January update & Psychedelic Experience Weekends

Posted Thu 14th Jan 2016, 3:51pm

Happy New Year! I hope it's started well for you. Since I haven't written in a while, I thought I'd give you an update of what I've been up to over the past few months.

In October, I attended the Science and Nonduality Conference in California, "a forum where preeminent scientists, philosophers, teachers, artists and a large, international community gather to explore and advance... the deep understanding of the interconnectedness of life." There I had the privilege of meeting Rick Doblin, founder of MAPS, as well as hearing from Stanislav Grof and some of the world's most insightful nondual teachers.

In the days after the conference, I met Irina Alexander, co-founder of the Psychedelic Society of San Francisco (the original Psychedelic Society!), who introduced me to the brilliant MAPS trio of Brad Burge, Natalie Ginsberg and Bryce Montgomery, as well as plenty of colourful characters from the West Coast Burning Man scene. After a weird and wonderful weekend in Lake Tahoe, I made my way down to the Esalen Institute, the beautiful retreat centre on Big Sur started with the help of Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts. I spent three days there practising Sensory Awareness, a mindfulness practise, with the inspiring Lee Lesser.

Travelling north, I passed through Portland, Oregon, where I purchased my first legal joint from a cannabis dispensary. As I told the budtender, stepping into the store was like stepping into the future. I returned to the UK in late November to participate in a panel discussion on drug policy at the University of Oxford alongside Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris and others.

The second Psychedelic Supper (Reflections on Life & Death) took place in early December. The final exercise was to write a postcard to a loved one after listening to Alan Watts' piece on the Acceptance of Death. I posted all UK-addressed postcards the next day - if you know someone that received one, do let us know what they thought!

For the New Year, I headed down to the South Coast to participate in the Purbeck New Year Happening, a 4-day co-created event guided by Nowhere's ten core principles. 120 of us put on a weekend full of yoga, meditation, dance, eye-gazing, music-making, new connections and new insights. (A practise that has become very important to me over the last months is 5Rhythms dance: a movement meditation practice that "puts the body in motion in order to still the mind". Sessions happen all over the UK; you can join the Psychedelic Society of London Facebook group to check out an extended list of sessions in London.)

In the first couple of weeks of the year, I've been busy confirming the details for the first, trial Psychedelic Society Psychedelic Experience Weekend. This will involve 20 friends travelling to a beautiful forest retreat in the Netherlands in late February for a weekend of yoga, meditation, dance, forest walks, discussions on the nature of reality, and, for some of us, a psychedelic experience with psilocybin truffles (legal in the Netherlands).

From March, we intend to open these nonprofit events up to members of the public to have safe, legal psychedelic experiences. It's an important step for the Psychedelic Society, marking an expansion from campaigning and events on psychedelics to actually facilitating psychedelic experiences. As far as we know, the legality, openness and proximity of this programme will distinguish it as the first of its kind in the UK. You can let us know if you're interested in participating, and/or make a donation to support us in this work.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be in touch again soon with details of the next supper and reading group.

Stephen Reid
Director, The Psychedelic Society

Stephen Reid, Director

September update

Posted Tue 15th Sep 2015, 3:02pm

Welcome to the September update (and magic mushroom season)!

1. Upcoming events

2. Submission to Home Affairs Committee inquiry on novel psychoactive substances

The Home Affairs Committee recently held a short inquiry into novel psychoactive substances in the context of the government’s proposed Psychoactive Substances Bill.

Our submission, prepared by the Psychedelic Society’s director Stephen Reid, argues for an exemption category for ‘Psychedelic substances used in a ceremonial or therapeutic context’, and for 1P-LSD to be exempt under this category. We’ll let you know if we hear back.

3. Legal psychedelic retreats

We’re putting together a list of legal, publicly advertised psychedelic retreats in the UK and Europe, for example, psilohuasca.com, The Sacred Voyage, ayahausca.nl and The Fasting Path. If you can recommend one, reply to this email and let us know.

4. Cannabis

Following the petition to legalise cannabis on the government’s e-petition site, a debate has been scheduled for 12th October. Write to your MP asking them to attend the debate.

5. Jeremy Corbyn elected!

Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of Labour Party, called for “an urgent evaluation of our drug control strategies” as recently as June. We’ll be working to engage with Labour on drug policy over the coming weeks.

6. What’s hot on Facebook

"One of the interesting things about psychedelics is that there is an enormous amount of sympathy in the general public to their use, particularly as medicines,” explains Professor Nutt. “A lot of people are very angry that they have been denied to the public as medicines for over 50 years."

7. Donate to the Psychedelic Society

So far no one has been paid to work on the Society, and as the director, it's taking up increasing amounts of my time. Will you chip-in to cover the time I spend working on the Society at the London Living Wage?

Keep an eye out over the coming weeks for details of a special event with Daniel Pinchbeck, the launch of the Psychedelic Society of Brighton and the next London social.

Best wishes,
Stephen and the Psychedelic Society team

Will you chip in £9.15 for the Psychedelic Society?

Posted Wed 12th Aug 2015, 4:29pm

Imagine this:

The year is 2023. You walk into the pharmacy and head towards the 'psychoactive substances' section. On the top shelf, there are pharmaceutically pure psychedelics including DMT, mescaline and LSD, all available legally, and at affordable prices. On the shelf below, dried magic mushrooms of many varieties. You pick up a pack of DMT and head to the checkout, where the pharmacist checks your age and asks you a series of questions to ensure you understand how to use the substance safely. As you head out of the shop, you bump into a colleague from work, who's just bought some 2C-B. She explains how she's felt calmer and kinder since she stopped drinking and started using psychedelics.

The Psychedelic Society is working to make this dream a reality.

We're in the midst of a 'psychedelic renaissance', and the Society is playing a key role. In just 10 months, we have:

  • created a buzz around psychedelics through our 30+ events and social media posts that reach more than 50,000 people a week
  • made headlines in the Guardian, Independent, BBC, ITV, Huffington Post, Sky, Buzzfeed and more
  • formed strong relationships with people and organisations including Prof. David Nutt, Transform, Release, The Beckley Foundation and UK Cannabis Social Clubs

So far no one has been paid to work on the Society, and as the director, it's taking up increasing amounts of my time. I'm writing to ask whether you'll chip in £9.15/month to cover an hour of the time I spend working on the Society at the London Living Wage.

I'm an experienced campaigner and organiser, having served as a board member of Greenpeace UK and co-founded the anti-austerity group UK Uncut and the New Economics Foundation's New Economy Organisers Network. With your support, I'm confident I can take the Society to the next level.

Click here to cover an hour of my time

Over the coming months, I'll be working with the many other brilliant people involved in the Psychedelic Society to:

  • push police forces to turn a blind eye to the possession of magic mushrooms (following similar moves on cannabis)
  • campaign for the rescheduling of psychedelics from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 to facilitate medical research
  • lobby political parties to ensure others join the Liberal Democrats and Greens in backing drug law reform
  • take further creative action over the government's illiberal and irrational Psychoactive Substances Bill
  • look into organising legal, professionally guided psychedelic retreats using 1P-LSD (in the UK) or mushrooms (elsewhere in Europe)
  • continue expanding our local groups programme and organise more quality events
  • grow the conversation about psychedelics through both social and mainstream media

The war on drugs is ending, and the dream of a 'psychedelic society' is absolutely achievable in this generation.

Cover an hour of my time and help turn the dream into reality.

Thank you,

Stephen Reid
Director, The Psychedelic Society

Stephen Reid, Director

August update

Posted Fri 7th Aug 2015, 3:02pm

1. Coverage of Nitrous Oxide in Parliament Square

On Saturday 1st August, we staged a mass inhalation of nitrous oxide in Parliament Square to protest against the government’s proposed Psychoactive Substances Bill, which would ban trade in all psychoactive substances except for alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. The sale of the rather wonderful 1P-LSD would be banned under the bill.

The main objective of the action was to promote the concept of cognitive liberty and the legalisation and regulation of drugs in the mainstream media. By this measure it was a real success, with coverage from The Guardian, The Independent, BBC, BBC Bristol, IFLScience, London Live, ITV, Huffington Post and Sky amongst others.

We’ll be in touch again soon with more action you can take over the bill. Thanks to everyone who came or shared content!

2. Upcoming events

3. Progress on cannabis

We were pleased to hold the Nitrous Oxide in Parliament Square action in conjunction with the cannabis activist organisations UK Cannabis Social Clubs, NORML UK and London Cannabis Club.

The cannabis movement is really on fire at the moment, having collected over 190,000 signatures on a petition to force a debate on cannabis legalisation in Parliament and celebrating the news that police forces across the UK will turn a blind eye to personal use and growing.

The legalisation of cannabis in the UK will probably be a stepping stone to the legalisation of psychedelics. We encourage you to lend these groups your support (and sign the petition)!

4. Labour leadership election

For several reasons, not least the pace of cannabis legalisation in the US, there's a good chance drug law reform will be a hot topic in the UK general election in 2020.

Labour is currently holding a leadership election, and the candidate who seems most likely to support legal regulation of drugs is Jeremy Corbyn. You can vote for him in the leadership election by signing up as a 'registered supporter' for just £3 (you don't have to actually join the Labour Party).

5. What’s hot on Facebook

6. Other events

Best wishes,
The Psychedelic Society team

David Nutt and Stephen Reid on BBC Radio Bristol

Posted Mon 3rd Aug 2015, 1:32pm

Listen to Prof. David Nutt and Stephen Reid debate the government's proposed Psychoactive Substances Bill on BBC Radio Bristol: