#14 Mass Mental Health | Rick Doblin Pt. 2

November 26, 2020
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  • Rick talks about how heartbreaking it was to see the DEA administrator criminalize the therapeutic and recreational use of MDMA as Schedule 3 – which lead to Rick's creation of MAPS in 1986. Criminalization was a highly political decision and escalation of the drug war (1:00)
  • The drug war was political, and not intended to reduce drug abuse – it was an effort to persecute minorities, take away the right to vote, and create a vague enemy to blame. Rick traces the origin of drug probations in the United States (3:36)
  • Toxicity studies of MDMA in dogs and rats as the initial studies for the FDA were performed by MAPS – while the rhetoric and hysteria of MDMA neurotoxicity escalated from some scientists and became a premise for the FDA to reject the studies (6:00)
  • Rick discusses how he got a spinal tap as part of initial MDMA research, where he completed his Masters and PhD from the Kennedy School of Government. He applied for the Presidential Management Internship – and got a job at the FDA to understand how it worked (11:00)
  • In 1992, the FDA opened the door to MDMA research, and MAPS started with a safety study, but the neurotoxicity hysteria continued to gain momentum. Since psilocybin was less controversial, research with this substance began (13:00)
  • MDMA research began to be rejected from IRB’s (independent review boards) – despite the compelling science and mounting evidence. Rick jokes about the one time he felt discouragement in his work, so he repainted his house, and felt productive and accomplished (18:00)
  • Rick describes the work that he does, and the healing of trauma, is a response to the holocaust, to people dehumanizing others, and fundamentalism (21:50)
  • Rick discusses some of his psychedelic experiences, and how they have been reaffirming to his work. He took a large dose of LSD to celebrate his 21st birthday, and tried to cram life into a few remaining minutes before a perceived atomic bomb. Then he noticed nature and its vibrancy – seeing the world for the first time (25:30)
  • The combination of LSD with the awareness of death helped Rick to have a deep appreciation of the world – and the loss of this hyperawareness as he came down has always stayed with him. Carlos Castaneda says: “be aware of death over your left shoulder” (30:00)
  • Psychedelics can provide experiences, but they are filtered through our own subjectivity, and should not necessarily be taken as Truth. People can recall deep memories during therapeutic trips – and they can be profoundly symbolic – even if they are more symbolic in nature rather than truthful (35:00)
  • Rick talks about another trip on LSD after a tough breakup and he spent 17 hours in a water flotation tank and had a personal realization about self-hatred and self-acceptance (38:00)
  • Rick talk about his first time smoking DMT, and how he had a sense of universal connection. He communicated with the deepest part of himself, and realized that he is part of everything, including Hitler, which was tough for him to accept. Later that day, when doing Ketamine, Rick has vision of a Hitler rally, to see "the one combining with the many, and the many combining with the one: a vibration of energy". Rick used breath work to get control of his emotions. (43:00)
  • The only way to get Hitler to open up was that "he needed to be willing". Rick realized Hitler was getting more out of it than any other who were giving their power to him – so Rick’s strategy is "to change the many, not the one. Help them process so they won’t give away their power." (46:00)
  • Before MAPS started, Rick realized that mass mental health would become the goal of MAPS, and it would need a dual track strategy for the medicalization of psychedelics and drug policy reform so people could have access to healing (47:00)
  • Rick’s prediction: over the next 50 years, the bulk of humanity will realize technology can help build a better world for everyone, and we can then relax enough to feel our interconnectedness (48:00)



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.