By: Amanda Siebert
A total of 36 states across America have legalized cannabis while 15 offer adult-use and medical marijuana, so keeping track of the nation’s patchwork of laws is no easy task. One Florida lawyer has spent the last several years dedicating himself to serving all areas of the nation’s cannabis and hemp industries, and after his involvement in the landmark bill to legalize drugs in Oregon, he’s working to draft a psychedelics legalization bill in his home state.
Dustin Robinson’s career as a cannabis lawyer began after spending several years as the chief financial officer of a multi-state manufacturing company. The lawyer and accountant had friends in Colorado’s cannabis industry who wanted to conduct a deal with a company based in Oregon, and needed someone with his legal expertise to help guide them through the transaction. At the time Robinson was searching for a new career, and says he “knew nothing about marijuana.” But after referrals from friends began to pour in, he decided to dive into the industry.
“My friends started jokingly calling me ‘Mr. Cannabis Law’ and it kind of stuck,” he says. Now, when people refer to him as Mr. Cannabis Law, he corrects them. “I don’t want to take on the name of my law firm,” he says.
In an industry with so many grey areas, he says the name is one that represents trust. “It doesn’t matter if it’s New Jersey or California, people expect me to know the answers,” he says. “It’s a place where people can know they are getting a solid legal analysis of whatever their respective situation is. And, it’s also kind of playful. This is the cannabis industry, and we understand who our clients are.”
The Segue Into Psychedelics
About 15 months ago, Robinson began getting calls from his clients about psychedelics.
“At the time I’d never taken a psychedelic, so I didn’t know much of anything about them,” Robinson admits. One client wanted to start a psilocybin mushroom grow in Jamaica. Another wanted to open a retreat in Brazil. At first, Robinson was inclined to say ‘no thanks,’ and passed on the opportunities.
When some of the doctors he worked with in cannabis began discussing psychedelics, he started to pay more attention. After inquiring with physicians who unanimously agreed they had tremendous therapeutic value, he began networking with different decriminalization movements across the country to see where his skills were needed. Robinson decided the best way he could support his clients was to create a non-profit, so he launched Mr. Psychedelic Law, a 501 (c)(4) organization that is using research to advocate for the responsible legal reform of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics.
“We’ve been able to draft various resolutions, we’ve helped with some of the measures in Oregon, and we’re currently drafting a bill to file in Florida in January relating to legalization of psychedelics from a state perspective,” he says.
While Robinson admits he spent the majority of his life believing the stigma around psychedelics and other drugs (“I was pretty straight-edge,” he says), becoming involved in cannabis and psychedelics has opened his eyes to the benefits of both while encouraging him to try them, something he’s not afraid to discuss openly.
“I was blown away by the experiences I’ve had on psilocybin; my brain was firing on all cylinders,” he says. “A lot of people know these [substances] as hallucinogens and to me, that kind of means that they are distorting your reality, but it’s quite the opposite. You’re actually able to problem solve better.”
Robinson recognizes that his story resonates with many politicians who grapple with the subject, simply because he was once in their shoes. “I think I’m better able to relate with them, and really help them break down those barriers and constructs that they’ve built around psychedelics,” he says.
Spiritual Advice And The Year Ahead
At Mr. Psychedelic Law, the team’s advisors include a medical and scientific advisory board of top doctors and scientists, a legal and lobbying team, and an additional group of advisors with a knowledge base Robinson puts above all else: a spiritual advisory board.
“What I learned in the psychedelic industry is that it’s not necessarily the doctors or the scientists that have the most knowledge,” he says. “It’s people that have been working underground.” Made up of local practitioners, Robinson says the team’s spiritual advisory board is held in high regard.
He says his commitment to drug reform is based on the belief that humans should have the right to define their own relationship with nature, and the ability to pursue elevated states of consciousness with the help of plant medicines. “To me, it’s really an individual rights issue,” he says. “These substances really should have never been scheduled in the first place.”
As the year draws to a close, he’s proud of his work on social equity programs in cannabis, on regulations in Florida, and his help with the launch of the state’s first two BIPOC-owned cannabis coops. In early 2021, he’ll assist with launch of KetaMD, a telehealth service offering personalized, at-home ketamine treatments administered by licensed physicians.
While he still has several cannabis projects on the go, the pandemic’s effect on mental health has shifted more of his focus to psychedelics, where his organization is drafting laws that prioritize social equity and diversity.
In February, he plans to launch a psychedelics-focused multi-million dollar private equity firm, where the concept is to raise capital and deploy it into the psychedelic space, “and really changed the world.”
“We have an opportunity to create this industry from scratch,” he says. “I’m most excited about being a part of that, and making sure we build this industry in a responsible and inclusive way.”