My Relationship with Plant Medicines, “Drugs” and Drugs

A Fresh PerspectiveConsciousnessIntentional LivingPersonalRobin’s Transformation

When I tell people that I’ve never worked with psilocybin or any hallucinogenic plant medicines, they often look at me in surprise and curiosity followed by the words, “Really? Never?!”

Yes, at the age of 36, I have not tripped. I haven’t done acid or mushrooms. I haven’t done DMT or ayahuasca. No spirit molecule. No peyote or San Pedro cactus.

There are numerous reasons for this and in this writing, I’d like to share my relationship with plant medicines, “drugs” and drugs. To share my relationship, I will share my history as well.

Note that I use both “drugs” and drugs. To start, I see that our American society has a very polarized viewpoint of medicines and drugs. There is an incredible amount of confusion, fear and misinformation. Thus, our relationships as a society and as individuals with these plants, fungi, and chemical compounds are turbulent.

Many plants that have been medicines for people for thousands of years by diverse cultures worldwide are demonized and feared by mainstream society. One society’s reason to put someone into prison for life is another society’s spiritual medicine. One society’s “drug dealer” is another society’s medicine person. One society’s destroyer of the human mind is another society’s connection to all life.

Surely, given this truth, there is some delusion of reality in modern dominator societies…

To group the plant marijuana (Cannabis spp.) and fungi psilocybin (Psilocybe cubensis) with chemical compounds of methamphetamine and crack or cocaine as the same…

To believe that we can make a plant illegal and put someone in jail for possessing it… This is to say that we believe we can make life itself illegal… That we get to choose what is good or bad, normal and abnormal, moral or a sin… Surely there is some disconnection between Earth and reality going on here.

My Introduction to Drugs & Plant Medicine

I was born into all of this. D.A.R.E was a part of my education at the public elementary and middle schools of Ashland, Wisconsin. D.A.R.E stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

I still remember the song.

“D”, I won’t do drugs.

“A”, I won’t have an attitude.

“R”, I will respect myself.

“E”, I will educate me now.

I am all about respect and education. However, D.A.R.E, and the U.S. government’s agenda is not holistic education. Within this “education,” there was a lot of miseducation, misinformation, and lies.

Some of this was done knowingly and some of this was done unknowingly. Some of this was done with life-serving intentions and some were done with life-alienating intentions. Some of this was done to build safe and secure communities and some were done to tear communities apart.

Again, I was born into all of this. When we learned about marijuana and mushrooms, we learned about crack and meth. They were all drugs. There was no separation. It was all bad. It could all put you in jail. It could all ruin your life. It could all ruin the lives of your families and friends.

This was my introduction to what I now know as plant medicines. There was no education on humanity’s relationships over thousands of years with some of these plants. There was no discussion of Indigenous relationships with these plants. There was no discussion that these plant medicines may have helped to develop the human brain into what it is today… I was highly misinformed.

In ninth grade (age 15) when a few of my friends smoked marijuana for the first time, I was terrified. I was disappointed. I was full of judgments about them. I was basing this largely on my “education” from public school.

Around that same time, I drank beer to get drunk for the first time. Although society taught me not to drink before turning 21, I was also told and shown by example that it is overall socially acceptable to drink alcohol and to drink it in very large quantities. And not just acceptable, but respectable. So said the commercials on TV, the movies, the magazines, sporting events, and so on.

At that point, alcohol was not a drug, but marijuana certainly was.

I drank to get drunk. To have fun. To be cool. To bond with my friends. To connect with girls. To try to have sex. Drinking was “cool” and I was a cooler person because I drank alcohol.

Over the next year there were some shifts in my young self. The summer before tenth grade I smoked marijuana for the first time. I don’t recall what the shifts were, but I would guess it was just a desire to explore. A desire for some form of entertainment or fun or freedom or connection with my peers. This began my relationship with my first “drug” or plant medicine, depending on who was viewing it.

Our society tends to polarize things, marijuana being no exception. I would say that my early relationship with marijuana was much more of a “drug” than plant medicine. I did it to party. I did it to get high, usually really high. I took huge bong rips. I smoked the joint that was passed to me when I was already well beyond high. I mixed it with drinking industrially produced beer and liquor sold by multi-billion dollar corporations. I ate industrially produced food (or food-like substances really) while I was drunk and high. It was all about fun, partying, coolness, and getting girls. Well, maybe not all. 

There was a bit more than that at least. There was a desire to explore. A desire to break free from societal norms. A desire for autonomy and control of my own life. Although I was not smoking marijuana holistically, there was at least a shred of the medicine of the plant coming through, I’m sure.

In university, I continued this same trend. I drank heavily. My friends and I drank to black out. I would black out sometimes three nights each week (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). I would smoke marijuana socially and at parties. Usually, they were combined. Occasionally I would smoke and not drink. I always got really, really high. In fact, I don’t recall ever not getting really high. 

I never owned marijuana. I never smoked and went to class. I rarely ever smoked on a weekday. I never smoked alone. It was purely a social and partying thing for me to do.

At that time, some friends would smoke marijuana and go into nature and connect. My view was that I didn’t need marijuana in nature, because I wanted the purity of nature, not to be affected by a substance or drug. I didn’t connect that marijuana is a plant that can deepen our relationship with our many plant relatives. In fact, I don’t know if I really thought of marijuana as a plant at all. I was abusing this plant. I was using this plant. There was not much of a relationship.

Yet, marijuana knows itself, no matter the mindset of the human. Some mind expansion was surely taking place along with the abuse of my body and mind and the plant.

Looking back, I remember laying in bed with my partner, during my senior year of college. We were about 21 years old. Abby had a different relationship with marijuana and she probably started to shift my relationship, too. (She had certainly been shifting my relationship with food as I started to care about what I was putting in my body.) We had smoked some marijuana and I remember saying to her, “I feel like we are connected like a triangle.” She laughed and I couldn’t voice what I was feeling, but what I was feeling was a deep connection with her, with myself, and with life. This deep connection was being facilitated by marijuana. Marijuana was helping me to get in touch with myself, and with life. It was bringing me into a state of aliveness, deep presence, and connection.

Although I did a lot of binge drinking, blacking out and excessive marijuana smoking in high school and college, I never got into anything else, with a few exceptions.

In early high school, a friend convinced me to crush up caffeine pills with him and snort them. I did not enjoy the experience.

I took puffs from a cigarette a few times in high school, and maybe a couple of times in college. I never enjoyed it.

I chewed tobacco a couple of times freshman year of college. I got nauseous and had to lay in bed. 

The same friend who convinced me to snort some caffeine pills with him in high school also convinced me to eat a tiny bit of mushrooms around my junior year of college. It was late and I was about to go to sleep. I was already drunk. I passed out without feeling anything

And senior year of college I smoked salvia with my roommates. This is a hallucinogenic plant that was legal that we bought at a shop downtown. We didn’t smoke it right and none of my roommates felt it. I managed to smoke more of it than them and I hallucinated for maybe 5 minutes. We had fun. We were also exploring. We probably parted afterward.

Unlearning Societal Conditioning

There were numerous reasons why I never tried any other “drugs” or drugs or plant medicines during this time.

First, I was having plenty of fun with what I had. It was going really well. I loved partying. I was having sex. I had a lot of friends. I belonged. Alcohol and marijuana were enough for me.

Second, I don’t think I was thinking about enlightenment at that time. Sure, I was focused on self-development and growth. But I don’t know if I had much exposure at all to plant medicines. Definitely not in person and perhaps not too much in societal culture and media. It would be helpful for you to know I spent the first 19 years of my life in the remote, Northern Wisconsin town of Ashland – population of 8,620 people at the time. I then attended the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, which was about 95% white students, mostly from Wisconsin and the nearby mid-west region. So, we were mostly all coming from the same background. My roommate freshman year was from California and he got kicked out after one semester because he was getting high on whatever he could get his hands on. I do remember this fellow student named Maggie and I’m sure she was doing mushrooms. She was one of the few hippies and I really enjoyed her company. There was also a guy named Sterling who transferred in from Colorado who I took a liking to. And then there was Ben, who did mushrooms partly as a spiritual growth and partly as a party substance along with alcohol. That’s about all that I recall. 

Third, it also probably had to do with access and likely lack of pressure from peers. If I grew up surrounded by peers that were doing other “drugs” or working with plant medicines, I probably would have done them, too. I was impressionable and I was a product of my surroundings. Of course, I was also my own human and I said no to a lot of things, but I believe that we are largely a product of our surroundings (which is why I no longer judge others based on their actions but rather see individual actions as a product of society).

Within all of this was my fear. Some from what society had forced into me, but more so from the history of my family. On my dad’s side, the large majority of family members that I knew had mental health issues that were likely exacerbated by using and abusing different substances. Many family members had bipolar, there was a lot of depression in the family, and some schizophrenia. 

I don’t have much connection with those family members, but from what I recall there was a lot of drug abuse that caused a lot of destruction.

For example, my dad got three DUIs during my younger years. He told me he was on meth from 1991-1993 (I was 5-7 years old and I don’t think I saw a lot of him then). I remember an uncle being in rehab and him fighting with my dad. I can really only speak for certain about my dad’s relationship to alcohol, marijuana, and other plants and substances and how they affected his life. And what I can say is that they did not serve him well. His life may have been what it was without these substances, but I gather that the substances exacerbated his mental health issues and clouded his vision, resulting in some choices that he really regrets.

All that to say, I didn’t want to take the risk of mushrooms or acid, knowing that genetically I may have underlying mental health issues that could possibly be brought out through using these substances. I don’t recall if I ever did research to see if that is actually a thing and now that I think about it, I don’t know today if that is really a thing, but I just wanted to steer clear of going down the path of my dad or other members on his side of the family. (Yes, I was still willing to binge drink, even though that may have been the most destructive of all the substances my family members used. This is potentially a sign of how socially acceptable, promoted, respected, and accessible alcohol is).

I would not feel complete, without also sharing that my dad was one of my favorite people on Earth growing up. I loved him so, so much. I respected him incredibly. Yet I didn’t see him too often and didn’t usually know where he was. When he was around me he managed to be pretty clean, I think. I know that he loved me and wanted the best for me. In my early years, he was in Oregon quite a bit and he was selling a fair amount of marijuana and acid. He told me a story about how one time he was traveling from Oregon to see me in Wisconsin and he got pulled over in Idaho (in about 1995) with a pound of marijuana and 10,000 hits of acid. They found the marijuana, but they did not find the acid that was hidden in books in the trunk. Perhaps this was why he was late to see me. He told me stories of the deep connection he felt to the woods in his late youth as he did mushrooms in the woods. He told me a story of a flower he ate at a gathering in California where he “left Earth for three days”. I also would not feel complete without sharing that at the same time as there was the destruction of themselves, relationships, and life through substance abuse, I believe my dad and some of his family members had some very beneficial relationships and healing with plant medicines including marijuana and psilocybin. I also would like to share that I don’t know which of the stories that my dad told me were true, partially true, or just plain stories. 

Continuing with my personal relationships, towards my junior and senior years of college, I was getting tired of partying, blacking out, and having hangovers (read: Why I Quit Drinking Alcohol). I wanted to do more with my life and my time. I wanted to feel alive and healthy. I still drank and smoked more than I wanted to during those last years in Wisconsin because I was surrounded by it and hadn’t developed self-control, but I cut way back and started to change my relationship with alcohol and marijuana. When I drank I generally drank way too much and when I smoked I generally smoked too much. But I did it a lot less often.

Upon finishing university in 2011, I set out on a trip around the world. I was seeking personal liberation, autonomy, independence, exploration, adventure and growth. I flew to Indonesia where I planned to set out to where few other international travelers go and where no English was spoken. And that’s what I did largely for the next few months. For the most part, I chose to forgo all alcohol and marijuana during this time. I was starting to see plant medicines as a means for growth and enlightenment, but I chose to find my growth through immersing myself with other cultures and mindsets, connecting with new biomes and the plants and animals within, through forgoing many modern conveniences and luxuries and through adventure and exploration. (At the same time, in some of the countries I was traveling through, you could be put in prison for the smallest amount of illegal plants and I was absolutely not going to take that risk.)

Abstaining from all substances was a way for me to practice self-control and to attain the freedom that I desired. It was in alignment with putting maximal energy into my goals and aspirations. For four to five months in Southeast Asia and Kenya, I did just that and it was one of the most formative times of my life. (Note: This abstinence was not new to me. During three of my summers at university, I sold educational books door to door working 84+ hours per week for 3.5 months and I fully abstained from all substances and romantic relationships during those times). Reflecting now as I write, I remember a big moment in Cambodia for me. I met a fellow traveler and together we went to Angkor Wat. He had some marijuana and I smoked with him. I felt a deep connection to the space and I remember understanding why some people dedicate their whole lives to understanding the history of past human cultures. It was a profound experience. Perhaps this was a sign of my relationship with marijuana shifting some. When I reached Amsterdam, I made a little exception and ate a pot muffin. Unfortunately, my timing was off as I ate it on the way to an airport, on a bus, when I was quite hungry, and had no other food, and ended up eating substantially more than needed. I barely remember the flight to Sweden. It was a long 24 hours and to do that story justice I would need about ten minutes of your attention.

Seven Years Without Marijuana

Within the year of returning to the United States, I left Wisconsin and moved to San Diego, California. Here I started a new life, with a lot less alcohol or marijuana than in Wisconsin, but still, a tendency to take in quantities that more than served me well or that I desired. My main group of friends were attending the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine for traditional Chinese herbalism, acupuncture, and massage therapy. Being in their presence was of great benefit to me. At the same time, I started to awaken to how the “American Dream” is the world’s nightmare and how my life was causing destruction to Earth, humanity, and our plant and animal relatives (Read: From Drunk Dude to Dude Making a Difference). I began focusing deeply on living sustainably and holistically. I drastically reduced my usage of alcohol and marijuana. Still, when I did smoke I got way too high. And I almost always experienced a brain fog the next day and sometimes for multiple days. I described it as feeling like there was a cloud of smoke around my brain. That was always my experience with marijuana, which was one of my main deterrents to smoking. I also often would experience a lot of anxiety the next day. (I never experienced anxiety during the high.) I likened it to being that when there are unbalanced highs, there are lows to match. It was becoming clearer than ever that marijuana and alcohol did not serve me well.

On April 20th, 2013, I set out on my first environmental activism campaign – to bike across the US while trying to have no negative environmental impact. (Learn about this campaign here) Central to this was forgoing any unnecessary resources which made a very easy choice to give up alcohol and marijuana for the summer. Additionally, the central lesson I was learning and building inside of myself with sustainable living was to live simply and to find how I could have my needs met by what Earth abundantly and freely provides and without money. Again, it was an easy choice to leave marijuana and alcohol out. That journey turned out to be a pivotal trajectory in my life.

104 days without marijuana turned into seven years. It was clear that the benefits that I had gotten from marijuana were far outweighed by the downsides and I held very strongly to that. However, I didn’t have a negative viewpoint on marijuana. I didn’t believe that others should not smoke. In fact, I started to view it more deeply as plant medicine. I started to learn more about greater humanity’s mind expansion through marijuana and other plant medicines. I considered myself an advocate and supporter of marijuana. Yet, it was not in my current life path to work with the medicine, and I didn’t know if it ever would be again. 

There were three other very important reasons why I stopped using marijuana for those seven years and why I still didn’t experiment with other plant medicines while many friends were having substantial growth and life breakthroughs working with psilocybin, ayahuasca and other plant medicines. (Note: I did eat a little bit of marijuana cooked into food twice during those seven years. Both times just a fraction of what was considered a dose and both times getting much higher than I was hoping or expecting.) 

First, I wanted to gain enlightenment without the use of plant medicine. I believe that it is possible to attain a high level of enlightenment through simple, holistic and sustainable living and deep self-observation and purification. This was the path that I wanted to explore deeply. 

In conversations, I often said that my belief was that in one plant medicine experience, we can sometimes accomplish what would take years’ worth of dedicated work to do. That we could achieve breakthroughs that could take decades otherwise. But I wanted to create the foundation of my enlightenment and growth using enlightenment practices and exploration that did not include plant medicines. 

Second, I wanted to show that enlightenment is possible without these medicines. In 2011, I chose my path as a servant to Earth and as a leader for society. I follow the example of Gandhi and other spiritual leaders to lead by example and to lead through our life choices. I wanted to show that we can liberate ourselves without plant medicines. I wanted to show another option. This was in part because plant medicines are often used as a shortcut, rather than in partnership with developing practices that take much more work and mental energy. And also, plant medicines are often abused, even by those with intentions of enlightenment and service to Earth and humanity. I am an advocate of plant medicines but I am an advocate of working with them as one portion of a holistic approach to self-liberation and liberation of humanity. 

At the same time, access to these plant medicines is not equal for all and for many of our fellow humans, it is completely inaccessible. I choose a path that is accessible to others. Accessibility means that finances, physical location, and access to resources are a minimal barrier to practice. I focus on the practices of mindfulness, presence, gratitude, breathing, walking, self-observation, connection to Earth, community living and building, simple living, sustainable living, holistic health care, herbal medicine, whole foods, growing food and foraging as integral practices on the path of enlightenment. (There are, of course, barriers to access for many of these practices as well. In this capitalistic, colonialist, patriarchal society, it is challenging for many people and communities to simply exist, not to mention break free, because the dominator society is intent on keeping them down. Yet I try diligently to make my service accessible. I acknowledge my privilege and complicity (that I am actively dismantling) in this system and that I am still blind in some areas where awakening is still needed.)

Along with that, of course, is the legality. Under the constructs of our current society, most plant medicines are illegal, and with some we even risk prison. This is a substantial barrier to accessibility. As a white male in this dominator society in the US, there is minimal risk for me in working with these plant medicines. However, our prison system is foundationally built on incarcerating Black and Brown people for marijuana. Lower-income people, especially Black and Brown lower-income people, are at the highest risk of being put in jail or owing life-destructive sums of money to the government for simply working towards personal liberation and enlightenment through plant medicines. That is why I chose the foundation of my practice to be based on other practices that are generally considered legal in this society (although I do a lot of things that are illegal or against government code just to try to live in harmony with Earth and our plant and animal relatives).

I am choosing to be an example to children, teens, and young adults to show that they can meet their needs for exploration, growth and development in ways that they do not risk punishment from an oppressive system, especially Black and Brown youth who are preyed upon by the Prison-Industrial Complex and the School to Prison Pipeline (Suggested reading: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.). In some cultures, plant medicines are worked with from a very young age, but I do believe in our current society, for the young developing human mind, it is likely in most cases the most life-serving to meet these needs in other ways than using these plant medicines. (I remain open to learning more on this though.)

Third, I have an incredible amount of respect for these plant medicines as well as for the Indigenous and the long-standing human relationships with these plant medicines. I do not take any of these relationships lightly. If and when I work with any of these plant medicines, it is of utmost importance to me that I work with them in a manner that I feel shows my respect and honors the plants and the people that have nurtured relationships with them for our history. 

There have been numerous times when I have had the opportunity and have contemplated working with these medicines since 2020, yet I have chosen not to because of my deep respect for these medicines and not feeling like my relationship and knowledge with them have developed enough yet. As part of this respect, the setting is incredibly important to me. 

(A note on my usage of the word enlightenment. I shied away from using this word for a long time because of the associations we have as a society with it. However, I use the term enlightenment not as an end, a destination of all-encompassing enlightenment, but rather as a journey. I believe we all have levels of enlightenment and delusion. I am seeking to overcome the delusions and enlighten myself a little more with each passing moment.)

Now that I’ve shared my earlier stage of an abusive relationship with plant medicine from my teens to early twenties, as well as my stage of liberating myself from this habit and creating a relationship that served me well by not partaking in marijuana, I’d like to share my present relationship.

Returning to Earth’s Green Grass & Plant Medicine

In early 2020, and perhaps a year or so leading up to 2020, I was starting to feel a strong draw to working with plant medicines. For nearly a decade, I had been practicing and immersing myself in non-delusional existence, self-observation, transcending the ego, and humility. I had been deepening my connection to Earth and deepening my relationship with our plant and animal relatives. I had been experimenting with and seeking truth. In short, I had been practicing and living many of the holistic components to enlightenment and self-liberation. I still had and have a lot of work to do, but there was no doubt in my mind that I had come a long way. I felt confident that I had established the foundation that I desired. I wasn’t as far along as I wanted to be. I still had a lot of ingrained racial biases and could still feel that patriarchal thinking was deep inside of me. I still had cultural conditioning to shed.

I was feeling drawn to plant medicine as a tool to continue this path of unlearning and relearning, a tool to help me continue the deprogramming and reprogramming of my brain.

In February 2020, I was sitting with some friends at Punta Mona in Costa Rica and in a spontaneous moment, I decided to share the joint of marijuana they were enjoying. This was my first time smoking in seven years, from age 26 to age 33. I had an absolutely joyous time with them. I felt a deep level of connection and formed some dear relationships. The next day I didn’t have brain fog. I was elated with my choice to reconnect with marijuana.

In March 2020, I was in Europe at the beginning of a year-long speaking tour around the world. I was back in Amsterdam after twelve years and with a very different connection to plant medicines.

I was very keen on working with psilocybin, but not under those circumstances. However, I was attracted to micro-dosing, which is eating a tiny amount of psilocybin (about 0.1 or 0.2 grams compared to a dose of about 2-3.5 grams, so about 1/10th or 1/20th of a dose.) The idea isn’t that you hallucinate or trip, but that it helps with tuning in, with being present in the moment. Some work with it for focus or clarity or creative work. Generally, I am told and I read that you don’t even feel it. Many of my friends had been sharing that it was a very beneficial practice for them.

So, along with my friend Matt, we purchased some psilocybin. 

We went for a walk in the woods in early spring. After an hour, I remember saying, “Well, I guess I’m not going to feel anything.” I was a bit disappointed because I was seeking a connection, seeking growth. Shortly after that I saw a tree that I decided to climb and the next thing I knew I was way up in the tree. This is not unusual for me. I love climbing trees. Then, at the age of 33, for the first time in my life, I decided to lick the tree. That’s when I realized, this must be the mushrooms. There’s no way it is a coincidence that I’ve just licked a tree for the first time in my life at the same time as having eaten some mushrooms for the first time in my life.

I really enjoyed it. I felt a connection with the tree and I wanted to deepen my connection to it. Our tongues are one of the most powerful tools of connection and understanding we have. Through my tongue – this sensory organ – I connected a little more deeply with Earth, and in particular with that tree and that small forest in the Netherlands.

As I had expected, the micro dose affected me more strongly than it affects others. Most don’t feel it. I felt it. This added one more data point to my belief that I am quite sensitive to plant medicines. (This is one reason I was always hesitant to work with plant medicines. My relationship with marijuana was that I always got higher than others I was with, even once I had gained self-control and smoked in moderation. And even with alcohol, I would feel it, often with just a sip.)

Over the next few months during the lockdown in France, I would occasionally take the opportunity to micro dose psilocybin. I would generally fast for 16 hours prior and take time off the computer. I would tune into the present moment and I would take the micro dose of psilocybin. I found this practice to be incredibly beneficial, even if the micro dose didn’t affect me (which is often the intention behind different holistic rituals or practices.)

With the help of a tiny, tiny bit of psilocybin, I would deepen my connection to Earth, all life, and myself. People who seek out plant medicines are often seeking the idea or feeling of oneness or an out-of-body experience. I’ll share my first “out of body experience”.

I was in lockdown from Covid in Southern France on a property that had acres and acres of forest to walk with a pristine trout stream running through it. The forest there had some true gems of spots, where one could easily sink into the present moment on Earth.

One morning after a bit longer of a fast than was typical, I presently took my micro dose and went for a walk down to the river to swim and simply be. Before getting in, I laid on a rock, looking into the clear water, quite happy to be there. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something. It was my shoulder. And it reminded me that I was there. For just a moment, I had forgotten that I had a body. I was just truly there in a way that I had never experienced before. A bit later, I continued walking up a gravel road winding up into the mountainside. I snacked on fresh spring greens and wild onions. Twice I felt as if I was just a hovering being with no body, moving down the road. It was bliss. I felt a form of oneness with everything that I had not quite felt before.

A year passed from the time I shared that joint with new friends in Punta Mona and I had not smoked since. It was the spring of 2021 and I had just started an internship program in St. Pete, Florida, and had a team of nine people living together. I was living with them and managing the whole team. (Here’s some writing on what we did together). I was feeling anxiety like I had never felt before. I would be anxious just to walk inside the house. I would call it social anxiety, which I don’t recall ever having much of until then. Over time, I realized I just didn’t know how to manage a team of people. I didn’t have the skill sets that I needed like Compassionate Communication. I had taken on way more than I could handle. 

One evening, I decided to smoke some marijuana with some friends and I felt all the weight on my shoulders release. My anxiety was gone. I loosened up. My mind was lighter. The people around me could see a different version of me. A version that I could be and had been without marijuana, but marijuana was the medicine that helped me come back to this part of myself, which I and those around me so desperately needed. 

It was one of the most powerful medicines that I had ever experienced in my life. This was one of the first moments when the word “plant medicine” so deeply resonated with me. This was the exact medicine that I needed. No anxiety pill could do what marijuana did for me (on that note, I have never nor do I think I will ever take pharmaceuticals for anxiety. I see them as a poison to the body as I see the pharmaceutical industry as a poison to society. I know that some people benefit from them, but I believe that the vast majority only exists because we are existing in a broken society. I believe in breaking free from these poisons to Earth and healing through Earth’s gifts and community whenever possible).

I had found a medicine that I knew I’d be working with in the time ahead. My friend Ella recently called it Earth’s Green Grass and that is the name for marijuana that lights me up more than any other. The medicine that Earth’s Green Grass provides for me includes becoming present in the moment and a feeling of gratitude for what I so often forget to be grateful for. I feel deeper connections with people and deeper connection with myself. I take so much joy in breathing fresh air, smelling the flowers, and watching the birds and the bees. These are all examples of feeling gratitude for life and a deeper connection to life. More than anything when I work with Earth’s Green Grass I feel such a strong connection to all other plants. I see marijuana as a gateway to connecting more deeply with all our plant relatives. All plants have a special gift and that is one of the special gifts that marijuana brings to life.

I find myself communicating so much more gently and compassionately. Sometimes if I am going to have a very heart-to-heart conversation and I am struggling at the moment to think compassionately, I will smoke a little bit of Earth’s Green Grass. It has always served me well in these conversations. I am more gentle. Fewer hurries. These are characteristics of being in the present moment.

Earth’s Green Grass has helped me greatly with the reduction of stress and anxiety. I am often taking on more than I can really handle (as so many of my peers are) and I find it difficult to be present and as caring as I’d like to be for those who I am with. Many people have felt hurt when this happens. They usually don’t understand what I’m going through. What I’ve found is that sometimes it is the right moment for me to smoke a little bit so that I can slow down and make sure I provide the presence to those that I am with and who want to connect with me.

With all of this, there is a balance. Even as I write this, I feel a stirring of dissatisfaction inside of me that I would even need a plant or medicine to help me with these things. I feel some level of vulnerability in sharing this, like others may judge me for “needing” this plant. Perhaps I judge myself some, too.

Overall, I am elated with my relationship with Earth’s Green Grass. Whereas I had never had any of my own until the fall of 2021 when my friend Luke gifted me a little (I would just smoke as the moment arose with others), I now generally have a couple of buds in a jar, gifted to me by friends. When I was gifted a little Earth’s Green Grass by Luke, I had nothing to smoke with, so I simply stuffed some into a wooden spool of thread and have been smoking from that since. I smoke a very small amount. I see some people take hits of their bowl that would be enough medicine for me for about ten sittings with the plant. One thumb-size bud could probably last me a year if it was just me smoking. Just a little bit is my preference and it is the medicine that I need. I generally feel it for an hour to four hours, but when I’m really working with the medicine like I’d like to I’ll feel the benefit for a few days. It resets me into the present moment, into a space of gratitude and I hold onto that for some time. My ideal right now is to smoke about twice per week, but often weeks or months go by without smoking.

I have not maintained a consistent balance over the last two years since reconnecting with the medicine. There have been some times where I smoked more than once a day. There have been some times where I smoked 4 or 5 times in one week. This is not the relationship that I want to have. I had a lot of basic human needs that were not being met and I leaned too heavily on marijuana to meet these needs.

Overall, I desire to meet my needs through the dozens of other practices I have (growing food, foraging, eating a diet of vibrant foods, being outside, having deep connections with friends, sharing a deep connection with Earth, practicing gratitude, compassionate communication, sleep and rest, love, human touch, movement, stretching, breathing, walking, swimming, living simply, existing outside of oppressive, exploitative systems and being the change, and the list goes on and on) and for marijuana to be just one medicine worked with in alignment and balance with these other medicines. 

I worry about being dependent on marijuana for connection with Earth. I worry that my connection in the moment without marijuana won’t be as strong. I worry about how some of society will perceive me. I struggle with choosing the path that some spiritual leaders I look to, like Gandhi and Thich Nhat Hanh, who chose complete abstinence from plant medicines, working with it as a great healer of humanity. I may be trying to fit into a box or create a box, when none is needed at all. Yet, I see and have experienced the benefit of finding completeness and wholeness without the relationship with plant medicines. I have a deep level of respect and faith in Indigenous cultures, who have and do live in true connection and stewardship with Earth and for whom plant medicine is an integral part of their very being. I am openly sharing the struggle that I have and my uncertainty. I don’t have it in me right now to write it as clearly as I’d like, but I do hope that this sharing has shown light deep inside of me.

This writing and sharing has become so much more extensive than I was planning. I have been writing for about five hours now and I still have much to share. I am seeing that to truly share my relationship with plant medicines, requires so much sharing of myself, because my relationship with plant medicines is a window deep inside of me. Everything that I seek through plant medicines is tied to my deepest yearnings for my life. 

For those of you who have read this far, I do hope this has helped you to get to know me, to understand my inner workings, and equally importantly is helping you on your own journey. I’m guessing that many of you are exploring your relationships with plant medicines. I know that some of you really look to me for vision and guidance. I am hopeful that my sharing has provided that for you. I feel very warm and touched inside knowing that you are here with me reading this much of my experience in life. I still have some more to share.

Although I have been ready to begin working with the medicines, I found my medicine very much in the last two years. I have been immersed in Compassionate Communication courses since the spring of 2022 and it has been life changing. In January of this year, I did a ten-day silent Vipassana meditation, which has been a pivotal experience in my life. I will be continuing these practices among others.

I Am Ready For Psilocybin

As I write this, I am sitting in solitude on a small island in the 10,000 Islands region of the Everglades National Park. I came out here for solitude in which I seek healing and connection to myself and to all life. On my table, I have seven grams of psilocybin. I have it with me as a tool to help me in healing, and connection to myself and to all life. I believe psilocybin, solitude, and “nature” all provide access to what I want in life. Each one can be worked with as a tool on its own. All three can be brought together for a very powerful experience. I have been here alone for five nights. 

I have chosen solitude for my first experience with psilocybin, not because I believe this is the only way to do it, but because it is what calls to me. I struggle with overstimulation from sounds and lights and relationships with humans. I am quite sensitive to the way in which our current society is structured. I am so often yearning for the peace I find by being in solitude. Is it really solitude though? By disconnecting from the hectic life and the complications of human dynamics, what I’m really allowing for is space to be one with something that I feel is bigger, that is blocked in the rat race. So perhaps solitude isn’t solitude at all, but rather a oneness with all of the forces of life.

I always knew that my first time with psilocybin would be in this kind of solitude, both as a means of safety from what I don’t want while I’m on the journey and as a means of achieving what I do want. By now I thought for sure I would have done what I have been wanting to do for three years: have a powerful, healing, deeply connecting experience with psilocybin. Yet here the mushrooms sit with me.

At first, I had a very distraught lower intestine and diarrhea that lasted for two days. I don’t know where this came from. Then I found myself struggling with the elements. Although I am on a white sand island, this region is one of the most challenging places that I have visited on Earth. The biting insects are often so numerous that life is hardly bearable for me. The sun is so strong and the shade is so limited that it becomes exhausting. The water is full of life, which is why I come here, and that includes lots of sharks, which whom I am still creating my relationship. Although I am alone, I have had very little silence as there has been consistent 10-15 mile per hour winds, resulting in a noisy ocean, which over-stimulates my brain (and makes for a battle when canoeing to catch my fish or to get around). There are also quite a few motorboats and I’ve been seeking the spot with the most solitude so I can truly be alone. All of the elements have aligned in a way that the timing has not been quite right for me to work with the psilocybin yet. (That said, I have micro-dosed three times and I did find myself at the top of a tree, looking out into the full-of-life ocean, feeling a deeper love than I generally access.)

I have decided I am going to wait. I have decided it is not the time yet. 

Although these mushrooms were a gift to me from a dear friend who grew them, that is not the connection that I want for my first time.

I want to know the mushrooms. This knowing is what creates the connection. The connection is what I am seeking.

I will wait. I will wait until I return to the Appalachian Mountains that I currently call home, outside of Asheville, North Carolina. There I will forage the mushrooms fully among all of the life that they are part of. I will breathe the air that the spores are released into. I will smell the rich soil on my hands. I will know the trees and plants they live in a reciprocal relationship with. And I will come not as a taker, but as a giver. I will receive this medicine gift from Earth and I will share with the life I am surrounded by that I will continue being a servant to protect this land, home to this medicine. 

And if I can’t forage them, I will grow them. I will watch them every day, growing, growing, growing. I will observe the movement of their life force. I will deepen my connection by tending to them.

This is how I want to connect. This is why I’ve waited this long. This is why I’ll wait a little longer. 

Although I have yet to forge a deep bond with psilocybin, I have bonded deeply with dozens of other mushrooms as food and medicine- reishi, chaga, turkey tail, lions mane, maitake, chicken of the woods, boletes, and chanterelles to name a few. They have helped me to deepen my connection to all of life as I have harvested them from the land, cooked them into my meals, dried them and canned them to store for winter time, and drank them as nourishing medicinal teas. I have bonded with over two hundred plant relatives, which I have come to know and come to work with as foods and medicines. Some I have grown, some I have foraged. (Read: My Year of Growing and Foraging 100% of My Food). These are all plant medicines, too, and I want to honor them. Some of my closest relationships with plant medicines are elderberry, nettle, garlic, wild onion, turmeric, mint, catnip, bee balm, plantago, and dandelion, to name a few.  I want to honor that my food is my medicine. When I eat in deep connection with Earth I am healed with every bite. When I eat processed food from the global, industrial system I am often harmed. 

I return to the mainland tomorrow.

I am ready for psilocybin and the time is soon. There are other plant medicines that I feel called to but I must deepen my relationship with them more before I enter into the medicine. Psilocybin and Earth’s Green Grass are the medicines that I feel the strongest connection to right now. 

At the age of 36, I am ready for this tool of mind expansion. I can speak to youth and share the many other tools I have worked with for liberation and enlightenment. I can share dozens of accessible means of personal liberation with those who look to me for guidance and example. But I also want to speak for the plant medicines and for fungi. These relatives are here to help us come together as a humanity and to live in harmony with each other and all of life. They are our allies. Many say that they are speaking to us and asking us to work with them to heal Earth. I want to help “normalize” these medicines in a holistic manner for society. I have the privilege and the platform to be able to publicly speak about my relationship with these plants and mushrooms and share that they are our relatives.

I follow Earth Code. In Earth Code there is no such thing as an illegal plant. There is no government that controls the plants. Life can not be owned or patented. One plant can’t be demonized while another is praised. All life has a place and a purpose and is a gift. We humans are one species among millions and we are no more important, no more superior to any plant, fungi, bacteria, and any life force. 

These plant medicines follow Earth Code and I stand with them.




Here are a few resources:

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

Paul Stamets on Psilocybin at Bioneers

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)


Addendum, because I have written in such depth I would also like to make at least a brief mention of a few other plants.

Coffee: Yes it is a plant, although most of us have very little relationship to the plant while it is alive, even though many of us drink it daily. I am not a coffee drinker. I drink herbal teas frequently, hundreds of times per year. If I drink coffee, it is usually a few ounces and just a couple times per year. I avoid caffeine for the most part and if I do drink caffeine it’s in the form of green tea, yaupon holly or yerba mate, but even those I tend to drink minimally as I find that caffeine contributes to anxiety and stress for me. I prefer to be calm and relaxed and herbal teas help me with this. 

Chocolate: I love cacao and chocolate. I have had at times a beautiful relationship with cacao and and at times an unhealthy relationship with chocolate. I work with cacao occasionally as a heart opener, but I also find that my heart races with cacao, so I drink it in moderation. I work with dark chocolate with minimal sugar as a medicine and avoid most of what is called chocolate on the market today which is full of processed ingredients and harmful to Earth, humans and life on Earth.

Tobacco: I have never worked with tobacco. Some of my friends smoke marijuana with tobacco and this does not call to me. I have an incredible amount of respect for tobacco and how it has been used by Indigenous cultures. I believe that the modern, industrial tobacco industry has caused an incredible amount of destruction and disease for humanity. Tobacco can be medicine or poison depending on how it is worked with. 

Food: I could write numerous books worth of content on food, and in fact I already have. I invite you to read the many articles on my website to learn more about my relationship with food. 

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