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When I met Larissa (Maier, PhD, postdoc researcher ondrug policy at University of California, San Francisco) on a plane 4 months ago she just moved from Switzerland to start her program at UCSF. She told me that psilocybin (aka magic mushroom) is the safest drug as only 0.02% of psychedelic uses end up in emergency room compared to much higher numbers for alcohol, marijuana and other types of drugs. I was astonished to hear that, so we talked more. I learned that there is a potential in psilocybin to treat many psychosomatic disorders, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, insomnia, stutter, panic attacks, headaches, etc, etc, etc. The coincidence of sitting next to Larrisa that evening was even more prominent given the fact that as I was boarding the plane, I was going to listen to my downloaded episode of Tim Ferris Show with Michael Pollan, the author of the book “How to Change Your Mind”. Both the book and the podcast was on his research and journey learning about classical psychedelics. I had to listen to it the next day, which was super exciting and insightful – and I highly recommend it to everyone.

This conversation with Larissa further takes on exploring her research, fascinating stories, potential benefits and application in medicine.

I was also curious how and why Larissa dove into the world of academic research and specifically in this field. She has an interesting view of drugs, including alcohol, having a community building effect, and wanted to study the effects and current approaches to it, while having a vision of a world that is accepting vs punishing, educated and informed vs scared and ignorant.

Larissa recently came back from Burning Man where she was invited as a speaker at MIT Phage Science Camp and to further continue her research, and it was great to hear how well-organized and responsible the event is structured, and she compares what she saw there to some of the initiatives in Europe.

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