#31 Wars on Drugs are Always Lost | Dr. Andrew Weil

August 10, 2021
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He is an internationally recognized expert on medicinal plants, alternative medicine, and the reform of medical education. Dr. Weil joins Ronan to discuss integrative mental health, the application of psychedelics in our future, the war on drugs, and more. Plus, he shares insightful lessons from the past that could benefit the success of the modern psychedelic movement.

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[00:00:00] Andrew: It seems to me that the great mistake that was made in the early days was that many people doing this kind of research and work did not realize how important set and setting are; that the magic is not in the substance. It's the substance in the right context, right expectations, right environment.

[00:00:27] Ronan: Hello everyone and welcome to Field Tripping. Today, I am thrilled to welcome back our first ever return guests to the show, and there couldn't be anyone more fitting or appropriate to have as our first return guest than Dr. Andrew Weil. But this time, the conversation is going to be a little bit different. Instead of hearing about Andy's path and experience with psychedelics, the focus of this episode is going to be on what wisdom this modern [00:01:00] Renaissance can draw from the first go round with psychedelics in the sixties and seventies. But before we hop into that conversation, let's hit up some news to trip over

Once again, the United States Congress has rejected an effort by House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to make it easier for researchers to explore the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. AOC had first tried to introducing the amendment in 2019, when it was shut down by a vote of 331-against, to 91 in-favor. This time, the vote was rejected by a narrower margin of 285 to 140. Even though the majority of her fellow Democrats voted in favor of the amendment, enough sided with Republicans in voting against it. AOC commented that the United States has and continues to uphold an obsolete provision from the war on drugs and fails to make decisions that are long overdue, especially given this pertains simply [00:02:00] to research. It's a good reminder that if curiosity is what separates those who are truly alive from those who are just going through the motions too many of our U.S. politicians are experiencing rigormortis before death. Secondly, David Olson out of the University of California Davis, has been exploring non-hallucinogenic psychoplastogens. You can think of these as psychedelics that don't actually have any psychedelic effects, but might be able to rewire the brain in similar ways. One of these molecules, known as tabernanthalog, seems to have anti-addictive properties. Rats given this drug are less prone to heroin addiction and even eat less sugar. It remains to be seen whether drugs like this could be useful in treating addiction in humans. Lawyers for Canadian Nathan Kruljac filed an application for judicial reviews, seeking to compel Minister of Health in Canada, Patti Hajdu to give him a response to a section 56 application, which if granted, would give Kruljac the right [00:03:00] to use psilocybin to treat his depression. Kruljac's application was being supported by the nonprofit organization TheraPsil, which had successfully supported Thomas Hartle's section 56 application. Thomas was on the podcast last week. And I think TheraPsil's actions are just plain stupid and I'm openly calling out at CEO, Spencer Hawksell on this. Listen, I'm all for using the law and litigation to move things in the direction you want, but a group of organizations, including Field Trip, through the Canadian Psychedelic Association, have been having incredibly productive conversations with Health Canada and many politicians about expanding access to psilocybin-assisted therapies, other than through exemptions. But there's always gotta be that drunk guy at the wedding who feels the need to steal the show and ruin it for everyone else. And despite TheraPsil's initial great work, they seem to have wanted to take that role. It's very disappointing and I hope they change course and engage in a more constructive dialogue with the Canadian Psychedelic Association and politicians going forward. [00:04:00] Finally, and just before we hop into today's episode, I wanted to congratulate everyone at Field Trip, because today Field Trip becomes listed on the NASDAQ, specifically on the global select tier, which makes us the fifth psychedelics company to list on NASDAQ, but only the second to qualify for the global select tier, which is the highest tier, putting us in the same echelon as companies such as Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Google, and Microsoft, amongst others. For anyone who wants to learn more about the work we were doing at Field Trip, or investing in Field Trip, please visit our investor relations website at meetfieldtrip.com. You can also navigate there through our clinic website, fieldtriphealth.com. 

And now we welcome a man that needs no introduction: Dr. Andrew Weil. Dr. Weil is known as the father of integrative medicine, and an absolute pioneer in the space of health, mindfulness, food, and spirit. Dating back to the sixties, his early work in psychedelic research has truly laid the foundation for [00:05:00] where we are today, and the integrity of these medicines would be exponentially different without his passion and contributions. He is the founder and director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, where he also holds the Chair in Integrative Rheumatology, and his Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health. Dr. Weil, thank you for joining us today and welcome back to Field Tripping. Fun fact- Dr. Weil is our very first returning guest. What an exciting achievement. So my first question, Dr. Weil- I just mentioned some of the political developments happening around psychedelics, particularly the work AOC is doing to hopefully permit federal funding for research around psychedelics. What are your thoughts around what's happening on a political level, if anything, around interest in psychedelics? I don't know if you're aware but former Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle joined us as an advisor [00:06:00] and so certainly we've elevated the level of conversation to some degree, but curious to know if- what you see happening and what your thoughts are around the political conversations?

[00:06:12] Andrew: Well I think there is certainly momentum building for decriminalization of psychedelics, for eventually making them available for therapeutic use. It's hard for me to believe that there would still be opposition to funding for research on them. I mean, that seems like that's a no brainer. I- certainly there's more movement at the state and local level than there is the federal level. And the big stumbling block is, you know, all of these things are still in the U.S. in schedule one, which is defined as substances that have a high potential for abuse and no therapeutic use. And that's of course nonsense. But in my experience over the years, drugs move to more restrictive schedules. They never move the other way. So, [00:07:00] you know, when something gets into schedule one, it's really hard to get it out, but that's really the challenge that faces us. And I would think that under the Biden administration and, you know, new faces at the Justice Department, there would be a lot of sympathy for that. I don't know exactly what it's going to take to make that happen, but at some point that has to happen. These drugs have to be de-scheduled and, uh, then, you know, defined as being available for trained professionals to use them. 

[00:07:30] Ronan: Yeah, I agree. It's interesting too, in the Biden administration is he still seems pretty resistant to broad-based legalization of cannabis. And so certainly in our conversations with Senator Daschle as well, that's been one of the points of contention, as to whether- because there's so much stigma around cannabis, and psychedelics have been relatively off the radar, you know? More recently, certainly they're on the radar, but relatively off the radar, if there's an opportunity to go in with a blank slate and [00:08:00] just go in from the conversation of medical application only, but it'll be interesting. And it really is kind of mind-blowing that there's resistance to even research around it. 

[00:08:10] Andrew: It has to happen. It's going to happen. I, you know, and it probably will happen suddenly. And, uh, you know, it'll be a great sigh of relief when it does.

[00:08:20] Ronan: It sure will. Absolutely. You, for a time, joined us at Field Trip as an advisor, uh, but ultimately decided to part ways to pursue other opportunities within psychedelics. I would love to know what you've been up to. I mean, we, I, you had me on your podcast, which was great and it was fantastic to catch up and chat, but, uh, we didn't get into talking about what you've been working on, but I'd love to hear it. 

[00:08:45] Andrew: You know, I get interviewed a lot about psychedelics, both by print media and podcasts. And as you know, I'm a very strong advocate for, for them. I think they have enormous potential and could be of great benefit to our [00:09:00] society if they were more available and more people knew how to use them. So I'm a strong advocate for them. I am on the boards of a couple of organizations that are developing products or looking at, uh, developing clinics and training programs.

[00:09:16] Ronan: Okay. And is what, what excites you about some of the work that they're doing? Is there anything that stands out as being particularly engaging for you or in your mind? 

[00:09:27] Andrew: Well, I think the, you know, the research on, on particularly on psilocybin as a treatment for depression, for a OCD, for PTSD, and MDMA for PTSD, that's, that's really solid. And the evidence there is very compelling and, uh, I, I, it's certainly going to put a lot of pressure on legal agencies to make those substances available. So I think that's coming fairly quickly. I see other companies out there that are, uh, there's a lot of scramble to patent, uh, [00:10:00] analogs of psychedelics. I, I don't know how I feel about that, you know? That whether, you know, who knows how these compounds will work and, and the idea of owning these molecules- I don't know about all that. You know, one of the issues that's come up, that I've been thinking about and talking a bit about, is that since, um, a number of these compounds and the natural products from which they come, uh, originally were used by indigenous peoples. Is there an issue of, of, uh, compensating indigenous peoples for taking these things and profiting from them? Or how do we acknowledge their contribution to all of this? You know, that's an interesting question to think about.

[00:10:42] Ronan: Yeah, that's actually one of the questions I had down here. You've touched on two of the key themes I actually wanted to dig into further with you. And, but let's, let's pick up on the latter. Where do you stand on, on, you know, the consideration around the indigenous heritage, particularly with psilocybin [00:11:00] and San Pedro and, uh, you know, there's, there's a couple of interesting conversations that I've had recently. One was with, uh, Dr. Alberto Villoldo, uh, who was saying that- he works very closely with a number of indigenous tribes in South America. And he said their, their viewpoint is they're happy to share their wisdom, but they don't want their religion to be co-opted. And I'm not entirely clear how that line gets drawn, but I appreciated the nuance around it because I find in North America and the conversations, I'm pretty privy to, there's this really quite ardent, We need to protect the indigenous heritage of this, and this is indigenous rights and we're trampling all over it. And it's not a very- there's not much of a conversation to be had there. And so his nuance was interesting. And then I was, I was on a panel with, uh, Lars Wilde who was one of the co-founders of Compass Pathways. And he pointed out that the indigenous use of [00:12:00] psychedelics- it goes back very far, but there's this default notion that this is a South American tradition, whereas psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics were used in Greek culture and, and, and a number of sort of Northern and Western European cultures going back as far, probably as, as the South American cultures, uh, use it. So the, the conversation is actually a lot more nuanced. Like what, what, what indigenous protection are we actually seeking to provide? Cause I think everyone wants to recognize the importance of it, but it's a fairly complex question. So I'd love to know your thoughts. 

[00:12:33] Andrew: Yeah, it is. And it's part of a larger, a larger issue. You know, for a long time I worked in the field of ethnobotany and there, there's been a lot of work of discovering new medicines that from plants that were used by indigenous peoples medicinally and now in some cases have been developed as pharmaceuticals and the questions comes up, you know there, really of compensation or acknowledgement. One of my ethnobotanical [00:13:00] colleagues has really made a point of putting indigenous healers from whom he's gotten the knowledge as co-authors on papers he's written, you know, giving them certificates from universities or academic institutions, giving them credibility. And then there's also the issue of financial compensation, if a drug company for instance is developing something. So that's at least under discussion. When I was studying all this long ago, nobody even had the discussion. 

[00:13:29] Ronan: Right. And that actually, that was gonna be one of my questions as well. But before we went into that, like, what's your personal viewpoint? And I get like, it's an evolving consideration and I'm not going to- and I certainly hope no listener is going to be, No Dr. Andrew Weil said this on this date, and therefore, you know, he either a terrible person or a wonderful human being or nothing in between. 

[00:13:49] Andrew: [laughter]

[00:13:50] Ronan: You know, if you were, and, and really the, the hope for this conversation for me was to solicit your wisdom. I mean, you have the benefit of [00:14:00] experience with psychedelics having seen what happened in the sixties and seventies to the modern day. And I think there's a lot of wisdom that you have to, to share with us. And, um, and so I'd love- and if you don't want to take a specific position that's okay, but if you [were] to say like, Hey Ronan, if I were you, this is what I would be doing, I would love to have that thinking and feedback from you. 

[00:14:25] Andrew: I guess, you know, I feel that no one really owns these things. Even the indigenous people who use them, it's not the property of anyone. I mean, they're, they're, uh, gifts of nature or the higher power, however you want to conceive it. And I think it's probably appropriate to acknowledge, um, a, a cultural tradition in which these have been used, that our culture has learned this from. But beyond that, I don't, I don't see that as a major issue. We're not appropriating anybody's religion. 

[00:14:56] Ronan: Right. That's fair. And I appreciate that perspective. It's [00:15:00] one that I actually haven't heard, which is these are our gifts of nature and they're all of humanity's and, and they're not necessarily any individual culture's, but we can still pay respect for the knowledge that they have developed over time. I think you've touched on this, but was there any of the consideration of indigenous practices and indigenous heritage part of what was happening, you know, at Harvard, uh, when, when this conversation really started in the modern Western context, or was it really just a lot of self-experimentation and, and very little reference to, you know, the, either the, the Mexican traditions or the South American traditions?

[00:15:40] Andrew: Well, uh, you know, I was in the, uh, at the Harvard Botanical Museum working under Dick Schulty, since he, he certainly acknowledged the indigenous traditions from which these came. And so that was really the tradition in which I learned this. But as the, as the general public in, at Harvard back in those days began using these [00:16:00] substances, I don't think there was much awareness of the, the cultural roots of those practices. 

[00:16:05] Ronan: Right, gotcha. I don't know if you're aware, but today, Field Trip actually, is our first day trading on the NASDAQ exchange. We're the fifth psychedelics company to list on the NASDAQ and only the second to actually achieve the status of the global select tier, us and Compass Pathways, which puts us actually on the same caliber of company as Apple and Amazon and Google and Microsoft. 

[00:16:30] Andrew: Fantastic. Good work.

[00:16:31] Ronan: Yeah, it's a great achievement. Thank you. There's been a lot of conversation, it seems to be shrinking or at least I'm not as involved in the conversations, but there's a lot of conversations about the corporatization of psychedelics and whether that's going to suck the soul out of psychedelics, um, or, you know, it's going to ruin everything that's happening. I would love to know your thoughts and your perspective of what you see you see happening [00:17:00] from, um, you know, the industrialization of psychedelics. And if there's any advice you would offer, uh, to keep in mind to people like me or Christian Angermayer, or any of the people involved in the business side of the equation?

[00:17:16] Andrew: Yeah, complicated question. I don't know that I, I know how to answer that. I think that, uh, that psychedelics are going to penetrate our, our culture by various pathways. I think there are some people who are going to continue to obtain these things on the street and use them however they use them, whether that's for individual exploration or in social recreational settings. I think there's going to be the therapeutic use, which will evolve. And that's a really interesting one and I certainly support that. And I think the real need there is for, uh, professionals who are trained in how to guide the experiences. We've talked about before. In terms of the corporatization, I guess that's inevitable. [00:18:00] And how that will play out. I really don't know. I hope it, I hope it does not, um, detract from what I would consider, and probably you would as well, to be the best possible uses of these substances. 

[00:18:14] Ronan: Yeah, no, th that's a, that's a fair, fair consideration. I mean, one of the things I often think about and where I keep landing is, even if we suck out all the tradition around psychedelics, even if this becomes a purely medical application, which I think would be shortsighted and unfortunate, you know, even if, and I know I get a lot of pushback when I say this, but I still come to the same conclusion, even if psychedelic therapies end up being only accessible to privileged white people, uh, which is a source of a lot of concern, that's still better than it not happening at all right? 

[00:18:52] Andrew: I agree.

[00:18:53] Ronan: The more peoples' mind you opened, even if it's a rich white dude, it's still better than nothing. It's [00:19:00] not what we want, but, um, I think, you know, it's, it's still good. It's still good. There's no bad outcome here, I think. There's just better outcomes and less good outcomes, but they're all still [inaudible]

[00:19:11] Andrew: Yeah, I agree with that. 

[00:19:12] Ronan: Yeah. Okay. Cool. Thank you. I had asked this- and you've touched on it a little bit as well- you know, Tim Ferris, who was an outspoken advocate for psychedelics was quoted as saying that, investing or donating to psychedelic causes has the chance to quote, Bend the arc of history. Having had the experiences you've had both professionally, personally, academically, do you think Tim is right that the psychedelics can bend the arc of history? Or do you think his faith may exceed the actual potential? Because I feel like irrational optimism is, it tends to [00:20:00] be kept for the youthful, and that with age and wisdom, we become a little bit more thoughtful and nuanced and, you know, uh, a little bit more balanced in our perspectives. And I'm curious to know how your faith and the potential for psychedelics has evolved over time, you know, from being young to now and truthfully also in the last year or so, as this has become a very mainstream conversation, again. 

[00:20:28] Andrew: I think that potential is there. I would agree with Tim about that. And I think our, our world desperately needs, uh, some bending of the arc of history, because it's very clear where our arc is leading us and it's no place good. And I think that's a really urgent priority right now that, that almost everyone I know is anxious, depressed at looking at the scenarios coming for us. You know, I'm up here in British Columbia and we just had that incredible heat wave- 

[00:20:58] Ronan: Right. 

[00:20:58] Andrew: -a couple of weeks ago, [00:21:00] unprecedented in history. And, uh, it was, it looked pretty apocalyptic. There was smoke in the air from wildfires, the ocean in front of my place for three nights was- the surface was covered with dead crabs and dead fish and a huge stench coming off of this excessively warm water. You know, you can really see where things are leading if we don't change our ways. And when you think about how we could change our ways, I don't see too many, I don't see it happening. And the one- one great potential out there as if, you know, if enough, if there's enough change in individual consciousness. And I think psychedelics have the potential to do that if they're used in the right way. So I agree with that. I think there is, that is one of the great promises that these substances offer.

[00:21:50] Ronan: Yeah absolutely. I mean, obviously I agree. I wouldn't be dedicating my life and my reputation to this kind of work as well- 

[00:21:58] Andrew: Ronan, let me also say, I don't [00:22:00] think it happens automatically. It's not just, you know, just- a person doesn't become enlightened or change their ways just by taking a psychedelic.

[00:22:07] Ronan: Yeah.

[00:22:08] Andrew: It has to be done in the right way. The person has the right expectations. Uh, you know, the experience has to be guided in the right way, but, uh, I think there, there is a real potential there for, um, fundamental change and perspective that can lead to change in behavior. And, you know, maybe that can avert the catastrophe.

[00:22:29] Ronan: Yeah, I think that's fair. I was speaking with my friend Tucker. I went through a very intense and positive psychedelic experience recently and it brought up a lot of stuff for me. Um, but I had noticed that following the experience, some of my old behavior, some of my old outlooks, some of my old perspectives that I thought had been pushed to the side, through this magical experience, started to percolate up again. And he's like, Of course, dude. He's like, You don't wash away [00:23:00] 41 years of trauma in a single psychedelic therapy session, or even in six months, or even in a few years. That being said, you know, one of our investors and the very close advisor to the company was saying recently that over the last few years done ayahuasca, I don't know, 10 times then psilocybin a handful of times, MDMA a few- a number of times, and he's kind of like, I think I'm good. I think I'm okay for right now. And I'm just curious to know, in, in your personal experience, has, has it been kind of a consistent practice with psychedelics? Does it come in waves, ebbs and flows? What has been your experience with the application and, and when you create, you know, real movement in your persona, your personality, your psyche, all that kind of stuff?

[00:23:47] Andrew: Well, just from my personal history, you know, I used the substances frequently in my late twenties, early thirties. Some into my forties, but in that early period, I [00:24:00] think that the experiences that I had really shaped my thinking about who I was, my relationship with the world, with the environment, and certainly my philosophy of medicine and health and healing and, and, and that really, I think, formed the basis of my way of thinking about creating the field of integrative medicine and training physicians in it. You know, I don't really use those substances in this phase of my life. 

[00:24:26] Ronan: Right. 

[00:24:27] Andrew: I don't feel the need to do that, but they had an enormous influence on me, uh, when I was younger. And, and very lasting effect. 

[00:24:36] Ronan: Yeah, no, that, that's great. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. Cause uh, you know, speaking with, uh, Rick Doblin, who is, you know, I think a little bit your, your junior, but not substantially so. It sounds like his practice remains very active and so it, it is interesting to see how as people advance through their lives, what role psychedelics play, um, on an ongoing basis, [00:25:00] whether it's something that's mostly reserved for the the younger folks or whether it is essential part of like an ongoing lifestyle practice. And it sounds like for you, you've got what you need out of the experience. Um, but for others, uh, there's, there's more, more digging to be had. 

[00:25:18] Andrew: I don't think there's any one right way. You know, I think it's a very individual matter of how you find these in how they fit into your life. 

[00:25:26] Ronan: One of the things I touch on, and I'd love to know your thoughts, because I get a lot of raised eyebrows, but I'm a big believer that the advent of psychedelics into a mainstream medical or therapeutic consciousness, uh, is actually going to have a fundamental shift in how medicine gets practiced. Right now, we live in a still very allopathic approach to medicine where we treat what's wrong. And we may have touched on it the first, you know, some of the earlier times we were spoken, but what has always excited me about psychedelics is less about [00:26:00] the psychedelic drugs or the psychedelic experience, but more the ability of psychedelics to be the platform that shifts the conversation around mental health. We know at least from a physical fitness perspective, if we go to the gym, you know, it makes us stronger. It makes us healthier. It makes us live longer. It makes us happier. We're very proactive about that. When it comes to our mental and emotional or spiritual health, most people are extremely reactive about it if anything at all. I mean, I think there's a lot of people who should see a therapist when they're going through an extreme trauma situation that will never do that. They'd never be caught dead in a therapist office, but I think psychedelics can start to become the platform where we start to think about our mental health on a proactive basis. And I think that fits quite nicely into integrative medicine. And I even go a step farther when I think about the fact that in the future in five or 10 years, assuming psychedelic therapy has continued to roll out even in a medicalized basis, the relationship you're going to have with your psychedelic therapy [00:27:00] provider, whether that's a doctor or some other categorization or profession, is going to be deeply and much more meaningful than the relationship you have with a family doctor, right? That you see 15 minutes once a year for a checkup and that's about it. And I think it's going to really flip how people think about their health, which is I'm not going to go to my family doctor necessarily to find guidance in how to live my life from a proactive basis. I'm going to look at it from a, my mental health, my psychedelic provider. And I think it's going to do a lot for integrative medicine and how integrative medicine evolves. And I'm just curious to know your thoughts about, if you see psychedelics not only changing how we think about our mental health, but actually how we think about our healthcare overall.

[00:27:51] Andrew: Yeah, it's a big question and I I'm very enthusiastic about the potential there. Our Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona has [00:28:00] had two national conferences on integrative mental health and in both cases, they were incredibly oversubscribed. The hunger for this, for a new model of how to deal with a mental, emotional wellness is just palpable. And the field has been so restricted by a, an obsolete model that views all mental, emotional disturbances as the result of disorder, brain biochemistry, and there's only one way to deal with that, which is by prescribing pharmaceutical agents. And that's such a limited viewpoint. And in practice that has been a very unsuccessful approach, you know? The outcomes of, of a medical treatment of emotional, mental, emotional disorders is, is very poor, you know? We don't do well. Uh, so there has to be other ways of doing it. And I think there, there are so many new [00:29:00] ideas out there and, uh, psychedelic therapy is certainly a big one. Now I've probably said this before, when I talked to you that I think there's vast potential, uh, for psychedelic therapy in physical medicine, not just, uh, you know, mental health. Because, in my experience- this is one of the things I learned from psychedelics that I applied to my philosophy of medicine- that the root causes of an enormous fraction of illness are really not in the physical body. They are in the, the mental, emotional, the non-material sphere. And that's where you have to make changes in order to produce changes in the physical realm and that's just not allowed for in under the current materialistic paradigm that dominates science and medicine. And I think this is one of the things that psychedelics can change. They can allow people to see how, by making changes in your head, you can make changes in the world outside your head and in [00:30:00] your physical body.

[00:30:01] Ronan: Absolutely, yeah. And you did touch on it. I think, um, I think you touched on, uh, LSD and your allergies the last time we spoke is, is that, that's my- 

[00:30:10] Andrew: Yeah, that's one example, but you know, I've seen so many cases of people who've had chronic pain, uh, in one psychedelic experience, they have- they have the experience of, that it's possible to be pain-free. 

[00:30:24] Ronan: Right. 

[00:30:24] Andrew: And even if the pain comes back at the end of the session, you've seen the possibility that you can live without pain, and then you can be motivated to find other ways of, uh, you know, of making that happen more often. 

[00:30:36] Ronan: A hundred percent. That that's actually one of the things I was trying to share, uh, with my co-founders yesterday. We, we had dinner to celebrate a listing on the NASDAQ and I was saying, Just the energy of the experience of feeling love or feeling secure, um, you know, or feeling not judged on a deeper level, a much more intimate level. It moves the needle, you know? It pushes [00:31:00] the frame out a little bit. So even though you kind of bounce back to this point where it's not quite as far as maybe you were experiencing right after the psychedelic experience, you felt it in a new way, you've experienced it in a new way and therefore you realize it's possible. So if you feel pain-free for a few minutes, or a few hours, or a few days, even if the pain comes back at least you know the possibility of that. And certainly as it pertains to pain, you know, I think a lot of that is psycho- I don't know exactly what the word is, not psychosomatic, but you know, it is very much in your head. And when you change that perspective, a lot changes. 

[00:31:33] Andrew: I tell people to use the term semato-psychic to avoid the connotation of psychosomatic, because people think, when you say psychosomatic, you're accusing them of imagining things

[00:31:42] Ronan: Right. 

[00:31:43] Andrew: And making it up. And it's not, it's just that mind and body can't be separated and that, uh, everything is a mind-body phenomenon, and that you want to take advantage of that connection. 

[00:31:54] Ronan: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm curious, what other modalities are being discussed at these [00:32:00] conferences for integrative medicine- medical, sorry- integrative mental health? 

[00:32:03] Andrew: Nutrition, a big one, which has been so ignored in medicine, and there's a, you know, a fascinating new idea that inflammation is a contributor to depression. 

[00:32:15] Ronan: Yep. 

[00:32:16] Andrew: And that diet certainly influences inflammatory status. I mean, that's a whole, whole area. Another one is looking at the influence of things like breathing on anxiety states, for example. Using the approaches of, you know, Eastern systems like mindfulness, you know, there's a, there's a, there's a whole range of topics that are just different from the standard biomedical approach and, and great deal of enthusiasm for all of these. There's also some, you know, there's some fascinating new therapies on the horizon. Things like transcranial magnetic stimulation, for [00:33:00] example, or a gamma pulse gamma light therapy. 

[00:33:04] Ronan: Right. 

[00:33:04] Andrew: Uh, I mean, these are interesting relatively, uh, non-invasive safe techniques that look like they have terrific potential for changing, you know, the way the brain works and, and the way we experience our, our emotional states. 

[00:33:18] Ronan: Yeah, no, those are all very interesting and certainly things that I'm- I haven't experienced all of them, but I'd certainly welcome the opportunity. But when I, when I was speaking with, uh, Dr. Alberto Villoldo, uh, last week or two weeks ago, he mentioned two things and, and this is just my curiosity because I haven't validated it. And I'm, I'm curious to know if you've heard similar things. One was that the addition of fluoride, our flourination of our water system is leading to calcification of the, I think the pineal gland he was saying, is this something you've heard before? I've never heard that before, so I'm just-

[00:33:52] Andrew: No I have not heard that. The pineal gland naturally calcifies, uh, you know, it calcifies in everyone. Uh, and [00:34:00] it's used- we don't know why it calcifies, and that doesn't necessarily mean that, that it loses its function. 

[00:34:05] Ronan: Okay.

[00:34:05] Andrew: Uh, but it's, it's always been used as a radiographic landmark, you know, on x-rays you can map the brain by locating the pineal because it's calcified, so you can see it there. And that was going on well before we fluoridated water. 

[00:34:19] Ronan: Huh. Okay. Interesting. That's good to know. Uh, and, and the sec-

[00:34:23] Andrew: By the way, the pineal, you know, when I was in medical school, but they didn't know what the pineal did, and it was called a functionless organ. And, you know, it turns out it's probably one of the master regulators of the endocrine system and neuro-endocrine system. And it produces melatonin, which regulates our day-night cycles, but it, but melatonin is chemically analogous to DMT. And there's reason to think that the pineal probably produces our own indogenous psychedelic, which is probably DMT or a DMT analog. And it's certainly [00:35:00] possible that when people have, you know, experiences, whether it's a near death experiences or, uh, that this might be, have to do with release of our own, the psychedelic we make in our body. But certain that we've made endogenous psychedelic. 

[00:35:16] Ronan: Yeah, he was, he was saying, um, and again, I haven't validated this, and it was the first time I heard it, but he was saying that, um, DMT and psilocybin are essentially just methylated serotonin, and methylated dopamine or something along those lines. Again, I don't know if you've heard anything along those lines or read anything similarly, but it was quite fascinating just to see how endogenous, uh, these molecules are and why they work so well, similar with cannabinoids, right? We have a whole system designed to- 

[00:35:44] Andrew: Yeah. And that's and, and opioids. And that raises a very interesting question of, you know, why is there this correlation between what's in our brains and what's outside? Why should the poppy plant make molecules that fit receptors that are in us for [00:36:00] our own endogenous, you know, compounds. To me, it suggests some very deep connection between us and the natural world. 

[00:36:11] Ronan: Absolutely. Do, do you, uh, do you adhere at all or have any belief in the stoned ape theory around psychedelics?

[00:36:19] Andrew: I don't. And I, I know, and I get in a lot of trouble for saying that because that's so, so fashionable, but here here's what I think about that. I think that, um, In order to use psychedelics safely, uh, human beings had to get the, some basic level of civilization where basic safety was guaranteed. 

[00:36:41] Ronan: Right 

[00:36:41] Andrew: Because I think that a primitive hominid who accidentally ingested mushrooms, that the disordering of sensation would leave you very vulnerable in those times, either, you know, to not being able to defend yourself against [00:37:00] some predator. To me, it just seems that we had to wait until we had some, uh, you know, basic safety handled, uh, before we could indulge in those experiences.

[00:37:13] Ronan: That makes a lot of sense and something I hadn't considered, but that, that is a very persuasive point. One question I'd love to get your thoughts on is specifically what's happening in the, in the state of Oregon. And I don't know if you've been tracking it pretty closely, but what's really exciting about the state of Oregon is the, the system that's being proposed is one that where you wouldn't need to have a, a diagnosis specifically in order to participate. And therefore it really opens up psychedelic therapies. The, the system in Oregon is one that opens it up to not just people with DSM diagnosis, but also anyone who is "well," so to speak, I mean, we've all got traumas and all that kind of stuff. Have you been following what's been happening there and I'm curious to know your thoughts about it. Cause I know some people have expressed- 

[00:37:55] Andrew: No I haven't. But now that you tell me about it, I will, I will [00:38:00] pay attention to it. That sounds terrific. And Oregon of course, has been really a leader in other areas, you know, with euthanasia, for example, and voluntary suicide and with alternate therapies for, for opioids. So that's fascinating. I did not know about that. 

[00:38:23] Ronan: Okay. It's- if you want to be connected to some people there, I'm very close with Sam Chapman who was one of the organizers. So if you ever want to get deep, deep dive into it, I'm happy to make that connection for you. 

[00:38:33] Andrew: Okay. And of course, this puts Oregon in conflict with federal law. So it's going to be very interesting to watch how that plays out. 

[00:38:40] Ronan: Absolutely. I mean, we saw it in the cannabis industry- 

[00:38:42] Andrew: And whether, whether the feds will step in and try to thwart that, that, you know? I would imagine there'd be some reluctance on their part to get involved in it, but, but it'd be very interesting to watch how that plays out.

[00:38:54] Ronan: Absolutely. It's it's, it's interesting. I mean, it played out in the cannabis industry, uh, and then there was the Cole memo [00:39:00] signed and certainly it's one of the points of conversation with Senator Daschle, is how do we influence the government to respect state rights along these lines as well, particularly, you know, unlike cannabis, where the evidence is just not as robust when we know the clinical trials around psilocybin are so robust as to their safety and efficacy, particularly wouldn't done in controlled environments. Um, it's really hard to see how any good sense would come of that. If they tried that in Canada, again, I'm quite confident that our Supreme Court would actually, uh, side in favor of access as opposed to criminal regulation, but, um, who knows. One of the big, um, one of the big, uh, sources of, of conversation within Oregon and I'm certain it will be in any other state or federal access programs, not necessarily from the FDA perspective, but from a political perspective, is the training of therapists and, and who's qualified. Curious to know if you have any thoughts on what the appropriate type of training is, because I know for instance, [00:40:00] Irwin the person I work with for my own coaching and personal therapy, he's not a therapist. I don't think he has a degree. I don't think he's just deeply empathetic and understands human consciousness and the human spirit and I think the nature of reality at a deeper level than most people. And I think he'd be an amazing psychedelic guide. Um, But he's one of a kind, so to speak. So just curious to know if you have any thoughts on where the appropriate balance would land? 

[00:40:24] Andrew: Uh, no, I do not. I'm not, I don't want to be the one to say it should be this way or should be that way. There are probably many different paths for doing it. I just saw, are you familiar with this? Um, there's a new school. That's just come into existence, psychedelicmedicine.net. And this looks really interesting. It's a, uh, a very formal program of study with a lot of indigenous shamans as teachers, uh, and, and a lot of field work involved. It looks, that looks great to me. I think there has to be very careful training of people in [00:41:00] this field. You know, it, it, it probably as in any area of psychotherapy, but, the subtleties of, uh, directing psychedelic experience in the right direction, that's very complex and takes great sensitivity. So I think first would be who, who you select for training? You know, what people do you even let in be trained? Uh, I think that has to be gone very carefully because you know, the potential, if things, if things go wrong, that can give the people who are opposed to all this, a lot of ammunition to shut it down or to restrict it. So, especially at the beginning, I think this has to be done very carefully. 

[00:41:43] Ronan: Yep, absolutely agreed. The hard part is, there's so much subjectivity, uh, in who is appropriate or not, right? And, and who you let in. And it seems that in our society, subjectivity is not well-received; that it [00:42:00] should be objective and everyone should have a shot at it, which, I'm going to get both sides of the equation. And I have no idea where the appropriate answer lies. Um, and that's going to be one of the challenges as we look to provide legal and regulated access to, to these kinds of therapies. I know, you know, MAPS and the FDA- the FDA, I think wants a master's or PhD level psychologist or psychotherapist present, and then the second person can be anything. And then the doctor on call and it's like, okay, you know, I know a lot of psychologists who are not well equipped to provide this kind of care, and notwithstanding the fact that they have letters besides their name. So, uh, it'll, it'll be interesting. 

[00:42:36] Andrew: Exactly.

[00:42:37] Ronan: One ofthe things that, uh, that was touched on in, in the news to trip over section at the beginning of the podcast is that there are a number of scientists working to explore the applications of non psychedelic psychedelics, essentially removing the psychedelic experience, uh, from the psychedelic drug. I personally support such efforts because I believe not everyone on earth [00:43:00] necessarily wants to do the work to get through their emotional and mental traumas and just want medicine, just want a drug that they can take and magically feel better. Um, personally, that's not my approach. I think there's a lot of value in going through the process, you know? That's part of life and experiencing all of life. But I do get where it comes from and so I support the research in this direction. I have no idea if it'll work, you know? That's one of the fundamental questions of like, whether you need the mystical experience or not to actually have the therapeutic benefit, but I'm curious to know if you have any thoughts on, on whether it's a worthwhile approach. If you think it's taking too much soul, the nature of the experience or whether you're also supportive of it just from the medical application of it.

[00:43:42] Andrew: It seems a little silly to me and I don't really have any basis for, uh, you know, for saying one way or the other, but to me, uh, trying to take the psychoactivity out of psychoactive substances does not seem like the right approach.

[00:43:55] Ronan: Yeah. I, I hear you. I have one [00:44:00] final specific question for you, and then we can kind of go where wherever we want from here, but when I reached out to you about this particular podcast and having your back, it really was to try and distill from you any wisdom that you've gained through your life experience, through your professional experiences, um, through your experience with psychedelics that you think anybody who's involved in the modern Renaissance would benefit from. You know, is there any, is there any guidance or advice that you'd like to impart to, to me or to Tim Ferriss or to Christian Angermayer or, you know, anybody doing this kind of work? Because that's one of the things that I realized that there's so much experience that we don't have, having not lived through the sixties and seventies and the ups and the downs and the fallout. And I really just wanted to provide an open forum for any guidance that you may wish to impart upon us as, as we continue to do the work we're [00:45:00] doing and, and, and try, and, you know, in many ways change the world. 

[00:45:03] Andrew: Well, uh, I don't really have anything to do say that you haven't heard before, but it seems to me that the great mistake that was made in the early days was that many people doing this kind of research and work did not realize how important set and setting are; that the magic is not in the substance. It's the substance in the right context, right expectations, right environment. That's one of the things that led the problems with early research on LSD especially- that, you know, the first people that were doing this got great results and reported them. And they were people who really knew from their own experience, what, what this was all about. And then other people try to reproduce that and couldn't, because they were just thinking that the magic was all in the substance, and they just had to give that to people and would get these wonderful outcomes. And it doesn't work that way. So that's [00:46:00] the first, you know, it's like, you cannot overemphasize the importance of, the importance of set and setting, of context, uh, and, and how to use that to shape the experience. And the other, another thing is that I think that caused problems way back then, is that many of the people who were most enthusiastic about psychedelics in the early days were not sensitive to the, to how a lot- the mass culture would react to all this, uh, you know, that th they, they just were not aware of how threatening it could be. And then went about in a very cavalier manner of saying this is going to change the world and how wonderful it is. And, uh, you know, it made a lot of people very nervous. 

[00:46:51] Ronan: Do you think the world is different now? Do you think we have enough insight from the first go round, we have enough wisdom from people like yourself [00:47:00] and many of the other, uh, forefathers and foremothers of, of what's happening right now to avoid a lot of those mistakes? Are you hopeful that, uh, we're we're on the right path and, and, and won't divert? 

[00:47:14] Andrew: I am. I am hopeful. I think first of all, the need for change is so great. Secondly is that, uh, the, the interest in the general culture is so great and very positive. So yeah, I think that potential is there. You know, if you look at the cannabis- cannabis was a scary drug for mainstream culture because of its associations. It was associated with deviant subcultures, you know, first with, you know, uh, black jazz musicians and Mexican migrant laborers. And then with hippies and radicals. And a lot of the way the mainstream culture has reacted to cannabis is really to those. They were reacting to those associations more than to the substance. And that's still, hasn't completely gone away. [00:48:00] Psychedelics have not had that, you know, those associations. And if anything, now there's a lot of positive associations with indigenous cultures, with mystical experience, with so forth. Uh, so I think psychedelics are in a better position to be accepted now. And, uh, with all the evidence accumulating about their therapeutic benefit, especially for mental health conditions that we can't manage very well and that are becoming, you know, a great burden for our society. I think that has, they have a lot going for them now. So as long as, as people are take minimal, you know, basic precautions and proceed in a careful fashion, I think there's tremendous potential for these being integrated into our culture in a very good way. 

[00:48:45] Ronan: Do you think vis-a-vis cannabis, there was any defining moment where that kind of collective consciousness shifted? You know, right after Joe Biden was elected, uh, in [00:49:00] November, there was a great meme going around, uh, which was something along the lines of, Congratulations to the drugs for winning the war on drugs. 

[00:49:09] Andrew: [laughter]

[00:49:10] Ronan: And certainly we've seen that consciousness shift and it, it seems like it's been an evolving, uh, slowly evolving consciousness shift, but just curious to know if there's anything that sort of stands out to you as being the, one of the more impactful moments in time where that paradigm shifted, that we realized that, you know, we've hit the tipping point and now it's the snowball going down as opposed to trying to push it up the hills, vis-a-vis cannabis or psychedelics, curious to know if you've seen any of those moments and maybe the answer is you haven't, but curious to know.

[00:49:40] Andrew: I think we're in, we're in it. I don't think it's a precise moment, but I think we're in a, in a fuzzy period of transition right now. You know, the war of drugs- the war on drugs is not yet over, but it is, it is going to be, and that's a, that's a huge change. I, you know, the book I wrote in 1983, "From Chocolate to [00:50:00] Morphine," uh, which got me in a lot of trouble. The first line of that book is "Wars on drugs are always lost." And that is true historically, if you look at it. That is not the way to deal with, uh, people's behavior around substances that you don't like. Uh, it just makes things worse. And I think there is- I see a growing realization, uh, and a lot of stuff appearing in mainstream outlets about the fact that the war on drugs was a failure and it's time to abandon that strategy. So I'd say that the tipping point- we're in it, and it may be started a year or two ago, and, uh, we're, we're in that period of change right now. 

[00:50:43] Ronan: Curious to know, when you said, When I wrote "From Chocolate to Morphine, I got in a lot of trouble." You kind of lit up a little bit. Um, did you relish the trouble that you got in there and was it something that you were seeking to engage with?

[00:50:58] Andrew: Well, [00:51:00] It was meant to be a provocative book. Uh, you know, the, the basic point of it was that there are no good or bad drugs that they're just drugs and there are good and bad uses of them. And I've always liked to point out- in my first book, The Natural Mind, there was a chapter called "Is Heroin as Dangerous as Alcohol?" And that was- and my conclusion was no, it's not. And that was clearly meant to, you know, stir up conversation. And I've always, I've always been that kind of person. You know, often when I'm introduced on mainstream media outlets, I'm introduced as being the controversial physician. And I've always said if I cease being controversial, I'm not doing my job. 

[00:51:46] Ronan: I like that perspective. Just out of curiosity, cause it kind of touches on the same thing, have you read Dr. Carl Hart's new book, which I don't- called "Drug Use for Grownups" uh, which kind of [00:52:00] serves the same argument that there's no good or bad drugs. It's about how you use them. 

[00:52:04] Andrew: Great. No, I haven't

[00:52:06] Ronan: Okay. I haven't either, but certainly on my reading list. Awesome. Um, Oh, yeah. One final question. I don't know if you saw, but Harvard has announced that it's launching a new, not division, but academic center. 

[00:52:26] Andrew: Center, is a center.

[00:52:27] Ronan: Yeah. Have you been involved in those conversations at all? Or is that something you're just watching from the sideline?

[00:52:32] Andrew: I have not. I'm delighted to see it and you know, I would have thought that would come rather slowly to that institution, but that's great. 

[00:52:40] Ronan: Oh, that's good. Well, I'm glad you delighted to see it. And I know you have a hard stop in three minutes, so I'm going to thank you so much for joining us again. I do- I'm always grateful for your time. I'm grateful for, uh, the, you know, the dialogues that we've had, uh, over the last year or so. And I look forward to having many more dialogues. We, uh, we have [00:53:00] announced that we'll be opening up a clinic in Vancouver, uh, over the coming months. So hopefully we can get you down there to visit some time to see you see our space. 

[00:53:08] Andrew: Yeah, great.

[00:53:08] Ronan: You know, again, it's ketamine assisted therapy, which I know is not necessarily the highest in, in sort of your consideration of where things could go. But I think we've done a great job of, uh, creating a space in circumstances with what we've got right now. And I think it sets us up for a great potential future. So look forward to having you down there as soon as that gets opened up.

[00:53:27] Andrew: I'm delighted to see the success of Field Trip. I think you've done a terrific job and look forward to see where you're going to go from here. I think, uh, you know, the future is yours.

[00:53:36] Ronan: Thank you. I really appreciate that.

Tom Robbins once wrote, "like the Arthurian in years at Camelot, the sixties constituted a fleeting moment of glory, a time when a significant little chunk of humanity briefly realized its moral potential and flirted with its neurological destiny, [00:54:00] a collective spiritual awakening that flared brilliantly until the barbaric and mediocre impulses of the species drew tight once more, the curtains of darkness." And in my second conversation with Dr. Andrew Weil, it became evident to me that Dr. Weil seems to share that perspective. I genuinely got the sense that he believed that the spirit of the sixties and early seventies were very much on the right track, bringing an openness and perspective, facilitated in many ways through psychedelics, that represented the future of humanity. Because when it came down to trying to synthesize the benefit of his advice, it was not a cautionary tale. It was not a list of the things not to do, a list of mistakes to be avoided. Rather, it was a simple piece of guidance that bears repeating: never underestimate the importance of set and setting. On the one hand, we could take this at face value and reemphasize the importance of the mindset and the physical [00:55:00] locations and aesthetics of a psychedelic expense. But my sense was that there was more to that comment than meets the eye. There's a part of me that thinks Andy was trying to share with us that the mistake of the counterculture wasn't an error in vision, but rather that they didn't do the legwork, the preparation, to help the rest of society to flirt with its neurological destiny, that the setting, the aesthetic, the place and time of this movement, wasn't properly constructed to be accessible to the consensus majority. Or maybe Andy was simply giving us the advice of a good psychedelic guide and helping us to prepare for each of our next individual psychedelic experiences. We don't know, but the beauty of it all is that the ultimate answers can never be given. They can only be received. Thanks for listening. To wrap up today's episode, let's check out one of our audience's questions to trip on. 

[00:55:58] caller: Hey Ronan. Is it really [00:56:00] necessary to have a sitter or a therapist to get the most out of the psychedelic experience? Or can I just do it on my own? Thank you. 

[00:56:08] Ronan: The answer is you can do whatever you want and it's not my place to judge or really to offer advice to you on it. All I can offer is the benefit of the wisdom of my experiences and the experience of the physicians and therapists that we work with. If you feel confident that you are in a position to have a psychedelic experience without support, then all the more power to you. I've certainly had such experiences and I'm no worse for wear, and actually I'm probably better off for those experience. But what I do know is that you are much more likely to have a deeply and profoundly more effective and meaningful experience when supported by a knowledgeable therapist or guide. And having an experienced therapist or guide also gives you support in the off chance that your trip goes dark. The worst thing you want to happen is to have a bad trip, but that's different than a challenging trip, a challenging trip when well-supported can be incredibly therapeutic, but if you're on your [00:57:00] own, they can be traumatic. And that's something I think you certainly want to avoid. As a quick reminder, you can now record a question for us and we'll play it on the show. It's a great way for us to feel connected to you, our amazing listeners. To record your question, go to you, speakpipe.com/fieldtripping. Or you can send us your questions, comments, or any episode ideas via email to fieldtripping@kastmedia.com. That's Kast with a "K." Thank you for listening to Field Tripping, a podcast that's 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. Our producers are Conrad Page and Jon Cvack, and associate producers are Sharon Bhella, Alec Sherman and Macy Baker. Special thanks to Kast Media. And of course all my gratitude to Dr. Andrew Weil for taking the time to join me today, again. [00:58:00] It's always an honor to speak with him, to learn more. Check out drweil.com or just give his name a quick search in Google. There is plenty online to learn from him. Finally, please rate, review and subscribe to our podcast and sign up for our newsletter at fieldtripping.fm or wherever you get your podcasts.

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.