We spoke to Lynn Marie Morski, MD, President of the newly-formed Psychedelic Medicine Association: a society of physicians, therapists, healthcare professionals and industry partners united by a shared goal to advance psychedelic medicine education.
The Association is also pushing for equitable access to psychedelic medicines, an important goal that is currently lacking in this rapidly emergent space (see our interview with Ashley Lukens of Ei Foundation for more on this). We often lose sight of the fact that the potential for psychedelic substances to precipitate a sea-change in mental health treatment is reliant on something incredibly basic: access to the substances.
PA: What’s your experience in this space?
LMM: I am a family medicine physician, trained at the Mayo Clinic, as well as an attorney. I worked as a physician at the Veterans Administration for nine years, and it was during this time that I realized the therapeutic value of psychedelics.
However, as I worked for the Department of Defense, I was unable to mention anything about psychedelics to the veterans I saw in clinic, many of whom were suffering immensely from conditions I knew psychedelics were well-suited to address.
So in 2019, I left the VA and founded PlantMedicine.org and the Plant Medicine Podcast to begin getting evidence-based information out about psychedelic therapies. The Psychedelic Medicine Association is the evolution of what I started with the podcast.
PA: Why is there a need for an organisation like this?
LLM: There are a number of psychedelic medicines that are on their way to FDA approval, but if the doctors and other front line healthcare providers that patients go to for care don’t know they exist, then they can’t be of any help in healing. This is why it’s crucial that we begin educating those clinicians on what is going on in the psychedelic science world.
Even ketamine, that’s available now and highly effective in addressing suicidal ideation, is mostly unknown for this use by most primary care providers. That means that in this suicide epidemic we’re experiencing, there’s a tool out there that’s super effective going underutilized. It’s our mission at PMA to remedy that situation and to ensure that when other lifesaving psychedelic therapies are made available, clinicians know enough about them to feel comfortable discussing them with patients, referring them to psychedelic therapists when necessary, or prescribing the medicines as appropriate.
And education is just the first step, as getting these medicines to patients requires getting healthcare payers to cover them, and ensuring that those who use them don’t lose their benefits based on the varying legalities of the substances. This is why we’ve opened up the association to organizations focused on addressing these other concerns. We’ve also invited research organizations and those making and distributing psychedelic medicines to join as well, so we can foster a larger conversation that helps clinicians more fully understand these therapies and how they can fit into the treatment of patients.
PA: Who’s behind the Association?
LLM: The Psychedelic Medicine Association is a public benefit corporation founded by myself, Lynn Marie Morski, our CTO Barney Neal, with Richard Skaife and Henri Sant-Cassia from The Conscious Fund serving as advisors. We are entirely funded by member dues.
We at Psilocybin Alpha welcome the formation of the PMA, and view it as an important step toward addressing the knowledge gap between practitioners and researchers in this rapidly growing space.
Founding members of the PMA include Field Trip Psychedelics and Numinus, among other industry players.
You can learn more about the Psychedelic Medicine Association, and join their virtual launch event on Tuesday 29th September, by visiting their website.