23: Exploring Cannabis Science: Unveiling Truths and Myths with Jason Wilson, MS - Plants Saved My Life

Episode 23

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Published on:

11th Aug 2023

23: Exploring Cannabis Science: Unveiling Truths and Myths with Jason Wilson, MS

23: Exploring Cannabis Science: Unveiling Truths and Myths with Jason Wilson, MS

Plants Saved My Life

This week, Plants Saved My Life features Jason Wilson, MS. Jason is a science educator and natural products researcher that has specialized in studying cannabinoids and the Cannabis plant. He is the CEO and Principal Scientist for Natural Learning Enterprises, producer and host of the popular Cannabis science podcast TheCurious About Cannabis Podcast and is the author of the science textbook CuriousAbout Cannabis: A Scientific Introduction to a Controversial Plant. Jason serves as a scientific advisor to a variety of Cannabis companies and universities across the United States and regularly provides trainings, guest lectures, seminars, classes and workshops on Cannabis and cannabinoid science topics for diverse audiences including Cannabis industry workers, researchers, regulators, health care professionals, and the general public.

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Plants Saved My Life is a weekly podcast blending education, scientific research, compassion, and storytelling. Featuring real stories from patients who have overcome chronic conditions with the help of plant medicine and specialized medical practitioners, therapists, shamans, and other neotraditional healers exploring non-pharmacological means of medical intervention. Join us weekly for fascinating conversations with people whose lives were saved by plants. Let's demystify and destigmatize entheogens, naturopathy, plant-based medicines, holistic therapies, psychedelics, and functional nutrition. Join us as we pay homage to the plants and fungi we owe our health and happiness.



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Transcript
Raven:

Hey everyone.

Raven:

Raven here with another episode of Plants Saved My Life.

Raven:

This week we are joined by Jason Wilson, who thrives at the

Raven:

philosophy, and education with a passion for quality and a dedication

Raven:

Jason is a science educator and natural products researcher specializing in

Raven:

He's both the CEO and the principal scientist for natural learning

Raven:

behind the immensely popular Curious about cannabis podcast, educational

Raven:

He also recently authored a new mycology-based children's book

Raven:

Jason serves as a scientific advisor to a variety of cannabis companies and

Raven:

and regularly provides trainings, lectures, seminars, classes, and

Raven:

science topics for diverse audiences including cannabis industry workers,

Raven:

researchers, regulators, healthcare professionals, and the general public.

Raven:

So Jason is an educational powerhouse in the cannabis science space and I'm

Raven:

Awesome.

Raven:

Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Jason.

Raven:

I know that you are an educator, you're the founder of Natural Learning

Raven:

of Curious about Cannabis and then also your new book, toad Stool , Treasures.

Raven:

And I would love to know more about yourself and how

Jason:

Oh boy.

Jason:

yeah, I've had a very, what I often tell people is a, a

Jason:

non-linear and non-traditional path to the work that I do now.

Jason:

So all of the things that I do revolve around my core interests and passions

Jason:

you know, those three things really permeate through

Jason:

And, how I got to where I am now, kind of goes back to, kind of an old, the

Jason:

when I was a junior in high school, I was in a, a communications class

Jason:

And the center, topic of the last debate was, should cannabis be legalized or not?

Jason:

And, that debate is what sort of sent me.

Jason:

On a journey to like really seriously think about the science behind drugs as

Jason:

connects to policy, and research and where that, that could all be heading.

Jason:

But then even before that, I had an interest in, how plants affect the

Jason:

Going back even further because, I grew up, it's kind of funny, I tell

Jason:

my background, I grew up as a, an adopted neurodivergent only child

Jason:

to a Southern Baptist preacher and first grade teacher in the deep South.

Jason:

So within that sentence, there's, there's quite a lot.

Raven:

Lot to unpack there for sure.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

My, my dad was, and still does, has severe P T S D and, and several

Jason:

other mental health conditions that he wrestles with regularly.

Jason:

And I grew up seeing that and around the age of 11 or so, I started to 12

Jason:

whenever we first got the internet, and I think I was in third grade.

Jason:

It wasn't long before I started trying to search for things related

Jason:

help my dad, and that led to me finding maps, the multi, disciplinary

Jason:

I ended up, and keep in mind I was like 12, 13 at this time.

Jason:

I, started emailing researchers that were teaching about psychedelics in

Jason:

PTSD trying to see like, Hey, is there any way to get my dad involved in, a

Jason:

And, so I was doing a lot of reading and trying to understand the

Jason:

and psychedelics at a very young age, kind of an unnaturally young age.

Jason:

And then that debate in high school is sort of where things clicked.

Jason:

And I was like, I'm gonna start taking this more seriously, you

Jason:

know, thinking like long-term of what my goals are, professionally.

Jason:

Then in college I went to the University of Mississippi and had a kinda

Jason:

became friends with some scientists at the natural products research lab there.

Jason:

They introduced me to the researchers at the Coy Waller Complex,

Jason:

which is where the NIDA Cannabis Research and Development Lab is.

Jason:

And I ended up, getting to know those researchers and

Jason:

And at the same time I was working for the IT department for the school.

Jason:

So there was this interesting thing where the researchers there umla

Jason:

at the Ole Miss Lab, they would start calling me to come work on

Jason:

You know?

Jason:

So it was like an easy like call the IT guy we know.

Jason:

And so I ended up spending quite a bit of time working on gas chromatographs

Jason:

And one thing that's nice about being an IT technician is to spend a lot of time

Jason:

And in that time of waiting, I got to basically do my first podcast

Jason:

and talk to these researchers and just ask them questions, try to understand

Jason:

how they got into the field and that, you know, really stirred some things.

Jason:

You could see the snowball kind of growing.

Jason:

And then my connection with the natural products lab, he said,

Jason:

Hey, you need to take natural products research more seriously.

Jason:

You have a mind for it, you're obviously interested in it.

Jason:

You need to find a way to carve a path there.

Jason:

And at this point I was a philosophy and psychology major preparing for law school.

Jason:

I wanted to go into constitutional law, because I was into cannabis

Jason:

And, that was just off the heels of.

Jason:

Dropping out of wanting to go to med school and realizing that like med school

Jason:

and if I became a doctor, I wouldn't quite get to do what I wanted to do.

Jason:

So I was a mess, like trying to figure out where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do.

Jason:

And luckily I had this, you know, friend who really became a mentor that

Jason:

worked with the U S D A there, and he's like, look, this is your passion.

Jason:

Obviously you need to think about this and figure out how

Jason:

So without a science degree, you know, I graduated with a philosophy

Jason:

degree in a psychology minor, just shy of a psychology degree.

Jason:

I started emailing professors in the biology and chemistry department

Jason:

saying, Hey, I don't know if you remember me, blah, blah, blah.

Jason:

I would love to take your graduate level class.

Jason:

I would love to take this class.

Jason:

I don't have the prerequisites, but I assure you if you

Jason:

And surprisingly, 90% of professors I emailed let me do it and they, they

Jason:

and I, over two years, just took upper level biology, chemistry, you

Jason:

Tried to put together a, a, basically a biology degree.

Jason:

And then from there I was able to get into a master's program in Oregon

Jason:

It was a split kind of master's biology, master's of teaching combined.

Jason:

And then from there I was able to get my first job as a botanist, with the Bureau

Jason:

And then from there was able to jump into a natural products lab as a founding

Jason:

Research, in southern Oregon, which was one of the first accredited cannabis

Jason:

Really.

Jason:

So it's just kind of this weird series of connections.

Jason:

You know, it wasn't a direct path, I wasn't a biology major that then, you

Jason:

know, went on to study biochemistry or something and then got into research.

Jason:

it's really been a very non-linear, path That's just been me searching for

Jason:

the things that I'm passionate about and, you know, and then jump forward

Raven:

Wow.

Raven:

Yeah.

Raven:

That's first off.

Raven:

Thank you for sharing.

Raven:

that's incredibly powerful.

Raven:

I think that that resonates with a lot of people who might find themselves

Raven:

that they're incredibly interested, but not necessarily being in the spot

Raven:

So being able to navigate their own lifetime and us, I find that whenever

Raven:

products, if you're into this kind of, And into this sort of plant medicine

Raven:

I feel like a lot of us didn't have a choice in the matter.

Raven:

, like as you describe your background, it sounds like although there's a

Raven:

places, all those pieces in place, it wouldn't have happened unless

Jason:

Oh yeah, yeah,

Raven:

yeah.

Raven:

And I think being born in this generation that we're in that linear path to research

Raven:

cannabis, to research plant medicines or entheogens hasn't been linear there.

Raven:

Ha.

Raven:

That hasn't been there.

Raven:

in the past, of course.

Raven:

I mean, we can look to the fifties, sixties, seventies and how they handled

Raven:

is coming out of Ole Miss and then coming out of Israel with cannabis.

Raven:

But only now are we actually getting to the point of where that is an

Raven:

And , you can actually make sense of it.

Raven:

So I applaud you for being able to go with this sort of non-traditional

Raven:

back to your childhood and then going into high school debate team.

Raven:

Arguing the same principles that you stand by today, would you have ever thought?

Jason:

Oh no.

Jason:

I mean, well it's kinda weird in a way.

Jason:

Yes.

Jason:

Because,

Raven:

right, yeah.

Jason:

When I was like 13 to 16 or something, I remember people asking

Jason:

you, after you go to college or whatever, and I was like, I'm gonna

Jason:

Cuz I was, I was already, I could already see the potential of it.

Jason:

And this was before, like, this is before people even knew what C B D was really.

Jason:

and before, like some of the psychedelics research that was going

Jason:

isomers of L S D to try to, reduce hallucinations and things like that,

Jason:

and so I could see the, the frontier there, how much

Jason:

and so in one sense, like.

Jason:

There was a part of me that's that once it clicked, I was like,

Jason:

But then if you were to ask me at multiple points along the journey, do

Jason:

there were many, many times, and still even right now where I have a lot

Jason:

you know, that I wrestle with, where I'm like, okay, what comes next?

Jason:

How do we get to the next step?

Jason:

And something that's helped.

Jason:

One reason why I like to talk about my story is I hope it will make

Jason:

people feel, more, empowered to take more control over their journey.

Jason:

Whatever it is, you know, that there are many ways to get to the same end point.

Jason:

And for me, I.

Jason:

Studying philosophy was critical for who I am now studying

Jason:

So if I had gone the kind of standard route of biology degree, do research, do

Jason:

want to do a PhD, eventually if I had done that direct route, I, I would've missed

Jason:

a lot of things that have influenced how I think and, how I approach the world.

Jason:

and, and it actually ties into natural learning enterprises cuz the reason I

Jason:

is because I feel like philosophy and education particularly are

Jason:

very, misunderstood and undervalued, underrepresented in, a lot of sciences.

Jason:

education is kind of more thought of as like a regurgitation of trivial facts

Jason:

to ethics, but like that's kind of it and is often not taken very seriously.

Jason:

And so, My hope in some of the work I'm doing now or trying to

Jason:

integrate philosophy with, scientific explorations and research and education?

Jason:

How do we come up with better ways to teach about these things and encourage

Jason:

and that all stems from that exper those experiences.

Jason:

I've had to see that there are some major gaps here that if we can address

Jason:

of civilization better because we're gonna have a more empowered, mindful

Jason:

world in a way that is more in line with their actual, self-interest rather than

Jason:

because they don't quite have a good understanding of basic scientific

Jason:

to critically evaluate their ideas and beliefs about, scientific concepts.

Jason:

And so that's it all.

Jason:

It all definitely connects and I'm very grateful for the

Raven:

Yeah, that's, really well said.

Raven:

I think you're right in that studying philosophy sort of informed

Raven:

you being able to make rational questions in regards to science.

Raven:

And I think that that's something as scientists and as people in the field

Raven:

science, we need to make sure that , we have that relationship with philosophy.

Raven:

Cause I think that we do have a certain disconnect.

Raven:

Like you said, it's mostly relegated to ethics.

Raven:

Yeah.

Raven:

And that's not encompassing the whole totality of what philosophy is, right?

Jason:

Yeah, absolutely.

Raven:

so I would love to know with what you've learned and what you've experienced

Raven:

key messages that you would like to take home with the work that you're doing?

Jason:

Oh yeah,

Raven:

that's a big one.

Jason:

it is, it is a really big one.

Jason:

You know, I think some of the things I try to always impress on folks

Jason:

context it is, is one, oftentimes science is more about figuring out.

Jason:

Better questions to ask than it is finding concrete answers to questions

Jason:

Yes.

Jason:

and that is a very big, concept that I, I really want people to internalize

Jason:

better questions and then how do we evaluate our experiences and our beliefs

Jason:

can formulate some sort of, position on that question one way or another.

Jason:

And that sounds really simple, but it's a really delicate process that, you know,

Jason:

as we grow in school, like as kids, we're not really taught how to think, how to.

Jason:

critically evaluate things.

Jason:

And when we are, and this is something that has really bugged me as I'm

Jason:

was a quote unquote gifted child, which now we understand like that's

Jason:

a lot of neurodivergent kids that get, you know, labeled as gifted.

Jason:

And there's a lot of complex issues around all of that.

Jason:

But, it was only in these like gifted classes that I was introduced to

Jason:

think outside of like the scientific method in sixth grade science class.

Jason:

And that is absurd.

Jason:

Like what in the world, like why, is that not just a normal part of the

Jason:

so, you know, the big takeaways that's, that's, you know, on a high level what

Jason:

I want people to be thinking about is, how are you interacting with information?

Jason:

How do you evaluate your beliefs about information that you're taking in?

Jason:

And how are you, Connected to the natural world.

Jason:

something that I try to encourage both in curious about cannabis as well as some of

Jason:

garden Wild, and some of the other things I work on is, you know, thinking about

Jason:

else around us, and our impacts, both on the environment as well as, you

Jason:

How, people even talk about nature and the environment and how that

Jason:

so for instance, garden Wild is a project that is a kind of a

Jason:

really, lightweight one that I've been working on for several years.

Jason:

It's all about getting people to think about how their gardening and landscaping

Jason:

just thinking about, you know, ways to, be better neighbors to our, our wild

Jason:

And in doing so, they learn about.

Jason:

How these different organisms affect ecosystems and that kind

Jason:

them thinking about systems and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Jason:

so thinking about our place in nature, how we're connected with cannabis,

Jason:

excited about cannabis as a medicine and all its potential, but we also have to

Jason:

how is our interaction with cannabis affecting other people,

Jason:

so those kinds of discussions I think are some of the most important because

Jason:

sort of these, these core principles that can then, trickle out into all

Jason:

when it comes to natural medicine and plants, one of the things that I like

Jason:

to try to communicate is one, most of our pharmaceuticals are still based in.

Jason:

Natural products.

Jason:

So, literally a lot of pharmaceuticals are still extracted and processed from

Jason:

plants, from, from nature, and I think a lot of people forget about that.

Jason:

So, there's a huge place for unquote natural medicine, medicinal plants and

Jason:

the United States in particular has kind of screwed up how we handle those things.

Jason:

Other countries have better systems for how you would get medicinal

Jason:

plants approved, as, you know, as formal medicines and things like that.

Jason:

the United States is definitely behind on that, but there are,

Jason:

And so in terms of activism and things, I'd love to, for people

Jason:

have pharmaceuticals, you can also have medical foods, you can have

Jason:

You can have all of it.

Jason:

it doesn't have to be one versus the other.

Jason:

They're all tools.

Jason:

in the toolbox, medicinal plants, each one is, is a tool and it's up

Jason:

to utilize that tool to get the most benefit and minimize any harms.

Jason:

but I, I discouraged this sort of sense of like big pharma versus natural products.

Jason:

Like even though that is real, like it exists, there is a future we can

Jason:

all and it's all just treated as suitable tools for suitable purpose.

Jason:

and, and that's where I wanna see us get to.

Raven:

Yeah, I agree with that wholeheartedly.

Raven:

There is a huge discourse where it's like big pharma versus medicinal plants

Raven:

, in the future, there's a way for both those things to exist where it's not.

Raven:

Where it's not exclusive, you know, like we're able to exist with both of

Raven:

modalities as far as like evolutions and innovations in mental health or, yep.

Raven:

I don't, I don't know.

Raven:

Maybe even sound healing or sensory deprivation or something.

Raven:

Absolutely.

Raven:

Yeah.

Raven:

We might have, we might have a lot more innovations in those things.

Raven:

And like you said, it doesn't necessarily need to be so black and white.

Raven:

unfortunately it is right now in our current, yes, state of America, it

Raven:

have a lot of big, a lot of big actors on the big pharma side doing Yep.

Raven:

Very bad things.

Raven:

And then, I mean, the same goes for the holistic side too.

Raven:

There's definitely bad actors on that end as well.

Raven:

Yeah.

Jason:

It's human nature, you know, like the, the worst of us shows up in every

Raven:

It is.

Raven:

And I, I think you're right.

Raven:

In order to, in order to kind of shift our perspective in order to, it's

Raven:

change, a little process to actually shift our perspective and really think

Raven:

one thing that I think a lot about in our terms of our relationship

Raven:

with nature is something I learned recently on one of these podcasts.

Raven:

I was talking to a, like a world traveler shaman medicine man.

Raven:

He relayed a message from the Lakota tribe and he mentioned that they have a

Raven:

So we kind of asked them what the core of life is all about.

Raven:

and he explained it to me as it's about being a good relative, but mm-hmm.

Raven:

It's not about being a good relative necessarily to your

Raven:

It's also inheriting.

Raven:

You have to recognize in their context that their relative is

Raven:

the, the sea, the relative is the rivers and the wind and the trees.

Raven:

And to be a good relative to the earth and to really see the mother earth as your

Raven:

And I think that we'll get there.

Raven:

Natural medicines definitely help.

Raven:

And I think that, like you said, with most of our pharmaceutical

Raven:

tool belt being based in plants as it is, we're already halfway there.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

And there's a pendulum swing right now, away from.

Jason:

Single ingredient pharmaceuticals, polypharmacy.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

Is, is, you know, becoming more and more, of a focus of pharmaceutical companies

Jason:

that, you know, it's not, the locking key model for pharmacology is not accurate.

Jason:

the way that signaling works in the body is very complex and

Jason:

interconnected, and that all pushes us towards, medicinal plants.

Jason:

and so I'm, I have a lot of optimism for the future.

Jason:

I think it's gonna be a bumpy ride, you know, I'm sure some listeners out there

Jason:

Terrence McKenna had something he said one time that really resonated with me,

Jason:

get to where we need to be, we're gonna have to go through some birthing pains

Jason:

But it's necessary in order to get, you know, to this, you know,

Jason:

sort of next stage that we really need to get to as a civilization.

Jason:

And I really agree with that.

Jason:

It's, it's hard and messy complicated.

Jason:

things might get worse before they get better in some respects,

Jason:

And, but I do think like all of that messiness is probably, just

Jason:

necessary in order to, cause the kind of changes of thinking and shifts.

Jason:

you know, it, it does kind of have to be bumpy and disruptive in order to,

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

so yeah, really good point.

Jason:

I'd love to know what kind of your vision of being able to standardize

Jason:

the realm of medicinal plants, medicinal plant extracts, looks like.

Jason:

Yeah, so it's a delicate thing obviously.

Jason:

So one thing that I am heavily involved in is, quality management

Jason:

in labs that work with natural, natural products of different kinds.

Jason:

So the idea of standardization is something I think about a lot, I'll say,

Jason:

especially cuz we look at other countries like Thailand, Malaysia, China, that

Jason:

processes, formal processes for bringing a medicinal plant into the market.

Jason:

Yeah, it's, it's really, you know, it hinges on how you define your terms.

Jason:

So, you know, the first thing, let's pick cannabis for instance.

Jason:

easy thing to, to work with.

Jason:

Let's say we wanna have standardized cannabis extracts that are available,

Jason:

you know, essentially as a prescription legally in the United States.

Jason:

You know, first you have to say like, what are we standardizing?

Jason:

And generally that would be.

Jason:

You'd start off saying, okay, T H C C B D, we need to standardize those things.

Jason:

So those are the things we're measuring, making sure that they're coming out, you

Jason:

know, the same values every time, but there are broader ways to think about it.

Jason:

you could standardize to a chemical class and just say, okay, we're

Jason:

T H C C B D ratio, which then gives you more wiggle room and allowance for

Jason:

you can also then extend that and say, we're standardizing to cannabinoids with

Jason:

And then we also are standardizing to a minimum total terpene concentration of

Jason:

to see at least five dominant terpenes be X, Y, Z, et cetera, et cetera.

Jason:

So, you know, there's, there's all sorts of different ways you can define

Jason:

Will then affect what you're able to do to produce it and what you're gonna

Jason:

Now in the United States, the f D A requires such granular definitions

Jason:

as it does as a single, you know, largely single ingredient, medicine.

Jason:

It's just C B D, it's not a, you know, a C B D rich plant extract.

Jason:

Whereas if you go to Canada, you go to Spain, you go to all these other

Jason:

legal, which is another pharmaceutical cannabis product by the same company.

Jason:

And Jazz pharmaceuticals used to be GW Pharmaceuticals.

Jason:

sativex is a botanical extract that is standardized to a

Jason:

They also have some definitions of terpenes they expect to be

Jason:

So you see these two, sort of polar opposite ways of handling things.

Jason:

Then the US they have to go.

Jason:

Know, highly, highly single ingredients C b D standardized so that they can

Jason:

exact same every time with very, very little allowance for variation.

Jason:

Whereas in other countries, there is some allowance for natural variation.

Jason:

Like, yes, there are chemicals in sativex that we don't really know what they are.

Jason:

Like we could, you know, really dive in and try to get granular and

Jason:

identify every single, you know, all 500 plus compounds that are in there.

Jason:

But really the ones that are driving most of the effects we care about are

Jason:

And so we focus on those, we allow the natural variation.

Jason:

and that's, that's where the US needs to get to.

Jason:

It's ridiculous that side OFX is not in the United States.

Jason:

it, it's crazy.

Jason:

So it's important, particularly for people that live in the United

Jason:

countries, these models exist and that there are pharmaceutical level.

Jason:

Products made from medicinal plants that do exist in other countries.

Jason:

so like there are ways to do this.

Jason:

obviously there are concerns about costs, and a number of other things like once you

Jason:

plant products on the market, are they inaccessible because they're so expensive?

Jason:

How does insurance play in, and that's a whole other, you know, ballgame.

Raven:

what do you think is the holdup on getting something like

Jason:

Think it's just primarily the, the fact that it does have, constituents

Jason:

That's the I see.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

That's really the main thing, is the way the FDA approves what are called, so how

Jason:

You put together what's called a drug master file.

Jason:

And this drug master file contains like all of the information about this product

Jason:

Includes information about any preclinical work that's been done, safety data,

Jason:

And you submit that to the F D A and it has to be reviewed.

Jason:

You know, they review all of the supporting records and everything.

Jason:

And all of that is, like I said, so granular in detail.

Jason:

The things they wanna see monitored and tracked.

Jason:

They, they really don't want to, they don't want unknowns.

Jason:

And with medicinal plants, you always have unknowns.

Jason:

And, so that's really the hurdle is that this is being done in the name of safety,

Jason:

that we don't want unknown things going on to the market cause it might be unsafe.

Jason:

However, that's not being balanced with the recognized safety profiles of the.

Jason:

Sources of, of these extracts, you know, like cannabis for instance, you know, we

Jason:

So the idea that we can't allow some extract to be approved by the

Jason:

F D A as a pharmaceutical because it's got unknown constituents in it.

Jason:

It's like, well if, if you're managing the process and you can verify that

Jason:

nothing's being introduced that wasn't in the plant, you know, et cetera,

Jason:

the safety profile's already been proven, well enough that we know

Jason:

it's not something to be, you, to have like a gatekeeper, effect on.

Jason:

Same with a lot of other, other plant extracts too.

Jason:

You know, we have tons of historical information about how these products,

Jason:

both in the raw forms and their extracted forms have been used.

Jason:

And, so there's just a disconnect there.

Jason:

and it's.

Jason:

The FDA just keeps saying it's all about safety.

Jason:

but most of us that work in the space recognize that it, it's really more

Jason:

The system has been established in such a way that there are a lot of

Jason:

the way it is, and, more or less that's what's really going on.

Jason:

And it's just gonna take a long time and it's gonna take people,

Jason:

agencies and stuff before we're gonna start to see movement on that.

Jason:

I believe.

Jason:

I think that's one reason why we haven't seen much movement in the hemp space.

Jason:

Why the F d A and the D have been really, standoffish and unhelpful, in

Jason:

terms of understanding how to think about cannabis in the United States.

Jason:

That is low in t h c.

Jason:

It's, it's been really confusing.

Jason:

and yeah, it's, it's a mess in the United States.

Raven:

To say the least.

Raven:

To say the least.

Raven:

And , to piggyback off you what you said, I mean, it's difficult to have

Raven:

plants that provide a multitude of benefits because of , the nature in

Raven:

unknowns or potential constituents in there that haven't been standardized yet.

Jason:

Right.

Raven:

but additionally, like in addition to the FDA approval process, also the

Raven:

gold standard of clinical trials don't really work well with medicinal plants.

Raven:

And that is a whole other hurdle in itself.

Jason:

Absolutely.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

I mean, on multiple levels, you know, one, there's not a lot of money for

Jason:

because there are obstacles to, making our product that only you could sell.

Jason:

You know, you can get patents on, medicinal, some medicinal plants and

Jason:

products and the processes used to make those products, but it's very hard to.

Jason:

Enforce some of those patents, and it gets into a lot of gray areas

Jason:

that companies aren't just, aren't comfortable throwing money at.

Jason:

So there's not a lot of money for it in the first place.

Jason:

And then, yeah, when you start talking about clinical trials,

Jason:

And this gets into philosophy.

Jason:

lately more and more particularly physicians and clinical researchers

Jason:

issue and how we handle research in that, the way that a lot of clinical

Jason:

representing, you know, more or less an average of a segment of the population.

Jason:

because you have to exclude a lot of, Different people,

Jason:

based on all sorts of different qualifying conditions from studies.

Jason:

to do your first round of studies, they have to be in healthy volunteers.

Jason:

So, already your results are getting biased and presented in a way that

Jason:

is not actually representative of the average population.

Jason:

It's only representative of an average subset of the population.

Jason:

And when it comes to medicinal plants, what I've learned in working with a lot

Jason:

biologists and clinicians and things that really understand, better than

Jason:

The exercise of engaging in natural medicine is a highly personalized thing.

Jason:

It's, it gets into what's called in of one medicine, where you're

Jason:

and their unique presentation, their unique physiology, and trying to.

Jason:

Figure out a, a way to better engage with both food and, plant medicines and things

Jason:

like that to, give that body the best chance at being well that it, it can.

Jason:

And when you start getting into that kind of treatment, some of the

Jason:

and a lot of clinicians that work with medicinal plants a lot that I

Jason:

that don't show up in clinical data that, you know, the little that

Jason:

And so, it's easy for these clinical trials to provide a sort of smokescreen,

Jason:

could be used or even their potential harms and their potential benefits.

Jason:

And, so while, you know, double blind, Clinical trials are extremely important.

Jason:

They give us a high degree of predictive power if we can recreate

Jason:

That's why they're so highly valued.

Jason:

They have technically, they have the highest quality level of any

Jason:

solely because the predictive power, is as high as it can possibly be.

Jason:

But that predictive power only relates to the conditions of the study.

Jason:

they, it starts to fall apart when you try to expand into a lot of the complexities

Jason:

and nuances of the real world, outside of, of these controlled studies.

Jason:

Now, obviously there are exceptions and things when you get into clinical

Jason:

and you're seeing recoveries and things, that's a, a different story.

Jason:

But what I'm talking about is.

Jason:

With medicinal plant research, it often doesn't go beyond the

Jason:

first round of trials with healthy volunteers, if it gets anywhere.

Jason:

And so a lot of the data we have is from that.

Jason:

And so it's very confused.

Jason:

And, I think that there's a role for survey research in anecdotal

Jason:

reporting and case studies that a, that can fill some of those gaps.

Jason:

And right now there's like a sort of a, a battle between professionals in the,

Jason:

where there's, you know, people that are very against anecdotal reporting and case

Jason:

studies and are like, you know, that's the lowest quality research that exists.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

Maybe they experienced something.

Jason:

We don't know why.

Jason:

It doesn't mean anything for clinical practice.

Jason:

you know, we're only looking at.

Jason:

These double-blind peer reviewed clinical research trials.

Jason:

And then on the other side you've got people that are like, no, these anecdotal

Jason:

need to listen and your clinical trials don't mean what you think they do.

Jason:

And you know, and the reality is somewhere in between.

Jason:

and so yeah, that's, that's kinda the state of things.

Jason:

We have a lack of funding and then the research that does get done, it's not

Raven:

Yeah, very good point.

Raven:

And I just wanna say, I think it takes your specific mind and your specific

Raven:

entering the world of plant medicine, science and entheogen and cannabis

Raven:

have these high level critiques and expose the fallacies of our current

Raven:

So I just want to commend you for that and being upfront and honest with it.

Raven:

Well, that's really nice.

Jason:

I appreciate that, that kind feedback.

Jason:

It's, you know, and I'll say a lot of my, my perspective just comes

Jason:

People that work in the space.

Jason:

So that's where a lot of my thoughts about it come from is, both my own

Jason:

experiences, but also just hearing so much about what's going on, around the world.

Jason:

But I, I appreciate that and it's, and it's personal too, you know, like

Jason:

I've gotten my own experiences with a lot of these things with cannabis.

Jason:

It's well known.

Jason:

I'm a medical cannabis patient.

Jason:

I've talked about my psychedelic use and stuff before.

Jason:

And, so there's also that side too that I can, I understand the perspective of the

Jason:

And, so that's another thing.

Jason:

I, I try to be sensitive when I, I try to be mindful when I'm

Jason:

I'm really sort of representing multiple, Sort of stakeholders

Jason:

simultaneously, like the patients and the producers and the, the researchers.

Jason:

You know, I'm, I'm sort of connected to it all and, it's my hope that in sharing

Jason:

to folks pushing for changes that will really bring about what people want.

Jason:

I think sometimes with activism folks, focus on, things that are not actually

Jason:

and so I hope by explaining, you know, how the stuff works and explaining the

Jason:

see in the real world, I hope that that helps people hone in on, what's

Jason:

time they spend advocating for those things, it's gonna be time well spent.

Jason:

and that relates to my many hours spent.

Jason:

As an activist, you know, I, I consider my education work activism now, but I

Jason:

was much more of a, you know, in the streets activist when I was younger.

Jason:

And, you know, I definitely still carry a lot of that with me too.

Jason:

And it's like, we gotta find better ways to affect the changes that we need to see.

Jason:

And some of that requires that we stop and really understand the system and

Jason:

how it works, so that, you know, we can really push on those pressure points.

Jason:

And, for instance, like with medicinal plants and the pharmaceutical issue,

Jason:

fixed insurance is the next problem because insurance is gonna be the thing

Jason:

And so it's like understanding that, it's like, okay, we can't just advocate that

Jason:

and accepted, but we also have to rethink how we handle, other things, market

Jason:

and if we're not, Trying to take the whole picture into account or we end up

Jason:

in a weird situation, which I'm a little nervous about right now with cannabis.

Jason:

I'm worried we're gonna end up in a de a rescheduling situation rather than a

Jason:

from a schedule one to like schedule two or three, which is not going to have the

Jason:

and may actually make things a lot worse than what people are anticipating,

Jason:

You know, it's just one example, but, it's important to

Jason:

Yeah, exactly.

Raven:

I think you're right.

Raven:

It is important to understand how these things work, and I think that's one

Raven:

lesson that we take from nature is the how everything is infinitely interconnected.

Raven:

Like there's no movement that doesn't connect to another living organism's life

Raven:

And I think that's the same for even the stuff that's a little bit less

Raven:

market dynamics, the way the different type of stock prices can change,

Raven:

All these things are kind of exist in like the.

Raven:

The holographic space, but they're still very real and interconnected to, and at

Raven:

the end of the day, it's all based on our relationship as humans with that plant.

Raven:

And I think that is actually kind of crazy when I think about it.

Jason:

It is, it really is.

Jason:

I mean, it's super bizarre when you zoom out and you look at how

Jason:

humans have, have sort of chosen to behave and structure ourselves.

Jason:

it's, it's really crazy.

Jason:

I often, and this is actually something that comes up when I teach, I encourage

Jason:

you were, you know, a being from another planet and another galaxy

Jason:

earth and you were studying it and you didn't know anything about Earth at

Jason:

all, you know, you know, what would you think about how humans have,

Raven:

that's how I navigate my world.

Raven:

The objective observer

Raven:

. Jason: Yes.

Raven:

Yes.

Raven:

The active observer.

Raven:

It's, It really changes things when you start to, integrate

Raven:

And, there, there's a song I wrote with a, a line that says, if, if I told

Raven:

you everything were games that we've made, would you feel inclined to play?

Raven:

And, you know, it's, that's something that I impress upon my daughter.

Raven:

Now, you know, she's only four, but these are things I am talking to her about.

Raven:

I'm like, that's one way you can do things.

Raven:

Is that the only way, you know?

Raven:

just trying to make her think about like, you don't have to

Raven:

Like you can get creative, think about better ways to do

Raven:

And you may be surprised how far you go.

Raven:

you know, and going back to how this conversation started, I never thought that

Raven:

and it's literally just been following that passion and not trying to get

Raven:

sucked into how you're supposed to do things and having some.

Raven:

Confidence and, and some trust and a little blind faith, honestly,

Raven:

and just keep following, you know, that passion and everything.

Raven:

we can see some big changes in how we live our lives.

Raven:

absolutely.

Raven:

And I think that's a big thing that, psychedelics help with, with a lot of

Raven:

their thought loops, out of the ruts that build in the brain and getting

Raven:

pulled out of your costume that everyone wears, you know, every day in society.

Raven:

And seeing things, more from a, a kind of objective perspective and

Raven:

realizing, holy shit, like this is kind of dumb that we do this.

Raven:

Like, why don't we do something different?

Raven:

you know, we, we need more of that for sure.

Raven:

Oh yeah, absolutely.

Raven:

with that said, I would love to hear your personal experience of

Raven:

your experience with psychedelics as well, if you don't mind sharing.

Jason:

Yeah, absolutely.

Jason:

I'm happy to also,

Raven:

also, Jason, I just wanna say your camera froze maybe like a half

Raven:

hour ago and it froze at this really like, matrix kind of green overview.

Raven:

It's kind of sick.

Raven:

I'm definitely gonna send it to you after our call.

Jason:

Awesome.

Jason:

Good.

Jason:

I'm glad you got it.

Jason:

So my cannabis and psychedelic journeys are intertwined, you know, like I

Jason:

before cannabis because of my dad and his mental health issues and everything.

Jason:

So I was very interested in getting experienced with them because I had

Jason:

already been reading so much and I'm trying to think how old I was.

Jason:

the first psychedelic that I ever tried was, morning Glory Seeds.

Jason:

Mm-hmm.

Jason:

Interesting.

Jason:

Primarily just cuz they were legal and you know, I was a like 14 year old kid and.

Jason:

Didn't wanna break the law, didn't want to go to jail.

Jason:

I was very scared of that kind of thing, but still understood enough that, you

Jason:

know, I was like, I want to see what these effects are and try to understand it.

Jason:

So I have a very vivid memory of the day that we decided to get a bunch

Jason:

glory seeds and grind those up and, mix those in smoothies and ate 'em.

Jason:

And that was my first psychedelic experience and it was pretty significant.

Jason:

looking back on it, we ate way too much, way, way too much.

Jason:

We were dumb, we were kids and, you know, and, so, and, and we made

Jason:

the really stupid decision to put Easy Rider on as the trip came on.

Jason:

So like I have this extremely vivid memory of, the morning glory seeds starting

Jason:

they have, l s A in them, which is a precursor to L S D and as that started

Jason:

on Easy Rider came on, which if anyone seen Easy Rider, there's like an oil

Jason:

like really repetitive crazy sound while people are like talking to themselves.

Jason:

It's very chaotic and disorienting.

Jason:

and so that was my first experience was like being, thrown into, the peak of

Jason:

but I was fascinated.

Jason:

and it was, I had a very, profound experience cuz I

Jason:

I didn't talk for a long time and just listened and was in the moment.

Jason:

And, you know, that was profound in the sense that it showed me that consciousness

Jason:

And so that made me want to explore a little more.

Jason:

So, And so after that, eventually, so I grew up in the deep south.

Jason:

Psychedelic mushrooms are around pretty much all the time because

Jason:

there are cow pastures everywhere and it's wet and humid all the time.

Jason:

So, getting psilocybin mushrooms was, very easy.

Jason:

And so that was the next thing that I tried.

Jason:

And, that was the psychedelic that clicked with me where I was like, this

Jason:

is, doing something very interesting that, and I was very intellectual about it.

Jason:

And remember, the idea of like, neurodivergence was not

Raven:

you're right we were called gifted.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

And even in my twenties when I got diagnosed with like ADHD, bipolar,

Jason:

to figure out where I was on whatever spectrum, it still wasn't.

Jason:

Really, well understood.

Jason:

So, you know, looking back on it, I'm like, oh yeah, I was like, on

Jason:

it kind of makes sense now of like how overly intellectualized I was about

Jason:

I took careful notes, was like timestamping them.

Jason:

and I still have journals of all these.

Jason:

I have a, a big case of notebooks that I've kept through the years,

Jason:

of a lot of these things that sometimes I go back and read 'em.

Jason:

but that's, you know, philosophy, mushrooms.

Jason:

that's when I had my first real kind of what I would call like a breakthrough

Jason:

not really, experiencing the outside world anymore, just in the internal environment.

Jason:

And that blew my mind.

Jason:

And then I got into lucid dreaming a lot after that, to figure out

Jason:

Exogenous compounds.

Jason:

And that was a really fascinating period of time that lasted

Jason:

starting in high school and going through into college.

Jason:

And in that time I had some really wild experiences.

Jason:

when you get into lucid dreaming, it's kind of dangerous because when you get

Jason:

time in your dreams and it gets really disorienting when you wake up cuz you're

Jason:

like, wait a minute, I was spent like two weeks somewhere else and now I'm here.

Jason:

What's going on?

Jason:

And so eventually that was, and that's something I can talk more about.

Jason:

It was a really interesting period of time, but, I started to kind of get

Jason:

away from that some because it started to lead to quite a bit of depression.

Jason:

and then there was also a time around the same period of time I was skateboarding

Jason:

I ended up, falling on a metal rail and a wooden rail a few times and cracked

Jason:

my tailbone and, hit my spine in a few different places, on these metal rails.

Jason:

And that's when I started to develop these, kind of disabling

Jason:

And when I was in college, it all started to like really

Jason:

I was stuck on a couch.

Raven:

Oh, wow.

Jason:

And that is when I started to take cannabis seriously as

Jason:

a therapeutic, plant because up until that point I viewed it more.

Jason:

Just recreational.

Jason:

even though I had done that debate and I understood the therapeutic applications

Jason:

of cannabis, for me personally, I only viewed it as, recreational at that time.

Jason:

And then, once I started using cannabis regularly in my early twenties, I

Jason:

I was much more mobile, my pain went way down and I was able to function again.

Jason:

And so it was a pretty quick decision after that.

Jason:

And I was like, okay, I can't stop doing this because if

Jason:

and I would do some experiments, you know, back in those early days I would

Jason:

get really nervous about, you know, am I abusing it or, you know what?

Jason:

And I also still was carrying a lot of.

Jason:

leftover baggage from my childhood growing up as a Southern

Jason:

Yeah, of course.

Jason:

You know, it's like thinking about, is God watching me?

Jason:

Am I going to hell?

Jason:

All these things.

Jason:

so there were times I would take breaks from cannabis and

Jason:

I wouldn't be able to get off the couch.

Jason:

And my girlfriend who would later become my wife, she was like, no, this is dumb.

Jason:

Like, why are you doing this?

Jason:

Just keep using what works.

Jason:

And that was a big deal for me.

Jason:

I think I really needed that like, external validation of like, what

Jason:

you're doing is okay, and you're better for what you're doing.

Jason:

Keep doing it.

Jason:

Don't worry about what everyone else is saying or what the society we're

Jason:

And so that was the beginning of my, you know, really serious relationship

Jason:

And then as I got older and more in touch with my mental health, I realized

Jason:

growing up I knew I was different than a lot of people I have In one of those

Jason:

was a night that I vividly remember where I was really upset and just wrote pages

Jason:

and pages and pages of like, why does my brain not work like everyone else's?

Jason:

Why am I so different?

Jason:

Why can't I just be like everyone else?

Jason:

And, so there's a lot of anxiety and depression that comes with,

Jason:

you know, neurodivergence in whatever form it presents itself.

Jason:

And, cannabis helps a lot with that in the sense of it helps

Jason:

keep me from spiraling when I'm feeling alone or feeling different.

Jason:

it kind of keeps me from spiraling into a pit of depression around that.

Jason:

And it provides a consistent state of consciousness, which is very sometimes

Jason:

hard to explain for anyone that doesn't know what I mean when I say that.

Jason:

But for someone like me, Being able to use cannabis and enter a state of

Jason:

gonna be the same every time is a really big deal because my brain is always

Jason:

going in a lot of directions that is not always helpful to my own health.

Jason:

And so to be able to pull out of that, you know, if I'm going into a,

Jason:

whatever, being able to pull out of that and just go back to that state

Jason:

of consciousness I'm in when I use cannabis, has literally saved my life.

Jason:

and sort of going to the, the name of, of this show, both cannabis and

Jason:

that I'm still here today because, some of the, between the chronic pain and the

Jason:

my early twenties, I, that's when I started to have moments of suicidality

Jason:

And so, They have helped keep my perspective in the right place

Jason:

so that I don't sink into these depths that I've been in before.

Jason:

and there have been some really, really impactful moments, certain, experiences

Jason:

with mushrooms, with cannabis, even beyond plants and mushrooms.

Jason:

But with ketamine I've had a very, profound experience that pulled me out

Jason:

Just a single dose only had to do it once and it lasted a very long time.

Jason:

And, so that's one reason why I'm so passionate about some of this

Jason:

people cuz it's helped me both in my physical health, my mental health.

Jason:

It's kept me alive so that I can even be here to talk about this

Jason:

And and this is stuff that I've really never.

Jason:

I'm curious about cannabis and stuff.

Jason:

I don't really talk about it, unless someone specifically asks, but there's

Jason:

don't even use cannabis or psychedelics or anything because I've been told

Jason:

told I'm very diplomatic in how I present myself and that with my sort

Jason:

pants, you know, kind of style, I've straight up been told by people like,

Jason:

I never thought you did that.

Jason:

And I'm like, well, you should probably not judge people based on how they look.

Jason:

But also, you know, I just don't think to share my story very much or to talk

Jason:

me and it's something I'm trying to rectify, I think, cuz I do think that

Jason:

other people going through similar things and will hopefully, Give them,

Jason:

just relief or validation or something that will, that will help them I hope.

Jason:

Yeah, I, I think it will, a big one that I think about amongst your story, which,

Jason:

I, I think about how you, you mentioned that you kind of had to reassess.

Jason:

Oh, your camera came back on.

Jason:

There we go.

Jason:

Nice.

Jason:

There we go.

Jason:

we had to reassess how your relationship with cannabis, cuz it is that fine

Jason:

And in America we don't really get the chance to actually feel that we can't

Jason:

Assess that relationship for ourself cuz we have so much cultural programming

Jason:

society and all the stigma involved, all the, the programming involved, like you

Jason:

from a Baptist family and so, and the south, I could imagine that there is

Jason:

a whole lot of programming in there, like you said, is, is God watching me?

Jason:

Am I gonna go to hell right now?

Jason:

especially whenever we talk about, things like psychedelics and etheogens

Jason:

I think there's a lot of people that can relate to that, how they assess

Jason:

you said, a little bit of external validation, be like, well, keep working,

Jason:

You know, there's no harm right now, so keep doing what's working for you.

Jason:

I think that means a lot to a lot of people.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

I, I hope so.

Jason:

And I think there's, like you said, we don't, our society doesn't

Jason:

with ourselves and, and explore and feel and make decisions based on how

Jason:

Our, our society we're in now is very, All, all of that comes externally.

Jason:

You're told what to do, what to think, and and a lot of people are still very

Jason:

could or should make decisions, for themselves when it comes to health and,

Jason:

And it, it's something that, I, I really wrestle with, just because

Jason:

understand mental health at all, unless you directly are affected by it.

Jason:

And, so I still have people that say things like, just get it together.

Jason:

Just, just, you know, you're gonna be fine, obviously.

Jason:

Just pull yourself up, you're gonna be great.

Jason:

Like, just things that they say that have really been culturally programmed.

Jason:

And I'm like, you need to like really stop and think about what

Jason:

you know, that's, if that were possible, obviously I would do that.

Jason:

so we have a lot of work to do and I think mindfulness is a big, key.

Jason:

I, you know, I'm sad that tick not Hanh passed away.

Jason:

yeah.

Jason:

But, he was a big influence on me.

Jason:

he actually has a, monastery and, outside of, Oxford, Mississippi, which is

Jason:

A lot of people don't know.

Jason:

but there's a, a Plum Village monastery there in Batesville.

Jason:

And, I always wanted to go see it.

Jason:

He, when I was there, he didn't come through and I was really disappointed, but

Jason:

from Hanh really, did a lot to teach me how to sit with myself and be mindful.

Jason:

And that translated into my relationship with.

Jason:

Medicinal plants because when I was, using cannabis or if I was using mushrooms or

Jason:

into that experience and try to, it's like, let's get in touch with the body.

Jason:

Let's get in touch with the mind, like, what are we feeling?

Jason:

Let's let these thoughts pass over us and observe them.

Jason:

And, and so that's, you know, I think another part to this whole picture

Jason:

If we can all aspire to be more mindful, a lot of these other things kind of come

Raven:

Yeah, I agree.

Raven:

I think that once you start taking mindfulness seriously, and once

Raven:

leaders and, acended masters or enlightened individuals, if you will,

Raven:

you just start to slough off all that stuff where you can weigh you down.

Raven:

and if you move more mindfully, if you take mindfulness practice

Raven:

your relationships, your relationship with plant medicine, your relationship

Raven:

with coffee in the morning, your relationship with your daughter, right?

Raven:

Yeah.

Raven:

your relationship with your phone.

Raven:

Like, you become more mindful of everything.

Raven:

And that's a huge step about how all of us can usher in the, you know, what

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

, absolutely.

, Raven:

of course, wanna be mindful of your time, Jason, we've been talking for a

, Raven:

little bit already, but I would be remiss if I didn't ask about both your books.

, Raven:

Curious about cannabis and toadstool's treasures.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

And we're, we're good on time.

Jason:

I'm willing to go as long as you can.

Jason:

so yeah, the books, Toadstool's Treasures is one that I get really excited about,

Jason:

though it's been my, it's been the hardest to break through with for several reasons.

Jason:

so Toadstool's Treasures is a children's book that I wrote for my daughter.

Jason:

Because even though I'm most well known for my work with cannabis,

Jason:

more of a mycologist than a botanist and have always been into ecology.

Jason:

for as like, pretty much since I was around 11 or so, when I first

Jason:

plants and things, I got a mushroom identification book before I

Jason:

And so it's always been fascinating to me.

Jason:

And so once, we, my wife and I were thinking about trying to have a child, I,

Jason:

to change and I was like, what are some things that I wish existed that I want her

Jason:

to, you know, have and interact with and stuff and, and influence how she thinks?

Jason:

And so I started to write the story.

Jason:

And Toadstool's Treasures is, basically a, story about two friends that, these

Jason:

together for the first time, which is always an exciting time for young kids,

Jason:

of the girls is kind of more from the suburbs, and then, her friend Phoebe

Jason:

lives in a rural area and so she's going from the suburbs to this rural, area.

Jason:

And so she feels really out of place and is very homesick.

Jason:

And, the family that she's staying with lets her know that they're

Jason:

making, a mushroom stew for dinner for which she's disgusted and mad.

Jason:

and you know, she's just feeling really awful, just missing

Jason:

And you know, she thinks mushrooms are these gross fungus, you know,

Jason:

and she takes her frustration out on a patch of, fairy mushrooms.

Jason:

And in doing so, this character brother Toad stool comes to visit and takes

Jason:

them down and takes them on a journey to explore what fungus is doing in our

Jason:

lives, both in the environment, in foods, medicines, all of that sort of thing.

Jason:

So it's kind of like a, magic school bus story in a way.

Jason:

That's the best thing I can relate it to is it definitely has a feel

Jason:

so these characters, they initially shrink down and go into the dirt and

Jason:

they discover, one character arby, the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus.

Jason:

They learn about how she's working to find nutrients to share with

Jason:

nutrients in exchange and how she helps fight off nematodes and things.

Jason:

And then, they meet a, another series of mushrooms, these oyster

Jason:

And she, and they see that these mushrooms are like casting out nets

Jason:

and filtering pollutants out of the water as it's passing through.

Jason:

Then they meet, another mushroom that is one of my favorite mushrooms in existence.

Jason:

A lactarius indigo mushroom, which is a bright blue, funnel shaped mushroom

Jason:

And it's been used, in the past, both as a food and as a source of blue dye,

Jason:

which blue is a color that, for those that don't know, is hard to find in nature.

Jason:

and to make textiles and things back in the day that were blue,

Jason:

So, you know, they learn that.

Jason:

This mushroom is used to make blue t-shirts and, you

Jason:

And then, towards the end of it, they learned that if mushrooms didn't exist,

Jason:

because, you know, they sort of enter a world without mushrooms and the forest

Jason:

they're in starts to like overgrow with dead, you know, plant material and stuff.

Jason:

And the dirt's starting to, wash out because there's not really

Jason:

And they're seeing like their favorite flowers no longer exist.

Jason:

orchids can't exist, you know, all sorts of things like this.

Jason:

And so by the end of the story, the kids, develop a new appreciation for

Jason:

was homesick, she forgets, you know, that she was homesick and, happily,

Jason:

They learn how to do spore printing.

Jason:

And, then the next morning she's picked up by her parents and she happily,

Jason:

you know, talks about her adventure with, the mushrooms and everything.

Jason:

And, you know, so the goal, there's several goals with the book.

Jason:

One is get kids to appreciate mushrooms and reduce mycophobia.

Jason:

because a lot of people are scared of mushrooms.

Jason:

Cuz I think if you touch one, you're gonna die.

Jason:

And, the other thing is that the book does teach kind of best

Jason:

it teaches kids, you know, give the mushrooms a little tap to help release

Jason:

Make sure to cut it at the base.

Jason:

Don't just rip 'em out, you know, little things.

Jason:

That, you know, would be good to know, teaching them how Topo Print without,

Jason:

it in the book, but then it's something like, yeah, you can just go do this.

Jason:

and then I wrote lesson plans to go with the book, so on, at toso treasures.com.

Jason:

parents or teachers or whoever can go on there and they can get access

Jason:

that connect with things that happened in the book so that they can, and

Jason:

they're all aligned to next generation Science standards and Common Core.

Jason:

So it's like legit, lesson plans that any teacher or homeschooling family

Jason:

And then also made an audiobook version and a video book version.

Jason:

I had a really, some really nice folks help with narrations and all that sort

Jason:

problem that I didn't expect, and I've run into it multiple times now.

Jason:

And, so Molly, the character who is from the suburbs, her parents in the book

Jason:

are lesbians, and the other character in the book, her parents are biracial.

Jason:

I am in the deep south.

Jason:

So both of those things are a big problem apparently.

Jason:

And, so I've hit a lot of resistance to getting this book picked up or

Raven:

That's wild.

Raven:

I wouldn't expect those just representation to be the

Jason:

I wouldn't either.

Jason:

I also had a crazy experience just a few weeks ago.

Jason:

I posted about it on LinkedIn.

Jason:

there's another book, like an adult science fiction book that I'm working

Jason:

And I was talking to a, a publisher, not a very professional one, it turns out.

Jason:

but in pitching the book identity is something I'm always exploring.

Jason:

It's, it's a big.

Jason:

Thing to me.

Jason:

And so in this other book that I wrote, yes, identity issues come up in there too.

Jason:

And there's representation of all sorts.

Jason:

And I had a lady just go off on how I was, grooming children to

Jason:

it was really wild.

Jason:

It actually upset me quite a bit because I take for granted sometimes like,

Jason:

sometimes I forget how evil some people can be and that they're still out there.

Jason:

And yeah, this is an issue I've run into multiple times, unfortunately.

Jason:

So if anyone hearing this has any connections to the publishing world

Jason:

and you don't mind lgbtqia plus representation, come talk to me.

Jason:

Cause I'm still working through those issues.

Jason:

It's been quite a nightmare.

Jason:

and it's so stupid cuz it's like you're totally missing the point of everything

Raven:

Yeah, exactly.

Raven:

Completely missing the whole point

Jason:

yeah.

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

But that's, you know, so toadstool's treasures is, A book.

Jason:

I'm still trying to get kind of more broadly accepted in, circles of

Jason:

homeschooling families and teachers that are interested in science and mycology.

Jason:

and I hope that that representation isn't an issue.

Jason:

And if it is, I hope you have a deep look inside.

Jason:

And, the other book that you mentioned, curious About Cannabis, that is on

Jason:

the nonfiction side, that's a textbook and it's on its third edition now.

Jason:

And its development was cool because I started teaching about

Jason:

And, in giving these lectures in workshops, I didn't have any good

Jason:

textbooks that were suitable for kind of an introductory audience.

Jason:

They were all like pharmacy textbooks and stuff like that, or they were all about

Jason:

Yeah.

Jason:

So I started writing these essays that I would share with my students, and

Jason:

Then that turned into like a spiral bound notebook I would put together at Staples.

Jason:

And then that in 2018 turned into the first, published version of

Jason:

Curious About Cannabis through my own publishing company.

Jason:

And then, we've done updates to it every two years since.

Jason:

So we just did the third edition at the end of 2022 and just last year,

Jason:

So curious about cannabis is, you know, my goal with it is provide a broad survey

Jason:

cannabis science, both in how it grows, how it's extracted, how it's tested,

Jason:

And, I've been really excited to see that at least, five or six colleges

Jason:

out to me and said that, they're using the book or recommending the book.

Jason:

I've got.

Jason:

At least a couple of, schools that have developed whole classes

Jason:

And so that's really exciting because that's showing me that, you know, the

Jason:

the curious about cannabis platform, that it's starting to, you know,

Jason:

really have some bigger effects that I was hoping it would have.

Jason:

Cause I, I started teaching about cannabis before there was ever

Jason:

And, there might have been, you know, Oaksterdam existed, but other than

Jason:

and so things have changed a lot.

Jason:

And, I'm excited that curious about cannabis has been a part of that.

Jason:

And it's really developed from the book into the podcast, which started in 2019.

Jason:

And then now we have this whole learning platform that, you know, folks can

Jason:

five bucks a month, and they get the whole, all the access to everything.

Jason:

And they get access to courses that I've built, old lectures and videos

Jason:

from every event that we've ever done, every podcast we've ever done.

Jason:

and I get cool emails from people like PhD students that are doing research

Jason:

helped me figure out, you know, what I wanna research and how I want to impact,

Jason:

And, that's been super amazing.

Jason:

and I already have ideas for the fourth edition, that I will probably

Jason:

year and try to have that ready by the end of next year if I can.

Jason:

cuz everything's just changing so much and the technology's changing and I'm getting

Jason:

like, virtual reality, augmented reality, and just different forms of multimedia

Jason:

And.

Jason:

give people kind of unique ways to engage in educational content.

Jason:

So, yeah, the next edition I'm curious about cannabis

Jason:

This the third edition I integrated QR codes throughout the book

Jason:

different things that are in the curious about cannabis, ecosystem.

Jason:

You know, they can jump into like a virtual exhibit I've built in the

Jason:

metaverse or they can jump into a podcast episode or jump into a course.

Raven:

How cool.

Jason:

but the next edition I wanna kinda ratchet up a little more

Jason:

and make it even more interesting, assuming that I'm able to pull it off.

Jason:

And then I'm also, I just finished working on the alpha version of the

Jason:

which is an AI model that I've trained to at least know everything that's in

Jason:

as, About 50 different open source, research papers that, most of 'em are

Jason:

review papers, so they kind of cover quite a lot of content and that's been cool.

Jason:

We just rolled that out.

Jason:

So anyone who's a member on the Curious About Cannabis platform, they

Jason:

ask it questions and it's pretty darn good at giving nuanced, responses

Jason:

Cause chat g bt I was playing around with that and you know,

Jason:

And it's like, oh, strains are different types of cannabis

Jason:

and there's cannabis sativa and cannabis indica and cannabis root.

Jason:

I'm like, oh no.

Jason:

Okay, we're already wrong cuz we're talking about these different species.

Jason:

And then it was like sativa's uplifting and like, oh no, it's like actually

Jason:

I don't want people to be misled by.

Jason:

So that was the kind of driving force to do the virtual mentor.

Jason:

It's like, oh god, people are going to chat G P T now.

Jason:

To ask questions and write blog articles and stuff.

Jason:

let's see if we can take everything we've built and make an AI model that's

Jason:

trained on all of that stuff so that it can provide some better information.

Jason:

It's still not perfect.

Jason:

it's definitely not perfect.

Jason:

It's, it'll be an ongoing process, but it is a lot better than chat g p t.

Raven:

Wow.

Raven:

Do you have a, do you have a fun little name for the

Jason:

HA!

Jason:

I've thought about it.

Jason:

I haven't come up with one yet.

Jason:

I did, I did think about Buddy or Bud.

Jason:

and then I was like, is that too, too on the nose or, yeah, I don't know.

Jason:

But yeah, I am thinking about it.

Jason:

So anyone listening, if you wanna submit suggestions on what we should name,

Raven:

Well, this has been an awesome conversation, Jason.

Raven:

I feel like we could talk for honestly another hour.

Jason:

Likewise.

Jason:

Yeah.

Raven:

Just about all the little intricacies and nuances when it

Raven:

comes to plant medicine in the intersection of education and cannabis.

Raven:

Absolutely.

Raven:

I wanna thank you for doing the good work for plant medicine out

Raven:

there, getting the word out, getting quality thorough education out there.

Raven:

If I had a dollar for every time I had to correct someone about the

Jason:

Right?

Jason:

Yeah.

Raven:

but I guess my last final question is where can people find you online?

Raven:

I know you put a lot of good work out there, where can people check you out?

Jason:

Yeah, so, if you wanna just connect with me directly, my personal

Jason:

There are, I have one of the most basic names in the world, so if you Google

Jason:

And like, there's a famous author that's Jason Wilson.

Jason:

There's a famous journalist, that's Jason Wilson.

Jason:

There's a famous chef that's Jason Wilson.

Jason:

So, it gets really confusing.

Jason:

So I always add the MS at the end, not because I'm particularly

Jason:

boastful about my degree, but because that's the only way to.

Jason:

Differentiate myself from all the other Jason Wilsons out there.

Jason:

So Jason Wilson ms.com will give you a little bit of background

Jason:

Natural Learning Enterprises is natural edu.com.

Jason:

And you can see all of the learning initiatives that I've been working on and

Jason:

Curious about cannabis You can find at cacpodcast.com or

Jason:

We just did a website upgrade, and I'm really happy with it, so

Jason:

you don't even have to become a member to access a lot of content.

Jason:

I'm curious about cannabis as far as the podcasts and videos and stuff goes.

Jason:

So there's hundreds of hours of stuff people can dive into without ever

Jason:

But then if you want to dive deeper and go into courses and get into the extended

Jason:

And that's at cac podcast.com.

Jason:

And then toadstool's treasures is toadstool's treasures.com.

Jason:

And you can find toadstool's treasures and curious about cannabis on Amazon.

Jason:

You should be able to find it on Barnes and Noble, several other places.

Jason:

There's a handful of bookstores that stock 'em.

Jason:

If you happen to have a favorite bookstore, ask them

Jason:

that's generally how it gets done.

Jason:

So we're getting more and more all the time that are coming online.

Jason:

So, I appreciate any support to try to get these books, seen,

Jason:

I really think it's got a lot of potential both to, positively impact kids when it

Jason:

comes to science, education, philosophy, tolerance, so many different levels.

Jason:

I really want that book to be read by kids and, and to have an impact there.

Jason:

So, toadstool's, treasures.com, check that out and you can find

Jason:

all of me and all of the things I've talked about on social media.

Jason:

If you search for us on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook

Raven:

Awesome.

Raven:

Well, once again, thank you for coming on today, Jason.

Raven:

it's been a really insightful conversation and I'm excited to have you back one day.

Jason:

Yeah, definitely happy to come back anytime and I look forward to

Jason:

I'm sure they'll be great.

Raven:

Okay, so that is gonna be all we have for today, everybody.

Raven:

I'm your host, Raven, and I thank you very much for listening to this

Raven:

That was Jason Wilson, whose contributions to cannabis education could be found

Raven:

via his podcast, curious about cannabis at cacpodcast.com and natural edu.com.

Raven:

And his cannabis science textbook also entitled, curious About

Raven:

book, A Toad Stools Treasures are both available on Amazon, so I would

Raven:

As always, if you enjoyed this conversation, I encourage you

Raven:

to share it with someone else who you know would enjoy.

Raven:

I'd also be eternally grateful if you were to take it just a second and

Raven:

your favorite podcasting platform that helps us spread the love far and wide.

Raven:

Thank you again for listening, everybody.

Raven:

For questions, comments, and community connect with us over our, our official

Raven:

Until next time, everyone have a beautiful week.

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About the Podcast

Plants Saved My Life
Uncover the healing potential of plant medicine with the "Plants Saved My Life" podcast. Join us weekly for real stories from patients who have overcome chronic conditions with the help of plant-based treatments and insights from specialized medical practitioners, therapists, shamans, and other experts in non-pharmacological forms of healing.

Learn about the latest advancements in patient-focused, holistic medicine and the potential of plant medicine in healing various disorders. Discover the benefits of entheogens, naturopathy, psychedelics, and functional nutrition.

Get a glimpse into the regulatory landscape of plant medicine in America and the end of the War on Drugs. Hear about the therapeutic benefits of psychedelic mushrooms, ayahuasca, iboga, medical marijuana/cannabis, kratom, and other non-traditional methods of healing.

Join host Raven Ariola, a scientific advisor, consultant, and educator in the medical cannabis space and founder of Entheo Wellness, for inspiring conversations and an exploration of the plants and fungi we owe our health and happiness to. "Plants Saved My Life" - demystifying and destigmatizing alternative forms of healing
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About your host

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Raven Ariola

Passionate about plants. Raven is a medical cannabis scientist, consultant, and educator based in Pittsburgh, PA. Through his experience in the plant medicine industry, Raven has learned that real patient stories can often get lost in the static. A dedicated lifelong learner, he aims to bridge educational gaps and inspire compassion while providing these voices a platform.