Discover more from The Trip Report by Beckley Waves
Retreat or Clinic? Jamaican me Crazy!; Therapist Training Resources; your dream job and the week's headlines
Welcome to The Trip Report, a newsletter on the business, policy, and growing pains of psychedelics.
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Jamaican me Crazy!
On January 15th, 2020, the Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner, published two contrasting stories about the local psychedelic retreat/clinic scene.
At 12:09 am, The Gleaner published ‘HIGH’-RISK RETREATS - Hundreds Of Americans Swarm Ja For Mushroom Drug Sessions.’
“Hundreds of Americans are flocking Jamaican shores annually to get a high from magic mushrooms in pricey rural retreats, but the naturally occurring hallucinogen presents dangers and local authorities warn that importation of the fungal drug is illegal.”
A minute later at 12:10 am they published ‘Retreaters Say Magic Mushrooms Lift Spirits, Ease Sorrow
“45-year-old Vince was seeking to find meaning for his life, and decided to take the plunge with magic mushrooms, a fungus with hallucinogenic properties…
… “Since the sessions, I am different. I respond to situations different now,” said Vince, testifying to the positives of the mind-altering fungus that is also called psilocybin mushroom.”
While confusing, it was reminiscent of the classic Drake meme:
While the shroom-friendly piece had the familiar tone of changing the narrative and stigma around psychedelics, the negative article sent a chill down the spine of psychedelic clinic and retreat operators.
The headline was the worst part. The article itself was admittedly tough to follow and never made any definite conclusions, like a psychedelic journey that doesn’t live up to expectations and leaves you still unresolved.
It featured Eric Osborne, owner of MycoMeditations, a psilocybin retreat in Jamaica with four locations.
The author awkwardly quotes Osborne, and while he doesn't implicate himself, the optics are not good for him or the burgeoning retreat industry.
“The mushroom rave has caused 40 per cent of retreat participants to suffer ill effects, Osborne admitted, insisting that few have neared the risk of self-harm.
He said that he could “only think of a handful of responses that could have become dangerous or really problematic” having dispensed 3,000 doses of the mushroom ‘medicine’ in the last five years.
“Its safety, if managed properly, is comparable to nothing else that we know of, but it is extremely important that we ensure the public knows that this medicine ... is extremely unpredictable and it is essential to have someone with you that understands the process,” Osborne told The Gleaner.
“It can make you think you are dying. It can make you think that you have absolutely lost your mind. It can also make you realise that you are connected to God and the universe and everything. There’s lots of beautiful epiphany that can come from it,” said the American, who revealed that he screens participants for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and psychosis.”
Then last Friday, The Gleaner published another article titled, Eric Osborne |Using Magic Mushrooms As Plant Medicine written by Osborne himself, hoping to clear the air.
We are concerned that the article might give the impression that magic mushrooms are dangerous party drugs and that MycoMeditations is playing fast and loose with people’s safety. We would like to reassure the public that this is not at all what we are doing.
You can read the whole piece here, but he concludes with the ol’ “I can’t speak for my competitors but…” and perhaps a concealed apology and a promise to improve.
While other ‘mushroom people’ may be operating in these parts, we can only speak for ourselves. We are always open to constructive criticism, knowing there is always room to improve in our endeavour to help people heal.
It seems the community of facilities, retreats, and clinics in Jamaica and perhaps elsewhere are recognizing the need for transparency, accountability, and oversight.
Psychedelic treatment/retreat centers, research labs, and the infrastructure to support it is going through a phase change, and there’s going to be regulation, credentialing, best practices, and some trade organization that will come into place.
Perhaps it is because it is one of the larger groups or because there were some issues with their processes that Osborne and MycoMeditations were singled out.
Either way, the situation points to the necessity for the psychedelic ecosystem to build internal fortitude and resilience by creating boundaries, appropriate incentives, and agreed-upon best practices.
Just this week, an article about this very issue caught my attention.
Written by Psychiatrist Mark Braunstein, the recently appointed Chief Psychedelic Officer (what a time to be alive) at Ehave and Medical Advisor to PsyTech.
He makes two good points:
It is unclear from a marketing and operational perspective whether psychedelic retreats are catering to the betterment of the well or the treatment of the sick.
“On most psychedelic retreats you go away for 3-5 days (for the cost up to 10,000 USD!) to have a psychedelic experience. The importance placed on set and setting is variable. There will be, however, a mixed group of people with some looking to improve their wellness while others are very ill individuals trying to save their lives from addiction or depression.”
The problematic lack of industry standards, regulatory oversight, standardized training, and emergency protocols.
“What is more concerning is that there is not one regulatory body or group that oversees retreat activities, and the need for standardized training and evidence based care is solely lacking.”
If we try to unpack the situation and explore what should be done, we might start with the question, “who goes on psychedelic retreats?”
I propose three types of retreat goers.
Those on vacation and up for a good time
Self-betterment and/or spiritual seekers
sufferers seeking to exorcise their demons.
For starters, how psychedelic facilities market themselves to these three groups and how they screen participants, obtain informed consent, and manage expectations are areas for clear guidelines.
There are of course many areas that require clear guidelines (treatment, adverse events, therapist boundaries, prework, integration, etc.) but is beyond the scope of this article, but starting with what participant population a retreat or clinic is marketing to and accepting is a logical place to start.
The International Retreat Model (IRM) is likely going to be a mainstay of the psychedelic ecosystem for years to come.
However, the wise will anticipate more scrutiny as local governments see the increase in psychedelic tourism; they’re going to want a more significant piece of the action and have all the leverage in the situation.
When a cottage industry starts to get the attention of venture capital, local officials will take notice.
This inevitability can happen reactionarily or proactively.
And there is probably a benefit to coordinated effort on the part of clinic/retreat operators to come together and approach the local government before the government approaches them if they haven’t already.
Dream Job Alert!
Director of Funder Engagement at Psychedelic Science Funders Collaborative
PSFC has set an audacious goal of raising the philanthropic funding needed to make psychedelic therapy available as a medicine. We aim to do this by fostering deep connections with philanthropists and inviting them to join our network of funders. With the Director of Funder Engagement position, we will be expanding our team to bring on an experienced fundraiser and event organizer to strengthen our network and help us achieve our fundraising goals.
So you want to be a psychedelic therapist?
Many Trip Report readers are budding psychedelic therapists.
With much pent up excitement but little in the way of a formal path, many are in a holding pattern awaiting clear signals about how best to proceed.
Whenever we come across a new piece worth reading about this topic, we’ll update.
We came across a new piece, so here’s an update.
Michelle Janikian, journalist and author of Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion: An Informative, Easy-to-Use Guide to Understanding Magic Mushrooms – From Tips and Trips to Microdosing and Psychedelic Therapy, published a recent article in Psychedelics Today:
“All in all, there are many options for all skill sets and types of professionals to get involved in this work. While becoming a psychedelic therapist right now might be expensive, it is possible. For those who can’t budget the risk until this therapy becomes more available, there are plenty of other options with lower price tags.”
Here are more resources:
From Psychedelic Support: How to Become a Psychedelic Therapist
From Tim Ferris Podcast: Marcela Ot’alora — How to Become a Psychedelic Therapist
MindMed IPO Watch
Oh, it’s coming.
Broadway Gold Mining Ltd. Announces Shareholder and Court Approval and Closing Date of Previously Announced Plan of Arrangement With Mind Medicine, Inc.
Still thirsty? More headlines
Thanks for reading, until next time.
And here it is, your moment of Zen…
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