Three Fever Thoughts As the World Turnbulls
Thought # 1
On Twitter (@ondrugsmedia) I’ve recently weighed in on a thread involving a recent federal RICO lawsuit involving Stephen Hurst, MindMed, Carey Turnbull, Ceruvia, and several corporate entities:
This case involves the fraudulent schemes of defendant Stephen Hurst and Sunray Asset Management Inc. (together, “Hurst”) in service of Hurts’s conspiracy and criminal enterprise with the drug-development companies that Hurst controls, as well as with defendant Carey Turnbull and the drug-development company that Turnbull controls, Ceruvia LifeSciences (“Ceruvia”).
Federal RICO, for those who don’t know, is a both a criminal and civil law that prohibits individuals and entities from participating in an “enterprise” engaged in a pattern of “racketeering activity” Congress enacted federal RICO to combat organized crime. In a criminal case, anyone found guilty of a RICO charge faces many years in prison. Federal RICO also gives victims a private cause of action that, if successful, can net a plaintiff treble damages (3x) and attorney fees.
But federal RICO is not limited to claims against the mafia. It applies to any “enterprise” engaged in a pattern of “racketeering activity.” “Racketeering” is defined broadly and includes a number of fraud based offenses. That said, it is notoriously hard to bring a federal RICO claim outside the context of organized crime, especially when based on RICO predicate acts of fraud.
To limit private RICO claims, courts have developed rules narrowing the scope of the RICO cause of action. For example, courts require plaintiffs to show a continuity of activity as either “open” and “closed” ended. With closed ended continuity, a plaintiff alleges multiple (usually more than three) related RICO predicate acts over a meaningful period of time, typically years. With open ended continuity, the plaintiff alleges a pattern of similar RICO predicate acts that threaten to continue into the future. Open ended continuity typically does not require as many predicate acts and/or as long of a duration.
So what do I think of the Freeman lawsuit? First, I am not a lawyer that focuses on RICO lawsuits. Second, while several alleged facts give me pause, plaintiffs can allege almost anything in a complaint. Some allegations seem overstated. And even if most are true, that does not mean any legal claims will succeed in court. RICO cases are quite difficult. Not every group of bad acts does a RICO case make. There is much more to learn before I form an opinion one way or the other.
Except on one item: the “IP.”
Many allegations in the complaint center around “intellectual property” related to the development of BOL-148 for use in treating cluster headaches. BOL-148 or 2-Bromo-LSD, for those who don’t know, is an analogue of LSD that is either non-hallucinogenic, or at any rate, not as hallucinogenic as LSD. Importantly, studies suggest that while 2-Bromo-LSD is not as hallucinogenic as LSD, it might be effective at treating cluster headaches. It is therefore a promising candidate for use in medicine.
Although I have few opinions on the lawsuit merits, I do have a firm opinion on Sewell’s Patent, which appears to be a central issue and is now owned by Turnbull’s Ceruvia Life Sciences. The lawsuit calls the IP the “ultimate prize.” I disagree. Like other Turnbull affiliated patent properties, I think its a turd. Indeed, it shares a surprisingly similar origin story with another Turnbull patent application discussed here. It comes right out of the Clusterbusters community.
There are two independent reasons I believe the Sewell Patent to be invalid (and there may be more that others pointed out related to BOL-148).
First, the claims of the Sewell Patent are written so broadly that it abuts prior art uses of LSA to treat cluster headaches. Here is claim one of the Sewell patent:
The Sewell Patent claims priority to March 21, 2008. But it is an undisputed fact that Clusterbusters began publishing protocols for using LSA to treat Cluster Headaches long before that:
Here is the April 2007 LSA FAQ guide.
In a paper published shortly after filing the provisional, Sewell wrote about how the Cluster Headache community had discovered the efficaciousness of LSA :
The solution came from England. A group called the Organization for Understanding Cluster Headache (OUCH-UK) had noticed that seeds of the Hawaiian baby woodrose and morning glory plants, when ground up, seemed to be just as effective as LSD or psilocybin in treating their cluster headache. Even better, morning glory seeds can be ordered over the Internet, overnight-delivered, and consumed immediately without the need for a six week delay while spores germinate and mushrooms grow. Better still, lysergic acid amide (LSA), the active ingredient in the seeds, is only Schedule III, so being caught with it is unlikely to result even in prosecution, much less a stiff prison sentence.
News of the discovery spread like wildfire and quickly jumped the pond, presenting me with a unique opportunity. Given that I had a database of 383 cluster headache patients, none of whom had taken LSA at the time they had enrolled in the study,5 how many—two years later—had taken it? Sixty-eight, it turned out. This was no longer a retrospective case series, which is scientifically unconvincing, but rather a prospective cohort study (which, while considerably more compelling, is still not up to the level of a randomized clinical trial). Not only that; since seeds come as discrete units, it occurred to me that all I had to do to arrive at a dose was 1) analyze a seed, 2) ask each subject how many seeds they had taken, and 3) multiply the two values to arrive at the dose.
This idea proved to be a dead end, unfortunately. Preliminary analysis of the seeds revealed that there was an over ten-fold variation in alkaloid content from batch to batch—some seeds being complete duds, containing no LSA whatsoever (Figure 4). The only solution was to have patients mail me whatever seeds they had left over after they treated themselves, so I could see exactly what they had taken (Figure 6, next page). Disclosure of the results will have to await peer review, but a preliminary poster presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Headache Society can be viewed on the Erowid web site (erowid.org/chemicals/lsa/ lsa_article2.pdf). As one might expect, sub-hallucinogenic doses of LSA appear to be effective in treating cluster attacks, terminating cluster periods, and extending remission periods in cluster headache.
And so it came to pass that modern science could have stumbled upon this discovery several times, but unfortunately asked the wrong questions, drew the wrong conclusions, or simply looked the other way. It was not a cadre of smart Ivy League doctors drawing chemical diagrams on chalkboards or running complicated structural computer simulations who discovered that psychotropic indoles treat cluster headache. Rather, it was a dedicated patient group, testing different psychedelic compounds through trial and error, much as the shamans of old honed their healing techniques through observation and iteration. Unauthorized research made the discovery, leaving authorized research merely to confirm it and refine it.
True, a “cadre of smart Ivy League doctors” didn’t discover “that psychotropic indoles treat cluster headache.” But as I’ve shown before—and as I’m showing you again—that isn’t going to stop a cadre of smart Ivy League doctors from trying to patent it!
Indeed, beyond ClusterBusters, folks had been talking about LSA seeds to treat cluster headaches for years:
RC Seeds and CH. Busters? (“In the meantime, Dr Sewell is still interested in hearing from folks who've tried LSA (whether it worked or not”).
Now to be clear, these disclosures of community LSA seed use do not anticipate the Sewell claims. The claims require a “substantially pure” form of LSA. LSA from seeds is not “substantially pure.” And potency from seed to seed varies.
But once one understands that LSA is the active ingredient in LSA seeds and LSA seeds can abate cluster headaches, it isn’t a much of a leap to conclude that pure LSA could do the same thing. Indeed, the FAQ guide teaches “LSA hydrolysis” to concentrate the LSA. In other words, it is good obviousness art. And despite being known by Sewell, I don’t see it as having been disclosed to the examiner.
Second, after reviewing the file history of the Sewell Patent, I have some concerns about a representation Sewell made in a 132 declaration to overcome a prior art rejection.
During prosecution, the examiner relied on a prior art reference called Aung-Din, which states, “Ergot alkaloids have been used for treating migraines since the 1920’s and their continued use for the acute relief of moderate or severe migraine is still being studied today.” Sewell distinguishes Aung-Din by asserting, with emphasis, that LSA and bromo-LSD “are not ergot alkaloids.”
Unlike Sewell, I do not purport to be a person of skill in the art. But I dabble in this area quite a bit. And I find this representation to be misleading. As understood by the art in 2006:
Ergot alkaloids are indole compounds that are biosynthetically derived from L-tryptophan and represent the largest group of nitrogenous fungal metabolites found in nature. Over 80 different ergot alkaloids have been isolated, mainly from various Claviceps species (over 70 alkaloids), but also from other fungi and from higher plants.
LSA, of course, is found in higher plants—just not Claviceps. I looked over another article devoted to ergot alkaloids which specifically named Morning-Glories (Convolvulaceae) as having ergot alkaloids.
Sewell appears to say that “ergot alkaloids” consist only of alkaloids synthesized by the ergot fungus. This statement isn’t just inconsistent with what others in the art say, but the Aung-Din reference itself.
Aung-Din describes a prior art patent covering Dihydroergotamine (DHE), which is a semi-synthetic form of ergotamine, as prior art describing ergot alkaloids. Aung-Din references application of ergot alkaloids to treat a cluster headache throughout.
Later in the reference, Aung-Din expressly defines “ergot alkaloids” to include LSA and in any case, much differently from what Sewell declared:
Sewell was aware of the inconsistency between his definition of “ergot alkaloid” and paragraph  Aung-Din. He explained that paragraph  would provide little guidance on how to identify the efficacy of lysergic acid amide derivatives.
Sewell contended, “a fair interpretation of the Aung-Din reference does not provide any indication that lysergic acid amide (LSA) or bromo-lysergic acid diethylamide (bromo-LSD) would be effective … for treating” cluster headaches.
Now, Aung-Din isn’t perfect art—it is directed to topical formulations. But it is pretty good art. And until Sewell’s 132 declaration, it blocked claims of the patent. It is my belief is that the Clusterbusters disclosures take care of Sewell’s objections to Aung-Din. Even if Aung-Din doesn’t teach a specific lysergic acid amide, the Cluserbusters disclosures clearly taught LSA. They also teach non-topical administration.
Not only do I believe there is a good chance that the Sewell Patent is obvious in view of Aung-Din and Clusterbusters, but the patent squarely falls within Turnbull’s definition of a bad psychedelic patent. I’ll go further: it could be a poster child for bad psychedelic patents.
In response to a recent interview, in attempting to distinguish his own patenting versus those of COMPASS, Turnbull stated:
This NYU patent isn’t a blocking patent — it would have to do more with the dose and protocol. You want to patent things you invent, not things that have been in the public domain for a long time. Typically our economic system disallows large market shares and monopolies. One of the rare examples where we award exclusivity is in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s meant to reward the capital pools to go after the risky thing of finding novel cures for previously uncurable illnesses, so in life sciences that is a good thing. With psychedelics it’s different because these drugs already exist, and there's a lot of information in the public domain about them. Freedom to Operate has made it its business to attempt to provide some clarity in the issue of — is this old art or new art?
When you factor in the regulatory schemes, it isn’t clear to me why Turnbull’s patents and applications are any less blocking than COMPASS “Polymorph A” patents, which clearly do not block natural psilocybin. It isn’t the patent coverage that differs, there’s just far more hype and research surrounding psilocybin. But that is a topic for another day. The Sewell Patent is a patent based on information largely discovered by other people and placed in the public domain. And unlike psilocybin or other Schedule I chemicals, LSA is a Schedule III chemical. That means, if anyone were interested, this patent might actually present a more meaningful primary obstacle of developing LSA into a novel medicine to treat cluster headaches or migraines.
I am considering flexing my Ivy League diploma and filing an ex parte reexamination to take on this trash. Stay tuned.
Oh, and one more thing I couldn’t help but notice as I went through the file history.
The Sewell Patent got assigned from Sewell’s widow to “Savant TAC, LLC” on February 21, 2018.
Apparently, however, when she assigned it on February 21, 2018, Savant TAC, LLC wasn’t known as Savant TAC, LLC. Months earlier, in December 2017, Turnbull had renamed “Savant TAC, LLC” as “CH TAC LLC”—which is today known as Ceruvia Lifesciences.
Then, in April 2018, Stephen Hurst (of MindMed) certified Micro Entity status for the Sewell Patent:
That telephone number? Belongs to MindMed.
That address above for Savant TAC LLC, “1325 Airmotive Way, Suite 175A”? Yeah, that’s MindMed’s address too. Something weird here folks.
Thought # 2
I have been absent for the past month. This is not because of writers block. Far from it. I’m only half-way through Psychedelic Patent Wars™. Don’t worry, not going to GRRM it. It will come to an end….sometime…in the next year….or so. I’m eager to finish—especially after the influx new subscribers following my 5-questions interview. But here’s what’s been getting in the way.
After some heaving lifting in the Five Tryptamines proceeding, I pivoted away from the DEA/drug/psychedelic beat to do some heavy lifting on the other side of my docket. In August, I entered briefing mode and took/defended around 3 depositions a week—including a deposition of the former Patent Commissioner on the finer points of Patent Office procedure.
I was slated to re-emerge from this self-imposed exile this past week to speak at a Psychedelic Law Summit event. And then I got the flu.
In short, I haven’t been on vacation. Just on a vacation from psychedelic, drug policy/regulation issues, and what not.
But since I can now speak, unconstrained by any format, let me freestyle a short Cliff Notes version of what I would say to a room of psychedelic lawyers given the opportunity:
I am not a psychedelic lawyer. Nor do I aspire to be one.
I am a lawyer. I litigate and advocate. Some days I argue motions. Occasionally I’ll have a streak of depositions. Every now and then, I go to trial. Most of the time, I read and write. A lot.
I’m a generalist and specialist. I’ve been practicing for ten years, working more than 2,000 billable hours nearly every year. That means I’ve passed the “10,000” hour rule at least twice. I’ve written nearly every type of court pleading. I’ve done bench trials, jury trials, arbitrations, and appeals. I do contract cases and constitutional law cases. I spend most of my time with complex IP cases. And of course, I sue the government. A lot.
I am not a psychedelic lawyer. I am a lawyer that handles and writes on matters and issues related to psychedelics and drug regulation. And I take on clients in the psychedelics space when those matters align with my core values.
Many folks I look up to in the “psychedelic space” don’t appear to be “psychedelic” [insert profession] either. For example, many of the doctors I hold in high regard maintain private practices having nothing to do with psychedelics. Modern medicine is not, in fact, incompatible with psychedelics and plant medicine. The journalists that I think write the best stories in the “space” usually have a beat that includes one or more other topics unrelated to psychedelics. Many of the researchers I hold in highest regard are typically not singularly focused on psychedelics but were accomplished in some other field before turning to psychedelics or are today remain multidisciplinary.
On several levels, I believe there are virtues to a multidisciplinary professional approach and not focusing on psychedelics. Rather than go through them all (there are many), let me focus on what I do—being a lawyer—and two practical reasons why I would argue becoming a hyper-focused “psychedelic lawyer” is counterproductive and might make one a less effective advocate for psychedelic causes.
First, I do not believe, at present, one can be a peak-effective lawyer advancing psychedelics or drug policy by narrowly focusing on those issues. Effective advocacy is about communicating, both in writing and on your feet. Litigating is thinking strategically, tactically, patiently, and yet flexibly. These are skills. And like in any other profession, skills are honed through practice.
At present, there are not enough drug policy or psychedelic cases or issues to do reps on to get in those 10,000 hours, whether as a matter of skill acquisition or maintenance. Also, whether I’m doing psychedelics or anything else in law, I want to play in the majors. I want to compete against the best. I want “practice” to be elite. To be clear, “playing in the majors” doesn’t mean working at a big law firm or even on important cases. It just means having a worthy client with challenging legal problems and real stakes. Something that requires flexing and growing the lawyer muscle. One plays in the majors as much as a local criminal defense lawyer as a big firm lawyer working on a $100 million dollar fire-fight. Both keeps one in-shape.
Bottom line: with psychedelics law—at least litigation—there is no league right now.
Second, and relatedly, psychedelics law really isn’t some separate area of law from what I can tell. At least not yet. The only thing that unifies “psychedelics law” are (1) drugs and (2) a community attracted to psychedelics, for one reason or another. Doctrinally speaking, however, “psychedelics law” isn’t like IP law or contract law where there are special legal rules one learns. Psychedelics law is an amalgamation of different types of law: pinches of administrative/FDA/CSA law, a dash of patent law, several drops of religious freedom law, and so on. It is far easier to specialize in one of these other areas as a non-psychedelic lawyer (where you can get lots of reps) and dabble in psychedelics than vice-versa.
So me spending a month away from here taking depositions in a tricky patent case keeps my patent skills grade A—makes me a better “psychedelic lawyer.” My writings on psychedelic patents, for example, applies thousands of hours of work experience I’ve acquired from reading countless patent file histories and litigating patents for a living. At this point in my life, the patent stuff is basically instinct.
Do you really want to be a “psychedelic lawyer”? That’s fine. Always do you. I think it is mostly a marketing gimmick. But if you want to know my one-and-a-half cents on how to become a lawyer capable of making maximum impact in the area of psychedelics and capable of slaying anti-drug zealot beasts with your bare hands, it’s this: don’t try to be a “psychedelic lawyer.” Don’t specialize on psychedelic issues, whether psychedelic patents or psychedelic churches, or what not. Don’t just study RFRA cases involving drugs. Master all RFRA cases. Know RFRA law cold, from abortion, to facial hair, to vaccines, to sacramental plants. Don’t just focus on psychedelic patents. Start reading about all different types of pharma patents. Become a killer writer and advocate. Just be a really bomb “lawyer” that takes on worthy clients and causes, psychedelic or not.
Thought # 3
George A. Ricaurte had the hallmarks of a premier neurology and pharmacology expert. Armed with an MD from Northwestern, a PhD in Pharmacology from University of Chicago, and a top-notch research post at premier Medical Institution Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Ricaurte focused his clinical work and research focused on dopaminergic disorders and the potential for amphetamine-type drugs and their potential to damage monoamine neurons in the brain. was regarded as one of the top experts on MDMA in the United States. Dr. Ricaurte even took credit for the outlawing of MDMA claiming that his research had led to the ban of MDMA. And he was probably right.
So, when Ricuarte sounded the alarms in 2002—declaring in the peer-reviewed journal Science, one of the world’s leading academic journals, that a study he conducted showed recreational doses of MDMA was neurotoxic—people listened. The results of his study were startling. Nearly 40% of the test animals either died or were so close to death that they had to be withdrawn. The press release touted that 60 to 80 percent of dopamine-related neurons in the test monkeys’ brains were destroyed, creating sensationalist headlines nationwide. Ricuarte claimed to be the first to observe something nobody had ever seen before.
There was just one problem with Ricuarte’s study: it was dogshit. And those that knew better and bothered to read the study and appreciate its implications knew it. There was no evidence to support the 60 to 80 percent cell-death claim. Forty percent of the study animals got so sick they either died or gotten so sick they had to be withdrawn from the study. And yet, millions of Americans tried Ecstasy, and few died.
It turns out, due to a labeling error, 9 of 10 animals in Ricuarte’s study had been given meth instead of MDMA. Oops.
The British journal Nature dubbed the Ricuarte fiasco “one of the more bizarre episodes in the history of drug research.” The editor-in-chief of Science said the journal “wound up publishing a paper we wish we hadn't.” Folks questioned how the 2002 study got through a “supposedly rigorous process of peer review” and noted that it is “very hard to see how that process operated properly in the case of this article.”
The red flags were everywhere. Donald G. McNeil Jr. of the New York Times described “a pattern of shaky research supporting alarmist press releases.” Other studies in Ricuarte’s lab, forcing him to withdraw four other papers. For example, Ricuarte was the same mind behind the other discredited MDMA study that led to the ''Plain Brain/Brain After Ecstasy,' or the widely discredited pop-culture notion ecstasy creates holes in your brain fiasco that was broadcast all over Oprah. Ricuarte had a history of making unsubstantiated and conclusory assertions of what was true. For example, in 2001, he told the Village Voice that “[e]veryone in the field has accepted [MDMA] is a neurotoxin” and that “those [dissenting] arguments have to be put in perspective.” Dr. Richard J. Wurtman, a prominent clinician at Harvard and M.I.T. accused Ricuarte of ''running a cottage industry showing that everything under the sun is neurotoxic.''
Some thought Ricuarte routinely gamed his data to write biased articles to win more federal grants by making the drugs look bad.
Ricuarte’s bogus study certainly did not show that a single recreational dose of MDMA could cause lasting damage to critical parts of the brain, the study itself did do lasting damage in other ways. Around the time of the study’s publication, Congress was debating the Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act or RAVE Act to expand 21 U.S.C. § 856(a) in the Controlled Substances Act, or the “crack house law.” That is the provision of the law that prevents safe injection sites from operating in the U.S. today.
Equally important, beyond contributing to MDMA’s Schedule I ban in 1985, his later study derailed MAPS and MDMA. As Doblin explains, the controversy over the neurotoxic risks of MDMA caused by widespread misinformation made it exceptionally difficult for MAPS to obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for our study of the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I originally wrote the above as a prologue to a much longer trashing of the “Patents on Psychedelics: The Next Legal Battlefront of Drug Development” essay by POPLAR scholars Mason Marks and I. Glenn Cohen published in the Harvard Law Review Online Forum. I decided a while back not to publish the extended critique for several reasons. Among other things, I sent some of my more pointed criticisms directly to the authors, which they incorporated to varying degrees. Hence, I’m mentioned in a footnote.
Nonetheless, even with those corrections, the most flattering thing I can say about the essay is that it is a rather powerful and rare demonstration of the “show not tell” principle. The essay itself is the law review equivalent of the archetypal garbage psychedelic patent it derides. In a rush to be the first legal academics to write a full-length academic piece about “psychedelic patents,” the authors, who appear to have no serious experience in the relevant art (i.e., patent law), slap together some background at the beginning, rip ideas from other folks, stitch together some sloppy citations, make some vacuous suggestions, and call it a day. Everything you need to know about what is wrong with psychedelic patents is embodied by the essay itself.
Take footnote 83, which refers to “2013/0236573 A1” as a U.S. Patent. In the main text corresponding to this footnote, Marks/Cohen declare: “To capitalize on it, Janssen Pharmaceuticals patented the intranasal use of esketamine (S-ketamine) to treat depression.” Except 2013/0236573 isn’t a U.S. Patent, a point anyone with experience working with patents would know instantly. It is a U.S. Patent publication. Not all patent publications issue as patents. Including this one. If one bothered to at the file history for this patent publication, you learn that Janssen never got the patent. Indeed, they abandoned it. Why, you say?
For those keeping score, US2007/287753 to Charney is the Yale/HHS/Icahn intranasal ketamine patent application that issues as U.S. Patent No. 8,785,500, which I discuss at length here. Again, to repeat, the Yale/HHS/Icahn ketamine patent blocked the Janssen esketamine patent. Janssen did get some narrower patents on intranasal esketamine at specific dose ranges.
For now, suffice to say, in my view, that Section III of the Marks/Cohen essay is built on fictional premises. It misleads the reader. I can’t say why Marks/Cohen do not discuss the Yale/HHS/Icahn patents. They seem to think Spravato is a big deal. When you go to the Orange Book listing for Spravato, it tells you exactly which patents apply to the product. The first two are Yale/HHS/Icahn patents.
This isn’t an obscure detail. Perhaps, noting that the Yale/HHS/Icahn group—who did a lot of really important research on ketamine and depression—got the core patent on generic intranasal ketamine which covers Spravato didn’t neatly fit neatly into their “KETAMINE: A CAUTIONARY TALE OF CHIRAL CHEMISTRY” thesis. It probably eviscerates it. Don’t worry, in the next installment, we’ll go through the “esketamine” patents, see what happened with them, and from there, start looking the bigger regulatory picture.
The basic point of the prologue was this: like Ricaurte, Marks/Cohen have impressive paper credentials. They are accomplished individuals. They have made excellent contributions. Marks’ 2018 full length piece is top-notch. But paid any amount of scrutiny, this particular work is a dumpster fire. It isn’t bereft of good ideas, but as a whole, the essay is too flawed to be considered serious scholarship let alone something I would expect to be published in the Harvard Law Review. And yet, the Michael Pollan led UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics considers this Tim Ferriss POPLAR sponsored garbage to be one of two selected sources you should read if you want to learn about patents.
Do you see where I’m going with this? No? Okay, let’s let the thought run just a bit more.
I won’t rehash this Wired article here. Suffice to say, it and the paper it describes are two of the most important pieces written on psychedelics in the past year. The basic point is that a new paper by Yaden, Griffiths, and Potash argues that the psychedelic exuberance might be veering the field into misinformation. People are making unsubstantiated and outlandish claims about the unlimited, panacea nature of psychedelics and so on. It then talks about the recent Carhart-Harris paper where he and his coauthors posited that psilocybin might treat depression by boosting connections between different parts of the brain. Some academics pushed back—Fred Barrett and Manoj Doss—in which they identified some issues in the paper. And how calamity ensued.
Psychedelics have amazing promise. Their ability to induce neuroplasticity will prove to be useful in modern medicine with the right frameworks in place. Similarly, I believe psychedelics can help induce meaningful mystical/religious experiences. Equally important, it is my belief that nobody should go to jail for using psychedelics, and that drug use, to the extent it is a problem at all, is usually health problem, not a criminal justice problem.
But I also do not believe psychedelics to be inherently “good.” They are powerful tools. I also do not believe that the psychedelic nature of an enterprise should be a shield to criticism or justify receiving exceptional treatment. Being “psychedelic” is not an excuse to cut corners, commit misconduct, or transgress boundaries. As days go by, I become increasingly jaded and frustrated. The “hype bubble” is palpable. Folks aren’t skeptical or critical enough of psychedelic research, especially writing put out by those “leading” the movement, and aren’t willing to call out their own, perhaps at the expense of setting back “the movement.” And when one does take on an idea, as the Wired article shows, it gets viewed as a personal attack.
For what it is worth, here is my view. First, generally, neither critiquing research nor the search for truth is personal. Second, psychedelic dogshit is still dogshit. Any dogshit article or writing that touts microdosing psilocybin as a medical cure for depression based on a bunk data or methodology—or worse, a handful of personal anecdotes—is no better than Ricaurte’s dogshit MDMA study. And when something is dogshit, it deserves to be called dogshit, no matter who dropped it on us. Holding evidence and argument up to the crucible of cross-examination is virtuous. And the more trusted the authority, the more discerning we should be. That is the way toward truth.
Psychedelics were taken away and kept away when these principles were not adhered to. Anti-drug warriors were not interested in the truth. They were interested in one-sided studies to produce results that aligned with preconceived notions. With the psychedelic renaissance accelerating, let’s hope pendulum doesn’t swing too far in the other direction. Psychedelics very well may be the greatest medical innovation of the 21st Century. But even if that is the case, it wouldn’t be worth sacrificing the truth and other principles for.
A third point is that not being a “psychedelic lawyer” and keeping one foot out of the psychedelic space works wonders in keeping one out of the echo chamber.