Dr. Amanda Reiman talks SACRΞD GARDΞN – the Web3 Plant Portal

SACRΞD GARDΞN (Sacred Garden) is a web3 community dedicated to helping people around the world develop a closer relationship with psychedelic plants utilizing the metaverse, NFTs, the whole nine yards. Dubbed concisely: “Web3 for plants and their people.”

Ethnobotany and blockchain technology are two seemingly disparate worlds – one is rooted in humanity’s relationship with plants in meatspace while the other is chained to a constantly computing cloud. Yet, mixing the two together allows for an uncensorable educational platform with untold potential. Sacred Garden allows for permissionless

I was able to interview Amanda Reiman about her journey to co-founding Sacred Garden, common misconceptions and doubts regarding the metaverse and entheogens, how an NFT can have a negative carbon footprint, and even some nitty gritty crypto Qs. Her answers highlight what’s possible right now and what we can look forward to in the future..

It’s my pleasure to share this interview. Things have come so far, and it’s just the beginning.

Sacred Garden Interview with Dr. Amanda Reiman

amanda reiman phd headshotHow did you get your start and what brought you to your current position?

I began studying cannabis in 2002 while getting my PhD in social welfare at Berkeley. I was already a consumer, and home cultivator, but I was very interested in how cannabis was being used in the context of community health, especially given the wellness dispensary models that used to exist in the SF Bay Area. So, for my doctoral dissertation, I studied them and the patients who utilized them. This was one of the very first studies to look at the experience of medical cannabis patients. After graduating, I did post doctoral fellowships in public health and started studying the use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs. I worked for Berkeley Patients Group doing research from 2010-2012 and then joined Drug Policy Alliance as their Manager of Marijuana Law and Policy. In 2017, I moved to Mendocino County, CA to work in community development for Flow Cannabis Company. Then, in 2022, I took on the role of VP of Public Policy Research at New Frontier Data, where I am now. Also, in 2020 I founded Personal Plants, a psychedelic nursery and education platform, and last year, I was the co-founder of Sacred Garden, a web3 based platform to house the psychedelic plant nursery and build a community around the conservation and cultivation of psychedelic plants.

How did ∆FLORA by SACRΞD GARDΞN come about?

Through my work with Personal Plants, I discovered a lot of similarities between the current psychedelic plant community and the early cannabis community. While there are spaces, like Reddit, to communicate about these topics, they still feel shadowy and lack verified information and trusted teachers. At the same time, technology like blockchain and NFT’s provide new ways to build community, share information and commerce, without the current barriers. So, my co-founders and I decided to create a platform that uses these new technologies to bring the psychedelic plant cultivation community into the light and allow more people to develop relationships with plants, no matter where they live.

For those that don’t know about web3, NFTs, or the metaverse, or similar things – how do you usually describe what you do?

Web3, blockchain and NFT technology was created in response to the centralization of the internet and traditional finance. Gatekeeping, discrimination and selling of personal information has proliferated to the point that developers and tech savvy people started looking for alternatives. The idea behind web3 is to decentralize the internet so that people can communicate and exchange commerce without having to enter into the Google/Meta/Amazon world. NFT’s are digital tokens that show ownership. This can be a piece of art or a membership pass, but it can also be a physical item, a house, or other object where proof of ownership is important. And, the blockchain is used to create a transparent ledger of ownership and transfer of ownership. These are not new concepts, but digitizing them and using technology to prevent fraud and counterfeiting is a way to disrupt the current system, which does not work for many people due to biases about who they are or what they do.

Right now, metaverse interactions generally only reach 2 of 5 senses: sight and sound. Is that enough to start to form a relationship with the plant?

It’s not about the number of senses as much as how each sense is impacted. Visual experiences in VR are very different than on static computer screens as they impart the feeling of the object being there with you. The ability to look at an object in 3D from all sides, and even be transported into another place where you actually feel like you are there, this is the benefit of VR in terms of developing plant relationships.

In the future, what can the average internet user look forward to in the world of VR?

In many ways, it is just taking the technology we are currently using and making it a more realistic experience, not that different than the invention of color movies. During COVID, many people got used to attending events and experiences online. Whether that’s a concert, work meeting or place on the other side of the world. VR builds on this by creating environments to see concerts, have work meetings, etc. that feel like you are really there, vs, watching something on a screen.

Do you think there is a future where metaverse interaction includes electronic simulation of the real effects of certain ethnobotanical compounds whether through TransCranial Direct Stimulation or otherwise?

There are projects like this already happening, see https://www.tripp.com/science/  and their work with VR meditation and breathing. I definitely see the utility here, especially in terms of access and cost to the public, but quality assurance will be an issue and making sure that the programs are run by trained facilitators.

What resources do you suggest for interested folk? Can they see a 3D rendered Sacred Garden anywhere?

Yes! You can go to our website (www.sacrdgardn.com) and click on Virtual Garden. This will take you to the garden in Oakland where we source our plants. You can look around the garden, check out the library and click on the nodes for videos and more information.

What would you say to people that have never knowingly tried any entheogenic plants and are afraid of trying mind altering substances?

I think we have to redefine “mind-altering”. People have ideas that this means loss of control, or negative changes to the brain. Entheogens may have properties that impact perception, but maybe we need to talk about these plants as spiritual healing substances. Alteration of mind may be a part of this experience, but not necessarily. Many people, including myself, find psychological benefits from just growing and being around the plants, even if there is no consumption. I would stress to people that these plants can benefit you, even if you are not ready to consume them.

What advice would you give to someone seeking to replace the use of opioids with something else?

Mindfulness. Developing a mindfulness practice is key. Whether that is journaling or meditation or something else. Being able to stay in the moment and think about how your body and spirit are feeling is an important part of letting go of unhealthy behaviors. Cannabis especially is a good tool for substitution because it facilitates mindfulness. Entheogens do this as well, but may require more facilitation from a professional in order to fully realize the benefits.

Will/does Sacred Garden advocate for users to store their NFTs off of OpenSea?

That’s up to the community member. We will have an option to buy the NFT with a credit card and we will hold it for the community member, but give them the rights and privileges of community membership until they are ready to open a wallet themselves. But we do not want anyone to feel like they cannot join because they do not engage in the crypto space.

I heard that y’all’s NFTs will have a negative carbon footprint – how is this done?

We work with a group called Offsetra that provides carbon offsets for NFT sales. The money we donate to offset the carbon will be used for a reforestation project in the Amazon.

I see that y’all own sacredgarden.eth – what are the future plans with this name?

Not really sure. In the future it will likely be a way to shorten a wallet address and provide assurance that wallets/assets are tied to a specific company or organization. I also own amandareiman.eth, and have no idea what I will do with it, lol.

What other Web3 projects excite you?

There are some cool projects popping up in the plant medicine/cannabis space. I admire Crypto Cannabis Club because they offer utility above and beyond the value of the NFT and are a great option for those who purchase a lot of cannabis (especially in CA), Psychedelics Anonymous was really the first big project to come out in support of the therapeutic use of psychedelics, and some newer projects around mushrooms like Mycelial Earth are doing great things for education and awareness.

Are there any plans to expand beyond the Ethereum blockchain using any cross-chain bridges?

At this point, we have no idea. The space is evolving so quickly, that it is tough to commit to any specific blockchain in the future. We will have to see what evolves as our project evolves.

Are there any plans to utilize a blockchain to store the canonical information for y’all’s NFTs for better data permanence?

Hmmm…this may be a better question for our developer, lol. But, we do have generative poems built into the alt text of the NFT’s for folks who are visually impaired and to give more character to the images in the NFT.

Are there any other projects, yours or others, that you’d like to shout out?

Well, all of this started with Personal Plants, which I founded in 2020 to help people grow their own medicinal plants at home. The mission was always about plant relationships as an antidote to mass and mindless consumption. I still believe in that and view Sacred Garden as a way to harness new technology aimed at community development, especially around a stigmatized concept. People can order psychedelic plants seeds from our shop mypersonalplants.com/shop. Organizations that we are or hope to work with that provide a ton of value to the community are Chacruna, ICEERS, Grow Medicine, Psychedelics Today and Double Blind.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell The Highest Critic readers?

Feel free to follow me/us!

IG: @Amandamendoaklandish; @PersonalPlants; @SacrdGardn

Twitter: @AmandaReiman; @PlantsPersonal; @SacrdGardn

Thanks!

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Caleb Chen

4spiring trailblazer. 2day, I'm thankful for my readers. 0h, and Grand Mammy Green.

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