#48 – Drugs and Anti-Capitalism with Hilary Agro

February 7, 2022

We talk drugs and anti-capitalism with anthropology PhD candidate, Hilary Agro. Ranging from prohibition to psychedelic clinical trials and beyond, we explore the overlaps and differences in our analyses of the current psychedelic (and broader drug policy) landscape.

#48 – Drugs and Anti-Capitalism with Hilary Agro

We talk drugs and anti-capitalism with anthropology PhD candidate, Hilary Agro. Ranging from prohibition to psychedelic clinical trials and beyond, we explore the overlaps and differences in our analyses of the current psychedelic (and broader drug policy) landscape.

Plus Three|February 7, 2022

We talk drugs and anti-capitalism with anthropology PhD candidate, Hilary Agro. Ranging from prohibition to psychedelic clinical trials and beyond, we explore the overlaps and differences in our analyses of the current psychedelic (and broader drug policy) landscape.


Transcription by Kayla Greenstien. While we endeavor to ensure the accuracy of our transcripts, sometimes things slip through the cracks. If you spot an error you’d like us to correct, please let us know at tips@psymposia.com

Brian Pace  0:00  Hey y’all. Brian Pace here co-host of Plus Three. Before we dive into today’s episode, I want to thank all of you for supporting our work on Patreon. This doesn’t happen without you. If you’re just tuning in and like what you hear, head over to patreon.com/psymposia to become a supporter. Plus Three is produced by Psymposia, which is a 501 C3 nonprofit offering leftist perspectives on drugs, politics and culture. If you’d like to give a tax deductible donation, including cryptocurrency, hit us at psymposia.com/donate. Finally, a rate or review really helps others find the show. So consider taking the time to do that. Thanks and enjoy the conversation 

Hi, folks.

Neşe Devenot  0:58  Hi.

Hilary Agro  0:59  Hey everybody. 

Brian Pace  1:00  It’s been a little while. Today, we’re joined by Hilary Agro. Hilary Agro is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of British Columbia. She studies recreational drug use and drug policy, focusing on the benefits and positives of self-administered drug use, which are widely recognized and experienced by users themselves, but seldom included in academic or mainstream discussions of drugs. She also looks at drug prohibition, and how its racialized and capitalist entanglements, impact users. Hilary has run workshops on psychedelics, harm reduction and consent culture. She’s passionate about public outreach and activism on Twitter and Tik Tok. In the blog, she writes, based on her ethnographic research, which is, can be found at Hilaryagro.wordpress.com. So yeah, welcome. 

Hilary Agro  2:04  Thanks. I like drugs, other people like drugs, who want to support people’s bodily choices and prohibition and capitalism, like that’s, you know, super easy to do. And I’m an online loud mouth.

Brian Pace  2:16  Yeah, that’s how I first came across you. We also like drugs and think capitalism is no, no bueno.

Hilary Agro  2:25  I love that we’re on the same page about all this.

David Nickles  2:27  I have to say paste with has been plugging bread and poppies. Yeah,

Hilary Agro  2:30  Yeah. It’s been a really long hiatus right now. But I actually have a whole bunch of plans starting in December and moving forward because I’m on mat leave right now. So, I had a baby and I haven’t been able to do very much, but the podcast is going to be restarted.

Brian Pace  2:45  Awesome, can’t wait.

David Nickles  2:46  Not being able to do do very much has also resulted in your Tiktok exploding in the last two months.

Hilary Agro  2:53  Yeah, I’m kind of like incorrigible. I’m trying to take a break. I’m trying to just not be productive, not buy into the, you know, capitalist brainwashing that I need to be productive at all times to be like a worthwhile human being, but also prohibitions bad and I can’t stop ranting about it. And so I opened up a Tiktok account just for fun, just to see what it would be like, mostly just to sort of practice my video skills before I move to YouTube. And I have almost 17,000 followers in two months. 

Brian Normand  3:25  That’s crazy. 

Hilary Agro  3:25  People are hungry for info. You guys do amazing work and I think people really are desperate to hear good information about psychedelics. Like, you know, we’re in this massive mental health crisis all over the world and people are trying to heal and process and figure, figure out how to move forward in this chaotic social circumstances that we’re going to be facing for the rest of our lives and psychedelics are finally becoming destigmatize enough that people are interested. But there’s so many grifters and crackpots out there. And just predatory capitalists who don’t really care so much about people using these substances to to heal and have a good time, so much as they want to make money off of them. So I think the work that you guys do is really great. And I love that there’s more of us doing this kind of thing now.

Brian Pace  4:12  I think you had a recent Tiktok we’re talking about how methamphetamine can be a life saving drug if it means that keeps you in your job that you need to keep, you know, food, clothes and shelter. That means methamphetamine saved your life to cope with your daily life in capitalism. You reframe things very well.

Hilary Agro  4:31  Yeah, I mean, that’s, you know, my goal as an educator is to get people to think about things differently. And that’s really the strength of anthropology as a discipline. In anthropology, we tend to not so much look for answers, but look for good questions, you know, questions that make us think and reframe, just like psychedelics do. And a lot of people with drug policy especially, it really is just about asking the right questions. Most people just haven’t thought about these issues enough. And once you get them talking and questioning and thinking about these things like, okay, well, using drugs are bad and that’s why should they should be illegal. Is drug prohibition working? Is prohibition stopping people from using drugs? You know, just asking questions can really get people most of the way there. But I am developing a reputation as the meth defender, apparently. Yeah, this has been happening on Twitter for a while. It’s not that I think that meth is like the most wonderful drug ever, and everybody should do it. It’s just that I, like stigma doesn’t stop people from using it. And we need to understand that it’s helpful to some people. It’s not the ideal solution. But yeah, like you said, it’s just that if people are using it, it’s because it’s the best decision for them at that point in time with the resources that they have. It would be nice for them to have other alternatives to use other than meth, of course, but it’s not that meth is just this dangerous, evil drug that ruins lives. It’s that poverty ruins lives and trauma ruins lives. And, any drug meth included, can be a life saving drug, if it prevents suicide. It’s just like, you know, the way that, not to get too political too quickly on you.

Brian Pace  6:07  Oh, don’t do that!

Hilary Agro  6:08  Please, please, please. 

The same thing they say what about giving trans youth (baby sounds). Hi, honey.

Brian Pace  6:16  Oh you’ve got back up vocals.

Hilary Agro  6:17  Gender affirming. Ha yeah, hello, you’re singing. Gender affirming hormones. We can talk all day about what’s the right approach and all that kind of thing. But like, the truth is that these hormones are often the only thing keeping trans youth alive. And I don’t want people to kill themselves. And if it requires any kind of drug to keep them alive, then what are we doing trying to prevent them from accessing that drug. And that’s not even to talk about the bodily autonomy is allowing people to make their own choices without shaming them or stigmatizing them or throwing them in prison.

Brian Pace  6:48  Yeah.

Hilary Agro  6:48  All drug choices are made in a social context that we need to understand if we want people to have the resources and tools to make different choices.

David Nickles  6:57  There’s a couple things that come to mind on that front. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but Sam Quinones, who put out Dreamland just released a book called ‘The Last of Us’ dealing with questions around like fentanyl and meth and the broader social structures.

Brian Normand  7:11  ‘The Least of Us’. ‘The Last of Us’ is a PlayStation game.

Brian Pace  7:14  Yeah, that’s a game about zombies.

David Nickles  7:16  Oh, sorry, Least of Us. Yes. Dealing with

Brian Pace  7:20  I have some thoughts about meth. One is that it’s scheduled two in the United States and it’s available for prescription for a number of syndromes, like narcolepsy, for one and even like weight loss in extreme cases. But it’s called desoxyn when prescribed by your doctor. Even this highly stigmatized street drug can be pharmaceutically prescribed, and it has uses that are recognized by medical establishments where, whereas like cannabis is still you know, schedule one, as everybody is aware.

David Nickles  7:53  Well, and of course, the one of the fun things to point out with regards to that, as far as like, for what purposes is it prescribed? And how does it end up getting used? Like, what sort of social relations does it potentially reinforce? You know, and I think whether looking at things like meth, or looking at certain psychiatric drugs, like when does a sort of desired effect become a side effect? You know, for example, if you’re looking at like sedatives, and folks who are perhaps manic, right, like there’s a certain point where you know, the medical profession, maybe you look at decreasing mania to a point of normal functionality, but then that desired effect becomes a side effect if you go beyond that and then you get lethargy, right. And so the, like, even the sort of drug effects are understood in a social context, as far as like desired human behavior. And I think this actually ties in as well, to the the questions about psychedelics for healing, in the context of late capitalism at the point where we experienced so much alienation and disconnection and exploitation, and the notion that these compounds are somehow going to come in as a miracle cure and reinstate that. I mean, Ben Sessa is on the record saying, you know, two doses of psilocybin and you’re cured. I’m not sure that that does a hell of a lot for people’s material circumstances. And so like, it feels really important to take that anthropological approach to ask some of those questions. I mean, as Hilary was running through some of that a moment ago, you know, I was thinking of David Graeber sort of getting people to think about anarchism, and throwing out the question of, hey, like, are people capable of calmly waiting for the bus? Well, you’ve got a situation where you’ve got some degree of anarchistic sort of principles, playing out that you’re not being told, you know, to commonly wait for the bus, that people are capable of sort of self organizing and engaging in ways that don’t immediately turn into Lord of the Flies situations.

Hilary Agro  9:51  Exactly. And David Graeber was an anthropologist as well.

David Nickles  9:55  Indeed. 

Hilary Agro  9:57  And yeah, colleague of mine, great guy. We miss him.

David Nickles  10:00  Yeah, there’s a phenomenal article out in New York mag, dealing with some recollections of him. I actually had the privilege of studying under Lauren Leve his former girlfriend for a period of time, and she has some really awesome perspectives in there. 

Hilary Agro  10:14  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to not wait for the end of capitalism in order to start building the type of society and living the type of social lives and relations that we want to see in the world. And this is why I’m kind of like, you know, I feel like in the past, I might have apologized for having a baby on this kind of thing. But it’s like, no, we don’t want. We don’t, we don’t, that’s not the type of world we want to live in, where children have to be like, segregated and hidden from. 

Brian Pace  10:43  Yeah.

Hilary Agro  10:45  The rest of us. 

Brian Pace  10:46  So I teach Psychedelic Studies at the Ohio State University and my childcare fell through while I was teaching, 

Hilary Agro  10:54  You teach Psychedelic Studies? 

Brian Pace  10:56  Yeah. It’s been a journey.

David Nickles  10:58  (laughing)

Hilary Agro  10:58  At the university, that’s cool. 

Brian Pace  11:01  But yeah, last winter, you know, I, my childcare fell through when um. And I ended up, you know, having a lecture about LSD while holding a six month old. It went okay.

Hilary Agro  11:17  Even just that you will, you will be in the same boat as, as, as I, testing out our ideals and ideas about how to teach children about, young people about, consciousness alteration

Brian Pace  11:28  Absolutely 

Hilary Agro  11:29  In ways that don’t replicate the prohibitionist mindset. And the ‘just say no’, and all that kind of thing. And it’s funny, because I have a toddler as well. And she’s three. And in my mind, you know, I’ve spoken to teenagers, in groups about drugs, and it’s always really rewarding and great, because rarely have they had an adult speak to them sort of like with, like respects for their, their maturity and bodily autonomy and views about these things. Like mostly adults are just terrified to tell young people that drugs feel good as if they’re not going to figure that out on their own. 

Brian Pace  12:03  Right. 

Hilary Agro  12:04  But so I’ve kind of like, you know, I’ve gotten good at talking to teenagers about these things. But I didn’t think that I was going to need to broach the subject so early, with my toddler until Halloween, candy time. And this is the first time my toddler has had access to a drug: sugar. And she’s really young and I’m like, oh, no, I need to teach her about moderation. Oh, no, this is gonna be tricky.

David Nickles  12:32  How did it go?

Hilary Agro  12:33  We’re letting her have one a day but I’m starting to wonder if maybe I should have talked to her about it and said, you know, you can have one every day or you can just eat the whole thing now. Obviously, she would have chosen to eat everything then. But then we could have talked about like, you know, why she probably didn’t feel good after that, right? And that kind of thing.

Brian Pace  12:51  I don’t know if you’re aware of everybody’s background, but Neşe also is a humanities scholar who looks into narratives around drugs. And there’s all kinds of stories that we tell, but we could probably update them, right?

Hilary Agro  13:05  Yes. So here’s another approach that I take that seems to be effective in educating people about this stuff. At least in Canada where I am, most people have accepted that abstinence only sex education doesn’t work. And so you, sort of slide in with that and you’re like, well, then why do we think it’s going to work for drugs? And a lot of that is because people still believe that you either do drugs or you don’t when that’s not actually true. Everybody has a relationship to consciousness alteration. There’s very few people who’ve never altered their consciousness in any way. And so it’s not about whether you do drugs or not, it’s, you know, are you able to do them safely, is the context in which you’re using them voluntary or coerced? What’s your actual relationship to these things instead of like, yes or no. And so that’s definitely a cultural narrative that’s going to take a while to, to shift. Because most people still don’t even think that caffeine is a drug, so.

Brian Pace  14:00  Yeah, I mean, I tell my students that, you know, the majority of us spend about six to eight hours hallucinating vividly every, every night. Brain states. 

Hilary Agro  14:09  Yeah.

Neşe Devenot  14:09  Speaking of how we talk about different drugs, there’s this great Vox article called ‘Imagine if the media covered alcohol like other drugs’, and I use it to teach drug rhetoric and just because it’s like describing alcoholic, regular alcoholic culture, but as if it’s this like devious like drug that’s going to destroy society…

Hilary Agro  14:33  Right, yeah.

Neşe Devenot  14:34  …that so many other drugs. And so it’s really interesting for students to, to look at that and sort of de familiarize their assumptions about alcohol and think about how that might, that framing might be the case for other substances that they, you know, might have just assumed is like, inherently a negative force.

Hilary Agro  14:51  Yeah, exactly. 

David Nickles  14:52  Well, and I think across the board there’s questions about particularly in the US puritanical influence and like notions of the idea that ecstatic states are bad? Right, or somehow undesirable or socially destructive, because like thinking about the number of articles or the amount of drug coverage I’ve encountered, where it’s like the notion that people would want to experience euphoria, or this notion that we can use drugs to the point where we restore people to some, I would say mythological sense of like a fixed functional hole. But that if we, you know, advanced beyond that, that somehow that’s a problem. Again, like the way that use gets conceptualized and discussed, I think is bound up with a lot of other sort of social components and isn’t, I mean, precisely, as you say, like the things that are accepted, whether it’s alcohol, or tobacco, or caffeine or sugar, being able to break those things down and talk about drugs sort of across the board. I mean, hell, even the alcohol and drugs discourse, right?

Hilary Agro  15:54  Yeah, I think even in the anthropological American Anthropological Society, there’s like a little subgroup called the alcohol, drug and tobacco study group, and every year we’re like, we really need to change that. It needs to be changed to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, right. Actually might have been changed a few years ago.

Brian Normand 16:11  We also have the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which is quite hilarious.

Hilary Agro  16:17  Yeah, that’s an interesting one. Just yeah, getting people to see alcohol and caffeine as a drug is, is kind of like half the battle. I also try to be careful because especially in the world of psychedelics and cannabis, there tends to be this sort of like backlash where people want to demonize alcohol and like, the naturalistic fallacy is like, ‘Oh, I just do cannabis and mushrooms like, you know, because they grow on the ground’. It’s like, well, where do you think heroin comes from?

David Nickles  16:43  Arsenic is natural. 

Brian Pace  16:45  Which has found its way into into policy with the decriminalize nature measures that have been sweeping the US sort of psychedelic essentialism with a naturalistic sugar coating on it.

Hilary Agro  16:58  Yeah, exactly. Cannabis legalization activists were particularly susceptible to this. Because so many of their arguments were based on it being like a harmless plant, which is absolutely true, you know, for the most part, but I don’t think it helps larger goals when we’re when we try to like silo, different things like that and talk about things should be legalized or accessible because they’re safe. Because who are we leaving out of that conversation? We’re leaving out the most the most vulnerable people who have the least access to safe drugs. And if we’re leaving out meth users and crack cocaine users and opioid users, then what are we even doing? Then we’re just wanting to legalize the things that we want to do and like have fun with like, that’s, that’s bullshit. I have access to a nice legal supply of amphetamines through my ADHD medication prescription, but I don’t have access to legal psychedelics. What kind of person would I be if all I cared about was me having access to psychedelics versus other people who don’t have access to legal stimulants that I use. Having access to those things -like we need to look at this holistically. This is me calling out the psychedelics community. I know you guys are totally on board, but it drives me nuts sometimes.

Brian Pace  18:06  You’d be a well, a well conditioned and behaved member of polite society. That’s, that’s who you would be if you held those opinions, because right now we have, you know, ketamine available if you have a psychiatrist who is willing to administer it to you. You know, opiates and, and amphetamines are available from your, your doctor if you’re willing to shop around to find the right one. It’s a bifurcated scheduling is how I’ve heard it called where you have things that are accessible through the medical model, but are also street drugs. And it’s one of the concerns that we have about the medicalization of psychedelics generally, is that one will be privileged over the other and one happens to be a profitable business that will develop into a lobby that will defend its entrenched position as the gatekeepers of the ineffable. 

Hilary Agro  18:53  Yeah, absolutely.

Brian Normand  18:55  Even outside of the medical model like Doblin’s out there. This is Rick Doblin of MAPS. He’s out there now like, ‘so there’s the medical model bubble blah’. But then there’s this new thing, I forget the terminology he uses for it.

David Nickles  19:06  He calls it licensed legalization. 

Brian Normand  19:08  Yeah, licensed legalization, that’s the next new thing now. So outside of the medical model. And he’s pushing this. I thought it might have just been like a one off thing on Marianne Williamson’s podcast, but then he did it again recently. 

Hilary Agro  19:21  Is he trying to appeal to like prohibitionists and be like don’t worry we don’t want to let everybody use it.

David Nickles  19:26  He actually thinks alcohol also needs a license to use and if you if you break a law rather, 

Brian Normand  19:32  If you misuse it you lose your license and somehow you don’t have any access to any other means

Hilary Agro  19:37  Fuck Rick,  come on. 

Hilary Agro  19:39  Oh my, and this is exactly the kind of, like this. It’s like the larger goal it needs to be to kill the cop in everybody’s head. You know, like, get rid of this prohibitionist mindset. People are so hesitant to just let go of the idea that we need to control other people’s bodies and consumption. Like it’s ridiculous people are so they’re like, ‘Okay, well what if we legalize it? Like, what if people start doing all this? And like, shouldn’t we, you know, oh, you have to get it from a doctor and you have to blah blah’, it’s like, none of that is going to actually stop the black market because people are gonna get it however they they can and want and also, it’s not your fucking business with somebody else puts inside their body like, 

David Nickles  20:18  Well, and he he uses the example of like problematic use or bad use. And I think in one of the examples, he points to like drunk drivers as though there aren’t already laws addressing that. Like it misplaces the focus. But also to rewind a little bit to your point about the backlash from maybe psychedelic users against alcohol and or tobacco and the way that, in some of the naturalistic fallacies and then also like questions around criminalization and medicalization and bifurcated scheduling. I think it’s worth pointing out, as we tend to do kind of regularly, right that like, prohibition isn’t evidence based, and like it was a purely political project. And so if we’re talking about access, like, you know, prohibition has no legitimacy, it shouldn’t stand like based on that alone. Then if we want to talk medicalization, or medical uses of these things, that to my mind is a separate issue. The question is, is there evidence for medical efficacy, and I think cannabis ran into problems with this, has run into problems with this, in overstating the benefits and the applications in a variety of cases. And similarly, like looking at the evidence for psychedelics, for healing, whether for mental health or other conditions, there’s very minimal research into that. I mean, when we talk about mental health indications, we’re talking about a handful of very small pilot studies. And, and I’ve pointed this out in groups online, and people lose their shit. And just simply asking for evidence asking are there more than a handful of small pilot studies, people have attacked me saying that they don’t need evidence, that they know it works based on their own experiences. Other people have said that they’re not small pilot studies. But then if you look at the NIH guidelines for pilot studies, you can see that even the phase three study is tiny compared to what we would normally see.

Hilary Agro  22:07  So I actually have a bit of a different perspective where I kind of agree with both of you, because I think that it’s really important to re-contextualize what we understand as good evidence. So ethnographic evidence, we have tons of that for psychedelic use going back 1000s of years, through, you know, indigenous use,

David Nickles  22:25  But indigenous use is not mental health, you know, like, as defined by problematic institutions or constructs such as the DSM, right, like things that are not necessarily legible. 

Hilary Agro  22:36  Well, I mean, yeah, well, we’re getting we’re getting wide with it those are the categories that we also need to deconstruct. 

Brian Pace  22:41  Sure

Hilary Agro  22:42  It’s tricky, because we’re stuck in this place where in order, like, once again, out of the medical legitimisation. In order to give people access to these substances, we need to prove under a very specific Western medical model that they’re effective. But how do we do that when the like, strict conditions for that kind of, you know, empirical research don’t really fit with what we as like, culturally, people who use psychedelics know, is the most beneficial way to use a psychedelic. Like, you can’t study that in a lab, because a person like taking a psilocybin pill in a lab with somebody staring at them with a clipboard is going to have a different experience from somebody using it outside with their friends. And so how do we study this kind of thing? And what can we look to as evidence? So it’s like, we need more evidence. But why do we need the evidence, like we needed to prove to a certain kind of gatekeeper.

Brian Pace  23:38  Right. 

David Nickles  23:39  If you’re going to prescribe it within the medical system, right. And so this is this is why I would say, like, at a baseline, like for me, like the sort of foundation is that prohibition is illegitimate. And the notion that these things should be accessible, particularly purely through a medical system doesn’t hold for me. 

Hilary Agro  23:55  Yeah. 

David Nickles  23:55  It’s like, I would like these to be widely accessible for people who say, you know, oh, well, you know, what are you going to do about safe supply or, safer supply? Like, the reality is we have some pretty phenomenal efforts under prohibition. The notion that that somehow there would be less collectives engaged in substance testing and production of quality compounds in a de-crim or less-prohibitionist context doesn’t hold for me. And I would hope that in, that imagined social context, the likelihood that people would be forced to seek it out from a medical setting. I mean, looking at ketamine, the number of self reported severe adverse events after esketamine was approved, there were over 1000 plus, that were discussed in a peer reviewed paper from the FDA’s self reporting, like form submission. And so like, again, like the notion that that has to be done in a medical context or that somehow telehealth where they send you some ketamine lozenges and then arrange for like a virtual integration session afterwards.

Hilary Agro  25:00  Is that a thing? 

Brian Pace  25:01  Yes.

David Nickles  25:01  Like I don’t think these are, are well thought out medical interventions or psychotherapeutic interventions, let’s say.

Brian Pace  25:08  Dave, one of the reasons why some sometimes people don’t get what you’re saying is they haven’t really like absorbed the, the idea that like, you know, prohibition is legitimate and that where we’re standing right now is that decriminalization efforts, especially – in particular, the one in Oregon measure 110 that have decriminalized all drugs – are the only successful policy models that we have for providing access to psychedelics in you know, some kind of above ground fashion. And what’s going on, you know, with medicalization is people are trying to meet an FDA standard, so that, you know, people with medical credentials can be the intermediaries and providers of the psychedelic experience. That’s great. And if there are medical applications for psychedelics that meet those standards, they will have to go through everything that acetaminophen and antibiotics had to go through, even with all of the questions about blinding and all of that. But like that shouldn’t be the standard that holds back other policy efforts to undo the ongoing violence of the drug war.

David Nickles  26:25  I agree wholeheartedly. And I also think that like if we’re going to make the comparison to say acetaminophen or other things, like that’s when it becomes important to me to sort of emphasize the small pilot study aspect of things, right that like when we’re comparing with sort of interventions, you know. So one, like when we’re talking about FDA approval, FDA doesn’t regulate psychotherapy.

Brian Pace  26:46  No.

David Nickles  26:47  And when the FDA was asked how they were going to handle regulating the psychotherapeutic component of this MDMA plus psychotherapy, they said, ‘No comment’. So like, it gets into these really sort of dicey things when you’re going to play the medicalization game. But, but I think fundamentally, like, when it comes to questions of access, you want access: decriminalize it.

Brian Normand  27:07  It’s ridiculous. If you wanted people to have access, why would you put it through this like gauntlet maze.

Brian Pace  27:13  You know, the kind of standard that we’re discussing is one that sort of takes the medical process of drug development and therapy development at face value that says, like, these are the medical standards that apply to literally everything else – and we’re all excited about psychedelics, obviously – and yet, we shouldn’t allow that to influence the study patient pool. Neşe and I have talked a lot about how suggestibility and psychedelics go hand in hand, and how some of the media environment that we’re creating right now could literally be skewing results in these studies. 

Hilary Agro  27:51  That’s, I don’t know, that’s really interesting. I wonder if like, we might be overestimating how many people are actually looking at this stuff, but I feel like it would depend on, on their selection criteria and everything. But, I don’t know, I will admit that I do, like, this is why I was like, sympathetic to, you know, the people that you mentioned that are like, ‘I don’t need studies, because I have my own evidence’, because it’s true. Like there’s a long standing culture of safe and effective use. Like we already kind of know the little sort of more specific, like, how do we specifically treat PTSD and these these different kinds of things is really important research. But like, we also we know, like, we know that, like psychedelics work, and that access is, is really the most important thing and like creating a culture of harm reduction and safe good use.

Brian Pace  28:38  That’s what you’re saying. Creating a culture. And that’s, that’s one, an area of like, of my interest in some, some of my colleagues interest is like, the extra pharmacological variables that actually facilitate healing. Like, I think we all know people who have been helped by psychedelics. I’ve been helped by psychedelics, but I’ve also been helped by the people I took them with, and the support that they gave me before, during and afterwards. And, you know, when you speak to people who have been administered psychedelics in non-consensual settings, or settings without that kind of support, they tell a totally different story. They usually tell us a scary one. 

David Nickles  29:19  Yeah, and I would say I’ve had immensely therapeutic psychedelic experiences. And also like those were in particular contexts with certain people with certain, you know, set settings, etc. And like to be clear, like, when we’re talking about some of the medicalization, like, honestly, I have far more concerns about the people than the drugs. You know, the people who want to play the role of medical shaman. The people who want to be the person or the people giving the experiences, the people who want to claim some sort of credit or control over the healing. And I think you know, those questions of power and authority and the, the potential for transgressions above ground underground, where, where, wherever you have, like, I just think that they’re, they’re real serious issues that come up.

Brian Normand  30:11  This is my problem with the David Nutt list that goes everywhere, which says, oh, ‘psychedelics are non toxic’. Okay, we get it. But that’s not really, in my opinion, where the risks lie, the risks lie in the setting that’s created in the people who want to give those drugs and that list is so one dimensional to me. 

Brian Pace  30:29  Yeah.

Hilary Agro  30:29  I find this, this conversation really interesting too, because I think that it, you know, not to do what tends to be my sort of wheelhouse, but bring it all back to capitalism. The fact that we even have to, like, have these conversations about like, oh, it’s not just a magic pill, there’s a larger context that makes these things effective, it’s a social context, you know, it’s not about just take this pill alone. And you know, like, microdose, for productivity. The most effective use of psychedelics for, in many situations, and for many people, and certainly, in terms of long term use of psychedelics, is socially. It’s with other people’s with people that you trust, it’s intimacy, vulnerability, and these things are antithetical to the way that we understand medicine under the you know, current capitalist Western mindset, like the paradigm where it’s just you just want to take a pill that you get to the pharmacy, and it’ll solve all your problems. Like the psychedelics are much more, they complicate that approach to, to mental health, because they inherently force you to reckon with your, your social connections and relations, and especially if you want to get the most benefit from them. So, you know, they’re they’re radical in that sense,

Brian Normand  31:40  I think they can be, I think it remains to be seen if they’re going to flank the current system, I also think they could be just swallowed up by the current system used to reinforce the status quo. 

Hilary Agro  31:49  Oh, no, I mean, they’re definitely going to be. That train has left the station, like capitalists are on it. They’re pouring millions and millions of dollars into this industry already. Like, I know that there’s a lot of leftists who are like, ‘Oh, we don’t want to legalize drugs, because then capitalists are going to make money off of it’. But it’s like, Who do you think is making money off it already? Do you think that like, the cartels aren’t capitalists? 

Brian Pace  32:08  Right, exactly, yeah.

Hilary Agro  32:10  So I really want to shy away from any sort of like pharmacological mysticism. I don’t, I don’t think that psychedelics are the solution to any large scale societal problems, just that the most beneficial ways for us to use them and and talk about integrating them into society involve like, not just the use of psychedelics, but really reframing what we even think of as mental health and as sociality. And that that’s exciting to me.

Brian Pace  32:36  You mentioned that you’re about to start some of your fieldwork for your PhD. Can you, can you sort of tell us a little story about what, what you’re doing?

Hilary Agro  32:44  Yeah, so my previous research was on the use of psychedelics in harm reduction in the rave and burner scene here in Toronto. Burner is like people who go to Burning Man. My current research, you know, I’m getting a bit more political with it as I’m want to do, and I’m studying drug user activism. So activism among people whose drug use is criminalized. So I’m going to be doing sort of a two pronged project. And it took me a little while to convince my supervisor and my committee that this was doable, because it’s, it’s a little bit broad, but I want to look at all forms of resistance to drug prohibition and resistance to capitalism, and how people organize against these things and how people find joy and pleasure in the process of organizing and resisting. So I’m looking at both safe injection sites for you know, like opioid use and street drug use and the way that people who inject and smoke drugs tend to be at the forefront of pushing for social change, because it’s, it’s life and death. Like we can talk about psychedelics all day long. But if we don’t talk about the overdose crisis, and note that I  say the overdose crisis, not the opioid crisis, because the problem is people dying. The problem isn’t people using drugs. Yeah, I don’t, I don’t like to sort of like silo off this stuff. So that’s, that’s part of my research project, it’s going to be working with safe injection site activism, because every safe injection site that’s ever officially opened, started illegally first. So that’s what I’m really interested in is civil disobedience, people breaking the law because they know that the law is wrong and they don’t want to wait. And they’re just going to do it. So that’s how the very first safe injection site in North America opened up in Vancouver, Insite, it was just opened up illegally. They said, you know what, people are dying. Like, come get us cops. We’re gonna we’re gonna let people inject here. And you know, with that, that civil disobedience, they eventually gained legitimacy and opened it up. And similar groups with some of the same people even are doing the same thing right now in Vancouver where they, they’re taking on safe supply.

Brian Pace  34:48  Yeah, I saw, I think I saw something that you shared on that. It’s wild.

Hilary Agro  34:52  Yeah, it’s really exciting. They’re called the Drug User Liberation Front in Vancouver. Please donate to them. Check out their work. They’re, phenomenal work. Like these are like, this is the forefront of people putting their bodies and lives on the line to save people who use drugs. They are, they’ve been asking for a safe supply of drugs for years and years. Legalization regulation. People are dying in record numbers. And they’re not getting it. What did this group say? Fine, we’ll just do it ourselves. Once a month, we’re going to set up shop in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, and we’re going to give away pure clean heroin, pure clean cocaine, and pure clean amphetamines. And they’re just doing it and just basically daring the cops to come arrest them for giving out, you know, good, tested drugs. And there was even a thing recently where one of the Vancouver city council women, joined them, and there were people trying to get arrested and the cops decided to not, and so it’s really exciting work that’s being done by these people. And it’s, it’s to save lives. And so that’s part of the research that I’m going to be doing. And then the other part is psychedelic therapy.

Brian Pace  35:58  That’s fantastic. I saw some of the pictures from that action. And they were like, little packets that said, like, you know, heroin plus, like a little bit of caffeine or something. And it was just like, I think it was like hand written.

Hilary Agro  36:11  So they know what’s in their drugs.

Brian Pace  36:12  Yeah, wild stuff.

David Nickles  36:13  It’s also worth pointing out – just because I can’t help myself – and to be clear, I’m not advocating at all that the cops should have arrested. But like, it shows that selective enforcement, right, and as long as the laws are on the books, the fact that you have cops who have the discretion to make those decisions around when they apply those laws. And so talking through like, even when we’re talking about decrim. And even if we’re talking about 110 out in Oregon, like when there’s the potential for fines when there’s the potential for referrals to abuse services, when maybe you’re fine with your use, you don’t think it’s abuse, you don’t think it’s harmful. Like, as long as there’s a financial or a time penalty, let’s say on getting caught with drugs, like those are things that fundamentally affect more vulnerable members of society far, far more. Like if you’ve got 100 bucks that you can spare and it doesn’t mean shit, you know, if you’re if you’re struggling month to month with your budget like that, that’s a can be a real legitimate problem to encounter. So again, that moment where like the the local official is there, and they choose not to arrest, it’s like, it’s great to be able to leverage some of that. And I think around leveraging that like, like being clear that it is more than drugs, right? The problem is police. The problem is capitalism. The problem is like all of these social structures.

I just want to point out that, okay, yeah, police, police, police. But police are not necessarily the most important part of this, the prosecutors. So regardless of what laws are on the books, if the prosecutor, the district attorney says, I’m not prosecuting, the police a lot of times they’re just going to stop enforcing that. So, in a sense, the law is a little irrelevant in a lot of jurisdictions if the police know that the prosecutor 

But if they want to hassle you, they can still give you shit, you know, pointing to 

Brian Normand  37:55  Sure, but this is the major problem in the United States, is that the power like rests in the prosecutor’s office. And you know, the prosecutor is being elected. The prosecutor is generally appealing to people who are afraid, 

David Nickles  38:09  Fuck ’em all. 

Brian Normand  38:10  The problem, we need to focus on a lot of reform in the prosecutor’s office, they have very little oversight.

Hilary Agro  38:17  I just want to take, take a minute to thank Megaritz in the chat here, who is giving me some excellent recommendations for my research. Thank you for that I actually haven’t heard of the term uncivil disobedience. It makes immediate, instinctive sense. And I need to look into that a little bit more. So thank you for that. That’s really cool. 

Brian Normand  38:38  Megaritz also pointed out John Pfaff, which is great, because I just, I just want to point out everything that I just said was John Pfaff and his book Locked In, which is a phenomenal book anyone even remotely interested in mass incarceration. I mean, this is, he studies academically studies the growth of the prison system throughout the 20th century in the United States and it’s fantastic.

David Nickles  39:10  Yeah. I also want to point out the the comment about civil disobedience versus uncivil disobedience also immediately reminded me of the, the Howard Zinn comment on you know, civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. 

Brian Pace  39:24  Yeah. 

David Nickles  39:25  And the fact that people obey the dictates of authority fundamentally.

Brian Pace  39:30  Sure, well, you know, usually your, your pogroms, your, your genocides, they’re they’re all, you know, conducted by authorities of some sort, and people going along with them. And the same goes with our prohibitionist drug war, which continues to wreak violence and havoc in our communities and abroad. Since we’re doing a little bit in the comments. I wanted to mention that Dustin’s comment, what benefits couldn’t be testable, going back to some of our questions about medicalization,

Hilary Agro  40:03  Yeah. Can you guys still hear me, everything? Yeah, yeah,

Brian Pace  40:06  Yeah. What’s that? Hilary? 

Okay, everything was slowing down. And I was like, either I accidentally took some DMT we’re having audio problems, because like, I mean, if anyone’s concerned, I’m currently not, not partaking in very much during my maternity leave, due to breastfeeding. 

But yeah, important. Important to point out,

Hilary Agro  40:29  Just because judgments, you know, although I actually am low key kind of working on a guide for pregnant and breastfeeding people to like a particular like harm reduction guide, because a lot of people like have questions, what can they use? What can’t they like, what’s safer or not. And there’s just not a lot of info out there, because pregnant people are generally deemed to not have any bodily autonomy, and we shouldn’t be given any information to make those kinds of choices, we should just be told don’t, which obviously, doesn’t work for everybody. So,

Brian Pace  41:00  Right, there are similar issues around cannabis and pregnant people. I believe there’s, there’s only I also teach a class on cannabis. I believe there’s only one human study that’s been conducted on you know, human gestation and, and cannabis. And it’s, it was conducted in, in Jamaica. And if I recall correctly, the, the results of the study were somewhat unexpected to the researchers to the, to the point that they had to sort of explain them away. And that it was a natural experiment where some mothers were using cannabis during pregnancy. And then some were not. And they found that those who had on average had higher birth weights in their, you know, children. And I think some other sort of like, cognitive measures, they scored better, and they had to explain them away, you know, saying that these were Earth Mother, you know, women and that they probably were more attentive caregivers. And it was just like, that’s, that’s a lot.

Hilary Agro  42:03  Well, I mean, even even if that was the case, then doing drugs makes you a better caregiver apparently. 

Brian Pace  42:11  Yeah, right. But like, there’s also the, the idea that some people who are pregnant have like horrible nausea and can’t eat enough. 

Hilary Agro  42:19  And so giving them access to

Brian Pace  42:21  Hyperemesis

Hilary Agro  42:21  Yeah, giving them access to a nice safe drug that helps their appetite and curb nausea. Yeah, of course, it’s going to be helpful. 

Brian Pace  42:27  So, so this has been playing out in the media as well, where like, you know, they’re like, cannabis moms finds that eating an edible makes them a better parent. And there’s been like stories on this. And, you know, the response is like, yeah, it probably makes black men better fathers like, but we don’t see that story.

Hilary Agro  42:47  Yeah, of course, like, white women are going to be cannabis moms and black women are going to get CPS called on them. Because that’s, that’s how it works.

David Nickles  42:56  Another thing that occurred to me, that’s a bit of a tangent, but when you were talking about bodily autonomy, and pregnant people, like just thinking about like cases where people have been denied hysterectomies because the doctor has decided at some point, they may change their mind about you know, wanting to have kids or they may change in the case of like gay folks, that they may want to change their sexual orientation and then decide to have kids and like, just thinking about that, that how deep that disdain for bodily autonomy in those situations. And that also goes to like the sort of medical authoritarianism again where like, you know, the people in the white coats getting to make those decisions. 

Hilary Agro  43:36  Yeah, absolutely. No, it’s, it’s, it’s all tied in together, like we don’t. It’s this, is the importance of looking at these things, structurally and systemically because, and like intersectionality. Like yes, people, will people with uteruses have never had bodily autonomy in our society like this is, and, and this is kind of a thing that I am starting to do a little bit more in my social media work. I feel like a jackass when I do it, because I haven’t, like fully fleshed out my arguments for why I’m doing it. But like saying that like drug legalization is a feminist issue because it’s about bodily autonomy. You know, like, if, if we’re gonna have white liberal feminists, you know, fighting for their own rights to have an abortion, cool so you can get an abortion, which is good and important. What if I want to put this drug in my body? You want me to go to prison? Like, what’s the what’s the disconnect? What is not connecting here? Karen, like?

Brian Pace  44:30  I think you’re absolutely in rich territory. I mean, like there’s so many intersections between the discussions that we have about stigma and sex, and stigma and drugs. You know, you were earlier talking about what it’s going to be like to educate a younger generation about drugs now that the landscape is significantly changing. We have already seen that in the, in the sexual world. But this is paralleled with what you were talking about civil and uncivil disobedience where, you know, so much of the education around sex and consent has been done in a grassroots fashion. And then somebody does a PhD on it or gets a position somewhere, you know, health institution and it becomes policy, but it’s still light years behind what it should be.

Hilary Agro  45:18  Yeah. And you know, this is actually also connected to the idea of like, sort of academic research versus cultural knowledge. Because like, consent is a good example. BDSM, and kink communities and queer communities, and polyamorous communities have, but like, especially kink and BDSM, they have been perfecting consent for a very long time, and like they have like, had these conversations over and over. And like queer communities, also, in terms of, you know, like drugs, and like, I mean, just queer communities are at the forefront of everything in terms of like mutual aid, and because they have to take care of each other because the state won’t. That they have this, this lived experience and this cultural knowledge that is really, really important and we don’t have to start from scratch. Like, we don’t have to, like, you know, scientists don’t have to, like poke like little tabs of LSD in a lab and just be like, ‘well, what’s this’, like? There are communities of people who can inform this research and be like, well, these are the things that we know about them, let’s get together with scientific knowledge. And that would be the most productive approach. And consent is the same, like we’re trying to figure out consent in this sort of like, post ‘Me Too’ era. But there are communities of people who have are light years ahead already, in terms of like integrating that into even more advanced ways of thinking about consent. Actually, I have a friend of mine, who’s writing a book about consent right now. And her name is Sarah Barback. And if you’re at all interested in any of these issues, read her book ‘Closer’, because it’s, it’s really great.

David Nickles  46:52  I think that’s a really important point, though. And it’s something that I would say that the so called, like, mainstream psychedelic community, quote, unquote, frequently misses is that right? Like there are discourses outside of psychedelic space that like when it comes to issues of consent, and sexual violence, and harm reduction around that, there are pre existing discourses. There are, you know, decades and decades of research and discussions and bodies of work and theory. And like, you know, the notion that, that people need to reinvent the wheel, or that when these discussions come up that, ‘Oh, we’re so new to this conversation’. And ‘we’re just figuring it out’ and ‘take it easy’, like, by all means, like, at some point, everyone is new to these conversations. Anyone who chooses to engage with them will be new at some point. But maybe if you’re new, rather than centering yourself and saying, like, we’re now going to lead this or we’re going to make space or host space for this discussion, maybe actually bring in some of the experts, particularly those outside of psychedelic spaces, who don’t have any sort of incentive from covering things up or having a particular discourse take place. Like, this is one of the things I’ve found perpetually frustrating about trying to get engagement with with some of those issues of consent and transgression in these spaces. I think it’s a challenge anywhere where you have vested power interests, and you have people who, who you have careerists, and you have folks who want to be able to sort of secure food, clothes and shelter on the back of a particular endeavor, let’s say.

Hilary Agro  48:21  Absolutely, I had a train of thought and I lost it, come on amphetamines.

David Nickles  48:26  If you wanted to jump to it, something we had been talking about before the live kicked off, and then we decided to hold off. We recently got an email, an advertising email from Double Blind about microdosing, in which it opens up: “Honestly, David, it may sound crazy, but the number one reason that people don’t succeed at microdosing is because they don’t stick with it. They just break off a piece of mushroom or cut up a piece of a tab and try it randomly, then they wonder if micro dosing works for them crazy, right? I mean, think about it, you wouldn’t eat a salad once and then wonder why you’re not feeling better. Like any change you make to your life with micro dosing consistency, and trial and error are key”. And then it goes on in a sort of emoji laden, ad pitch for their micro dosing course. And I just found this approach so bizarre again, and maybe maybe we can get to some interesting tensions around like evidence and research and all of that, but considering that the evidence on micro dosing, particularly like its benefits is functionally non existent. There’s a limited number of controlled studies as far as like evidence of efficacy, I think they’ve shown correlation between like time dilation, and microdosing. But this notion that like if you haven’t gotten benefits, you’re just not doing it right. Particularly when it’s tied to whatever it is, like I think it’s an over $100 per ticket class. Something feels off about this to me. 

Hilary Agro  49:54  Well, yeah. And as soon as you say like, oh, they’re trying to get people to pay for a class. This is why the profit motive ruins everything because it will, it will supersede ethics as long as somebody is trying to make money off of something, everything else comes second. It’s not going to be the kind of conversations that we want to see around these things as long as it’s being like pushed and held by profiteering people. And I know that it’s 

Brian Normand  50:17  Is this what happens when you take investors money and then have to show an ROI.

Brian Pace  50:22  A return on investment? Yeah.

Hilary Agro  50:24  Yeah, like, and it’s hard because yeah, we’ve all got to survive under capitalism. Like there’s, there’s a limit. This might be a good time to plug my Patreon, by the way.

Brian Pace  50:32  Oh, yeah. 

Hilary Agro  50:34  I mean, it’s hard, you know, like, I’m, I’m not going to probably not going to get a job in academia when I’m done my PhD because academia is being like, dismantled from the inside by neoliberalism. But I need to make money I need to pay rent, I need to pay for childcare. And so I am trying to like walk this this line, where if I am hoping that if I you know, produce enough, enough content and put the stuff out there for free that I can build up my Patreon supporters in order to, to keep doing this stuff full time. So 

Brian Pace  51:02  So where do we find your Patreon? 

Hilary Agro  51:05  There’s a link in my in my bio, on Twitter, and on TikTok as well. But yeah, I’m just Hilary Agro on Patreon. But, but it’s tricky, because, you know, I’d really like to keep doing this stuff for free. But that’s my ideal goal is to never have to take a keep or, you know, put up any financial barriers towards people having access to the kind of information that I am privileged enough, privileged enough to have through my education. But if I can’t do that, and hopefully I will be able to

Brian Pace  51:34  You’ll do it.

Hilary Agro  51:34  And building an audience. But I have a faith, I’m going to try for another year, so I’m getting there. But if I can’t, what the fuck do I do? Right? Go work for a psychedelics company like writing PR. Like it sucks. It’s hard out there. Like, I really hope I don’t have to do that. But 

Brian Pace  51:36  I mean, I feel ya

Hilary Agro  51:53  Yeah, I get why I get why it happens.

Brian Pace  51:56  It’s I mean, this is a conversation that Neşe and I have been having for a couple years now. Yeah, I was on my way out of academia entirely, and was like just sort of drove back in to teach about drugs. It’s sort of an offer I couldn’t refuse, but I remodel stuff, sometimes. I do construction when, when things don’t make sense otherwise, and everybody’s got some, some thing that they have to do if, if whatever they’re working on doesn’t doesn’t work out. But since we are talking about, you know, Patreon, like we wouldn’t be able to do what we do on the, on the podcast on the website without the support of people who find value in what we do on Patreon and elsewhere. So thanks, everyone.

Neşe Devenot  52:44  Who was the guy that I spoke with on the panel, the CEO at the beginning of my unemployment

Brian Pace  52:50  Ronan Levy. Of Field Trip 

David Nickles  52:52  Field Trip ventures, y’all.

Neşe Devenot  52:55  Yeah, so it’s like, I’m now at the University of Cincinnati. But I came out of a year of unemployment, like during the thick of the pandemic. And it was around the time when all the corporadelic activity was really ramping up. And I was on a panel with the CEO of Field Trip. He’s the CEO, right? 

Brian Normand  53:14  I think he’s the founder yeah.

Neşe Devenot  53:14  Founder, oh. Well, he’s like the face, he does like podcasts and stuff for the company anyway. And I was just pointing out that like his PR company approached us like people who’ve been working in the field most of us for over a decade now. And just saying that he was introducing him as the expert and I was just like, I mentioned this in the comment on the conference because I was just like, it seemed preposterous to me to have someone who had just entered the space approaching people who have been working and you know, currently unemployed struggling to get by, as this kind of authority in the field. And that, that just been so normalized and he was just recently up for like a lifetime achievement award at Microdose conference when he just appeared. Yeah.

Brian Normand  53:55  Microdose conference is such like a parody of this space.

Neşe Devenot  54:03  Yeah, that’s psychedelic like water.

David Nickles  54:05  Water, Dr. Bronner’s

Neşe Devenot  54:10  What was the category for that, it was like  best

Brian Pace  54:12  Best product. There’s like some weird psychedelic industry hype going on here, Hilary obviously this is a little bit of inside baseball but go on Neşe

Neşe Devenot  54:24  One last point just about the like the struggle and how real it is. It just it’s frustrating when people like Double Blind who we were just reading their copy for you know, their microdosing course and acting like it’s as straightforward as eating a salad, that they produce, they, they represent themselves as doing this small scale labor of love but they’re a venture capital backed organization, you know. It’s like it just, we’re actually a small scale labor or labor of love and we like don’t take corporate it money but it is we’re all really exhausted and doing a lot for, with very little and you know, it’s definitely it’s the struggle is real. But I think it’s, it’s important not to just be focusing on you know, the career in psychedelics at all costs when it means you are contributing to system that’s just going to exacerbate inequality and make life harder for the rest of civilization so, but it’s just it’s a struggle for sure.

Brian Pace  55:22  Well and Hilary, you  were talking about misinformation earlier, you know, in terms of just like your engagement with TikTok and the hunger for straightforward knowledge about drugs, about psychedelics in particular. And what we see in the fields populated with microdosing coaches and integration specialists and such, is that when your job is to, you know, take the moody public, by the hand, you have an incentive to overcomplicate mystify things, it’s like these, these like Wired articles, or I don’t know if it’s Wired, but like these articles about psilocybin, where these, there’s these guys, you know, white coats with, you know, blue latex gloves and tweezers, holding dried mushrooms as if it’s gonna, you know, jump out and bite them. There’s an over mystification that people profit from if they’re going to take you through. 

Hilary Agro  55:48  Yeah, it drives me nuts.

Brian Pace  56:16  And I mean, I say this as somebody who teaches a class about psychedelics, but like, I’m accountable, like I’m part. You know, I have other other people who review my syllabi, who literally sit in on my classes, I’m, I attempt to provide, you know, rigorous evidence based knowledge for, for what I do for the purposes of education, you know.

Hilary Agro  56:35  Yeah, I mean, academia is a shit show, it’s got a lot of problems, but like, the, the core concept of peer review, is a really essential one that would be worth bringing into other arenas as well. I mean, it’s also just kind of the core concept of like, relationality, and like, accountability, and doing this stuff, collectively. But man, I think, yeah, we were talking about that kind of before we started the stream. Yeah. Like, I think part of the reason that, that my account has blown up so quickly, and that people are asking me a lot if. Like, I had intended for it to be like, sort of 50% drugs 50% Anti capitalism, but it’s like 90% drugs, because people just have so many questions. And it’s because yeah, like the people out there talking about psychedelics are just crackpots. Like, they’re anti-vaxxers cultural appropriation out the wazoo. I mean, and this is why it’s like, it’s, it’s not benign, like this, this kind of mysticism, and I get it to a certain extent, because there’s, there’s reasons for it. So white people are, we have no culture, we have no like connection to our ancestors, to land. We gave all that up in the deal with the devil that we made under capitalism and colonialism. And so there’s a lot of white people that feel very alienated from society, they want to connect with some sort of, like, you know, human roots and human culture, but we don’t have that. And so what do you do. And so I get, I get the desire for this kind of, like, return to the earth, you know, like, natural, whatever. But it can be harmful because it’s done on through like appropriating Indigenous, like cultures and practices and like promoting this sort of like, you know, noble savage myths, in order to, you know, make certain psychedelic seem better than others and as harmful in really material ways because ayahuasca tourism, you know, like peyote is becoming endangered in Mexico because of this kind of tourism. And so like part of what I want to do is to destigmatize things like LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, just so that way people have something that they can use that they don’t have to like, go to the Amazon, to have a psychedelic experience and like, extract in that way until we figure out how that can be done sustainably. Like LSD, it doesn’t have to be this mystical connection to the earth to for a psychedelic experience to be beneficial. You don’t have to do ayahuasca if LSD is available. You know, like, I mean, I’m not saying that, that LSD is better than ayahuasca or anything like that. But if we stigmatize chemical drugs, to this extent, then people aren’t going to just not do drugs, they’re going to like, look for the ones that are, are less stigmatized. 

Brian Pace  59:10  Totally.

Hilary Agro  59:10  And that has consequences.

David Nickles  59:12  Yes and, right? Like it’s it’s another moment where like, unpacking it systemically and trying to look at some of the like. Because there’s plenty of people who have access to mushrooms or acid or MDMA or what have you, and who still choose to engage in drug tourism, whether that’s for ayahuasca or iboga. I mean, hell even looking at iboga in a medical context where you get this absurd privileging of people generally in industrialized context, saying, implicitly saying, like our addiction is more important than ecological integrity in these places, right? And like making these, these sort of judgment calls, maybe not thinking about it, but again, it’s kind of baked in. And I think there’s a real question around those narratives, around the idea of authentic drug rituals, the idea of going to a particular place to a particular people. Like the question of what becomes authentic, who sort, of who owns when, when white folks are projecting their notion of authenticity on a region. So then folks in that region say, ‘Guess what! I’m going to create the, the theater that plays to that stereotype to give you the experience that you’re looking for, so that I can charge you more money and say, No, this is a truly authentic experience’. And it’s like the same thing playing over and over again, whether we look at mushroom tourism in Watlow Jimenez or if we look at ayahuasca tourism and Iquitos and elsewhere, like, you know, we’ve seen how this plays out. And it’s part of the reason that like, I’ve always been an advocate of DIY. I mean, people are more than capable of growing their own psychoactive plants. There’s all sorts of extractions, whether from like, you know, full chemical extractions, to just making tea out of much of this stuff like, this stuff is doable. It’s just a question of if people are willing to take that on.

Brian Pace  1:00:59  Just for clarity, Dave is somebody who spent significant time making sure that this information is available during his tenure as a mod for DMT Nexus. It’s great resource for all this kind of stuff for anybody listening. But like, one of the things that I wanted to address that Hilary was saying a moment ago is like, you know, when when I started putting together, you know, materials for Psychedelic Studies, I knew I would like have to touch on the period of colonization, which by the way, is still going on. But like, I didn’t actually really, didn’t really sink in how much I would end up like talking about that period, like sort of all over the world. How it is that ultimately, like psychedelics feel, and are portrayed and discussed as both new and old. Like they have these deep roots within certain cultures that have used them and have not lost their connection with some kind of plants or fungi or animal that produces psychoactive substances. But they seem new in industrial modern contexts, because of colonization and the destruction of the cultures that did use them, including our own, or including those of Eurasia. And all of this happened in a context of like the building of modern industrial capitalism through the enclosure and destruction of the Commons. You know, like like village life was a thing in feudal times. And I always, whenever I get a chance, plug, Sylvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch on the the body women in like, the witch trials or something I can’t remember the subtitle. It’s fantastic. She talks a lot about this. And I think that the enclosure of common property and in this case, perhaps common knowledge, and called common cultural practices with regard to psychedelics, we can see it happening right now, with psychedelic firms wanting to capitalize and own, either through IP or retreats or policy, the things that used to be collectively known and generated practices. And I was speaking with a sociologist who I hope we can talk to at some point on a future podcast, and she has done significant work looking at the cluster headache community who through a DIY process, right, yeah, found that psilocybin and other tryptamines treat their their extreme suicide pain.

Hilary Agro  1:03:31  Great stuff. Yeah, I just said, I remember like, in the kind of early days of YouTube, one of the first videos I saw and I it’s one of those, you know, you have those experiences that are like really impactful and kind of change the way you see things. I remember somebody it was a guy who, because I was just sort of like learning about mushrooms. I was around 18 years old, and a guy who filmed himself having a cluster headache. It was horrifying. And then he filmed himself like taking, taking mushrooms and then like, watching like it calm down. And I was like, holy shit, because I thought it was just like a fun drug to go on the beach with my friends and like giggle a bit but like, that was my first sort of like, introduction to the to how powerful these things can be. And, and yeah, like, like we we’ve, we come back to this a few times, like the way that this knowledge has been produced, despite prohibition, and in some cases, because of it. You know, in terms of like harm reduction knowledge to keep people safe. It’s fascinating the way that it fundamentally this is why, the way that I spend so much of my time having like, a 101 basic anti-prohibition arguments with people on the internet is like really frustrating because there’s just, the evidence for human beings altering our consciousness is just so overwhelming that it drives me out of my frickin mind how hard it seems to be for people to just accept that’s gonna be a thing. Like we just we can’t get rid of drugs. 

Brian Pace  1:04:59  Totally. 

Hilary Agro  1:05:00  We can’t. Even if we, even if that was going to be a good thing, which wouldn’t be, it can’t be done. So everyone’s just kidding themselves that we think that we can prevent any group of human beings from experimenting with their own consciousness, like we keep the example I always go to is prisons. We can’t even keep drugs out of the most heavily guarded places on earth. Why do we think we didn’t keep them out of society? 

Brian Pace  1:05:24  High schools. 

Hilary Agro  1:05:25  Yeah, yeah.

Brian Normand  1:05:27  I don’t know. Did people actually think that we can keep them out? Or is there economic incentives for pushing a policy like that.

Hilary Agro  1:05:33  I’m talking about yeah, the people who have bought into the reasoning for the drug war, not the people who are implementing those policies. They know it doesn’t work. They know it works for what they want it to work for. They know it doesn’t stop anybody from using drugs. But there are genuinely a lot of people who want drug prohibition, because all they’ve heard about it is that drugs are bad, we need to stop people from doing them, and this is what’s gonna work well, because people don’t think about right. 

David Nickles  1:05:57  You also get people who say, look like I just follow the law. Like, ‘I may not be right, it may not be whatever, but like for me, you know’ 

Hilary Agro  1:06:04  Which is like always bullshit. 

David Nickles  1:06:05  Oh, of course. Yeah,

Hilary Agro  1:06:06  Whatever, I’m sure you signal every turn.

David Nickles  1:06:08  (Laughing) Right. And I think there’s also a really interesting point just to dwell on the cluster headaches for a moment, where not only did you have a bunch of knowledge being produced in underground contexts and by communities of suffers and for me, that’s a clearer case than, say, treatment resistant depression or PTSD, when you can say look like as a, as a sufferer of cluster headaches – and it also doesn’t require right like a guide, a provider, or whatever. It’s like, I take a small dose of this serotonergic compound, and like I experience relief. And looking at that knowledge being produced by those underground communities, but then also looking at the work of Dr. Andrew Sewell, who unfortunately passed some years ago, and his engagement with that community. And looking at DEA informant, John Halpern, who, as you know, also rated some of that research, and was attempting to create a for profit company on the back of it. Again, it’s like these, these extractive endeavors are long running in these spaces. And I do think it’s really interesting to find that, like, you know, one of the people engaged in extracting or extraction from that community was also happy to work with Feds and the rest.

Brian Pace  1:07:24  Yeah, we hope to explore that topic with an expert on it at some point in the future, so stay tuned for that. It’s a fascinating story

Hilary Agro  1:07:32  I want to point out that Luke in the chat has said is there a DSA psychedelics caucus? I don’t know, you’re probably looking at it.

Brian Normand  1:07:42  It’s that big. No there are way more conservatives and far right in psychedelia. 

Brian Pace  1:07:43  Oh yeah.

Hilary Agro  1:07:43  It’s bad out there. Yeah. Did you guys go to the reform conference, the international drug policy reform conference?

Brian Pace  1:07:58  I did not. 

Hilary Agro  1:08:00  Oh

Neşe Devenot  1:08:01  I missed it too.

Hilary Agro  1:08:01  You gotta go to that. Oh, yeah. 

Brian Pace  1:08:03  Would love to.

Hilary Agro  1:08:04  Yeah. I think I don’t know when the next one is going to be because obviously it was, it’s every other year. And it was, the last one was canceled because of the pandemic. But oh, yeah, that places is, that’s where you’ll find some comrades. That’s a very interesting conference.

Brian Pace  1:08:17  Very cool

Hilary Agro  1:08:18  In terms of the, you can imagine that the culture around most conferences are, is based on alcohol. And you can imagine that at this conference, it’s a little bit different. It’s great. Anyways, it’s always an interesting tension when you’re there because there’s all these drug policy reform people, activists, like I’ve met some incredible activists doing amazing work at this conference. And so these really radical people, and it’s very, you know, disability access, like black trans women are given like, front priority space on the on the panels, it’s really great. But then there’s also like, the Cato Institute. 

Brian Pace  1:08:55  Yup.

Hilary Agro  1:08:55  And it’s like all of these, you know, and then there’s some of the panels involves, like cops who want like, like, like LEAP 

Brian Pace  1:09:02  LEAP, yup.

Hilary Agro  1:09:02  And that kind of thing. And yeah, and I’m not against that. But it’s, it’s there’s tensions in this world that are not easily resolved, as we do it under capitalism, because yeah, like libertarians. Yeah, there’s reasons that they want drugs legalized. And it’s not the same reasons that we do.

Brian Pace  1:09:24  Neşe and I just spent a lot of time, you know, talking about some of these divisions in a technical way. And you’re right. There are a lot, of different reasons why people use drugs and want them to be legal, and they’re, they’re not all the same.

David Nickles  1:09:40  You know, I like to point out that just because we all use drugs doesn’t mean we’re all on the same side. And I think particularly when people choose to use a framing of like, the psychedelic community or drug using communities, like there’s this invisible-isation of fundamental differences, and so when people talk in certain cases about infighting or disagreement, it’s like, actually no, we have, we have significant differences in our understanding and analysis. And this isn’t infighting, like I fundamentally disagree with your position and your premise. And the fact you know, like, yes, we can both use the same drugs and come away with very different understandings. But then to talk about those substantively feels important. On that note, I have to jet. But Hilary, I really look forward to, future conversations. Thank you so much.

Hilary Agro  1:10:26  Yeah, it was great to meet you. 

David Nickles  1:10:29  Likewise

Hilary Agro  1:10:29  And to chat about this stuff. Yeah. And I just, I just want to mention before I forget that, on that sort of, like, question of community and these tensions, there’s a great article by Danya Fast called, it’s something like, ‘Did somebody say community?’ And it’s about yeah, like this, like use in the Downtown Eastside, like, who use drugs and they’re sort of like, you know, ambivalent relationship to the idea that they’re in a community because this community for them is based on poverty. And it’s like, they don’t really want to be in it. And, yeah, so Danya Fast, she’s great. She’ll be on my committee at UBC. So for anybody, that’s

Brian Pace  1:11:05  That’s great. I just pulled it up. ‘Did somebody say community young people’s critiques of conventional community narratives in the context of a local drug scene’. Is that it?

Hilary Agro  1:11:13  Yes, yeah. Yeah, she does good work.

Brian Pace  1:11:15  Awesome

Neşe Devenot  1:11:16  It’s not just a difference in analysis. Like it’s a difference in like goals. Like, we’re not actually all working towards the same thing. And in fact, like, some of those goals are in explicit contradiction. So it’s just, you know, it’s just really important to keep that in mind when people are trying to just obscure the differences and say, ‘oh, but we’re all working towards the same thing’. We’re actually not

Hilary Agro  1:11:35  Yes exactly that’s exactly what I say to Liberals when they try to, when they try to say like, well, we all want the same thing. Like no, you want like UBI and a dismantled social safety net, I want like universal 

Brian Pace  1:11:49  And servants, 

Hilary Agro  1:11:50  Like I want no profit.

Brian Pace  1:11:52  This goes back to some of our conversation around medicalization and decriminalization because we’re watching, you know, a nascent industry being formed. And this is one of the reasons why we’ve been successful at like predicting what various actors are going to do. And you know, we’ve we’ve broke all kinds of stories that you know, doing work, nobody else is doing No, no one else cares to do. Because we’re viewing this through the lens of like, well, what would capitalism do with like, I don’t know, if we discovered a whole island full of timber and mineral resources, you know? So, so this is a new market. And the process of medicalization is going to create a medical industry that will use its profits. 

Brian Normand  1:12:42  It might.

Brian Pace  1:12:42  It might, if it becomes, like, I’m just saying, by, by using the analysis of what other industries do with their profits, they go to the statehouse, and they lobby, to change regulations to protect their interests and make sure that the flow of profits continues. This means that a competing policy environment like decriminalization for instance, is a threat and it’s a threat under basic economic principles, called non-excludability. It’s the reason why we have Spotify and not Napster. If you can’t keep your, you know, customers from getting a, a low low cost or free version of your product, you cannot have a market that functions for that product. And mushrooms are goddamn cheap as chips. If you’ve got somebody in your community, you know, growing a couple of , every mushroom grower I’ve ever known has given them away because there’s so there’s so much.

Hilary Agro  1:13:45  So many of them. Yeah, and this is I mean, I’d be curious actually ask, ask you fine, folks, because it’s, it’s an issue that I’ve been meaning to look up but allowing myself to put off so that I can enjoy the rest of my mat leave but, you know, this this thread, I think, actually Caitlin Johnstone just wrote an article about this. It’s open on my computer that I’ve been meaning to read, but that it doesn’t benefit capitalists to legalize psilocybin or even LSD and things like that, because it’s whatever it’s so cheap to produce. But it does really benefit them to legalize, you know, psilocybin capsules plus mega supplement, whatever, like, whatever, like slight variations on the psilocybin molecule that they can make so that they can produce like, only legalize that.

Brian Pace  1:14:33  Is this ’21 Thoughts on Psychedelics’? 

Hilary Agro  1:14:36  What’s that? 

Brian Pace  1:14:37  The the articles that you’re talking about, Caitlin Johnstone.

Hilary Agro  1:14:40  No, I think it’s it was, it was recent. 

Brian Pace  1:14:44  Okay.

Hilary Agro  1:14:44  It was, it was about psychedelic capitalism basically. Anyways, so, so for me this has been like sort of like in my head as a risk but I’m just kind of like, wanted to check in and see like how far they have gotten in, in doing this like where, where we’re at in terms of like the fight for legalization. Whether or not that kind of thing has happened in terms of like, okay, we’re going to legalize it, but only only this, you know, this molecule, not mushrooms. 

Brian Pace  1:15:10  The strategy of these corporadelic actors as we call them

Hilary Agro  1:15:14  Yea I love that term

Brian Pace  1:15:14  Is going to be, to, to what deuterate some tryptamines because they’re patentable, because the psychedelics, most of them, the classical ones are long off patents. So you can’t, you can’t be the only provider of those molecules. And so, you know, they create something that it’s effectively a prodrug. So the moment you put it in your body, your body metabolizes it to one of the classical psychedelics. So it’s, you know, it’s a fig leaf for gaining intellectual property that, you know, ultimately doesn’t have any added therapeutic value. It’s a it’s a way to build a fence around what it is that you’re, you’re selling, you know,

Brian Normand  1:15:53  Yeah, if not, it further complicates things too.

Brian Pace  1:15:56  Right. And I mean, 

Brian Normand  1:15:58  People haven’t used them. But you know, what people are talking about, generally speaking, is, you know, in these corporate actors is you’re either a pharmaceutical company trying to, you know, do some therapy thing, you know, like a, I don’t know, VR helmets, or, you know, particular drug therapy combo for pyromania or whatever. Or you’ve got like the spa model, or the retreat model, where it’s some like elite, cushy kind of wellness thing. And we already see this, like, for instance, Synthesis is out in the Netherlands, and, you know, they’re what, two three grand for a couple of days stay. Looks really cushy, but they’re just taking psilocybin truffles, truffles, which, if you happen to be in the Netherlands, you can buy in any smart shop. You don’t need all of that. So, this strategy is sort of like, it’s sort of like the, the packaging the plastic wrap around a banana that you sometimes see, like in absurd grocery stores, or, already has a perfectly good peel, you know. Then you put it in a bag.

Brian Pace  1:17:03  Put it in a bag, you know, so, you know. They, they want to wrap up the experience with some, some kind of thing, which, you know, honestly, in some ways, it’s more legitimate than trying to create an entirely new compound, to patent it. To sell an experience, sure, why not? But, you know, if you want to go to a spa and take mushrooms with strangers, fine. People go to Burning Man, you know. But all of these people, all these people have the incentive to, to then say ‘anything that is not what we’re doing is irresponsible use’.

Hilary Agro  1:17:35  Yeah. And of course, just like with cannabis legalization, all it’s going to do is further entrench racial inequality. Because that’s, of course, like I remember, actually, the very first international drug policy reform conference, I went to it was in Denver, shortly after legalization in Colorado, and it was like, oh, yeah, we’re just gonna legalize it. But if you have a felony record, as all the drug dealers do, you can’t work in the legal industry. Like it’s, it’s gonna be this the same kind of thing where, where, okay, you can use your psychedelic at a spa or whatever, but like, who’s gonna be profiting off of these people. Like in Ontario, it’s former fucking cops who are profiting off of cannabis like literally like they’re opening up shops and making it into a whole thing. And it’s like, the same people who were cracking skulls on the streets of Toronto, and like carding black, young black men, and harassing them and arresting them and incarcerating them and ruining their lives. They are the people who are now turning around and immediately making profit off of these same things. So it’s, uh, yeah. 

Brian Pace  1:18:42  Which assumes that they weren’t

Hilary Agro  1:18:42  Well, I mean, yeah, but even more and it’s, like you said, it’s not that I, I think that actually does get at like my discomfort with like, these ketamine clinics that are popping up everywhere. And this sort of like bespoke psychedelic experience and guides and shamans and whatnot. It just like it sticks in my craw. And I’m still kind of processing why? Because it’s an effective reaction that I have to these things. And I want to, like, process and understand that. 

Brian Pace  1:19:10  Sure

Hilary Agro  1:19:10  But that’s really it, is it’s just like, well, who has access to this stuff now? It’s incredibly expensive. Are we going to offer reparations to all of the dealers, like the former sellers that are in prison right now for selling these things? Or are we just going to let them hang out in prison and while we, while we like go to the spa, and use the thing that they’re in for.

Brian Normand  1:19:32  Yeah, it’s probably, probably

Hilary Agro  1:19:35  Yea, justice for drug dealers. That’s, that’s what I’m saying.

Brian Pace  1:19:39  Brian, share a little bit about some of the, you know, the backgrounds of these firms doing these like reverse takeovers that you and Russ spent a lot of, Dave spent a lot of time digging into. Like, who’s who’s funding a lot of these nascent corpradelic firms.

Brian Normand  1:19:55  I mean, the initial, the initial push was a lot of miners and I mean, Ronan Levy from Field Trip is a gold dealer. They have diversified portfolios, the initial phenomenon was reverse, was in Canada, there was a lot of carcass entities that were just inhabited. And then they for regulatory ease, they just acquire that like shell kind of company and then referred to as a reverse takeover. And then they’re easy. You can go public with them much easier. But yeah, we did a series looking at why was there a lot of miners and resource extraction involved in it. Early on, we did that series from mining to mushrooms. I mean, it’s a high risk industry, right? These are people who are willing to take high risks. The psychedelics industry, as much as everyone thinks it’s a kind of foregone conclusion that it’s going to be, this is going to be the mental health revolution, that’s not at all set in stone. Everybody just got their bubble burst, when Compass put out the 2b results and their stock just shit the bed along with every other company that’s out there. Everybody’s trying to figure out why.

Brian Pace  1:21:01  Their FDA, FDA trials, psilocybin just came out and the stock price did not do well

Brian Normand  1:21:08  No and like it dropped I don’t know 20 – 25%, something like that, as did a lot of the other companies, Atai. You know, everybody’s trying to figure it out right now. It’s a highly speculative industry. That’s why people are trying to figure out why did that just drop so much the results seemed pretty good. Was it because of the adverse effects and whatever that was 5% of the population? I think it’s just it’s been hyped. Like any shit coin cryptocurrency a lot of those, a lot of people like, I think there’s a lot of crossover between the people who are in, say, Dogecoin and MindMed like, you want to know why the stock just shit the bed so much. Yeah, cuz you have a lot of speculators in it. And I think it remains to be seen whether or not this is actually going to be an industry. We don’t know that yet.

Hilary Agro  1:21:56  So I have about 10 minutes left. So if there’s any other topics we want to cover, before I go, one

Brian Pace  1:22:02  Of the things that I kind of wanted to pick your brain about, because I know it’s been a thing in anthropology generally and you’re very much not, you know, pursuing this. But like, so I spent a little bit of time in the Amazon and we were talking about mining, a lot of times mining companies will hire an anthropologist to go into the community, and like, sort of figure out what’s going on, so that they can destroy those communities you know.

Hilary Agro  1:22:27  Especially Canadian mining companies. Yeah for anybody that thinks that Canada is like this great country. Canadian mining companies are some of the most like, evil companies on earth. Like they’re really bad.

Brian Normand  1:22:37  And some of them are directly involved in psychedelics. 

Brian Pace  1:22:41  Yeah. So I mean, I guess I wanted to pick your brain into just about the dark arts of like corporate anthropology. I actually came across a pamphlet, I don’t know if it’s, it’s not accessible corporate sociology, and it was probably from the 80s about how you can apply your skills in sociology to manipulate people and such. 

Hilary Agro  1:22:59  Yeah.

Brian Pace  1:23:00  I don’t know what, what’s your what’s your take on that. 

Hilary Agro  1:23:02  I have so many thoughts on this. But in a nutshell, I do think that it’s, you know, there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism. There’s no ethical work under capitalism. Like the problem comes down to it, like nobody becomes an anthropologist because they want to do that. But if they can’t get a job, and now they’re sunk cost is out the, like, off the charts. They have this PhD, they can’t get a job in academia, like people get desperate and they will go with wherever will hire them, because they need to pay their rent, and pay off their student loans and whatnot. So like, I get it, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t think it’s productive. I’m not saying that this is what you’re doing. But when I don’t think it’s productive, when people will just like blame the individuals who were doing this kind of thing? 

Brian Pace  1:23:45  Of course, yeah. 

Hilary Agro  1:23:46  Which is the thing that happens. But we need to look at this, like systemically like why are there so many PhDs who can’t get a job doing something more helpful to society? 

Brian Pace  1:23:57  Why indeed.

Hilary Agro  1:23:58  And so it, it sucks. But yeah, it’s a tension always in anthropology conferences, there’s like recruiters and stuff. But it’s yeah, people, people need jobs. So that being said, there is an argument to be made. I know the front if my friend Alex Besos. 

Brian Pace  1:24:18  Wow

Hilary Agro  1:24:18  Who Yeah, another great drug policy person. If they watch this, then they’re gonna, they’re gonna have some words from you

Brian Pace  1:24:25  You’ll hear about it, you’ll hear about it.

Hilary Agro  1:24:29  But there is an argument to be made for harm reduction in terms of anthropologists doing this work. So I had a friend who was an anthropologist, and he’s an anthropologist for the Canadian Army. And so he used to go to Afghanistan and help with like translating and like culturally could help like the soldiers there, understand the culture so that they did less harm to the people there. Now, if you’re doing that for the US Army, there’s a lot of arguments made that you can’t reduce that harm that you know, you’re just aiding imperialism and whatnot. But also on the ground in that moment, if you can help prevent a miscommunication that’s going to get somebody killed. And this would be the in the, in the context of mining as well, if you can help these locals, you know, make some sort of like terrible one sided deal that looks slightly less one sided with this company that wants to extract the resources. are you reducing harm? I’m not saying I have answers. I just think that there’s interesting questions to be had about the role of these kinds of enablers in these situations. Like I don’t, I couldn’t ethically live with myself to do that. But I can see how people, oh the babies up anyways. So that’s, that I’m going to go grab the baby.

Brian Pace  1:25:50  Well, hey, thank, thank you so much. Yeah, I don’t know, I and I thought that was great as this was sort of hoping to explore, to hear a little bit about about that, because it’s been a common thing, where, you know, people from the humanities have to get a job. You get a job from somebody, you know, producing widgets, writing advertising, copy, or, or being, you know, human resources officer or something. Anyway, in the context of just like, how do we, how do we, how do we use our skills, whether they’re, you know, building things or, or thinking about things and conceptualizing them, you know. How do we both keep the lights on, but also contribute to a world that we actually want to live in? Like, that’s ultimately a question that I asked myself, probably, on a weekly basis, at least so. And not everybody has the ability to, like, you know, sit around and make these like academic distinctions or, or is like, able to, to choose, you know, and most people don’t have the ability to not get a job because because otherwise you’ll become homeless you know.

Hilary Agro  1:27:06  This is the ultimate irony of capitalist defenders using the concept of freedom to defend capitalism because like, we’re the least free people on earth because if you don’t do exactly you know, this, this small number of things that can keep you fed, you will be homeless. Like, that is so coercive of our system.

Brian Pace  1:27:27  And then yeah, and even in in homelessness, you will be institutionalized either, you know, in a mental hospital or a prison if you don’t follow certain standards of behavior, you know, so, it’s

Hilary Agro  1:27:43  Foucault spinning in his grave.

Brian Pace  1:27:45  Yeah. Barbara Ehrenreich wrote something called Fear of Falling about the middle class, you know, it’s, there’s, there’s always a cudgel, you know, sort of Damocles hanging above everybody’s head, in the daily economy that we all live in.

Hilary Agro  1:27:59  Well, I hope that everybody who is watching this stream, got the homework list of like, six new books that we recommended throughout.

Brian Pace  1:28:09 Totally. 

Hilary Agro  1:28:10  I mean, there’s, there’s great, there’s great, great work being done on all of this. And it’s really nice to be working collaboratively with people because I’m living the living the, the post capitalist world that we want to create is yeah, not, not just talking about this stuff and thinking about it and reading about it in isolation, but actually, you know, yeah.

Brian Pace  1:28:33  I’ve long, long admired your contributions to this, you know, broader conversation. Look forward to seeing what more content you know, you choose to produce to navigate all of this, and I’m just really grateful that you made some time for us today.

Hilary Agro  1:28:49  Of course, yeah.

Neşe Devenot  1:28:50  Yeah super grateful. Maybe you want to plug your Patreon.

Hilary Agro  1:28:55  I do have a Patreon. I’m going to be producing more content for it starting really soon. Actually, I’m pretty excited. I just got a Vimeo account because I decided I figured out what I want to put on my Patreon and it’s going to be my uncensored rants. So every time something comes up that makes you really mad and I just want to like swear and get really angry about it, but it can’t because like it’s not like I try to maintain like a certain level of like accessibility a little bit on my social media. I say that but I did tell Elon Musk that I was going to shove his father’s emerald mine up ass last night on my twitter. So like, okay, so maybe, maybe I’m not the most professional person on my social media. But my, I have long unedited rants are what I’m going to start putting on my Patreon as extra content. But I know that most people who support me on Patreon just do it because you know they are they’re happy and grateful that I’m able to do this work of educating people because a lot of people want to do this kind of thing, but like they don’t have time so that’s kind of my, my model for my Patreon is like, I’ll do it for you. I’ll end the drug war for you like just support me, and I can do this. I can do this full time I will show up to the mayor’s office and like harass him. I just need like childcare to be paid for. So yeah.

Brian Pace  1:30:12  Well, we won’t keep you from, from that good work and wish you the best of luck. 

Hilary Agro  1:30:18  Yeah. Thanks so much. We can do this again anytime.

Neşe Devenot  1:30:20  Thanks so much