This week, Horizons – Perspectives On Psychedelics the largest and longest-running psychedelic conference will take place in New York City. It is a five-day conference that includes credit coursework for professionals as well as sessions on medical research. The event has grown from its original one-day conference with the addition of classes and business talks. The initial three days are held at the prestigious New York Academy of Medicine.
The days generally break down as follows:
- (Wed/Thurs) Classes: in-depth intros to psychedelic therapy from researchers and practitioners in small class environments.
- (Thurs) Business Forum: first-of-its-kind gathering about creating purpose-driven and value-centered organizations that are also pro-business and profitable.
- (Fri) Focus on Clinical Research: a briefing on psychedelic-assisted therapy research and practice.
- (Sat) Psychedelics in Medicine: insights, big ideas on moving the market, and visions for the future.
- (Sun) Psychedelics in the World: a survey of psychedelics in society.
One of the reasons, people are drawn to this conference is that it targets its panels to just one to two people. The sessions end up delivering more information as speakers aren’t limited to just a few sentences.
If you are considering attending this conference, here are the five things you don’t want to miss.
The classes will be held on Wednesday and Thursday and they are specifically for people who want to learn about Psychedelic therapy. There are introductions to MDMA, psilocybin, and ketamine therapy, plus attendees can get CME credit. The classes are introductions on how to work with these types of therapy.
Thursday is the business forum, which is mostly talks geared toward people in the space already. The sessions will be targeted to shaping the ecosystem, focusing on integrity, and including sessions on ethics. There will also be a focus on a values-oriented approach, specifically on how to operate with integrity. There will also be discussions on how to get funding. This day will be great for networking.
Friday’s sessions will focus on clinical research and specifically taking psychedelics from the lab to the clinic. One speaker that attendees shouldn’t miss is Dr. Charles Raison, an author at the Usona Institute. He will be talking about psilocybin for treating depression. Another speaker that shouldn’t be missed is Gul DolenAssociate Professor Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, who is also speaking on Friday. Her topic is The pharmacology and neuroscience of psychedelics.
Saturday is the most medical day of the conference and the conference moves its location to Cooper Union and the landmarked Great Hall, built in 1859 and is one of the most prestigious auditoriums in the nation, having been graced by such eminences Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Barack Obama. Dr. Raison will lead another discussion on this day. It is expected that Saturday will lean into the issue of patents over the various compounds in the psychedelic world. It is a heavily debated subject with the leader of the industry MAPS against patents, while the Usona Institute is open to the idea.
Like the cannabis industry, there is a bifurcation in the psychedelics industry concerning medical versus culture. Many within the industry see psychedelics as a spiritual experience, while some see it as recreational and others as purely medical. Sunday will focus more on the cultural aspects of the psychedelic world with sessions on history and indigenous communities.
Dr. Julie Holland, MD, a psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, and medical advisor to the psychedelic investment fund Palo Santo said, “I come away learning things I didn’t know, whereas most conferences I feel they are already preaching to the choir. Horizons is my favorite conference.” She also noted that what makes this conference unique is that it isn’t afraid to talk about the failures in therapy. “It addresses the shortcomings and where we’re having problems. There is a lot of attention paid to ethics,” she added.