This isn’t the psychedelic you remember from college. It isn’t an eight-hour marathon experience tripping through the woods like Alice. It’s fast-acting, short-duration — sometimes lasting as briefly as seven minutes — and is a rocket-ship ride into the center of the cosmos. In a recent European study, after one single use, the substance 5-MeO-DMT was shown to produce sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, and easing of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

When former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson first tried 5-MeO-DMT — also called “the toad” — he said it knocked him off his feet, profoundly changing his life. “I came across this thing called the toad. I smoked this medicine, drug, whatever you want to call it, and I’ve never been the same,” Tyson said on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast last year, viewed by nearly 10 million people. “I look at life differently, I look at people differently. It’s almost like dying and being reborn… It’s inconceivable. I tried to explain it to some people, to my wife, I don’t have the words to explain it. It’s almost like you’re dying, you’re submissive, you’re humble, you’re vulnerable — but you’re invincible still in all.”

One single 50mg vaporized dose — derived from dried venom secreted by the Bufo alvarius toad — often produces hallucinogenic, boundless experiences within one second of inhalation that can last from 7 to 90 minutes, and on average lasts 20 minutes. Like Tyson, people report mystical experiences, many “seeing God,” and often sensing a better understanding of their place and function in the cosmos as a result. Shortly after use, participants tend to be totally clearheaded and 100% back to their previous ordinary state.

While this material is not currently legal in the U.S., substances with similar molecular structures containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT), like the Amazonian brew ayahuasca, recently have been decriminalized in parts of the United States. This style of medicine is being touted as a healing modality for emotional trauma and used where conventional methods like pharmaceuticals fail. Their ability to heal has prompted voters in Oakland and Santa Cruz in the state of California to opt for decriminalizing a wide range of psychedelics — such as magic mushrooms, peyote and ayahuasca — making those items the lowest law enforcement priority. Last year, Denver also followed suit passing similar resolutions around fungi containing the psychedelic psilocybin; and more recently Chicago’s City Council approved a resolution that could pave the way for decriminalization there.

So when an email landed in my inbox with the subject line “I’m a Facilitator of 5-MeO-DMT / Toad,” it was an irresistible invitation to slide down the rabbit hole. Having just heard Tyson’s description that very week, the synchronicity was mysteriously enticing. Also, there was the not-so-small Michael Pollan Effect. Since 2018, when Pollan first burst through the glass ceiling of legitimate psychedelic use with his influential book How To Change Your Mind, the idea of cognitive freedom had suddenly inched up to the forefront of the American conversation on mental health. Employing an erudite, mainstream viewpoint on mind-altering drugs, the then 62-year-old straight-edge author from Long Island — who taught at Harvard and Berkeley and penned bestselling books about the clean food movement — lent a credible air to the use of these magic molecules, including LSD, DMT and psilocybin. His perspective gave gravitas to a subject that would be otherwise derided as unsafe and unwise.

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