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Amanda Siebert: It’s Just a Plant — Transcript

Read the transcript of Caitlin's interview with journalist Amanda Siebert.
by Carrie M. King | Mar 7 2019

Caitlin Schiller: Welcome to Simplify! I’m Caitlin Schiller.

Ben Schuman-Stoler: And I’m Ben Schuman-Stoler.

Caitlin: And today we have a special guest.

Ben: Keep going. You’re doin’ great. Just take it away.

Caitlin: Ben is wearing a shirt that is the right color for this special guest.

Ben: You want to say I’m wearing a green shirt because weed is green? Is that the joke?

Caitlin: That’s the joke. I was really reaching. It’s been a long week, man.

Ben: That’s good.

Caitlin: It’s, like, numerous colors of green. I could lose you in a legal pot farm in that shirt.

Ben: Why are you so interested to talk to Amanda Siebert?

Caitlin: So, she just released this book called The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life. I’m always interested in improving my life. I’m also interested in alternative medicines, not necessarily using cannabis as a medicine, but I’m interested in reading about all that stuff. And when I saw that her profile is that she’s like the OG cannabis journalist. I was kind of fascinated by it. She carved herself a niche in the industry covering cannabis as her beat before pretty much anybody else was doing it. So she’s the Canadian authority on cannabis.

Ben: Nice. She’s written for The New York Times. It’s not like it’s so niche anymore. I feel like cannabis now is so mainstream especially with the legalization, like, the unstoppable tide of legalization. What was the thing that stood out to you after like now you’ve talked to her a couple weeks ago. What stood out to you?

Caitlin: The thing that really stood out is that cannabis has been it’s been demonized for lots and lots of reasons and the fact of the matter is it’s just a plant. It’s a plant medicine that has been used for centuries to relieve…

Ben: Millennia, right?

Caitlin: Millennia! To relieve pain and and to help people with PTSD and anxiety and it actually has properties that return the body to its healthiest equilibrium because it mimics the body’s own natural homeostasis mechanisms. So it’s just in the last century really that it’s become taboo. So that blew my mind: the fact that it’s just a plant and really the last century or so has been the aberration in cannabis use rather than the norm.

Ben: You want to know what blew my mind?

Caitlin: Tell me.

Ben: Infused lubes. I was not expecting that that I had no idea there was there was such a thing as cannabis-infused lube.

Caitlin: What are you gonna do with this new information? No, don’t tell me.

Ben: No. It’s funny I guess but it’s also it’s amazing how many products that are.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Ben: This has become really an industry. It really has like you have to pay attention to it now.

Caitlin: Right. Cannabis oils are an amazing, amazing resource for anybody who has chronic pain. I have a friend who suffers from extreme back pain and cannabis oil is the thing that’s improved her life the most. It’s not me, but it could be.

Ben: Yeah. All right. Well, then let’s roll the tape. Yeah, we’ll catch everybody at the end when we make some actually some really cool book recommendations. So, catch you then.

Read the transcript of Caitlin’s interview with Amanda Siebert

Caitlin: Could you just introduce yourself the way that you like to be introduced?

Amanda: So my name is Amanda Siebert. I am an author, cannabis writer, photographer and journalist based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Caitlin: Cannabis journalist — that is a title that I do not hear every day. You’re also a cannabis book author. You are just releasing a book called The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today and I’m super excited about it.

Amanda: Me, too. I’m yeah, I’ve talked about it a little bit and you know, it’s funny being a journalist, being on the other side of the interview is always a little bit interesting, but I’m game for whatever you’ve got.

Caitlin: Why do you think that cannabis has such a bad rap?

Amanda: There’s a lot of different factors that play into that. I think, you know, a lot of it has to do with racism. If we look to the United States, you know, after the Civil War in Mexico, we saw a lot of Mexican immigrants traveling to states along the border in the US. And what happened is they brought marijuana with them. And marijuana was, you know, a term that they used to refer to it. But when American people heard this term, they saw these people that were coming they’re unfamiliar and so, you know, they attached a lot of bias, I guess, to that. And they used that term “marijuana” to sort of blame these immigrants that were coming to the United States for their problems if you will, and that’s kind of why we know there’s some connotations around that word “marijuana.”

And really a lot of it too, I mean if you look at the 1930s when we had, you know, Harry J. Anslinger the first I guess president or leader of the DEA at the first iteration of that organization. He really had it out for cannabis because he had, you know, a lot of wealthy friends that were invested in things like prescription medication, and cotton, and the oil industry, and these were all things that were being threatened by the hemp industry. And so that’s kind of why we don’t really have a very robust hemp industry in North America. Really all the things that we use––plastic, oil, these sorts of things––they could be replaced with hemp and so that had a lot to do with it as well. I’m sure I could go on. There’s really a lot that plays into this stigma. We see the results of that demonization.

Caitlin: There are a lot of three letter acronyms that are associated with a cannabis that I think also might add to some of the unknowns about it. Could you take us through the difference between CBD, THC, and this fantastic thing that I didn’t know anything about until reading your book called the ECS –– the endogenous cannabinoid system?

Amanda: The endocannabinoid system, for sure. So your body has this system called the endocannabinoid system. And this was actually discovered after THC was discovered. So there’s this brilliant scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who discovered THC, later on he discovered CBD, and he basically went on the search to find out, you know, what happens to THC and CBD in the body.

And the long and short of it is he discovered this system of receptors that exist within the body. And so the endocannabinoid system is the system that works to regulate all the other systems in the body. So things like appetite, things like sleep, things like mood. And what happens is, you know… Let’s bring it back, I guess, to this word endocannabinoid. So the root of that word “endo” comes from endogenous, it means within the body. So our bodies actually produce their own “cannabinoids” if you will—I’m using air quotes—that sort of work to return the body to homeostasis.

Caitlin: Could you just explain homeostasis? We also have some listeners who aren’t English native speakers. So it might be helpful.

Amanda: OK, for sure. So homeostasis is just the idea that, you know, returning your body to—I don’t want to use the word “normal” but to sort of its most functional kind of regular state, if you will. And so these cannabinoids that exist within the body they’re called “anandamide.” THC and CBD actually sort of mimic them. So THC works with receptors in the body, it actually binds directly to them. CBD, this other cannabinoid one of two sort of probably the most popular cannabinoids that we hear.

And cannabinoids, I guess, are these chemical compounds in cannabis. They really are responsible for a lot of the therapeutic benefits that we get with cannabis, along with terpenes––these aromatic compounds, they all sort of work in synergy to help us kind of regulate the different systems in our body. Does that sort of make sense?

Caitlin: Yeah, actually, I think that was a really good primer. Thank you for that. And with that, I’d like to get into… Well, your book is broken into I think it’s eight chapters or eight sections basically on different areas of one’s life with which cannabis can help or how cannabis can benefit a person.

And one of them, let’s start with the simplest one that pretty much everybody can relate to: one of them is sleep. Could you tell me a little bit about how cannabis affects sleep or could improve sleep?

Amanda: Of course! So with my own cannabis use, I think sleep is a huge huge thing for me. And I know it is for a lot of people too. It’s actually, you know, when polled cannabis users, one of the top reasons that they choose to use cannabis—whether they’re recreational or medicinal users—one of the biggest things they find is they sleep better when they’re using cannabis.

And you know, there are definitely some some scientists that will debate with this idea. They’ll say, “Oh, you know, it actually interrupts your sleep,” but you know, when we look at the evidence or the number of individuals that are coming back with this finding, I think it’s definitely something we need to consider. So what I did when writing this book, I spoke with an expert who sort of broke it down to me in terms of stages of sleep. And what happens with cannabis is essentially the sleep latency, or the time it takes you to fall asleep, can be shortened when you’re consuming cannabis.

And then depending on your sleep patterns, you might also find that cannabis can extend the length of time that you spend in what is the third stage of sleep, which…

Caitlin: I think it’s REM. And isn’t there NREM or short wave sleep?

Amanda: Yes, those are the ones. So the the third stage would be the one that is benefited the most by cannabis consumption.

Caitlin: Are there some kinds of cannabis that are more suitable to someone who is looking to improve their quality of sleep than others?

Amanda: Definitely. What you’ll hear in many dispensaries and it’s kind of an industry norm, even though it is sort of hotly debated right now, is this idea that strains that come from this indica species of cannabis—I’m using air quotes there again—are sort of more beneficial for people who are looking to get better sleep or to relax because it’s sort of facilitates that, it’s more sedative.

And you know, it’s interesting because the genetic difference between sativa and indica—these are two terms you may have heard, refer to different species of cannabis—there’s not actually anything vastly different about them, except for maybe the way that they appear in their growing stages. You know, a sativa plant is tall, it has skinny leaves. Whereas an indica plant will grow more short and stout, you know, broader leaves, things like that. We see these sorts of differences. But actually the difference between them is quite minimal. It really comes down to the compounds in the plant. You know, its amount of THC, of CBD, and also of these other compounds in cannabis called terpenes, which play a much larger role in the effect of cannabis use than we thought before.

So terpenes are these sort of aromatic compounds in cannabis that give it their smell. You know, sometimes you smell a variety of cannabis and it’s got this really gassy diesel smell, other times it’s kind of fresh and fruity and lemony. So these smells all come from these compounds called terpenes. And the idea is that rather than this whole indica sativa denomination or what have you rather than paying attention to that, it would benefit consumers more to pay attention to terpenes and things like that.

So myrcene is actually a terpene that is thought to be responsible for this couch lock feeling, or this this tiredness, anything high in myrcene essentially would promote that that sedative effect.

Caitlin: Hm! That is really interesting. I had no idea.

Amanda: Yeah. It’s a little bit more complicated than sometimes it seems.

Caitlin: Yeah. So sleep is something that most people can relate to. Another thing that most people can relate to, I think, is this idea of of weight maintenance and exercise. This completely shocked me because what you usually hear about cannabis use is that it gives you the munchies, you’re gonna gain weight, you’re gonna be a, you know, a chubby tired stoner who has couch lock, which is a term I’d never heard until just now when you used it and I love it.

But you have a story. You did a bunch of case studies in the book. There’s one for every single chapter. You spoke with a pro snowboarder called Ross, I think it’s Ross Rebagliati, who’d really just had some amazing results. Can you talk about that a little bit and how cannabis can factor into weight maintenance and exercise?

Amanda: Absolutely. So Ross Rebagliati in 1998 at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan he won the gold medal for snowboarding. And then later on it was taken away, when it was found that he had THC in his system. Eventually it was given back to him. And you know, the amount of THC that you could have in your system as an Olympic Athlete was raised. But yes, so he was sort of the catalyst for this idea that cannabis can actually, you know, have some benefit for athletes.

And when I interviewed him for the book, he was sort of talking to me about this idea that when he was training before the Olympics, he would get up really early with a bunch of his teammates. They would you know be up on the mountain or they’d be up at 5 a.m. And the first ones on the mountain getting you know the best runs in, and they would have coffee and toast, and cannabis every morning. And they would take breaks here and there, and fuel up and smoke another joint. And the way he described it to me, I just couldn’t help from grinning like the entire interview. He was talking about how, you know, just being in contact and with some of the best athletes in the world, who were at the peak of their game, and most of them were using cannabis.

So yeah, in this case study, he sort of explained to me that he still uses it rather consistently, you know, he’s not snowboarding as a pro athlete anymore, but he does a lot of cycling. And you know by using a little bit every day he’s found that he’s been able to keep his weight steady. So he’s actually I think within 4-5 pounds of his weight at the Olympics 20 years ago. He’s able to recover from injury quickly with topicals and different products that have THC obviously and CBD in them for that pain relief. So yeah, it was just really interesting to hear from an athlete’s perspective how cannabis can sort of provide that benefit.

Caitlin: I was actually so shocked and kind of heartened by it. Heartened actually really because even before I got to the chapters on aging, I was like, “Well, this must have implications for things like rheumatoid arthritis and continuous pain that old people are in.” Could you talk about that a little bit?

Amanda: So pain management is probably one of the most talked-about reasons that an individual might use cannabis. And really it’s funny when I spoke with them. Dr. Mark Ware, he’s the expert I spoke with in the book on pain management, and he works out in Montreal and Quebec. And he said that most of the patients that he’s worked with, that suffer from chronic pain, the way they describe cannabis is as something that not necessarily takes the pain away from them, but it takes them away from the pain.

So people always ask this question of, you know, “But does cannabis really take someone’s pain away?” And really it has more to do with the effect of cannabis on the mind, and how we perceive pain––at least that’s the way that Dr. Ware explained it to me. And I found this to be quite fascinating that even though it may not be affecting the pain directly, by his account patients found cannabis to be more effective than other drugs or prescriptions that left them unable to do as much. You know, they were sort of dealing with more side effects from that medication. And so just speaking to the safety profile of the medicine, and you know really of how people were able to function with their chronic pain conditions more effectively if you will, when they were using cannabis than when they were using other medication.

Caitlin: But why exactly is cannabis so helpful with pain management? It’s THC, that’s the cannabinoid?

Amanda: I think you just sort of said it. I mean THC is this cannabinoid within cannabis that really holds a lot of these analgesic properties. So working to quell pain, things like that. I know that if you have a chronic pain condition, you know that neuropathic pain, there are several studies that have found that you know cannabis can be beneficial for that. But also, you know on a smaller scale, if you have tennis elbow or something, you know an injury that is perhaps not so long term, things like infused topicals, so really just a cream with THC in it can work wonders. And also a great place to start for someone who may not our may still have a little bit of that fear around smoking or even vaporizing.


Caitlin: This feels like a good a time as any to talk about the different, I guess, the different ways of taking or using cannabis. What are the primary ways that people use and what are what are some of the things that they’re good for?

Amanda: So obviously, I guess the biggest, I guess way to consume cannabis would be smoking. We see this, you know, in media and things like that. And the reason smoking, you know, is still popular and I think will never not be popular is because it’s a fast delivery method. So let’s say, you know, on the medical side if you suffer from cluster headaches or something that requires a quick onset of relief, smoking does provide that.

As I said before, you know, I think a reason that some people are afraid to consume cannabis because they associate it with smoking cigarettes. But then you know, we see other modalities being introduced like vaporization. So vaporizing cannabis again, you’re inhaling, vapor, whether using a handheld vaporizer, a desktop vaporizer, and this is thought to be less carcinogenic than smoking cannabis in a joint or in a bong or pipe. Those are sort of two ways, I guess, you know, that would be the inhalation side of things.

And then we move on to ingestion. And so edibles are a huge thing right now. I know in the United States. In Canada, unfortunately, they’re not going to be regulated until 2019. But edibles are definitely an important modality because while the onset it takes a little bit longer for the chemical compounds in cannabis to kick in, when you ingest because it has to go through your digestive system. The effect also lasts longer, so it might take you 45 minutes to an hour to feel the effects of an edible. But you’re probably going to feel those effects when they do kick in for two, three, four hours. For some people it can last up to eight. Some people even longer. I don’t want to say, you know, that’s the thing about cannabis. There’s no absolutes. It affects everyone in a different way.

So yeah, it’s definitely very interesting substance to work with. So ingestion, of course. Edibles—that would be through you know, if you’re making your own edibles, you’re cooking cannabutter, or if you’re taking, I know in some parts of the world you can get capsules and oils that are infused. Definitely a few different ways to ingest.

And then we’ve got you know topicals, which can be applied to the skin and that’s everything from, you know, infused lubes. There’s a chapter on sex in the book as well, to lotion and face cream and things like that.

Caitlin: Topicals are a thing that I just hadn’t ever really thought about very much until I read your book. But you said that they’re a good place to start for people who might feel a little more hesitation about using any kind of cannabis product. They’re a good beginner’s way to try it. And you just mentioned cannabis-infused lube, which led you to mention your section about sex. How exactly does cannabis or can cannabis affect someone’s sex life?

Amanda: So cannabis has actually been used as an aphrodisiac for many many many many years. And it, you know doesn’t get a lot of attention, but we’re seeing more and more of it. The woman I spoke with in the book, her name is Ashley Manta, and she runs this kind of school if you will, these workshops in California, and she has this brand called CannaSexual®. And it’s the idea, you know that people can use cannabis in conjunction with sex to improve their sex lives. And that can include everything from, like I said, using an infused lube to you know, consuming a particular strain, you know, before getting intimate with your partner to even using an infused product solo.

There’s definitely lots of different things to be explored in that realm, and I think it’s definitely an area that we should consider for sure. Historically it’s been a very big one for humans to use cannabis in conjunction with sex. So I thought that would be a fun one to explore.

Caitlin: Yeah, but what does it exactly do? What are what are the positive effects of using cannabis before sex? Is it that it calms the mind down? So it’s similar to how anxiety sufferers might benefit from cannabis or is it something else?

Amanda: For a lot of people sex creates anxiety, it can be really uncomfortable. For people that suffer from trauma particularly, you know, if they have recurring pain. Cannabis can sort of help take your mind away from those things, can keep you in the present. You know, another woman I spoke with in the book, Lisa Kirkman. You know, in her experience cannabis allowed her to get more in touch with her own needs, but also with her partner’s needs. And so definitely a combination of both I want to say on the mental and the physical side.

Caitlin: Are there any dangers at all that you think about, or are there any hesitations that you have, when you talk about cannabis as a good thing?

Amanda: I mean, I think like everything we need to consider that it’s not for everyone, you know. I think it’s interesting though to consider how people experience cannabis for the first time. A lot of the times the story that we hear from someone who had a negative experience with cannabis. For example, maybe someone in my parents generation someone in their 60s, or 70s, you know, saying, “Oh, well, I tried that once when I was a kid and I had a terrible time.” And then you dig a little bit deeper and you find out that they were at a party with lots of unfamiliar people, and there was lots of alcohol involved, and there were fights breaking out. And so you have to ask, you know, is it really the cannabis or is it those other factors that are involved in that story?

So while I definitely agree that, I’m not here to push cannabis onto anyone. I think if you have decided that it’s not for you, then it’s not for you. But I also feel like it’s a substance. I hate using that word. It’s a plant that we’ve been using for 12,000 years. And so to just negate all the therapeutic benefits because we’ve been fed this propaganda for the last hundred years, I think isn’t necessarily fair. I just want to be able to give people both sides of the story.

Caitlin: Something that I really like to ask my interviewees is what do people worry about. So what do people worry about with regards to cannabis use that they really just don’t have to, in your opinion?

Amanda: I mean in Canada, there’s this feeling right now that—I’ve said it before—that the sky is going to fall when cannabis is legalized. Or I mean there’s going to be lots of accidents—the results of impaired driving. And that people are, you know, I mean, I’m sure that some people have this fear that modern society as we know it is going to crumble, and we’re all just going to turn into a bunch of lazy stoners. And I think that’s definitely short-sighted. I think if people were aware of the number of individuals in their communities already using cannabis, they would be surprised. It’s definitely culturally an important substance in Canada, and especially in Vancouver.

And so I think moving forward, Canadians and other people in the world are going to slowly kind of see that consuming this plant, you know, not everyone fits the sort of Cheech and Chong stereotype. You know, there are plenty of—and I know many of them—plenty of individuals who are running companies, who are, you know, entrepreneurs. Lots of very very successful people in Vancouver and beyond that are using cannabis daily, like all day long, and they’re at the top of their game. So yeah, I think that’s really going to be a big surprise for people that not a lot is going to change, I think. I think we’ll see this industry building. I think eventually rules and laws might be adjusted to account for the fact that we don’t need to be so terrified. Yeah, I think ultimately people are going to realize that it’s not as scary as we imagine it to be.

Caitlin: Amanda, if you could leave people with one central idea about cannabis, if there’s one thing you really would like more people to know, what would that be?
Amanda: Absolutely. This is a great question and I have one thing that I always like to say, if I just have like a minute of time with someone. The thought is this: we’ve been using cannabis for 12,000 years and really the last century is the aberration. This fear that we’ve created around it, it’s only about a hundred years old. And so just to imagine that this is really the little blip on the radar. And that, you know, I think very soon after Canada has legalized cannabis, we’re going to see other countries sort of come on board to this idea that it can be legalized. Yeah, that we can return to using it in a way that can have therapeutic benefits.

Caitlin: That just blew my mind.

Amanda: Awesome. That’s cool.

Caitlin: All right one last thing. This is Simplify is made by Blinkist, which is a company that deals with nonfiction books. What is something that you’ve read recently that you’ve enjoyed? It doesn’t necessarily have to be nonfiction, I just like to hear what people are reading, really.

Amanda: I am reading this wonderful book––it’s actually written by a friend of mine named Travis Lupick. It’s called Fighting for Space and it’s a book about this community in Vancouver called the Downtown Eastside, and how this community that really faces a lot of struggle when it comes to, you know, addiction, how they sort of come together in the face of this opioid crisis. And really before that as well, it’s really a wonderful book. Travis is a good friend of mine. And so yeah, it’s a very detailed account of how Vancouver has sort of put itself on the map in terms of harm reduction. Very very good read for sure, and non-fictional.

Caitlin: Wow! Interesting. Very cool. All right. Well, Amanda, that is it for me. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk today. It was really pleasant and illuminating to talk with you and thanks for your book, too. It’s just been full of surprising and really useful information.

Amanda: Well, thank you so much. It was a pleasure to chat with you about it. And I hope that people who read it take a way a new idea about cannabis and shed their old mindset.

The Bookend

Ben: Welcome to The Bookend where we end with books!

Caitlin: Welcome back!

Ben: Yeah. Thanks, but I will have probably appeared previously on this season.

Caitlin: I was welcoming the audience back.

Ben: Oh, yeah, and I’m not high.

Caitlin: Neither am I.

Ben: And we should talk about all the benefits of being high though and what you guys talked about a little bit. I mean, what do you remember from the interview?

Caitlin: Well, what I really remembered from what I think the thing that I’d say surprise me in addition to what I mentioned at the top of the show is that athletes really stand by using cannabis. Not just to you know, not just to get high, but also to fall asleep at night and get a restful night’s sleep for the sport they do in the morning. It’s a way for them to relax and unwind with friends and maybe ingest some sort of substance that allows them to do that to a higher degree without having the negative effects of alcohol, which are dehydration, you feel terrible in the morning. Yeah, I also was totally shocked that cannabis can actually help with weight maintenance.

Ben: Hmm because like I mean, you’re like “Oreos” is what you’re thinking

Caitlin: Oreos is a pretty much exactly what I was thinking. Yeah, so that was really surprising to me and interesting. What did you what stuck out to you?

Ben: I mean alcohol sucks, I think is interesting, and it’s kind of the drug that has main found its way in the middle of our culture more than cannabis much.

Caitlin: Why is that?

Ben: I don’t know. I mean, that’s probably I don’t know but it’s I have some ideas but I don’t know if they make their not flushed out enough to include here. Another thing I think is. You know smoking is tough and smelly and I think that we’re going to see cannabis. I think she makes a really good point that once smoking is sort of removed from how we think of cannabis. We could see a growth there. We might get to experience more of its benefits, let’s put it that way. The last thing is, you know, Reefer Madness that like that meme-able movie from the 30s about the terrors of reefer.

Caitlin: I actually have never seen it.

Ben: Yeah, I just think we’ve been bombarded by campaigns and maybe false notions about what cannabis is and so that’s what I remember from this interview: that cannabis is you know, probably not as evil as we were brought up to believe it is.

Caitlin: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. Those DARE commercials. They’re enough to strike fear into the hearts of pretty much anybody living and walking and breathing who wants to continue doing that.

Ben: Yeah, so should we get to the books?

Caitlin: Yeah, let’s do it. So my first recommendation has really nothing explicitly to do with cannabis. It’s called Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. This book might be one that we’ve talked about before on, maybe, Season 1 of Simplify, but it’s a really cool book because it’s all about the daily routines of philosophers, artists, musicians, inventors. It’s got Jane Austen’s work habits in there. Beethoven’s weird coffee routine. And then there’s also of course some talk about the kinds of substances these people used to enhance their artistic states or to relax and unwind sometimes in a healthy way, sometimes in a not healthy way, but it was just I think it’s an interesting read to hear about how. Use of certain substances even like opium how normal that was in the UK until it got negatively associated with Chinese immigrants how normal using stuff in order to get your work done actually was. I’m not condoning that by the way, and at Blinkist we don’t condone it. But I just think it’s an interesting thought experiment to see how opinions on on using substances has changed over the years. So yeah, Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, it’s pretty cool.

Ben: Nice. Yeah one that I have is The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. Yeah. Famous awesome dude, Michael Pollan. Well, you know how I like a good cultural history.

Caitlin: You do. And Michael Pollan

Ben: And Michael Pollan. Yeah, it’s basically a history of four plants: the potato, the tuli, the apple, and cannabis. And you know, like an interesting part of the book regarding cannabis. So like the part about the apple talks with Johnny Appleseed. But the part about cannabis it’s interesting. It’s like since the Garden of Eden humans have been drawn by this desire to do what’s not allowed and be intoxicated somehow.

Caitlin: You talking about the apple?

Ben: Yeah

Caitlin: Intoxicated with knowledge?

Ben: Yeah promised something. I promised them alternate reality, some abuse, or not abuse, but something that’s not who you are or, you know, who you think you are.

Caitlin: Or something that will present a change in your reality. I think alternate reality is a great way to put it. It’s yeah something something different something that you ingest that can change the way you experience the world.

Ben: Right and even kids like to spin around until it gets so dizzy. It was just so weird. It’s like harmful but it’s really fun and then they might be like, oh, I’ll never do that again and then their friends are doing it a week later and they’ll be like, all right, I’ll do it one time.

Caitlin: Do you remember the PSA can spin around in circles?

Ben: No really?

Caitlin: No!

Ben: Yeah, so that’s mine The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan cool.

Caitlin: Great. I haven’t read it yet. I’d like to though. It’s a great title.

Ben: Do you have another one?

Caitlin: I do. I have one last one. This is also about a substance used in a medicinal way and another Simplify guest. Her name is Ayelet Waldman. Her book is called A Really Good Day. And it has this incredibly long subtitle that I’ve forgotten and did not write down but it’s basically about how microdosing improved, microdosing LSD improved her marriage, her work, and her health and her general life overall.

It’s this fascinating combination. Daily microdosing diary. And the history of LSD why it’s been so taboo. The main players behind it. I found it to be a really fascinating read. Ayelet refers to it as “the book that LSD wrote” because she did a lot of her writing when she was microdosing it made her super-productive able to focus it made her more emotionally-stable and it also helped her make connections between the things she was researching and experiencing and a way that she said she never would have done if she hadn’t microdosed. So it’s really fascinating and and she’s a great writer. So I’d really encourage you to check it out and listen to her Simplify interview. Also, in this season.

Ben: Cool.

Caitlin: Nice recs. Botany of Desire.

Ben: Yeah Botany of Desire is awesome.

Today’s episode of Simplify was produced by me Ben Schuman-Stoler, Caitlin Schiller, Nat Darozhkina, and Ben Jackson. The last time I talked to Ben Jackson he wanted us to let you know that he was not the one who left the studio speakers blasting opera music with the door open.

Caitlin: I have ideas about who it might have been.

Ben: No comment.

Caitlin: Okay. All right, cool. Well, if you enjoyed this episode of Simplify send it to somebody you like! That would be great. You can find us on Apple podcasts. You can find this everywhere, you know that already. If you want to talk to us, which we love you can email us at podcast at link is not calm.

Caitlin: I’m on Twitter at @CaitlinSchiller and Ben. How do people find you?

Ben: Yeah on Twitter @bsto.

Caitlin: Rad. Okay one last time Simplify is brought to you by Blinkist. Ben and I both work there. Blinkist is an app. What does Blinkist do, Ben?

Ben: Blinkist is an app that brings you the key insights from the world’s best non-fiction in 15 minutes or less.

Caitlin: Oh, yeah. I love hearing you read my words. You even memorized them! Ben did that without looking at anything.

Ben: It’s great! Easy-peasy. Yeah. Yeah. If you want to try Blinkist out for free we set up a voucher code. go to and put in the voucher code reefer and you can try it out. Otherwise, that wraps it up for today. So see you guys next week. This is Ben, checking out.

Caitlin: And Caitlin, checking out.

Read the show notes for this episode here!

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