Pausing the Ayahuasca Dialogues for Feedback

Dear members of ayahuasca drinking communities, experts, and fellow seekers: Because the ESC is a community-based initiative, we want to take seriously all input from those involved in ayahuasca practices and who are concerned about its future. Due to recent critiques by experts who have expressed their serious concerns about the fundamentals of the ESC and its approach, we have decided to put the Ayahuasca Dialogues on hold to go back to basics and engage in an open conversation with everyone who wants to share feedback and critique the ESC’s approach and vision. We want to be 100% sure that the ESC constructively serves the future of ayahuasca in the globalized world and is not the cause of unintended consequences. Therefore, it is important to take the necessary time for reflection, analysis, and revision. We will continue to seek relevant experts’ guidance at every stage of our work. The last 15 months of the scoping phase of the Ayahuasca Dialogues has been based on building consensus among all interested groups about the cross-cultural safe use and sustainability of ayahuasca. This originally included some of the signatories of the recent critique. Therefore, for everyone at the ESC, the public criticism has been surprising and difficult to understand. We thought at first it was based on misunderstanding of our approach or message. However, we were wrong. Through continued dialogue with our critics, we realized that we hold significantly different opinions about how the ESC should proceed. We recognize the wisdom in the public statement by MAPS, which is entirely consistent with private conversations we have had with MAPS Executive Director Rick...

Ayahuasca Dialogues open letter

January 9, 2015 Dear members of ayahuasca drinking communities: The main purpose of the ESC is to engage in dialogue toward consensus on responsible plant use. We are doing this work because interest in sacred plants is growing fast, which puts pressure on traditional safety and sustainability approaches. Though most people seem to be benefitting greatly, some people are getting hurt. The ESC works at points of cultural contact and tension—where global meets local, where ancient meets modern, and sacred meets commercial. We work to minimize the bad, maximize the good, and avoid unintended consequences. We do this through open, honest dialogue giving everyone a voice. As a young organization, after 15 months of scoping and feedback on the Ayahuasca Dialogues, I want to share some thoughts on who we are, who we are not, and where we want to grow with you. We are: Supporting responsible ayahuasca wild collection, cultivation, and use, and encouraging deeper international safety and sustainability debates; Serving the people who drink and will drink ayahuasca; Having economic discussions. They can be useful and improve lives; Utilizing our expertise in “resourcery” (sustainable management of resources); Reorienting our work and communications based on individual and community discussions; Multi-lingual. Website: English/Spanish; Ayahuasca Health Guide: English/Spanish; Ayahuasca Dialogues Report: English (Spanish version coming soon, under review); Fundraising from multiple sources. We have raised ~USD $58,000. ESC co-founders have donated ~$15,000 more. In-kind donations far outnumber monetary donations. We have spent ~75% of the money raised, ~39% on research & engagement; ~39% on communications & development; ~13% on education of seekers; ~9% on administration. Our first fiscal year financial...
Ayahuasca Dialogues Report presents new approach to Amazon conservation

Ayahuasca Dialogues Report presents new approach to Amazon conservation

New “Ayahuasca Dialogues” Report Highlights Novel Approaches to Amazonian Rainforest Conservation, Sustainable Growth, and Community Revitalization Research centers on benefits and challenges of improving the safe use and sustainability of the traditional Amazonian medicine ayahuasca. Report includes a foreword by Dr. Dennis McKenna. A new report from the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council (ESC) demonstrates how improving the safe use and sustainability of ayahuasca can promote vibrant forests, strong communities, cultural revitalization, and sustainable economic development. Ayahuasca, as a pillar of Amazonian identity and culture, is rapidly gaining global prominence as a psychological tool, religious sacrament, and subject of multi-disciplinary interest. As a global influx of tourists meets local communities in the Amazon, and ayahuasca spreads around the world, safety and sustainability challenges are threatening the reputation and future of this ancient medicine. Based on hundreds of interviews from over a year of research, the report outlines a process to build consensus on ayahuasca safe use and sustainability practices from the ground up so that all voices are represented. The result of this consensus building process—the Ayahuasca Agreement—will provide a benchmark for ayahuasca centers, communities, and farms to be recognized for implementing safety and sustainability practices. The ESC expects that, by 2016, ayahuasca pilgrims in the Amazon will be able to find ayahuasca centers and communities that adhere to the Ayahuasca Agreement, demonstrating credentials in sustainable medicinal plant cultivation, sustainable tourism, and safe jungle experiences. “Every year, over 100,000 people are making pilgrimages to the Amazon to drink ayahuasca,” said Joshua Wickerham, ESC Co-Founder and Executive Director. “We have the chance to educate and improve the safety of these visitors while...
Emerging ayahuasca policy innovations

Emerging ayahuasca policy innovations

On November 11, 2014, the Drug Policy Alliance in New York hosted ESC Co-Founder and Executive Director Joshua Wickerham, who talked about the growing use of the ayahuasca and the future of its regulation. DPA’s Jag Davies and Ethan Nadelmann provided opening remarks. Listen to the talk. Read this Substance.com review of the talk “How Should the World Approach Ayahuasca?” Read this Reset.me story, “As Ayahuasca Spreads, How Do We Keep It Safe and Sacred?” Thanks to the DPA and all the attendees for making this talk a rousing success!...
CNN: ESC’s work is “one of six things to know about ayahuasca”

CNN: ESC’s work is “one of six things to know about ayahuasca”

Could Ayahuasca be the next medicinal marijuana? From CNN. Is ayahuasca a natural remedy for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder or just another drug fad? Lisa Ling goes inside an ayahuasca ceremony in the Amazon on this week’s episode of “This Is Life With Lisa Ling: Jungle Fix” Sunday, October 26, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. (CNN) — Imagine discovering a plant that has the potential to help alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts and paralyzing anxiety. That’s what some believe ayahuasca can do, and this psychedelic drink is attracting more and more tourists to the Amazon. If you Google “ayahuasca,” you’ll find a litany of stories about Hollywood celebrities espousing its benefits, as well as the dangers of this relatively unstudied substance that triggers hallucinations. On this Sunday’s episode of “This Is Life,” Lisa Ling goes inside an ayahuasca ceremony in Peru and talks to the men and women who are drinking this potent brew in hopes that it will alleviate their mental and emotional traumas. Here are six things to know about ayahuasca, which some call a drug and others call a medicine: War Vets are seeking it for PTSD Former Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan LeCompte organizes trips to Peru for war veterans, like himself, who are seeking ayahuasca as a possible treatment for PTSD and other emotional and mental trauma suffered after multiple combat deployments. He says he’s aware of the risks, as there’s very little known about ayahuasca’s effect on the body, but he says “it’s a calculated risk.” “Ayahuasca is a way to give relief to those who are suffering,” says LeCompte, who says many veterans are...
Listen to ESC Co-Founder on the Entheogenic Evolution

Listen to ESC Co-Founder on the Entheogenic Evolution

ESC Co-Founder Jonathan Thompson was featured on Martin Ball’s Entheogenic Evolution Podcast. The two discuss the ESC’s origins, the latest groundbreaking work with the Ayahuasca Dialogues, the World Ayahuasca Conference in Spain, the economics of how ayahuasca can help save the rainforest, ayahuasca safety, the prospects for future ESC Plant Dialogues, the ESC’s partnership to do sustainable ayahuasca and chacruna cultivation pilot tests in Peru, the ESC’s Indiegogo campaign, and many other topics. Download the podcast now. Visit the podcast...
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Due to sustained opposition from a small but significant portion of stakeholders, we have dissolved the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council.

We are grateful for your support in increasing dialogue, learning with one another, and raising awareness about safer, more sustainable, and more reciprocal traditional plant use practices.

For a summary of our work, please see our 2014 financial report or our Dialogues Report.

If you are interested in learning more about ethnobotanicals, please visit ICEERS.