Legal psychedelic retreats launching in Jamaica

by Aaron_Nesmith-Beck 5mo17th Apr 201954 comments

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This post is to let you know about Atman Retreat, a new, legal psychedelic retreat in Jamaica. I’m posting here because 6 EA-aligned people are planning on attending our first retreats (June 5-8 and June 9-12, 2019) so far.

Personal background

Although this is my first post here, I’ve been involved in EA in some capacity for the past 2-3 years. I’m currently an organizer of the EA Toronto group. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about psychedelics from an EA perspective, i.e. as tools for doing significant amounts of good. Last year I gave a presentation to EA Toronto about psychedelic research as a potential cause area for EA.

My current view is that increasing access to high-quality psychedelic experiences (particularly for high-impact people) is worthwhile. There are various ways of doing this (drug policy advocacy, becoming a psychedelic researcher, earning to give to donate to psychedelic research). I believe my comparative advantage is entrepreneurship, so I’m working towards this goal by founding Atman Retreat.

Project background

Psilocybin is the active ingredient in psychedelic (“magic”) mushrooms. It’s illegal in most countries, largely due to the unjust policies of the War on Drugs. In 1971, the Nixon administration enacted the Controlled Substances Act, making psilocybin and other psychoactive substances illegal. This was done for explicitly racist and reactionary reasons, and remains the current drug policy in the US today.

Psilocybin is generally safe, well-tolerated, non-toxic, and non-addictive. It can produce a range of beneficial effects, especially when administered in comfortable settings. A number of promising (but small-n) studies have demonstrated psilocybin’s efficacy in treating depression and anxiety, treatment-resistant depression, tobacco addiction, alcoholism, OCD, and more. High quality psilocybin research is currently being done at Johns Hopkins, Imperial College London, NYU, Yale, and other institutions.

Weaker evidence shows that psychedelic experiences positively predict liberal and anti-authoritarian political views, trait openness, and pro-environmental behaviour. There’s some evidence that psychedelic-enhanced creativity can assist in scientific and technical problem-solving. It also seems plausible that psychedelic experiences can expand people’s moral circle. There hasn’t been research on this yet, but moral circle expansion is a plausible interpretation of certain subjective accounts of psychedelic experiences (particularly the unitive mystical experience, i.e. the “ego dissolution” experience).

Psilocybin mushrooms are legal in Jamaica (we’ve engaged a team of lawyers to confirm this). We’re holding retreats where people can explore psilocybin safely, legally, and intentionally in a group setting. We have a team of 3 experienced facilitators and a beachfront venue in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Retreats are 3 nights/4 days with 12 participants, and include one psilocybin session, preparation and integration activities, meditation, yoga, vegetarian/vegan food and more.

Our first retreats (taking place June 5-8 and June 9-12, 2019) are potentially of interest to forum readers because several EA-aligned folks have already applied for these dates.

[Adding the following based on comments:] The cost is $1,695 USD for one participant. Some reasons an EA-aligned person might want to attend:

  • Work on creative problem-solving related to a cause area
  • Gain clarity on altruistic career-choice
  • Improve mental health to increase personal capacity
  • Have a psychedelic experience in a group that includes other EAs [end of edit]


Medium to long-term project plans

Psilocybin will likely be rescheduled as prescription medicine in the US by 2021-23. In the medium-term we plan to market Atman Retreat to doctors and therapists who are curious about psychedelics, but haven’t had personal experience with them.

We’ve heard from a few sources that there is strong demand for legal, high quality psychedelic experiences among medical and mental health professionals, who will be able to prescribe or treat patients with psychedelic medicine once it becomes available. We also plan to collaborate with researchers to better understand psilocybin’s effects (e.g. by taking part in Imperial’s Ceremony Study).

We believe increasing access to high quality psychedelic experiences can be impactful for improving mental health, boosting personal efficacy, perhaps making people more altruistic, and promoting human flourishing in the long run.

We’re launching our first retreats in June, and we think this is a great opportunity to try psychedelics in a safe, legal setting, along with other people who are excited about EA.

Check out the website for more info, and let me know if you have any questions!

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