By Brad Dunn —
As public interest in psychedelics races far ahead of public access to psychedelics, a new blockchain-based program is bridging the gap between entheogenic plants and those who want to experience them personally — and legally.
Last week, Sacred Garden, a “real and virtual psychedelic plant community,” began selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of simulated entheogens that owners can cultivate and trade in a virtual space. Each ∆Flora NFT provides community membership, which comes with real-life psychedelic seeds and cuttings, which are legal to mail and cultivate, as well as access to fellow plant enthusiasts through live and virtual events.
“NFTs provide new ways to build community and share information, without the stigma that still surrounds psychedelics, and of course without the barriers put in place by physical location and social media,” said Amanda Reiman, co-founder of Sacred Garden. “We want to allow more people to develop relationships with these plants no matter where they live.”
Sacred Garden is offering 5,555 individual ∆Flora NFTs, each recorded on the Ethereum blockchain and priced at 0.055 ETH — or about $100. If you don’t have a cryptocurrency wallet, you can buy a ∆Flora NFT with a credit card, and Sacred Garden will store it for you.
The NFTs were designed by Reiman’s fellow co-founder Eli Robbins, who made a detailed 3D scan of 19 real-life entheogens, including ayahuasca, chacruna, huachuma, and datura. He also designed a variety of planters, plant accessories and backgrounds, the unique combinations of which ensure each NFT is one-of-a-kind.
The team is working on a plant simulator, where owners take care of their virtual plants like they would real-life specimens, through pruning, watering and other activities.
“Remember Tamagotchis?” Reiman said, referring to the 1990s Japanese digital pet that required daily upkeep. “It’s like that, but actually based on the life and needs of real psychedelic plants.”
Reiman, a former UC Berkley professor and cannabis policy expert, says those who are new to virtual reality or the metaverse may balk at owning and caring for simulated plants. But VR is coming no matter what, she says, and we need to bring nature into it in a meaningful way. Sacred Garden’s goal is to ensure humans don’t lose touch with entheogens like we have with other plants.
“Consider the food we eat. We’ve completely lost the connection of where our food comes from. Most of us are not aware of how industrialized and harmful food production is,” she said. “If we’re not careful, the same could happen for psychedelic plants, especially as they become more mainstream. We believe there are real benefits in growing plants, even if they are digital.”
Sacred Garden offers another way to stay connected to the ecosystem of psychedelic plants. For every ∆Flora NFT that gets purchased, 10% of the sale price is split between the Chacruna Institute, ICEERS and Grow Medicine which support indigenous efforts to protect entheogens that have spiritual importance to their culture.
“Many of these plants are facing serious threats from poaching, land development and climate change. Conservation is the core mission of our platform,” Reiman said. She also acknowledges the widespread belief that blockchain technology is detrimental to the environment because of the amount of energy it requires. “We understand there’s sometimes an immediate rejection of NFTs and blockchain from people who value nature.”
She has three responses to these concerns: First, technological advancements are already cutting down the energy demands of blockchain and these solutions will only get better. Early technology is always clunky but becomes more efficient and streamlined through mass adoption. Second, she says that the opportunity to take care of virtual psychedelic plants at home reduces eco-tourism to delicate ecosystems. And third, Sacred Garden’s NFTs are carbon negative — each sale triggers a 10% donation to a carbon-offset organization overseeing a reforestation project in the Amazon.
“We’re passionate about entheogen conservation and cultivation,” Reiman says. “Our mission is to connect communities of people who share this passion.”
To learn more about ∆Flora NFTs, visit Sacred Garden and take a virtual tour of a psychedelic plant garden in Oakland.