Hard News by Russell Brown

11

Splore 2019 – Please Don't F*ck This Up Part 3: Harm Reduction

This is the third excerpt from the panel looking at the next two years' pending drug policy reforms at the Splore Listening Lounge in February this year.

Those reforms include a new amendment guiding police discretion in the case of drug possession (effectively requiring the police to justify prosecution), new medicinal cannabis regulations, the possibility of onsite drug checking getting some legal cover, a new focus (and funding) for addiction services and treatment and next year's referendum on legalising cannabis for adult use.

The panel was called, in recognition of the historic opportunity these reforms embody, Please Don't Fuck This Up.

Panelists were Chloe Swarbrick MP, Wendy Allison of the volunteer harm reduction service Know Your Stuff, Otago University researcher Geoff Noller and David Hornblow, who works for Waipareira Trust and independently as an addiction practitioner.

This section of the panel covers harm reduction – and specifically festival drug-checking of the kind conducted by Know Your Stuff. The organisation's work was stukl underway at the time of the panel, but this week, Know Your Stuff announced that it conducted 880 tests over summer – twice as many as the previous summer.

The last of those rounds of testing, during O-Week in Dunedin, was potentially the most alarming. After initially identifying a white powder presented in capsules presumed by the holder to be MDMA as the cathinone n-ethylpentylone – which put several young people in hospital last summer – Know Your Stuff determined that the powder was in fact a different, previously-unseen cathinone, identified only as C86. The Otago Daily Times duly relayed a warning.

It's a warning that would not have been possible without Know Your Stuff's work. But the Misuse of Drugs Act continues to hamper that work. Section 12 of the Act, which puts event organisers at risk if they allow this kind of harm reduction, has been widely discussed. But the organisation is also asking for changes to Section 7, which currently prevents volunteers handling samples (technical possession) or taking them away for lab testing. The problem is particularly acute in the case of new and unknown substances like the sample in Dunedin.

But back in February, I opened the topic by observing to Wendy Allison that the Minister of Police, Stuart Nash, had spoken after Rhythm and Vines and said he would like to see permitted drug checking at events as part of a harm reduction practice. Had the comments made any difference?

Wendy: Okay, so the first thing that happened when we heard that was we all did a little happy dance around the room. Then we sat down and we thought about it, because the second thing that happened was festivals and events started ringing us up and going, well if the Police Minister is supporting it, then we want you.

And we've had to turn down six events since then. The reason being that we have access to two spectrometers, we have 50 volunteers, and we run entirely on donations. So essentially, we have not enough money, not enough equipment, and not enough people.

So if Minister Nash's vision is to be realised by next festival season, then some sort of support and framework for that support needs to be forthcoming. So we rang him up, and went, Okay, you said you wanted to know how this works. We know how it works, let's talk. And we got together with him, and said, your vision is great, we love it, but support is needed – and the response is that the government is not in a position to provide financial support to a service like ours without a change in the legislation.

Because they need it to be explicitly legal, or the public will not support any financial support to us. And we can't charge events for our service because they can't put us on their books. Because of the legislation. So the next question is, how is the legislation going to change, and when is it going to change?

"Before next season" is a lovely happy thing to say, but in order to actually get a trained, well-supported, well-equipped team out there next season at all of the events, we need the law changed by June. So that's what we're pushing for. We're advocating for what we do to be explicitly legal, for the ability to provide support and also small things like being able to actually touch the substances – because if we're going to go to an event like Rhythm and Vines, which has 20,000 people, with several spectrometers, we're going to need to be able to process that stuff ourselves.

At the moment, we're making everybody do it in front of us – so every single person is new to it, and we have to teach them how to do it, and that means it takes way longer than it needs to. So realistically, a lot of work needs to happen, but the main one is changing that law and changing it quickly. 

Chloe: If I can just talk on what Wendy's just saying, and Wendy obviously knows this inside out, but for the sake of background, the barrier is Section 12 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 is a carbon copy of the UK legislation, Misuse of Drugs Act 1972.

The general premise of it is that any use of a drug is a misuse. But it also essentially prescribes certain levels of substances where, if you have over a certain amount then it's presumed that you have it for supply, at which point there is a reversal of the burden of proof – which is absolutely contrary to the Bill of Rights Act, but we do not have a supreme codified constitution. But that's a whole other point. 

The issue with Section 12 of the Misuse of Drugs Act is that it essentially says that it is illegal to knowingly provide a place where people will consume illegal substances. So theoretically actually all festivals are kind of in a grey area there, as are all bars and clubs.

W: And hovercraft.

Wendy's not joking. It specifically says in Section 12 that if  you knowingly allow people to take drugs in your hovercraft …

W: Don't do it, kids.

You're in some significant criminal peril. And the short version here is that it's all very well for politicians to say the nice things.

C: I mean, this is the point that, I didn't come into parliament to advocate for drug law reform, it just struck me when I inherited Julie Anne Genter's medicinal cannabis bill that nobody else was advocating in this space generally. And the more research that I looked at, and the more evidence that I looked at, I just found out how grotesquely fucked up it is that we've had these laws for 40 years and they've only perpetuated harm. They have pushed substances into the shadows, and they have made them more dangerous as well. And they have made them controlled by people who you do not want the illicit supply of substances to be controlled by.

Geoff: Just to add to that too Chloe, we have a national drug policy, and the central plank of the national drug policy is harm reduction, and the key element of that is that it's accepted that people will use substances, so the aim of policy is to reduce harm as much as possible. And if you change policy, whatever you do, even if the use of substances increases, as long as there is a net reduction in harm. 

C: And it's one thing to say that there's a policy, and there's another thing to have legislation, which is to Wendy's point. So it's awesome for the Police minister to be saying this stuff, and I've been working a lot with Stuart. There's kind of like a holy trifecta of ministers who have responsibility for drug law, and it's Minister David Clarke, who's Minister of Health, Andrew Little, Minister of Justice, and Stuart Nash, who's Minister of Police. So they have a lot of chats about the future of things.

But speaking to your point, leading into this whole chat, there is massive reform coming in the Misuse of Drugs Act this year, and what I'm trying to hold politicians' hands through is the fear of the blowback from the general public. But based on my experience talking to the general public about this stuff, people are far ahead of politicians, and they kind of always have been. 

W: From our perspective, all of the feedback we've had on our service has been 100% positive. You get the odd Australian ranting at us on the internet, but apart from that, we have never had anybody come up and say, This is a stupid idea, you shouldn't do it.

Something else that's going on in this space that is related to this, is that New Zealand's early warning system is finally starting to get moving. And we are involved. They've finally realised that we exist and we have information that could help with this.

They've rung us up, they've got us round the table, and the potential framework for this is a database in which everyone who collects information about substances that are out there, puts it into this database. And a group of people who have specific knowledge in the area – for example, we would be the representatives for the festival and events sector – then makes a decision about whether an alert is worth putting out and how it should be worded, so that people actually know what's out there, instead of just finding out when we put something on Facebook. Because that's not good enough.

20

Splore 2019 – Please Don't F*ck This Up Part 2: The Reeferendum

This is the second excerpt from the panel looking at the next two years' pending drug policy reforms at the Splore Listening Lounge in February this year.

Those reforms include a new amendment guiding police discretion in the case of drug possession (effectively requiring the police to justify prosecution), new medicinal cannabis regulations, the possibility of onsite drug checking getting some legal cover, a new focus (and funding) for addiction services and treatment and next year's referendum on legalising cannabis for adult use.

The panel was called, in recognition of the historic opportunity these reforms embody, Please Don't Fuck This Up.

Panelists were Chloe Swarbrick MP, Wendy Allison of the volunteer harm reduction service Know Your Stuff, Otago University researcher Geoff Noller and David Hornblow, who works for Waipareira Trust and independently as an addiction practitioner.

It seemed timely to post this part of the discussion today – covering next year's referendum – given that the Prime Minister was questioned in Parliament yesterday afternoon and clarified one thing about the question to be put to New Zealand voters.

Which is that Cabinet will decide on what the question is. Everything else: the timeline, whether a bill will be put to Parliament in advance, the likely shape of any information campaign and, of course, the question itself, is yet to be determined. 

Given the topic, Chloe does most of the talking in this one. (That's me asking the questions in bold, obviously.)

Chloe, the reeferendum, where are we at? What's the timeline?

Chloe: Kia ora, good question. So I guess to provide a little bit of context to everybody, you'll possibly know the Green-Labour confidence and supply agreement has a commitment to hold a referendum on or by 2020 on the legalisation of cannabis. Just to clarify, the legalisation of cannabis. Paula Bennett asked a question in the House last week, asking the Prime Minister if it was going to be on legalisation or decriminalisation, and the Prime Minister said that it would be following the lines of the confidence and supply agreement – ie legalising cannabis – and she put out a really confusing tweet, saying that the Prime Minister had confirmed that there wasn't confirmation whether there would be legalisation or decriminalisation. 

To be fair, the Prime Minister could have given a better answer as well.

C: I will leave that with you. So we are working through my proposal, and you'll understand that this is politics, which is a bit shit, but the reality is that we have to work in that framework, so we are trying to, and I'm advocating for us to have legislation first.

Which means that we'll hopefully pass it through the House this year. It'll have a clause in it, which says that with a majority vote of New Zealanders it'll come into effect. So that is how we will avoid the Brexit-type situation. I found it really funny that Simon Bridges has started saying that, because he's essentially advocating for legislation first. So I went and talked to him and Paula this week, and I got the impression that they really don't care too much about the legislation, they just want to play politics with it. So that was a bit gutting.

It's extremely depressing. 

C: But I was just going to confirm as well, it is happening in 2020, and it will be tied to the General Election, and it will be binding, our best version of binding is legislation.

Just to explain what legislation means, it's that Parliament debates and passes a bill that will define what the legalisation is. So there's no question about what we're voting for. The idea is that we will get the chance to vote yes or no on a fully worked-up piece of legislation that we give the tick or not to. There is a right way of doing this, and I've spoken to constitutional lawyers about it.

C: And the other benefit to it is that it means that a future iteration of Parliament doesn't have to work out what a yes vote means. And it also means that we deal with all of the arguing prior to that point. So Bob McCoskrie can't wave around gummy bears again and go 'this is what's going to happen'. 

Geoff, as a former Norml board member, you have some insight into the cannabis reform community, which has suddenly got the prospect of this thing it's been chasing for 30 years. What do you make of the way that lobby is getting its act together? It's been a fractious group in the past. 

Geoff: Yeah, the cannabis activist community, or lobby, has always been a fractured community. You get these very strong personalities, probably like politics, isn't it, without the mandate. You get this really strong set of identities, and they're always struggling to, they want to put their agenda forward. So you're going to get this factionalism, and I think that's certainly held us back.

Right at the beginning I think of the introduction to these talks Russell, you mentioned this idea of the reform, the reeferendum as people are calling it which I quite like, as being a sort of generational opportunity, and it absolutely is. Make no mistake about this, we've never been closer to any possibility of meaningful reform in this country ever. We just haven't. And it's a real opportunity for you folks out there to think about this, and to educate yourselves, and there are a number of groups that are providing information.

There's a group called Make It Legal, and you can get on to their Facebook page and they are working quite vigorously, currently behind the scenes, but setting up a process to provide education and information to people, and one of the big issues that we're going to have to think about is the actual question of the referendum. What format is that going to be in? Maybe Chloe might like to respond to that, because that's an issue that we really do need to get right.

C: So that's why I'm advocating for legislation, because if we have the legislation first, it can be literally as straightforward as, 'Do you want to see the legalisation of cannabis as per (insert name of act)'. That can be the question, simple, straightforward, binary yes or no. 

"Would you like to see the Legalise and Regulate Cannabis Act become law?"

G: Does that mean that everything about what that question means is already set out, so people know what it is?

C: Yes. That's what I'm advocating for. 

G: Obviously people will have a sense or input into that process before it goes to select committee or something like that? 

C: There's a lot of different ways to do it, and it was floated in the general public, and I put it forward to the minister, Andrew Little, who then said that it could happen publicly. But to be perfectly frank with everybody, there's not much time left. There's the notion of a citizen's jury, which is what happened in Ireland around the abortion referendum. But what I think could work, and this is just an idea, it's obviously not set in stone, is to have a specialist select committee that works on it. 

6

Music: The urgency of Mr Arabia

In Sunday's Star-Times interview with Grant Smithies, James Milne explains that one of the motivations for embarking on his one-song-every-month Singles Club process was that he realised he tended to produce good work when he was given a commission and a deadline.

I can testify to that. Back in 2009, when such things were possible, we commissioned James to write a song for the Christmas special of Media7 – a year in which is seemed many public figures had been obliged to apologise for things they said and done. The result, performed live in the studio with an audience singalong to close, was rousing indeed.

And I think we can hear a similar energy in the resulting Lawrence Arabia's  Singles Club album. Ironically, having urged you all to pitch in and crowdfund the project (in a post wittily titled Rolling Funder) – and indeed, put down money myself for the future vinyl LP – I kind of slipped off the process. Getting my free track every month just seemed like a lot of admin.

So when I went along to the recent invite-only "open rehearsal" where the expanded band looked to get its head around the songs before embarking on tour, it was (apart from what 95bFM had played) pretty fresh to me. It all sounded pacier and more urgent, even in its dreamy spells, than its 2016 predecessor, Absolute Truth.

I was put in mind of Revolver, not least for the role of the bass guitar in the hands of James's longtime collaborator Hayden Eastmond-Mein. "Great bass-playing by Hayden there," I remarked to the woman next to me at one point. "I agree!" she said. "But I am his mother."

On the album, you have the guitar rave-up of 'A Little Hate', the Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd pastiche of 'Cecily' and, to conclude, the gorgeous sweep and trill of a Van Dyke Parks string arrangement on 'Just Sleep (Your Shame Will Keep)'. I've been playing it a lot.

The album is available on your chosen streaming service, here on Bandcamp or at an actual record shop, and the release tour begins tonight at Blue Smoke in Christchurch and concludes with two nights at the Hollywood in Avondale on the 26th and 27th.

––

So a while ago, Matthew Davis at Flying Nun asked me to write some notes for the forthcoming reissue of Headless Chickens' album Body Blow. Flattered to be asked to write sleeve notes, I pitched in to the job and got together a thesis that mentioned as many tracks as possible. But in a hilarious mix-up, it turned out that Matt actually only wanted some words for a press release, and not sleeve notes after all. Oops.

But a good freelancer never lets a screwup go to waste, so here's the text I wrote:

Body Blow is a complicated tale.

It's the middle child of Headless Chickens albums and, as two major releases with quite different track listings, not only kicked off the band's most successful years – all but one of their chart hits can be found on one or other of the releases – but represents the whole span of those years.

One song here, 'Cruise Control', was a hit in two different versions, each in a different country. Another, 'George', the Chickens' only chart-topper, actually appeared on the third album, Greedy. There wasn't even room on this collection for songs from the first Body Blow('Road Train') and the second ('Inside Track'), let alone a swathe of subsequent remixes (half a dozen of 'Cruise Control' alone). And yet it covers more sonic and thematic ground than most bands get to in a lifetime.

Body Blow began as a kind of reclamation of control. A substantial cash prize to record its predecessor, Stunt Clown, had instead become a headache, one structured so as to sink the band into debt. But by 1990, they had somewhere they could do what they wanted and spend as long as they needed: Incubator, a central-city flat, drop-in centre and recording studio known for good coffee and great parties.

All but one track (the transitional single 'Gaskrankinstation') on the original Body Blow was recorded there, including a new one with a loping bassline and a memorable keyboard motif: 'Cruise Control'. Fiona McDonald was invited in to sing the chorus. It worked so well she joined the band. 

That in turn helped set in motion a striking expansion of the Headless Chickens' audience, which eventually saw them do what Mushroom Records had wanted all along: record at a big studio in Sydney. As Incubator had been the home base for the first version of Body Blow, thus Platinum Studios was for the second. 'Choppers', 'Mr Moon' and 'Juice' came from those sessions and were added to the album along with remixes of 'Choppers' and Incubator spawn 'Donde Esta La Pollo' and 'Railway Surfing'. Amid it all, Eskimos and Egypt, an obscure group of Kraftwerk fans from Manchester, remixed 'Cruise Control', which duly broke into the Aussie chart.

And the rest: 'George', 'Super Trouper' (recorded for the Flying Nun Abba tribute Abbasolutely), the mad, forgotten b-sides 'Attack of the Killer Androids' (from 'Mr Moon') and 'Bestiary' (from 'George'), and 'Kitchen Sink Theme' and 'I'm Talking to You' from the pitch-perfect soundtrack for Alison McLean's surreal 1989 horror short Kitchen Sink. Yes, it's all a bit confusing. But the Headless Chickens never set out to be simple.

In a further hilarious mix-up, the launch party for the album was to take place last Friday at the Flying Out store in Pitt Street – but for what has been described as "various reasons" (mostly, the shipment of vinyl was split by the pressing plant and instead of all the boxes arriving on the promised date, only one did) it had to be postponed.

So now it's on Record Store Day, Saturday April 13. I'm happy to say I'll be there playing records suitable for the occasion at 3pm, with similarly suitable sets from Pennie Black and Miss Dom to follow.

–––

Other Record Store Day action includes, Southbound Records, which has 95bFM DJs playing music live to air all day; Marbecks, which is putting on a bunch of bands and offering discounts (I got a fistful of Prince 12"s for not much last year); Conch, which turns back into a record shop for the day, with new and second-hand records on sale from the crates of Cian, Frank Booker, Dubhead, Stinky Jim and others; and Rebel Soul in Cross Street Market, which is always a family affair.

There's a nationwide list on the official RSD site.

–––

I may have mentioned once or twice that I occasionally enjoy playing records with the awesome Ms Sandy Mill. When we got asked to play Splore this year, we thought we'd best come up with a name for ourselves – and we both came up with the same name. We are Mum 'n' Dad Disco.

Splore went pretty well, so we thought we'd bring the show to town. We're playing Cupid bar, 1218 Great North Road, Point Chevalier this Friday – 7pm till midnight or whenever.

Night owls can also catch us on Saturday April 13, doing the 11pm-3am shift at Ante Social on Ponsonby Road. I might have to have a little post-RSD lie-down before that ...

–––

If you're in Auckland and you're interested in the new documentary about Martin Phillipps and The Chills, Saturday May 4 at the Hollywood in Avondale looks worth marking down in your diary. Martin will be there, not only to do a Q&A, but play a few songs. And it's only $25.

–––

Tunes!

Volume 7 of the On U Sound compilation series Pay It All Back was released last Friday – 23 years after Volume 6! It would be trivial to say it's been worth the wait, but what this colossal collection does do is emphasise the fact that On U occupies its own space in music. There has simply been nothing like it. And this is just an amazing, adventurous collection of tunes. This mighty call to arms is just the beginning ...

Then there's this bewitching cover of Bob Marley's 'War' by the Japanese singer Likkle Mai:

The album itself is available here on Bandcamp. Get in.

DiCE crew have posted this edit of 'Once I Had A Love', the 1975 Blondie song that became 'Heart of Glass', with the note that it "makes us think of the beloved Pacific islands." It's wicked. And a free download!

And the BBC Music channel on YouTube is currently stuffed with clips from the 6 Music festival. Some of it's pretty average, truth be known, but Hot Chip are still great.

And this Jon Hopkins clip might just take you back to Laneway, even if you didn't actually go to Laneway. Turn out the lights and play it on your home theatre system ...

27

Splore 2019 – Please Don't F*ck This Up, Part 1: Treatment and Health

This is the first excerpt from the panel looking at the next two years' pending drug policy reforms at the Splore Listening Lounge this year. Those reforms include a new amendment guiding police discretion in the case of drug possession (effectively requiring the police to justify prosecution), new medicinal cannabis regulations, the possibility of onsite drug checking getting some legal cover, a new focus (and funding) for addiction services and treatment and next year's referendum on legalising cannabis for adult use.

The panel was called, in recognition of the historic opportunity these reforms embody, Please Don't Fuck This Up.

Panelists were Chloe Swarbrick MP, Wendy Allison of the volunteer harm reduction service Know Your Stuff, Otago University researcher Geoff Noller and David Hornblow, who works for Waipareira Trust and independently as an addiction practitioner. Given the topic, David does most of the talking in this one. (That's me asking the questions in bold, obviously.)

Thanks again to Emma Hart for transcribing a panel in which a lot of ground was covered in an hour.

David, in the report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, many of your peers said that criminalising their clients was not helping them. Is that the widespread view in the profession?

David:Yeah, absolutely. I think the main stumbling point in treatment is harm reduction over abstinence, actually. Listening to your panel beforehand, there's a lot of really good stuff coming through, treatment modalities, and treatment types that hit a wall of entrenched interests in the treatment industry that go, 'No, it's abstinence or nothing'. And harm reduction is still something that's only filtering through. I think it's very confusing for the public, because they get a lot of information about harm reduction, about using less, using less – they get into a lot of trouble, all of a sudden it's, 'No you give up completely now.'

There is the prospect of considerable extra money coming into treatment services, but is that going to work if we don't at least broaden the kinds of treatment, the kinds of assistance available? Because pretty much all there is, if you are clinically addicted to drugs or alcohol, is 12 Steps, is some flavour of an abstinence-based programme. Those programmes work for a lot of people, but why don't they work for everyone?

D: It's an all or nothing approach. You buy a new family of recovery people, and for some people that's really powerful and it totally works. For Pacific Island or Maori whanau, removing someone from their family – saying that their old life was the bad thing, and that they must change and have this new family now – becomes really problematic. And working at Te Whanau o Waipareira, I've seen that I'm not willing to make a moral judgement on why someone got addicted. I just want them to get better.

And if that means they stay in their house and they work harder there instead of going away into a residential place for six weeks, learning a whole new language of recovery, and then coming back to a bunch of people that don't know anything what happened, that's a recipe for failure for me. I think it is not working as well as it could be. Luckily, Northland has had Te Ara Oranga– that's a really good program.

Chloe: And that was funded by the Nats, to begin with.

National should own that program because it's been …

C: They don't want to.

D: Dr Hinemoa Elder has come up with a really good set of tools about how to actually embrace and keep Maori, PI, minority people in the healthcare industry – because it's still very white and very abolitionist, when it gets up to the high level. I think we need to mature, because there's a whole lot of people being taught about harm reduction at university level, then they get into the industry, and it's captured by 12 Steps. Absolutely captured.

How do you feel about the Alcohol and Other Drugs Court, which is still in trial after five years? It has clearly helped people, and yet it's predicated on criminalisation as the way in, and on abstinence as the way out.

D: Speaking as an individual, if you read the preamble to actually signing on to the program, if you don't agree to attend NA and live by all their precepts, they won't take you in. So that means that if you're not willing to have a spiritual awakening, then you're not getting in. And they might dance around the problem by saying, you can say that your spirituality is this pen or that chair or whatever.

To an atheist, that's just belittling. And not the way we should be doing it as a progressive society. 43% of us are atheists. It should be reflected in our treatment. The court is amazing, it is a little step towards a fairer judicial system, don't get me wrong, but there's a lot more it could be doing. I think it could go broader.

Where would you like to see more money go? There's been all kinds of hints that there will be new money.

D: Community, Whanau Ora, for a start. Give it more, thanks. Holistic, tapa wha based … I don't know  if anyone knows what tapa wha is, the four po, the four pillars of your health: your community health or spiritual health, your family health, your body health, and your mental health. If they're not acting in concert, it's going to be hard, that's a basic precept of it. And I think that can translate really well into Pakeha society. And that's a lot of what I do, is translating the precepts of it into Pakeha society, because we take all comers. So I think things like that. More in-home. More harm reduction, not just prohibitionist stuff, is where we need to send the money.

Geoff: One thing about the money too, that people sometimes don't understand, is that in New Zealand drug policy is budget-neutral, there's no money in drug policy. So any money that comes from somewhere, if it's going to go to health, it has to come from a Health budget line.

C: Which is a nightmare.

G: Often people will think, oh we're going to change drug laws, that means the cops are going to miss out on, you know, 10% of their budget. They're not, and that's actually good for the police to know. And obviously the higher-up guys do.

What that means is they've got $100 million – or probably more, actually – to put into other aspects of their work. And I think it's really important for that narrative to be out there, because it's all well and good for us to sit around here nodding heads and going, this is great, we all agree with this, but actually it's the people that don't agree that we need to be talking to, whether it's your work colleagues or whoever.

David, one thing we've started to hear, not always in entirely organised, rational ways, is concern about the health risks of cannabis – which are real. Do you see that at the addiction treatment coalface? How many people are developing problems with cannabis that need treatment?

D: Everything kind of goes hand in hand, when someone is at the critical end. Addiction is a spectrum, and as someone gets further and further into it, then they'll take anything to alleviate pain at the last end. If you're throwing synthetics into the mix, if you're throwing over-the-counter medications and a whole lot of alcohol, cannabis harm is not up there with the pharmaceutical types.

Who are most of your clients? Where are you seeing the harm? Is it synnies, is it meth, what?

D: No, it's still alcohol. It's still the most pervasive, damaging thing in our society.

G: Some stats from the AOD help line, looking at the proportion of clients, even at the peak when we had the so-called legal highs – that's a whole separate thing compared with the different legal highs we've got now, which are killing people – alcohol was 70-something percent. Cannabis was around 15%, and that was at its peak.

43

Psychedelic Therapy: an expert discussion at Splore 2019

What follows is an edited transcript of the Splore 2019 panel discussion about psychedelic therapy, with Otago University researcher Geoff Noller, Will Evans, an advanced trainee in palliative care at Auckland District Health Board, who is part of a proposed LSD microdosing trial in Auckland and who wants to establish the country's first psychedelic therapy centre, and Amadeus Diamond, the founder of the Psychedelics New Zealand Facebook group.

This was the first session in this year's Listening Lounge talk programme and I was a little concerned that the crowd would arrive late. I was wrong. At 10.30am when we started, there were more than a hundred people waiting to listen, and more arrived as we began. I guess that's testament to the interest in the topic – which has undoubtedly grown since the publication of journalist Michael Pollan's fascinating book, How to Change Your Mind: The new science of psychedelics.

Amadeus, tell me about the Facebook group, and why you founded it. What's your personal history with this?

AMADEUS: Well it's a bit strange, because most people tend to think, you'd assume, that I had used psychedelics to improve my life. But at the time that wasn't actually true. So I am an ex heroin addict, an ex problem drinker, an ex depressive, all these sorts of things. But I was actually over them by the time I had found psychedelics. Once I found psychedelics and realised both the therapeutic potential and the sort of psycho-spiritual potential it became really obvious to me that, had I found them 10 years earlier, it would have saved me a whole lot of trouble, basically, and my family a whole lot of trouble and my friends a whole lot of trouble.

And so I spent a lot of time researching, reading books, reading papers, getting in touch with the right people, and it just became really obvious that this was one of the most important things that was happening in science and medicine. And that especially in a country like New Zealand where we have one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world, we have high rates of domestic violence, high rates of alcohol abuse, high rates of meth abuse, all these sorts of things, the applications of psychedelics were pretty much perfectly in line with things that we're trying to do here in terms of helping socially and culturally. So it just seemed like the right thing to do, and looked like it had enough interest as well. It's been going really really well ever since.

Who is the community? Do you have a feel for it?

A: It's actually really hard to tell. I mean, Terence McKenna, I hope a lot of people know who that is, one of the things that he has said is that one of the successes of the psychedelic community is that you can't tell who they are. You couldn't really pick somebody out of the crowd and assume whether or not they understood at least the psycho-spiritual aspects behind psychedelics.

What I'm quite struck by is the interchange between you and people like Will and Suresh Muthukumaraswamy at Auckland University, the School of Medicine. How long has that been going on, you crazy freelance people talking to actual doctors?

A: I'm not throwing shade on Suresh here, he's an absolutely wonderful guy, consummate researcher, everything else,. But I think when he first reached out he was actually probably looking at more a portal for funding as anything else. We had a couple of sit-downs, in April-May last year, and he said look, we're looking at doing some research at the uni, we're going to need some funding for it. It's notoriously difficult to get any sort of official grants or government funding for this sort of work. Even if you know exactly what you're doing and your protocol's good and everything, it's just a bit scary. 

I think he sort of realised that I knew a bit more than he expected, and so since then I've helped out a little bit looking at what's called the "gray literature", which is literature that's not published by scientists necessarily – or if it is, it's not published in journals necessarily, and it's not really admissible when you're looking at putting together an actual protocol. So I had nothing to lose, because I'm not a scientist, I'm not a professor or anything, so I was able to go and look at that research, bring it to the table, given them some information that they couldn't necessarily have got through other means.

Geoff, I wonder whether – because this was a factor in the observational study you did on ibogaine treatment – these things tend to be driven by motivated laypeople. Like Amadeus, like Tanea Patterson who was the treatment provider for your study. Has that been your experience?

GEOFF: Kia ora tatou, thank you everybody for turning up, this is fantastic, and Splore as well, brilliant. You're absolutely right Russell, say with ibogaine,  it was 'do we have people who know a little bit about ibogaine? One or two, awesome.'

Explain ibogaine, quickly.

G: So ibogaine is a plant-based – you can call it a medicine or a substance – from West Africa. It's got 12 alkaloids in it, some of which are psychoactive, with ibogaine being the principal one. It's used in rituals in West Africa, but in the 1960s, a New York heroin addict by the name of Howard Lotsov, a friend of his gave him some ibogaine, and said, 'Oh try this and tell me what you think about it.'

It's a powerful psychotropic drug. It's what's called an oneiric. So it produces a kind of dream-like state. It's not the same as LSD or psilocybin – your eyes are closed and it's a really full-on experience. So he had this, and not long after that, 36 hours later, because it was a pretty full-on experience, he realised, I don't want to take heroin any more. So what seems to be the case is a single dose can be effective in stopping people using opioid drugs.  A one-off treatment, this is crazy!

And it also completely nukes the withdrawals. That's one of the big things. You don't get any withdrawals, they just stop. And so it developed a tradition of being used, sort of with these online people doing treatments, and there was a young woman in New Zealand by the name of Tanea Patterson who had a treatment, probably about 11 or so years ago now.

I had this sort of thing at Otago called Drugs and Society, a series of talks where we explored drug use from an anthropological perspective, and Tanea came along to that and said, 'Hey, have you heard about ibogaine?' I knew a little bit about it, and we caught up also with another guy I knew who was in the Ministry of Health at the time, and he said, It's just been made available on prescription in New Zealand.

So that was in 2010.

G: There are three places in the world where ibogaine is available on prescription – Brazil, South Africa, and New Zealand. So we set this study up, it was an observational study, so basically people were being treated, and Tanea was doing treatments and then a colleague of hers joined her later on, and we followed it through. It was driven by Tanea though, she was just brilliant.

And we followed 14 people who were treated, and at the end of that 12-month period, half of them were opioid-free, and they were all dependent on opioids when they started. Eleven out of the 14 were on methadone, which on the one had can be really helpful to stabilise people if they're using opioid drugs and they're in a difficult situation, but on the other hand, bloody hard to get off. So half of these people were opioid-free at the end of 12 months, which is an incredible thing.

Having said that, the downside with ibogaine is it can kill you. Yeah, I know, that's a bit of a downside. It's unlike the other psychedelics like LSD – no one's ever going to die from taking too much LSD. You can take too much LSD and crazy things happen, but you're not actually going to die. You can jump out of  a window, but it's actually the fall that's going to kill you, it's not going to be the LSD. It has an interaction with the heart, and this was actually just a poorly-done treatment, even though that treatment was done by a medical person, 

This is the one ibogaine death in New Zealand.

G: Here are these laypeople doing really good work treating people, and they're having incredible outcomes. And yet a treatment's been done by a medical doctor, and they fuck it up. They just didn't do what they should have done, and this person died. When this happened, it was right in the middle of our study and I thought, fuck, this is the end of it. But all the medical people, and this is something that you'll appreciate, all the medical people said, well, there are these risks.

You go into any medical intervention and there's always going to be risks. You go into hospital to have an operation, as a friend of mine did recently, and it turned to custard and he only just managed to get out alive after about four months, so those risks are there.

It's really interesting. On the one hand, you're dealing with these full-on substances which for various reasons people can have these really strong reactions to, just psychologically 'Am I into this as an idea, do I think it's a terrible thing?' On the other hand, the medical community, potentially, is not necessarily going to throw its hands up in the air and go, no we can't do this any more.

Just before I talk to Will, we should explain who Suresh is, who I mentioned earlier. If you've read Michael Pollan's book, some of the key studies, the ones done by Robin Carhart-Harris, the brain imaging for those studies was done by Suresh Muthukumaraswamy who is now at at the Auckland School of Medicine. So we have that little hold on this emerging story. Will, you and Suresh, I think you've gone to ethics approval for a new trial? What is it about?

WILL: Just about to. So we've co-authored a study, along with a number of other researchers, psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists, all within various District Health Boards and Schools of Medicine, for a microdosing study using LSD. We're planning to start recruiting in June for a 60-person microdosing study. Just looking at the general effects, as an initial foray into a really, really big field of potential research.

The 60 initial volunteers may expand to hundreds on a population basis, just to get the data we need. The medical hypothesis is that we suspect microdosing, which is a sub-hallucinogenic dose of LSD or psilocybin, generally speaking one tenth of the active dose, taken every three days over a period of six weeks, will have positive changes in terms of personality, more openness – which is what they've found in previous psilocybin studies – but also increased creativity, productivity, and just a general sense of wellbeing. So we're going to be measuring all of those.

And I get the feeling that if you get good results, this is probably going to be an easier sell to health authorities – giving people a subperceptual dose on a therapeutic basis, rather than a great big hundred microgram whack that sends them on a trip.

W: Just to give it a bit of background, in 2016, November 2016, they published, the Journal of Psychopharmacology, published two concurrent randomised trials, one out of Johns Hopkins University, one out of NYU, both with sample sizes about 30-50 patients, showing that after a single dose of magic mushrooms in a population of palliative care patients or patients with advanced incurable cancer, who were suffering depression and anxiety, essentially 80% of them were cured of their depression and anxiety for six months. From one dose.

Were these in general people who were naive psychedelics users?

W: Generally speaking.

How does that change things? Are those people with past experience with psychedelics welcomed into trials, or are they considered unsuitable?

W: Certainly in those trials I think maybe half of them had experience in the past with them. And there were certain exclusion criteria, just as we have fairly strict inclusion/exclusion criteria for our volunteer study. And I think previous use is not an exclusion criteria. I think we say something like, 'Hasn't taken a psychedelic in the last three months or six months.' So you guys [to crowd] have time, just hold off for a few months and then enrol in our study.

To demystify some of the fears around ibogaine as well that you were speaking to, Geoff, it's a very safe drug from my understanding. Like any medication, there will be side-effects. If you screen for risk factors, which is a very easy thing to do, then the risk of a poor outcome is diminishingly low. And that needs to be really emphasised. With all the psychedelics, the truly exciting thing is that not only do you get an effect – there are plenty of drugs that give effect – but the side-effect profile is just so profoundly low with psychedelics. They may have catastrophic effects in terms of mind, but in terms of physiology there's almost no death recorded.

A: Even then it's probably worth pointing out that in pretty much every study, and I think Jeff this is probably the case in the study you observed, is that, even in cases where somebody doesn't necessarily achieve the expected benefit in terms of maybe reducing their place on a PTSD scale, or their addiction level, I don't think anyone reports any actually clinically adverse reactions.

W: 2000 doses given in clinical, this is for psilocybin, over 2000 doses given in clinical settings, without a single adverse event recorded. So that speaks for itself. There isn't an SSRI or psychotropic drug that has even close to that. And I think that has the pharmaceutical companies worried to some extent.

I have to say while we're talking about the safety profile, I spoke to Suresh last year, and he was at pains to emphasise that if you do have mental health issues or depression, something similar, don't just freelance and take a whole load of LSD in the belief that it will fix you. There are risks in that, aren't there?

W: Yeah, set and setting is a tried and true phrase that is used, and that speaks to the environment that you're in, and your own personal inventory and personal psychological state. And I think having a bit of support around that is important. A place like this is actually very beautifully supported and this is all psychedelic therapy as far as I can tell, but without a clinical oversight.

Do you agree with that, Amadeus? Because the setting is here for us, it could be considered therapeutic here? What is the gulf between recreational and therapeutic use?

A: Well I think it's probably a lot smaller than a lot of people imagine, I mean the same therapeutic effects that someone is feeling if they have, say, chronic depression, and they're trying to rise out of that, the same subjective effects tend to happen in healthy populations.

It's just that you're sort of rising from the middle to higher, or maybe moving out laterally rather than rising up, because if you're not specifically having a bad time regulating your emotions, that's not something that it necessarily has to effect, but it might affect creativity, openness, tolerance, conscientiousness, all these sorts of things, and they're definitely parameters that get looked at in the science,.

But they're also quite obviously affected in ceremony and when people come to festivals like this, and in private settings as well. As long as people, as Will and yourself pointed out, if you've done your reading, your set and setting is sound, and you know what you're doing, there's not a huge amount of difference. But obviously in a clinical population where you have something like depression, or an addiction syndrome, or anything of that kind, you need to be a lot more careful, because the person's neurophysiology is going to be on a lot finer of a line. 

G: I'd almost like to take that a bit further actually, Amadeus. If you're thinking about a clinical setting, and you're thinking about the kind of work that Will is doing, your colleagues are doing, that's a very focused approach to engaging with people through their use of these substances.

But if you take it back to the other extent, and you say you've come to a festival like this and you've brought your little treats with you and so on. It's that notion of how – and this for me as an anthropologist, is one of the things that's of interest – our everyday life that we just take for granted, is made up of all of our thoughts and our conversations and as human beings we're constantly putting our meaning onto our world to make sense of it.

Even within our own friend circle or our families, work, everything like that, than can get a little bit out of kilter, and just personally, if I come to an event like this, and you take these substances, and your sense of self changes. It expands out.

And you find yourself maybe moving away from some of the neuroses or anxieties or just these thoughts that have been in the back of your brain through the last few weeks or months or whatever, and then you find yourself talking to people, you're staggering down the Goat Track at 3 am trying not to fall over and you're smiling and you're talking to strangers and it's not like a big deal, there's nothing weird going on.

There's a sense of community that's generated out of that, that's actually a very therapeutic process. Ultimately I would suggest that, the research for example, Will, that you're doing, that whole process around that psychotherapy stuff is actually about integrating people back into their community. And you folks are doing this, when you come here and you're engaging and you're just having this experience. 

I think that's really interesting.

G: For me it's a spectrum of therapy, or therapeutic action, where you've got the kind of everyday therapeutic action that's just for us as people, and then you extend that through to people who are genuinely struggling, and you have to have people who've got very specific skills.

One other thing we need to get onto: we know, partly through Suresh's work, what happens to the brain on psychedelics. The default mode network, which is the part that we run our lives with, gets quietened down, and a whole lot of unusual brain activity begins. Parts of the brain that don't usually talk start talking to each other. But where does the therapeutic value lie? Is it something biomechanical, or is it in the psychedelic experience? Do we know?

W: That's part of the question, really, that we're trying to answer with this work. One interesting data point from the Hopkins NYU data that came out was that the therapeutic effect, so six months of sustained decrease in depression and anxiety, they stopped following up, so they don't  know how long that was carried out to, but those outcomes were correlated with degree of mystical and, I guess, altered state of consciousness experience. 

So they measured it – you can measure an altered state of consciousness quite quantitively using all sorts of questionnaires and scales – and the people who had those moments described it as oceanic boundlessness, ego dissolution, and mystical experiences.

I mean, I think ego dissolution is not necessarily a comfortable or pleasant experience, and I think that's what it speaks to, you almost die a death of sorts. My hypothesis, and I think this is shared by a lot of people, is that to some extent psychedelics catalyse you to confront your mortality. Coming from a palliative care background I see that constantly, when people are faced with their mortality they can go either way, they can deal with all of the darkness and get through the fear and transcend and come out the other side and have a good death.

And that's where it's really shown some results, end of life care, because people grieve for their lives and are incredibly anxious about dying often. There seems to have been real therapeutic benefit here.

W: It's almost like a simulation in a way, and then you come out and say, Okay, it wasn't that bad. 

A: I think it's also interesting to note, sort of as a dovetail to that, that that's actually how these things are used traditionally as well. The idea behind it is that shamans and ritual functionaries, to put a catch-all term on it, use these substances to travel beyond what they consider the physical veil, so they've gone beyond death and come back, and they're able to bring back certain information and certain confidences and attitudes and philosophies that come along with that. And it seems to be backed up by science – this is the same sort of effect that's coming out of the actual clinical data as well. 

Although, it is interesting because there are in the community, I think you'd know, some people who want to import the whole ethnic experience, whether that's authentic or not. The story I wrote last year included a businessman in his 60s who had an ayahuasca experience, and it was wonderful for him. And it was also quite different from the one that former Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey wrote about around the same time, where they had a shaman flown in and everyone saw a big black snake and it wasn't actually entirely pleasant. And it maybe wasn't as beneficial as a more rational setting along with some nice hippies in Amsterdam.

G: It's very interesting, this whole business of having that experience, and the drug that perhaps many people may be familiar with in this regard is ketamine, and this idea of going through the k-hole. I don't know who else has gone through the k-hole. I've gone through it on one occasion, it was the most terrifying experience.

But the thing was, and this is the point, and this comes back to the palliative care thing. A colleague of mine, Paul Glue, he's the head of the psych-med department down in Dunedin at the med school down there. They've done some studies with ketamine, which is very effective in terms of reducing chronic depression, and when they were setting that study up, they wanted to speak to a few people who had had this experience and who knew people within that, but also within a research context, and so it was a case of getting the right dose.

Because there is actually real therapeutic traction to having this really confronting experience where you actually, I don't know, have many people had that experience? The thing is, you actually, you're horrified at what's happening, and then you realise you don't have control over it, and then you let go. And that stays with you. And if you are a person who is in a terrible situation with a terminal illness – some of these people that Paul Glue is working with, these are young people, and it's this terrible thing that's happening to them, and their whole life's ahead of them and then it's gone. Having that experience and letting go, you have to learn to let go, and that's actually a really significant thing. So it's not, 'this is really nice and look at those colours', this is 'Oh my god!', then you pass through this thing. And that's actually very therapeutically powerful.

Will, this is effectively the kind of service you would hope to be providing at Mana, if you're able to?

W: Yeah, sure. So my wife and I have started an organisation, and we have a base in Parnell where we want to do mind-body integration, and use that as a platform to have either psychedelic experiences with clinical oversight, or at the very least the integration, because I think that's a huge part of it. You can have the experience, and almost, confront your death and come out and let go, but then you go back to your nine to five job and start drinking coffee and start smoking cigarettes because you're still stressed with the mortgage. There is an integration of that experience into your life for transformation and for change. It would be great to produce an environment that could speak to that. 

G: I absolutely agree, and certainly we've seen this with ibogaine too, is that there's a window of opportunity post that experience where if you have people with the appropriate therapeutic and clinical skills, who can then integrate for you the meaningfulness of your experience, that's actually a crucial thing, and it's all well and good to have the experience, but you've actually go to do something with it.

A: That just speaks to what you were saying before about the spectrum as well,. Because you think about what happened in the 60s and it was all down the one end of not much oversight. There was pretty much no clinical data – there was, but it wasn't really publicised

It wasn't robust.

A: And the substances weren't particularly well-regulated or anything like that. So you had a situation where a lot of people were being broken apart, and not being able to come back and not being able to integrate it. So it speaks to the spectrum, that you have to find somewhere along there that you're comfortable with, where you're able to have the experience, and have the confronting experience, and have the difficult thing, and deal with your demons, but then also have that space. For some people, clinical's going to be better, for some people, talking with their friends is going to be good.

This is a really important point. We've been talking about people who need help, who have anxiety or grief – but would you also conceive of settings where 'healthy normals' could go and have a fulfilling trip? How would you structure that, how would you regulate that?

A: I think initially, probably, unfortunately, we would have to keep ibogaine off that for the time being, simply because it does have a death rate. So I think if we're looking at policy change, we have to look at something like psilocybin, LSD, that has absolutely no death rate, very small side effects.

You might come back and prove me wrong on this, but what it looks like to me, once you have something like that that you can screen, and as Will said, over 2000 doses, no clinically adverse reactions, there's absolutely no reason why once you've got the data, that you can't put this into practice with healthy volunteers.

And if you have something you want to learn in your life, you have something you want to explore, people are already flocking to the Amazon, flocking to Amsterdam, flocking to Mexico, Brazil, places like that, to have the same experience, so why can't we just do it at home? Remove the middle man, remove the danger, regulate it properly and help as many people as we can.

G: I absolutely agree, but I do feel that ibogaine's still on the menu. For a start, it's actually prescribable in New Zealand. So it's the only one that is, for a start, so that's there. I think one of the things that we've learned with the research that we've done, and it's still ongoing, is it's all about dosage.

If you're talking about drugs, and you're talking about medicine, it's all about dose, and it's about learning that dose, and with the death rate, it's an absolute clear dose-response situation, there's no question about that. And recently I think there's been an awareness of that, and in fact people are, and have done for quite a while, using ibogaine to have these what they call psychosocial experiences. I know that's a big thing with ayahuasca and I suspect with LSD as well, so it's that spectrum thing.

The rate of use of antidepressants in New Zealand is massive. It's about 15% nationally, which is insane. And a lot of it is this kind of generalised anxiety, and I think a lot of these drugs work really well with engaging with anxiety. I don't know what  your thoughts about that are, Will?

W: I think with anxiety, the data is mixed, certainly on microdosing. Microdosing seems to be effective for depression, just from preliminary epidemiology. But anxiety I think in the long term you get decreases in anxiety but in the short term you get potentially increases and flares.

But I guess, to answer one of the questions earlier on from you, Russell, whether it is the qualitative experience or whether there is a neurophysiological phenomenon, we've talked about this question back and forth constantly, obviously it's going to be both. There are biological markers that change after a psychedelic experience – your brain networks are reconfigured, it's kind of a reset button type phenomenon in many ways. But that itself is experiential in nature. So Roland Griffiths, who's one of the key researchers in this field, said that mindfulness is the tried and true way, but psilocybin is the crash course. So that's kind of the way to think about it, and I think there is a place to talk about psychedelics not just as a drug phenomenon, but just as an experiential mind-state phenomenon. So it's not just about taking the crash course every time. It's building in practices, integration.

A: Something we've not mentioned is MDMA. MDMA actually appears to be incredibly effective for anxiety. Incredibly effective for PTSD. There are success rates of over 80% in some of the studies that have been done. They're now on to phase 3 trials in the US, the chances are it'll probably be a prescribable medicine within about 2 or 3 years, given that the trials go as well as they have been trending. We didn't mention MDMA much, but it actually seems to be pretty much at the frontier of the policy side of things, in terms of integrating it fully into a medical practice. So I just wanted to bring that up.

J: I should have mentioned that. So there are two concurrent trials happening in New Zealand at the moment, both planned to start this year. One is a collaboration with the Otago School of Medicine and Auckland University, and it's going to be using MDMA for end-of-life related anxiety and depression in palliative care. And then we have the microdosing study. So it's going to be a very interesting year ahead.

Now Amadeus, I really want to get on to your announcement, because this is kind of interesting. We have a Splore exclusive announcement ...

A: So pretty much since the release of Michael Pollan's book last year, the psychedelic scene, whatever you want to call it, has really just accelerated and taken off. I've been running the page for a number of years and it's gone up and down, we've had some fun times, but nothing's really happened. But in the last 12 months it's been absolutely phenomenal. The response from academics, from the media, from all sorts of places.

So we decided late last year, that we would start a foundation to continue funding research in New Zealand. And that has, just in the last 72 hours, expanded to a point where we have seven-figure amounts of money [from people] interested in getting this thing going. We'll be looking at doing harm reduction, education, events, speaking events, screenings of films. Things like this, conversations like this all the time. Policy outreach, all this sort of thing. 

Within 12 months it looks like we'll have an organisation together – probably the three of us on stage will all be involved I imagine –where we'll keep funding this research, keep getting the policy information out, and educating, helping everyone get this to a point where we can actually start helping the thousands of people that we should be helping.

And if people want to stay up with any news on that in the interim, Psychedelics New Zealand on Facebook.

A: It should turn up pretty quickly, follow along [applause]. Thank you very much.

We're nearly out of time, but do you have one more thing?

A: I was just going to say, I'm going to be around for the rest of the weekend if anyone wants to speak to me, come up and talk to me, I don't bite or anything.

Just not while he's dancing. Okay we've got about five more minutes. I'm interested that you said you thought that MDMA would be approved for end-of- life use in two to three years. What sort of time frames, at a guess, all of you, are we looking at for these to become approved therapies? It seems it's closer than most people think.

G: Well okay, so we've got ibogaine on the books already. And there's obviously this clinically accepted work with ketamine and LSD and MDMA. And I'm normally a glass half full kind of guy, but for something that we could just say, 'yep, you need that', I'm picking 10 years. I don't want to be a negative Nancy about it, but it's a conservative environment that we're working in.

A: That's absolutely right. When I mentioned MDMA, I do mean in the US, where they're already onto phase 3 multi-site trials. That's something that, if we were at that point now I'd say sure, but in New Zealand we're not anywhere there that sort of point at the moment. We might be able to get it prescribable at some stage soon, in the next five years maybe, but to the point that we're talking about I'd say 10 years is probably realistic. 

W: Ten years does feel outrageous, really.

A: Ethically it does.

W: Every year that goes by where these things are still, you can go to jail for treating yourself appropriately, is ridiculous. I think if we get this foundation really well backed with a lot of funders – so a call-out for anyone who knows someone who's super-rich who wants to change the world

A: Any money they want to throw at us

W: Contact Amadeus through Facebook. Realistically, if we lobby our government appropriately, we've got enough rational minds behind it, enough professors and departments to push the agenda, and to make the changes, just as they've done with ibogaine. So I think a positive mindset going forward is going to be the best way. But, five years.

I should mention that there's one interesting bit of news that we haven't mentioned, and that's that out in West Auckland, just by Lincoln Rd, Douglas Pharmaceuticals are into phase 2 of trials of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. The problem with using ketamine has been that you give people some ketamine and they're great for a month. And then the reset wears off and they're back where they were. Douglas is trialling a slow-release formulation that they think will work. So that's going to be pretty interesting. That could be the first of these things that we see after ibogaine, given that it's already a medicine.

Anyway, thank you for coming in such numbers, and these guys, Geoff's staying with us on stage, but these guys will be around, ask them anything you want, and please thank them.

[Applause]