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Stream of Consciousness

Stream of Consciousness

By Armin Khayatian & Colin Ball

Stream of Consciousness explores psychedelics as an emerging industry. We talk to entrepreneurs, policy makers, venture capitalists, scientists, and their patients to understand implications of developments in the space. By synthesizing insights from academic research, activist movements, and entrepreneurial ventures, we hope to help you develop a strategic perspective on this burgeoning industry.
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Therapsil: Legal access to psilocybin in Canada for the first time since 1974

Stream of ConsciousnessSep 04, 2020

Therapsil: Legal access to psilocybin in Canada for the first time since 1974

Therapsil: Legal access to psilocybin in Canada for the first time since 1974

TheraPsil is a non-profit coalition of healthcare professionals, patients, and advocates dedicated to obtaining legal access to psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for Canadians. On August 4th, 2020, four individuals grappling with end-of-life distress who were supported by TheraPsil in their application for a Section 56 exemption to the Canadian Drugs and Substances Act were approved! This was the first time that a personal application for psilocybin therapy was approved in Canada since it was made illegal in 1974. In today's episode, we interview Spencer Hawkswell, TheraPsil's Chief Executive Officer, and discuss everything from the organization's inception through to the scientific, moral, and legal arguments in favor of expanding access to psilocybin in Canada. Our conversation includes tactical tips for grassroots activists, discussions of what's on the horizon for their organization, as well as calls-to-action and information for advocates and patients in palliative care.

Links to additional topics we discussed:

  • Find out if you qualify for TheraPsil's support:
  • Read more about the scientific, moral, and legal arguments in favour of access:
  • Dig into the academic research TheraPsil has compiled informing their reasoning:
  • Learn more about Section 56 exemptions:
  • Read a Canadian Member of Parliament's letter addressed to the Minister of Health on this topic:
  • Watch the full video testimonials from patients like Thomas and Laurie on their YouTube channel:

Follow us on Twitter @Arminkhaya and @Colinrball and DM us your thoughts, questions, and feedback :)

Sep 04, 202035:27
Dennis McKenna: Ethnopharmacologist, Author, Founder, and Advisor

Dennis McKenna: Ethnopharmacologist, Author, Founder, and Advisor

Dr. Dennis McKenna is a visionary ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, university lecturer, repeat author, non-profit founder, and advisor. He has received post-doctoral research fellowships in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, the National Institute of Mental Health, and in the Department of Neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is also a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute, and was a key investigator on the Hoasca Project, the first biomedical investigation of ayahuasca. In this episode we talk about everything from the mytho-poetic psychedelic adventures of his youth through to his current work at the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy where he “explores modern and traditional practices, ideas, and technologies that foster the understanding of nature, consciousness, the cosmos and their interweavings with humanity.”

Links to additional topics we discussed:

  • Dennis MeKenna’s original thesis on Amazonian hallucinogenic plants:
  • The Shaman and the Scientist Documentary that features his fieldwork exploring the potential of indigenous plant-based medicine in the Amazon:
  • Videos and blog posts detailing the McKenna Academy’s first Mystery School retreat at Willka T’ika:,
Jul 26, 202001:16:23
Ronan Levy: Founder of Field Trip Health

Ronan Levy: Founder of Field Trip Health

On today’s episode, we interview Ronan Levy, the Founder & Executive Chairman of Field Trip Psychedelics. Field Trip Health, the first of the verticals Ronan is involved in, is a pioneer in the psychedelic therapy space, working to make psychedelic therapies more effective, safe, and accessible to all. Prior to Field Trip Health, Ronan worked to expand access to therapeutic medical cannabis, ultimately driving a multi-million dollar exit that defined the clinic vertical. We explore Ronan’s background in law, entrepreneurship, and cannabis before reaching forward into the future of both Field Trip and the broader psychedelic industry. 

Time Stamps:

  • 04:00: Ronan’s background (i.e., corporate lawyer and entrepreneur turned medical cannabis pioneer ‘bringing darkness to light’ and securing an 8-figure exit)
  • 24:40: Why did he leave his senior leadership role at Aurora Cannabis post-acquisition?
  • 29:20: What sparked his interest in psychedelics as an industry?
  • 34:20: What is Field Trip Psychedelics and how did it come to be?
  • 40:17: Why are Field Trip Health’s clinics starting with Ketamine as their first therapeutic agent and how does it compare to ‘traditional psychedelics’?
  • 46:00: How Field Trip’s offering will evolve and why they’re so focused on engendering the trust of the medical community.
  • 51:05: Deep-dive into Ronan’s point of view on differences in jurisdiction and geography prioritization as it pertains to strategy.
  • 56:00: Considerations when building and scaling psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy clinics (in Toronto and New York).
  • 59:10: An overview of Field Trip’s multi-disciplinary team, gaps in the talent market, and the ensuing implications.
  • 1:05:50: COVID-19’s impact on their product roadmap
  • 1:07:17: Field Trip’s funding to date (~$12M CAD), the impact of cannabis industry turbulence, and psychedelic industry financing more broadly.
  • 1:16:00: A discussion about the similarities, differences, and false similarities between the cannabis and psychedelic industries.
  • 1:24:45: How Ronan recommends getting up to speed on the psychedelic industry.
  • 1:29:07: The self-perpetuating nature of psychedelics, notions of moral authority, and why the psychedelic pandora’s box is now open (in more countries than one)
  • 1:39:30: What Ronan’s excited about, why he wants to change the world, and how Field Trip is positioned to do so :)
Apr 18, 202001:44:07
Psychedelic Tourism: An Interview with the Founder & CEO of Atman Retreat

Psychedelic Tourism: An Interview with the Founder & CEO of Atman Retreat

In this episode, we interview Aaron Nesmith-Beck, the Founder and CEO of Atman Retreat. Our conversation serves as a deep dive into the broader psychedelic tourism industry and we cover a variety of topics ranging from fundraising to effective altruism, academic research to legislative landscapes, and Gwyneth Paltrow through to Peter Thiel. We recommend listening through the whole episode chronologically but the major discussion points are as follows: 00:00: Psychedelic tourism industry overview 03:49: Aaron’s background and early psychedelic experiences 07:45: Digital nomad life working on Freedom & Fulfillment. Articles he recommended include: Psychedelic Research Review Mystical Experience & Psychedelics: Meaningful, Measurable, Life Changing The Practical Benefits of Meditation  10:45: How Aaron helped MAPS raise over a million dollars in Bitcoin donations 16:23: Psychedelics and Effective Altruism: Psychedelic Research as a Potential EA Cause Area  24:00: What is Atman Retreat? 27:30: A description of the end-to-end retreat process 32:10: Customer demographics and initial reception 41:34: Facilitators supply and demand dynamics, see facilitator bios here 46:16: Initial funding and current fundraising 50:07: Data sharing with academic institutions 51:38: Profitability and new offerings 54:50: Balancing the tension of scaling without sacrificing quality 59:23: Legislative landscape and legal due diligence 63:30: Reactions to the Goop episode on psychedelic retreats 68:34: Discussions of broader controversies in the psychedelic tourism industry 73:40: Safety and risk mitigation considerations 78:30: What excites him about the industry’s future As always, we’d love to hear your feedback and answer any questions by email ( or via Twitter (@arminkhaya & @colinrball).
Mar 14, 202001:25:39
The Psychedelic Renaissance Explained

The Psychedelic Renaissance Explained

In our first episode we introduce ourselves, the podcast, and help you understand this so-called ‘Psychedelic Renaissance’. We synthesized over 7000 years of history to explain how cave paintings of mushroom-wielding shaman have led to FDA approved research, millions in VC funding, and an emerging early-stage industry. If you want to dive deeper into some of the leading academic research we referenced you should start with the work at Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research [] and Imperial College’s Center for Psychedelic Research []. 

Additional resources discussed in the episode include: 

We’d love to read your feedback and answer any additional questions that you may have; email us at and follow-us on Twitter (@arminkhaya & @colinrball) to continue the discussion. Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Feb 17, 202040:50
Stream of Consciousness: Trailer
Feb 17, 202002:05