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Law & Ethics: The Psychedelics Industry & Indigenous Peoples – Part 1

Part 1

Indigenize Your Legal Competency

Friday, April 14, 2023 at 11:30 am – 1 pm PST; 2:30 pm – 4 pm EST


Riccardo Vitale

Riccardo Vitale is an Italian “liberation anthropologist”, with more than 15 years of continuous fieldwork experience in Latin America. He obtained a PhD from Cambridge University with a thesis about the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico. His expertise covers human rights, armed conflict, social movements, indigenous politics, gender relations within social movements, sustainable development, resilience, climate change adaptations and indigenous practices of yagé medicine, spirituality, and resistance. Riccardo is a former adviser of a plethora of international humanitarian and development agencies: Oxfam America, the UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council, ICG and GIZ, amongst others. Since 2016 Riccardo works as a fulltime adviser for the Union of Indigenous Yagé Medics of the Colombian Amazon (UMIYAC). He is also a member of the ayahuasca technical team of the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund (IMC), an indigenous led fund. 

Keith Williams

Keith Williams is the Director of Research and Social Innovation at First Nations Technical Institute, an Indigenous community-based higher education institution based on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario. Keith writes about humanity’s relationship with the more-than-human, psychedelics, traditional knowledge, and more. Keith has a Ph.D. in educational studies, and an M.Sc. in mycology. Keith has Haudenosaunee (Mohawk) ancestry and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Troy Sia

Troy Sia, The Last Captive of the Comanches, taken in the old way by Eviyah and brought into the Ohnononuh band of Numunuh. As an Eagle Priest and a Founder of Sia: The Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative we serve the people by upholding the spiritual integrity of all historic Numunuh forms of worship. CNAC proclaims Sia as Piah Puha Kahni (Mother Church) and official repository and archive for our documents, photographs, songs and material culture for our history, culture and spirit of the Comanche people. Benefit Honoring is an alliance building process created by Sia which supports a cultural restorative governance for business with a verifiable financial outcome using the Nagoya Protocols. We are giving access to corporate entities and private interests to honor indigenous synergy that support on the ground worldwide restorative action for sacred plants, animals and our climate.


Ariel Clark

Ariel Clark (she/they) is an attorney, activist, and co-founder of Clark Howell LLP, a women-steered law firm focused on cannabis, hemp and psychedelics. Clark Howell LLP is actively engaged in conversations regarding interconnectedness-driven law reform, psychedelic lawyering, and helping to shape policy emphasizing ethical business models that reimagine a new role for capitalism in commercialization. Prior to founding Clark Howell LLP, Ariel worked at California Indian Legal Services and captained her own firm to be of service to the plants and communities with whom she is in deep connection. Ariel is co-founder and board member of the Psychedelic Bar Association, serves as board steward of the Religious Use Committee, and participates in the Ethics Committee. Ariel is biracial, Odawa Anishinaabe and French American lineages. Ariel holds a J.D. from University of California Berkeley School of Law, and a B.A. in Religious Studies from University of Michigan.

Roman Haferd

Roman Haferd (he/him) has been working on the front lines of restorative justice and drug policy reform for nearly a decade. He serves as the first Restorative Justice Coordinator at the Attorney General’s Office for Washington DC, where he has helped build the nation’s largest restorative justice program inside the prosecutor’s office. Roman was a Steering Committee Member of the successful campaign to pass the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act, which made certain medicines among the lowest law enforcement priorities in Washington DC. Roman is a founding board member of the Psychedelic Bar Association, serving as the board steward of its Ethics Committee. He also serves as board member and Director of Community Engagement for the Plant Medicine Coalition, a non-profit hub and advocacy organization that promotes safe, equitable access to psychedelic and plant medicines. Roman is a founding partner of Roots to Sky Sanctuary, a BIPOC-owned community farm located at the headwaters of the Potomac River. Roman has also represented civil rights plaintiffs in cases around the country involving deprivations of Constitutional rights and law enforcement misconduct. Roman is Black American with mixed ancestry, African American and European American lineages. Roman holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA from Bucknell University.

Part 1 provides framing for Western-trained professionals engaging Indigenous systems of medicine. You’ve heard about “Indigenous reciprocity,” “benefit-sharing” and “benefit honoring” in the context of psychedelics and you know it’s important with respect to your own work and advising clients. You’ve heard these concepts are more than philanthropy. So what are they? What ethical frameworks and structural protections can Western lawyers, practitioners, and companies working with psychedelic medicine employ with respect to Indigenous Peoples, and the plants, land, and knowledge they steward? What are Indigenous communities thinking about with respect to the psychedelic “renaissance” and what are respectful ways Western psychedelic stakeholders may move forward? How can different ways of knowing and seeing the world, relationships, and plants co-exist meaningfully, and in a way that allows for the different ways to co-exist equally? What do existing laws require? What might emerging law require of the psychedelic medicine industry in order to build an ethical framework that includes all stakeholders?

Celidwen, Y., Redvers, N., Githaiga, C., Calambás, J., Añaños, K., Chindoy, M., Vitale, R., Rojas, J., Mondragón, D., Rosalío, Y., & Sacbaá, A. (2022) Ethical Principles of Traditional Indigenous Medicine Guide to Western Psychedelic Research and Practice. The Lancet, Vol. 18. Elsevier, Ltd.

Goodchild, M. (2021) Relational Systems Thinking: That’s How Change Is Going to Come, from Our Earth Mother. Journal of Awareness Based Systems Change, Vol. 1., Issue 1, 75-103. PI Press.

Williams, K., Romero, O., Braunstein, M., & Brant, S. (2022) Indigenous Philosophies and the “Psychedelic Renaissance.” Anthropology of Consciousness. American Anthropological Association.

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Law & Ethics Resources:

International laws, treaties, frameworks & tools, helpful databases, relevant articles & interesting reads, as well as Indigenous-led organizations to know about & support – all in one place for you to easily reference and enhance your own knowledge on the topics at hand.