March 7, 2022

Episode #45

OF THE PSYCHEDELIC LEADERSHIP PODCAST

Visionary Leadership and the Implementation of Measure 109 in Oregon with
Alissa Bazinet and Tom Eckert

In this episode, Tom Eckert shares the moving origin story of measure 109, and Alissa Bazinet describes aspects of the psychedelic facilitation training required to legally offer psilocybin in Oregon in 2023.

The overview of measure 109 is providing state regulated legal access to psilocybin experiences. It was intentionally designed to cover a wide range of possible settings and situations where people could use psilocybin. So it’s really inspiring in that regard. My favorite part about the measure is that it’s intended for there to be a lot of different ways that people can have these experiences.
Alissa bazinet

Listen:

About This Episode:

In 2015, Tom Eckert and his late wife Sheri Eckert had a vision – a vision that very few people thought was possible. They wanted to make access to psilocybin legal in the State of Oregon, which led them to create and lead the measure 109 initiative. 

 

Five years later on November 3, 2020, Ballot Measure 109 was passed with support from 1.233 million Oregonians, or 55.68% of the vote. 

 

In January 2023, “psilocybin service providers” will be legally allowed to serve psilocybin, as long as they have adequate training. We are less than one year away from the rollout and implementation of Measure 109 which of course opens up a lot of questions. 

 

  • What does psychedelic facilitations training look like? What is the core curriculum? 
  • Who’s offering this training?
  • How much do the trainings cost?
  • How long will they be? 
  • Do you have to be a therapist or medical practitioner to get licensed? 
  • Are there apprenticeship models?

     

In this episode featuring both Tom Eckert and Alissa Bazinet, a clinical psychologist who serves on the training subcommittee of the Oregon psilocybin advisory board, we dive into all of these questions about the specifics of Measure 109 and what it means for psychedelic practitioners. 

In the last part of the conversation, we get more personal as we explore the essence of visionary leadership and what it takes to not only dream the impossible, make it a reality. 

Core Themes

Explored in this episode:
  • Visionary Leadership
  • Psilocybin
  • The origin story of measure 109
  • What is Measure 109
  • Misconceptions of 109
  • Psychedelic facilitation training
  • Core components of facilitation training

Links &

useful resources
  • The Trip Treatment by Michael Pollan
  • Oregon Psilocybin Services
  • Tom's training program (Inner Trek)
  • The Sheri Eckert Foundation
  • Alissa Bazinet’s clinic/nonprofit called Sequoia Center
  • Being True to You
  • FREE 8-DAY Microdosing course
  • 4 MUSIC PLAYLISTS FOR PSYCHEDELIC JOURNEYS & BEYOND
PSYCHEDELIC PODCAST

Episode Transcript

Episode #45: Alissa Bazinet & Tom Eckert on The Psychedelic Leadership Podcast.

Intro:

My name is Laura Dawn, and you’re listening to episode #45 of the psychedelic leadership podcast featuring my conversation with Tom Eckert and Alissa Bazinet. Tom was the visionary who came up with idea to craft Measure 109 in Oregon, and Alissa is a clinical psychologist who serves on the training subcommittee of the Oregon psilocybin advisory board.   

We are living through remarkable times, where psychedelics are making a comeback unlike most people could have imagined, but you know what? Some people did imagine…

People like Tom Eckert did imagine a very different future for psychedelics, a future that many people said was impossible. Who is a great example of what psychedelic leadership is all about. And being a visionary leader, means you need to clearly communicate a vision that inspires other people to support the bringing that vision to fruition, and now many people, including Alissa Bazinet are supporting this very complex process of implementing measure 109.

So there are two layers to which you can tune into this episode. On one level, We cover the basics of measure 109, which is pretty wild, because by measure basically states that by 2023 which is less than a year away psilocybin service providers are going to be legal in Oregon, as long as they have adequate training. Now of course this opens up a lot of questions, like what does training look like, who’s offering it? All questions we cover in this episode. 

So if you already are in the psychedelic space and want to go a more legal route, which is very appealing for a lot of people, or you’re thinking about stepping into this space, it’s worth understanding what’s happening in Oregon and what Measure 109 entails. Because in a very real sense, this could open a new door of possibility for you and literally change the course of your life.  

It’s also so fascinating to hold space for conversations like this because it’s being a part of psychedelic history in the making. 

So that’s one layers, all the details we cover about measure 109, but if you listen to this from a zoomed out perspective, which is really the angle that I love, you’ll hear a story about someone who came up with an idea and who worked with psilocybin to really tune in and formulate that idea, and who, align with his late wide Sherie Eckert imagined the impossible, and who took a massive risk and a major step into the unknown and as a result of courage, changed policy on a governmental level and is now changing history. 

And that’s a story worth listening to, and being inspired by, and it’s how I think about what psychedelic leadership really is. 

Because  it’s one thing to have an idea, and it’s another thing altogether to transmute that idea into reality. 

So we start by hearing the remarkable origin stotry of measure 109, then for the middle section we talk about everything related to measure 109, the nitty gritty details, and then the last 1/3rd we talk about leadership,  How psychedelics have informed how they show up to lead. 

and what the both have learned about themselves in this process, and that’s the part of the conversation that I’m most interested, although the rest is important to know and be aware of. 

Now, I respect Tom and his work immensely. I also know that things are a lot more complicated under the surface. And as I’ve mentioned in the past, the more I peer under the hood of the “psychedelic industry” the more you sort of see the dark side of things. And  I alluded to some of that in the episode, but very lightly. And after we recorded this, VICE came out with an article titled: 

In Oregon, Psychedelics Regulators Confront Conflicts of Interest: The need for financial—and personal—disclosures is another growing pain for the nascent psychedelics industry.

Now I’m intentionally not offering a personal opinion on this, but I will include a link in the shownotes to this article, if you’d like to also peer under that hood and formulate your own opinions. And simply wanted to mention this article to be more inclusive of all sides of the story. 

Also, if you are wanting to go through a psychedelic facilitation training, I will be releasing an episode next week featuring Kyle Buller from Psychedelics today and they are kicking off a year long facilitation program called VITAL, and to my understanding they are doing their best to stay in alignment with the Oregon licensing requirements. 

I have a link to that training in the shownotes, if you want to check out what their program entails. 

Also, while I’m mentioning programs, if you want to get certified as a psychedelic integration coach, that focused on addiction recovery, I recommend checking out Being True to You, 

I had the founder of Being True to You, Deanne Adamson, on episode #34, so if you want to go back and listen to that episode, she goes into details about the program. 

But their next cohort starts March 9th. 

And I’ll include a link to check that out as well, in the shownotes. 

And, just as a reminder, if you want to access all the resources mentioned, the full transcript, or if you want to learn more about Tom and Alissa and the work they are doing, and want to check out links to featured musician, you can go to lauradawn.co/45. 

Alright friends, I’m going to be leaving you with a song called  

Song: Strongest of our Kind – some fun hip hop vibes for the end of the show today, and that’s a song by Mihali, featuring  G. Love & Special Sauce 

If you have favorite musicians, or song recommendations, send them my way! I love being turned on to new music, and you can interpret that in any way you like…

And the easiest way would be to send me links through my instagram DM’s @livefreelaurad 

If you want to check out all the free downloads I have including my 4 playlists for psychedelic journeys and beyond, you can access all of those free offerings at lauradawn.co/downloads

I would also love to hear from you. What have been your favorite episodes so far? What have been your favorite topics? Do you enjoy topics like this, that cover legalities and policy like measure 109? Let me know if you like this episode, And also what are some of the topics you’d really like me to cover and focus on? I’m always open to hearing from you and open to suggestions, and ultimately, I like to follow inspiration and conversations that light me up and inspire.  

And I hope this episode inspires you. Without any further ado, here is my conversation with Tom Eckert and Alissa Bazinet. 

Laura Dawn: Everywhere without any further ado. Here is my conversation with Tom Eckhart and Alissa Banet. Welcome, Tom and Alissa. It is such a pleasure to have both of you on the show today for us to dive into and explore what is happening in Oregon. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me here today.

Alissa Banet: Thank you.

Tom Eckhart: Thank you.

Laura Dawn: So, I can’t wait to dive into this conversation. Tom, I heard you share quite a moving story, back at horizons in December, and it was quite a personal story and you also shared the origin story of the Oregon campaign that took us back to 2015. So, I thought it would be a good place to start and I wanted to open this conversation by giving you space to share that story here with our listeners.

Tom Eckhart: Thanks, Laura. I appreciate that. Yeah, it’s kind of a long story. We always aimed for 2020, but we got the ball rolling way back in 2015 and that was a different landscape for psychedelics back then, the research was coming into effect and there’d been some great studies. They were starting to get attention, but nothing now it was not a mainstream kind of conversation at all. My wife at the time has since passed away and we can chat about that as we tell the story. But she and I, her name was Sheri. We’re therapists, I’m still a therapist, although I’m focused on psychedelics and program development now, but at the time we were therapists in private practice and I had a kind of a long history with psychedelics as a lot of us do, just kind of working with them on my own and kind of understanding the power.

It’s hard not to, when you get into a practice with psychedelics, Sheri was kind of new to the game, but we had started dabbling together for the first time and that was impactful on our relationship and our connection. And so, it was kind of in the air for us. We were working with Psilocybin and learning about the experience and about each other and context and then one day we came across an article in the New Yorker called the Trip Treatment by Michael Pollen. This is before his now-famous book, kind of a forerunner in some ways to his book. It was a really comprehensive article that for the first time, for me laid all kinds of aspects of the research and also went into the kind of experiences of some of the participants in the research.

And it was just so moving and how Michael writes and how excellence. He puts things together and it hit me like this is really a comprehensive potential movement and science and therapy, therapeutic modality that could really shift the narrative on mental health, and that kind of hit me all. It kind of had a sense of that, but I never really put it together. So, I thank Michael for bringing it together so beautifully and for everything he’s done since in helping the movement along. Anyway, I read that article and was moved by it and Sherie read it as well and we got into a dialogue. We started talking as therapists, we were moved by the potential to transform as therapists. We know that it’s very difficult to really change on a fundamental level, right.

To change personality characteristics, for example, that doesn’t necessarily happen in talk therapy, not very often. So, we see this potential here and I think she posed the question to me. She said something if you could, would you focus on this professionally? Is this something you would want to focus on or specialize in? And I’m thinking to myself like, well, yeah, I would, but I can’t, none of us can’t. There’s really no platform for it except inside the research itself and that kind of bugged us and I think it bugged a lot of people at the time, once we started kind of tapping into the energy out there. It was something of an injustice that prohibition had been 50 years in counting may be less than that at the time. But we know the long history there and kind of the political nature of the origins of the prohibition on psychedelics.

And so that became a dialogue, and at some point I had, I mean, I remember the moment actually when the ballot initiative concept kind of fell into my mind and it did feel a little bit like catching lightning in a bottle as soon as I thought of that, it was like, whoa, that’s something and at the time cannabis had just been legalized via a ballot initiative in Oregon, and that was kind of in the air. So, I saw the potential, for political impact and drug policy reform, but it had never been applied to psychedelics, and I remember getting on Google and looking around to see if anyone was thinking about anything like that, like policy reform in the psychedelic domain and the answer was no, since this is well before any campaigns popped up around the country and around the world now, which I’m glad to see, but at the time it was crickets out there, nobody was talking about psychedelic policy reform.

There was interest in changing, you know, getting rescheduling psychedelics on a national level, but not on a grassroots policy level. So, she and I had to sit with that because we were kind of overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking that on and thinking like how fragile the movement was. We certainly didn’t want to get in the way of progress or a wrong move. So, we took the decision very, you know, we didn’t take anything lightly. In fact, we sat on it for about a week feeling rather anxious about whether or not to move forward with this kind of grand idea, and then we finally realized there’s really only one thing left to do, and that is consulting the mushroom. So, we packed up the car with camping equipment and went up to Mount Rainier. Which is a beautiful mountain here in the Pacific Northwest near Seattle, went camping and took a nice hefty dose of Psilocybin in a beautiful old-growth forest amongst the giant furs and under the out and took a beautiful hike, came back to our camp spot, and started a campfire.

The sun went down, we went quiet. The golden teachers came alive and we sat with our intention of coming to some conclusion has to, if we would move forward on this, and I remember my mind kind of expanded outward to kind of a frame. I like to think of it as like a thousand years wide. I kind of felt the distant future in some interesting way and I remember thinking to myself, what are the kind of historians of this future time of an advanced civilization that actually survives and makes it through? What would the historians of that period think about our civilization? Kind of looking back through the folds of time, what would they see? And this is my expanded state, this was my altered perception. I almost felt like I could feel them looking back and it kind of felt to me like they wouldn’t be looking at our technologies or our ridiculous politics or anything like that.

They’d be looking at our consciousness and specific our kind of lack of connection, with our own inner resources, our own inner sanctum on if you will. And so, I was deep in that place and kind of lost in my own thoughts around that and it was somewhere in that mix, Thatcher pierced the quiet and kind of voice spurred an odd statement. She said, I think I’m pregnant and I thought this was kind of interesting, we couldn’t have kids. So, I knew that there was something up with that statement and she said, finally, she said, this campaign, this mission, this vision will be our baby and we’ll raise it as such and will care for it and help it grow strong and I remember thinking to myself, as soon as I, that I knew I was down and we would carry this all the way to its end and we did, we started a campaign that always aimed for 2020. We knew that science needed to develop and the public opinion would need to evolve and that we needed to build structure and coalitions. And so, we took our time with doing that and the rest is history. There are lots of stories that can be told about the campaign itself, but I’ll pause there and leave that as the general origin story of measure 1 0 9.

Laura Dawn: That’s beautiful and I love how you weave in just the real-time process of checking in with these plant teachers, these fungi teachers, especially at this time where you’re moving into unchartered territory. So, it’s like, and that’s what really psychedelic leadership to me is all about how do we do this in a good way and stay behind the medicine and really tend to this with a lot of responsibility. So, I really appreciate that story. So, I want to share at the horizons conference, I heard Joe Green, who you guys know from the psychedelic science funders collaborative. Now Joe said numerous times, I don’t know if you heard this, but at horizons, he said on stage in his keynote and at the business day, he said, not enough people are paying attention to what’s going on in Oregon. So, for people who don’t know what’s happening and what measure 1 0 9 is, let’s just take a moment to give an overview of that.

Tom Eckhart: Want to take that one and Alissa?

Alissa Banet: Sure. So, the review of measure 109 is really providing state-regulated legal access to Psilocybin and Experiences. It was intentionally designed to cover a wide range of possible settings and situations where people could use Psilocybin. So, it’s really inspiring in that regard. That’s my favorite part of the measure is that it’s intended for there to be a lot of different ways that people can have these experiences. So, we hear this debate in the national space about, is it going to be medicalization that takes over psychedelics, or is it going to be legalization or decriminalization, and measure 1 0 9 is really none of that. It’s really intended to be a hybrid of those things. So, it’s in the middle where folks will have supported services available to them. So, they do have to have Psilocybin given to them at a Psilocybin Service site with an adult who is in the room providing support while they have that experience, and there is preparation involved so that people can enter into fully informed consent and understand what it is that they are going to be experiencing, and then there’s optional integration. So, it is slightly different than the protocols that have been studied in the clinical trials so far, where there does tend to be more structured integration and more of a psychotherapy component, and measure 1 0 9, allows room for that. But it also allows room for people to just come have a Psilocybin experience for their own personal growth or wellness or spiritual experience. It doesn’t necessarily have to be to treat some sort of disorder or diagnosis. So, it’s really beautiful, really the intention of the whole system, and then in practicality, there’s how do we implement that and how do we create state regulations and rules that govern all of those different types of experiences, and I think that’s the meat of what we’re in right now on the and advisory board and Tom and I are both on the training subcommittee. So, we’ve been hashing out the rules and regulations of what a state-regulated training program should look like, and then there are other subcommittees looking at research and licensing and products, and so it’s a really complicated process of implementing this measure.

Laura Dawn: Oh my gosh. And I commend you both so much. It’s so interesting because when you look at the psychedelic space, everyone’s got a very strong opinion around how this whole thing should go down the, so how to even hold space for multi-stakeholder meetings where everyone has a seat at the table and what I heard you say is that it’s not necessarily just for people who are like, oh, I’m struggling with depression, but someone might want to have a psycho-spiritual experience. And so, you are really creating space for the full spectrum of why people might intend to come to these medicines, which actually makes it far more complicated to hold space for. So, I’m kind of curious, I think the next place would be to go in the direction of, I mean, we also see a huge facilitation race there’s companies who are racing to create facilitation programs, and that’s a big topic.

And I know a lot of people in my audience are very interested in that, and it seems like that is a huge opportunity for a lot of people, and I think when we spoke Alissa, it was kind of news to me that anyone actually could come into Oregon and create a program that was sort of under the umbrella of what the approved facilitation training looked like, but it could actually look in many, many different ways. So, maybe we can just talk a little bit about the facilitation subcommittee under that and like how you guys are deciding what goes into what makes a good facilitation program? What are the elements that have to be included in that? I mean, we could dive into this on such a deep level here because there’s a lot here.

Tom Eckhart: Just to back up and kind of connect this all to the origin story. We in our inspiration and motivation to move forward was really based on the question of, well, not only ending prohibition and addressing the mental health crisis we’re experiencing here in Oregon but also thinking deeply about how to integrate psychedelics back into the culture. What is the way that makes the most sense? and psychedelics as an intervention, as a modality, as a wellness paradigm, it doesn’t fit neatly into that medical model because it’s more inclusive than that. The psychedelic experience itself is what facilitates the change and then inter and careful support enhances and optimizes that effect. So, the fact that it’s an experience we’re talking about in a very profound and deep experience and vulnerable experience, puts it in this kind of therapeutic and wellness frame, as opposed to just thinking of it as another antidepressant or a pharma intervention.

This is really an experience and it’s to Alissa’s point it’s about how we care for that experience? How do we create space for it? How do we facilitate in a way that doesn’t get in the way of the actual experience itself? But rather affirms it and optimizes it and facilitates it. And so that is the frame we’re looking at, and it wouldn’t make sense to just narrow that down to kind of diagnostic categories because those of us who kind of understand a little bit about psychedelics through our own use, kind of know that it tends to go where it needs to go, because it’s your experience, from a medical standpoint, you might call that transdiagnostic efficacy. It works in a lot of different ways, depending on what you’re working on and where you start with because your own subjective energies you’re working with and a facilitator to understand that is kind of a unique, discipline to understand how to work with that, sit with that.

Not get in the way of it, right? So, that’s kind of a backdrop there and I think that measure 109 is trying to create an integrated platform in which all of these possibilities can be addressed, concerns from even preventative and wellness to therapeutic and medical. All of that on one platform, and all of those kinds of concerns and requirements have different nuances to them and the idea is to sort that all out. So, that’s kind of the 10,000-foot view. Now, when we look at training there’s been a lot of discussion as to how we create a training program that covers these core competencies that are relevant to all aspects of the work while also being mindful of the scope of practice and particular needs that will come up.

And so the core competencies, we’re not rebuilding the, you know, we’re not reinventing the wheel gear. There’s great information out there. We are trying to integrate lots of perspectives in a way that makes sense for the Oregon model specifically. So, the training subcommittee has heard a lot of expertise from the research community, from indigenous, wisdom traditions, from private, the private sector. We’re trying to just gather as much information as we can, which I think we’ve done and now we’re more in an active phase of making recommendations to the Oregon health authority regarding what needs to be in training both administratively and in terms of curriculum. So, that’s a bit of backdrop and Alissa feels free to jump in. I don’t know if we want to get into the curriculum itself or just kind of overview some of that if you want to.

Laura Banet: Maybe before we go there, Alyssa getting into like the nitty-gritty of the curriculum, I’m kind of curious. So, is it accurate to say that as of 2023 that’s Psilocybin is legal in Oregon?

Alissa Banet: Yes. That is the goal that in 2020 threes Psilocybin services will commence. And so we’re doing all of the prep work now to make sure that we are ready to provide those services.

Tom Eckhart: So, there are thinker services is a keyword there, as opposed to just Psilocybin being legal, like cannabis.

Laura Dawn: Dive into that a little bit more because it’s not just anyone can possess Psilocybin and it’s legal, but it’s actually legal within certain frameworks and that leads to who can provide those services.

Alissa Banet: So, just a little bit of the distinction there. So, Psilocybin services will be legal, meaning people can come to a state-approved Psilocybin services site with a licensed facilitator and have a Psilocybin experience on the premises of that site. So, they can’t go to the site and purchase Psilocybin and take it home for their own use. It will have to be sort of supervised onsite. There is also a caveat that Oregon also decriminalized all substances. There are some limitations there, but decriminalized possession of personal use possession of all substances, including Psilocybin. However, there are limits to that I believe, and I think that it’s something like five grams of psilocybin, maybe it’s seven grams, it’s not very much so that beyond that, if somebody were to possess more than seven grams, then that would still be criminalized.

Laura Dawn: So, all of the people who are trying to jump the gun on selling Psilocybin microdoses, which is happening now is like, oh, well, I can do it legally in Oregon starting 2023, but that’s not accurate. You can’t sell Psilocybin microdoses.

Tom Eckhart: No.

Alissa Banet: Not at this point, although I will say that that is a current debate, on Psilocybin advisory board and in the public, because there’s nothing necessarily written in the measure that prevents microdosing models from being available, but the debate is about, okay, well, if somebody comes to Psilocybin services site and they want to take a microdose, the idea is that they’re supposed to be supervised while they’re under the influence of Psilocybin. But since microdoses are not typically perceptible, how do we define that? Would it be okay for somebody to come on-site, take the microdose and then leave because they’re not acutely feeling the effects in the same way that you would with a microdose? So, this is the nuance that’s received quite a bit of discussion lately.

Laura Dawn: Okay. So, the way that I’m understanding it, based on a recent conversation that we had on the phone, Alyssa, is that it sort of like school models like state governs school models, were like the Waldorf school is like, actually, we want to do school a little differently, but we still need to meet these government level sort of tar or regulations. So, different organizations can come into Oregon and say, okay, as long as we’re sort of fulfilling these certain targets of required training that actually the training could look very, very different. So, there could be, is this accurate to say there could be one level of supervision that might just actually be more like trips in, and then there might be another model that’s within like a different context. I think even I heard Joe Green say, oh, if someone wants to do a training, that’s like somatic-based or that’s within the framework of Judaism or something that they could technically do that as long as they’re hitting certain requirements. So, training programs could actually be very different, there could be shamanic-based worldview training versus, somatic-based training. Is that accurate?

Alissa Banet: Yes. I would say that’s accurate. There’s definitely a degree of creativity and what the training programs can include. However, the minimum requirements as we have recommended them to the Oregon health authority so far are pretty comprehensive. So, maybe this is a good time to just hit what some of those modules are and what the topics the required topics are, and again, none of this is yet official through OHA, but this is what the recommendations have been from the advisory board.

Tom Eckhart: And be a little careful with saying that training programs could look kind of wildly different. I think they can be different and some of your points are well taken that you can have different perspectives that are leaned on and that are kind of your signature, but they have to meet these kinds of core requirements around non-active facilitation. So, this is not where we’re going to have training programs that are kind of outside of the box of what we know to work and what we know that won’t cause harm specifically and there is flexibility in there. So, there’s no doubt that training programs will have, there are unique signatures and that’s great, but importantly there is a very strong set of core requirements that are pretty detailed around what needs to be in the training program and what shouldn’t be in a training program, and that’s super important because this is the training is the heart of the program and the program is based on safety and practice standards and ethical standards and access, I would say. So, there is a commonality between all the training and there should be a community between all the training, such that we are adhering to these kinds of evolving standards.

Laura Dawn: Okay, great. Well maybe Alissa, you can share a few of what these standards are looking like.

Alissa Banet: Sure. So, we are requiring that training programs cover sort of the full spectrum of ways of knowing with regard to working with Soul Assign. So, this means that there will be a requirement for historical and traditional use as well as more westernized scientific-based models of understanding. So, really the full, comprehensive picture of all of the ways in which cultures throughout time have been used. Psilocybin really has a heavy emphasis on cultural equity as well as health equity, social justice, racial justice. So, this will be a requirement, safety, ethics, and responsibility. So, this is the ethics of facilitation of understanding standing boundaries between the facilitator and the client obtaining fully informed consent, understanding things like role, power differentials, where the facilitator is in a typical role of power and the client is often in a more vulnerable position and how to ethically work with that state.

There will be requirements of the understanding of trauma, how that shows up in the body. What is happening physiologically when people are experiencing a traumatic memory? And then there will be a lot of focus on just the elements of a facilitation session. So, what does proper preparation look like? What kinds of screening is necessary, how to actually hold space during the administration session? A lot of focus is on the facilitator being aware of their own inner process and their own nervous system and how that might affect the space that’s being held for the client, and then integration as well as group facilitation. So, I think those are the main components. Tom, let me know if I am missing something.

Tom Eckhart: Yeah, I think you got it. I would just add to the administrative or administration session, the actual Psilocybin session, there’s a real focus on being prepared to respond to difficult behaviors or unusual things that may come up. Clearly, safety is at the forefront and we’re working with folk in very vulnerable states of mind, as you know, and so a big part of maturing into that facilitator role is being able to stay centered and know what to do as things come up.

Laura Dawn: So, you mentioned centers though. So, are these going to be state-owned centers, or are these like private locations, could someone as a facility or move to Oregon rent a house and be able to hold space in their spare bedroom?

Tom Eckhart: Yeah, really good question. So, firstly, on the state oversight, it’s a common kind of misnomer that this is like a state-run program, it’s state-regulated, not state-run. Okay. So, what that means is I’m a therapist, right? That means I have a license with the state to do therapy. That doesn’t mean that the state runs my private practice, right? So, it is regulated and you answer to the code of ethics, you answer to the licensing board, but you’re an independent, practitioner. So, service centers are licensed, but they’re independent entities. So, anyone can go through the process of getting licensed. That’s true for facilitators as well, by the way, this is a brand-new licensing structure, right? These are licenses that aren’t piggybacking on other licenses, this is actual Psilocybin and facilitator licenses, Psilocybin service center license. So, this is where the measure creatively carved out a new space in the culture for Psilocybin Services. Now it connects and plays well with other licenses and other disciplines and that’s by design as well, but it’s its own thing and it is all of these licenses are independently held. So, these are not government-run programs in that sense.

Laura Dawn: And so, do you need to be a therapist or a medical practitioner to go through this program to become licensed, to administer Psilocybin?

Tom Eckhart: Yeah, not necessarily. It’s very much invited and a positive to have, have previous experiences that relate to working with clients. But we also wanted importantly to create pathways for anyone who has the real heart and disposition and discipline and potentially experience through other channels, to get involved and to be able to facilitate if they move through the rather rigorous, process of becoming licensed and that’s a big part of this measure is that we’re kind of pulling it out of these conventional, mostly medical models and creating a new discipline that is not necessarily based on a purely medical model and again, I think a lot of therapists will be attracted to this work, but we also open up potentials for other folks that have different backgrounds.

Laura Dawn: Okay. So, my understanding is that you are on this regulatory board, but you are creating the standard. So, you are not actually creating the curriculum. Other companies and organizations are coming in. And my understanding is that sort of like synthesis Institute seems to be like the front runner here. They’ve been doing facilitator trainings out of the Netherlands. I heard that they just purchased big acreage of land in Oregon. So, I feel like they’re heading in that direction, and so is that accurate to say, you guys are creating what needs to be included in the curriculum, but you’re not necessarily creating the curriculum. Other organizations are doing that.

Tom Eckhart: That’s correct. So, what will happen is the Oregon health authority again the advisory board is simply an advisory board, very active board and the Oregon health authority really take our recommendations to heart, but ultimately their recommendations and the Oregon health authority will take those recommendations and create the rules around training programs and everything else and with regard to training programs, there will be an application process through the Oregon health authority to become an approved training program. So, I imagine that hasn’t been developed yet, but I imagine that the application process will pull off all the rules will basically ensure that training programs that are applying for approval will meet all the different requirements that are laid forth. It’ll be a detailed application process.

Laura Dawn: So, when Joe Green said not enough, people are paying attention to Oregon, do you think that he was referring to the massive opening for Oregon organizations to create programs? I mean, I want to be sensitive here and I also promised my audience that I’d bring a lot more like truth-telling to season two of this podcast synthesis charges about 18,000, I think, currently for their program. So, this is also big business that we’re talking about and where does equity fit into that? Because if it’s an $18,000 program, which when you can make the case relative to like a master’s degree, maybe that’s actually really affordable and everyone needs to get paid, but I’m just saying like, do you think that that was the focus there are huge money-making opportunities here and more companies need to be paying attention to that?

Tom Eckhart: I don’t think that’s where Joe is coming from. I think he’s just making the point that people don’t really understand that Oregon is a flexible model that is going to draw demand into psychedelic therapy and services that we have not seen in this country. This is going to be the platform that’s happening and so he’s just shining a light on that and I’m not sure if folks around the country are fully aware of the kind of impact the potential impact. So, this is not about business in our mind, there is a business aspect to all of this, but this is about the impact on the people of Oregon, creating healing and safe places to address the mental health crisis that we’re dealing with here. There will be programs that are less expensive than what you’re identifying, I’m quite sure of that.

There’s a lot of talk around equity and access generally one of the subcommittees of the advisory board is the equity subcommittee and that’s actually kind of an oversight committee, which means that it is overseeing all the other committees. So, that recommendations that come through the other committees pass through an equity lens because we don’t always see everything it’s, it’s nuanced. What are the kind of hidden ways that we can kind of unlock access the best we can? Now there’s only so much you can do probably on an advisory board and OHA level part of this is the private sector. Part of this is as nonprofits step in, I’m going to plug a nonprofit, the SRE Eckard foundation that I’m working on which is for equitable access to training and services.

We’re creating scholarships for a diversity of potential applicants to training programs that we have a diverse practitioner population. So, that’s at Shreeeckard.org. If you look for looking for a scholarship to get trained, to become a practitioner, so there’s different avenues to try to help with access and diversity. We certainly want, I feel like if we don’t meet people where they’re at and provide services and training to folks where the most help is needed, then the statewide program is not succeeding. So, we give a lot of attention to addressing that challenge and it is a challenge.

Laura Dawn: Yeah. And I’ll do just say too, that Marae from synthesis is a friend of mine and I’ve looked at their content and their curriculum, and it’s a great program and just not, everyone’s going to be able to afford that. So, just acknowledging how we go about that as well.

Alissa Banet: I just want to add that. I do believe it’s both and I think you’re not wrong, Laura Dawn, but there is a big business that is moving into Oregon, that certainly wasn’t necessarily the intention of the measure, but it is just the result of being in a capitalist system and in so many people want to be in this space and Oregon is one of the early opportunities to have a business in this space. And so, I’ll just speak for myself personally, it’s been a lot to navigate all of the people that are reaching out, wanting to collaborate, wanting to create businesses, wanting funding opportunities, and all the discernment that’s needed to really check in with what feels right and it is overwhelming at times. So, that energy is definitely here, and there’s a huge potential for all sorts of different types of business from nonprofits to the synthesis and the bigger retreat centers of the world to come into Oregon and set up shop.

Laura Dawn: From my perspective, you’re really creating a template for the nationwide rollout state by state. So, are you imagining that once this ball is rolling, then some of you are going to go and see advisory roles in other states and really help the rollout? I see you; Alyssa is like shaking your head. You’re like, I got so much on that plate right now, girl. I can’t even imagine.

Alissa Banet: I’m committed to Oregon and Portland and to my community. There might be other folks that move to other states and help out. But I think that that system is already in place. I think Oregon in many ways is the Guinea pig, but there are other statewide measures that are being written and that are being put out there that were inspired by Oregon, and of course, we haven’t even fully implemented things yet, and those measures are popping up. And so, it does feel like all eyes are on Oregon in a way and it does feel, I don’t know how you feel, Tom, but there is this underlying sense of pressure of we’re the first to do this. We’ve got to get it right because we are influencing the rest of the country.

Tom Eckhart: Oh, absolutely. And I think we’re embracing that challenge. It’s definitely a little anxiety-provoking, but I think we’ve really got the structures in place to address all the concerns and evolve in a good way in terms of it spreading. I mean, I don’t really, I’d like to see things bubble up in different states kind of organically and not kind of come top-down, kind of do this work, but that said, I definitely would love to see the organ model proliferate because I think not without evolving or being tweaked this way or that, but the essential access model, the ability for people to access these services, not just through kind of a pharma driven model or psychiatric model, but for that kind of inclusive wellness therapy, medicine integrated platform, it’s kind of the counterpoint to what we see in the kind of pharma driven approach and I don’t want to create like a conflict and I don’t, I think I see a unified platform where all of these needs are met and they all have a specific value, but I think all of the needs need to be met in the organ model in that mix kind of makes that case and I don’t want that to be lost on a national level. So, I do hope to see the organ model continue to spread.

Laura Dawn: And so, in terms of rollout, because we’re gosh, 11 months in counting from 2023. So, and is it January 2023, that this is legalized in terms of these services, and are people currently getting certified, are programs open right now, or is that still a work in progress?

Tom Eckhart: Yeah, still in progress. The training recommendations are moving through the training subcommittee into the advisory board. The advisory board approved something like 70 of my recommendations. So, the Oregon health authority now has lots to work with. There are a few more things we want to sew up and my understanding that at is in may the OHA plans to release the rules for training book programs specifically, which is kind of an expedited timeline to get those rules out because I think you’re picking up on the fact that in order to have practitioners in 2023, they need to be licensed ready, which means that they need to be trained earlier than that. And so, we’re hoping to get programs approved on the ground. Generally, this summer, it would be a great target. This is all premature to talk about, but that’s kind of the hope, but the rule should be in place in May, at least that’s what the Oregon health authority hopes to achieve, and then it’s a question of how long does the application process take? How long does it take for programs to kind of get up and running and operating? So, a little bit of a time crunch, but we’re working to get those, get that going as soon as possible.

Alissa Banet: Yeah. And just to add to what you said, Tom, I do know there are some programs that are beginning to operate that are kind of banking on knowing generally what’s going to be required in the training program and just kind of getting up and running and maybe they’ll make edits later. We are requiring, I think it’s a 160-hour program, so it’s not insignificant. So, there are programs that are getting started now with the things that we know are probably going to be in there and then we’ll be making edits later and one of the recommendations that we gave to OHA was also to confer what we’re calling accelerated training hours, because there are so many practitioners, psychedelic practitioner trainings that have existed previously, like maps and fluence and many others. And so, hoping that people who’ve already had that kind of training can get some of those credits applied to their state-approved Psilocybin facilitation program.

Laura Dawn: And how do you feel about some of these organizations jumping in the gun? Do you feel like…

Tom Eckhart: I don’t know if I think of it as jumping the gun, it’s just, this is an evolving field and there’s a lot of interest and there’s a lot of good people working to refine standards around training and there’s a lot of demand for it? I would say that it’s good to create clarity out there that it is jumping the gun in terms of getting into an approved organ program. There are no approved organ programs yet, so there is no licensure track yet. So, you want to be clear about what you’re getting into and I would hope that programs are being clear. I think they are but as far as programs existing and kind of having an eye on organs recommendations, I think that’s all healthy.

Laura Dawn: Okay, great. And what about apprenticeship models and mentorship? I feel like it’s one of the main things that’s actually missing in our current westernized culture. That’s very different than the shamanic approach, where it’s like you have a mentor, you have an elder who helps support that. Is that a topic on the table for discussion?

Tom Eckhart: It’s definitely a topic. I think there’s, a discussion around the bend here as to what happens after practitioners get licensed. How do they continue to stay connected in the work rather than being kind of thrown into the work without support? We certainly don’t want the latter, and I think we have ideas around that. Alissa, I’m imagining that that’s an important piece for you. Maybe you can speak

Alissa Banet: Very much so. I feel that that is crucial ongoing supervision and experiential work with an elder, with somebody who has done this work previously, and ongoing experiential practice for the facilitator. We did recommend a practicum be part of the required or training program, but I believe that practicum was approximately 40 hours, which is something but not a lot and so one of the conversations that we’re actually having later today in the training subcommittee, I just realized Tom, that’s this afternoon, is around best practices for facilitators. So, what does it look like to be in engaging in best practice over time? And one of those is ongoing work with a mentor, ongoing supervision, ongoing peer support, and really committing to a lifetime of that because the work is really never done, right? And so, we don’t want facilitators to be practicing in a silo that supports and that experiential work is really, really important.

Laura Dawn: And then looking at questions like generally I’ll just say that psychedelics are actually really safe, but then when we start looping in some like severe mental health issues that we’re witnessing if something happens in a session with a licensed service provider. Something really let’s say extreme where somebody is injured or there’s a death then what is the follow-up to something like that or maybe their sexual misconduct? Is there also an advisory board that’s going to be in place to hear cases like that? Is that part I’m sure that’s got to be part of the discussion.

Tom Eckhart: One of the big benefits of a regulated model and a big reason why we are working and to set this all up is that it starts with good training and it starts with developing competent facilitators, but nonetheless, less than optimal outcomes will happen, and the question is what’s the response to that and in Oregon under a licensing model, there’s somewhere to provide feedback and also complaints and there’ll be a resource, board, and authority to investigate those complaints. That’s, what’s been missing in some of the kind of issues that come up around ethics and boundaries, that we’ve been hearing about is that, yeah, we can kind of litigate it in the public square, but what’s really. Where does it really go?

Well in Oregon, we want to have mechanisms for feedback, complaints, investigation if necessary, and also potentially, this is again, a topic of discussion, but anonymized, opt-in data collection that helps refine our program and identifies where problems are and how it can get better. So, this is all part of having infrastructure and regulation not to impose things, but to create a context where these issues are addressed and brought to light and looked at. And so, there’s kind of constant quality improvement.

Laura Dawn: Is there anything you want to add Alissa to that before I ask the next question?

Alissa Banet: I think Tom mostly covered it, but I will add that we are designing a facilitator code of conduct and ethical standards that will be part of the life sensing process. So, facilitators will have to adhere to that code of ethics, and then cases can be brought up to a regulatory board if something does not go well if somebody is not following that code of ethics.

Laura Dawn: And will that be public?

Alissa Banet: Yes. So, interestingly, everything that we’re discussing right now is public. Oh, so there’s actually a state website. It is pretty comprehensive, so it definitely can get overwhelming for folks to look through, but all of the draft documents, every discussion that we have on the advisory board level, they’re all recorded. They’re all able to be attended by members of the public who can make comments at the end of the meetings. And so, all of these drafts as we’re working on them and as they’re finalized, we’ll be posted on that website.

Laura Dawn: Awesome. Okay. That’s great news, and then if you want to give me that link and I can include that in the show notes says, well for people who want to check it out. So, then this also brings in this other question of like where the corporate side of Psilocybin growing and production and like where are licensed providers able to buys Psilocybin to serve? And where’s the conversation out around that?

Tom Eckhart: Yeah. It’s the other license, the production license, cultivation, license, manufacturing license. There’s a product subcommittee and they focus on how to create safe, standardized products that will make sense in this framework and how to license to do that, again, the OHA has not created rules around this yet, and there have been some recommendations coming through the advisory board on how best to do that. There’s been a focus on incorporating organic material, the mushroom itself via extracts, and creating standardized products that are kind of labeled and safe and packaged, that will move from the cultivation, licensed cultivation facilities to service centers. Of course, there are regulations around how those products move and are tracked and it’s all very careful, and I think that’s always an evolving discussion, I think that the general position of the board so far is let’s keep it pretty simple and not over complexify in the name of creating markets before we’re ready for kind of a proliferation of different kind of products. It’s hard to get a program like this off the ground, and we don’t want to make it more complicated than it needs to be at least out of the gate. And so, that’s kind of a philosophy around products at this point.

But there are opportunities to get involved. I would, I tend to like kind of give a word of caution, this is not cannabis. This is not going to be a gigantic market where there are huge opportunities to have big business around. Psilocybin if you think about it, how much Psilocybin do you really need to meet the therapeutic demand? Where one session takes just a little bit of a product and that’s enough for some folks for a good long time. So, it’s kind of more of a passion project to get involved in wanting to cultivate mushrooms and whatnot, but we’ll see how it plays out. It is an opening market, but I just don’t want people to get confused that it’s a kind of a Gold Rush kind of situation, because I don’t think it is.

Laura Dawn: Yeah. I really appreciate that because I mean, right now we’re seeing hundreds of millions of dollars flood into the psychedelic space and it actually, I appreciate, yeah, just the framing on that get into this space because this is what you love. What do you think are some of the other really big misperceptions that people who are watching Oregon just you think don’t have right about what’s actually really happening?

Alissa Banet: Think we’ve touched on some of it but really, I think there is a misperception that either we’ve legalized Psilocybin therapy justify and therapy, which is not necessarily the case, right. This isn’t psychotherapy in the traditional sense of the word, as well as that we have legalized Psilocybin completely that there will be dispensaries that people can purchases Psilocybin from a cannabis-like dispensary. There’s a lot of comparison to the cannabis industry and I do feel like it’s significantly different.

Tom Eckhart: Yeah. It’s really just understanding the licensing structure. Laura, you had mentioned earlier that doing sessions in your home, that’s not going to happen. So, these licensed facilities are licensed in particular they’re zoning restrictions, these are not residential. Centers aren’t popping up in residential neighborhoods or at people’s homes. So, it’s just really understanding the structure of the licenses and how this will roll out. I think once people get those basic talking points, it starts to make sense, but without those, and this was the challenge in the campaign, there are just a few things that people need to know, but it’s really hard to disseminate a few things to an entire state of people and that was our challenge in the campaign and obviously we did a good enough job to move it through because when we were doing focus groups and things like that people would come in and he’d say our intention is to legalize psychedelics and everyone’s guard goes up and defenses rise and it’s like, no way.

But then you provide just a few facts that there’s some science behind it that this will be in supervised licensed facilities, just some of the care around it. And all of a sudden, those opinions flip and you could see it live in these focus group discussions during the pain. And so, we were able to own in, on our talking points, which are, it sounds political, but they’re true, you know, they’re based on what we want to convey to the public and that’s still the case even now, even though we’re on the other side of the campaign, it’s still an education campaign.

Laura Dawn: Anything that you’re seeing that you’re sort of not so impressed with either the way people are showing up or engaging in this process, just like any sort of red flags that you kind of just want to speak to.

Tom Eckhart: You know, it’s always, there are always challenges when you’re kind of moving something forward creatively. Everyone on the board has good intentions and I think it’s just important to make that assumption rather than other assumptions and this was true during the campaign. It’s like there’s a tendency to be suspicious about things, that’s natural. But this is what I said during the campaign is this is actually good news. Sometimes it’s hard to receive good news. It’s what’s really happening, but right. I think that the advisory board is great there’s a lot of healthy dialogue sometimes challenging, but altogether it’s a healthy thing to get as many perspectives as we can, and just it’s a really healthy process and this is really a healthy program that’s going to impact the state in a positive way. So, I just try to keep focused on that, do the best we can. I think we’re doing that and that’s my focus.

Laura Dawn: I agree with everything that you said, Tom, about keeping it positive and the process has been overall good and inspiring in sort of the complex conversations and the very different opinions that we’re holding space for in these meetings. And so that’s been really inspiring for me to watch the like there is polarization, there are people who have very strong opinions and we’re holding space for that and we’re having to look at our own biases, speaking for myself there are definitely folks who say things that I feel very against in many ways and having to really listen to them in a different way and not just jump straight to my preconceived bias but if I can, I would like to speak a bit to my preconceived bias, because I do think it’s important, which is that I am a clinical psychologist.

And my career has been full of working with the most vulnerable clients who have very severe mental health struggles, treatment-resistant PTSD, I’ve traditionally worked in veterans hospital systems. So, with combat vets and I am a bit concerned about how we’re going to make this system excessive for them. We do talk a lot about access for folks who don’t have a diagnosis and who don’t necessarily get or do not want treatment in a traditional healthcare system and there are lots of those folks who, for them, this is a great alternative, but I am concerned about some of the more complex cases. So, people who do need a little bit more support before and after having ay experience people who’ve maybe never taken a psychedelic before who have heard about this on the news and the media who believe this will be a cure who have tried many, many other things that have failed, and I’m concerned that we may not have the resources to provide them with that extra support and we’re certainly working on it and we’re talking about it in the advisory board and there’s a lot of care to make sure that we do address those needs, but yeah, that’s something that I am sitting with on a daily basis and feeling very strongly about wanting the people who are most vulnerable, who need this the most to be able to access it and so what does that decision-making process look like? Are you guys on a consensus-based decision-making process? Like if everyone is in agreement, but one person is like, absolutely not. How do you hold space for, I’m just kind of curious, like team dynamics, anything you want to share about that?

Tom Eckhart: Yeah. We hold space for a lot of discussions. Ultimately, it’s a majority situation. So, we put things to vote, but not until we’ve thoroughly discussed them and we’re getting better at that. I think part of what we’re doing now is ensuring that everyone on the board has equal time to give their thoughts because some people are just more energetic in their opinions and can kind of run away from things. So, as a board share, it’s my job to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, and that influences each other. So, those conversation dynamics are something we look at in our work in progress to make sure they’re efficient and helpful, but ultimately sometimes you just get to a place where it’s time to vote and we’re going to see where we land and they go a way that you were hoping it wouldn’t.

And so then you have to sit with that and there’s a lot of votes and a lot of discussions it’s very complicated, nuanced program we’re creating, and I concur with everything Alissa was saying about how safety is still upfront me in terms of addressing complex cases and we’re discussing today, at our training subcommittee meeting, the process of kind of safety planning and really having an overlay where we can kind of balance this kind of dialectic of access versus safety, right. It’s, we want to achieve both those goals, but in some ways they kind of like the more you make everything accessible, the more safety kind of goes down and it’s one of those things. So, you’re trying to get them in a place where both are addressed in balance in a balanced way.

And that’s kind of what the organ model is about is achieving that balance between access and safety and having standards, but also opening up as much as we can in an inclusive way. So, we can help as many people as possible. So, those kinds of conversations are tricky. Those are the trickiest parts and that’s why we’re really focused on it. Now it’s been a topic of conversation all along, but we’ve gotten all the more straightforward things out of the way and now we’re really grappling with the, kind of the nuances of achieving access and safety.

Alissa Banet: And I do want to say just to piggyback off what you just said, Tom, but I don’t think this is an issue that’s unique to psychedelics. So, that’s something I’ve really realized as I’ve gotten into the nitty-gritty of what we’re trying to do is this is an issue in the healthcare system at large, is that the folks who are more vulnerable, who do have more complex needs who do need more support, tend to have to pay more for that, or don’t have access or don’t have insurance and so it’s really that we need to overhaul the way that we treat mental healthcare in this country as a whole, and we’re trying to fit psychedelics inside an already a broken system and so these conversations, I think it’s really just a microcosm of the problems that we’re having in treating mental health and how we conceptualize mental health.

Like what is mental illness, right? The predominant conversation around that for so long has been well, it’s an individual disorder. It’s something that is wrong with somebody’s brain or they have this disease, but really, we need to reconceptualize that that mental illness is a pretty understandable response to a broken society and viewing treatment as more collective as involving the family, the community connection with the earth, right? Reconnecting people with themselves and with others, it’s not just about taking a pill and fixing a symptom and so this is really a much bigger conversation that goes way beyond psychedelics

Laura Dawn: And maybe psychedelics can actually be the catalyst for how we overhaul some of these bigger systems.

Alissa Banet: Exactly.

Laura Dawn: Yeah. I would love to use the remaining time we have, together here to just get a little more personal. So, this is the psychedelic leadership podcast. You both are really the epitome of what psychedelic leadership is. You are leading into unchartered territory here and you both have a personal deep, long history of working with these very profound. So, I’m curious and take your time if you need a moment to reflect on this, but how do you feel like psychedelics are actually shaping the way that you lead and the way that you hold space for this movement into uncharted territory and like defining this as real leadership for a new era. Because I do think that psychedelics and plant medicines can actually help us become better leaders and we’re going into a very different time in human history. So, on a very personal level, how have your experiences with psychedelics informed the way that you fundamentally show up and lead in the way and the positions that you’re in right now?

Tom Eckhart: Great question. I think for me it really facilitates a service paradigm. I feel I often touch psychedelics in the midst of this kind of journey I’ve been on, which is helping. Psychedelics reenter into the culture, and it’s been a humbling experience through route and that the interludes where I touch psychedelics to kind of process have always put me in a, I feel like an, like an agent of something that is just here to do the work rather than kind of looking at it through my more ego structured personality or place. So, I think there’s just, there’s humility in it. There’s a service orientation and then there’s just an expansion. There’s the ability to catch different perspectives to see a bigger picture to believe that reality is malleable.

That thing can change. If you have a self-consistent overlay that you can see something that isn’t there yet, and if your kind of mentally can bring self-consistency into your own being and your own thinking that manifest as possible, and I feel like I’ve learned that through this process, I’ve seen it and that’s kind of responsibility too. It’s like when you understand your creative energies that you can make an impact, then the question of responsibility and what you’re doing becomes all the more important. So, I think psychedelics have facilitated that kind of thinking for me.

Laura Dawn: That’s how I think about visionary leadership, which is really how I, one of the core aspects of how I define psychedelic leadership, it’s visionary leadership, it’s creative leadership and it’s compassionate based leadership or like the three big pillars for how I conceptualize psychedelic leadership and you really just touched on all three of those there.

Alissa Banet: Yeah. That’s a great question. I think that for me being, well, I always say this when I speak about my journey in the space as a leader, or just as somebody working with psychedelics professionally, that the journey of stepping out and making the decision to kind of leave a traditional career behind, leave my staff psychologist position at the VA hospital and decide that I was going to dedicate my life to bringing psychedelic therapy into the world and that was around 2016, and the journey from then to now has felt like, and big ceremony, I’m in some sort of integration phase right now, but I feel like it’s really brought me into embodiment in a more regular basis where my source of decision making around how I show up in the space and how I move forward is a about me connecting to information from my body and how that connects to trauma, both from childhood as well as historically and collectively and where I’m acting from a place that is connected to those trauma lineages versus when I’m acting from a place of authentic truth and discerning between those.

And so anytime I notice a reaction in my body based on something that’s happening in a space or a conversation that I’m having my methodology is to step back and take space and go inward, and that’s just part of my daily practice in big and small ways, and it’s become just as second nature as the other sorts of self-care things that I do, like getting enough sleep and drinking water and just leading from that place of connecting to inner wisdom and then making decisions going forward from there. So, it’s definitely a lot of energy but it feels really inspiring and a new way of being, that’s not all about making decisions in my head.

Laura Banet: Because everything is also moving so fast, especially in the psychedelic space. And it actually takes a lot of courage and almost discipline to slow down and permission to pause permission to say, okay, I’m actually going to listen, which it’s the way of the medicine is to slow down and listen. So, it’s just really amazing that we can yeah. Weave that into the way that we show up. Have either of, you felt moments of fear, like when you really stepped out and you were like, wow, we’re doing this. I mean like, Tom, initially, were you like, wow, I could like very potentially lose my license. This could destroy my career. Was that part of your thought process

Tom Eckhart: A little bit, not so much about career, although that was in there, but I did kind of come to the conclusion that in order to do this, to follow it all the way through that, I would pretty much need to be anxious or nervous about something every single day because I’m not like necessarily a public speaker. I’m not someone who just wants to get out in front of people and I was doing that all the time and so I was really pushing boundaries every day and I was doing that from a place of envisioning the outcome. Not because I loved the idea of doing that although I do love talking about psychedelics as it turns out, but yeah, it wasn’t necessarily in my energy field to like, just jump on stage or anything like that. So, I’ll be on a podcast or anything like that. So, I think that was part of my practice is that I kind of learned to embrace that anxiety is sometimes part of growth. And so, the whole thing was a growth process pushing through some of that.

And I like what you’re saying, like courage is definitely part of this whole movement, right? There’s just intrinsic courage to step out and say, this is not what people thought it was. It’s something else and we’re going to stand our ground and we’re going to make it make sense and we’re not going to be reactive; we’re going to move forward intelligently with calmness and show the way, but firmness as well, all of that takes courage fundamentally, and I think that’s true of everyone. Who’s really working in this space, including the two of you.

Alissa Banet: Absolutely. That all really resonates, courage has just got to be part of it, and really, I feel like that is a really fundamental deep value of mine and always has been that living from a values-based place and making decisions that are in alignment with my values, no matter how scary that might be and no matter what I might lose, but I never quite imagined the degree to which I would put that into practice in being in this space, and the number of times that I have had to step out and say how I really felt about something and the losses that did incur because of that, but that’s okay because I feel like that’s, what’s needed to really get us to where we want to be and it’s a lot sometimes, but it’s worth it.

Laura Dawn: One more or kind of tricky question here. I really like these ones. They’re my favorite actually. Like really? I love these questions. What do you think is like the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about yourself or the most valuable ways that you stepping out in this way has fundamentally shaped you for the better.

Tom Eckhart: For me, I would say that working with Cher throughout the campaign, as opposed to taking this on individually learning how to be a tandem and how the energy balances in its a certain way and how impactful that was? I don’t think I could have; I know I couldn’t have done this without her, I mean, we were a hundred percent together on the campaign and saw it all the way through because our energy was so much together and I’m kind of an individualist by nature. So, that was a, I learned a lot through that process and I saw like, I felt it, but I also saw how it impacted the people we were communicating with. There was something about that balanced energy and in some ways modeling a couple of I think there’s something kind of like assuring people to see two partners together on a project and being unified. It’s not to say we didn’t have challenges along the way, but we always got to unity and our energy sat together really well and that taught me a lot. It got me into a space that wasn’t so individualistic and I think that helped him.

Alissa Banet: I love that. We brought Sheri into both the beginning and the end of this conversation. I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know her as well as I would’ve liked. We were just beginning to connect and share before she passed away, but I very much feel her as a force in this whole movement and it’s actually a nice segue to what I was going to say about what I feel like I’ve learned about myself in this process to your original question, Laura Don is Sheri was very much about being a voice for the most vulnerable. That was very important to her really wanting to protect and speak for those in the community that didn’t have as much access to their voice and I feel like that’s something that I’ve been able to really embody as well in my work in the community is to speak for others, to protect others, to support others, and to use my platform that I have to say what’s needed, to make the most impact.

Laura Dawn: That’s beautiful. You know, we live in this culture where everyone throws around this word authenticity like it ain’t no big deal, but actually like actually dropping in and communicating and like being an alignment with authenticity and authentic truth and express is the path of fire really? Like it is no joke.

Tom Eckhart: True.

Alissa Banet: Definitely no joke.

Laura Dawn: Yeah. So, to wrap up for people listening, parting words of wisdom, advice for the many people, you know, I have quiet, a large audience who listens to this podcast. Many people are already in the psychedelic space, but a lot of people actually want to step into the space and contribute in some way, whether that’s through facilitation or guide work, or as integration coaches or microdosing coaching. So, any sort of like real depth of wisdom here for people who are looking to contribute to this space.

Tom Eckhart: Oh, about depth of wisdom, but just believe in yourself, do it, like she, and I, we’re not in an, a position that was elevated to kind of spearhead all of this and we achieved a lot and it came from getting the idea out there and then connecting with others who pull that energy and amazing things start to happen, but you have to take the step, you have to take some risks, put yourself out there, speak your truth but speak it deliberatively, think about what you’re doing. Think about how you want to approach it, what are your intentions? What are the motives? Weed out, any motives that don’t really that aren’t coming from your center, think a lot about what you’re doing, but then act.

Alissa Banet: And I would just add to that, everything that Tom said I agree with, and I would add, there’s no rush. I know when I was first getting into the space, it felt like they were very limited opportunities to do this work and that I had to do everything I could to make sure that I got that opportunity, and I think there’s still some sense of that we got to figure this out, there’s pressure, there’s all of these like corporations coming in and taking over, oh my gosh, I got to get with the picture but really, I think this space is not going anywhere. I think it’s exploding and it’s going to continue to do so. I think there are so many different ways that we can get involved. There are almost endless opportunities at this point for creating a particular way that someone can be involved. And so, to Tom’s point of really taking time and figuring out what is it that I most want to contribute? Who am I in this space? What are my values what’s important to me and then acting from that place rather than acting from a of pressure or fear that there won’t be an opportunity? I don’t think this is going anywhere.

Alissa Banet: Not anytime soon and just while we’re on a roll, I think I’m just going to add my own perspective on this. Just be kind, I just want to encourage people just be kind in your authentic expression. Like maybe we all hold our beliefs lightly these times are polarized enough and I just hold the prayer that all of us in the psychedelic space can actually become embodied examples of what it means to show up and communicate from a place of kindness and be bridge builders amongst these divided times as really an example for the rest of the world and makes my heart a little sad that we’re not already there with a lot of the very strong opinions that people hold, but psychedelics show us that, as you said, Tom, it’s all malleable. So, it’s all shapeable, and may we hold it all just a little lighter in the paradox of, yes, this is so important and let’s take it seriously and hold the responsibility, and also, we’re all just a fleeting moment in time here. We can just take a deep breath into that reality as well.

Laura Dawn: Beautifully said. Yeah.

Tom Eckhart: Thank you for that,

Alissa Banet: Jinx.

Laura Dawn: Thank you. You both are doing incredible work. Like really when I said just like the living definition of psychedelic leadership, like, that’s it. So, thank you for your time and all of your daily dedication to this path. It’s just, it’s really commendable. So, may we all send some wind under your sales for the years to come and some just good energy behind you in all that you’re doing for the service of humanity. So, thank you.

Tom Eckhart: Well, you’re very kind.

Alissa Banet: Thank you so much.

Laura Dawn: Thank you. All right. That’s a wrap. Thanks, guys.

Alissa Banet: Awesome.

Tom Eckhart: Great.

Laura Dawn: That was fun.

Alissa Bazinet & Tom Eckert

BIOGRAPHY

Alissa Bazinet:
Alissa Bazinet, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in Portland, OR. Her professional background includes over 10 years working in the Veterans hospital system and 5 years as a private practice therapist.  In her private practice, she provides somatic-oriented and mindfulness-based therapy for individuals with histories of complex trauma/PTSD and addiction, in addition to psychedelic integration and harm reduction services. She is a passionate advocate for increasing access to psychedelic-assisted therapies and plant medicines for individuals from historically underserved populations. She is a co-founder of the Sequoia Center nonprofit, which offers low-cost, sliding-scale, psychedelic-assisted therapies, as well as education and research. She is MAPS trained in MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD and a longtime lead volunteer for the Zendo Project.  She is also involved in drug policy reform efforts and serves as an advisor to the Plant Medicine Healing Alliance and the training subcommittee of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board.

Tom Eckert:

Tom is a seasoned therapist with experience in program development. He was the architect of Oregon’s Measure 109 and, with his late wife Sheri, helped guide the campaign to establish Oregon’s statewide Psilocybin Services Program. Tom is currently the Chair of Oregon’s Governor-appointed Psilocybin Advisory Board. 

He is also the Chair of the Advisory Board’s Facilitator Training subcommittee.

Tom founded the Oregon Psilocybin Society in 2015 and recently established the Sheri Eckert Foundation which aims to support equitable access to psilocybin training and services through scholarships and other supportive programs. He is also the founder and Program Director of InnerTrek, a new Psilocybin Facilitator Training Program positioned to help meet the looming demand for licensed practitioners in Oregon.

 

Featured Music

This Episode of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast features a song called
The Strongest of Our Kind
by Mihali, G. Love, & Special Sauce.

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About Laura Dawn

Through her signature Mastermind Programs and Plant Medicine Retreats, Laura Dawn weaves together science with ancient wisdom. She teaches business and thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation, fostering emotional resiliency and unlocking new depths to our creative potential.