AMA on Wed 5/20/20: psychedelics movie producers (Reality of Truth, Lamar Odom: Reborn) and Ketamine Fund founders

Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) on Wed May 20 from 4:00-5:30pm PT

We are excited to announce that Mike “Zappy” Zapolin and Warren Gumpel are joining as special guests to do an Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) on Wed May 20 from 4-5:30pm PT. Zappy and Warren co-founded the Ketamine Fund, a non-profit organization focused on reducing suicide rates across society using ketamine. They are also film and television producers: Zappy produced The Reality of Truth featuring figures such as Deepak Chopra and Michelle Rodriguez.

Mike “Zappy” Zapolin won the Amsterdam Film Festival’s Van Gogh award for Documentary Directing on his film “The Reality Of Truth” which focuses on the importance of going inside ones own mind for answers and healing. The film features actress Michelle Rodriguez, Deepak Chopra, Ram Dass, Dr. Drew, Marianne Williamson, and Joel Osteen. His latest film “Lamar Odom: Reborn” documents the psychedelic intervention Zappy gave to Lamar over the last two years using the breakthrough treatments of Ketamine and Ibogaine.

Zappy is also the visionary behind such Internet brands as Music.com, Beer.com, Computer.com, Creditcards.com, Diamond.com, and Silver.com.

A regular guest of the media, Zappy is the creator of the Harvard Business School elective “eBusiness,” and recently moderated a first of its kind panel at the Milken Global Conference titled “Highs and Lows of the Cannabis Economy.”

warren

Warren is an accomplished entrepreneur, film and television Producer. He is a Co-Founder of the Ketamine Fund a non profit organization focused on reducing suicide rates across society using ketamine. Under his leadership The Ketamine Fund has donated more than 400 free treatments to veteran suffering from PTSD, and created significant awareness in the media for the organization and its mission.

Warren is a leading advocate in the Ketamine space who has spent the last four years working as an operator, consultant, marketer, and advocate. Warren has guided existing ketamine clinics, IV clinics, and rehab centers to integrate best practices for ketamine to enhance their existing businesses and ketamine practices.

Warren is the Executive Producer of the documentary film Lamar Odom: Reborn which is going to dramatically increase awareness for ketamine as a breakthrough treatment for Depression, PTSD, and addiction.

Ketamine Fund 501©3 stated goal is to bring down suicide rates by 75% across society. The Ketamine Fund is currently providing free ketamine treatments to veterans suffering from PTSD or having suicidal ideations. The Ketamine Fund has already provided more than 400 free treatments to veterans and is focused on expanding the program to cover any veteran in need. The Ketamine Fund plans to use its data to influence the VA to embrace ketamine as a suicide interrupter.

We are very lucky to have Zappy and Warren and are grateful for their time. We’re posting this thread early to field questions, so fire away! Please add any questions you have to this thread and stay tuned for the actual event – Wed May 20 from 4:00-5:30pm PT.

Format: Zappy and Warren will post written answers to questions/comments directly on this thread during the event time.

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it’s really cool how your movies have helped make psychedelic medicine mainstream. do you think there’s a risk of "over"hype where the 1970s happens again?

In advance, your work is really inspiring and something the modern society really needs! I am really glad I fortuitously found this Ask-Me-Anything on reddit. This is going to be a long one:

I am currently doing my masters in philosophy and ethics at the university of Vienna and consider writing my masters thesis about transhumanism and posthumanism in relation to enhancement drugs and their ethical component.
So what question pops up in my mind is, how do you see drugs like MDMA or Methylphenidate in relation to enhancement? Is it morally ok for you, that some people get the chance to use these drugs for mood enhancement or enhancement in their performance and some don’t get the chance to do it? (question about justice and the legal systems differing through states)
Should it be free to use for everyone; young to old, mentally unavailable to mentally healthy, etc.? (question in relation to harm and safety for the individual being)
What do you think about the recreational purpose on the psyche of a human with psychedelic drugs - is it enhancement? Is it harmful? Or do you see psychedelic drugs as harmful as other (legal) substances such as antibiotics or psychotropic drugs? Or do you think enhancement is only harmful when it’s used on body functions?
Can enhancement be negative intended? For example, someone has a bad experience with a substance like a ego death and never wants to try it again. His life chances now for the better, because he stops with old habits and realizes what he should chance in his life. Can you accept this negative attempt for a better life as morally ok? It causes harm, but for a good purpose (thinking about utilitarism). Should it be legal, to harm people, when there is a chance that it could improve their life?

@Warren: How do you handle the law in the United States with it? Did you get an exceptional deal for using Ketamin? Does it differ from state to state? (I’m really curious about this, because unfortunately in Europe, it’s really hard to start such a program because of all the laws.)
Do you also intend to focus on research chemicals in the future? (This question is aligned to circumvent the law, because most of the time new substances are found earlier than the law to ristrict them)
How do you handle people, who only use your program to use drugs legally, nevermind their intention?
What conclusion do you draw from your program? What has it showed to you about humans, which you never thought of before?

I have so many more questions, but I’m going to stop right now and apologize for the direct questions about your opinions. If it’s too personal, I don’t expect a answer, I’m just really curious how you handle things in the United States, since I’m a citizen in Europe.
If you have some interesting, scientific literature in your field, I would love to hear about it! Maybe you can share the title of a book/article/website etc. with me or get in contact with me.
Thanks for your work so far! And also for your time to answer. Hoping the best for you, your work and the future.

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Thank you both for doing this! Zappy - looks like you have experience with the cannabis industry. Do you think psychedelics will follow a similar path as cannabis? I’m very curious given it’s the same decriminalization -> legalization pathway (hopefully) but there’s a much heavier medical/FDA push for psychedelics than there was with cannabis. Curious to hear your thoughts on similarities and differences from the legal and business side

Ketamine Fund sounds like a really cool organization doing good work. Where does it get money and how does it provide free treatments to veterans? So glad to hear about this!

What do you think about the VA seemingly embracing esketamine?

To any veterans on this community - thank you for your service. And thank you to Zappy and Warren for doing this

Is the VA currently using ketamine? or just esketamine/Spravato? And how much are they using the latter

what was it like working with and filming celebrities who use psychedelic medicine?

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How would you both describe the role that spirituality plays in your lives? How do you describe your sense of spirituality?

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@Zappy: What can be learned about the cannabis economy that is applicable to the economy at large? How will the federal legalization of weed affect the economy (of weed itself, and at large)?

Thank you so much for the important work that you both are doing!! Do you anticipate much pushback from the VA or have the results been able to speak for themselves and prevent that? Do you anticipate press and celebrity support to help this process along?

Hey there-- super inspired by all of your work!

A few questions:

  1. Why do you think now is a good time to change the narrative around ketamine and psychedelics as a treatment option for TRD patients?

  2. What people/organizations were your closest champions within the media industry in bringing this narrative to light / helping make these impactful documentaries a reality?

  3. How would you encourage younger motivated individuals to get involved in these circles bringing interesting narratives mainstream, whether it be specific conferences or film festivals?

Hey guys! We’re excited to be here. We’ll start answering your questions. Hello from us!


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Zappy: I don’t think we have the same issue that we had back in the 1970s in large part due to the Internet and the way it democratizes information… When Timothy Leary attempted something similar at that time there were only three major television networks and only a couple of large newspapers, so if the government or industry wanted to suppress something or make someone seem crazy it was pretty easy to do. these days information cannot be surprise, and if there is value it will be recognized. We are also lucky that cannabis has laid the foundation for Psychedelics, given that a lot of people have now had the direct experience with cannabis and realized that there is value there, which has them doubting what they were told previously about Psychedelics. Also I think because we are in a depression/addiction/suicide epidemic people are looking for new answers to these problems, and they are finding an opportunity in sychedelics

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So what question pops up in my mind is, how do you see drugs like MDMA or Methylphenidate in relation to enhancement? Is it morally ok for you, that some people get the chance to use these drugs for mood enhancement or enhancement in their performance and some don’t get the chance to do it? (question about justice and the legal systems differing through states)

Zappy: As always in society people with resources generally tend to get access to things first, then they become available for the masses. It’s unfortunate that this is the case, but since millions of people are now having these positive experiences with Psychedelics it will translate into the people with less resources getting access to them sooner.

Should it be free to use for everyone; young to old, mentally unavailable to mentally healthy, etc.? (question in relation to harm and safety for the individual being)

Zappy: I believe it should be available to everyone, it says in the constitution that we have the inalienable right to pursue happiness. It is unfair for the government to declare certain substances legal and others illegal, especially when these catalyst could be the difference between life and death for an individual. Libertarians and people who follow common sense understand that this is a choice of an individual, not something that affects other people in the society, and for this reason if people are struggling with addiction or depression they should have the human rights to access these catalysts. The beautiful thing about Psychedelics is for the most part they are very inexpensive, psilocybin and Ketamine cost just pennies and can do more for patients then pharmaceutical drugs or traditional talk therapy

What do you think about the recreational purpose on the psyche of a human with psychedelic drugs - is it enhancement? Is it harmful? Or do you see psychedelic drugs as harmful as other (legal) substances such as antibiotics or psychotropic drugs? Or do you think enhancement is only harmful when it’s used on body functions?

Zappy: Psychedelics have shown to be very low risk and in most cases and With low risk for addiction. Master healing plants like Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, and San Pedro are the opposite of addictive, they are very intense journeys that people have to go through, and are not eager to go through them on a regular basis. In the case of Ketamine Dr. Brooks in New York who’s done more than 10,000 treatments stated that no one that ever came in for depression ever became addicted to Ketamine. Obviously if someone is abusing drugs and you give them a bottle Ketamine they are going to use it as fast as they. Because the experience itself is intense most people who go through it have a strong reference for what it is and appreciation for how it’s making them feel and are not prone to try to over use the catalyst.

Can enhancement be negative intended? For example, someone has a bad experience with a substance like a ego death and never wants to try it again. His life chances now for the better, because he stops with old habits and realizes what he should chance in his life. Can you accept this negative attempt for a better life as morally ok? It causes harm, but for a good purpose (thinking about utilitarism). Should it be legal, to harm people, when there is a chance that it could improve their life?

Zappy: Most of the people that we treat in the Ketamine clinics we are associated with who have an intense what you might call bad trip, the next day admit that it was there most valuable session because they were able to look at some thing from a 3 party perspective and when they come back out of it it does not have the same electric charge on it. Typically if someone has an intense experience but is guided properly and helped with integration those seemingly difficult journeys turn out to be life-changing events.

@Warren: How do you handle the law in the United States with it? Did you get an exceptional deal for using Ketamin? Does it differ from state to state? (I’m really curious about this, because unfortunately in Europe, it’s really hard to start such a program because of all the laws.)

Warren: Ketamine is an FDA approved anesthetic and listed as an ‘Essential Medicine’ by the WHO, and absolutely legal in all 50 states and most of the world. When used to treat a mood disorder, it is considered an ‘off label use,’ which is a common practice in the United States. In terms of the legality of the fund and the treatment, we do not make any medical decisions. We are just willing to help pay for treatment if the person is approved by the Doctor.

Do you also intend to focus on research chemicals in the future? (This question is aligned to circumvent the law, because most of the time new substances are found earlier than the law to ristrict them)

Zappy: We think people should have the inalienable right to use whatever catalyst they want/need. If the government can arbitrarily dedicate a location like Las Vegas where someone can become addicted to gambling, substances, sex, etc. they need to make sure that there are places people can go to use things like psychedelics to unhook them from those developed addictions . making any energy illegal is against our human right. We need to make sure that people of all races and cultures have the same access to this type of treatment without bias. Currently there is a racial barrier to using psychedelics where a minority who has a bad experience could be shot by the police or put in a mental institution for the rest of their life, while a Caucasian individual who has a bad experience would be sent to counseling and supported by their entire community. For this reason we need to have places where people can have these sessions without judgment or bias

How do you handle people, who only use your program to use drugs legally, nevermind their intention?

Warren: Of course the patients are screened by the Dr. so we have not run into a case of anyone using the medicine to skirt the law. All of the treatments are done in the clinic, under the supervision of a Dr. and staff. I’ve been asked similar questions regarding recreational use for patients outside of the program and it’s pretty clear that using Ketamine for this purpose would be a very inefficient way to have an altered state experience. If people are lying about having suicidal thoughts, feeling horribly depressed, or suffering from PTSD, well I guess that’s possible. I’m fairly certain that I’ve not run into that. People that I’ve met that have found ketamine and are interested in treatments are usually suffering pretty badly.

Zappy: This is typically not a problem in clinical settings, there are much cheaper ways For people to access street drugs if they want to rather than paying a premium to be in a clinical setting.

What conclusion do you draw from your program? What has it showed to you about humans, which you never thought of before?

Warren: The first conclusion is that Ketamine is highly effective for treating PTSD, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. When administered properly, it saves lives.

Secondly, what this program has taught me, and actually what these past 4 years of working as an advocate for Ketamine has taught me, is that trauma is trauma. Regardless of the source or the subjective severity. Everyone’s pain is their own and it doesn’t warrant comparison. Obviously, when you’re talking about a combat veteran who has seen war, it is easy for me to understand the source of their PTSD. There are many other people whose traumas may not be as easy for me to understand, yet they still manifest in horrific symptoms. It is beyond me to compare peoples traumas and how those traumas may be affecting their lives. You can not judge humans by looking at their lives and trying to assess their happiness through your filters. I’ve seen people whose lives looked perfect from my view, die by suicide.

Zappy: I’ve learned that we all have some level of trauma or PTSD regardless of what Socio economic status we have or what our light in life is. These days if you watch television news for even 10 minutes you probably have PTSD. Since we have these Katalyst Seville bill to us we need to be able to access them immediately, for this reason we’ve started the mind army which is fighting for the constitutional right to go inside your own mind. Human beings are natural explorers we explore the New World we explore the west, we explored outer space, you cannot tell us that we can’t go inside our own minds to explore for answers and healing.

If you have some interesting, scientific literature in your field, I would love to hear about it! Maybe you can share the title of a book/article/website etc. with me or get in contact with me.

Warren: There is an incredible article in Nature Magazine that shows the findings of a Chinese Study on Ketamine and it’s efficacy for depression. The interesting finding is that there is an organ in the brain called the Lateral Habenula and it asks as recorder for all of the stressors a person encounters throughout their entire life. When it gets overloaded it goes into this ‘High Burst’ mode that shuts down the Dopamine production in your Ventral Tegmental area. Basically, if you are not getting Dopamine, you are really not happy. The Ketamine can reverse that ‘High Burst’ Mode, and give you back your dopamine back. When you see patients suddenly get their dopamine back, their lives change instantly. This can happen after their first ketamine treatment. We have seen people that have been bedridden for years, get their first treatment, and the next day get a phone call with them telling us that they’ve decided to paint their house, or reorganize their kitchen.

Zappy: I think nature is very intelligent, It knows that people are suffering and need cures for modern diseases so it’s brought our cannabis, which is being experienced In a very positive way. Nature has followed this by bringing out master healing plants like Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, San Pedro, and others that people are much more open to because of their cannabis experience. Mass acceptance of cannabis and decriminalization in most states has led to a softening up by the authorities, there is not the same stigma as there was in the past if you are bound to be in possession of a plant like mushroom, San Pedro, and others. While it is very important to know the source of the product you were getting the fact that these catalyst can be accessed through the Internet and sent directly to consumers home without a significant amount of fear over legal repercussions means more and more people are accessing these important medicines

Warren: We have been lucky to enough to find generous donors who have either had the experience themselves, seen it work on a family member or people close to them, or just understand the science and the studies. Over the years, we have met many veterans that seem to be falling through the cracks or not responding to traditional treatments. We were able to offer these veterans fully subsidized treatments through those donations.

Zappy: We did a mini clinical trial in Salt Lake City Utah where we donated 400 free ketamine treatments to veterans suffering from PTSD. The results have been incredible. We plan to use the data from this study to petition the VA to look into Ketamine being available for all veterans. Some of the success stories include a veteran coming off of 22 medications that he was prescribed by the VA, another one who was suicidal who is now living his best life possible. Ketamine is such a cost effective treatment that we simply need to increase the number of keys results we have to open the eyes of the veterans administration. Ultimately we believe that Ketamine will save the veterans administration trillions of dollars in medications, therapies and negative outcome.

What do you think about the VA seemingly embracing esketamine?

Warren: Esketamine is interesting. The intranasal Route of Administration and the FDA approved doses seem to be less effective vs. Intramuscular, IV, or Ketamine given in oral supplementation at higher doses (in accordance with protocols that were established by Yale University’s well known study).

Zappy: The problem with Esketamine is that it is given nasally, when Ketamine is delivered nasally it is a different delivery system and it hits the opiate receptors. The maximum dose of spravato/esketamine is 26 mg in the left nostril 26 mg in the right nostril, meaning you are getting 52 mg nasally, since you absorb only about 30% this means patients are getting less than 20 mg of ketamine. This is not enough Ketamine to dissociate which is the goal of Ketamine. The healing happens when you dissociate the left and right brain and to allow your brain to operate without your ego being involved. This low dose of ketamine also means that you were only metabolizing a small amount, it is understood that when it metabolizes it grows new neural pathways in the brain, people getting regular ketamine get much larger amounts of ketamine to metabolize and thus grow more neural pathways in their brain and they would with esketamine. unfortunately many people will try Esketamine and not get the effect they were hoping for and think that Ketamine doesn’t work for them. The reason that esketamine is happening like it is is that the pharmaceutical companies are able to charge the insurance companies for the drug which cost many multiples of what regular Ketamine costs

It’s a lot of fun giving the ketamine to veterans, because the effect happens so quickly that we get to see them living their best life starting literally after their first treatment.

Warren: It is hard to keep up to speed on the VA’s policies. I believe they have approved Spravato in some cases as well as Ketamine in others. I believe the decisions are made case by case basis. It doesn’t seem like there is any uniformity necessarily, but that can always change. But, I’ve spoken to a lot of clinics that administer both and have heard conflicting reports.

Zappy: It turns out that celebrities are just like everyone else in the fact that they have experienced trauma in their life that is affecting their mental state, performance, and relationships. Like it or not we are living in a celebrity driven culture, so Warren and I have decided to embrace it knowing that society will be able to more easily accept the transformation that happens to someone like Lamar Odom who they think they know then a regular person that they do not feel a connection to. I’ve been very lucky to work with Michelle Rodriguez and Lamar Odom, because they are the type of celebrities who speak to their own drum, and are not controlled by their management. Both of them knew that they wanted to have this experience for their own well-being and disregarded some of the naysayers who thought it was a bad idea to talk about mental health or to be seen on camera using taboo materials. If you’ve seen The Reality of Truth then you know how amazing Michelle Rodriguez is as an advocate for going inside your own mind. her ability to convey what was happening during her experience and her integration is what makes her such a unique asset to the Psychedelics movement. We are hoping that the film Lamar Odom reborn can do for Ketamine and Ibogaine with the movie The Reality of Truth did for Ayahuasca and San Pedro

Warren: We live in a culture where some of these celebrities are deified and are expected to be the greatest actor, singer, or athlete, while at the same time, expected to have a perfect moral compass. That’s quite a lot of pressure and can be overwhelming. Some of these compounds allow for a deeply introspective look at one’s self, which can be very healing.

Zappy: The most significant experience I had with Psychedelics was when I was on a journey and I was on the edge of the universe looking at it like God would look at it. At that moment a voice spoke to me that I knew could only be God, and it asked me if I knew how I was breathing, to which I said “no I don’t”. Then God said do you know how you’re growing your hair? you’re doing it but do you know how? I thought about it and said “ no I don’t”. Then God said to me if you don’t know how you’re breathing what makes you think I need your help? In that moment i looked at the universe and thought to myself that’s true I don’t even know how I’m breathing and if I don’t do that for two minutes I die, how can I get all worked up because people aren’t listening to me or somethings happening that’s out of my control, I don’t even know how I’m breathing. From that moment I was totally free, all the weight of the world came off my shoulders and I decided to live my life like the miracle that it is. As I emerged from that experience I realize that the voice that spoke to me was a woman, I started to laugh, realizing that all of the religions have God as a man with the white beard and jesus, Mohamed, Buddha all of these men, and I was with God and it was a woman (or at least 50% female). We know that religion is a man-made creation, it’s just funny that it was made up in the exact opposite way that it is.

Warren: Spirituality to me is a simple belief that there is more out there than I can comprehend. And that I should live accordingly. I can say that my earlier life was void of spirituality. I was a strict materialist. I went to college, went to work on Wall Street, and did not take much time to contemplate anything that was not a part of my daily life or did not serve me in the present. It took my own existential crisis and my own horrible bouts with depression and anxiety to search for something more. Luckily, I ran into Ketamine at the most crucial time of my life, when it seemed like I had very few options left. When you have these transcendent experiences, like those that Ketamine can induce, your eyes open to more possibilities. It can be very humbling. I not only realized that I did not know everything, but that I did know anything. That was a hard reset on my thinking, especially in a spiritual sense. I know now that we are all connected. I have ‘seen the connections’ in a sense. You gain empathy from that knowledge.

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