TRANSCRIPT – The History & Politics of Psychedelic Research | Dr Richard Miller

[EN2] Richard Miller
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0:01 LORNA: Hello Visionary Tribe of EntheoNation, this is Lorna Liana, your host for today, and I am here with a man who has in a way has been both a mentor and a guide to me, somewhat indirectly. Dr. Richard Miller is the founder and caretaker of Wilbur Hot Springs Sanctuary for the Self, which is a place that I spend an awful lot of time at, up in Northern California. Richard is also the host of the radio program “Mind, Body, Health, and Politics”. He is the founder and chief clinician of Coke Enders Alcohol and Drug Program.
Now, Richard has been a psychedelic researcher for many years and he’s going to share with us some of his insights on the history and politics of psychedelic research. So thank you so much for joining us today, Richard.
0:49 RICHARD: Thank you for having me on your program, Lorna.
0:51 LORNA: So I’d love to find out more about who you are, and how you became a psychedelic researcher and the host of ‘Mind, Body, Health and Politics’, which includes one of the longest-running series about psychedelics.
1:03 RICHARD: Well, I started doing radio in the 80s in San Francisco and I just felt a calling to get word out to the public on topics that I didn’t think we’re really getting their just due by the mainstream media, and one of these topics, amongst many, is the topic of psychedelic medicine. The topics include the socio-economic stratification that’s been going on in this country, and around the world, and of course, the main issues and the main stains on the character of the United States, the slavery issue, women’s rights, and of course, the fact that women just didn’t get the vote until the 20th century, and the poor. So that’s how the program began, and then when I took a break a while, and then started the program ‘Mind, Body, Health, and Politics’ up again about 10 years ago on a national public radio affiliate, KZYX in Mendecino County.
2:11 LORNA: So I’m curious to know what really kind of drives you around the topic of psychedelic research. Did psychedelics influence you in your profession or in your personal life?
2:23 RICHARD: Well, when I was in graduate school getting my doctorate, Timothy Leary and Richard Albrecht were fired from Harvard and then I went on to teach at the University of Michigan and there was also a lot of uproar in the academic community about why these two prominent researchers were fired from a very significant institute for their research with this particular material that many of us never heard of before, and knew very little about.
They were doing research with LSD and psilocybin in prisons, in hope of creating a beneficial medicine for these people, and they were fired. And that became a great cause celeb as we all know, and because of the unfortunate firing of these two academicians, the entire field of psychedelic medicine and psychedelic research got both turned upside down and suppressed because Timothy Leary went on to become the cheerleader for what some people consider to be indiscriminate use of LSD. LSD was scheduled and made illegal by the United States Government because of its widespread use and the fear of the government of what would happen with these tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or as it turns out, millions of people, experimenting with LSD so the government suppressed not only the drug itself but they suppressed research of the drug. And here I was, a psychologist, teaching at the University of Michigan, scratching my head, and saying, “What’s going on here that our government is suddenly suppressing research into a chemical? What is this about?” That’s how my interest began and I think that’s how interest of how a lot of us began, prior to it becoming illegal, because of what happened with Timothy Leary and Richard Albrecht, many of us psychologists tried LSD while it was legal because we wanted to know what is it that these men got fired for and we had some quite remarkable experiences, experiences that changed many of our lives and so that was the beginning of my interest in the topic and it continued thereafter.
5:01 LORNA: Wow. You know, I kind of wish that these people banning these substances would actually try them like they did in Brazil. I’m not so clear about the exact dates but I think sometime in the 80s maybe, I could be wrong, there was an investigative team that was sent out to look into the use of Ayahuasca with the intention of actually banning it and they ended up in this Dimay community, I believe, which the founders and the people that were leading the works basically said, “Hey you’re trying to ban something that you know nothing about so why don’t you join us in this ceremony and see for yourself what it’s about first and then make your decision.
5:47 Apparently, this team had the experience and determined that it was not harmful and detrimental to society. In fact, that community had overall better education, and better health and the people were happy and more productive than in the adjacent community so that paved the way for Ayahuasca to be protected in Brazil. So I’m curious to know, why do you think the authorities were so afraid of LSD that they decided to fire these individuals and then make it schedule one?
6:19 RICHARD: To answer that question, one really has to go back to the founding fathers because this is where the argument really began. Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, considered by many the father of Modern Psychiatry, and certainly the most prominent physician of his time, took an extremely active role in organizing our country against the use of alcohol and he wrote articles on it and he lectured on it, and his work became part of in the 1780s, and 90s, while eventually in the 20th century, became the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, actually in the late 19th century and led to the prohibition of this country way over 100 years after Rush got into this argument.
7:22 There has been a morality play going on in our country with regard to some mind-altering substances right from the beginning of our country, right from the founding. It’s about, ‘Does a person have the right to alter their own consciousness?’ and ‘If they do alter their consciousness, under what circumstances are they allowed to do so?’, in other words, the difference between a person consistently getting drunk in their own home, and the person consistently getting drunk in public, or a person getting drunk in the modern era in the vehicle, very different experiences and different arguments both ways. So it became both an issue of pragmatism in terms of possible danger but it has as its basis a lot of Christian morality about altering the mind and that’s the beginning of it and you can trace the development of that argument right up through to the present day.
8:28 LORNA: So what’s really interesting for me is that in many of this information that’s available on for example how bad alcohol can be for your health and in fact it has a considerably higher death rate than psychedelics and is considerably more addictive than many psychedelic substances so with the danger aspect to one’s health is not so much evident in some of these psychedelic drugs and so how is it that some of these arguments still continue?
9:11 RICHARD: Well that’s a great observation Lorna, because if we use the example of nicotine, it’s even more dramatic. Here’s a mind-altering substance that’s killing approximately 1000 people a day. We don’t have 1000 people in 10 years that we know of dying from something like LSD or MDMA, nowhere near that. And yes, we do have significant numbers dying in various areas of the country, the Western region of the United States, even more than other areas by the way, according to the latest data that I saw, but nicotine is the one to use. Here’s a mind altering substance that kills 1000 people a day, close to 400,000 people a year, totally legal and you can buy it anywhere. It’s legal in counties; it’s legal in states, it’s legal federally. There’s no opposition to it, what there are, are warnings. On the other end of the continuum, you have something like Marijuana, which we have hardly any incident whatsoever of people being admitted to emergency rooms around the country because of the use of Marijuana and people are doing significant amount of time in jail, families are ruined, lives are disrupted.
10:29 When I was teaching at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a man named John Saint-Claire was put in jail for 10 years for 2 Marijuana cigarettes; it was on the front page of the college newspaper, 10 years for 2 cigarettes. There isn’t a great deal of rationale to this. There’s a lot of emotion. There’s not a great deal of Science. Science would say the one that does the most harm might be the one that you would want to most suppress and you certainly want to do a lot of research about that and you also want to do a lot of research about the ones that do the least harm but that’s not what’s going on in this country, that’s not what has been going on in this country for decades and decades. Research into psychedelic medicine has pretty much been suppressed by the United States government for over 50 years. There are certain exceptions. I’ve interviewed some of the exceptional scientists on my radio show program, ‘Mind, Body, Health, and Politics’ but they are exceptions and it’s a very unfortunate situation.
11:36 LORNA: That is really intriguing especially when you consider deaths between nicotine use and LSD and LSD is Schedule 1. What do you think the real fear factor is there? I mean, I would like to suggest that perhaps the authorities are terrified of how LSD tends to open up the possibilities in our mind and cause us to see or complete fabrications and lies especially by government propaganda machines and therefore a population that’s a little more open and aware and become a lot less easy to control and make part of the industrial economic machines, so to speak. So I’d love to know what your theories are.
12:28 RICHARD: Well, certainly that is one of the many theories as to why the suppression. I made a comment a moment ago about the fact that this unfortunate information and scientific research has been suppressed and I want to say why I think it’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate for two reasons. One, I don’t think we want to be a society in which any kind of research by highly qualified people at the university level who do not have an agenda, who are not being sponsored by some industry or pharmaceutical company but are strictly doing scientific research in order to get information to the public. I don’t think research about anything ought to be suppressed. And so to take any kind of research, particularly medicine, potential medicine that can be used for good, and to suppress it, is simply unacceptable.
13:27 The second half of the unfortunate part is that we are not learning which, if any of these psychedelics is potentially very beneficial to human health. For example, now that the Israelis are doing research into medicinal Marijuana, and now that a few American scientists are being allowed to research into medicinal Marijuana, we’re starting to understand that this vegetable that comes out of the ground has serious potential medicinal effects. For example, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, arguably one of the best-known physicians in the country, because of his place on Cable News Network (CNN) recently completely reversed his position, which was anti-Marijuana, and he did 2 documentaries on Marijuana.
14:27 One of the major reasons he reversed his position, is because he came upon, through his contacts, a family who moved to Colorado in order to get Marijuana for their neonate who was suffering somewhere between 50-100 convulsions a week. They were unable to get medicinal Marijuana in the state where they lived and so they moved to Colorado where it was legal because they were desperate. They have tried every medicine known to Western medicine on this neonate and nothing at all worked.
15:03 The first administration of Cannabidiol (CBD) on this neonate decreased the convulsions to one or two a week from 50-100 a week and Dr. Gupta witnessed that. When he saw that, his head was turned around and then he started to do more investigation into the medicinal benefits of Marijuana, that’s when he then went to Israel and he interviewed people there who claimed to have cancer cures. We don’t have all the answers and I’m not claiming that Marijuana or any of these psychedelics is a panacea but what I am saying is, we owe it to ourselves, as a people, to do research into these various medicines, these various herbs, these various concoctions, some of which come from the ground, some of which are made in laboratories. We owe it to ourselves to find out, ‘Are they beneficial to our health?’ and if so, ‘To what extent?’ We also owe it to ourselves to find out if there are side effects, if there are negative effects, as we would in any medicine so that we can then individually, make the decision in terms of risk-reward ratio. ‘Is the reward that I might get now that I know what the reward is from this medicine worth the potential risk now that I know what the risks are?’ This is a rational way to look at potential medicines. We are not able to do that until we have scientific research and that’s what is so important. That’s what we have to move forward and get done.
16:44 LORNA: So what are some of the promising modern-day psychedelics with regards to therapeutic applications? I’ve heard of MDMA for PTSD, for example. In your research, which of the modern-day psychedelics seem to hold the most promise for healing, for therapeutic treatment of wide-ranging disorders?
17:12 RICHARD: Well, it’s a great question and it’s also a difficult one because you’re saying which has the most promise. They may all have the most promise. We simply don’t know because we haven’t been allowed to know. It could be as you say that MDMA has the most promise with PTSD because we have the studies going on in Israel. Dr. Phil Wilson in California just got a license recently to do an MDMA study and Dr. Michael Mithoefer has been doing an MDMA study with PTSD in the Carolinas.
17:46 However, part of the reason that we think MDMA can be beneficial with PTSD is because PTSD is what has been studied because it was seen by the scientists as being something that the government might allow research on, but it could be that MDMA is also beneficial for Bipolar disorder or might be beneficial for Depression but we don’t know until that research is done and it needs to be done.
18:19 Back when LSD was legal, there was research into the use of LSD with alcoholism. The English did that research and some of it was done in Canada by Humphrey and Osmond. I think it was Barbara Bill, one of the founders of AA, advocated the use of LSD while it was legal of course for the treatment of alcoholism. But we don’t really know because we don’t have double-blind studies. We don’t have scientific studies. The potential is there but we need to learn about it. Again, Marijuana is being used. Some people claim major cancer cure or remissions, prostate cancer for example, there’s a cure going around called the ‘Simpson Cure’ where people take Marijuana for 90 days in a row. Dr. William Courtney, who’s a national expert, who I interviewed in my program by the way, ‘Mind, Body, Health and Politics’, who is a national expert and an advocate for non-psychoactive Marijuana, Cannabidiol (CBD), as a curative. He advocates making it into a drink. He says that when you don’t heat the vegetable, it is not psychoactive. So if you take the leaves, put them in a blender and drink them, you get a medicinal effect without getting a psychoactive effect. This has huge potential for the public, many of whom don’t want to walk around altered by a psychedelic medicine. They don’t want to be walking around altered by any medicine, legal or illegal. They just want to be regular. However, if they have any illness, they like any cure that’s going to work, whether it’s legal or illegal, unfortunately. So again, the answer to your question, which is the best one, unfortunately, they all have big potential, we don’t know the answer. My own suspicion is, we’re going to find that each of them has its place in the pharmacopoeia of medicines and each will have its place with regard to a specific illness but we have yet to find that out. I hope I’m around long enough to find out.
20:33 LORNA: I personally think that the use of MDMA would be incredible for couples’ therapy.
20:42 RICHARD: Well that’s where we began when MDMA was legal. That’s exactly what we use it for as the [20:47 inaudible] as the heart-opener that it is, we used it in the early 80s in couples’ therapy until it was scheduled. And it was used very effectively and there is some research back from those days on the use of MDMA with couples’ therapy. It’s interesting that you mentioned that, it’s right on the mark. But again, we’re not allowed to at the present time.
21:11 LORNA: Do we know of any negative side effects to using MDMA? Because I remember when I was in college, there was some type of rumor that it makes holes in your brain and it drains your spinal fluid. Do we know what it actually does to people? Because I knew folks that have been working with it for quite some time and they seem just fine.
21:35 RICHARD: Well, unfortunately, there was a researcher at Johns Hopkins University Dr. Ricaurte, who went on a tear with a research protocol showing slides of brain damage as a result of MDMA use and it scared Congress and in part, a reaction to Ricaurte’s research that got MDMA scheduled and it was in part a reaction to Ricaurte’s research that led the Congress to suppressing research on MDMA.
22:13 As it turned out, Ricaurte was not using MDMA in his research. He was using Met-amphetamine. And when it was discovered, the journal, the peer review journal that he had published in, published a retraction and Congress was informed about the retraction but it had no effect on them whatsoever because the fear factor had already shot through their emotional state and through their intellectual state and there was no turning back.
22:47 Anyone that’s listening to this can check out what I’m saying, Ricaurte’s research was withdrawn from the literature and the journal had to make a retraction and admission. It was a major embarrassment and it was an embarrassment to Johns Hopkins University but that’s how that began.
23:03 In terms of the answer to your question, there is no research on record at this time of brain damage or spinal fluid damage as a function of using MDMA. That’s the genesis of where the fear came from. The same is true for LSD. Back in the 60s, there were these claims that people would take LSD and look at the sun until their eyes burned out. Art Linkletter, the famous male on television, claimed that his daughter took LSD and jumped off the roof of a building. There is no evidence that LSD creates these kind of events. That’s not to say that the person under the influence of LSD might not jump off a building, but people jump off a building when they’re not under the influence of LSD. LSD is not the cause of it and certainly by using admissions to emergency rooms in the United States as an indicator have very little indication of that kind of serious danger to the public from LSD because it’s on record that 23 Million people in the United States have already experienced LSD and approximately 5000-7000 more adding to that number every single year.
24:24 If it was a dangerous drug, we would be seeing these folks in the emergency rooms just like when we had the last cocaine epidemic, which I was involved in treating. We saw the admissions to the emergency rooms from using cocaine all over the country. You can’t help it. When a drug is dangerous in that way, we see the results very quickly. When a drug is not dangerous in that way, we also see the lack of admissions in the same way.
24:52 In the case of MDMA, I want to point out as well that MDMA as well as being used psychotherapeutically in couples’ work, and the research on PTSD, it’s well known that MDMA under the name ecstasy, is used by millions of people at raves all over the world and we are not seeing people leaving these raves and being sent to the emergency rooms in droves, it’s simply isn’t happening. Had there been any incidents in these raves? Yes. Have we been able to ascertain what caused the incidents? Yes. It’s overheating. When people take MDMA, and they dance for hours in a row, and they don’t hydrate…
25:36 LORNA: And they wear fur outfits.
25:39 RICHARD: And they wear furry outfits like Burning Man, that doesn’t work. You lose too much water and the combination of the increased blood pressure and heart rate from the MDMA and the lack of hydration and the dehydration has caused a few fatalities, relatively few given the amount of sweat that’s gone the floors of these rave places.
25:58 LORNA: Wow, so it’s interesting, I always see on the mainstream media just lumping LSD, mushrooms, MDMA, and a host of other psychedelic and entheogenic drugs in with cocaine, met-amphetamine, and heroin, all these drugs that have really debilitating effects on the minds and bodies of the addicts. So since you do work with addicts, I’m wondering whether you might be able to provide some insight as to the differences between these two classes and how one might be effective in actually healing addiction of the others.
26:47 RICHARD: Well, cocaine was originally thought by Freud to be a medicine to be used for depression. In fact, he sent a bunch of cocaine to his fiancé, Martha Bernays, suggested that she start using it. And many of the people in Dr. Freud’s inner circle were using cocaine until one of their group came down with what many of us are quite familiar with, is something called cocaine psychosis, where you start to scratch your skin off your hands because you think you see bugs under the skin, and that can develop and develop and soon after, I think his name was Dr. Wilhelm Fleishem who got the cocaine psychosis. And so Freud realized and told his colleagues that this drug was not a drug for psychotherapy because again, in the risk-reward ratio, there must be somewhat of a reward, improved mood for a short period of time, but the risk, psychosis or major depression following the elation was not worth the reward so that’s not a good medicine.
28:04 If the medicine does more harm than it does good, that’s the definition of not a good medicine. Another scientist, a famous one here in the East Coast named Paul Stead started using cocaine as an anesthetic and a nerve blocker. Freud, being originally an ophthalmologist, also used cocaine as an anesthetic and they thought that it might had benefits. Paul Stead himself became a cocaine addict and his colleagues had to help him. When you have things like that happening, you realize that again, the risks are not worth the reward, the dangers of the medicine outweigh the benefits of the medicine. We have that going on nowadays as an analogy in certain cancer medicines when it’s very close between the risk and the reward, you might be able to prolong life by a small number of months, but what the person has to go through with the chemotherapy is questionable in terms of whether the benefits of the few more months is worth what these people have to go through.
29:13 Heroin is also an anesthetic but it’s highly addictive and we have much better anesthetics so we don’t need to use it. There were times when if that’s all we had, we would use it just like alcohol is an anesthetic and some of us remember years ago in the cowboy movies, when the cowboy got shot or hit with an arrow, he would gargle a whole bunch of alcohol before they pull the arrow out of his shoulder or cut into his shoulder with a knife to pull out a bullet. Yes, alcohol is an anesthetic but is there better anesthetics that get the job done much better? Absolutely, and without getting drunk, and without affecting the cardiovascular, your heart rate up, which alcohol does. Again, in each of these cases, we need research to know what the risks are and what the rewards are. Cocaine, and heroin, the side effects, the negative effects, far outweigh the benefits in terms of medicinal use. We found something called Lidocaine instead of Cocaine. Lidocaine is used in dental surgery. A couple of shot of that in the gums, this can work on you and you don’t feel much pain at all. Also, Novacaine is another one that’s been used for dental surgery. But cocaine itself has too much risk involved and people get connected to it, start using it over and over, that’s not the case for Novocaine and Lidocaine and then they get into trouble. And lifestyle changes come from heroin and cocaine with regard to the psychedelic medicines, we don’t have enough information, I’m going to keep saying that throughout this whole program because we need research, that’s the flag that I’m flying under, we need research. We’ve got to get the scientists going to teach us how can we use these, if we should use these, what are the benefits, what are the risks, where is it appropriate, where is it inappropriate. We can’t know that when our government continues to suppress. Our government has to be willing to open up and allow the scientists to do their work.
31:26 LORNA: Why do you think that some psychedelics are so effective in the treatment of drug addiction? I spent a month living on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand where I met a couple of guys who have an ibogaine treatment center and people fly out there and they administer ibogaine to their clients for a period of 4 days where they are basically looked after and it seems to be highly effective on getting folks off of heroin, and cocaine, and alcohol. So these 2 guys had a pretty intense party lifestyle and their ibogaine use helped them clean up and become super healthy and so now they’re helping other people clean up too. Since you work in this area, I’m curious to know, what is it about these visionary medicines?
32:17 RICHARD: I don’t know that ibogaine is a cure for any drug addiction because again, just as I’m not willing to say that these drugs are dangerous, I’m not willing to say that ibogaine is a cure for drug addiction. I need to see research. I need to see follow-up. I need to see some double blind. I need to hear more like what Dr. Roland Griffith taught us at Johns Hopkins recently. He administered under certain conditions psilocybin mushrooms. He then interviewed the person after the administration. They then followed the person up for an entire year and then they retested the person on various scales. What they found was, as a result of one administration of the mushrooms, there was a decrease in depression that lasted a year, scientific research. However, if they had let that person go out post-administration by one week and one week later, their depression scale ended much less depression and then they let him go and they say, “See it works!” That wouldn’t have a lot of meaning to me because it’s a week later and all kinds of things happen. Sometimes a placebo can work for a week but for a whole year, that’s another whole story. There we have some real science. So until we see that with ibogaine, I know what you’re talking about. I’ve interviewed people as well. Until we see that, I can only raise questions and say, “Knock, knock. More research needed please.” I’m not nay saying. I’m not pro-saying. I’m saying more research needed.
34:04 One more factor though that is involved in the treatment of drug addiction, drug addiction differ from many other illnesses, brings with it a whole series of behaviors, that other illnesses do not bring. For example, if a person has pneumonia or even cancer, that does not turn them into lying, cheating, and stealing. They are living their lives and they have pneumonia, or they have cancer, or they have liver disease. But drug addiction is famous for changing people’s behavior. In fact there’s a headline in the New York Times in the 1890s that says ‘Cocaine Turns Honest Men into Liars and Thieves’. Why is that? It’s because the alteration of the mind is such with these particular drugs and because of the public’s view of these particular drugs that people are ashamed of the use, therefore they lie about the use. Then, once you start lying about one thing, you start lying about other things because lying is a slippery slope and then they become liars.
35:20 If the drugs are difficult to get or very expensive to get as illicit drugs are, because you’re buying them at the black market, not at the local pharmacy, many people, after they get hooked on these drugs can’t afford it. Then they turn to stealing in order to get their drug, I don’t know if we’re going to find a medicine that’s going to correct the behavior of lying, or stealing, or cheating. I think that’s behavioral manifestations that need to be treated and cured in a psychotherapeutic situation. That’s a skill training over time, the person has to acknowledge what they’re doing. They’ve got to take a look at what they’re doing and they’ve got to start making changes in what they’re doing. This is a difficult situation particularly when a person has a very long history. If a person started, as many of my patients have, using various drugs in their late teens, and they come in for treatment in their late 30s, they have been setting up lifestyle habits for 20 years and if they come in in their 40s, for 30 years. Taking a medicine and getting a great deal of insight may give the person a break in the use of the particular drug, but it won’t necessarily give them the insight and the skill set to be able to stop their lifestyle changes such as lying, for example. That’s going to take more time and it’s all connected, the lying and the stealing, and the use are connected because when people lie, and they’re not using, they realize they’re lying, they’re self-concept starts to go down, and when a person who’s been involved with drugs takes a big hit to their self-concept, one of the things they do to feel better is to go after their drugs again and so that’s a sad aspect of that and that takes therapy. That takes a lot of therapy to work on. Again, the length of the time, you get somebody that’s just been using the drug and got in trouble for a year or 2, that’s not the same with a person that’s been using for 20 or 30 years, same for alcohol by the way.
37:42 LORNA: So what about on the flip side where people are happy and productive and interested in exploring psychedelics, what are the potential benefits and side effects of functioning, healthy, fairly normal people who are looking for those experiences for life enhancement?
38:08 RICHARD: Well, we have anecdotal information from Nobel Prize winners such as Francis Crick, for example, who tells us that he envisioned the double helix, which won him the Nobel Prize, while he was under the influence of LSD. So Carl Sagan’s widow announced to the public that a lot of Carl Sagan’s research was done under the influence of LSD. And there was another Nobel Prize winner as well who told us this. And Albert Hofmann, of course, the discoverer of LSD, who died recently at age 102, bless his heart, also talked about the scientific explorations that he was able to do under the influence. So we have anecdotal information that discoveries can be made under the influence of LSD in one’s mind without even going to the laboratory. Dr. James Fadiman, author of ‘The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide’, told me on the radio just today about an architect that he interviewed who under the influence of LSD was able to envision an entire building in his mind, every detail of it, under the influence of LSD. And then, he was able to take that information and then put it out on paper as a completed piece of architecture, that’s quite a phenomenal situation. Another one of James Fadiman’s patients was a physicist who was able to make electrical connections in a piece of technology all envisioned in his mind and he would take each of the wires and move them around in his mind and envision them until he got all the connections correct and then he put it on paper and actually manifested the piece of technology.
40:11 So this is very exciting in terms of the possibility of this particular substance, LSD, being used for creativity. There are also those who use LSD for what’s called ‘spiritual enhancement’, a sense of getting in touch with that which is greater than all of us.
40:33 You mentioned earlier that you might be asking me about other beings or whether there are other universes, other ways of life and people under the influence of LSD talk about getting in touch with other beings, being able to see us as they think we really are as human beings, light beings, biochemical electrical light beings where the molecules are stuck together in such way as to create what we call ‘form’, our bodies. And they’ve been able to see this under LSD and there’s an artist that you probably know, Alex Grey, who actually does paintings of light beings, which he has envisioned under the influence of LSD. So that’s another possibility. Again, an area we can learn a great deal more about and then of course, there’s the potential psychotherapeutic use of LSD. I’ve mentioned before, early work on alcoholism, and we have yet to know what other benefits that this particular substance might have. You mentioned ibogaine before. Ibogaine, people are experimenting with the use of drug addiction and of course, Ayahuasca is something that some people, we’ve got a little bit of research from Dr. Dennis McKenna and Dr. Steve Beyer, talking to the plants in his book, who have done some research on this but we have to find a lot more. We know, as you know, from your travels in South America that it’s been used by ayahuasqueros in treatment perhaps for hundreds of years but we don’t have that kind of research available yet.
42:20 The very fact that you have this program, the very fact that we’re talking this way is evidence that a new era is unfolding. A new era because you would not have this program 10 or 20 or 30 years ago but you’re having it now. Because a new era is unfolding, because word is getting out, it’s getting out from South America, it’s getting out from the few research here in the United States who have had the privilege from the government of doing this research. It’s getting out to the public. As I’ve said before, 23 Million people, 23 Million adults on record according to the government, have experienced LSD. That’s a very large number and we have absolutely no way of knowing how many people have experienced MDMA but it’s in the many millions and we do know that.
43:06 LORNA: So in your personal experience, what was the most far out visionary experience you had?
43:15 RICHARD: Well, as I said, when LSD was still illegal and I took LSD I had a very profound vision, entire human species on the planet being interconnected electrically as though, the way I envisioned it, it was sort of electrical hairnet. If you can see a hairnet around the planet and the hairnet is consisting of the billions of people all connected and it was that time that I had a realization that all of us humans are connected to each other and the degree to which we feel each other varies obviously when we’re in very close proximity with each other. We feel each other much more profoundly. We don’t know how much we feel each other when we’re in distance but if you look at the research of Rupert Sheldrake on morphic resonance where he demonstrates how birds in England are communicating with birds on the European continent, shown in his experiments how dogs can sense when their masters are coming home in a car. And he’s done experiments where he has the masters coming home in a car, he has other people coming home in a car, I think he’s got an empty car coming down the driveway, and dogs can tell from miles away when their masters are coming back. He calls that ‘morphic resonance’. There’s a feeling that the dogs have and is conducted through the airwaves of an electromagnetic contact.
44:58 If dogs can have that, I think there’s reason to say that we do as well but we’re not in touch with that part of ourselves. I had that realization under the influence of LSD and I have warmed to it and enjoyed it ever since.
45:14 Another time, a medical situation in an experiment where I was a subject, I took ketamine intravenously and the doctor who injected it was a research person and under the influence of that, I saw in my consciousness, I saw a pink Mobius strip of souls and I had the feeling as I was looking at it that when we leave this way of life we leave these bodies, the energy of who we are, the spirit if you will of who we are, joins that great Mobius strip of souls that travel through the universe and then I saw how sprinkles of that Mobius strip starts sprinkling down like snowflakes and then they pull together and then they form and that’s how the human beings come in because these little sprinkles formed things that connect to sperm and egg that create human beings, and so that was a very profound experience and both of those experiences really open me up to possibilities. I’m not in any way claiming that these things are facts. I’m not claiming that they really occur, I’m just claiming that there are possibilities as a result of these great experiences and it’s the possibilities that are very exciting just as I don’t know for sure that there really are an infinite number of universes the way Stephen Hawking claims to know but I’m open to believing that there are infinite number of universes, definitely.  And I’m even open to believing that there are so many universes out there that everything that we can possibly imagine is all going on at the same time.
47:20 LORNA: I can dig that. So, I’m curious to know, since I’ve had this conversation with the people who are hailing from the more traditional plant medicine world, have you ever had a sense with anything made in the lab like LSD or MDMA or ketamine that there is a guiding teacher associated with those medicines in the same way that one experiences the mushroom teacher or the ayahuasca teacher or the peyote or the San Pedro teachers?
47:58 RICHARD: I understand the question. I really can’t relate to it. I know that the experiences that I’ve been fortunate enough to have because I’m old enough to have taken these medicines when they were legal and I’ve been able to be a subject in experiments and so I’ve experienced the wide variety of these medicines and I’m certainly aware of the fact that each of them has a different effect.
48:28 I believe that in terms of the teaching, a great deal of the teaching, at least that I’ve experienced is mostly contributed to by my intention before the experience, what I was looking for, what I hope to learn, had a lot to do with it, and what the setting was at the time that I took it that the environment around me, and the sounds as well of the environment, very important, so intention and setting, for me, are the more critical than whether each of the medicines has its own agenda. Though I am certain as I’m saying understand an experience that these medicines each have a different effect. I don’t have a sense of them, having an agenda, in that regard. I think the agenda is ours.
49:25 LORNA: Interesting. Wow. So my last question for you, how have psychedelic medicines and visionary experiences connected you with your purpose, true calling and enhanced your life?
49:41 RICHARD: Well, as I said, when you asked me the question about my personal experiences, that experience that I related to you about connecting, about how we’re all connected in the planet, that was a very profound experience because I think prior to that, I related to us more separate people and there’s a great deal of difference between walking around in the world feeling a separateness and feeling a connectedness so that was a profound experience, which I’ve been able to enjoy and benefit from for my entire life. Once that happened, Lorna, there was no longer a ‘they’. When that happened, it became all of ‘us’. It’s a ‘we’, and there is no ‘they’. So that no matter how different I may feel from another person, or no matter how different my intellectual position maybe, or no matter how different my politics may be, and they can be very different, I’m always aware of the fact that that ‘other’ is part of me and I’m part of them and that therefore, we have to figure out a way within our differences to become a whole, rather than two separates where one wins, and the other one loses. That is the beginning, for me, of what you might call ‘cooperative or collaborative politics’, ‘cooperative or collaborative lifestyle’ rather than divisive lifestyle. That was the beginning of addition and multiplication rather than division and subtraction as human beings.
51:33 LORNA: Wow. Thank you so much for sharing that. That’s really profound, I really appreciate your story and your insights and all the information you’ve shared with us. Richard, how can our audience best stay in touch with you?
51:48 RICHARD: They can either look up my website, or email me directly,
52:00 LORNA: All right. Thank you so much. You have a beautiful evening.
52:03 RICHARD: Why thank you, Lorna. It’s really been a lot of fun being interviewed by you. You did a great job.
52:09 LORNA: This is fun. I love it. It’s great.
52:12 RICHARD: Part of what’s so much fun is being interviewed is you’re having a good time and you’re getting a lot of good information out to the public.