I interview friends, colleagues, and experts, on harm reduction and its implications in Canadian society, from the theory to the practice, to the practical. I am a Member-at-Large for Outreach for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy and writer for Karmik, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, and the Marijuana Party of Canada. Here I interview Daniel Greig, part 1.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you get and interest in Canadian drug policy?
Daniel Greig: My interest is predominantly in the realm of psychedelics. I have, first and foremost, an academic and ethical interest in studying these because they have [a] potential for healing people [that] current medications don’t. So, we should be studying these substances.
I am in Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy on the side [as part of this project]. That’s how I got involved.
Jacobsen: If this is on the side, and now more in the main for you, what are your main set of responsibilities?
Greig: My main responsibility is research on psychedelics.
Jacobsen: What does the main research state on the therapeutic effects of psychedelics?
Greig: For psilocybin, there are a whole bunch of studies. There was one that has earned a lot of press. It finds lasting personality change from the transcendental/mystical experiences.
There s a measurable difference in people’s personalities in the domain of openness after a single use of the substance. The paper that this is in mentions the only comparable finding was 3 months spent meditating in the mountains.
That was the only comparable experimental manipulation to produce a measurable change in personality. It is good compared to other medications, which don’t show [nearly as profound] changes in people’s personality or behaviour.
There are [palliative] medications [that focuses on symptoms]. Psychedelics are not used [in this way and] produce measurable differences, rather than [effectively making people] ‘drugged up’ all of the time. That’s a good thing. People can [heal and] get off them.
Jacobsen: That makes me think. First, that’s remarkable. Second, many Canadians and more Americans don’t believe in evolutionary theory. Of course, evolution happened to produce us. An argument could be made that mind-altering substances could have a co-evolution with human beings.
Maybe, 10,000 years ago with the foundation of the agricultural revolution, even further with the Aboriginal Dreamtime narratives from 40,000 years ‘popping up’.
Could there be a decent argument made from the obvious showcase of changes equivalent to three months of meditation with psilocybin, and that we’re almost ‘wired up’ for these experiences?
Greig: Definitely, the psychedelic experiences are as much a part of the properties of the brain and [our] physiology as [they are of] the drug. People have engaged in ritualistic alterations of consciousness, which have produced similar hallucinations and benefits.
People used psychedelics back in the day. As far as that having some purposeful connection, or humans being wired to take them, you get into a [difficult philosophical problem that isn’t really necessary to consider]. Maybe, it is an interface for human consciousness with the planet, which is a legitimate theory [presented] for co-evolution.
It might be an entailment of [developing] theories, [but] I don’t think that it’s relevant, for or against, the uses of these things in general. The bottom line, they [may] have wonderful effects for the mind.
Jacobsen: What do you consider the core principle or value of CSSDP?
Greig: I will talk about psychedelics first and then the [organization]. It is a new field. There will be more people doing the research in the future. [CSSDP] is good for networking students. It is good for building these longer-lasting networks of [similarly interested] people.
There are a lot of people in the organization like Evan Loster, Gonzo Nieto, Andras Lenart, and Michelle Thiessen. [who are] all interested in psychedelics. It is a good network. We have been able to connect and contribute ideas to each other.
[It is also beneficial to facilitate the advocacy of] youth voice[s] [on issues that effect them]. They are listened to the least.
[When it comes to drug policy], people [often] say, “What about the kids, man?!” Who isn’t for the kids? Advocacy for the youth is another important aspect.
Jacobsen: Where do you hope CSSDP goes into the future?
Greig: I hope it continues to grow. That more networks happen[ing] with other drug policy groups. [Like] MAPS [a growing number of] harm reduction groups. I hope the branches extend [and] I hope [that] facilitate[s] quicker reform for drug policy [as much is desperately needed]
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