Psychedelic Capitalism, Scientific Integrity, and a Wider Look Into Current Events; Response to USONA Article
Psychedelic Capitalism, A Wider Look Into Current Events
This article is in response to a paper recently published independently
by individuals from the USONA Institute and re-published with additional
disparaging comments by David Heldreth on behalf of Panacea Plant Sciences
entitled “Fungi Fiction: Analytical Investigation into the Church of
Psilomethoxin; Alleged Novel Compound using UPLC-HRMS.” We will address first
the Church’s position on the existence of Psilomethoxin, the respective
interests of USONA and David Heldreth on behalf of Panacea Plant Sciences, how
that affects the credibility of their defamatory claims, and why,
scientifically, the claims made in the subject article are highly dubious at
best. The individuals attacking and attempting to discredit our Church,
seemingly operate off the erroneous assumption that the Church has made the
claim that Psilomethoxin has been positively identified in its Sacrament. Had
they taken time to read through our website content and other materials, they
would have known their assumption to be incorrect. However, these parties seem
to be so fixated on attacking and discrediting the Church that they have either
seen the Church’s statements and completely disregarded them, as it doesn’t
support their baseless attacks- or have not taken the time to assess the entire
situation before publicly disparaging the Church. Either of these scenarios are
troubling. Moreover, it is evident their desire to try and discredit and
disparage our Church has also significantly and negatively affected the quality
of their science. The article at issue is based upon extremely poor scientific
standards as demonstrated.
1 The Church’s Position
Good day to our members and the public. We hope everyone is doing well!! This article is in response to a paper recently published by the USONA Institute and re-published with additional disparaging comments by David Heldreth on behalf of Panacea Plant Sciences entitled “Fungi Fiction: Analytical Investigation into the Church of Psilomethoxin; Alleged Novel Compound using UPLC-HRMS.” We will address first the Church’s position on the existence of Psilomethoxin, the respective interests of USONA and David Heldreth on behalf of Panacea Plant Sciences, how that affects the credibility of their defamatory claims, and why, scientifically, the claims made in the subject article are highly dubious at best. Our Officer of Sacred Science, Adam McKay, is responsible for the scientific portion of this response.
As an initial matter, no one should ever take scientific papers and publications as scientific fact before thoroughly examining the underlying methodology, because as is the case here, many are not scientifically sound. While USONA institute on its website states that its “…current clinical trials are aimed at evaluating the safety and efficacy of psilocybin and 5-MEO-DMT within the strict guidance of the US Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory bodies,” the subject article is of such a poor scientific/methodological standard, as explained in further detail below, is not reflective of them meeting such standards.
First, it should be noted that the Church has never, at any time, laid claim to the fact that Psilomethoxin has ever been positively identified in its sacrament. Why? Because at this juncture, it is scientifically impossible to make such claims as there is no reference sample in existence. Our claims to the existence of Psilomethoxin, at this time, are solely based on faith, bolstered by our and our members’ own direct experiences with the Sacrament.
No one can claim, at this juncture, positive identification of Psilomethoxin until a reference sample for comparison is obtained. The Church has made significant strides in obtaining a reference sample and expects acquire one this year.
The individuals attacking and attempting to discredit our Church, seemingly operate off the erroneous assumption that the Church has made the claim that Psilomethoxin has been positively identified in its Sacrament. Had they taken time to read through our website content and other materials, they would have known their assumption to be incorrect. However, these parties seem to be so fixated on attacking and discrediting the Church that they have either seen the Church’s statements and completely disregarded them (because it doesn’t support their baseless attacks) or have not taken the time to assess the entire situation before publicly disparaging the Church. Either of these scenarios are troubling. Moreover, it is evident their desire to try and discredit and disparage our Church has also significantly and negatively affected the quality of their science. As discussed below, the article at issue is based upon extremely poor scientific standards.
The subject article, in conjunction with David Heldreth’s disparaging statements are a textbook example of the evils and horrors of psychedelic capitalism. These are the same evils and horrors many have speculated about, but had not previously seen, at least to this degree. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that both USONA (and its scientists) and Panacea Plant Sciences/David Heldreth, at least in some manner and to some degree, are attempting to capitalize on the burgeoning psychedelic renaissance.
Any person or organization which seeks or attempts to open and/or increase access to psychedelics, beyond the control of the capitalist gatekeepers, is seen as a threat to their monetary interests, and as we have seen, causes these capitalist gatekeepers to go to great lengths to try and oust the threat. These companies will spare no person, entity, or expense in protecting their IP interests and exclusive control over new psychedelic compounds or any and all aspects of psychedelic therapy. As many are all too aware, patent lawsuits and litigation are a common headline in the psychedelic news media as the psychedelic capitalist fight for control over the entire sector.
Before we start to assess the claims being made by USONA and Panacea Plant Sciences/David Heldreth, it is important to note that many individuals and entities operating in the psychedelic scientific/medical research community have sought to disparage and discredit the claims of entheogen-based religious practitioners. As many are aware such individuals and entities will tout the safety of psychedelics in a medical/clinical setting but then state how dangerous they are if consumed elsewhere, even when such is not supported by the clearly established safety data. Obviously, if people are free to consume entheogens in a spiritual/religious setting, then they are not forced to pay exorbitant amounts of money to go through the clinical models. This is seemingly unacceptable to many operating in the medical/scientific psychedelic space, regardless if it involves exercising a fundamental and inalienable right.
We must first consider that both USONA and Panaea Plant Sciences/David Heldreth seemingly have a vested interest in trying to discredit and disband the Church of Psilomethoxin. As such, we should always examine their statements and science with the knowledge they are likely biased and seemingly believe they have some vested interest (likely pecuniary in nature) contrary to that of our Church.
Even though the Church has never inserted itself into the for-profit and/or medical/scientific psychedelic sector (as it is a non-profit religious organization), or placed itself in competition against either entity, it seems that our spiritual/religious practice and our sacrament represents a threat to them. It would be highly unlikely that USONA, a non-profit entity (medical research organization) would spend money and resources on publishing the subject article if it didn’t believe that such would advance some interest of theirs. It is unlikely that David Heldreth, on behalf of Panacea Plant Sciences would make clearly false patent claims and republish, with additional disparaging comments, the subject article if they did not believe there would be some interest (likely pecuniary) advanced by such conduct.
The disparaging statements made by David Heldreth, on behalf of Panacea Plant Sciences, when he republished the USONA article, are not the first he has made against the Church. Approximately five months ago, Mr. Heldreth, on behalf of Panacea Plant Sciences, made blatantly false and non-sensical patent claims on LinkedIn, alleging he had a patent on our sacrament-production process. Additionally, he suggested that if we did not engage him, or some other party for a non-profit license, we could be sued for patent infringement. These patent claims are and were obviously false. In fact, several people on the same post indicated as much and were of the opinion, as was the Church, that such assertions were ridiculous.
Why were these assertions patently false? The process the Church was using to produce its sacrament had been previously patented by German scientists well over thirty years ago. Obviously that patent has expired. Moreover, the general contours of our exact process at the time had been described by our Church’s godfather and prophet, Alexander Shulgin, in a 2005 article on his website Cognitive Liberty. As such, David Heldreth, on behalf of Panacea Plant Science’s patent claims were clearly erroneous as the process had clearly been prior arted, and as such, no valid patent could ever be obtained on the process. The concept of prior art is one of the most basic, fundamental, and well-known aspects of patent law. It is the Church’s opinion that Mr. Heldreth’s blatant disregard for these basic and fundamental patent laws, as an officer of a psychedelic science/research organization who has filed multiple patent applications, clearly evidences a malicious intent in making those claims.
While Church leadership considered filing a defamation lawsuit and/or publishing an article at that time to address the public, false, and defamatory statements made by David Heldreth, on behalf of Panacea Plant Sciences (he insinuated that the Church was a patent infringer), we decided to let it go and forgive him as such is consistent with our fundamental belief in the principle of cosmic unity and we always want to set a good example for our members and the public at large. However, now that subsequent statements have been made, we felt it necessary to disclose the prior statements in our defense, as it aids in gauging the apparent and obvious bias David Heldreth and Panacea Plant Sciences have in republishing the subject article with additional disparaging comments.
It must be noted that the Church of Psilomethoxin is a religious organization. It is not a for-profit entity and has never injected itself into the for-profit psychedelic industry, nor would it ever. Our sacrament has always been and will remain available only to our members, who are sincere and competent entheogen-based religious practitioners. We do not serve our sacrament to the general public, nor will we ever. It seems that USONA and David Heldreth/Panacea Plant Sciences either do not understand or are disregarding this fact as they speak and ac as if the Church is a normal for-profit entity seeking to distribute its sacrament to the public at large, in competition with them.
As a group of religious practitioners, the Church is entitled to rely on faith in believing that its sacrament contains Psilomethoxin. Other established religious organizations make claims their sacrament contains or represents certain things which it can not prove scientifically. Yet, USONA chose to zero in on our Church for no apparent reason. The fact remains that faith is a perfectly normal, accepted, and fundamental part of most, if not all, religions. It is clearly established precedent in this country that individuals are completely free and protected in their right to believe in things they cannot prove and courts in this country are strictly forbidden from entertaining such an inquiry.
As stated above, our faith in the existence of Psilomethoxin is rooted in the Church’s and its members’ own direct experiences with the sacrament. We all have the right to believe whatever it is we want to believe, on faith, and to strengthen our faith based upon our own direct experiences. There has always been a struggle between science and religion, in that science has always made concerted efforts to discredit religious claims. This situation is a prime example of that. However, today, more and more, people are relying on their personal and direct experiences over scientific claims to the contrary (and we think rightfully so). In this instance, the scientific paper at issue is of extremely poor quality, and it is perfectly reasonable that people would disregard its claims and continue to follow their faith in their own direct experiences with our sacrament.
David Heldreth, on behalf of Panacea Plant Science’s claims that this dubious scientific paper “…would seem to complicate their religious protection claims and may being other legal issues” is beyond his competency and is not worthy of a detailed response. The Church disputes whether the sample tested in this instance was indeed obtained from the Church (there is no chain of custody to establish this fact). However, regardless of the blatant chain of custody and testing/methodological issues present in the subject article, the Church feels extremely confident in its religious claims. This is true regardless of whether psilocybin and psilocin were discovered in samples of its sacrament.
Obviously, the Church is working with a natural organism which produces these compounds. The Church’s clearly stated belief system requires it to work hand-in-hand with nature (reunion of science and nature). As such, the Church believes that trace amounts of psilocybin and/or psilocin are perfectly normal and should be expected to some extent. If the sacred mushroom substrates output some trace quantity of psilocybin and/or psilocin, then such is still considered our sacrament. In fact, the Church has acknowledged and discussed this possibility on several occasions.
As most are aware, psilocybin/psilocin are perhaps the most ancient and prolific entheogenic sacraments, and their sacramental/spiritual/religious use, as Michael Winkleman has stated, is “…our shared world religious heritage.” So how the existence of these ancient and sacred compounds in a religious sacrament would complicate religious claims is unknown. It is no surprise that Mr. Heldreth’s statements were conclusory in nature and without substantive discussion. Moreover, for USONA to suggest that trace amounts of psilocybin/psilocin present in any sample represents a public health issue or danger is completely disingenuous. The amount of scientific evidence bolstering the safety profile of these two sacred compounds is so great as to not even warrant citation. There has never been one documented death attributed solely to either one or both, of these compounds.
In his re-publishing of the article, David Heldreth, on behalf of Panacea Plant Sciences, uses quotations around the word “church.” It is obvious that, in this, he is intending to shed doubt on the Church’s sincerity and religious claims. This is patently offensive and worthy of some discussion as this conduct is very pervasive amongst psychedelic capitalists and they need to be held accountable for having double standards and being intellectually dishonest.
When we look back over history, the religious/spiritual use of entheogens has by far been the primary method/mode of consumption. In fact, this class of compounds didn’t enter into the scientific sector until the 1950’s. Moreover, the concept of “recreational” (whatever that means) use of psychedelics did not manifest until probably the 1960’s. Therefore, as a statistical matter, based upon credible anthropological/archeological evidence and academic literature, it is much more likely that someone is being sincere in their assertion that they are consuming entheogens for spiritual/religious purposes, as opposed to any other kind of use. However, because this fact is inconsistent with David Heldreth, on behalf of Panacea Plant Science’s pecuniary interest, it is obviously disregarded, in favor of insinuating the Church’s religious claims aren’t sincere.
Additionally, David Heldreth, on behalf of Panacea Plant Science’s insinuation of the Church’s insincerity is wholly inconsistent with psychedelic science, of which he is undoubtedly aware. Ever since psychedelics were first administered under scientific observation in the 1950’s, it was noted that this class of compounds, very reliably, produces primary religious/mystical experiences, even in sterilized clinical settings. As the science has progressed and different psychedelic compounds have been studied, this one fact has remained the same–people very reliably have primary religious/mystical experiences under the influence of psychedelic compounds. That is why the Church prefers to identify them as entheogens. In fact, a recent paper published by Johns Hopkins University, one of the world’s leading psilocybin research institutions, states that between 70-80% of those who consume psilocybin in clinical trials have a primary religious/mystical experience, which are usually ranked in the top five most meaningful experience of their lives.
Considering the foregoing, based upon long-standing historical and scientific fact, someone who claims they consume any entheogen/psychedelic for spiritual/religious purposes are much more likely than not being sincere in their assertions. However, David Heldreth and many other psychedelic capitalists have repeatedly insinuated, or outright stated, that entheogen/psychedelic-based religious claims are fraudulent or insincere (one very well-known psychedelic profiteer used the word “bogus” in his remarks at a conference in Florida).
One must ask why these individuals continue to make disparaging comments about the claims of entheogen/psychedelic practitioners when it is obviously contrary to established scientific and historical fact? Because claims of entheogen/psychedelic-based religious practitioners are contrary to their pecuniary and other vested interests. And as such, it does not matter what the science or history says. If the science is contrary to their interests, then it is completely disregarded, or other science is manufactured to achieve their ends. This is exactly what has happened here. USONA apparently decided to throw scientific standards out the window to bolster a conclusion seemingly consistent with its perceived interests-that Psilomethoxin does not exist in our sacrament. Enough is enough, it is time to start holding these psychedelic “scientists” to a higher standard of scientific integrity and rigor.
At this juncture, the Church will likely explore its legal options against both USONA and David Heldreth/Panacea Plant Sciences for the unfounded and disparaging comments they have made (including the previous comments made by David Heldreth on behalf of Panacea Plant Sciences). For reference, we will publish in conjunction with this response, the prior comments made by David Heldreth, so everyone can see his relentless pursuit to disparage and disband our Church. The Church believes that David Heldreth’s consistent efforts to discredit and disband our Church through the use of false and conclusory statements and assertions, are likely malicious in nature. It is doubtful he will ever stop his pursuit until he and Panacea Plant Sciences are held accountable for their actions.
It is a sad state of affairs, when religious organizations, such as our Church and its members, who are peacefully practicing their religion and working to support vulnerable populations such as veterans and first responders, are attacked and defamed for exercising their basic and fundamental rights as citizens and human beings. As previously stated, we think it is fair to say that what we are seeing here is a textbook example of what can be expected should the psychedelic capitalist system proceed in the direction it is now headed. As all dedicated entheogen-based religious practitioners and others are aware, these attacks and psychedelic capitalism are antithetical to the clear messages we receive from the sacred entheogens. Perhaps the world, and the psychedelic space, would be a much better and peaceful place if those who seek to monetize and control access to psychedelics would consume their sacrament and listen to what spirit is saying. All we can do is hope.
Below is the response from our Head of Sacred Sciences, Adam McKay.
2 Scientific Response
The publication and sample veracity
Williamson and Heldreth’s paper firstly is not published or peer reviewed in any accredited journal or institution, and seems to be just a formulaic document aided by AI aimed at discrediting the Church of Psilomethoxin. It appears to be put forth by two individuals associated with a for profit organization. The individuals did not make any effort to contact the church for an authentic sample or attempt to verify the purported sample in question whatsoever. Before moving onto the analytical inconsistencies it is important to note the chain of custody of the sample in question. There is no evidence to support that it is authentic sacrament, stored and transported properly, and unadulterated- on both the anonymous donor and investigator end with the exception of the authors safe handling claims at the very end of the samples use.
5 known to be present in mushroom tryptamine compounds, along with 5-MeO-DMT were claimed to be run with reference standards by UPLC-HRMS in an unspecified solution where an anhydrous methanolic extract was used to prepare the purported sample. When possible the diluent solution for the sample and standard should be identical or otherwise demonstrated to not alter the results between sample and standard. This is a major methodology issue in itself.
Chromatography is highly sensitive to solvent mixture ratios and pH yielding variable results even on the same instrument run consecutively without significant controls and safeguards in place. In a credible analysis the method used needs to be validated and robust. With chromatography in particular, this entails such steps as repeated injections of the standard to indicate the instrument’s reliable functioning, blank measurements for background noise, and threshold of detection measurements. As a chromatography specialist for small molecule drugs of almost a decade in FDA regulated labs these findings would never stand as reported here due to the lack of the 3 aforementioned control steps alone. Without replicate standard analysis, and a reportable RSD for both retention time and peak size, it is significantly likely that either a single misrepresentative result may be selected or inaccuracies in the results would be present.
The author hypothesizes “If present in the sample, Psilomethoxin would likely appear with a retention time between that of psilocin and 5-MeO-DMT at approximately 1.3-1.6 minutes” with no basis other than a mention of polarity. Taking the fact that this is simply a conjecture based on nothing more than speculation of the molecule’s polarity without evidence or data, the approximate retention time is meaningless and absolutely not credible as a basis of confirmation. This issue is what likely led Hamilton Morris to properly declare inconclusive in his testing in accordance with GLP.
Consider the fact in figure 5 of the Fungi Fiction paper, that a water blank was compared against a church sample in anhydrous methanol. This is not a blank determination when different and unrelated solutions are used. One would expect that the results would not be identical, given that a water blank was run against anhydrous methanol regardless if an authentic sample is used and Psilomethoxin is present.
Traditional psilocybin producing mushrooms produce a series of related tryptamines such as Baeocystin, Norbaeocystin, and Norpsilocin in addition to the well known compounds psilocin and psilocybin. The author clearly demonstrated that his machine was capable of the isolation and detection of all 5 compounds, using analytical reference standards. It would be expected in an analysis of psychoactive mushroom extract that the related tryptamines would be present in addition to the natural products of the mushroom. The reported sample results show only the presence of psilocybin and a lesser amount of psilocin despite the author claiming an unreported or quantified recovery of baeocystin and a robust recovery system. The author claims without evidence or reporting that naturally present compounds were found. This is strong evidence to suggest that an inauthentic or adulterated sample was tested