#39 The Bipolar Philanthropist | Sanjay Singhal

November 9, 2021
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He gives some really sound advice on how to find happiness for yourself and the people in your circle, plus some tips on how to make decisions in your life without regret. Sanjay is a tech entrepreneur, author, and one of the leading psychedelic philanthropists. He founded (and sold) Audiobooks.com, created the 500 Startups Canada fund and is currently an investor in over 20 startups. Sanjay launched the Nikean Foundation in 2019 with a mission to fund mental health research focusing on novel psychedelic therapies to treat mental disorders including anorexia, depression, and PTSD. Sanjay is a committed supporter of psychedelics for mental health; his deep and eloquent discussion in this episode is not one to be missed.

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[00:00:00] Sanjay: Pretty much everybody believes in somatic therapy, but I just didn't see it. I'd been treated once, uh, by a Reiki healer, and I think I just fell asleep. There was no- I didn't feel any better afterwards. 

[00:00:11] Ronan: You must have felt so refreshed afterwards. Come on. 

[00:00:14] Sanjay: No, cause I had a nice nap. 

[00:00:15] Ronan: Yeah, exactly. 

[00:00:16] Sanjay: But then, but then- so I had the experience with the shaman where clearly he detected something and he treated it with heat. And I did feel a little better afterwards. But more dramatically, I tried 5-MeO-DMT and uh, for the first time, just a few months ago. Amazing experience. And I'm looking forward to seeing more research come forth on what that drug can do for people. But after the session, I found myself vibrating for a good 45 minutes and it, it suddenly came to me in this burst, because during a 5-MeO session when you're fully under, your conscious, your left brain is offline. Your [00:01:00] vocabulary, the center that records things, everything's offline. And when it came back, my right brain was screaming at me internally, that of course somatic therapy works, you idiot. 

[00:01:23] Ronan: Hello everyone, and welcome to Field Tripping. Today, we are talking with Sanjay Singhal, tech entrepreneur, author, and one of the leading psychedelic philanthropists out there. Our conversation explores his personal journey through his bipolar disorder and his daughter's struggle with anorexia and how psychedelics have helped them, what excites him about the emerging psychedelics industry, and what a better world looks like to him if all the hopes around psychedelics come to fruition. But before we get started, here's your reminder to subscribe to our podcast so you never miss an episode. Towards the end of the [00:02:00] episode, we'll dive into our, "how to" segment, where listeners call in and ask a question for me to answer. If you have a question about mental health, psychedelics, or anything we've chatted about, drop us a note at fieldtripping@kastmedia.com or leave a voice recording at speakpipe.com/fieldtripping. And if you love the show, leave us your thoughts in a review on apple podcasts. It's much appreciated and helps us grow. Just go to our show on the app, scroll down and click five stars then drop us a review where it says "write review". Now let's hit up some news to trip over.

Our review on psychoplastogens from UC Davis concluded that research on psychedelics and psychoplastogens brings us one step closer to actually curing mental illness by rectifying the underlying pathophysiology of disorders like depression, and moving beyond simply treating disease symptoms. However, the [00:03:00] authors found that an equally important consideration in the therapeutic value of psychedelics and psychoplastogens will be in figuring out how to most effectively deploy these medicines at scale, a problem that we at Field Trip are working on every day, both through our clinics and our drug development work on FT-104 and other potential new pipeline projects. Also, our friends at Beckley Psytech have dosed a preliminary cohort of healthy volunteers with an intranasal formulation of 5-MeO-DMT. This molecule naturally occurs in the venom of Bufo alvarius, a toad found in Northern Mexico and Southwestern US. The experience of smoking 5-MeO-DMT is reported to be a powerful and short acting experience. The phase one study is designed as a double blind randomized single ascending dose study to evaluate the safety and tolerability of a single intranasal dose of [00:04:00] 5-MeO-DMT in psychedelic-naïve healthy subjects. This is the first clinical study to measure the pharmacokinetics and metabolism of 5-MeO-DMT delivered intranasally. Now on to today's conversation.

Today, I'm here with Sanjay Singhal, Canadian tech entrepreneur and author, best known for founding and selling audiobooks.com. These days, Sanjay's passion and attention lies in philanthropy. He launched the Nikean Foundation in 2019 to fund mental health research with a focus on psychedelic therapies to treat mental disorders, including anorexia, depression, and PTSD. The Nikean Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy, now housed at the University Health Network in Toronto, currently funds research trials around the world for psychedelic science. And everyone should know that Sanjay is one of the earliest investors and an advisor to Field Trip. Sanjay, thank you so much for joining us today and welcome to Field Tripping.

[00:04:56] Sanjay: Thanks for having me, Ronan. Looking forward to it. 

[00:04:58] Ronan: Awesome. I see you have a [00:05:00] nice fancy mic for podcasting as well, which is a good sign. 

[00:05:02] Sanjay: Yeah, no, I got it last week. It doesn't stop me from saying "um" too much, but keep an eye on that. 

[00:05:07] Ronan: Don't worry. I say it all the time. This is podcasting. It's perfectly permitted as far as I can- in fact that may be encouraged in podcasting. For all the people who have been listening, can you tell us how your adventure into psychedelics, and I guess also specifically philanthropy from the psychedelic perspective all got started? 

[00:05:27] Sanjay: Sure. Well, I'm fairly open with [inaudible] to, to let them know that I'm bipolar myself. I was diagnosed around age 30. It took a while for me to accept the diagnosis because back then it was still commonly known as being manic depressive. I tended to think of it as being crazy. So I didn't want to take the right medications. I thought, no, I'm depressed. I'm depressed. That was a much more acceptable diagnosis.

[00:05:51] Ronan: Yeah. 

[00:05:51] Sanjay: So I have this, um, this history of mental health concerns myself. I eventually did get on the right medication, um, like [00:06:00] when I was 38 years old, a drug called Lamotrigene, which is- I would call it under prescribed. It's an amazing drug for people with mood disorders. And it was this particular psychiatrist who told me about it and said, Yeah, you've been prescribed all these other things, but this is a new, a novel drug. It's an anti-epileptic that was discovered by accident during trials to treat bipolar depression. And, uh, it's been a godsend for me over the last 20 years. The other, uh, I guess propelling factor here is my daughter, who's 26 years old now, was diagnosed at age eight with anorexia. And she has been hospitalized-

[00:06:40] Ronan: At eight at age eight.

[00:06:41] Sanjay: At age eight. 

[00:06:42] Ronan: Wow. Okay. 

[00:06:43] Sanjay: She was hospitalized at age eight. She was hospitalized again at age 16. She's doing, she's doing well in the sense that she's now a third year psychiatry resident at the, uh, University of Toronto. But I would say the anorexia is still there. It's very prevalent. But [00:07:00] psychedelics access has helped her, uh, gain hope and, and continue with her studies. Psychedelics have helped me, uh, develop myself as, as a human. I wouldn't say it's particularly treated the bipolar disorder, but I haven't been seeking to treat the bipolar disorder. In this particular case, the pharmaceutical helps me, uh, quite effectively. But, but they've helped me develop as, as a person. So I, I would say, you know, this, that was a really, long-winded answer to your question where, um, it's my own personal issues, my own personal battles with, um, bipolar disorder or my daughter's battles with anorexia, that kind of put me into the position I'm in now with, uh, supporting psychedelic research.

[00:07:41] Ronan: And what was the precipitating factor to start the exploration into psychedelic research? I mean, obviously, uh, your daughter's anorexia, your own struggles as well, but presumably there was a moment where it was like, why, why aren't I exploring this? Or like, wow, that's really interesting. I'm going to devote my time and effort, [00:08:00] uh, to that as opposed to doing what you were doing. I mean, for everybody who's listening, Sunjay um, came to our old office, I guess it was late 2018, early 2019. Probably early 2019, uh, when we had reached out actually to, uh, Rotem, who's a researcher at the University of Toronto who had conducted the, the first, uh, study looking at micro dosing, I think just relying on data from Reddit, all that kind of stuff, and Rotem showed up, uh, with Sanjay and, and, uh, San-, I don't know exactly the relationship to Neeraj, but your friend or colleague Neeraj, um, and I think Thomas was at that meeting as well. And, and we were just getting started a Field Trip. We had no idea what we're doing, but we talked a pretty good game. Um, and, uh, and so they all showed up. Uh, we ended up not doing much with Rotem, even though that was the impetus for the initial meeting. Um, but Sanjay became one of the Field Trip's, you know, best friends, best assets, key resources, and that has been an [00:09:00] instrumental, I think, part of the evolution of Field Trip. But you had already been actively working in the space with psychedelics, uh, at that first, um, fortuitous meeting with Field Trip. So how did you get to that point? 

[00:09:14] Sanjay: Well, I got to say, first of all, you guys talked a great game because at that point, my friend Neeraj and I were thinking about getting into psychedelic clinics. I'll go back in time here in a second, to explain how we got to that point. But we wanted to- um, we thought psychedelics clinics were where the game was going to be played. It's not it wasn't- there's going to be development of new molecules, of course, standard pharmaceutical development. But really at the end of the day, what we were most excited about was treating people, which is why I got so excited with the talk you guys had. And, and in fact, decided in that meeting that whatever money I had set aside to open up clinics, I was just going to give it to you instead, which was one of the most brilliant decisions I ever made, both functionally to get treatment out there and get clinics built, as well as Field Trip has done extremely well [00:10:00] financially for me. And all of that money is earmarked for philanthropy. So thank you for that. It's, it's helped propel my, uh, my ambitions forward. But I got into this because about six months prior to that, I had met Robin Carhart-Harris at a conference here in Toronto, a biohacking conference. And I wasn't really paying attention to the main program. I was in an, in a room experimenting with a massage chair and somebody came in and said, Hey, there's this guy and he's talking about psilocybin and anorexia. And I was like, I don't know what psilocybin is, but sure, let's, I'll go listen. I went to listen, was amazed at the presentation and my eyes were really open. I'd tried mushrooms once recreationally. I think everybody's got that experience. I've tried it once kind of funny, funny experience. And I, so I went to talk to him afterwards, the guy was mobbed, and I just said, tell you what, I can't get your time now. I'll drive you to the airport when you're, when you're done here. Drove him to the [00:11:00] airport. He filled me in more, asked lots of questions. He invited me to come visit him in London. So my daughter and I flew to London a few weeks later, met with his whole team at Imperial College in London. And thought, wow I had no idea- given that there was a ton of research done on this stuff 50 years ago, uh, and there had been a little bit of research going on recently, I was shocked that I'd never heard. I just never been exposed to the idea that psychedelics could be used to treat mental disorders in, in any way. And yet yeah, the mainstream media just wasn't covering it. 

[00:11:34] Ronan: Yeah. 

[00:11:34] Sanjay: So at the time I- again, I'd set aside money for eventually doing research into treating anorexia and decided, well, um, I would, I'd be happy to write a check to fund the creation of Robin's psychedelic research center at Imperial, which became the world's first real psychedelic research center at a major university, or a major center of any sort. And, uh, and then, then that launched the ride. [00:12:00] Then I started reading. Then I started meeting people. I met Rick Doblin at MAPS, discovered the work that we're doing. Funded and anorexia trial with MDMA. Uh, met the folks at Usona Institute Bill Linton, Tura Patterson. Decided to fund some work they were doing. The 5-MeO-DMT. Got super, super excited about 5-MeO-DMT. And since then, you know, then we had the opportunity to find something in our backyard. And that was University Health Network. And after talking to them and figuring out we're all on the same page, in terms of which molecules, which indications we wanted to treat, got excited about that and wrote a big check to University Health Network and really excited that what, whatever is going to come next.

[00:12:40] Ronan: And outside of the sort of intellectual analysis of this, I mean, speaking to Robin and all that kind of stuff. When did you decide to make the leap into, well, I should understand this personally beyond just, um, beyond just, you know, the academic considerations of what I hear, because I think in one of the [00:13:00] first meetings that we had, you were talking about how one of your experience, experiences that helped you get off of the bipolar medication that you were taking at the time, uh, you know, for an extended spirit, uh, extended period. Um, and so, yeah, I, I guess the question is- actually there's two questions I have. Because I have really no idea what you were doing between, like, the sale of audiobooks.com to the date of our meeting. Uh, and it's just never come up in our many, many conversations. I'd love to hear about, you know, what you're doing, where your head was at, what you were thinking until this became, uh, you know, a clear focus for you. Uh, and then when did you embark on to the personal side of experience with psychedelics? 

[00:13:43] Sanjay: Sure. Well, okay. So talking about what I was doing beforehand is kind of a nice contrast to what I'm doing now, because I tend to think of myself- I'm thinking about writing a book, and I think I've mentioned this to you. I'm thinking about writing a book and I've been wrestling with what the title is going to be, because I'm trying to figure out what the [00:14:00] message is. I've, I've, I've become very concerned about philanthropy and the state of philanthropy, about the global climate crisis, about the growing gap between, uh, the wealthy and the, and the poor. And these are all things that I was never concerned about before. And it's, it's a direct result of, of psychedelics and realizing we're not alone, that we're all in this together, that I should be thinking about society first and myself second. And I think this is a journey that a lot of people who, who take psychedelics, that they embark on. And so I think of myself now, and this is my working title for the book, okay, so you're the first person to hear this. And you can- I'm going to, I'm going to be looking at your eyes to see what your reaction is on this. I'm going to call myself the bipolar philanthropist, because I was bipolar then. I'm still bipolar now. But I've gone from being a bipolar capitalist wealth-obsessed, uh, entrepreneur to being a bipolar philanthropist. And I think this is, uh, a track that a lot of people can go on. [00:15:00] And I think a lot of mental disorders, certainly anorexia and bipolar disorder are still stigmatized in society. And it was pointed out to me by Dr. Richard Miller on a podcast last week, in fact. That cancer used to be stigmatized. And then people started talking about it. You couldn't talk about having cancer. People would think that you were dirty and that it was bad hygiene or something had resulted in you having cancer. And it was contagious and you should be avoided. And I think people feel that about mental disorders, sometimes. They're so afraid of them. They want to stay away from them. But it's something I have. It's something my daughter has. Um, and, and they're treatable. And there are things that you can work towards improving from, and they shouldn't be stigmatized. So the more I talk about it, the more perhaps people realize that you can have a mental disorder and still be successful, be still be happy, flourish in life, which all of which I consider myself to be doing. So after I sold my company, I [00:16:00] sold it for way more money than I thought I ever would, and didn't have to work again. I, I, so I got into venture capital because that was glamorous. I thought, Hey, you know, I want other people to come to me and ask for money. That was a horrible idea. I created a venture fund with 500 startups that's done extremely well financially, but I didn't like being responsible for other people's money. And so that happened to, to shut down a couple of years later over, over some unrelated matters. That gave me an opportunity to go explore something else. And then, so then, then, then I got around to doing what most people with most guys, most, okay. Most immature guys with a lot of money into too much time decided to do- 

[00:16:46] Ronan: Which is most guys who have money.

[00:16:50] Sanjay: So I decided to open a bar. And you've been there. The whole Field Trip team has been there. It's been, it's an awesome bar, right? It was where we first had that meeting to talk about the future of Field Trip. [00:17:00] Coffee, Oysters, Champagne. There's my plug. Coffee, Oysters, Champagne on King West in Toronto. 

It's an awesome 

[00:17:05] Ronan: place. I'm going to plug it as well, because like, it's got, it's got that. Uh, what do they call it? Um, unexpected delight associated with it. I won't ruin the secret, although I don't know if it's much of a secret anymore, but anyone who's coming to Toronto should check it out because it is a very cool experience. And I'm not just saying that because Sanjay is a as a friend and an advisor and investor, it is actually an amazing experience. So you should definitely check it out. Sorry I cut you off, but it was a sincere plug. 

[00:17:30] Sanjay: Thank you, Ronan. I appreciate the plug. Uh, I found it very fulfilling. I discovered, I think one of my calls in life, if we throw a good party, I love throwing a party and owning a place like that is like throwing a good party every night. So I found that fulfilling for a little while, but then in the midst of planning for an expansion or the next, the next incarnation of, of a hospitality venue, stumbled [00:18:00] into philanthropy. I had asked a colleague of mine who had sold his company for a lot, in fact, for a lot more than what I sold mine for, I was setting up a private foundation and I called him and said, can you give me some advice on setting up a foundation? And I found it really interesting at the time. His biggest piece of advice is, was, be careful because you're going to find it really difficult to find good causes that you can direct your money towards. And he wasn't wrong. Like, if you start digging into most charities, you'll find that they're doing good work, but they're not necessarily solving a problem. And this is where my current philosophy is starting to evolve about being the bipolar philanthropist. What I believe now is that the most successful among us, that have had the most luck in terms of who our parents were, where we were born, the [00:19:00] societies, who were brought up in, the color of our skin. It's not our responsibility to make money and then give that money to worthy causes. It's our responsibility to put our brains where our money is and use that to develop solutions for the problems of society. So for example, you know, I, I don't think giving a dollar to the homeless guy on the corner is going to solve his problems. So I don't do it. But I'm not doing anything else to try and solve that problem either. And that's, that's, that's problematic. So I'm thinking now, you know, with psychedelics, with funding, research, into psychedelics, I feel like I'm solving a problem. I'm feeling like I can pour millions of dollars into this avenue of philanthropy, and I'm actually making people better, making society better, making people think more globally, uh, and more about society. And we're all gonna work together to make the planet a better, better place to live, with climate change, with social inequality, with [00:20:00] racial injustice. And psychedelics can help with all of this. And I urge everyone, think about how you could solve this problem, you know? How could it- didn't somebody just ask Elon Musk to solve, say, uh, to solve world hunger? Um- 

[00:20:15] Ronan: Yeah. 

[00:20:16] Sanjay: And he said, do you know the story Ronan on this one? 

[00:20:19] Ronan: Yeah, I was just reading it. Someone said, uh, you know, with something like 2% of Elon Musk's wealth, which is, I think north of $200 billion now, uh, $6 billion would solve world hunger and his response, um, and I saw Christian Angermayer, uh, from Atai weigh in on this because I wasn't fully following it until a Christian kind of weighed in. His response was someone showed me that $6 billion will solve world hunger and I'll write a check tomorrow. Um, and, uh, it was, uh, I think a provocation to say, like, there's a lot of organizations trying to do a whole lot, but not, not all of them, or possibly very few of them actually effective at what they're trying [00:21:00] to do. Um, so money is great, but it's gotta be put into action, um, effectively in order for it to solve the problem. That's my [inaudible] of the story, I don't know if-- 

[00:21:09] Sanjay: Exactly. It has to be put into, uh, into action effectively. And where are the big, hairy audacious projects? Right? We do have some, I mean, you know, Rick Doblin and all of his efforts over the last 30 years to legalize MDMA for psychotherapy. That's a big, hairy, audacious goal. It took forever to, to, to fight back on the war on drugs. And what Elon Musk is doing himself with Space-X and with, uh, Tesla. Those are big audacious goals. And despite the fact that he's got a lot of money now, he did most of it with other people's money. It was his ideas that propelled people into action. Where are those? Rather than, you know, Jeff Bezos saying, oh, I'm going to build a rocket company too. Where's his big, hairy goal? Where's the, the giant solar, uh, uh, farm across the Sahara [00:22:00] desert or, you know, space elevators, or just amazing new technologies that are going to propel the human race forward? Whereas the interstate highway system in Africa? Um, you know, these are things that private entrepreneurs, the ideas they'll come up with the governments can't cooperate on. I'd love to see more thinking, uh, going into solving these problems. 

[00:22:20] Ronan: Yeah. A hundred percent. And it's also a function of, um, I think that the capitalist market. Not, not to make a critique of it, but it really is that the most competent people, uh, at least in terms of operating businesses, tend to focus on massive, massive problems. That it's, if it's less than a multi-billion dollar problem, it's not worth their attention. Um, and there are lots of multi-billion dollar problems. Don't get me wrong. But it also creates like, there's this bar that the most competent people only focus on the big challenges. And there's like lots of little things, right? Like, you know, uh, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. And so there's a lot of little projects and little businesses. I mean, I've had tons of [00:23:00] business ideas where it's like, oh, that's a great idea, but is it worth my time to try and work on that? Probably not. There's probably a bigger fish to fry. Um, and so it creates a, um, maybe a misallocation of resources, I don't know, but, uh, you know, solving big problems is important, but there's a lot of small problems that probably need some attention as well. 

[00:23:20] Sanjay: And where and where are those, where are those solutions? Can- I have to tell you a story that, because you just reminded me. I took psychedelics once, once. To, because in, in Fadiman's Psychedelic Guide, uh, it talked about an experiment they did where they gave 40 people, uh, uh, mushrooms or LSD and asked them to solve problems, intractable engineering problems, or whatever work problems they had. And- that it was a very successful experiment. So my friend Neeraj and I, we took two grams each of psilocybin and we had my assistant Christine sit and ask us a personality inventory at the beginning just to make sure we stayed serious and did [00:24:00] some work. So it was things like, how happy are you? How in control of your life do you feel? It was great. It's been a half hour laughing and answering these questions. And then we were supposed to unfurl- we had written down, um, which problem we were going to try and solve. And I opened up my piece of paper and my problem was how to sell more drinks at my bar, okay? And Neeraj opened up his piece of paper and it was, how do I find my life's purpose? I was like, oh, I need to change my question. That was I now I feel, I feel like an asshole now. Um, so then- so we're we're- so we said, okay, let's, let's deal with mine first. I think it's going to be easier to sell more drinks at my bar. And Neer said, uh, okay, first, before we get into this in detail, Sanjay, um, what did your staff say when you ask them how to sell more drinks at the bar? I started laughing. It took me 30 seconds to calm down and I said, it never occurred to any of us to ask the staff how to, how to sell more. So, so I made that note. We came [00:25:00] up with a couple of other, uh, ideas and the next day, or actually later that day, I went and asked a couple of the servers, Hey, why? You know, why is there such a [inaudible]? Why can't we sell more drinks? They said, there's not enough point of sale stations in the bar. If you put one over there and one over there, it would cost you a grand total of, I don't know, $600, and it'll double our throughput overnight. Jesus. Okay. I guess you have to ask, right? But that was awesome. And then, and then in that same session with, with Neeraj we attacked his life purpose. I came up with some answers to things, Ronan. I discovered for myself the definition of good and evil and how to make decisions about moving forward in the future so that you're not evil. I discovered how to, how to tell who your best friends are, your closest friends are. Um, and we discovered his life's purpose, which was, uh, learning and, and applying those learnings to make, uh, a better world. It was phenomenal. So I encourage, I encourage psychedelics are the way that we're going to become more creative [00:26:00] with how we spend our time and how we solve society's problems. And sell more drinks. 

[00:26:04] Ronan: And sell more drinks. Don't leave us hanging. So how do you determine the difference between good and evil and how do you know who your true friends are?

[00:26:13] Sanjay: Ah, okay. Yeah. Sorry. That was leading. All right. Um, so good and evil. Um, I was, I was perplexed by the notion the two soldiers in a war in a conflict could be trying to kill each other. And yet both be thinking that they're doing the right thing, that they're acting in a noble fashion that bothered me. So what came to me was that the only thing that matters in determining whether something is good, bad, evil, uh, good and bad, the specific evil's a different concept, but good and bad is how you are going to feel about it in the future. And so- if, you know, whether I- should shoot this person? Should I eat this donut? Should I have this drink? [00:27:00] How are you going to feel about that tomorrow? And how are you going to feel about that five years from now? That is the only definition that matters. It doesn't matter what other people think. It doesn't matter what the actual consequences are, uh, but what you think in the future. And subsequent to that realization, I think about my problems that way all the time is, what am I going to think tomorrow? And what am made me think five years from now? And often the answer is I'm not going to care, in which case just do whatever you feel like doing. 

[00:27:25] Ronan: Yeah.

[00:27:27] Sanjay: You know, I, um, I also discovered that on the subject of evil, that evil is really just a question of selfishness and it's on a spectrum. Uh, you're not selfish at all, you're very selfish, the more selfish you are, the more evil you come across and the more dumb ass stuff you're going to do to other people, because you don't care. It's all about yourself. And, and on the friends, it was, I can't believe I didn't realize this before, but it was how much does that person's happiness affect my happiness. And the more it does, the closer I [00:28:00] am to them, the closer of a relationship that is. But if I really don't care- and this was actually in the conversation with, with my friend with Neeraj, where we were talking about helping out somebody else. And I think I made the comment that, you know, you're not that close to that guy. Why would you help them? And he said, well, because you know, shouldn't, you help everybody. You can't help everybody. How important is it for you for that person to be happy versus say your wife being happy. If you made your wife 5% happier or made that, that guy 5% happier and the answer, then it suddenly became blindingly obvious. Obviously your wife being 5% happier is going to have a much larger impact. So go work on that. 

[00:28:41] Ronan: Yeah. I love the question of, of good and evil or good and bad because I, even in high school, when, uh, I was reading, uh, ma sorry, Hamlet by Shakespeare. Uh, and there's the line that goes something like, there's nothing neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so. And I was struck by it back then, which [00:29:00] is I've come to the realization, maybe in part precipitated by psychedelics, but maybe not, uh, that, that really is the case. That there is nothing good or bad. The universe doesn't care if a giant comet hits the planet and destroy all life. It has no particular compunction about doing that. In fact, it's done in a couple of times, it just hasn't been totally successful at the job. Um, and so it made me realize that like good and bad, good and evil, it's, it's a definition that we get to craft. But it really makes it a fundamental question is so much of what we get in life is what we decide for ourselves. And it's not, it's, it's, it's all a function of perspective. Um, same with, um, you know, as you were talking about, um, you know, your bipolar and anorexia, you know, one of the things that sort of came up to me is I think you referred to them as mental disorders. And I, I was struck by the question of, are they disorders at all or are they just part of the human experience for certain people, [00:30:00] you know? Is there actually something wrong per se, or is it just an aspect of who you are that is fundamentally malleable, right? Like if you're extremely overweight and out of shape, you don't want to get back into better shape. That's an option, but being overweight and out of shape isn't necessarily wrong or bad, uh, it just is. And that's part of the human condition. And that's certainly, you know, I'm speaking more to the genetics, like lifestyle choices are obviously choices inherent, but things like mental disorders are often genetically driven and all that kind of stuff, I think. I dunno. I, it was just a question. I don't, I'm not proposing to have a concrete answer, but it is an interesting thought of like maybe the DSM, like, you know, when, when I go and get a blood test and they show my results, it's like, all it's showing is where I stack up in a statistical order as to what is normal. That's not really a definition of offside. 

[00:30:53] Sanjay: Oh, absolutely. You're right. It's just a statistical definition. And if you look- think about bipolar disorder, all that means is some [00:31:00] days I feel really good and some days I feel really bad. 

[00:31:02] Ronan: Yeah. 

[00:31:03] Sanjay: I think that applies to absolutely everybody. I just happen to statistically fall outside the normal range of, of what, of the peaks of the, the good and the troughs of the bad. And, you know, I- one of the best comments my daughter ever made when I asked her why, why she, why can't you just eat a little bit more, right? To solve the anorexia. And she said, you know, Papa, you had a heart attack when you were 40. And you know, that eating less will make you healthier. So why can't you just eat a little less? And it's like, damn, she's right. And you know, and being overweight, isn't called a mental disorder. Being underweight is a mental disorder. I don't know who decides that. You're right. It's it's we thought it's. And so it became that. 

[00:31:45] Ronan: Yeah. I didn't know you had a heart attack at 40. 

[00:31:48] Sanjay: Yeah. I cover it up well. 

[00:31:50] Ronan: Yeah, you do. 

[00:31:51] Sanjay: It was a minor heart attack, but I had to go to the hospital. They triaged me and hooked me up to everything and came out and said, yep, you had a heart attack. 

[00:31:58] Ronan: Jesus. 

[00:31:58] Sanjay: And now during an [00:32:00] ayahuasca session actually had the shaman put his finger right on exactly the bit of my heart that's damaged and say, I sense blackness here. And I hadn't told them anything about it. And I thought, okay, this is the first evidence I had that the shaman actually knew what he was talking about. A sense of blackness and rage here. And you're going to have to do something about this. Oh, okay. Oh, that was, that was interesting. But long-term not much damage. 

[00:32:22] Ronan: And did that with the shaman or has your experience with psychedelics, uh, changed your belief structure in terms of what's happening in this world? Um, you know, because if you're anything like me and my business partners, Joseph and Hannan, we were all, um, and most of us are still are hyper rationalists. Which it is like, it's all science, it's all logic. If it can't be measured by science, it doesn't exist. There is no reality outside of that. I'm probably much more on the mystical side of things, being open to a lot more that we can't explain and then some of the others. No right or wrong, but I'm just wondering if your [00:33:00] perspectives around, um, life, the universe and everything, uh, have changed as a result of your, your, your work with psychedelics or just generally speaking? 

[00:33:10] Sanjay: My perspectives have absolutely changed, uh, in, in some pretty dramatic ways. If I think of myself even three years ago, when I just started this journey, I was a climate change denier. I would, might accept that there was a growing gap between the wealth and the poor, but I didn't think it was a real problem. Um, so those are two specific beliefs that have changed dramatically. But maybe even more, uh, more subtle, but more profound shift between being hyper rational and being more spiritual and intuitive is that I've started to trust my right brain a little bit more, that when I feel an intuition about something, I'm more likely to believe it. I'll give you a really good example here, on the value of somatic therapy, which is the value of physical [00:34:00] touch and, and how much your body can store up trauma, or solving your body's issues can solve things that seem like much broader mental health issues. I, uh, I was contemplating funding a study on somatic therapy to decide to see- in the underground community, in therapeutic community, pretty much everybody believes in somatic therapy, but I just didn't see it. I'd been treated once, uh, by a Reiki healer. And I think I just fell asleep. There was no. I didn't feel any better afterwards.

[00:34:34] Ronan: You must have felt so refreshed afterwards. Come on. 

[00:34:37] Sanjay: No, cause I had a nice nap, but then, but then, so I had the experience with the shaman where clearly he detected something and he treated it with heat. And I did feel a little better afterwards, but more dramatically. I tried 5-MeO-DMT and uh, for the first time, just a few months ago. Amazing [00:35:00] experience. And I'm looking forward to seeing more research come forth on what that drug can do for people. But after the session, I found myself vibrating for a good 45 minutes and it suddenly came to me in this burst because during a 5-MeO session, when you're fully under, your conscious, your left brain is offline. Your vocabulary, the center that records things everything's offline. And when it came back, my right brain was screaming at me, internally, that of course somatic therapy works, you idiot. Uh, I've been trying to tell you that through your body all along and you weren't listening, but thank you for taking this little break from hyper rationalism, so I could, I could get a word in edgewise and let you know that it works. And since then, it's like, no, it works. And then, and where the rubber hits the road on listening to my intuition, I met recently [00:36:00] with a gentleman Floyd Marinescu here in Toronto. Do you know that name? 

[00:36:03] Ronan: Yeah, I know Floyd. 

[00:36:05] Sanjay: So champion of universal basic income. And this is one of those things that I would have- again, five years ago, you asked me what, that you cannot provide a universal basic income. It will remove the incentive for people to work. And it's it's too much like communism, never going to work. But when I met with Floyd, I had this pounding going on in my right- it wasn't literally on my right brain, but just some sense had the sense that he was right, that universal, basic income will work. I don't have the vocabulary, the bullet points yet on exactly how and why, but I believe it will. I think it's a, it's a really nice compromise between, you know, the, the more socialist idea that the state has to take care of everybody, versus the more capitalist idea that market forces will solve everything, you know? It retains market forces, but [00:37:00] puts in place a safety net that's so universal that it will fundamentally affect the choices people make in society. And I've seen this with, with Serb, for example, already, which was kind of a universal, basic income that came in during COVID. I don't know anybody who was just sitting at home, you know, there's this massive labor shortage in the restaurant industry in which I participate, but I don't know of any people that were just sitting at home, collecting their $2,000 and not working. And that's the reason that we were short-staffed, that's not the reason we were short-staffed. We were short-staffed because we operate in an industry that's historically underpaid its workers. It's historically mistreated it's workers, and they're just sick and tired of it. And they all during COVID they all use the opportunity to go get trained and do something different and go do something that was more personally fulfilling for them. And we- to get them back, we have to make it a better job, which is fantastic for society. I'm, I'm happy that we've been given the kick in the butt, kick in the butt to go make these jobs better jobs. [00:38:00] So I have the evidence, I have all the evidence I need that universal basic income is an idea that, that we need to work towards. Uh, I just need to build out the, the, the rationality for the hyper rationalist. 

[00:38:14] Ronan: Yeah. Uh, I mean, I've, it's been a concept that I've subscribed to, uh, quite a bit, um, because people don't like being bored and people don't- like it, like, I think for most people on the planet, my instinct says we like being productive. Maybe we don't like being productive serving other people, food, you know, for like snippy attitudes, cause there's not enough salt on it or it's not hot enough for sure. But people like to do things constructively and, and, you know, in a very psychedelic way, just spit balling on this, it's like, what if everybody was free to do what they were passionate about and they were most called to do and had the most capability to do, you know? It's not serving people in a restaurant. Maybe you love that. That's fantastic if you do, but I'm sure a lot of people go to work, doing things to pay the bills because they have [00:39:00] to, not because they want to, what if we freed those people up to actually do something that they're passionate about and create something of, of real potential value? Um, you know, and it totally spit balls off what I've been thinking about vis-a-vis AI and technology. You know, almost all jobs, uh, almost all human functions are going to be surpassed in our ability, uh, by robots and computers at some point, and probably not too distant future. So what is left to humanity if we don't have to work. And, you know, I think it really resolve- revolves around the realms of arts and creativity, you know? That's, that's all that's left and, and I'm not sure robots will ever be able to match, you know, the human capability for, um, for those two things, right? Because they're funding them fundamentally linear, um, and creativity by definition is non linear. Uh, so I totally agree with you, uh, in terms of that, but it's, there's no, it's hard to, to mathematize if that's a word, um, the belief that [00:40:00] most people actually want to be productive just in their own way. No, that there's always going to be some people that play the system. That's fine, you know? Um, but I think most people like to be productive. In fact, there was a, a podcast called Hidden Brain, um, you know, where they talked about bullshit jobs, uh, and bullshit jobs were described as jobs that have, um, high pay and high regard or high esteem, but people feel useless doing it. You know what, the number one bullshit job was? 

[00:40:30] Sanjay: I'm going to go with investment banker, but- 

[00:40:32] Ronan: Pretty close. Corporate lawyers. 

[00:40:36] Sanjay: [laughter] Right. 

[00:40:37] Ronan: Right? And you've had a lot or very like prestigious job. And most people are like, I'm wasting my time in my life on, on these pursuits, again, not to everybody, but it's a, it's a very interesting thing. And, and, you know, going back to one of the things you said about problem problem solving, I think one of the tensions in the evolution, of evolution of psychedelics is [00:41:00] the competing forces between trying to solve mental illness and trying to free up people's creativity, which aren't necessarily diametrically opposed, but they're not always aligned. Uh, and I know certainly like my passion is what happens if we empower humanity to be its best. Um, but there's probably a step that has to be solved first. Do we need to bring everybody up to some sort of baseline, uh, to make that an equitable opportunity or does it make sense to lean a little bit into Ayn Rand modality of like let's free up the most capable to be the most capable they can and hopefully through trickle down effect, you know, that'll create a foundation to raise everybody up and for all the, you know, uh, limitations of capitalism and all the exhortation about how terrible it is, we do need to recognize that we live with close to 10 billion people on the planet. There are less people starving, less people like infant [00:42:00] mortality is at its lowest rates in history. War is at its lowest rates in history. It's like, we're still trending on the right trajectories. And you know, we've got a lot of problems to solve, but, uh, that's been largely a pursuit of capitalism in part, and I guess a very robust military industrial complex as well. Um, but, uh, curious to know your thoughts on, on that tension between solving mental illness, um, and enabling people to, you know, uh, achieve the greatest creativity. 

[00:42:28] Sanjay: You know, I think, the great thing about psychedelics, but it's not just psychedelics. All psychedelics do is accelerate the process of insight and self discovery and self self-improvement, but access to them also makes you think about other people more and think about how connected we are. So all of a sudden we're going to get all of this force of creativity, forces of productivity, because people who were previously disabled due to their health problems will perhaps be able to [00:43:00] rejoin productive society. And we're all going to do it with a greater sense of societal good. My God, we're going to propel ourselves forward. The world that we're going to live in 20 years from now, I get emotional when I start thinking about all of these people, you know, the Christian Angermayers of the world, you know, doing psychedelics with a view towards getting better and becoming more conscious about good, uh, in the world. There's a brilliant guy who given, given the right impetus is going to put all of that brilliance and, and capital towards making a more equitable planet. I mean, he's doing some great things now with the companies he's funding, but I don't think he's, I, at least I'm not aware of the direct work he's doing on the philanthropic front of solving societal problems, you know, and, and, and, and I'm not trying to throw any shade his way, you know, everybody has their own [00:44:00] timeline for doing these things. I just happened to hit mine. 

[00:44:02] Ronan: Right. Do you think there's an advantage to philanthropy versus investing? Um, you know, you could be an investor focused on investing in for-profit companies, you know, really not focused on making a return as opposed to being a philanthropist, uh, and refunding through donation basis. Do you think that has an impact on it? Cause if I was, if I was channeling my inner Christian Angermayer, his response is, we're doing the same thing, you know, I just think investing in startups that are for-profit is going to be a, an accelerated way to get there versus non-profits, which tend to move at, you know, and certainly I think you've experienced this in some of your donations, at very different paces.

[00:44:44] Sanjay: Yeah. You know, I'm, I'm going to be the first person to say, you need both, both approaches. You need market forces, but you also need the social forces that temper the worst inclinations of market forces. And, you know, perfect example [00:45:00] is in psychedelics, the main molecules that are being researched right now, the public public domain molecules, 5-MeO-DMT, MDMA and psilocybin, none of them are patentable or at least MDMA was, but it's been out of patent for, for quite a while now. So there's a bunch of companies racing to develop new compounds that aren't really needed. I mean, some of the new compounds, each one will have its own slight benefit, but the benefits of using the base unpatented compounds are tremendous, tremendous leap forward over, over where we are today. And because no pharmaceuticals, no investors are going to invest in those compounds, you have to have philanthropy driving them forward. And those are going to be the most cost-effective ways of treating people in the near term. And then natural forces of capitalism will come in to make products more accessible, to make them more widely used. And that's fantastic. So you've got that happening on the [00:46:00] demand side, on the creativity side, but on the pure treatment side, you'll have philanthropy driving a ton of good in the world, and I've got to believe more so in the psychedelic, uh, system of care than I've seen in any other industry. And that's. Because the philanthropists in this space are simply more in tune with the needs of society and the fact that it's against societal, uh, needs are the ones that we should be the most concerned about. 

[00:46:28] Ronan: Yeah. I, I mean, I don't know if MAPS pioneered the model that they have, which kind of really actually blends nonprofit and for-profit through a public benefit corporation, but they're still, for-profit in a way that creates a self-sustaining model, um, that leverages some of the benefits of a for-profit, uh, while harnessing, or limiting the downside because all profits get reinvested to continue research. So it's, it's fundamentally self-sustaining. And, and I think whether or not, uh, [00:47:00] Rick pioneered that model, uh, I think it's going to be the foundation for a lot of opportunities going forward. Um, and so I think that's one of the great innovations that's going to come out of this, let alone all the power of psychedelics and all that kind of stuff. There's a, a new model that really is, I think getting a lot of traction and, and people will look to in the future. Um, you're part of the, uh, Psychedelic Science Funders Collaborative. What are, what, what are you seeing there? What are the conversations amongst the people within, um, that community? Uh, what are they seeing? What are their hopes? What are their anxieties? And also, um, on the anxiety side of things, you've seen a lot of everything that's happened in the industry because you've been in it for a long time in the sort of latest incarnation of it. Um, and what are your perspectives? You know, there's a lot of rumbling and commentary about how Compass Pathways has gone about doing things and all that kind of stuff and, and concerns around patenting and, and, and that. And so what are your perspectives and what are the kind of voices [00:48:00] within the, uh, P F a S C? And I always have to think about that. 

[00:48:06] Sanjay: PSFC. 

[00:48:06] Ronan: PSFC, sorry. 

[00:48:09] Sanjay: So what PSFC has done, and so, you know, that that's a group of, I don't know the number off the top of my head, but it's in the realm of like 30 to 50 people. A lot of them in the US, but some scattered around the world like myself, and we all just have our ideas on what we should be funding in the psychedelic philanthropic ecosystem. So a bunch of people banded together to help fund the Oregon Legalization Initiative, and we're successful with that. Other people- we just, I just see emails coming through every once in a while. If they want to do this Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative, or, Hey, we need $50,000 to complete this study on ibogaine for addiction disorders or opiate use disorder in Spain, and just random things coming in that aren't high dollar numbers, but that we [00:49:00] wouldn't know about more broadly, if it wasn't for these individual philanthropists finding out about them and then having a channel through which they can promote these causes to a much broader audience. So PSFC has been fantastic for that. And of course their, their biggest achievement so far has been raising $30 million for the MAPS Capstone Challenge. And there'll be active in getting MAPS more money as they continue with their second FDA phase three trial for, uh, MDMA for PTSD. On the worst excesses of patents, oh boy, Compass Pathways is like a, has become a bit of a whipping boy. You know, I don't believe that the CEO there, George Goldsmith is a bad person. I don't believe that at all. I've spoken to him personally. I spoken to, to his wife, Katrina. They're in this for the right reasons. They want to make the world a better place, but they also took money from a bunch of people who want to make money. Maybe they don't, uh, they [00:50:00] wouldn't object to the world being a better place, but frankly, they don't give a damn as long as they can charge $10,000 a gram for psilocybin. And this is where you've got market forces. I mean, systems rule the world. So you've got market forces that push everything in one direction and you've got social forces that push things in another direction. And so the worst excesses of Compass and what they've done with their patent applications has been countered by a nonprofit called Freedom to Operate that was philanthropically funded that challenged every patent claim they ever made and successfully knocked back I think 95% of the patent claims that compass pathways has gone for, which has allowed Compass to get patents on things that are genuinely innovative, which was their method of crystallizing psilocybin, but not for things like weighted blankets and classical music being played in treatment rooms. 

[00:50:52] Ronan: Yeah. No, I agree with you. I think they've been probably somewhat unfairly, um, made a whipping post for the [00:51:00] conversation, but, uh, you know, um, some of it, I think is valid and some of it, probably not. Um, your focus recently, uh, has been, I guess, two questions. One is, you seem to have a particular interest and, um, I guess, hope for 5-MeO-DMT. Um, you know, you mentioned your experience with it, but what is it about 5-MeO that you find particularly motivating, um, uh, interest in? You know, uh, if you want to comment on the work or the, you know, what Usona is doing, because I think you have a good read on that. And then secondly, um, with the, I'm just want to make sure I get the name right then The Nikean Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy, uh, at UHN. What is your grand hope for what comes out of that research? If you could say like, Hey, we achieved X, you know, that is the home run I was hoping to hit, uh, with, uh, with the center. What would that be? 

[00:51:56] Sanjay: All right. Let me answer the second one first, because, because I have a funny story that [00:52:00] happened just recently. Our hope with the UHN grant and creating that center is that UHN, which includes Toronto general and several of Toronto's leading hospitals, Canada's leading hospitals, our hope with UHN was just giving credibility to the research efforts. Saying UHN in the same breath as saying psychedelic research implies that there's something real here. And I got a call from from, uh, an, an older woman who is our, in fact, our landlord here at the office of the foundation. And, um, she said she had heard the announcement. And as a result of hearing that announcement was [curious as to] whether psilocybin could be used for pain management. And we don't have any solid research on this, lots of anecdotal evidence that, especially for headaches, cluster headaches, and migraine, psilocybin's extremely effective. For broader things, I, you know, my mother has tried it and she found it effective for arthritis, but we don't have research. We need research. But the fact that this person called me [00:53:00] asking about psilocybin was only because UHN was linked to it. 

[00:53:06] Ronan: Right. 

[00:53:07] Sanjay: And so that's our grand hope. Our grand hope is that somewhere down the road, Health Canada is quoted saying that it's UHN being involved and their research that's allowed us to legalize psilocybin and legalize MDMA. So that that's sort of that one. On 5-MeO-DMT, there's one overwhelming reason why 5-MeO is, is so potentially, uh, I guess, moving in this space and that's its duration of action. It takes, the entire trip last 15 minutes. And even though it takes, took me the first time I tried it, it took me 30 minutes to learn how to speak again. Uh, so let's call it 45 minutes. I know, this is something where you can be in and out in two hours and be able to interact with normal society again. So, and also there's [00:54:00] no interaction during that time. So while it's useful to have somebody there holding your hand, or maybe monitoring your vitals, it's a very safe drug, but let's go to an extreme, it's still dramatically cheaper at the level of having licensed therapists or licensed professionals monitoring you, then then it is to get a psilocybin treatment, uh, or MDMA, which is typically four to six hours with two trained people in the room with you. So typically a single psilocybin session might cost anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500, but a single 5-MeO session might cost $500. 

[00:54:35] Ronan: Right. 

[00:54:36] Sanjay: And again, we don't have the research yet. We don't know if it's as effective. Certainly my experience with it has been that it had some made some dramatic impact on my life, but because it's only 15 minutes, I can't really tell you what happened, with, whereas with psilocybin, on a six hour trip, I have an old story about what happened.

[00:54:57] Ronan: Yeah. It was actually going to be my question, which is, [00:55:00] I guess two, one was a comment that like, part of your decision to partner with UHN for the Nikean Foundation came from one of those experiences, right? Like there was just like that intuition that came out of it. But, um, it is, uh, I'm saying that correctly, right? That, that- 

[00:55:14] Sanjay: Yeah, no, you're absolutely right. I came out of that 5-MeO trip, basically saying don't create your own research facility, give the money to people who know what they're doing and thatand hence the Nikean Centre. 

[00:55:24] Ronan: And I, to be clear, I was advocating Sanjay to go the other way, being like, control the whole thing. That way you don't have to worry about bureaucracy or having to argue about anybody about getting your way, but I'm glad you landed on the place that was right for you. Um, and then the second thing, and this actually came up, uh, because we recently had an experience, um, down in Boston where instead of smoking 5-MeO, we insufflated it, I think is the right word. Basically, you snort it. Uh, and the rationale for doing that is when you're smoking, you go from zero to, you know, rocket launch almost [00:56:00] instantaneously. Um, uh, whereas if, if you insufflate it, if I'm saying the word, right, um, uh, it's a little bit slower of an onset and you remember more so you can bring some of the memories back with you. And so again, you don't have the science, so I'm just asking for your intuition, how much do you think being able to bring back the experience with you is important? How much is it just like your subconscious going at it, doing its thing, and then you just get what you need and you come back? 

[00:56:27] Sanjay: I have a suspicion that there's two different things going on and that 5-MeO allows your right brain to just get out and stretch a little bit and take over a little bit of control because I had the strangest things happen after my 5-MeO experience. I, you know, my workouts, I recover faster. My tennis game was better. My first serve percentage went from 10% to 60%. But how do you explain that kind of thing, other than I defragged part of my brain. But to accomplish. deeper psychotherapeutic goals, like for me through [00:57:00] psilocybin I've, I've discovered I had emotional barriers I'd put up to other people that it developed during childhood and never had the opportunity to take back down. To do that, I think requires you to be able to examine things and evaluate them in a, in a deeper way. And that requires a narrative and requires, uh, a trip where you can remember what actually happened and that you can then discuss it with your therapist afterwards. The way I envisioned myself operating in the future is to do a really a high dose psilocybin trip regularly, but not often, maybe like once a year or so, but 5-MeO, a bit more often, maybe once a quarter, because of the physical benefits that I feel, in purely somatic physical benefits, my body just feels better. I feel like I've released trauma or released pain, and I don't even know how it got there. Uh, it doesn't feel like it's from my own lifetime or my own body, but I've [00:58:00] got, I haven't gotten so spiritual yet that I'm saying that I'm shaking off trauma from, from past lives. Uh, but I don't know what's going on.

[00:58:07] Ronan: Yeah. That, that that's entirely fair. And I think that's an appropriate response. And, um, yeah, it does definitely feel like when you go through this experience or shaking stuff off, um, you know, I don't think my, my tennis game, which has always sucked, um, has improved. Though I haven't played. But it is really interesting to see or hear how, like, you know, so much of our physical abilities are fundamental mental, fundamentally a mental consideration. Um, and, and when you lose those consciously or unconsciously, like in the case of 5-MeO, it opens up a lot. Do you think there's a concern? One of the concerns I have about DMT and 5-MeO-DMT is, you know, if I'm a psychedelic, novice, uh, never experienced psychedelics, but looking for real treatment, going from zero to 5-MeO-DMT is kind of like going from zero to Tesla, uh, to quote your book. [00:59:00] And do you think that's a problem or a concern, or you think that, like, how do you see that kind of evolving? Do you think people kind of work up, because people ask me this question all the time being like, what do you think the future looks like? And I think the future looks like much like the underground, which is you're, not experimenting, but you're working with like MDMA or psilocybin or you're work at 5-MeO, because they all open up different things and offer different perspectives. Um, but going from zero to DMT is, is I think pretty bold. Um, but just curious to know your perspective on it. 

[00:59:28] Sanjay: Yeah. So the first time I tried- by the way let me just say I was skeptical. I, I, in line with what you just said, I thought it's too powerful experience and experience. 5-MeO-DMT is the most powerful psychedelic. Why would you start with that? Let's start with something a little bit softer. Except then, somebody who was very close to me, tried 5-MeO-DMT as their first psychedelic. And there were a psychedelic skeptic. And, um, you know, I think, I think you, I think you know who this is, but [01:00:00] it's, you know, it's, this is her story, not my story. So, um, so I won't drag her into it, but, uh, tried it and did the three levels. So this was the way of starting off softly. You know, the people practitioners in 5-MeO, um, call it a handshake, a hug, and then the full embrace and which is, I think, corresponds to five milligrams, 10 milligrams and 15 milligrams of vaporized, 5-MeO. And the five milligrams, it was kind of floating along and you call it a light psilocybin experience. You're floating along. It's kind of beautiful. Uh, you wouldn't mind doing that for awhile. Ends in 15 minutes. The 10 milligrams with some deep breathing, uh, and some tears and experiencing some level of release, but still being kind of aware of what was going on. 15 milligrams, you have no idea what happened. You come back. She had some vague recollection that she encountered some dark mass and she broke through it and had some very specific realizations after she came [01:01:00] back to the left brain, rational world about what she had learned and how she might be a different person and some improvements in our emotional response to things. Um, but you couldn't remember any of the experience itself. So when I talked to somebody about their 5-MeO experience and they say, oh, I was centered in white light and I was floating through space and it was so, so beautiful. My reaction is, you didn't take enough. If you remember anything at all, you didn't take enough. I think given, given that little escalation model that that's been developed, I think 5-MeO is perfectly acceptable as a, as a first time, uh, voyage. 

[01:01:37] Ronan: I have two more questions for you. One is a little bit more pragmatic because I like to enable the people who listened to walk away with something of, of tangible knowledge. Um, and one of the questions I get posed to often is, you know, if I'm interested in getting involved in the emerging psychedelic industry, um, or psychedelic space to try and avoid the word industry, cause it has, uh, connotations associated with it, [01:02:00] where do you think someone who is keen to get started should be focusing on this space, if you're not coming from a purely, you know, scientific background and then can go into drug development research and the academic research, where, where do you think the opportunities are? 

[01:02:13] Sanjay: Because we have a charitable foundation, we spend a lot of time thinking about there's a thousand points of light that are needed in the, in the system of care, the psychedelic system of care and where where's- what's missing? And so we found, for example, on the purely philanthropic front, uh, providing access, scholarships. Like, training therapists is going to be the biggest gap between now and five years from now. So what can we do to make sure more therapists are trained? What can we do to make sure their existing therapists are educated so that they seek out psychedelic training and then making sure that all the other therapists that are being trained are trained well enough to operate in a much more powerful, effective field of therapy, uh, than, than current therapy sometimes is. [01:03:00] Um, you know, developing licensing bodies, uh, insurance plans, conferences for people to learn more. Writing books. So if somebody wants to get started, I would say get started by reading and doing a little bit of research. And the place to start, the book I always recommend is How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. Go read that. It'll give you a nice broad background on what's going on in the space and, and then you're going to want to watch a few things and, uh, Ronan you're working on a documentary that's going to come out little less than a year from now, and everybody should watch that documentary. 

[01:03:37] Ronan: Absolutely. 

[01:03:38] Sanjay: Uh, I believe it's going to be called Ordinary Trip.

[01:03:40] Ronan: Yep. 

[01:03:41] Sanjay: So I'm pre pre pre I'm pre um, uh, promoting, uh, the, the documentary. Um, and then once you've read the book, feel free to reach out to us, send an email to, uh, from our website and we'll send you back some links to other resources and other ways you can learn to help [01:04:00] and, and you know, the more educated you are, the more creative you're going to be.

[01:04:04] Ronan: Very true. Oh, that's great advice. Um, and thank you for the pre-promotion on Ordinary Trip. Um, it's going to be fun and obviously Sanjay is part of the evolution of that. So stay tuned, okay, because hopefully we'll have some more news soon on that front. All right. My last question. Um, and it's probably the hardest, uh, And I sh I think going forward, I'm going to send this question in advance so people can think about it for a little while, which is when we were at Code Conference, we were talking about, I was kind of wrapped up in this idea of the question to like, to what end, which is like, if psychedelics hold as much promise, uh, as, uh, we think they might, you know, and they really address, we, we enable a platform that creates mass mental health and people work through their stuff and we can leave trauma behind it. It doesn't stop trauma from happening, but now we have, you know, just like you have an infection, you can hit an antibiotic and it makes it better. We have protocols and mechanisms [01:05:00] that can help people deal with trauma much more effectively. So we enable mass mental health and recreate a system of, you know, uh, mental hygiene and mental wealth in the words of Kelsey Ramsden from Mind Cure, you know, I keep coming back to the question of like, to what end? What does the world look like if we enable that? Does it actually solve the problems? Or is it just kind of like, is the, is it an ever moving goalpost because as Sam Harris and I were discussing at Code, you can't live in a perpetual state of ecstasy. You know, you can't live in peak performance all the time. So there's always going to be that swing back and forth between the highs and, and maybe the, the lows are higher than the previous lows, but there's always going to be that back and forth. And I kept wrestling with it and kept wrestling with it. And I came to the answer, it's the question is not to what end is all this work. That real question is, what do we want the end of this to look like? Right? We have the choice to craft what this narrative is. If there's one thing I've learned from all the work I've been doing [01:06:00] and, uh, my work with psychedelics, and even going back to that Shakespeare quote of there's nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so, I think one thing we need to not do is just let things advance without a clear focus on what we want the outcomes to be. Um, because even though it's in the general right direction, uh, forward is a very broad, broad area. So my question to you is what do you want this to look like at the end of it? If everything we're working on right now comes to fruition exactly as we think it can, what does the outcome, what does the ideal world look like to you? Because I think it's important that we start talking about that and actually crafting something that is very humane so we can work towards that specifically instead of going along for the ride? 

[01:06:45] Sanjay: Great question. Great, great thoughts to ponder. And a couple of responses come to mind. So one is on the notion of what I talked about earlier, how do you know if something's good [01:07:00] or bad? It was all this development is all this focus on psychedelics and on becoming ment- mentally healthier, and what's that going to lead to? Well, it's going to lead to something better. So every time I've taken psychedelics and thought about improving something or, or healing something, I've gotten better. And so future me thinks, well, this is better. So future me is happy and, and I'm a little bit more resilient and operate better in the, in, in whatever my, my present is. And then I'll go forward again. So what I anticipate is a future where everybody thinks, well now is better than, than where we were two weeks ago, two years ago, 20 years ago. Whereas I don't think people necessarily feel that now. There are lots of aspects of society, which I believe temporarily have turned for the worst, you know, a focus on, on megalomaniac leaders, uh, around the world and disengaging from group efforts like, um, [01:08:00] uh, the European Economic Union. 

[01:08:01] Ronan: Yeah. 

[01:08:02] Sanjay: Uh, and those are temporary downturns that are going to reverse. But, but yeah, things aren't always better. The, the, the second thing that's going to happen is as more of the world becomes financially secure, as resources get spread more evenly, you're simply going to see less suffering. And I think that's the vision that we should all have in mind, is that not that you should never be unhappy, but there should be less suffering. You should choose to that- you should be able to choose the pain that you want. Like anybody who's got kids, who's going to tell you the kids raising kids can be, there's some suffering involved. But, but people tend to not feel, um, hard done by because they chose that suffering. We don't want is the bank foreclosing on your house. Nobody chooses that kind of suffering. Um, so let's think together. How do we get to a world where there's less suffering, less and [01:09:00] less and more people who just get to live a life every day that's of their choosing and that gives them a sense of, uh, uh, reward and progress. 

[01:09:09] Ronan: Yeah. That's a beautiful vision. Um, I think that's a perfect place to stop. I actually have other questions, but I don't want to ruin that very, very lovely, elegant image. Um, by asking more questions so I'm going to stop and say, thank you so much, Sanjay, for joining. I'm glad you've been able to come on. I'd love to have you back on again in the future, because you have such a unique insight of everything that's going on from the for-profit to the non-for-profit. You have such a, a wonderful perspective on, on everything that, uh, I think, you know, uh, as things continue to evolve, you'll have a perspective, unlike any others. So looking forward to our many personal conversations, but also a more public conversation like we had today in the future. So thank you, Sanjay. It's been a pleasure.

Thanks Ronan. 

[01:09:56] Sanjay: Uh, if, uh, I've really enjoyed this and looking forward to next time,[01:10:00] 

[01:10:03] Ronan: It's been said that tunnel vision is a disease in which perception is restricted by ignorance and distorted by vested interest. When a good idea is run through the filters and compressors of ordinary tunnel vision, it not only comes out reduced in scale and value, but in its new dogmatic configuration produces effects the opposite of those for which it originally was intended. It's also been said that wit and playfulness represent a desperately serious transcendence of evil. And in both of these statements, I see some of the reasons I've become so fond of Sanjay over the years and the work he is doing. He was a person who was on a path, the right path, according to many of our societal values with respect to wealth creation. But at some point along the way, he had the courage to take an off-ramp and opened himself up to perspectives that few other see, and he's brought wit and humor to that journey. And if nothing [01:11:00] else, simply that act of transcendence is already starting to battle the forces of evil that all of us hope to balance through our work in psychedelics,

[01:11:14] Caller: Hey, Ronan, I'm new to the podcast and love it by the way. But I'm just curious, how do I find more information on psychedelics in general, but also like, how do I go about getting therapy? What does that look like? And what are the resources for that? Thank you. 

[01:11:33] Ronan: Thank you for the kind words about the podcast. It is actually the thing I'm most vulnerable about because I still find it hard to imagine that people actually care about what I have to say, so the fact that people are listening is actually very meaningful to me, so, so thank you for that. Um, in terms of information, uh, about psychedelics, uh, there are a number of different resources, uh, to look at. You know, in this last podcast we [01:12:00] talked about Michael Pollan's How to Change Your Mind, and I think that's a great overview just to get like a sense of the landscape. Um, it's very easy to dive into specific questions, but I think what's really interesting about what's happening with psychedelics is really understanding how robust the conversation is from the different molecules to the different experiences, to the different businesses, to the different nonprofits, all of these things have an impact on what's happening and I think it will help you navigate where you want to be, uh, within the, the psychedelic experience or the psychedelic landscape. So it's certainly to start with How to Change Your Mind. I would check out MAPS. Uh, they have a, a ton of information. Certainly download, um, our Trip app, not to be too self promotional, but there's a lot of great content and information and meditations on there as well as well as music to support those experiences. Um, these are all great resources and I'm sure there are many others, but they're not coming to top of my mind at the moment, but you'll, you'll be in good stead, if you start there. In terms of [01:13:00] finding a therapist to work with, um, it's a little bit more challenging, because not all therapists are outwardly open about the fact that they, uh, well, uh, support psychedelic therapists, or can do integration work. I think many therapists, regardless of their experience with psychedelics can probably do a very good job of helping you land the experience. Um, even if it's not as firsthand experiential, as you may like. Obviously at Field Trip, we're building a network of psychedelic trained therapists. MAPS certainly has an, uh, large, uh, organization of psychedelic therapists. There are different organizations like the Fireside Project, uh, and the Zendo Project, um, which, uh, provide people with access to psychedelic support, um, during or following a psychedelic experience. So, uh, reaching out to one of those groups as well, uh, would certainly be constructive. I think there are psychedelic meetups happening all over North America as well. Um, so there's a lot of [01:14:00] places to start looking, um, but no single concrete point of reference to find a therapist who is trained. I think it will take a little bit of navigation and learning, but as things continue to advance towards broader access, legalization and approvals, I think that problem will be solved quite quickly, but in the interim, those resources are probably your best shot.

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 Harley Roman, and associate producers are Sharon Bhella, Alec Sherman, Macy Baker, and Tyler Newbold. Special thanks to Kast Media, and of course, many thanks to Sanjay for joining us today. To learn more about his ventures and the work he is doing through the Nikean Foundation, [01:15:00] visit sanjaysinghal.com or Nikean.org.

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.