Summer 2022

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State and local legislatures are taking action as well. In 2020, through a ballot initiative, Oregon became the first state to legalize magic mushrooms. Other efforts at legalization or decriminalization are in various stages in California, Colorado and Washington. While Florida, with its conservative legislature, may seem less conducive to establishing a legal framework, local activists and clinicians supporting legalization are hopeful the tide is turning here as well. "There's still a large amount that's operating in the fringes and the underground world, but it's becoming more and more mainstream," says Dustin Robinson, a Fort Lauderdale attorney and co-founder of Mr. Psychedelic Law and Mr. Cannabis Law, both of which advocate for the decriminalization of psychoactive substances. "We've had thousands of years of anecdotal stories about the power and efficacy of these medicines." So why, after decades of minimal progress, are psychedelics becoming increasingly acceptable? "I think money started coming into the industry to help push research forward," Robinson says. "With the amount of money flowing in, we're allowed to continue the research that was being done in the '50s and '60s and continue to prove the safety and efficacy of these compounds. "It's a long fight; it's not going to change overnight," he adds. "It's not going to be one, two, three years; it's probably going to be over the course of 10 to 15 years. Hopefully in the future there will be psychedelic centers where you have a menu of options for a menu of indications, all personalized depending on your particular situation." n the meantime, there is ketamine, whose growing list of proselytizers includes Charles Patti, brand ambassador for MY Self Wellness, which offers ketamine therapy from its office in Bonita Springs. "I suffered for over 20 years with substance abuse and alcohol issues and self-medicating; I was in and out of rehabs and on strings of different medications throughout my life," he says. "I thought it would be a daily struggle forever. All of a sudden, these medicines came around and completely shifted that for me. "Everything else out there is like throwing a Band-Aid on an open wound that's losing its cohesiveness, and then you're stuck taking these medications every day for the rest of your life with no kind of relief. When I spoke at a conference in Fort Lauderdale, a veteran came up to me after the speech and said, 'I just got off 14 different medications through my ketamine treatments.'" Dr. Michelle Weiner, who runs Integrated Pain Management from offices in Hollywood and Boca Raton, discovered ketamine 10 years ago as a pain remedy and has witnessed its more recent indication for treatment-resistant depression. For her patients, a vital part of the therapy happens before and after it is administered. "If someone is not prepared for a ketamine session, it can ruin the whole point of it," she says. "Preparing basically means helping them stay calm, understanding what they're about to feel, and having an intention. Usually the intention is, 'What's a belief I have about myself that I don't want to have anymore?' or 'What would I rather feel instead?' "It's not just about taking the medicine but preparing them and helping them to integrate it into their life," she adds. "A lot of times it's separating them from their pain and from their depression so that they understand: I am in this body but I am not defined by my pain or depression. That's the beauty of the dissociation." Weiner still remembers the time she tried ketamine herself, in a low dose in a group setting, in order to better recommend it to patients. "The answer I got from my session was that love is the answer to everything, and love is actually the medicine. As a physician, it's weird to talk about consciousness and love, but that's really what a lot of these people are missing in their life. We're trying to give them a pleasant feeling, a feeling of joy, and my whole session was filled with love." oca Raton entrepreneur Zappy Zapolin, who has directed two documentaries about plant medicines, calls ketamine the "gateway" into the world of psychedelics. A former Deadhead, he's tried them all, and he's been called a "psychedelic concierge." "I ask somebody, 'What is your intent for doing this and what are the things you're looking to heal? What are your traumas?' And based on that, I'm going to make a recommendation based on what psychedelics, or combination of psychedelics, you should do." —Zappy Zapolin 98 Summer 2022

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