013: Interview with Robert J. Barnhart about his new film, A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin / by Joe

This is Entheogen. We talk about tools for generating the divine within. It's August 21, 2015. We're talking about A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin with Robert J. Barnhart.

We are honored to be joined by Robert J. Barnhart, producer of A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin.

For historical context, we review the groundwork laid in the 1980's by organizations such as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and Heffter Research Institute. Robert serves on the Boards of Directors of both organizations.

Basic research began as early as the 1940's and continued through the '50's and '60's, until Nixon's Drug Control Act of 1970 when the highly promising research was extinguished. In the words of Roland Griffiths, "Can you think of another area of science regarded as so dangerous and taboo that all research gets shut down for decades? It’s unprecedented in modern science."

Only as recently as in the last decade, thanks entirely to private fundraising by organizations like MAPS and Heffter, researchers have completed Phase I and Phase II studies. Plans for Phase III trials are on the horizon, and by some predictions, entheogens like psilocybin could be rescheduled to Schedule II (from Schedule I) perhaps as soon as 2020.

At $10/pill an effective one-time-dose treatment like an entheogen might not be economically feasible or lucrative enough for today's pharmaceutical companies to pursue taking to market. But what about regular, ongoing "microdosing" of something like LSD? And moreover, the potentially vast application of entheogens toward the "betterment of well people" (in the words of Bob Jesse) would seem to be highly interesting to a pharmaceutical company.

In addition to supporting MAPS and Heffter, Robert recommends the Beckley Foundation in England. Also, write to Congress and talk to people about your own entheogenic experiences.

Bonus: Robert recounts the story of how his would-be high school film project about the psychedelic experience may have serendipitously inspired his new film.

For more about the studies, check out Anthroposophia: A different kind of love story: One woman's psilocybin experience by Sandy Lundahl.

Thanks again to Robert Barnhart for joining us. Stay tuned for the release of A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin.