are certainly some sites that downplay the risks of certain types of drugs and I think that definitely government and anti-drug (specifically) sites, are focused on harms. But there’s certainly a way in which not mentioning risks is part of the ‘try to move to change the laws’ about things. But mostly legalization things are about Cannabis and Cannabis is largely to being relatively safe. So it is pretty easy to make the argument relative, to like alcohol or something.

Dean Becker: I guess I was saying, if you looked hard enough, you might could find. Your thought?

Fire Erowid: Sure. I think one of the areas where that show up for drugs other than Cannabis, is that there’s now substances that aren’t specifically illegal, which are available online through various venders. The vendors are, as one would expect, not that likely to stress the harms that anybody has potential addiction problems or anything of that sort, they don’t really go into and so you could, especially young people, can get access to those substances without necessarily coming across information that they really should have, about potential harms there might be.

Dean Becker: They have this new product out, this K-2. That it’s basically some kind of a possible formulation that has never been pinned down. But it’s being sold as a substitute or akin to marijuana. Your thoughts on that?

Earth Erowid: Well, I think that the whole new development of the synthetic cannabinoids and cannabinoids receptor agonists being put onto herbs, being sold as incense or other... Mostly things that aren’t suppose to be consumed by humans. But there’s sort of a wink and a nod and everyone knows that they are being sold as Cannabis substitutes.

I think that’s incredibly fascinating. I think that one of the things that’s really interesting to me about that is that Cannabis is illegal, of course. THC is illegal. The natural cannabinoids are illegal. These new sort of cannabinoid receptor agonists things, that activate the same receptors as THC does in the brain, are not strictly illegal in most places. But the only reason that these things are becoming available, is because Cannabis is illegal.

So, there’s a question in my mind as sort of, whether it’s a good long term policy to have it always be true that there’s a huge market for legal untested drugs, that is constantly morphing and evolving. Young people essentially are constantly, chronically, long term, being exposed to these things, as sort of a weird sort of experiment. Because the new things are legal, until they get smacked down and then something else new comes out.

Dean Becker: They become the test cases.

Fire Erowid: Yet there’s very little scientific research or human research data about the safety or harms of the new cannabinoids and so if Cannabis weren’t illegal, nobody would have any interest in K-2. But we’ve got a large market for K-2 or Spice or a number of other products, in the similar sorts. Where you’re basically just encouraging people to try out completely untested chemicals, rather than using the known to be fairly safe Cannabis.

Earth Erowid: Alright. Risks you know over risks you don’t know. We’re not saying that we know that K-2 or Spice or whatever these things are, are dangerous. Who knows?

Dean Becker: Once again, point folks to your fabulous website and I want to thank you for helping the Drug Truth Network over the years. To try to get it right.

Earth Erowid: Thanks. Visit erowid.org.

Alright. That’s about it for the Cultural Baggage show. Please be sure to tune into this weeks Century of Lies. We’ll have many more one on one interviews from the Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century Conference, out here in San Hose.

As we were just talking about, always remember that because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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Cultural Baggage is a production of the Drug Truth Network. drugtruth.net

Submitted by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org