Thank you so much for taking the time to read the first edition of LSD for Breakfast! I am so excited to share my thoughts and ideas about psychedelics with everyone.
I have been researching and experiencing psychedelics for over 20 years, and the recent momentum in psychedelics has got me excited. With this building momentum has come a growing desire for me to share my voice, spark discussion and debate and, together with you, help shape the future of psychedelics.
One of my guiding principles for this newsletter is to use it to develop a network of people dedicated to the proliferation of psychedelic use in our society, to educate and build a psychedelic future together. I welcome your thoughts and comments on the very first LSD for Breakfast.
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For the first LSD for breakfast shoutout, I want to tell you about HavnLife, a company I founded with some amazing people in 2020. For the last two years, my main focus has been building and growing this business, one of the first publicly traded psychedelic mushroom companies.
It has been an incredible journey and learning experience. I am so grateful to be working with such a fantastic team and fulfilling our mission to make psychedelic medicine accessible to more patients. From the beginning, our mission was to make medicine, specifically psychedelic medicine, available to as many patients as possible. So while we are a long way from that, we get closer and closer every day.
I would be grateful if you could check out HavnLife and support us in any way you can, like ordering our amazing NHP products (not psychedelic) on Amazon Canada or Amazon USA. We are also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE:HAVN).
Stay tuned. Great things are happening at Havn. Thanks for your support!
Psychedelic Use Patterns
Humans are highly adaptable, and our psychedelic use patterns are no different. For as long as there have been humans, we have, in some form or another, sought out psychedelic experiences: consuming psychedelic plants, chanting, sensory deprivation, dance, and extreme exposure. There are many keys to the doors of perception and many ways to access the psychedelic state. So, how do we make sense of these constantly shifting patterns in a modern context? As an explanatory model for this article, I propose that psychedelic use patterns fit into three broad categories: therapeutic, traditional and free form.
While the therapeutic and traditional use patterns are well documented and are predominant topics in modern discourse, free-form psychedelic use is a much broader yet underrepresented category. This categorization considers the highly varied use patterns humans choose to have psychedelic experiences. While this model is not meant to be hierarchical, both therapeutic and traditional use patterns are considerably more structured than free form. Often, free-form psychedelic use is initiated after an experience within a therapeutic or traditional use pattern. Psychedelics are powerful agents of change in the human psyche. Therefore, as interest and research increase, it is essential to understand these different use patterns and how they are leveraged to evoke maximum change.
The motivation for developing this explanatory model is that recent discourse on psychedelics has primarily focused on therapeutic use. I am very encouraged by this growth in awareness of this use pattern, as psychedelics have the potential to radically alter the way mental health is treated. The therapeutic use of psychedelics has primarily developed as a discipline starting in the 1950s. However, until recently, it has been a clandestine therapeutic practice. Psychedelic therapy functions under a set of clearly defined expectations and therapeutic principles, which form a safe container for the patient to explore their trauma and shed light on their mental health indications. All done under the care of (typically) two trained practitioners. During the therapeutic session, patients lie down and reduce sensory input to a minimum with an eye mask and headphones playing pre-selected music for the experience. Practitioners supervise the experience and intervene according to the therapeutic method.
The traditional use of psychedelics is as old as the human species. Several hypotheses purport that psychedelics were a driver for the evolution of the human mind and the desire for exploration and knowledge. Almost all traditional cultures, in some way, managed to find a path to the psychedelic state. The psychedelic experience is infused at the core of so many cultures worldwide. Like the therapeutic use of psychedelics, the traditional use is contained within a specific cultural container according to particular parameters. Ceremonies are performed with a clear intention, and specific medicines are used at certain times of the year and for particular purposes. All are overseen by the spiritual leader of the cultural group.
The Free Form psychedelic use pattern is less structured and doesn't conform to a specific therapeutic protocol or ritual. Instead, it allows individual and group autonomy over their experience. This type of experience is typically called “recreational” use and is often framed in a negative context.
Outside a dictated structure, the psychonaut is free to explore the subtleties of the experience and develop a bespoke approach which works for the individual. Examples of this use pattern include communing with nature alone or with a group, using psychedelics to enhance the dance experience, a chill day trip with friends or an intimate moment with someone you love. While the therapeutic and traditional use patterns are hierarchical and overseen by a clinician or practitioner, free form use is dictated mainly by the individual, giving autonomy over the experience.
While both therapeutic and traditional psychedelics have received considerable attention in the academic record, free-form use has not received the same amount of positive attention. This may be because free-form lacks structure, making it challenging to categorize and define research variables. However, this lack of awareness should not diminish the importance of this use pattern. Studying free-form psychedelic use patterns will become more critical to understanding these extraordinary compounds as psychedelic research progresses.
Salvia divinorum, while not usually considered a “classical” psychedelic, it has received its fair share of attention, particularly since the 1990s. Salvinorin A, the psychoactive compound in Salvia divinorum, is very interesting as it is the only known psychedelic diterpene. Whereas we typically we derive psychedelic experiences from alkaloids.
Salvia divinorum is traditionally found in the Oaxaca region of Mexico and grows high in the Sierra Mazateca mountain range. It shares distinctive traits with other plants in the Salvia genus, such as square stems and ovate leaves. It typically grows to 1-2m in height. This plant does not readily set seeds and only very rarely propagates sexually. Instead, it propagates via cutting which root easily in water or moist soil.
Curandaros and Curanderas use Salvia divinorum to train their students. It is also used for divination, from which its scientific name is derived. It is also used for palliative care and for certain types of spirit possession. When used traditionally, Salvia divinorum is typically masticated and ingested. The modern use pattern is very different. Typically leaves of the plant, fortified with Salvinorin A, are smoked. This leads to a short but very intense dissociative psychedelic experience.
The Future is Bright
Over the last few years, the psychedelic industry has gained considerable traction. There has been a proliferation of psychedelic companies, medical and scientific research and large amounts of information now accessible to the general population. It has been incredible to see how psychedelics are entering modern-day discourse, and the use of psychedelics is becoming a possibility for many more people. But, of course, with the good comes the uncomfortable. As an executive of a publicly traded psychedelic company, I have firsthand observed the disconnect between the true value of my company and fearful investors' pricing of our stock. Government regulations are mediocre, have been slow to develop and have yet to develop in a substantive way to ensure safe access to psychedelic medicine. We are in the midst of a global mental health crisis, yet there are so few trained psychedelic therapists to help all the people who need it.
While getting frustrated with the glacial pace of regulations and patient access is easy, I feel that the future is bright when it comes to psychedelics. There has been a lot of excellent momentum built over the last few years. Here is why I am optimistic. Psychedelics have been around since there were humans, and I don't see them going anywhere. Humans have an innate desire to explore, grow, and learn. Psychedelics lend themselves well to these pursuits. Regardless of regulations or societal pressure, these tools will always be used to grow our knowledge of who we are.
For a moment, let us cast our minds into the future. I would like to share with you what I see as the perfect end for the use of psychedelics. Imagine a time, perhaps a decade (or less), when any adult can walk into a psychedelic dispensary and buy a dose or two of quality controlled, precision-dosed psychedelics, anyone you choose, any form factor you want. If you want a whole LSD experience for the weekend, here it is, or perhaps some amazing psilocybin microdoses also ok. While it seems like a fanciful idea, in reality, part of this scenario is happening right now. Over the last 2 years in Vancouver, several mushroom dispensaries have opened with various choices of branded consumer products. Some of them also have other compounds as well. While this is not yet fully government-regulated, and quality control is at the discretion of the dispensaries and producers, this gives us a model for what we can expect in the future, just like the Vancouver dispensary model factored into planning Canadian and US state regulations for cannabis.
Our society is slowly switching on to the potential of what psychedelics can do for society. So we are at a point where trying to increase restrictions and access to psychedelics would be akin to putting toothpaste back into a tube. So keep motivated, do whatever you can to increase awareness, lobby governments, invest in psychedelic companies and share your personal experiences. We are still far from society-wide acceptance of psychedelics, but we have made great progress in the last few years.
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Awesome! Love the reframing of recreational use.