Coming Out of the Psychedelic Closet: Lifting the Negative Stigma around Plant Medicines

With the legalization of cannabis in Canada just weeks away, there is a growing interest and awareness surrounding the many benefits and uses of this and other plant medicines.

Are powerful plant and fungi medicines such as cannabis, ayahuasca, ibogaine, and psilocybin becoming less stigmatized as a result?

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The Cannabis Hemp Conference and similar events nationally and internationally aim to explore and advocate the use of these plants while helping to lift the negative stigma that often surrounds their use.

The Cannabis Hemp Conference

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In its fourth year, the Cannabis Hemp Conference & Expo is expanding to include other plant and fungi medicines such as psilocybin, DMT, LSD, and MDMA, presenting on the latest studies and therapeutic applications.

The three pillars of the conference are science, spirituality, and ecology. Conference founder Salimeh Tabrizi wants to consider this question: “What are we being called to do right now?”

The two day conference will take place on September 28th – 30th, 2018, at the Chan Center and The Nest at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Over 40 speakers and known experts on the cannabis scene will be presenting, and there are six workshops available. Finally, on Saturday night, the first ever public cannabis meditation will take place at the Museum of Anthropology.

Why your relationship with cannabis as a plant medicine matters

The growing discussion on cannabis surrounds three main categories of use. The first is medical applications for cancer patients, users with chronic pain, children with epilepsy, and many others. The second use is of a spiritual nature for those connected to the plant medicine on a deeper level. And the final use is simply for those who enjoy the high, peace, and happiness the plant provides.

There are many uses of cannabis, and the community wants to approach this discussion from a place of no judgement; but a negative stigma, especially against recreational use, pervades our culture and society, which results in many users experiencing guilt.

What is the relationship between you and this plant-teacher? Turning the mirror on yourself and exploring it together as a community, acknowledging it as a double-edged sword, allows us to have productive and enlightening conversations about this medicine without the shroud of guilt.

What is Ibogaine?

Ibogaine helps people overcome various types of addiction. From the Iboga shrub, which is native to West Africa, it’s been used ceremonially for centuries.

In 1962, a heroin addict tried Ibogaine and was surprised to find he didn’t want heroine afterwards. That was the first time it was seen as a potential method for overcoming drug addiction.

Whereas ayahuasca works on the serotonin receptors and San Pedro works on the dopamine receptors, Ibogaine works on all of the neurotransmitter receptors, which is what makes it such a powerful medicine.

Ibogaine has a “built-in” integration due to the fact that you cannot sleep for 36 hours, and it is stored in your fat cells up to 3 months, slowly releasing. This means it is both transformative and sustainable with lasting positive effects.

Ibogaine is currently outlawed in the United States, but available in Mexico. It was freely available in Canada, and now it is going through clinical trials to be placed on the prescription drug list.

Bringing it back to cannabis, the endocannabinoid system regulates our mood, appetite, sleep, stress regulation, pain, and it is very synergistic with serotonin receptors. We’re just at the tip of the knowledge about what these incredible plant teachers and plant medicines can do for us and our systems.

Ecology, integration, and shifting focus

Going from being grown in basements to being grown on a large scale, this shift in the way we are using plant medicines is an exciting time, but it should not be taken lightly.

Part of integration is being conscious about our relationship to the planet. We have to stay positive with all of the negative feedback we get from the media while remaining cognizant of the impact of our actions. What if we are able to start growing cannabis outdoors in real sun? What about appreciating a plant that is naturally occuring, not optimized for THC content?

The focus of our use of these plants is also shifting as we begin using it with intention, in a ceremonial sense, making the experience so much more incredible and powerful. The evolution of this medicine is deeply connected to our own evolution and our own consciousness expansion. From this reconnection process and reconciliation, we can have a better relationship with ourselves as well. We are now seeing cannabis for what it has always, truly been.

As we’re living life, we see life through a pane of glass. This glass gets dirty with trauma and other life experiences. The way psychedelic medicine works is by cleaning that glass. It’s not adding anything. Instead, it’s a pattern interrupter and a forgiveness medicine. These plants help us eliminate that things that no longer serve us.

“When we have the safe container self-love and self-compassion, which is what the plants and fungi create for us, then we can sigh and actually move through it,” says Salimeh Tabrizi.

Meditation and floatation are also amazing for integration. Inner child work is another way to connect with plant medicine on a deeper level and really integrate its teachings. It is a way of healing old wounds and removing the need to revisit the past so you can remain in the present, which is where creation happens.

This is a big part of our transition: each of us taking responsibility and practicing self inquiry. You have to ultimately do the work in between, the integration. This is key with any kind of plant medicine experience.

Lifting the stigma: a call to action

These medicine really work, and ultimately this is what will help continue to lift the stigma. People cannot deny the power of plant medicines such as cannabis, psilocybin, and Ibogaine, and as more and more people experience the benefits of these medicines, they will be more widely accepted.

There are so many stories attesting to the power of these medicines that are coming out in the mainstream and also via alt-media such as podcasts, but perhaps more importantly--or equally as important--are the stories coming from individuals who are not on the fringes of the movement.

You can hear some of these fascinating and inspiring stories at the Cannabis Hemp Conference. The call to action is: Come out of the psychedelic closet.