Austin Psychedelic Society Fundraising Efforts After Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey was one of a series of hurricanes to lap viciously at the southern parts of the United States, the Caribbean and parts of Central America.
Many homes and livelihoods have been destroyed. But many are banding together now, to rebuild and face their adversity.
The Austin Psychedelic Society have setup a fund to raise money for relief efforts. We recently chatted to them.
Tell us briefly about what the Austin Psychedelic Society has been up to:
The Texas Psychedelic Collective’s focus is on the science and expansion of natural therapies and medicines to enhance the mind and body. We currently have societies in Austin, Dallas, and Houston.
We plan to create space for individuals throughout Texas to discuss various aspects of the psychedelic experience. Specifically, we aim to provide individuals a platform to discuss how these experiences have contributed to transformations in their personal and professional lives.
How will you be using the relief fund?
Natural disasters make a global impact, many people do not realize this — thank you for seeing the whole picture (perfect example of the psychedelic effects of mind expansion). All donations to this fund will support recovery and relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey. Initially, the fund will help first responders meet survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter. Once initial relief work is complete, this fund will transition to support longer-term recovery efforts run by local, vetted organizations in the Gulf Coast.

Psychedelic Prohibition and Movie Screening

APS invited supporters to the State Library of Victoria for a special screening of A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin and special panel discussion.
The short documentary film produced by Robert J Barnhart has been screening this year at locations around the world, including CoSM. It attempts to investigate the efficacy of psilocybin assisted psychotherapy in both terminally ill and healthy individuals, and follows a small group of Americans along their journey pre and post therapy. It’s a truly inspiring film, and is available to watch on Vimeo, for those of you who couldn’t make it.
The film screening was followed by a panel discussion led by (APS co-founder) Nick Wallis. Local drug law reform campaigner Daniel Witham spoke about his harrowing encounter with NSW police, and subsequent incarceration over possession of Psilocybe subaeruginosa, and we also heard from Murray, Daniel’s father. Murray, a 69 year old author, recently had his first psychedelic experience, and gave a touching and candid testimony of the spiritual significance of his mushroom journey.
Dr Monica Barratt of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre offered her perspective on the progress of drug reform both domestically, and around the world. Monica is also the Director of Research at Bluelight and is actively involved in orchestrating the Global Drug Survey.
To round things off, we had Steph Tzanetis offering some valuable insights. Steph always has her finger on the pulse, and is the coordinator of DanceWize, a harm reduction group operating at festivals and events around Australia. Both Steph and Monica have recently visited Lisbon in Portugal to better understand how the Portuguese are leading the way in harm reduction, and how Australia could follow.
A heartfelt thanks to all that came along and made the night such a success. With the smell of spring in the air, and the festival season about to kick off, let’s stay safe, and continue to educate one another.

SSDP Australia Inaugural Conference Launch Party

By Chris McAtomney
As the stigma surrounding drug use in Australia slowly dissipates, and policymakers are forced acknowledge the harm that system of criminalisation causes, it seems change is in the wind, and whilst the battle is far from over, a sensible approach to drug policy feels more tangible than ever.
This calls for celebration! And so on Friday night, Melbourne City Bowls Club played host to The Beginning of the End of the War on Drugs Party, presented by APS in conjunction with SSDP.
 
We had Emily Roseman and DJ Vixen laying down some fresh beats, providing the catalyst for some suitably psychedelic dance moves from some of the attendees. We imagine it was probably the first throbbing drum and bass set the Flagstaff bowls club had heard in a while!
These events are a great opportunity for networking, and we loved seeing like minded individuals connecting and sharing ideas over their beverage of choice. What a way to kick off a big weekend for drug reform in Melbourne. It’s only with your support that we can continue to push this. Big thanks to SSDP and Melbourne City Bowls club. See you at the next shindig!

Melbourne Watches Notes on Rave in Dublin & Discuss Local Issues

By Chris McAtomney
Photos by Ash Blackwell

On Sunday evening, supporters and fans of APS came together for a screening of the documentary film Notes From Rave in Dublin. We’re grateful to the friendly Hope Street warehouse crew for hosting the event and it was great to see attendees getting acquainted and comfy early on among the plethora of couches, beanbags and blankets.

Prior to the screening, we heard from High Alert campaign manager Nevena Spirovska, bringing us up to speed with the success of the campaign and her plans to up the ante even further in response to the outrageous new stop and search powers that police minister Lisa Neville reportedly plans to grant police. Nev is fast becoming one of the loudest voices in our community and one that I hope we hear a lot more of.

Mel from Rainbow Serpent Festival’s The Nest explained the ethos behind the initiative, and shared some insights as to how social cohesion looks in a designated safe space like this, and her future vision for The Nest. Kate and Emily from The Cool Room gave an informative talk on inclusion and diversity at Cool Room, and in the club scene as a whole.

The film took us into the backstreets of early 90’s Dublin and did a great job of capturing something of the essence of the dance movement in its infancy. It illustrated how integral a sense of community is in underground dance culture, and also how greed, fear and capitalism can poison the scene if they’re allowed to. A comprehensive linear narrative of the rise fall and rise of rave culture in Ireland and, as expected, there were some great accents to boot.

Those who were lucky enough to be raving in the 90’s might have felt some nostalgia, and others, myself included, probably a hint of envy.

Big thanks to the APS team and affiliates for putting on such a fun night, and providing enough popcorn to kill a small horse.

What the CIA can teach us about LSD

By Jack Allocca, PhD

Breaking Convention 2017 (BC2017) featured several lectures on the history of psychedelics, a topic dear to Martin Lee, who published several books on the subject. On the trail of his latest books, “The Complete Social History of LSD and The CIA”, and “the Sixties and Beyond”, Lee delivered a unique account of how LSD was first pursued by the US government before prohibition. Back then, in the 1960s, policy-makers were still largely unprepared on how to manage LSD, constantly swinging between seeing it as a threat, or as a resource. Many took advantage of this legal vacuum, from scientists, therapists, artists, military officers, and cloak-and-dagger operatives.

Martin A Lee spoke at Breaking Convention 2017 about how the CIA used LSD.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was initially very receptive to LSD, and tried to deploy its obscure properties to a wide array of purposes. LSD seemed to increase talking in initial subjects, who proceeded with elaborating an unpredictable array of topics, many of which of very personal nature. This compelled the CIA to consider LSD as a potential “truth serum”. This was then extensively experimented on both volunteers and prisoners. The ethics of these studies were often of dubious nature. Volunteers were often picked amongst heroin addicts, which were offered heroin in exchange for participation in these studies. However, experiments on prisoners often took an even darker turn. As facts delivered by subjects under the effectsf LSD became increasingly regarded to be unreliable, selected prisoners were subjected to escalating chronic injections of LSD, as a torture protocol. An offer to interrupt the dosing regimen was usually made only after the prisoner agreed to provide the information required.

The CIA underwent extensive experimentation on soldiers. The aims were several, from increasing focus, strength, stamina, discipline and strategic thinking. After results showed that all of the above metrics worsened under the effects of LSD an alternative use was envisioned: LSD as a “lie serum”. The idea was to provide all soldiers with an emergency dose of LSD, to be taken in case of capture, to ensure no plausible information could be retrieved from them.

A natural progression from this strategy was to weaponize LSD. The first strategy focused on sabotage. Due to the potency, high bioavailability and delayed effects, LSD was considered the best agent to destroy the stature and credibility of political opponents. With a well-timed delivery, just prior to a prominent public speech, LSD would turn the most apt orator into a madman.

The CIA also tried to weaponize LSD as an aerosol, to be sprayed over entire villages, to disable their military capacity. This led to the beginning of what was later defined psychochemical warfare. However, LSD did not prove effective enough in this form, as it did not seem to disperse well as a spray. LSD became scheduled and prohibited shortly after, but this did not stop research in this field. Active research continued until the development of the last known psychochemical agent, 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate, also known as agent BZ. Agent BZ is an anticholinergic compound related to scopolamine. Rumors alleged that agent BZ was deployed in the Vietnam war, usually leading to death instead of the targeted delirium.

APS visits Europe’s biggest psychedelic conference: Breaking Convention 2017

By Jack Allocca, PhD

In a startlingly British sunny day, at the start of July, a vibrant crowd from many walks of life gathered to witness the unfolding of a very important paradigm shift. Colourful hats dotted the space, mystical capes, fractal patterned t-shirts and business casual attire interwove with remarkable ease, same as sandals, boots and bare feet.

This was not a pride march, nor Glastonbury festival, but instead the biggest conference in Europe focusing on psychedelics and altered states, Breaking Convention 2017 (BC2017). This pivotal event took the baton from its American counterpart which took place in April in Oakland, CA, Psychedelic Science 2017 (PS2017), organised by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

Both events aimed to gather a diverse array of experts, to bring evidence to the medical management of mental illness through the use of psychedelic substances, as well as dabbling in discussions around meditation, shamanism and spirituality. These topics have been hard opposed by political establishments, especially by those forces that have catalysed the advent of the Trump phenomenon in the US and Brexit in the UK. However, a ripple of equal strength is spreading in a diametrically opposite direction, and with radical repercussions. Indeed, both events brought to the table epic celebrations of what is becoming increasingly more evident to be a psychedelic renaissance. PS2017 was delivered through majestic operations, saturating most spaces of the already generously sized Marriot Convention Centre in Oakland. Its European counterpart, however, struck a deal of much more symbolic impact.

Since its third edition in 2013 Breaking Convention has been taking place in a location that has not otherwise been offered to this cause for at least 50 years, right at the very core of the establishment. LSD, magic mushrooms, ayahuasca and several more substances heavily classified by the UK Misuse of Drugs Act have been heard discussed freely across the courtyards, corridors and all the way into the lecture halls of Greenwich University. The psychedelic discourse is no longer a whisper between apprehensive academics and deranged hippies, it has now become a scream, once again atop the ivory tower, in the heart of the Old World.

 

A stunning sunny weekend for London, @Greenwich University main campus.

 

And now that psychedelic substances have regained a legitimate position of prominence in the medical and experimental landscape old and new voices can be heard out loud. “We are not the counterculture,” said Rick Doblin, the executive director of MAPS, “we are the culture.”

The conference featured several more heavy lifters, from Dennis McKennna, David Nichols, Robin Carhart-Harris, James Fadiman, Friederike Meckel-Fischer and many others. Discussions were diverse and in depth, and interestingly, also occasionally conflicting.

 

Friederike Meckel-Fischer discussing the importance of combining psychedelics with psychotherapy sessions.

 

This was particularly the case between the radically different outlooks Dennis McKenna and David Nichols aimed to bring to the table, and not without the sporadic academic sabre-rattling. Dennis McKenna delivered a grandiose speech on the importance of chemical signaling in the Gaia complex, and how compounds such as the naturally occurring psychedelic tryptamines play a large role in the connectiveness between species across all taxonomic groups, from Plantae to Animalia. David Nichols, on the other hand, presented likely the most elaborate and compelling argument supporting the case that DMT may be highly unlikely to be actively produced in the forebrain pineal gland. His analysis covered most enzymatic pathways known to be involved, going as far as suggesting that this highly revered compound may in fact be just a byproduct with very minimal endogenous effects in the human forebrain, if not totally negligible.

Alongside the more conventional topics in psychedelia, BC2017 was a rich kaleidoscope of insights on all things related to altered states, from dreaming, dark retreats, meditation, breathwork as well as discussions around psychedelic philosophy, history and policy. Jules Marshall, of the Psychedelic Society of the Netherlands was a peculiar standout. His work has heavily focused on developing the practice of entheogenic gastronomy, or cooking with a wide range of psychotropic plants, including marijuana, magic mushrooms, syrian rue and kanna.

Special praise is owed to BC2017 for the efforts spent on its supplementary material. Indeed, every attendee was provided with an extremely generous welcome pack, including an extensive event manual showcasing background information for all lectures as well as an impressive 300 page manuscript laying a comprehensive update around psychedelia, including proceedings from the conference, essays and exclusive material.

BC2017 delivered an impressive feat of operations, both at the logistical, content and media level. Remarkably, more than few were also stunned by the outstanding sunny weather in London during this magical week. The more spiritual attendees, however, were those least surprised, as many planets are rapidly aligning to celebrate this revolution.

 

A parabolic cup of tea to celebrate the end of BC2017.

Welcome to the Psychedelic Society family, Sydney!

A sunny Sunday afternoon at 107 Projects in Redfern was a perfect setting for the inaugural meeting of the Sydney APS. Some fifty plus people gathered on the rooftop garden before moving to the small theatre to see a screening of film ‘Dying to Know; Tim Leary & Ram Dass’.

The film was an insightful look at these extraordinary characters, their intimate relationship and impact in the psychedelic movement from the 1960s and beyond, serving as a perfect opportunity to gather the Sydney psychedelic community together. Jef Baker introduced the Sydney APS with an overview of the society’s aims and objectives followed by an introduction to the film from Paul Jozsef through his work with the Ram Dass society.

 

After the film the crowd moved to the garden to meet, greet and mingle reflecting a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, experiences and skill sets. The opportunity was taken to go over a short questionnaire handed out earlier and gauge our community’s needs, interest and passions and discuss how people would like to see the society develop. With several areas of interest emerging such as ethnobotany, philosophy, art, harm reduction, the law and social activities like camping it seems like film screenings are a good event to draw people together.

With numbers anticipated to rise, the Sydney APS will establish an email list to better reach the community, keep people informed of events and connect members to other events and services in the area. To find out about future Sydney events please join our Facebook Page and follow the main APS FB page.

 

APS Adelaide’s First Meetup

With our Facebook group only a month old, the new Adelaide chapter had its first meet up in the lovely Adelaide Botanic Gardens on Sunday the 25th of June. After perfect conditions for the last couple of weeks, the weather conspired to keep us from gathering outdoors with rain falling just before our meeting was due to begin.

None the less we managed to gather 15 – 20 intrepid and enthusiastic members for our casual meet and greet. It was a great opportunity for people from a diverse range of backgrounds to get to know each other, network, and discuss the potential for our community moving in the future.

In attendance we had various healthcare professionals and scientists, gardeners and healers interested in plant entheogens, psychonauts of all kinds, and some people relatively new to the field of psychedelics.

If you would like to be notified of the next Adelaide meet up please join our Facebook group and make sure to sign up to the newsletter.

With the meet and greet held in the medicinal and cactus garden, the surround entheogenic plants inspired much conversation.

Ayahuasca Culture, Science and Spirituality Course

Kahpi.net is an online space with 11 short courses about ayahuasca culture, science or spirituality. Teachers include Glenn Shepard, Ph.D. (ethnobotanist), Des Tramacchi, Ph.D (Scholar of Spirituality), Draulio de Araujo, Ph.D. (neuroscientist), Clancy Cavnar, Psy.D (psychologist), Celina De Leon, M.A. (Healer), Dr. Luís Fernando Tófoli, Ph.D, M.D (Psychiatrist), Nicolas Langlitz, Ph.D (Anthropologist), Daniela Peluso, Ph.D (Anthropologist), Gretel Echazú Ph.D (Anthropologist), Jerónimo Mazarrasa (Digital Storyteller) and Dr. Brian Anderson, M.D. (Medical Doctor).

Kahpi are offering followers of the Australian Psychedelic Society a special discount to participate in their courses.

Click here and use the code: AusPsy11

Support the launch of Kahpi by participating in this educational experience.

 

Psychedelics on Trial – DMT

This is the beginning of a series of articles, following charges relating to psychedelics and the history of psychedelic law in Australia.

Earlier this year we made a submission to the Victorian Government’s inquiry into drug law reform.

Click to check out our full submission
Click to check out our full submission

Political Recommendations:

  • Acknowledge that the current laws and policies are detrimental to citizens who utilise Psychedelics.
  • Acknowledge that the current laws and policies are leading to the violation of human rights, cognitive liberty and the persecution of religious minorities.
  • Acknowledge the legitimacy of groups and individuals who utilise psychedelics for religious purposes in Australia.

Policy recommendations:

  • Consult broadly with groups and individuals who represent the interest of citizens who utilise psychedelics; to ensure that any changes to legislation and policies are appropriate.
  • Support research on the use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes and other academic pursuits.
  • Introduce programs similar to the programs designed by Harvey Milkman in Iceland.

Legal Recommendations:

  • As a primary goal; Legalise and regulate the use of psychedelics.
  • As a secondary goal or first step;

Prohibition has failed. It has always been a policy that ignores civic societies role in dealing with issues that people in the society actually have. Instead, it has focused on a prescriptive agenda on psychoactive choices and criminalised those who disagree.

Although the psychedelic experience has positively influenced countless Australians, and the health effects are small in comparison with other activities Australians engage in, psychedelic prohibition continues. Psychedelics (like all scheduled substances) and are said to pose such a risk to individual and community that they must remain prohibited at all costs.

Prohibition of psychedelics unravels when its weakness is illuminated. Though it claims (in modern times) to be focused on the health, welfare and safety of the community; prohibition’s effect, through criminal sanctions is to inflict harm on people who are charged, or those who experience stigma associated with the illicit nature of their interest.

Psychedelics present complex and interesting issues. Almost none of these issues are assisted through a criminal process, nor do they require criminal intervention to be resolved. We hope to address many of those issues as a society, gathering and distributing information on safety, integration, health and the many metaphysical questions that often arise through the psychedelic experience.


The view from one of the courtrooms at the Supreme Court of Victoria
The view from one of the courtrooms at the Supreme Court of Victoria

On Friday the ninth of June, a member of the community attended the Supreme Court to face charges of trafficking DMT and MDMA.

Understanding the terms used for charges (trafficking) and relating them to what we actually know about the community is important for context. 

Hundreds of drugs with very different risk profiles are all equally scheduled in Victoria under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981. This Act defines all substances within Schedule 11, including all controlled psychedelics as ‘Drugs of Dependence’. If you think you know what that means, think again.
Here is the definition of that term:

  1. Drug of dependence means a substance that is—
    a drug—

    1. specified in column 1 of Part 1 of Schedule Eleven; or
    2. included in a class of drug specified in column 1 of Part 1 of Schedule Eleven; or
  2. any fresh or dried parts of any plant specified in column 1 of Part 2 of Schedule Eleven; or
  3. a drug—
    1. specified in column 1 of Part 3 of Schedule Eleven; or
    2. included in a class of drug specified in column 1 of Part 3 of Schedule Eleven—

and includes—

  1. any form of a drug specified in column 1 of Part 1 or column 1 of Part 3 of Schedule Eleven, whether natural or synthetic, and the salts, derivatives and isomers of that drug and any salt of those derivatives and isomers; and
  2. any—
    1. drug specified in, or drug included in a class of drug specified in column 1 of Part 1 or column 1 of Part 3 of Schedule Eleven, whether natural or synthetic; or
    2. salts, derivatives or isomers of a drug specified in column 1 of Part 1 or column 1 of Part 3 of
      Schedule Eleven; or
    3. salt of any derivative or isomer mentioned in subparagraph (ii)— contained in or mixed with another substance;

VIEW THE FULL SCHEDULE 11 LIST (9 pages long) OF ALL PROHIBITED SUBSTANCES IN VICTORIA. (recorded on 21st June 2017)

Within the Schedule are amounts of each substance that would be considered traffickable quantities, commercial quantities and a variety of in-betweens. These numbers are made through parliament, without any necessary reasoning which references evidence on the potential for harm of these substances. These numbers are made up by politicians by whatever information compels them at the time.

The person charged with DMT and MDMA trafficking had relatively small amounts of each. The accused had a mixture of MDMA and MDA at around 1.5 grams. This did not warrant much discussion and was generally accepted as for personal use. The discussion in court focused on the DMT, as the accused had an amount of crystal inside the home, and an amount in a preparatory stage in a garage.

Photo by Bucwheat, (c) 2000 Erowid.org
Photo by Bucwheat, (c) 2000 Erowid.org

DMT is a naturally occurring psychedelic, found endogenous in the human brain and in many plants and animals. In Australia, it is found in a number of acacia (wattle) trees, from which some people have learned to extract it from.

The Commonwealth Coat of Arms, with the DMT-containing golden wattle on display

It is a substance with an almost negligible physical harm profile, which provides a psychedelic experience unlike any other described. It is one of the primary psychoactive ingredients in the Amazonian ‘jungle medicine’ known as Ayahuasca. Websites like Erowid.org collect a wide range of first-hand written experience reports. Many of the intriguing elements of the DMT experience are outlined in these writings.

Here are some excerpts of the experiences recorded by those exploring the effects of DMT:

“I opened my eyes and discovered that my body was covered with objects that seemed to be exploring me. These were small machine-like forms that seemed to float just above the surface of my skin, never actually touching it. They reminded me of miniature robotic vacuum cleaners with scanning noses. Advanced mechanical objects, each attempting to report on a different region of my body. Amazingly enough, this did not frighten me in any way. I simply closed my eyes again and let these objects continue to explore me. However when I shut my eyes they were still there! They continued to shuffle about in my line of sight before eventually disappearing, only to be replaced with other visions. I have no idea what it all meant, but everything seemed to have purpose.”
– 
Within and Without by Morninggloryseed

“With a suddenness that defies explanation, I became aware that I was underneath two figures, and there was a sheen of light indicating a barrier between us. It looked and felt as if I were submerged in water, in some kind of pod or globular cell. On top of whatever was encasing me were two alien entities, and they were in the middle of intercourse. The males face was towards me, but it was blacked out, as if it had been censored. The female was deliciously curvaceous, and while the details were hazy, I recall being aroused by her figure. I tried to focus on the strange nature of their skin, or perhaps it was clothing, which closely resembled well-pollished crome. As I attempted to reach out to them, the environment again shifted.”
– 
Hyperspace Intercourse by Dr. Light

“I felt and saw oscillating, dancing geometric patterns behind my eyes. My head played triumphant speeches “Yes we can! We can achieve it!” against heart-moving music, a feeling of absolute hope that could not be shaken, a feeling as large as if all war was ending. I then moved into a goddess being state, I heard peaceful bird and jungle noises, and I felt I was experiencing complete bliss is a sunny meadow with butterflies and no cares. I was connected to wholeness and I was directed by my soul into asking questions about the akashic records, my past lives, but what interestingly came up was the voice “Sirius. The golden phoenix. The keeper of all knowledge.” And in this conversation I said something really unintelligent- “what? Like all book smarts?” and the reply was “all intelligence, all knowledge of the universe” and then I snapped into thinking what that connection to Godliness must be and how close they are to that level of consciousness.”
Connected to Wholeness by imaginariumgirl

The Judge had never heard of DMT. The prosecution and defendant lawyers spent their time dancing around legal arguments and pseudo-scientific legal persuasion, based on things both of them had clearly recently learned about solely for the case.

The arresting officer was called to the stand and seemed slightly more informed. He said that DMT was, “Popular at dance parties,” had a, “specific user group,” and that his team (drug squad) had come across a lot more DMT relatively recently. The lawyer defending the client made the slightly bizarre, but perhaps legally strategic statement, “It doesn’t actually kill people. It’s used to understand what happens when you die.” Which made me chuckle a bit. Perhaps complex philosophical discussions are best left out of courts.

The defendant lawyer outlined the personality of the accused, showing them to be someone who is very intelligent, interested in biology and has occasionally dealt with depression and anxiety. The accused would be better known as a drug geek or psychonaut.

Although the charges could have lead to jail time, the Judge was satisfied that the accused was not a threat to society and gave them a 14 month good behaviour bond, along with 250 hours of community service that would be able to be organised alongside the accused’s employment.


We want to know your stories. Have you or a friend ever been charged for a psychedelic crime, creating hardship in your life, where there was once none?

We want to talk about these charges, build a community of people to attend court with you and give you support.

We want to help with resources, connecting with lawyers and create a support group to discuss these issues and support one another.

Email us if you have anything to share with us.