Retired UFC/MMA Icon, World Champion, Cannabis/Psychedelic Advocate, Ian McCall is paving the path for athletes and patients outside of the octagon, fighting for change and using his platform to break the stigma. Today Ian has dedicated his life to spreading education, moving Cannabis and Psychedelic research forward as well as creating unique content in an effort to provide a ripple of laughter, joy and humour to the Cannabis/Psychedelic conversation.
Cannabis and Psychedelics have been linked to the sporting world for decades, often shrouded in secrecy in fear of penalization, loss of sponsorship and an athletes ability to compete. Despite pharmaceutical’s taking a stronghold on the sports industry, athletes have continued their search for clean alternatives without the detrimental side effects.
Ian McCall joined Jay Morzaria of Sports Cannabis to talk about the healing potentials of cannabis, understanding microdosing, pushing Cannabis and Psychedelics to the forefront in the UFC as well as the initiatives he’s taking on to #BreaktheStigma.
Ian McCall has spent his life pushing relentlessly to be the best at any craft he takes on, coupled with his hustle first work ethic he was certain to dominate any arena;
Ian McCall :
“I have amazing parents, and they let me dream. Obviously, I also have some strange sort of work ethic that comes from, you know, I guess that I wasn’t given everything I’ve ever needed or wanted in life. But, I was born premature. I was really tiny, so I’ve always had something to prove and had a chip on my shoulders. I read the right books, I studied people like Bruce Lee and the right philosophy and I had a good upbringing and it was about working hard and getting stuff done.”
Jay Morzaria :
How did you ultimately discover MMA and when did you realize you wanted to make a career out of it?
Ian McCall :
“I was beating up grown men by 15 years old at the beach. The beach culture is very different, there’s a lot of fighting in beach culture, especially around professional fighters or professional surfers. And, you know, at the beach, the big break we were hanging out at, we would beat up non locals and tourists and other locals and other professionals, it was just a breeding ground for violence.
It was kind of crazy, back then you could do that, you know, people weren’t getting in trouble for it. Very suddenly, after turning an adult, I realized this isn’t fair. You know, like, I as a teenager, I was just sharpening my tools. I just knew that this is what I wanted to do. This is what I wanted to be, there wasn’t even a division at that point. I just knew that one day I would grow up and be big enough to be in the 55,000 Division, which I wasn’t and I’m still not. Those guys are gigantic. I was a champion at 125. It was this obsession, this obsession where I clung to it forever. And you know, that was my goal one day.”
J M :
When did you ultimately introduce Cannabis and Psychedelics into your life for recovery, relief and sports?
Ian McCall :
“Man, I started smoking cannabis when I was eight years old, and you know, cannabis has never done me wrong. Another bad part about my area is the access to drugs, access to everything you want. I got hooked on opiates when I was 14, and I got off them when I was 34 when I retired. The one time I became sober, I became the best in the world. Now, if I would have had psychedelics, I started taking psychedelics, when I was like 12, or 13, if I would have stuck with those and understood the science, I wouldn’t have ended up being addicted, I would have been a much better performer, I would have probably been champion for a very long time.
I started using micro doses after I retired a little over three and a half years ago, four years ago. I didn’t really know the potential of them like I do now. Obviously. I never got to fight with them, that’s the main thing. But these medicines, you know, even my daughter has been ingesting cannabis since she was two years old, and it’s never done her wrong and today she’s nine.
I mean, these medicines truly saved my life. This is what I teach now is the performance with psychedelics. I mean, you do get some sort of performance benefit with THC or with cannabis as a whole, with your CBD with an anti inflammation. You know, a little bit of a pain killing effect. I think it’s more or less for things like stretching. You know, most athletes that I know at least like to perform high. They like to go to the gym and be stoned, because it relaxes them. It takes away anxiety. And for me mixing in cannabis and microdoses has been a huge thing for my workouts. I mean it’s so beneficial.”
J M :
Which came first, was it Cannabis and working out or microdosing and working out?
Ian McCall :
“Cannabis for sure, I’ve been smoking since I was eight years old, so that came first. And the working out on mushrooms didn’t really happen until probably three years ago.”
J M :
How did microdosing help you?
Ian McCall :
“Besides fixing my brain, you know, you have the process of epigenetic neurogenesis, if you get psilocybin in your brain for a longer period of time and in your body for a long period of time, you have that neurogenesis with the neuroplasticity happening, where your brain is healing, your body is healing, they have a huge anti inflammatory effect on the body. I mean, I need to catch up on the literature. Well, the last time I looked, we had no idea what the mechanism was or what was happening that made it anti inflammatory. These medicines get you directly in the flow state, like you take them and then all of a sudden you’re in a flow state. You’re heightened, your senses are all heightened. Your fear state is dropped, so you’re not gonna have any anxiety like getting tired from overworking, you’re just, you’re unrealistic, your body isn’t going to overwork because you’re so relaxed, because you’re in that flow state. You can see better, hear better, smell better, taste better, and it’s a really incredible feeling. Because I’ve gotten there, I’ve gotten to a flow state- that high a few times in my life fighting. And just to be able to get into it right away with one or two capsules, or whatever your dosing is.
It’s pretty incredible. I recommend it for certain athletes, you know, you start with your micro doses, well, actually, you should start with a big dose, because that’s what gets you to deal with yourself and your issues.
As you continue your integration, you just stick with a good micro dosing protocol. For performance doses, where let’s say you’re going to be in the gym sparring or performing again, then I recommend anywhere from half a gram to two grams to really heighten the senses. So you’re in this super heightened state, and then you can perform and be creative and again, not fear getting tired. So you work harder, you work better, you work smarter.”
J M :
Talk to us about what you have been able to achieve in the MMA/UFC and how you’ve been able to bring psychedelics to the forefront?
Ian McCall :
“It started about three years ago, I work with the UFC, on a few other business things, they’re going to need FDA approval and stuff like that. They have to have all these boxes checked if they want to mess around with anything. I’ve pushed CBD at them, I’ve pushed exosomes which are like a stem cell without any DNA, and I remember I had just got off the phone with Dell Jolyon of Unlimited Sciences, which is my bridge to Johns Hopkins University. The woman I was dating at the time was a scientist and a UCLA professor. I remember that Unlimited Sciences said, Hey, when they met me, they said, Good job. You’re an advocate. You know, the big words, well done. I got her on the phone, and they/ Dell was like, hey, what study do you want? Like we can do anything? I saw your resume. And Dells’ like “What do you want to do? I’ll get you in anywhere, any college, you just tell me and with your resume we can do this.
And I just sat there and in the back of my head thinking like, Oh, shit, I can really make some happen here. I just asked questions. I asked Jeff, I said, Hey, what about psilocybin study? He said; man, you’re crazy, that’s illegal. I said, Actually, it’s not I work with these organizations. This is my girlfriend, blah, blah, blah. Jeff responds; will okay get me FDA approval at a major university. And I said; well, Jeff, I already got that because I know how you work. I had made a call to Unlimited Sciences and Johns Hopkins was on board, the FDA is on board. So Jeff said get out into Vegas. So, I got out to Vegas, I put my girlfriend in front of them, I turned her on, and she did the whole you know, talk. Like if it comes out of my mouth. I look like an idiot. Like I’m like, Okay, good job. Yep. Oh, that’s cool. You read some stuff. Having the actual science in front of you, telling you that stuff, it means the world and she killed it, she knocked it out of the park.
A few months later, they had to deny us and say no, we can’t do it. Too risky, it’s still a schedule 1 substance US based company. And I was just happy that they talked to me about it, that was a really good feeling.
Fast forward another year and a half and I was on HBO with her, and with some other people, Dean Lister, in Real Sports, where we did a mushroom ceremony and we healed some people. And man, they used my method, which was cool, and they even said that, so I got a lot of validity out of it. I sent the video of that episode to Dana White and to Jeff.
Dana was one of the first people to text me back. You know, Dana has been good to me my whole life. I’ve known Dana since I was 19. He’s always been a good friend to me. I actually owe him dinner and a drink for what he did for my life. Dana texted me, good job. This is cool, and within a few days, he had Jeff Novitzky text me or call me and say; Hey, we want back in, What do I got to do? Is it too late? I was like; Of course not, I’m sending you all this information for a reason man. And we did it! Again, back to me not being a doctor or a scientist, I handed it off to Matthew Johnson, who is the first professor of psychedelics in the world, I’m so proud of him, at Johns Hopkins University, and that worked. “
J M :
Where has micro dosing helped you the most?
Ian McCall :
“Cognitive function, being able to remember things, being able to hold information and learn new information and interact with people on a much better level. You know, you’re happy, the day is beautiful, you look at people you say like, Wow, that is really nice, you know, and it starts with your words, you know, like the call method, you start off with the big giant dose of mushrooms, what is called a hero dose, because I need you to die, I need to kill your ego. From there you get into the daily practice with micro dosing, micro dosing is going to lay new neural pathways down and also heal the other ones. Now, even if you have a negative response to something, putting good words behind it, you know what neurolinguistics programming, the stories you’re telling yourself and other people, those are very important, that’s the energy, the vibrations you’re putting out in the day. You know, if you’re truly at rock bottom, you don’t even have money to buy mushrooms or anything like that. Go look in the mirror, smile and laugh, just stare in the mirror until you can smile and you can laugh. That’s how you start every single day and pour splashing water on your face, and just stare, it took me a while. That’s going to have a chemical response in your body and your brain that’s going to lead you to having better days. Then you get into those stories, you’re telling yourself, telling yourself; you love yourself, and that you’re doing a good job, you’re not an ADHD and all these negative things you put out there. You know, and then once your body’s pure and clean, your brain is pure and clean, you can start to advance, you can start to make these strides and then if you add in things like micro dosing, and use these tools that can help you. It might not be psychedelics, it might not be cannabis, it might be breathwork, or meditation, there’s a million things you can do, different modalities that you can do to make yourself better, and, it’s not just about psychedelics, psychedelics are tool, but it’s about doing the actual work.“
J M :
Since retiring you’ve shifted focus to comedy, have you always had a passion for making others laugh?
Ian McCall :
“The first two things I wanted to be growing up, were a scientist and a comedian. I wanted to be Robin Williams up on stage, and I wanted to be; there’s a movie called the medicine man with Sean Connery. I was a weird kid, and I wanted to be like Sean Connery was an alcoholic womanizing scientist at the Shipibo village in the middle of the jungle. Again, I was a weird kid, and I just looked at him and I thought, man, I want to be that guy. With a comedy, I accomplished as much as I could in science without going back to school. Realistically, I reached heights of science that are pretty cool. But for me, I’ve realized the medicines have told me, I live my life by the medicines. It told me that I’m an entertainer. You know, it’s told me at times to stop doing comedy, you know, comedy is dead right? Now you need to focus on science. And that’s what I did. During the pandemic, I really focused on science, when I was living with a scientist. I traveled around and did some healing and a bunch of other good stuff and focused on that to really sharpen those tools. Now I’m a little disenfranchised with science, because I don’t have these accolades. I’m kind of happy about it, because now I can focus on being an educator and talk about things that they can’t, you know, these people have something that, that the schooling community or academia where they can take this away from these people, you know, so they can only say so much whereas I can say whatever the fuck I want.“
J M :
If you could offer one piece of advice for any athlete or individual following in your footsteps, what would it be?
Ian McCall :
“Man, get to work, get on it, you want to perform better, you want to be a better person, and you want to just be overall, much happier. These things worked, and they fix, they fix the human condition. So not only are you going to be a better athlete, but you’re going to be a better person, you’re going to be a better father and lover and all that stuff. So you know, take a chance it’s a little bit of a social disruptor. It’s civil disobedience. Yes, you’re breaking the law. But if you’re in Canada, you’re not, and you can source these gum. Just be careful. Find a good source and read an article or two before you try it just so then you have some basic information on how it works, and how you’re helping yourself and from there, the world is your oyster.“
Toronto, Ontario / Canada