One upcoming psychedelic conference that we are really excited about is LAPSS, the Los Angeles Psychedelic Science Symposium. Held at the Ackerman Grand Ballroom at UCLA on June 22nd and 23rd, LAPSS will feature some of the biggest names in psychedelic science, including Dennis McKenna, Gabor Mate, Janice Phelps, and many others. Plus, the tickets are set at a very reasonable cost, especially for students and veterans.
To get the inside scoop on LAPSS, we spoke with organizer Brad Adams, who filled us in on the idea behind the event and some of the highlights he is particularly excited about.
Thanks so much for speaking with us, Brad. Tell us about LAPSS!
We have some of the leading experts from around the world coming to present their most recent research findings in the areas of iboga, ayahuasca, LSD, psilocybin, microdosing, and so forth, for the treatment of various things like depression, PTSD, and anxiety. We’re very excited about this, and to my knowledge it’s the first conference of its kind in Los Angeles at an academic institution. We’re excited to be putting Los Angeles on the map for this kind of thing because there are big conferences in New York, and MAPS has their conference in Oakland, but there hasn’t been much action in Los Angeles, which is a major world hub.
One salient feature of this conference that sets it apart from others is that we’re targeting students in particular by doing half-price tickets, trying to get as many as possible to attend. The idea came from the Exploring Psychedelics conference which I’m heading to right now in Ashland, Oregon. They don’t charge admission, and since it’s held at a university they get lots of students attending. I thought it was a great idea because students are our future, and not many students can afford to pay the high cost of admission to other psychedelic conferences, often several hundred dollars plus travel. We want to keep the costs down and keep it interesting and accessible to students.
We are also targeting veterans because, as you know, there are a lot of wonderful findings coming out now for new treatments of PTSD using MDMA, ayahuasca, psilocybin, cannabis, kratom, and so forth. We want to make sure we get as many veterans to attend as possible, so we’re offering them half price tickets as well.
We are also dedicating some proceeds of this conference toward plant medicine research for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, which includes cannabis, ayahuasca, and iboga studies. Each of these show at least theoretical promise that they might be useful in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
That sounds awesome! I’ve been looking over the presenters and the panels and see a lot of big names and familiar faces. With so much wisdom, knowledge, and experience coming to the table, is there any particular speaker, talk, or panel you are particularly excited about?
I hate to pick favorites, but I think in terms of panels, I’m really excited about the 5-MeO-DMT panel because we’ll have two bigwigs in the field, Martin Ball and James Oroc, who don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, and it will be interesting to see them discuss differences and similarities in their approaches, and the way they theorize about how and why 5-MeO works with humans. They’ll be joined by two up-and-coming professionals, Rafael Lancelotta and Anny Ortiz, who are bringing the more academic scientific approach. So I’m really excited to see how that pans out. It’s moderated by Merrill Ward, who is also well known in these circles. That one I’m expecting to be very animated, very interesting, and it’s near the end of the second day.
I’m also very excited about the very last panel with Daniel Pinchbeck, David Jay Brown, Ben Stewart, and James Oroc, which is moderated by Zach Leary who is also doing a live podcast for that panel. Hopefully we’re going to end with a bang- that one should be really great.
When it comes to speakers, of course I’m excited about everyone, but I’m particularly excited about Anthony Bossis who is coming from NYU to talk about research with psilocybin and mystical experiences, similar research as Fred Barrett from Johns Hopkins. This to me is particularly interesting, because some of the stuff coming out of this research is just fascinating. In one of the studies they did with smoking cessation using psilocybin, they found that just one treatment with a large dose of psilocybin caused a large percentage of subjects to be smoke-free after 6 months, but it was only those who had a mystical experience who had that effect. Even though those who didn’t report having a mystical experience had the same amount of psilocybin, they had a less significant result. It’s something that bleeds over into other research, for example with other addictions like alcoholism. You probably know about AA founder Bill Wilson having his experience with LSD and wanting to introduce it as part of the 12-step program, because he saw the power of the mystical experience for ending addictions.
We also have presentations on iboga and ayahuasca, as well as James Fadiman talking about his latest findings in microdosing, so I think there’s a little bit of something for everyone, including newcomers and those who are well-versed in these fields.
Very cool, I wish I could be there!
We will be filming, and eventually it will be posted, so you will be able to see everything even if you can’t attend in person.
Fantastic. How do people find tickets, and are there any volunteer opportunities for folks who want to attend and lend their assistance to the event?
Yes, they can go to LAPSS.org, and there’s a button to buy tickets. General admission is $80 per day; for students and veterans it’s $40 per day with a small surcharge. There are volunteer opportunities as well: people can apply for those on the website or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. There may be a slight screening process to make sure we get the best people, but those who volunteer will get in at $20 per day. Of course they will have to work during the event, but it’s a great opportunity to experience an event like this for a very reasonable price.
Those prices are extremely reasonable for a conference such as this.
We worked hard to keep prices down, not just for students and veterans, but also just for general public.
Anything else about LAPPS that you want people to know about?
On Friday evening we will have a documentary film night where we showcase 3 or 4 psychedelic documentaries, followed by a question and answer period with the filmmaker. Anyone interested in participating in that should reach out and contact us.
For the after party on Saturday night, we’ll have live music by one of our presenters Martin Ball, who has a band with his wife called Fractal Love Jam. We may also have some comedians do stand up that night.
We have an art and music lounge that is a little outside of the venue’s main room, and it will be going on all day and be open to the public, not just conference-goers. Various artists will play music, and some artists will be showcasing their artwork, so that will be another fun thing. We’ll also have a book sale so the presenters can sell their books and do book signings.
Lastly, one thing that came out of the MAPS conference in Oakland was that the number one reason people came was not just to learn about psychedelics, but actually to network with other people. Being in an environment where you can meet like-minded people, and maybe share experiences that you’ve had and haven’t been able to talk to others about, can be a really wonderful thing. That’s another thing we’re trying to foster at this event.
We are very grateful to Brad for taking the time to speak with us about the upcoming LAPSS event in Los Angeles. To purchase tickets or apply to volunteer, visit their website at LAPSS.org.