We’re off this week so instead of our regular Briefing, were bringing you an interview from RoP contributor David Adhira with Paul Austin, CEO and Founder of Third Wave.

Who is Paul Austin?

I had the pleasure of sitting down for an interview with Paul Austin, CEO and Founder of Third Wave. I was curious to find out what a pioneer in the psychedelics industry would have to say about the past 5 years in the space. He kindly set aside time from his projects to share a piece of his mind with some lesser-known developments in the exciting world of psychedelics.

Paul’s transformation into the field of psychedelics first started when he was 19, experiencing psilocybin for the first time in college – as many of us did! He also happened to be unclear of his path after college, sound familiar?

After living some time abroad in Turkey and Thailand, Paul launched Third Wave as his contribution to the world, to teach responsible psychedelic use. What motivates him is to spread the truth of interconnectedness, and teach how psychedelics can responsibly help people with their transformation.

Paul believes that psychedelics are seeing a resurgence in popularity because we’ve got a global mental health crisis on our hands. Clinical research has proven the potential of psychedelics to treat depression, OCD, PTSD, addictions, anxiety, and more. “They are healing people. People are getting clarity and insight to answer questions in their existential crisis.”

The last 5 years in retrospect

In the past 5 years, Paul would arguably pick Tim Ferriss as the single most significant element that helped shape the psychedelic space. His immense platform has been critical in elevating the conversation and importance of psychedelics. And his financial support didn’t hurt either. Ferriss’s donations kicked off  a deluge of fundraising for non-profits such as Johns Hopkins, MAPS, and UCSF. “Michael Pollan is definitely a close second!” he added.

We’ve seen some considerable progress in the space from 2015 until today. The big headlines are easy to find but there’s an important, lesser-known development existing in the psychedelic space. The user base and general acceptance are actually broader than the consensus would have you believe!

Now more than ever, millions of active psychedelic users have access to psychedelics, legally or not. Some grow mushrooms at home, more of them use these substances responsibly. And there’s a thriving system of underground, black market networks.

“There’s no need to wait another 5 years, it’s happening now,” says Paul. Millions of people are regularly using psychedelics to heal and for self-reflection. “To reach a higher self outside of the accepted social constructs, yet compatible with nature.” With Third Wave, he’s built a structure for education and the spread of responsible use.

The road may be bumpy

Paul attributes some significant setbacks in the industry to an overemphasis on public markets, “rent seekers” as he labels them. Those in the space who are simply attempting to monetize and monopolize the indigenous wisdom that’s been around for thousands of years.

What have too much focus on patents and corporations cost us? “A lack of greater support on the front lines, where battles for decriminalization and proper training of therapists would more effectively keep the movement progressing. We need to catalyze more widespread acceptance, even if that doesn’t line the pockets of shareholders.”

Furthermore, there are challenges to scientific innovation. “There’s this supposed promise from the FDA to approve psychedelics, so long as they complete Phase 3 clinical trials.” That’s helpful for progress, however the US administration is renowned for a certain level of corruption. And with an “overemphasis on patents, we’re heading down a path of perversion with incentives focused on profits over reciprocity for what nature has offered us.”

There’s much to be hopeful about

Paul remains highly optimistic about the road psychedelics are on. A significant broadening of the cultural conversation has taken place in the last 5 years, bolstered by the likes of Tim Ferriss and Michael Pollan. Paul attributes “more education, and better education” to this evolution. We are witnessing massive growth of awareness for the benefits of these substances.

“People saw what happened with cannabis, and realized the government has been lying about psychedelics.” said Paul on the subject of responsible use. Still, “By and large, the reports by mainstream media have been positive because of an industry-wide focus on medicinal use.”

If there’s one single goal Paul has in mind for psychedelics, it’s for people to be more informed about responsible psychedelics use. In this way, users will be better equipped to leverage these substances. “Use the proper amounts to heal trauma and optimize their well-being. To become evolved leaders of the future generation.”

What the future holds

These substances have been used for thousands of years, and only illegally for the last 68. “It’s abnormal when you consider how they’ve been used in some shape or form throughout history.”

All levels of humanity are transformed by their influence. “On an individual level, we are witnessing improvements in mental health. On a community level, we are seeing a renewed connection with one another. And on a societal level, our collective consciousness is elevated.”

Paul feels most hopeful about the future of psychedelics because of their potential to teach us this “truth of interconnectedness that can empower individuals to become more self-aware.” He added that “We’ve made great progress using these tools to aid in healing adverse childhood experiences and trauma.”