#1 The Bad Trip | Don Lattin

June 18, 2020
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For today’s episode of Field Tripping, psychedelic explorer, award-winning journalist and author, Don Lattin, joins us to kickstart our first season. Don’s most recent work, Changing Our Minds, chronicles a quiet revolution underway in our understanding of how psychedelic drugs work – and how they can be used to treat depression, addiction and other mental health diseases. In this episode we discuss:

  • The current psychedelic renaissance and what it means to the future of mental health;
  • Don shares what it looks like to take a bad trip – and how to deal with it;
  • How ‘The Great Pause’ caused by COVID-19 is an opportunity for psychedelic counterculture to reshape how we live, what we think, and who we value.
  • Visit our website fieldtripping.fm for more information. If you like our show, please subscribe, tell us what you think and leave a review.

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Don: [00:00:00] I do love getting high, I will admit that. So I was there with a group of about 20 people. One of my intentions was to sort of understand this thing we call depression and where that comes from. But during the ceremony, I did get some insight into my addictive mind. [00:00:18][18.5]

Ronan: [00:00:22] This is Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I'm your host, Ronan Levy. For today's episode. I'm speaking with award winning journalist and author Don Lattin. His journalistic work has appeared in dozens of US magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle, where Don works as a staff writer covering religion, spirituality and psychology for nearly two decades. When they think of books and authors about psychedelics, Don and his work ought to come to mind just as readily. His work includes the national bestseller The Harvard Psychedelic Club, which chronicles how a psychedelic drug research project at Harvard University transformed much of American culture in the 1960s and 70s. And his most recent work, Changing Our Minds: Psychedelic Sacraments in the New Psychotherapy, chronicles a quiet revolution underway in our understanding of how psychedelic drugs work and how they can be used to treat depression, addiction and other mental health diseases. [00:01:23][60.4]

Ronan: [00:01:29] Don, you've been fairly candid about your experiences with drugs and psychedelics in your writings and interviews. It takes a lot of courage to open up about these experiences. I've worked in the cannabis industry and now psychedelics industry, and it still makes me feel uncomfortable talking about my personal experiences with drugs, whether consciousness expanding or otherwise. Why do you do it? Why are you so open about it? [00:01:51][22.2]

Don: [00:01:51] Well, it's kind of an interesting question Ronan. I mean, for most of my career, when I was working as a newspaper reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and for a lot of that time, I was actually covering religion. So I was the religion reporter. I wouldn't have been so open about my experiences with psychedelic drugs or other drugs. But when I started writing books and writing freelance magazine articles about this subject, I'd already left the Chronicle. So I didn't have to worry about that part of it. You know, people misunderstanding it and any blowback from my employer at the newspaper. So I just got more and more comfortable talking about my own experiences, not just with drugs, but with everything. I was originally kind of an old school newspaper reporter where you don't talk about yourself, it's not about you. But, you know, journalism has changed a lot of ways in the last 10 or 20 or 30 years. And more people are writing about their own experiences in all kinds of ways. So I've just gradually gotten more comfortable with it. And in my last book, which is Changing Our Minds, Psychedelic Sacraments in the New Psychotherapy, you know, I was interviewing people. A lot of them were participants in clinical trials involving psilocybin and MDMA. And these were people who are talking about their own personal experiences with addiction, with PTSD. So I felt that I had to also be open about my own experience and my own story, you know, with them and with the reader, the readers of the book. [00:03:18][86.9]

Ronan: [00:03:19] And do you think your work as a religion reporter at all informed your thinking around psychedelics and what you talk about and your openness around it? [00:03:28][8.8]

Don: [00:03:28] It definitely has. Yeah, because, you know, I was a religion reporter, and when I say religion reporter, I define that very broadly. Religion, psychology, human behavior. I approach it a bit as a sociologist or a social psychologist, and then later in my career as kind of a participant observer and some of these movements. But the fact that I was working as a religion and spirituality reporter in San Francisco and resulted in me writing a lot about the so-called kind of spiritual but not religious movement, you know, people who were interested in various spiritual practices, whether they're Buddhist or shamanic or other things. You talk to the people who are involved with that, and a lot of them will say, well, you know, it all started in 1966 when I when I had this mind expanding LSD trip. I was already writing a lot about, you know, things like Esalen Institute at Big Sur. I wrote a lot of stories about that and new religious movements of all kinds. So I was I was writing about a lot of movements which came out of the 60s, and a lot of those movements were at least in part fueled or inspired by the revelations that people had on on psychedelic drugs. [00:04:39][71.1]

Ronan: [00:04:40] And are you a spiritual person? Was was this an area of interest for you in the first place because of who you were or how you grew up or anything along those lines? Or is it something you kind of fell into? [00:04:49][9.7]

Don: [00:04:50] Well, you know, I didn't have a particularly religious upbringing as a child. I mean, my I guess, lukewarm Protestant would be the way to describe it, the Presbyterian church, but it was the 1950s, and if you weren't going to church you were suspected of being a communist, so so, you know, my my father, you know, they took us to church. I was baptized. But, you know, when I was 12, you said, do you want to keep going to church? And I said, not particularly. And he said, OK, good, then we don't have to take you anymore, you know? So it was almost like I was being exposed to religion, like it was a disease and I had to build up antibodies to it. [00:05:23][33.6]

Ronan: [00:05:24] Addictions are usually a reflection of seeking respite from our demons are a result of disconnection from ourselves. Where do you think your addictions came from? [00:05:31][7.5]

Don: [00:05:32] I do love getting high. I will admit that. I was able to handle it for most of my life pretty well. I also think that my use of drugs and alcohol was partly self medicating for depression and anxiety. So I think a lot of it was with self medication. A lot of it was just the time that I came of age, you know, which was the late 60s and early 70s when there was a lot of experimentation with all kinds of drugs, including psychedelic drugs. But at a certain point it caught up with me and it was really alcohol and cocaine, which were the drugs that got out of control in my life. And I'm what is it now? I don't know, about 16 years sober from alcohol and cocaine. So I was able to deal with that. I used to think of myself as kind of a connoisseur of higher consciousness or altered consciousness, you know, rather than an addict. But- I was always functional, you know, I never lost my job or lost a marriage or lost the house over it or anything. [00:06:32][60.3]

Ronan: [00:06:32] Taking this perspective of being a connoisseur of altered consciousness. When did it dawn, on you that these addictions were leading you in the wrong way? Did you get sober with the help of psychedelics? [00:06:41][8.3]

Don: [00:06:42] Well, in my particular story, I didn't get sober with the help of psychedelics, although I did have some experiences when I was doing the research for changing our minds, where I got some new maybe some new insight into my addictive mind, my addictive behavior. But I'd already been clean and sober for eight or nine years at that point. So I don't know my own personal experience that I read about this a little bit in Changing our Minds. The first psychedelic experience I had as part of the research for that book was at a retreat center in Brazil, where they were having all night ceremony with ayahuasca, which is a plant based tea brewed from two plants that are indigenous to the Amazon basin. So I was there with a group of about 20 people. One of my intentions was to sort of understand this thing we call depression and where that comes from. But during the ceremony, I did get some insight into my addictive mind. So this is eight years right into my sobriety, so I had not had any altered state of consciousness at all, anything stronger than a double espresso in eight years, you know, and I'm someone who already confessed that I love to get high. Right. So I was a little concerned about that. And I was really doing this as research for my book. I mean, I wanted to understand psychedelic spirituality, psychedelic therapy in the context of which it was happening. Right. Not recreationally, but in the context it was happening. So this was why I was in Brazil and why I was doing this. [00:08:17][95.6]

Don: [00:08:21] You're in the jungle in Brazil. It was a beautiful setting, you hear the sounds of the jungle. It's night, there's singing, there's music. There's a great kind of feeling while you're in a circle, all dressed in white, men on one side, women on the other. This is how they do it there. And you walk up to the altar and you have this cup of psychedelic tea. You go back and then you all drink it together. And I started feeling the effect and it was a familiar feeling. I did a lot of psychedelics, you know, back years and years ago. And I was really enjoying it. And the first thing I wanted was more. Later there was a time for a second drink and some people were indicating they with their fingers that they wanted a full cup. So I did that and the shaman gave me a very small cup and I thought, why is that? And I started having resentment about it. And I was feeling like gipped. And then I close my eyes and I was kind of trying to have a spiritual experience and I saw these, a string of lights. And I followed one of the lights which seemed to be telling me to follow it and it was taking me into my own brain and it told me to sit here at a certain part of my brain and listen to my addict brain talking to my kind of higher power brain. And the higher power brain is kind of saying things like, why do you always want more and more and more and more and more? You never experience what's actually happening because you always want more. It's like having a conversation with yourself, except it was literally like as an observer watching my own brain have this conversation with itself, these two parts of my brain. And it wasn't like the greatest insight ever. I thought those things before. [00:10:06][104.6]

Ronan: [00:10:07] Right now, I think that makes a lot of sense. You know, it's one of those things where you could hear someone tell you the same thing over and over, but said in just slightly different ways at a slightly different time can totally land and impact people in a different way. So even though this is a conversation that you had had in your own head to some degree at various points in the past, this time it sat differently and offered some insight and perspective that you hadn't had before so. [00:10:31][23.9]

Don: [00:10:32] You know, that's the thing about, you know, these experiences are they call them ineffable, right? So we sit here for an hour and a half trying to talk about them right, on a podcast. And that's why it's important, I think, for people. I mean, especially journalists or anyone who wants to really understand this, to experience it, you know, you don't really get it until you experience it. And then it's often very hard to describe people. [00:10:53][21.0]

Don: [00:10:54] I don't know. There was something about the nature of the experience. I mean, people talk about ayahuasca in particular, being kind of a teacher and like the plants having some kind of intention, which my rational journalistic, you know, side of me thinks that's that's ridiculous. Plants don't have intention, but it did seem that way a bit that the tea was kind of leading me somewhere to try to understand something in my own mind about my addictive nature. [00:11:17][23.3]

Ronan: [00:11:19] One of my favorite quotes is from an author named Tom Robbins writes, "There are two types of people in this world, those that believe there are two types of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better." You've said that one of your favorite quote is it's not about altered states, it's about altered traits, a quote, I think that is attributed to Huston Smith. My favorite quote is probably a bit too irreverent and yours is more literal. What does it mean to you and why do you like it so much? [00:11:47][28.1]

Don: [00:11:48] Well, Huston Smith was a source of mine, a really a friend of mine. I got to know him over the years. Just just a little background. He was a scholar of world religions. He wrote a book originally called The Religions of Man, which is still a very popular text in comparative religion classes. In the later part of his life, he lived in the Bay Area. So I got to know him and I, you know, interviewed him quite a few times over the years with various things I was writing. And he has an interesting history because he was in, he was at MIT, you know, in the Boston area, the same time that Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, the man who would become Ramadoss, were doing their experiments with psychedelics and he got involved with them in the very early 60s. I read about this in a book called The Harvard Psychedelic Club. Huston is one of the characters in that. And the reason that Leary and Alpert, who are psychologists and brought Huston into this project, was called the Harvard Psilocybin Project, is that they were having spiritual experiences and they were they that that surprised them. They were psychologists. They were taking these these drugs and they were having these religious and spiritual experiences. So they brought Huston in as kind of a consultant and Huston for a few years, was very involved in that movement. He wrote an article about are these experiences that people have on psychedelics, genuine religious experiences or genuine spiritual experiences? And one of the points that he made, and I really agree with this, is that, yes, the experiences are genuine. The altered state of consciousness is genuine in a way. It doesn't really matter if you get there through psychedelic drugs or meditation or prayer or fasting or some other practice. What's important is what effect does it have on your life? Does it make you a more compassionate, aware person? So altered states are great, but what's really important are altered traits, behavior, and that's how we should kind of try to examine or judge the wisdom and the value of these experiences. [00:13:49][121.1]

Ronan: [00:13:50] You share pretty openly about a bad trip experience you had. Can you share a little bit more about it when it happened and what made it bad? [00:13:56][6.2]

Don: [00:13:57] I was 19 years old. I was a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley, and I had met a girl. We fell madly in love. We went down to Big Sur on the California coast, beautiful cliffside setting, and had an amazing acid trip together. The two of us basically melted together and became one and had this amazing connection and conversation. And I'd never experienced anything like that. We convinced ourselves, that this was true love, we had really become one, we would be together forever, we had found our soulmate and had this mystical connection and and then four days and a week or two, every time we touched after the drug wore off, we'd melt together. And I just was this this mind blowing, beautiful, revelatory experience I had with this young woman. And I don't know, about a month or two later, we took the same LSD again with another couple. We thought it was a retreat. This other guy's parents were part of this retreat center. Turns out it was a hunting lodge, not a retreat center. So we the four of us went out and we were tripping on this very powerful acid. I don't know, might have been 250, 350 micrograms. It was definitely very strong. And I had sort of the opposite experience where I felt afraid and paranoid and separate and mocked and laughed at. And one of the things that was happening during this trip as we were hearing gunshots around us because we were in a hunting lodge or a hunting area. So, I mean, looking back on it, I think they talk about the importance of set and setting. Right. You don't really want to be tripping on LSD when people are firing rifles around you. And those people don't like the fact that you're four young hippies and they're kind of rednecks. And so we had to go back to this lodge and spend the night. And it was very uncomfortable and very paranoid inducing. [00:15:53][116.1]

Ronan: [00:15:59] What was happening to Don when he took his first dose of LSD with his girlfriend was that it was a form of synesthesia. There were parts of his brain that were talking to each other that don't normally speak to each other. And that's really what happens on psychedelics, is that certain parts of the brain start becoming more active and different parts of the brain start speaking to each other more. And that's why people experience things like seeing things and feeling music in different ways, having different taste or sound sensations. And it also applies very much to emotions as well, where emotions can be heightened, seem to have more complexity or depth than normal and lead to experiences exactly like Don had, which sounded like one of the most magical romantic experiences of his life. [00:16:42][42.8]

Don: [00:16:46] That kicked off a very difficult period for me for a period of two or three months, I almost felt like I never really came down from the from the acid trip. I had flashbacks and I used to think flashbacks were like anti-drug propaganda. They weren't true. Well, they are true because they happened to me. So basically, I think I had a psychotic break kicked off by that bad trip. And and the reason I think it's relevant to what's going on now and what I'm writing about now is I didn't have anyone that I could go to. I didn't have a therapist or a guide or a trusted friend who I could talk to. I was convinced that I had permanently damaged my brain and I was going to be like this for the rest of my life. It was the scariest thing that ever happened to me. Now, when I look back on it, I think of it as a good trip and a bad trip. Now I think of it as one thing, right? It was a process of kind of individuation I was going through. The whole thing was the best thing that ever happened to me. I think I did come out of it a few months later, I think saner than I went into it. It's like I went to the other side. Now I know what that's what that's like. And I survived it, but barely. And so that's why I treat these drugs with a lot of respect and a lot of caution. [00:17:58][72.3]

Ronan: [00:17:59] What do you see as the future of psychedelics? [00:18:00][1.3]

Don: [00:18:01] Some people compare it to what's happened with marijuana. You know, first we had medical marijuana and that led to in some states, including California, legalization for recreational purposes. And so some people are saying that, say, magic mushrooms or MDMA, which are the two leading substances that are on the decriminalization track right now, that the therapeutic use of MDMA and psilocybin will lead to decriminalization and legal recreational use. Some people fear that what happened in the 60s could happen again, that there'll be a backlash against this. So it's going to be interesting to see if the FDA goes ahead and decriminalizes, the first one will probably be MDMA for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. That's the one that's kind of the leading edge of this and closely followed by psilocybin, as for use for depression mainly or addiction, you know, we'll see where it goes. You know, people forget that back in the 1950s, you know, there were thousands of people using LSD for in a therapeutic setting. So this is not really new. It's really a revival of something that started just a few years after Albert Hofmann synthesized the power of LSD in nineteen forty three. I mean, by the late 40s, early 50s, this was always already starting to happen. [00:19:25][84.2]

Ronan: [00:19:26] It's a complicated question, but I'm going to ask you to put on your journalist hat and imagine yourself writing a story about the journey of psychedelics between now and ten years from now. What will happen? [00:19:36][9.4]

Don: [00:19:37] From a political point of view, I think all drugs should be legal. I sort of air on the side of cognitive freedom, but I can also see if we move too fast, there are going to be bad outcomes and there could be another reaction that will shut everything down again. I mean, these are decisions in terms of decriminalizing these medicines. It's supposed to be based on the science. Right. And the outcomes of these clinical trials. But we all know that when it comes to drugs and alcohol, these are political decisions. If you go back to looking at Prohibition and Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and there, these were these were political decisions that were made. They weren't based on science. [00:20:12][35.3]

Ronan: [00:20:13] If this resides solely in the realm of medicine and FDA approval, I think anybody who is watching this space and is familiar with with psychedelics and their potency to to help people from a therapeutic perspective would would see that certainly as a win. But it does seem to me that keeping it in a medical and therapeutic context may take the soul out of the psychedelic experience. And I raise that specifically because for as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by the whole hippie movement, Woodstock and the nineteen sixties. I think the my favorite movie recently was watching about the Woodstock documentary that came out because I feel like somehow I was there, but I wasn't, and the 60s was defined. I think you wrote this by a period as a period of new spirit of optimism, innovation and hope. Beyond thinking that I personally was at Woodstock in a previous life. I think that sense of hope and optimism I've gravitated towards is what I like about that era. It's always been what sort of attracted me. Do you think it's possible to have that spirit reemerge in today's society, or do you think too much of that movement was inspired by maybe the naiveté of a whole bunch of 19 year olds doing psychedelics and not necessarily having the benefit of a little bit more life experience? And so maybe that optimism was a little too uninformed and unrealistic? [00:21:45][91.8]

Don: [00:21:46] Well, I think both things are true. There was especially in the very early 60s, you know, when Kennedy was still in office, there was a real sense of hope and optimism. Also, you know, the economy was booming. It was the postwar economic boom. There was a huge wave of people coming of age at the same time, the baby boomers, you know, there were all kinds of social, political, economic reasons that that things were opening up and there was a lot of hope and optimism. There was also a lot of divisiveness in the 60s. You know, I mean, it wasn't just all, you know, flower power and love. I mean, there was a lot of divisiveness. In some ways, I don't know if it's more than now. But it was different. I mean it was a generational divisiveness, you know, don't trust anyone over 30. You know, I mean, there was a lot of that going on, too. And the thing about psychedelics is they can really open you up and make you feel like connected and compassionate and gratitude. And they can also lead to grandiosity. You know, they can inflate the ego and they can dissolve the ego and they can be misused. I mean, you know, I mean, look at Charlie Manson, right? I mean, he used LSD to control his flock. You know, that was happening too. Today, you know, in the psychedelic the so-called psychedelic community. There's there's a lot of great things going on. There's also there are some bad actors out there, people who are taking advantage of people, whether it's sexually or financially. You know, there's all kinds of things that kind of little warning signs. One of the good things, if they do decriminalize this and then get to the point where, say, an insurance company would pay for psychedelic therapy, then it would open up to more people. But what's happening now is with the underground therapy movement, it's kind of an elitist thing. I mean, it's very expensive to hire a an underground therapist. So who can afford this and who will have access to it and who should profit from it? And should people profit from it? [00:23:47][121.0]

Ronan: [00:23:47] And changing our minds, you rhetorically ask the question, what would the world look like if we legalized psychedelics? And now I want to hear from you. What do you think the world would look like if we did blanket legalize psychedelics? [00:23:59][11.8]

Don: [00:24:00] It probably wouldn't look that much different than it looks now. You know, because most people are still not going to take them and the people who want to take them are already taking them. [00:24:09][8.8]

Ronan: [00:24:09] OK, I've got five more questions for you. One, what is the single biggest insight you've had from psychedelics? [00:24:16][6.3]

Don: [00:24:16] For me personally, it's feeling connected to the different parts of myself and to other people into the world and to nature. [00:24:23][6.9]

Ronan: [00:24:24] Who's the most interesting person you've met on a trip or what's the most interesting thing that's ever happened to you during a trip? [00:24:29][5.3]

Don: [00:24:30] That first LSD trip with my girlfriend in college, where we just melted together and became, I thought would be soul mates forever. Of course, we were only soul mates for about two months. But-. [00:24:43][13.6]

Ronan: [00:24:44] If there is one person who you could wave the magic wand and have them have a psychedelic experience, who would that be right now? Someone who needs to have their eyes open to. [00:24:55][11.4]

Don: [00:24:56] All right. You know, Donald Trump. Some ego dissolution there. He would probably just become more grandiose. So it probably would backfire. [00:25:04][8.2]

Ronan: [00:25:04] That's true. Have you heard and what do you think? I've heard rumors that if you don't properly tame the ego after ego dissolution, I can come flying back with greater vengeance. Have you ever experienced that or have you seen what happens with people on psychedelics? [00:25:21][16.5]

Don: [00:25:22] It's happened with me even with like ketamine, you know, which I've been using as an alternative to anti-depressants. On the one hand, there's an ego dissolution. And which leads to me seeing how I'm just part and connected to other things happening in my life for other people. But, you know, it's very easy to just shift that. And you're like the center of everything, right? So it's a real subtle shift from ego, dissolution to grandiosity. And it's just and you sort of have to remember, okay both the things, these things are true. And they were both like, you know, spawned by a chemical, you just put, you just ingested right. Right. So it just keeping it all in perspective and maybe going with the positive, going with the connection to everything. Right. Rather than the on the center of everything. [00:26:07][45.1]

Ronan: [00:26:08] We're in the midst of a pandemic. What advice would you give to people right now who are trying to stay balanced? [00:26:12][4.6]

Don: [00:26:13] Well, the advice I'm kind of trying to give myself is to try to stay balanced in terms of just taking advantage of this time, you know, for introspection and also for just, you know, for balance. You know, just we can still go out for a walk. We can still work in the garden. We can read. We can even do some, who knows, maybe a little psychedelic exploration. There's time for that. [00:26:35][22.4]

Ronan: [00:26:36] And final question is, if there's one psychedelic you could identify as your favorite experience, which psychedelic would it be? [00:26:43][7.4]

Don: [00:26:43] Well you're only giving me one right? Probably MDA. [00:26:48][4.5]

Ronan: [00:26:49] Because of the feeling of connectedness that it brought? [00:26:51][2.0]

Don: [00:26:51] And the story I told you about how it might forge these lifelong connections with people that was so much stronger and deeper than the actual drug. [00:26:58][6.8]

Ronan: [00:27:03] There are a few main takeaways that I'd like to mention after our conversation. First, the perspective that Don holds now about his trip at the hunting lodge on LSD appears to be consistent with the leading research and science on psychedelics, that there's no such thing as a bad trip persay they're easy trips and there are hard trips, but all trips with the right support can be therapeutic. In Don's case, that hard trip helped him realize his need to individuate and step more into himself. An important step in the personal journeys for each of us. Second, what's happening today and the current excitement around psychedelics is not your nineteen sixties cultural revolution. The sixties were fueled by an incredible amount of hope and optimism. But there was a naiveté in that era that led to a political backlash. Like Don, the people leading the research and the reemergence today are being informed by the experience of the sixties and trying to pursue the Renaissance with a little more tact and prudence and letting research and evidence lead the way instead of ideology and social reform. Third, the thoughtfulness that the current renaissance is being pursued with doesn't mean that the spirit of the sixties of hope, optimism and connection won't come again. There's a massive social revolution happening right now triggered by a pandemic rather than drugs. But I genuinely believe that the timing of the psychedelic renaissance and the great pause caused by COVID are not coincidental. They're giving us the same opportunity that the nineteen sixties counterculture sought to build. An opportunity to truly reshape how we live, think and decide what we value. [00:28:30][87.8]

Ronan: [00:28:38] Thank you for listening to Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I'm your host, Ronan Levy. Until next time, stay curious. Breathe properly. And remember, every day is a field trip if you let it be one. Field Tripping is created by Ronan Levy, produced by Conrad Page. Sharon Bela is our researcher. Special thanks to Quill. And of course, many thanks to Don Lattin for joining me on our premiere episode. Let's stay connected and keep this trip going. Subscribe to our new podcasts. Tell us what you think about it and sign up for our newsletter at FieldTripping.FM. [00:28:38][0.0]

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About Ronan

An entrepreneur and a visionary, Ronan is one the founders of Field Trip – with a mission to bring the world to life through psychedelics and psychedelic-enhanced psychotherapy. Concurrent with his work at Field Trip, he is a partner at Grassfed Ventures, a venture capital and advisory firm focused on the cannabis and biotech industries and is Chief Strategy Officer and Member of the Board of Directors for Trait Biosciences Inc., a leading biotech company in the hemp and cannabis industries. Prior to his current roles, Ronan co-founded Canadian Cannabis Clinics and CanvasRx Inc., the latter of which was acquired by Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE: ACB) in 2016, after which he served as Senior Vice President, Business and Corporate Affairs for Aurora. A lawyer by training, Ronan started his career as a corporate lawyer at Blake, Cassels Graydon LLP and Legal Counsel at CTVglobemedia Inc. (now Bell Media Inc.) He holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Commerce degree, both from the University of Toronto.