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Double Blind: A New Magazine That Looks At The Healing Properties Of Psychedelics In Both A Provocative And Scientific Way – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Cofounders, Shelby Hartman and Madison Margolin…

July 15, 2019

“We’re not just doing 500 word stories with sensationalistic headlines; we’re doing real journalism with 1,500 words or more and three or more resources and fact-checked quotes and studies where we look at the sample size and we look at who funded it. We wanted to put these stories out in a format that encourages people to sit down and absorb them with the care with which they were created.” Shelby Hartman (On why there had to be a print component)…

“Print is something that is beautiful and that you can hold; you can put it on your coffee table. It commands a different sort of respect than online pieces. Not to say that online doesn’t also command a lot of respect, but there’s something special about print. Shelby and I met in journalism school and both come from backgrounds in investigative writing. I took a major magazine course at Columbia and we really believe in the format. The design is really beautiful and this isn’t just about the story, it’s about putting something together that speaks to the whole package: the design, the art, and being able to highlight psychedelic-inspired art, poetry, and the stories.” Madison Margolin (On why there had to be a print component)…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

Double Blind is a new biannual print magazine and media company covering timely, untold stories about the expansion of psychedelics around the globe. The magazine offers a provocative look at medicinal plants that have been used for centuries around the world in healing ceremonies and other medicinal applications. While many have a preconceived idea of the word “psychedelics” thanks in part to the 1960s and all of the connotations that has followed that era into the 21st century, the magazine also offers science along with the provocative.

I spoke with cofounders Shelby Hartman and Madison Margolin recently, two women who attended Columbia Journalism School at the same time but didn’t know each other, but who came together a little later to realize the need for a product like Double Blind, both the print magazine and the media company.

Shelby and Madison are both moderate users of what they believe in, psychedelics. And their true belief in the healing powers of plant-based medicine is unmistakable. Couple that with the research, such as the FDA’s laborious double-blind trials—psychedelics are slowly gaining legitimacy. The name Double Blind comes from those types of trials, where randomized clinical trial was invented—to ensure that scientists were not accidentally designing their research in a way that just confirmed what they already believed.

It’s an intriguing magazine that opens up tremendous possibilities for helping people with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and many other illnesses. So, I hope that you enjoy this enlightening interview with two people who are passionate about journalism and about their magazine’s subject matter, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Shelby Hartman and Madison Margolin, cofounders, Double Blind.

Madison Margolin (Left) and Shelby Hartman (Right)

 But first the sound-bites:

On the genesis of Double Blind (Shelby Hartman): Madison (Margolin) and I both began by reporting in cannabis. And at the same time, obviously, alongside our professional journeys we all have personal lives and personal journeys. Both of us have been on personal journeys of healing for a long time. And for me that has included a variety of different Psychedelic medicines which have really transformed my internal landscape and the way that I move through the world. I was always very fascinated by these medicines and wanted to report on them. And there was a natural opening for me to do so; I wrote a story for Vice on MDMA therapy for  post-traumatic stress disorder. And that provided me with a window into how rich this topic was and how much burgeoning research  there is going on in the field right now.

On how they came up with the name Double Blind (Madison Margolin): Basically, it’s a nod first and foremost to the double blind critical studies that are happening with psychedelics at various research institutions. Double blind meaning that neither the subject of the study nor the researcher knows whether the person is taking a placebo or the actual substance, whatever that is. But also we think that with Double Blind, it’s provocative and open to interpretation; what does it mean to really lift your blinders; what are we blind to? And a double blind indicates this level of truth that isn’t readily apparent. And that’s the background of the name specifically, the science and then also allowing people to have a little more philosophical take on Double Blind.

On the fact that there are so many other medicinal lifestyle magazines out there, many focusing on cannabis, what is their unique selling proposition (Madison Margolin): We’re specifically not a cannabis magazine. The main focus, obviously, is inspired by psychedelics, but we also see psychedelics as a lens to look at other issues like mental health, spirituality feelings, social equity, and environmental justice. But specifically because we know that there already is so much saturation in the cannabis space, we want to really delineate that we’re not a cannabis magazine.

On the fact that there are so many other medicinal lifestyle magazines out there, many focusing on cannabis, what is their unique selling proposition (Shelby Hartman): I’ll just add to that by saying there are similarities between cannabis and psychedelics in that they both are showing extraordinary promise for healing mental health conditions that basically the Western medical community at large has failed to heal. If we look at post-traumatic stress disorder, there is a huge number of people who have just been failed by the currently available treatments on the market. The same goes for depression and for anxiety; the same goes for addiction – nicotine addiction, opioid addiction, alcoholism.

On the 1960s perception of psychedelics (Madison Margolin): I think society at large has this notion of psychedelics that’s largely built on the image that was made popular during the sixties with Timothy Leary, who was at Harvard doing psychedelic research there with Richard Alpert , who became Ram Dass, and a lot of other researchers. And the proliferation of the psychedelic culture through The Grateful Dead and the Summer of Love, and things like that. I think that was an incredible contribution to the psychedelic movement and to people’s perception of psychedelics, but that’s not really the only thing that we can use to look at these substances.

 On whether people have thought they were on drugs when they decided to launch a print magazine in a digital age (Shelby Hartman): As I said, alongside my professional journey I’ve had a personal relationship with psychedelics and plant medicine. I would say that the most powerful plant medicine in my life has been iowaska. I wasn’t, obviously, on the iowaska when I had the idea for Double Blind, but I will say that I wouldn’t be who I am without it, and every single decision that I make in my life is a result of who I am and what I care about. And that is a result of iowaska.

On what they would hope to tell someone they had accomplished a year from now with Double Blind (Madison Margolin): When Shelby asked me to be a part of this with her, we said, okay, we’re going to create a magazine about psychedelics and related topics. I really feel like Double Blind is something that, coming through us, I think it’s something that needs to exist, whether it’s us or anyone else, but right now it’s us. We’re building a whole media company, so we’re going to be doing the magazine biannually; we’re putting online content out later this summer. We have people already who are interested in creating podcasts for us. We have a video person who is enthusiastic. We’re starting to partner with different groups and also doing our own events. Double Blind is going to be in various brick and mortar stores.

On why they decided to have a print product specifically (Madison Margolin): Print is something that is beautiful and that you can hold; you can put it on your coffee table. It commands a different sort of respect than online pieces. Not to say that online doesn’t also command a lot of respect, but there’s something special about print. Shelby and I met in journalism school and both come from backgrounds in investigative writing. I took a major magazine course at Columbia and we really believe in the format. The design is really beautiful and this isn’t just about the story, it’s about putting something together that speaks to the whole package: the design, the art, and being able to highlight psychedelic-inspired art, poetry, and the stories.

 On how they put the first issue together (Madison Margolin): Shelby had the idea of doing Double Blind and it started out with me and art designer, David Good, and it really sort of snowballed from there. We have a photo editor, a poetry editor, and we got a publicist pretty early on, Zoe Wilder. As far as the actual print magazine, we wrote some of the stories, some come from contributors, other writers who we are familiar with in the space and who we asked to be a part of this.

 On how they put the first issue together (Shelby Hartman): I’ll say in terms of the stories; I said before that Madison and I both have a love for long-form journalism. So we knew that we wanted the print issue to have at least three really substantial, long pieces. But we also, being that it’s a magazine, we also wanted it to have a diversity of content, in terms of length and seriousness, because we wanted it to be an enjoyable experience for people when they’re sitting down and flipping through it. We began to brainstorm around the different pillars of what we wanted our content to be. One area that we’re really passionate about covering, as Madison mentioned before, is the corporatization of medicine and the extent to which psychedelics will or will not be a part of that and the implications that will have for the access that people will have to psychedelics.

On anything they’d like to add (Shelby Hartman): I’ve said this before, but we care a lot and we’re very open. For me, this isn’t about us; it isn’t about Double Blind. We really want to be a part of a larger movement that is about awakening and about healing. And so I’ll just put it out to any of the journalists or companies or artists, or anyone who might be reading this interview, that we’re very open. So if you feel inspired by what we’re doing then reach out. We’re available.

On what someone would find either of them doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at one of their homes (Madison Margolin): I don’t really watch TV, but if I’m going to watch anything, it’s maybe a movie. If I’m not working, I really do try to spend time with the people I care about. Sometimes I work until the end of the day; sometimes I kind of peter out and I try to make dinner, or go to yoga, or go on a walk, or go out with friends somewhere. Sometimes I’ll smoke a joint before I go to bed because it helps me relax a little bit. Once I start smoking cannabis, I’m done. I cannot work anymore. I’m just not that kind of cannabis consumer, so to speak. I live in Los Angeles, so I love to explore the city and go to different spots that I’m curious about.

On the biggest misconception people have about either of them (Shelby Hartman): I don’t know how this is going to come across, but to be honest, I think you asked what we do when we get off work, and I’m a musician and I play ukulele. For a lot of years I would bike around with my ukulele and people called me “Ukulele Girl.” So, I don’t know if that’s still the impression people have of me, but I also go to Burning Man, this is going to be my eighth burn, and I bring my ukulele there and I bike around the festival with it. I also  play at people’s weddings and things like that, so people see me I think as this sort of whimsical, extraverted person, and I guess that is a part of me. But there is another very serious part of me that is on this deeply personal healing journey and is just trying to be okay like everyone else.

On the biggest misconception people have about either of them (Madison Margolin): Especially as a journalist who covers cannabis and psychedelics, people think that I’m much more of a heavy consumer than I am. The majority of my work, up until this point, has been in cannabis because there is just so much to cover there. I don’t know this strain from that strain, things like that, and the same with psychedelics. People think I’m some sort of psycho nut that eats all of the acid I can tolerate. (Laughs) That’s just not true of me. I’m really observant of how often and how much I take. I know people who have a tolerance for psychedelics or other drugs that I probably won’t ever have. I do have a really deep intellectual and spiritual attraction to them.

On what keeps them up at night (Shelby Hartman): Starting a company is a lot and I have no doubts about whether or not this is what we should be doing. It feels so right. And the reception that we’ve gotten from luminaries in the field who have been at this for decades is so humbling. And the number of people who have come up to us and said how this is the time for this and it needs to be done, there is no doubt about it. But we’re a startup and we’re not just a startup, we’re a media startup.

On what keeps them up at night (Madison Margolin): I actually sleep very well, but when I wake up feeling anxious about things, it’s really about how any business is difficult to get off the ground and media especially. The landscape for it hasn’t really been the most encouraging just seeing the way that other publications have started and failed or how even publications that have been around forever are now in the process of getting rebought or shifting. And Shelby and I both went to journalism school and a lot of our professors are coming out of an era of journalism that was so much different than what we’re growing up in and what we’re practicing now. So, it really is a fresh landscape and I think it’s going to take a fresh perspective and a fresh business approach to maintain and build a thriving media company.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with cofounders, Shelby Hartman and Madison Margolin, Double Blind magazine.

Samir Husni: What is the genesis of Double Blind?

Shelby Hartman: Madison (Margolin) and I both began by reporting in cannabis. And at the same time, obviously, alongside our professional journeys we all have personal lives and personal journeys. Both of us have been on personal journeys of healing for a long time. And for me that has included a variety of different Psychedelic medicines which have really transformed my internal landscape and the way that I move through the world.

I was always very fascinated by these medicines and wanted to report on them. And there was a natural opening for me to do so; I wrote a story for Vice on MDMA therapy for  post-traumatic stress disorder. And that provided me with a window into how rich this topic was and how much burgeoning research  there is going on in the field right now. Since then it has only grown. Over the last five years it has really become what I see as a legitimate area of coverage. There is just so much. And we really felt like given how much there is that it was time for a media company and a magazine that was solely devoted to covering these topics.

Samir Husni: And where did the name come from?

Madison Margolin: Basically, it’s a nod first and foremost to the double blind critical studies that are happening with psychedelics at various research institutions. Double blind meaning that neither the subject of the study nor the researcher knows whether the person is taking a placebo or the actual substance, whatever that is. But also we think that with Double Blind, it’s provocative and open to interpretation; what does it mean to really lift your blinders; what are we blind to? And a double blind indicates this level of truth that isn’t readily apparent. And that’s the background of the name specifically, the science and then also allowing people to have a little more philosophical take on Double Blind.

Samir Husni: There are so many magazines in the marketplace today that deal with cannabis. From MJ Lifestyle to Kitchen Toke and many others. How do you differentiate Double Blind from all of the other medicinal lifestyle magazines using marijuana and other alternative remedies that are in the marketplace today? What is your unique selling proposition?

Madison Margolin: We’re specifically not a cannabis magazine. The main focus, obviously, is inspired by psychedelics, but we also see psychedelics as a lens to look at other issues like mental health, spirituality feelings, social equity, and environmental justice. But specifically because we know that there already is so much saturation in the cannabis space, we want to really delineate that we’re not a cannabis magazine.

We do focus on plant medicines and cannabis is a plant medicine, there is even an article in our issue that compares the up and coming psychedelic industry to the cannabis industry and looking at the lessons that psychedelics can learn from the route that cannabis has taken to legalization, to decriminalization, and things like that.

But aside from being the template and seeing how cannabis has paved the way, I sometimes feel that it is a gateway print. It opens people up to this whole other, broader notion of how plants can be part of our lives and healing. And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg for us. We’re trying to really go into a greater variety of plants and a profoundness with that.

Shelby Hartman: I’ll just add to that by saying there are similarities between cannabis and psychedelics in that they both are showing extraordinary promise for healing mental health conditions that basically the Western medical community at large has failed to heal. If we look at post-traumatic stress disorder, there is a huge number of people who have just been failed by the currently available treatments on the market. The same goes for depression and for anxiety; the same goes for addiction – nicotine addiction, opioid addiction, alcoholism.

And so there is a similarity there, but really the way that they function is fundamentally different. And I don’t think this is something that is talked about very often, particularly in the cannabis industry. I don’t want to diminish the extraordinary value of cannabis, but really cannabis is something that has to be used regularly. So, if you’re a veteran with, say, post-traumatic stress disorder and you’re using cannabis to quell your nightmares so that you can sleep, you have to take a small edible every day or you have to vape regularly. Whereas with psychedelics, you really only have to do a psychedelic two or three times it’s been shown by the research, and then you’re essentially cured. So, the whole experience of what it is and how it works is very different.

Samir Husni: Every time I hear the word psychedelics, I’m thrown back to the sixties. Is this a magazine in the making that had to wait 50 years before it came into being? Or is it a different psychedelic magazine than was published back in the 1960s?

Madison Margolin: I think society at large has this notion of psychedelics that’s largely built on the image that was made popular during the sixties with Timothy Leary, who was at Harvard doing psychedelic research there with Richard Alpert , who became Ram Dass, and a lot of other researchers. And the proliferation of the psychedelic culture through The Grateful Dead and the Summer of Love, and things like that. I think that was an incredible contribution to the psychedelic movement and to people’s perception of psychedelics, but that’s not really the only thing that we can use to look at these substances.

Psychedelics weren’t just discovered in the sixties, they’ve been a part of humanity really since the beginning of time in the form of plant medicines. Really only the synthetics got popular in that time period, but from the beginning of time people have been doing ceremonial healing for mental health and spiritual purposes in India, South America, the Middle East. Really anywhere there are plants, there are people using them medicinally.

What people are saying now is that we’re in the middle of a so-called psychedelic renaissance, in that people have gotten over the trauma of the sixties (Laughs) in that the 1960s really were wild and pushed boundaries and limits. The reaction by the government was the drug war. That’s the one thing that people should keep in mind, is how powerful psychedelics are to really inspire people like Nixon to misunderstand all drugs that are out there that can do a lot to heal you.

Since around the 1980s, especially when Rick Doblin founded MAPS, which is the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, through the ‘90s and now, psychedelic research has been picking up again with people getting FDA approval to look at psilocybin or MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and going through these double blind critical trials.

And especially now, as there is more and more of that science  happening and getting approved, plus now with the decriminalization of psilocybin in Denver and of all entheogenic plants in Oakland, the magazine is coming at a time when people are starting to come back into the popular consciousness again, but not necessarily through pop culture first, but through science first. And that’s shifting the popular culture at large.

Shelby Hartman: And the science came through policy.

Madison Margolin: Yes, exactly. And one thing that I think we need to cover is that people are going to read about a study in any major news outlet, but we want to go deeper, such as what are the implications of that study; what are the biases that your average news article is maybe not privy to; how is this going to effect the culture at large; who has access to it; is it going to be affordable; what are the political and socioeconomic dynamics that are at play here, especially as these become more popular thanks to the policy changes and the scientific progress that’s being made.

Samir Husni: Did anybody ever ask you what drugs you were taking when you decided to launch a print magazine in this digital age?

Shelby Hartman: (Laughs) As I said, alongside my professional journey I’ve had a personal relationship with psychedelics and plant medicine. I would say that the most powerful plant medicine in my life has been iowaska. I wasn’t, obviously, on the iowaska when I had the idea for Double Blind, but I will say that I wouldn’t be who I am without it, and every single decision that I make in my life is a result of who I am and what I care about. And that is a result of iowaska.

The actual story is that I was sitting on my meditation pillow when I had the idea for Double Blind. I meditate every morning and it has become a hugely important part of my life. And I started meditating about four or five years ago after my first iowaska ceremony, because I sat in a ceremony and, obviously, what psychedelics do is they give you a window into your own mind, and what I realized when I looked into my own mind was, “My Goodness, there’s a lot going on in there; I really need to get this under control.” (Laughs) So, there is sort of a relationship there, but no, I wasn’t like on acid in the forest when I had the idea for the magazine. (Laughs again)

Samir Husni: If you and I are talking a year from now, what would you hope to tell me you had accomplished with Double Blind?

Madison Margolin: When Shelby asked me to be a part of this with her, we said, okay, we’re going to create a magazine about psychedelics and related topics. I really feel like Double Blind is something that, coming through us, I think it’s something that needs to exist, whether it’s us or anyone else, but right now it’s us. We’re building a whole media company, so we’re going to be doing the magazine biannually; we’re putting online content out later this summer. We have people already who are interested in creating podcasts for us. We have a video person who is enthusiastic. We’re starting to partner with different groups and also doing our own events. Double Blind is going to be in various brick and mortar stores.

What we’re trying to do is build an entire media company and something that people can go to as a place where they can learn about psychedelics and about what’s happening in psychedelic culture and science.

Samir Husni: But why print specifically; why did you decide to have a print product?

Madison Margolin: Print is something that is beautiful and that you can hold; you can put it on your coffee table. It commands a different sort of respect than online pieces. Not to say that online doesn’t also command a lot of respect, but there’s something special about print. Shelby and I met in journalism school and both come from backgrounds in investigative writing. I took a major magazine course at Columbia and we really believe in the format. The design is really beautiful and this isn’t just about the story, it’s about putting something together that speaks to the whole package: the design, the art, and being able to highlight psychedelic-inspired art, poetry, and the stories.

Shelby Hartman: I’m sure, Samir, that you having one foot in the editorial world and one foot in the business world, part of your question comes from is it even realistic to do a print issue in 2019? And obviously we see around the country that legacy newsrooms are struggling; I briefly worked at The Times-Picayune, which was the first major daily to stop printing every day. And I have mentors and friends who are in newsrooms around the country that are struggling, so I get it. But Madison and I, for right or for wrong, are doing this because we care, because we really, really, in our heart of hearts, care.

Psychedelics, and we sort of hinted at this before, they’re not just about psychedelics, they’re about healing. And they’re about mindfulness. And they’re about being more present in our lives. And in that spirit, it makes 100 percent sense for us to have a print edition because, I’m not going to get on my soapbox about technology, but we all know that as much as it has provided an opportunity for us to connect and create in efficient ways, it’s also really at the heart of what is detracting so many of us from the things that matter most in our lives. To have a print issue, to us, really sort of pushes back on that.

We’re not just doing 500 word stories with sensationalistic headlines; we’re doing real journalism with 1,500 words or more and three or more resources and fact-checked quotes and studies where we look at the sample size and we look at who funded it. We wanted to put these stories out in a format that encourages people to sit down and absorb them with the care with which they were created.

Samir Husni: Can you talk a little bit about that process of curation; how did you put this first issue together?

Madison Margolin: Shelby had the idea of doing Double Blind and it started out with me and art designer, David Good, and it really sort of snowballed from there. We have a photo editor, a poetry editor, and we got a publicist pretty early on, Zoe Wilder. As far as the actual print magazine, we wrote some of the stories, some come from contributors, other writers who we are familiar with in the space and who we asked to be a part of this.

Shelby Hartman: I’ll say in terms of the stories; I said before that Madison and I both have a love for long-form journalism. So we knew that we wanted the print issue to have at least three really substantial, long pieces. But we also, being that it’s a magazine, we also wanted it to have a diversity of content, in terms of length and seriousness, because we wanted it to be an enjoyable experience for people when they’re sitting down and flipping through it. We began to brainstorm around the different pillars of what we wanted our content to be. One area that we’re really passionate about covering, as Madison mentioned before, is the corporatization of medicine and the extent to which psychedelics will or will not be a part of that and the implications that will have for the access that people will have to psychedelics.

We already see right now that esketamine, which is a component of ketamine, was approved by the FDA for depression. There are some clinical trials looking to develop a synthetic version of ibogaine, called 18-MC. There is a for-profit company called Compass that’s basically looking to patent the way in which they synthesize psilocybin. So we’re already seeing for-profit companies in the pharmaceutical space that are interested in capitalizing upon the healing potential of these plants and potentially limiting the extent to which they’re acceptable to patients. So, that’s a really important area that we’re going to be following and we knew that we wanted a big feature on that. Madison put that one on and made it the pillar of our first issue, and it’s the first story you’ll read in there.

And then we also really wanted to talk about some other topics that we’ll be following, so we needed a story on each of those things. We knew we wanted to do a story on the relationship between personal and planted healing, looking at how when we heal ourselves we also begin to be more conscientious about the environment. That was the inspiration for our big piece on the relationship between “awe” over the natural world and starting to care about it or environmental justice.

And then we wanted to cover philosophy and consciousness; we want to cover intersexuality and social justice, so we have a piece in there about queerness; we have a piece about people of color and trauma experiences, such as people of color and racism. And then we have some fun, shorter, illustrated pieces that we hoped would make the overall issue more enjoyable for people to look through.

Samir Husni: Is there anything either of you would like to add?

Shelby Hartman: I’ve said this before, but we care a lot and we’re very open. For me, this isn’t about us; it isn’t about Double Blind. We really want to be a part of a larger movement that is about awakening and about healing. And so I’ll just put it out to any of the journalists or companies or artists, or anyone who might be reading this interview, that we’re very open. So if you feel inspired by what we’re doing then reach out. We’re available.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Madison Margolin: I don’t really watch TV, but if I’m going to watch anything, it’s maybe a movie. If I’m not working, I really do try to spend time with the people I care about. Sometimes I work until the end of the day; sometimes I kind of peter out and I try to make dinner, or go to yoga, or go on a walk, or go out with friends somewhere. Sometimes I’ll smoke a joint before I go to bed because it helps me relax a little bit. Once I start smoking cannabis, I’m done. I cannot work anymore. I’m just not that kind of cannabis consumer, so to speak. I live in Los Angeles, so I love to explore the city and go to different spots that I’m curious about.

Samir Husni: What is the biggest misconception that people have about the two of you?

Shelby Hartman: I don’t know how this is going to come across, but to be honest, I think you asked what we do when we get off work, and I’m a musician and I play ukulele. For a lot of years I would bike around with my ukulele and people called me “Ukulele Girl.” So, I don’t know if that’s still the impression people have of me, but I also go to Burning Man, this is going to be my eighth burn, and I bring my ukulele there and I bike around the festival with it. I also  play at people’s weddings and things like that, so people see me I think as this sort of whimsical, extraverted person, and I guess that is a part of me. But there is another very serious part of me that is on this deeply personal healing journey and is just trying to be okay like everyone else.

Madison Margolin: Especially as a journalist who covers cannabis and psychedelics, people think that I’m much more of a heavy consumer than I am. The majority of my work, up until this point, has been in cannabis because there is just so much to cover there. I don’t know this strain from that strain, things like that, and the same with psychedelics. People think I’m some sort of psycho nut that eats all of the acid I can tolerate. (Laughs) That’s just not true of me. I’m really observant of how often and how much I take. I know people who have a tolerance for psychedelics or other drugs that I probably won’t ever have. I do have a really deep intellectual and spiritual attraction to them.

Shelby Hartman: I actually think that’s one of our biggest strains as the founders of Double Blind, that we are very moderate and intentional about how we use drugs. I do believe, of course, like I’ve said, that they have extraordinary power, but I also believe that they have to be respected and they have to be taken seriously and they have to be taken in the right context. We come at this not from an advocacy standpoint, although it may have sounded that way in the interview, but really also as journalists.

And we want to listen to everybody and we want to report on the risks of these things, because we think ultimately that to be just waving the “everybody should be smoking weed and everyone should be doing psychedelics all the time” flag is actually  going to be damaging to the overall movement. It does have the potential to help people who really need help.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Shelby Hartman: Starting a company is a lot and I have no doubts about whether or not this is what we should be doing. It feels so right. And the reception that we’ve gotten from luminaries in the field who have been at this for decades is so humbling. And the number of people who have come up to us and said how this is the time for this and it needs to be done, there is no doubt about it. But we’re a startup and we’re not just a startup, we’re a media startup.

I was joking the other day with a business advisor of ours that I’m speaking to investors and I’m speaking to journalism mentors and just all kinds of people, but I’m also a one-woman shipping department. And I’m also going back and forth between the postage offices and sticking labels on envelopes myself, and there is the feeling, which is probably common to all startups, not just us, that this is very delicate and I care about this so much that I don’t want to make a wrong move. Not just because this is my life, but because I think we’re really doing a service to all of the potential readers out there who are going to care about the stories that we’re doing.

Madison Margolin: I actually sleep very well, but when I wake up feeling anxious about things, it’s really about how any business is difficult to get off the ground and media especially. The landscape for it hasn’t really been the most encouraging just seeing the way that other publications have started and failed or how even publications that have been around forever are now in the process of getting rebought or shifting. And Shelby and I both went to journalism school and a lot of our professors are coming out of an era of journalism that was so much different than what we’re growing up in and what we’re practicing now. So, it really is a fresh landscape and I think it’s going to take a fresh perspective and a fresh business approach to maintain and build a thriving media company.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

 

 

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