I guess this my official coming out party. It’s my 15 minute Forrest Gump moment as part of the Psymposia’s Drug War Stories – Catharsis on the Mall: A Vigil for Healing the Drug War. This was part of the Drug Policy Reform Conference last November 20th in Washington, DC.
This was a great lesson to me about the value of both riding the wave and also just showing up. I had not planned to go to this event as I was in activist mode without the money for the conference ticket or a place to stay.
Less than two weeks earlier, I was at the first veterans NORML conference in Houston with my veteran brother Louis Nevitt. I saw fellow veterans Matt Webb, David Bass and Lisa Nave. Hung with fellow activists Mara Heisler Herrmann and Zoe Russell.
I got to spend time with my mentor and exemplar Jerry Patchen and his wife Linda who live in Houston where I went to law school. Jerry Patchen helped enshrine protections for the Native American Church, of which he was a member, and took me to my first peyote ceremony, the UDV and Santo Daime in the US. Jerry was also a Director and General Counsel of the Heffter Research Institute. Thanks Jerry! I would have never met all my Psychedelic Godfathers, Terence McKenna, Dennis McKenna, Charlie Grob or David E Nichols without knowing you and I never would have thought that I could be some sort of entheogenic attorney without having you as someone I could look up to.
Sue Sisley was there speaking and she said Ian are you going to DC and I said I would really like to but didn’t have the funds. She said that she would let me use her badge if I went and that was good enough for me.
Soon after I accepted her offer I found out that another veteran brother Matt Kahl was going and had an airbnb place that I could stay and we could compare notes from our sacred medicine ceremony since we had seen each other last in Colorado with Ryan LeCompte and Christopher LaTona.
When I got there during the mid-week I was asked if would like to speak at the Catharsis event and of course I said yes. The next day my name was on the postcard promoting the event. How cool is that?!
I was the first speaker because I volunteered to go first. Probably not because I was courageous, but probably more that the kid from Hawaii was cold as hell wearing my slippers and not enough warm clothes and I figured if I went first I could get done more quickly.
At this conference I had the honor to meet the sweet and fiery grandmother, Ann Lee, from RAMP. I got to talk with one of my psychedelic Godmothers Julie Holland who was totally amazing in the closing talk and I was humbled and honored to be quoted by her a few times. I got to meet a good friend of my mentor Jerry Patchen, Luis Eduardo Luna, another Psychedelic Godfather whom I had met in Palenque almost 20 years earlier at the Botanical Preservation Corps conferences. I listened to Bia Labate share her own amazing medicine story that brought the house down and had the crowd cheering for more. I got to meet Jeff Mizanskey the drug war hero serving life for cannabis that Obama had just pardoned.
And of course the veteran love is the best medicine. I got to meet Dakota Blue Serna and Barry Richardson. Well let’s just say we connected so deeply, that they are coming to Peru with me in May. Got to hang with and be continuously entertained by TJ Thom, my Bad Manners lead singer come alive in real life and get all the latest drug war political intel from Michael Krawitz who’s been in the game way longer than any veteran I know.
So it was totally cathartic to tell my drug war story and now I get to share that with all of you. I could have never imagined how this would all turn out, and now I’m totally grateful how it did.
you know, Pharmastice Now! Just Say Know! End the Drug War! Give Peace a Chance! blah, blah, blah.
On Friday, November 20, 2015 at 7pm on the NW-side of the Washington Monument, a vigil for healing the chasms and scars of the drug war will begin. We invite you to join us for a multi-day Vigil on the National Mall. This Vigil will offer space for community building, information sharing, art, music, healing, and celebration.
An art installation, The Temple of Essence, will stand as a monument to honor the victims of the drug war. It is a peace-building structure focused on the communities impacted by this conflict and the mass incarceration of our citizens. This Temple will bring people together and create a space for reflection and healing.
For 24 hours, you are invited to share your stories of struggle, honor, remembrance, and hope within its walls.
On the evening of November 21, 2015, the event will culminate in a burning ceremony of the Temple of Essence transforming our individual stories into collective memory (burn permit pending). Then, we celebrate until the sun rises.