How Psychedelics Saved My Buddy From Depression & Suicide
Today, I speak with my friend Mark about his journey with lifelong depression and feelings of suicide. Mark's father committed suicide at 50 and Mark didn't think he was going to make it past this anniversary without taking his own life.
He was introduced to plant medicine at just the right moment and this podcast conicals his journey from the dark side of depression to a totally new outlook on life and what it has to offer.
Please note we are not giving any advice in this podcast, we are telling the story of a personal journey where plant medicine changed Mark's life and that story is worth telling and listening too.
If you are interested in more information on how plant medicine can also help you, I recommend the following resources:
- How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence | By Michael Pollan
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma | By Bessel van der Kolk
- Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha | By Tara Brach
- The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self | By Alice Miller
Hello, hello, world! I am here for a very important conversation with a good friend of mine, Mr. Mark and Mr. Derek meet once again in this universe. Hello, Mark!
Hey, bro. Good to talk to you again.
You too, my friend.
It's always been too long since we last had a conversation.
Absolutely. Even if it was just 2 seconds ago, it's still too long. I'm really excited about today's conversation. This is something I've been thinking about and that's been part of my life for quite a long time and has come more fully into my life, I would say, in the last couple of years. And interestingly enough, it is correlated with the rebirth of our friendship in a lot of ways, not singularly, but it's definitely something that's been a core aspect of getting to know each other again, which I feel very honored. And really it's been great to align with somebody that not only loves surfing but is also on what I would call a spiritual journey. And as for me, one of the most important aspects of life is to walk a journey where one is understanding oneself. And sometimes we can be helped along that journey through different medicine. And that's what we're gonna talk about today.
Yes. Well, before we get started, I just gotta say I love you, man. And I'm honored to be on this journey with you. Since we've reconnected since our high school days, we're both different men than we were back then. And for the universe to bring us back together and to help and challenge and check each other's bullshit on our spiritual journey, it's a great honor to be walking with you, bro.
Absolutely. And I totally agree and I love you too, man.
So where you want to start?
Yeah, let's start. How did you even get into medicine and how did it show up in your life? And I don't know how deeply you want to go into some of your past, but I know that there have been some issues around depression and that sort of thing. And I think a lot of people, especially during this time, a lot of people might be either rubbing up against depression for perhaps the first time in their lives or because of the environment we're in it might be coming on more strongly. So this is a great time to talk about different ways to either mitigate some of that stuff or help to manage it, if you will. Yeah, so something like that.
Well, I'm gonna rip the lid off of my bottle here.
And just be completely honest because I think it's the best way for people to really understand where I've come from, my journey, and how plant medicine has helped me. And people that identify will hopefully be able to explore this as a course to improve themselves. So just a little bit about me, I grew up in Southern California. My dad was an executive at NBC, mom was a teacher. We had a really great outward-facing family and inward. My dad was bipolar. We never know who was gonna show up. So I experienced a lot of covert type abuse in my family. And I think as we all are exploring ourselves, I think all of us have experienced some form of abuse one way or another from our parents. And it's like there is no handbook and we don't blame. It's just we need to understand that early childhood programming.
So I struggled. My dad committed suicide when I was 20, 21. And that was the single most traumatic event of my life so far. And I really didn't understand other than I just saw it as the ultimate act of selfishness. He wanted to check out, he didn't wanna deal with his stuff. But what that did is that launched me in a kind of denial that I was anything like my father.
I have struggled with drug use throughout my teens. I'm 50, a little over 50 years old now. So up until I was about 48, I used marijuana mainly to shut feelings off. I did acid and ecstasy in high school. I spent a couple of years on, or maybe less than a year but heavily on methamphetamine, lost everything, was a single dad with 3 kids, homeless. So all these things, the drug use always was used to just kinda make me not feel, just to kinda numb. And I had cycled through major depression 3 times in my life. First time was right after my dad died and really serious depression, 6 months, pretty much useless. But the thing that kept me going was my children. So I have to get up, I have to go to work. And whatever I do, I cannot put that gun to my head today because I can't do that to my children. So that's kinda how I led my life.
Why was it important for you? So obviously your dad had a different choice, right, which he didn't think about his children when took his life. And we all suffer, right? And I don't have any judgment for how people suffer because everyone is suffering and they're dealing with it differently. So he made that choice and for him, he felt it was the right thing. So why was it important for you not to make that same choice? You said that your children kept you from pulling the trigger, but why do you think that was?
Well, I think there were a couple of things, and at the time my answer would have been different than it is today. Because today obviously, I have the long view and more tools and words to identify the feelings. But back then, there were a couple of things. One is I didn't make very much money. I didn't trust the children's mother at the time. And I knew that if I wasn't there, that their life would not be as good than if I was there. I was the sole provider, I was the stable one. Imagine that.
I was the one that--so I was always there. I always understood that the children's mom definitely had her own set of mental health issues and was abusive and not working. So I knew that number one, I couldn't do that. And every time I ended up buying a life insurance policy, so it's like I start to get depressed. I'm like, "Fuck, I ain't coming to do this." So I go out and get a life insurance policy, a term life, because it was really cheap and then it's right there and well, 5 years exclusion for suicide. So I'm like, "Fuck, dude. And I got to wait 5 more years?"
Oh, shit. That's classic.
And so I just said, "Okay. I'm just gonna keep on it. I'm just gonna keep going through the motions. I just gotta get the kids on their own. The kids just got to be on their own and then I'm free to do what I want." So I cycled through 2 marriages over 25 years, 20 years, and then 13 years ago I met my current wife and was able to deal with some of these demons that I had been dealing with.
She was very much opposed to smoking marijuana and drinking and all that stuff. So I did a pivot on my wife and stopped using all these substances except for tobacco and just threw myself into work and started actually building a life and assets and had some things that I look forward to. And the big trigger for me was in 2017, I had agreed to a partnership with somebody I'd been friends with for 20 years. And he had the money, I was gonna put in the sweat equity. And I delivered a product as agreed, on time, and through some pretty harrowing circumstances.
Yeah, you went to China and you went to the factory?
Yeah, I had a staph infection.
That's right, yeah.
I was working 8 to 10 hours to get the product done and then spending the next 4 hours every night in the hospital getting intravenous antibiotics. And I get back and is only thing--2 things you could--3 things you could say is one, he didn't trust me. Two, I didn't keep in contact with him enough. And three, you're out of here. I don't want you to be my partner anymore. So for the first week, I was on fire to destroy the guy. And that very quickly turned into a very serious 6-month long depression. I had been hiding it from my wife. I was lying about what I was doing. I stopped surfing. I didn't care about anything.
Stopped calling your friends, I remember that.
I stopped, yeah. Wouldn't return any phone calls. My life insurance was fully matured. My kids were all out of the house. There's really nothing to keep me here. And ironically, by the time this depression had fully manifest itself, it's April 2018, just a few months shy of my 50th birthday. And then my dad committed suicide a few days before his 50th birthday. So I'm really contemplating. And I think it was the first week in May, I said to my wife, I said, "I'm depressed, I need help." My wife's Asian, and Asian culture they're all, "Suck it up. There's no such thing as mental health issues. You're a fucking pussy. Get back out there."
Go to work.
Go to work, yeah. "What are you complaining about? I had escaped through the jungle when I was 10. Shut the fuck up."
So not a lot of sympathy comes from my wife. But she knew something wasn't right. And she had a friend that had talked to her about plant medicines over the years. And I had maybe heard something here or there. I knew who her friend was. So my wife says to me, she says "I'm gonna call my friend, and then we'll see what to do."
So she calls me back in an hour and she says, "My friend says, do not go to a psychiatrist. Don't start taking any medication yet." She said, "Come to my house tomorrow and I want to work with you for 1 evening." And I'm like, "Oh, okay. That's fine." So, my friend, she's now my friend and her husband are now close personal friends of me and my wife. It really changed our relationship. But they're very successful. They have a lot of businesses, they have a lot of money. Both of them stopped what they were doing to sit with me. And so they invite me to their house and I got to use some names here. So I'm gonna say, Jenny and Bill.
Jenny and Bill sit down and they're like, "Wow, Mark. You're vibing really low." I'm like, "I don't even know what that means. I'm depressed. I don't know what vibing means, but I'm really depressed and I just don't want to live. And all I want to do is smoke cigarettes all day long." So they talk and they say, "We have a couple of different plant medicines, but we feel that right now peyote will be the proper medicine for you." And I'm like, "Okay." So they're like, "Have you ever done any psychedelics before?"
And I said, "Yeah, I remember doing acid back in high school and standing in line at Tower Records to get tickets to a Prince concert or something like that."
Shout out to Prince by the way.
Yeah, shout out to Prince. So I'm like, "Okay." And they said, "Well, this is a heart-opening medicine." I'm like, "Okay, whatever." You could have told me it was the key to unlocking the secrets to the moon. It meant nothing to me.
You trusted them?
I trusted them.
Right. Which is important.
Trust is really important on these journeys. Setting, also very important and we'll talk about, trip sitting, all that stuff a little bit later on. I've got some neat stories I like to share about that.
So the peyotes are really bitter. It's a cactus. It's really bitter tasting. There's a couple of ways to take it. You can brew it in the tea, you can just eat the peyote, what they call buttons, you can just eat them raw. And what they had done is actually they had ground them up and put them into capsules. So it was really very palatable, easy to take. And I probably took probably an 8, 3, probably between 3 and 4 grams of the peyote. And I'm a pretty much a lightweight in everything that I do. So it came on pretty quick for me and they sat with me and explained a couple of things. And we talked about a couple of things, some really basic things that I knew intellectually inside of me since I was a child. But there were connections made. Probably the number 1 is self-love. We just talked about what is self-love? What does it look like? How does it manifest? How would you manifest that in your life? What are the things you would do that is self-love and what are the things? So they ask you these leading questions and I just start talking and feeling them out. Another talking topic was fear. And there's 4 or 5 basic human fears, fear of death, fear of separation, fear of loss of autonomy.
So I was able to identify my fears, look at what self-love is, and the fact that nobody's coming to rescue me. I must rescue myself. I am responsible for me. And there is a lot more that went on that journey. The medicine probably lasted probably 5 or 6 hours for me and...
Is that a normal time period for peyotes, similar to mushrooms?
Yes. A lot of it depends on the dosing and the prep. So because I didn't have a week to prep my body, my mind for this journey, it probably didn't last as long.
And what did it feel like physically? I know that peyote's more of what I would call heart-opening medicine as opposed to some other. I mean your heart can open another medicines, too but, specifically so did you actually feel more love? What was the feeling like?
Well, it was very peaceful and it was a love that was centered, it was turned towards myself. I had mild hallucinations, so from a visual perspective, this was all done with the lights on. This is a medicine that's best taken during the day. But I could really feel, I could feel. And I could feel in ways about myself, about my decisions, about my truth that I had not felt before.
In that way, yes, heart-opening. Heart-opening to love, to self-love, to truth, to my truth. To being able to speak my truth.
And so I knew at the end of that session that I was different. I knew that I was different. I didn't understand to the extent of how much I had changed and how much I've become aware of until the next day when I literally started my new life. There were 2 things that were immediate and important to me. Number 1 is self-love. Self-love did not include smoking anymore. I just dropped it. Tobacco's just no longer part of my life.
And the second was vibrations. I've always been a feeler and now I understand why I'm a feeler, because vibrations, I can feel them, I understand them, I have a lot of empathy. So now I'm able to like, "Oh, that's a vibe." I know what a vibe is. I can use it, I can identify it so...
How would you--I'm just trying to get a grasp of when you say vibration, do you mean energies, the good energy, bad energy, that sort of thing? Is that what you mean? Yeah.
Yeah. Energy and not to judge the energy as good or bad, right.
Sure, yeah. But also feeling--you can feel--I mean it's interesting that using those words right, because as soon as you use those words, not you, but in general, there's a judgment good and bad, but there's also a feeling behind good and bad that isn't a judgment. It's a reality. Right? So like linguistics in this area really gets complicated because--and I find myself coming from a background that really looked at language a lot, where I'll over analyze my analysis of language when sometimes you just got to say good and bad.
Preferable or not preferable.
Yeah. So obviously going into that, there was a grip of depression around you. Did you feel like that was kinda eased up or was it like the cigarettes? It was just gone or?
It was gone. I probably spent hmm, I don't know, 4 or 5 months literally on the euphoria of having discovered my own power, my truth, my voice, self-love. I learned my powers in the word "no". I used to say yes to everybody and everything because I was afraid. My fear was of fear of rejection, fear of separation, fear of not being included, of not being loved. So I would always say yes.
Somebody I don't even know who's a friend of a friend is moving and they need a truck. I was like, "Oh, I got a truck. I'll help you." And give up a Saturday to go help somebody I don't even know to try and fill that emptiness that I wasn't filling myself.
It makes you feel wanted, it makes you feel like somebody honors you as opposed to standing in that place yourself. Like going surfing, which is something you much rather do than helping somebody move.
Yeah, exactly. So that power and then going back to the vibrations that I started noticing that food had different vibrations. And meat, I just didn't want to eat meat anymore. So then I start researching vibrations and what's high and what's low and then really started looking into meat and meat production, and I just cut it out. I was like, "You know what, I don't want to be part of that anymore."
I don't need it, my body doesn't need it. The cow that grows to 2 tons or to 1 ton, 2000 pounds just eats grass and it gets that big and strong.
Just like the gorilla. The gorilla's vegetarian, too, right?
Yeah, exactly. So I cut that out of my life and there's plenty of options to eat not meat. There's so many. And there's lots of unhealthy options like a Beyond Burger. Do you wanna still eat like crap? You can, but it kinda defeats the purpose. So it kinda woke me up.
So when was--because that was the year, so we saw each other on your birthday.
On my birthday.
That same year?
So that was in June of '18 when I turned 50. I beat my dad.
That on my birthday, I outlived.
So you had had that peyote experience a little bit before when--oh, I didn't realize that. Okay, cool.
We kinda reconnected a little bit before then. But I think that when you came to Malibu that really meant a lot to me. And I was really glad that you showed up. And I think that added to the current course where our friendship is on today.
I agree. It helped that you booked a place right in front of the surf. I came for you, but I appreciate you having the insight to make that decision.
Yes. I made it easy for you.
Bakersfield, I don't know if I would have shown up. I probably would go.
Yeah. So that started my discovery of plant medicine. So before, they were just drugs to get high. Now, I'm aware that these medicines actually are medicines. These are plant medicines. They feel, they have real value. So from there, I've been talking with Jenny and Bill. They recommended after a few months that my next progression would be to go to the jungle and experience an ayahuasca retreat.
So peyote is a masculine energy, it's heart-opening, it's a warrior's. If anybody's interested in peyote and some reading on that, there's some Carlos Castaneda's and there's a couple of books he's written on Don Juan about when Carlos and-- it's debatable on whether it's fact or fiction. But he is telling a story as himself as being an apprentice to an Indian medicine man who uses peyote and the spiritual journeys that come with that so...
I definitely recommend Carlos Castaneda for anybody that's interested. So the masculine, warrior, heart-opening for the peyote, ayahuasca is feminine. It's called the mother. Mother Aya is how that medicine is referred to and that's essentially Mother Earth. And ayahuasca, as far as we can tell, it originated in the Amazon, its 2 plants that are essentially boiled together, it's the ayahuasca vine and the chacruna leaf. The chacruna contains the DMT, which is the drug, the medicine part. And the ayahuasca vine contains an MAO inhibitor that allows the DMT to bind to it. So it's not flushed through your system in 10 or 15 minutes but actually stays in your system for a few hours.
So I went to Peru to an ayahuasca retreat. Namely, the place was called Nimea Kaya. And they take about 20 people per session. And it's an all-inclusive experience. Their current place is located in Pucallpa, which is the heart of the Amazon in Peru. And you show up, there's some prep work you need to do ahead of time. No sex, no drugs, no violent movies, remove as much meat from your diet as you can if that's not part of your regular regimen, and get into meditation state. Intentions are really important so I spent a lot of time on my intentions, what I hope to get out of this retreat. Retreat was 10 days total, which included 4 ayahuasca ceremonies.
And that really was an amazing experience. And it did a couple of things for me. Number one is it kinda confirmed my peyote experience. And Mother Aya basically just told me, she said, "Look, you're learning to love yourself, so let me show you how life works." And I was shown my birth, I was shown my death, I was shown how energy is transferred between living things.
Energy never dies, it just transforms. I was shown my past, I was shown my future. It was such a profound experience. I have pages and pages of notes and to sit there and try and explain it to everybody, you know you can't.
Person's experience is different. And for me, what it did is I was given something in my final ceremony and I didn't know what it was, but I know it was a gift. I'll share with you what that is in a little bit. But the ayahuasca experience isn't for everybody. Plant medicine isn't for everybody. We had 20 people that started our retreat.
One girl from, I think, she's from Dominican Republic, very strong devout Catholic, wanted to come just to see what it was like. And she could not handle giving up control. So the ayahuasca medicine is highly visual. It's very visual. And there's a lot of purging that goes on. And purging can take a different forms. It can be laughing, crying, vomiting, urinating, defecating, so anything in the body could be shaking. Anything in the body that releases energy, it would be considered purging. So she did--she threw up a little bit, she was crying. So she did the first ceremony, wasn't happy, tried the second ceremony, and then went home. Wasn't for her.
And that's fine. It isn't for everybody. But the people it's for, you know it right away.
You'll know it right away.
And was there a day of rest between each ceremony? How did that...
Yeah. It depends on who's running the place. So there's a high-end retreat in Costa Rica called Rythmia. They stack 4 ceremonies back to back to back. So in 6 days, you've done 4 ceremonies. And Nimea Kaya, the way they did it is day 1, there's nothing. Day 2, your first ceremony. Day 3, your second ceremony. So those 2 are back to back. Day 4 is rest. Day 5 is your third ceremony. Day 6 is rest. Day 7 is an excursion day. Day 8 is your fourth ceremony. Day 9 is rest and day 10, you go home. So it gave a lot of time for reflection, intentions, processing.
Super important, the whole part of it. So the beginning, there's bonding exercises that you do with the other people at the retreat. The next morning there's integration circles where everybody's sharing their experience, safe place to talk. And you're with 20 people that are, for the most part, focused on self-discovery, self-improvement, making themselves and their world better. So that energy I'd found with the group of people I was, was so infectious and I still keep in contact with almost everybody that was at that retreat. It was so profound. That launched me into plant medicine and since then, so that was towards the end of 2018. Last year, I've done a couple ceremonies, several more since then using mushrooms, psilocybin mushrooms, which is an amazing medicine.
Yeah. Let's talk about psilocybin a little bit.
And how it's different from ayahuasca and peyote. Yeah.
So the medicine itself is very similar to DMT, and that it's a pretty visual, it's a very visual medicine. The psilocybin activates the third eye. So that's your intuition and your thinking.
So that medicine is really a very--Don Wright is a great introduction for most people to psychedelics, and a lot of people that I've met over the years have talked about, "Oh, yeah. I did mushrooms back in high school and I laughed a lot." or "I had a horrible experience." or "I saw Looney Tunes all night." And setting and tension are so just important when we're using this medicine as opposed to partying with it.
Yeah, totally different. When you say--if your intention is to party and get high, it's that you're going to have one experience. And if it's to know yourself and to create a better world, then it's going to be different, it's just right there.
Exactly. And it's the same thing with alcohol. If you're going out to have a drink with a couple of friends, you're going to have one experience as opposed to going out and getting shitfaced at a frat party. So the psilocybin very quickly kinda had a calling. And this was part of the gift that Mother Aya gave me, to work with mushrooms. And so I just started meeting people and sharing my experience. And they're all like, "You know what? I'd been thinking about doing mushrooms or ayahuasca or peyote. Can you help me?" And so I started just sitting with people and it's like, "Hey, these things are illegal. You can't just go to the store and buy them. But, if you want to go ahead and get some mushrooms or whatever medicine, I'll be happy to sit with you, I will prepare you."
So there's a word they use is trip sitter, where somebody provides a safe environment for the recipient to do their mushrooms. So I started doing that with people going to psychedelic integration circles, which I highly recommend anybody that especially if you're on a solo journey to Google psychedelic integration. In any major city, there's tons of places to go. In Southern California, there's Tam Integration, there's Psychedelia LA. MAPS has a listing of integration circles. So there's a lot of resources for anybody journeying themselves.
And these are safe circles of people with similar interests that you can share what your experience was like or have questions about taking on experience.
Yeah, and I've been to a lot of those circles. I've made some really great friends, I've met people that were curious about psychedelics and they wanted to try them and they wanted to get other people's feedback and experience, I've had other people that have had experiences that wanted to share with others. So there's young, old, black, white. It's the human race that's sitting in these rooms and it's beautiful. They're really a very valuable tool, especially, again, for people that don't have a psychedelic support system around them.
And would you say more men than women or a mixture?
Yeah, pretty balanced.
Yeah, that's good.
I sat with a guy that was a 75-year old retired DOJ lawyer, I sat with a 21-year old black man that was trying to get out of the gang lifestyle.
They're all humans, baby.
They're all humans. A 40-year old Filipino woman, it's just so beautiful because just meeting like-minded people that are on a spiritual journey, that are trying to work on themselves, that have a calling for this type of medicine and being able to guide them to affect change is beautiful. It's just beautiful. Not to mention the stuff that we are able to accomplish within ourselves. When we help others, we learn something about ourselves.
Well said, bro.
So the mushrooms evolved to where you had an interest in and actually growing them. So being illegal in the United States, we have our legal growing place in Canada where we can do the whole process starting from the mycelium, the harvesting of the spores, growing the mycelium, the fruiting the mushrooms, and that whole cycle. And it's so beautiful because a mushroom is not a plant. It's a fungus. It takes in oxygen, it expels carbon dioxide, it's very human-like.
There's a theory, Terence McKenna, on the stoned ape thinking that the apes found the mushrooms at one point. And that was the point where we got our intelligence, in the mushrooms. So I subscribe to that theory.
Yeah. I think that's super interesting. I've been thinking about that recently, how somehow consciousness like imagination is such an important part or imagining something different than what we are is a really important part of the aspect of who we will become. And it feels to me like mushrooms, you just said it, I never heard that. But something was necessary for early man to make that leap from what they were doing to who they could become. So, that's really interesting that it could have been mushrooms.
And so, yeah. So we grow a couple of different strains and most of the cubensis strains and there's a couple of different varieties of them. The one that I tend to like the most is the Mazatapec, which is originally from North Central, North Mexico. And there's definitely a history of that mushroom. It tends to be a little bit more visual, more spiritual. The mushrooms, there's a couple of different chemicals in the mushroom, similar to--like marijuana so everybody--you go to marijuana store and everybody's just looking for, "I just want the one with the highest THC."
That doesn't necessarily give you the best high because there's other chemicals, there's other things, other parts of the plant that contribute to the experience on marijuana. It'd be the you have the THC content, you have the terpene profile, you have the amount of CBD content.
How about the energy of the grower?
The energy of the grower. The intention is so important.
So important. Our mushrooms are all grown with love and music and intention. And we appreciate every time our spores germinate into mycelium, which then fruits into a mushroom. And we are grateful of this process every time because we know that it's just really close to helping somebody.
And then so far as taking the mushrooms, there's a couple of ways to do it. You can eat them raw. You can cook them, pick them, cook them, make an omelette. Not too practical that way unless you're actually growing them yourselves. Most common people get them dried and they'll eat them or they'll make a tea with it.
Okay. So the heat of the cooking or of the tea doesn't break down the hallucinogenic components at all?
No, it degrades it a little bit, but not tremendously. So with our mushrooms, we're using 2 methods. One is we have a freeze dryer so there's no heat involved. And then we also do a rack within an enclosed environment with silica gel to just gently wick the moisture from the mushroom. Food dehydrator is a lot quicker and easier, and sometimes if we overproduced, we may have to do that. But drying them with the freeze dryer, the silica gel is really nice because it holds the whole shape of the mushroom, which I like.
But so far as taking them, you can bake them into chocolates. Probably the 2 methods I use most when I'm sitting with somebody is we use what's called the lemon tech, where we grind the mushrooms into a powder and we soak the powder in lemon juice for about half an hour, add hot water, strain out the solids, add a little bit of lemon. And it's a really nice, enjoyable tea.
And what the lemon's done is, a lemon has basically taken all the psilocybin out of the fiber of the mushroom, which is what happens in your stomach. So if you just eat the mushrooms, it's going to be 30 to 45 minutes before you start feeling the effects of the medicine. With the tea, in most people in 10 or 15 minutes in very quickly. It's a very quick rise and depending on the amount of dosage will be a...
So you're not eating the remnants of the paste. You're just using a paste and then running that like a tea and then steeping it basically in the paste. Oh, interesting. I thought you'd eat paste but you don't.
No, remove the paste and that really helps with nausea. A lot of people are nauseous or feel like throwing up after eating the mushrooms. Preparing for any plant medicine involves an empty stomach. And so you don't want to eat a minimum of 6 hours before you take plant medicine. Some medicines is longer than that. You want to stay hydrated. So a lot of that mushroom fibrous of some people just get nauseous after eating that. So that eliminates the nausea. Since we've been using that tech, people have been doing--nobody throwing up.
And then in the United States, the mushrooms are illegal everywhere. We have a few cities that have decriminalized the possession of them. Denver, Oakland, Chicago, Tennessee, I don't remember this city...
Santa Cruz, yeah. And what this is, this is a local ordinance where the city council has voted to make the plant and entheogens, which would be psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, iboga, and some of the other plant medicines, what they call lowest level priority, an LLP with the police department. So if we were sitting in our house in Denver, Colorado, and we had a big pot of mushroom tea on and we had some friends and the police came in for some reason and they saw the mushrooms on the table, they would just ignore it. They wouldn't pursue say, "Hey, that's illegal. You can't have it, you're felony, you're going to jail." If I'm transporting pounds of these in my car with the intention to sell, they're gonna bust me. If I'm a school-aged kid peddling at school, I'm gonna go to jail.
So there's been a movement. I was involved in this movement last year for a lot of 2019. I was in the front line. I put together a group in Orange County, Decriminalized Nature Orange County. We were attending city council meetings, we were writing letters, we were sending emails, we were gathering signatures. And I found out that I have no taste for politics.
Welcome to the club, bro.
Yeah and especially what I learned in studying the models of the people that it passed, starting in Oakland and in Denver, the people involved in the movement, number 1 were already politically savvy. They had political relationships and they also had land. They had land that the city wanted to use. So they used it as a bargaining chip.
Yeah. So I wasn't able to get the right people excited to help me with the movement. So I put it on the shelf and I know what to do and when I find the right person, I have a whole toolset that I've already developed and I want to give it to them and help them run it up the mountain.
There's another movement on the state level in California, Decrim California, when they're trying to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, just the mushrooms, not any of the other plant entheogens. They were on their way to gathering enough signatures to get it on the November ballot and then COVID hit so they couldn't continue their signature gathering. So they came up short. They didn't get enough signatures to get it on the ballot. Now they're trying a legal end-run saying, "Well, we had this many. This was our pace, we would have made the number of signatures to get it on the ballot, but we were prevented. So there may be a way to get it on the November ballot. If not, we'll try again next year."
And those people, Ryan Munevar is spearheading that project. The dude is a political beast. He is well-organized and I support him in Orange County, support him financially, and with people and resources. So I think it's really important to make this medicine available to people.
How far away do you think we are?
2 years, nice. Big shout out to Tim Ferriss and the MAPS Institute and everything that they're doing at John Hopkins and the trial studies, I think for MDMA. We're seeing some really exciting things happen in scientific level and with some big players and it just feels great. It feels great to know that that's back into society's focus and it's a possibility and a lot of people are gonna get healed from it.
Right. And what's happening is, it was Richard Nixon in his war on drugs and his personal distaste for Timothy Leary, the way he testified in Congress, he needed to shift the focus off the war in Vietnam. And so let's go after the hippies.
Or also focus off of him because he was a criminal. Think about it. The criminal took down--made criminalize the thing that would have helped society the most. It's kinda crazy. That's why politics is fucking shit show for me.
Yeah, agreed. But if we're not part of the solution, we're part of the problem. Right?
Yeah, maybe. No I mean, I applaud you, bro for all of that. It's just I think people get called for different things.
And recognizing what we're called for and stepping into that calling is super important. But if it's not your calling, then...
It's not your calling.
Yeah, that's the way it is. And so...
Yeah, exactly. That's all good. I think that--so there's a lot of exciting research coming out. Every day, there's a new article somewhere on the internet about...
Yeah, it's crazy.
...a study using psilocybin. So certainly for people, if you're curious, if you're feeling called to the medicine, I highly recommend everybody to try it. The only dangers would be involved, let's say, let's talk about mushrooms, would be as if you're on any antipsychotic medication. So if you're medicated for bipolar disease or depression or schizophrenia or any mental health disorders, you're definitely not an immediate candidate for any of the plant medicines. Doesn't mean you can't be, but you need to work with your psychologist, your psychiatrist. You need to titrate your medication to get down, to bring it down to a very, very low levels before you could even be in the safe range to try something like that.
Yeah. True that. And find somebody with some experience, I would say and definitely get this, what you call, a trip sitter or somebody that can be there for you and make you feel comfortable and do it in a place that is--nature is always the best for me. But it's not necessary. Sometimes if you're in a home with friends and you feel good, that's fine, too.
And picked the really good music set.
Exactly, bro. Or they let you even get your hand on controls for a minute. It's really interesting what happens when you get a couple friends together and you start all their little edges come out, right? It's great. Personally, I think it's a fantastic way to deepen your connection with people and your connection with yourself. What else is there in life? Besides a connection to surfing.
But the more you are connected to yourself, into the brothers or your sisters that you're surfing with, the better time you're going to have in the water too, for sure and...
..Mother Earth also, we're connected to her in a big way, right?
Yeah, and the waves are frequency, the vibration. And when you're in tune, you're in tune.
True that, bro. Cool, man. Do you have to go?
I don't. I'd like to share a quick story.
I would love to. As much as you can, bro.
So I just recently got back from a surf trip in Cabo.
Yes. I was really blessed and I was kinda hoping you were going to make it down there but I understand you had some things. So you were missed. But I look forward to you and I taking a trip down there sometime real soon.
But, there were mushrooms that were down there, I'll just say that. And I went with a friend and my intention was to have him on a journey. He's been working on himself a little bit and he expressed some interest. And so I'm like, "Okay, we'll do some mushrooms when we're down there." And he wasn't ready.
He was ready to drink. He was ready to do ecstasy or MDMA, which is a heart-opening medicine. And it's what MAPS is using. That medicine works for a lot of people. I don't like it personally for 2 reasons. One is it's all chemical. And number two is it has a methamphetamine base, which for me puts me back on my days of abuse of methamphetamine. So I...
No go. I get it.
No go for me. So my buddy is no go on the mushrooms. He couldn't make the leap so that was cool. So I'm thinking well then "Why did I bring these mushrooms"--I'm sorry, "Why did I get these mushrooms?"
So I met Joe. Joe's single, I'm married. Joe was always on the hunt for the ladies. So we're in the bar. Bar closed early because of COVID. So it's like 10 o'clock. And there's these 3 ladies sitting there. They're probably in their late 50s, early 60s, acting like they're 18. Joe is attracted to them immediately. So he starts talking to them and he calls me over. So I sit down and I start talking to one of the ladies. And we were making some small talk. And so I ask her a question. I said, "So what did you do during COVID?" And she quickly rattled off a list of all the things that she wanted to do and then went right down the list of excuses of why she didn't do any of them. And then all the shoulda, woulda, coulda's. And then all the future plans of what I'm gonna do to do these things. And one of them was like, go to the gym and work out. The other one was to eat better.
And I'm like, "Well, I'm going to share with her my friend Jenny and Bill, who introduced me to plant medicine." She shared a story with me about herself, so I decided to share it with this woman. And it's about the why. So I asked her. Well, I told her, I said, "Let me tell you a story." I said, "My friend, very smart, wanted to write a book. And the reason she wanted to write this book is because she wanted to help the world. And for 2 years, she couldn't get a page put together. She was in the wrong place. The kids were bothering her. The computer didn't work. It wasn't the right computer. It was too early. It was too late. There were a million excuses on why the book didn't get written, until 1 day she thought about it.
She said she had all these great things that the world needed to know. But then she thought about it and said, "You know what? I don't want to write this for the world. I want to write this for my daughter." Once she changed her why, now you can't stop her from writing. We're going out on dinner. She's on her phone, writing. You can't stop her. She's at the beach, writing. You can't stop her from writing."
I love that.
Such a small pivot, too, right?
A small pivot. And so this woman, she just was like, "Oh, my God". I told her about the mushrooms, so I gave her a few capsules to microdose so that she could meditate. And the next day or the next evening, we see the group of ladies. And now there's one less. And I'm like, "Oh, what happened to your friend?" And the leader of the pack she goes, "I don't know who the fuck you think you are, but my friend went home. She said she doesn't want anything to do with this stuff and that she's got things to do." I'm like, "Oh, yes! My work is done here."
That's awesome, bro.
That just warmed my heart on a couple levels. Number 1, I able to help somebody. Number 2 is, it just reconfirmed to me that I am one with the mushroom and that makes me happy.
Mushroom man. Nice, bro. That was a great story, man. Thanks for sharing.
I know you've had some experiences with ayahuasca and mushrooms. What are some of your experiences, Derek?
I had a lot of very deep experiences and different areas of the world and sometimes, little lessons come out. I remember one I was in South Africa. Usually, they're mixed with surf trips. So it's been a journey usually mixed in together. And I did the San Pedro.
San Pedro cactus, which is similar maybe to the peyote cactus. And everyone told me, "Well, you're going to take this and you're going to get a message or some lesson." and I was like, "Yeah, whatever. That's weird." They said it's gonna talk to you and it's going to tell you something that you need to hear. And I was like, "Okay, well, that's weird". And I can remember taking it and at the very end of the journey, something super clear and powerful came out and it was plant more flowers, throw less stones.
Yes. And for anybody who knows me, I've thrown a lot of stones in my life.
No, boulders, motherfucker. Boulders.
Yeah. And it was great. It was just a reconfirmation of where my life was going and how I was making different shifts within myself. And creativity has become a super important part of who I am and what I'm doing. This podcast right now is part of that and my various business adventures and painting and surfboards and surfing. I think creativity is it's part of that planting. It's plant more flowers is, you making the mushrooms that's planting something in the world that offers beauty and value and brings something to what doesn't crush you like a boulder. Let's put it that way. That's one that comes to mind. There have been a lot that I would love to share at another time when we maybe go into some more, maybe break out some journals and we could look at some things that we've written. I'd love to do something like that.
That would be good. Yeah. A journal.
A journal podcast. We could break up with a phrase and then kind of look at it together. And I would love that. Yeah, man. So that's what I have to share for now. We're over an hour in. I'm probably going to break this into 2, which would be nice because it'll give people a chance to digest each portion. And I'd love to do more of these. I think we both have a lot more to say on the subject, and it'd be fun to share that with the world.
Yeah. And I feel like I just scratched the surface.
Absolutely. You got to start somewhere with the why.
That's right, yeah, the why. Right on, brother.
Cool, bro. Thanks, man.
Thanks for the invite.
As always, great to talk with you and we'll do this again soon.
We'll do it again real soon, man.
All right, brother.
I promise. All right, man. Love you lots.
Love you, too. Bye.