PSYCHOACTIVE

PSYCHOACTIVE

Drugs, drugs, drugs. Almost everyone uses them. Almost everyone has an opinion about them. Drug policy pioneer Ethan Nadelmann gets to the bottom of our strange relationship to drugs by talking with those who love them, hate them, and study them. We’d love to hear your stories and ideas. Send us a note at psychoactive@protozoa.com or leave a voicemail at 1-833-PSYCHO-0 (1-833-779-2460).

Episodes

January 26, 2023 92 mins

The notion of legalizing any sort of illicit drug seemed preposterous to most people just twenty years ago. Now cannabis is being legalized in a growing number of states and countries, psychedelic legalization is proceeding much faster than anyone expected, and in Colombia the president and other leading political figures are talking openly of legalizing cocaine. There are, of course, many ways to legally regulate previously illega...

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It ain’t easy getting old but the right drugs, used in the right ways, can help. Charley Wininger is a psychotherapist, called “The Love Doctor,” who recently authored of Listening to Ecstasy: The Transformative Power of MDMA. I talked with him and his wife, Shelley, about the ways in which MDMA has proven invaluable in their love relationship, in building deep communities and enhancing sexuality, and in dealing with grief. MDMA, C...

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There’s more or less never been a drug free society in human history but scholarly examination of the history of psychoactive drugs was surprisingly sparce until just a few decades ago. Paul Gootenberg is a distinguished professor of history, author of books on the history of cocaine, editor of the recently published Oxford Handbook of Global Drug History, and president of the rapidly growing Alcohol and Drugs History Society. We t...

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The renowned ethnopharmacologist and research pharmacognosist, Dennis McKenna, wrote "The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna," ten years ago. That book is being republished, with a new afterword by Dennis, this month, so it seemed the right moment to talk about their relationship and respective evolutions, the experiences, people, literature and ideas that shaped them, and why Dennis regards the book t...

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December 29, 2022 63 mins

I’ve long been fascinated by khat, the psychoactive plant that is legal and consumed widely in Yemen and the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti) but that was criminalized in recent decades in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world as Somali and other émigré communities grew. Its history and uses are somewhat analogous to coca in Latin America. Neil Carrier, a social anthropologist teaching at the Univers...

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I’m often a guest on other podcasts. Among the conversations I most enjoyed, and which many listeners may find particularly interesting, was with Giancarlo Canavesio on his Mangu.TV Podcast. He asked me to be his first guest in a series entitled “Psychedelic Confessions,” during which we reflected on our respective experiences with psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, ayahuasca, mescaline, ketamine, DMT, MDMA, cannabis, and other psychoactiv...

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The Prohibition era (1920-33) plays a far more significant role in U.S. history than is commonly assumed. Yes, it clearly failed in its objectives. And, yes, the assumptions that led to the rapid enactment of the 18th Amendment were massively flawed. But Prohibition was, as Lisa McGirr, professor of history at Harvard, argues in her book, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, “one of the boldest and mo...

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“Our culture’s skewed idea of normality,” says the well known physician and author, Dr. Gabor Maté, “is the single biggest impediment to fostering a healthier world, even keeping us from acting on what we already know.” Some years ago, his book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, touched and helped a tremendous number of people looking for insight into their addictive behaviors with his focus on traumas suffered at a young age. Addicti...

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Kava is a psychoactive beverage from the South Pacific that has a growing international market. Chris Kilham is “the Medicine Man,” an author, educator and TV personality who has conducted medicinal plant research in over 45 countries. We discussed the scientific evidence behind claims that kava is effective at reducing anxiety , alleviating pain and addiction, helping with sleep and generally improving mood and clarity of thought ...

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November 24, 2022 55 mins

Ellen Scanlon started a weekly podcast, “How to do the Pot,” in 2019 for women interested in cannabis. She’s used it to give advice about how best to incorporate cannabis into one’s life, whether to relive stress or pain, enhance sex, help with sleep, or just generally lead a healthier, happier and more productive life. We talked about pregnancy, nursing, parenting, menstruation and menopause, as well as autoimmune diseases, migrai...

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November 22, 2022 20 mins

This is a bonus episode of PSYCHOACTIVE. The next episode of PSYCHOACTIVE will be my interview with Ellen Scanlon. She’s the host and creator of the podcast, 'How to Do the Pot,” a weekly podcast for women, by women, that tries to demystify cannabis for people looking to learn safe and trustworthy advice about a topic they might know little about. In advance of my interview with her, we're giving you an episode of her podcast calle...

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November 17, 2022 56 mins

Many people have achieved remarkable success in overcoming a longstanding addiction through ingesting ibogaine. It is a powerful psychedelic drug derived from the iboga shrub, which can be found in the West African country, Gabon, and its neighboring regions. Unlike most other psychedelics, ibogaine can dramatically reduce withdrawal symptoms and craving. Hattie Wells is a psychedelic practitioner, ethnobotanist and drug policy ref...

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CBD has exploded in popularity over the past decade. I talked about the power and promise of this cannabinoid with one of the world’s leading experts on the subject: Martin Lee, author of two highly acclaimed books, Acid Dreams and Smoke Signals, and co-founder and director of ProjectCBD.org. We covered topics including what is CBD and how does it work, what is its relationship to THC and what’s the evidence for its medical and hea...

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November 3, 2022 53 mins

Chelsea Handler is the famous comedian, author, talk show host, documentary maker and activist whose millions of fans relish her revealing and humorous stories about sex, drugs, relationships and politics. Our conversation focused, of course, on drugs: on how getting in trouble with drugs launched her career in comedy, on why she prefers marijuana to alcohol, on what she has learned from her experiences with psychedelics, on which ...

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October 27, 2022 67 mins

Millions of women use drugs when they’re pregnant. Some are punished when their pregnancies end with a miscarriage or stillbirth, or even when they give birth to a healthy baby. No one knows more about this than Lynn Paltrow, founder and executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). We discussed the scientific evidence regarding pregnancy and drug use, the media coverage, and the myths that abound – about “cra...

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An extraordinary number of the greatest jazz musicians were deeply involved in psychoactive drug use – to the extent that the history of jazz and the history of drugs during the middle third of the 20th century are inseparable. The King of Jazz, Louis Armstrong, never went a day without marijuana. The great “Lady Day,” Billie Holiday, became during the 1950s “the most famous drug addict in America.” Most of the great saxophonists –...

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October 13, 2022 58 mins

Kurt Schmoke’s life and mine intersected at a pivotal moment in the spring of 1988, as the war on drugs was approaching its most feverish pitch. I was a 31 year old assistant professor at Princeton University who had just published a prominent article which explained why the drug war was as doomed and counterproductive as alcohol Prohibition. Kurt was a 38 year old former district attorney who had just been elected mayor of Baltimo...

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Boris Jordan is a fascinating figure. An American of White Russian ancestry, he played a pivotal role in Russia’s roller coaster economic transformation during the 1990s. Today he is best known as the founder, executive chairman and principal shareholder of Curaleaf, which is in many respects the world’s largest cannabis company. We started off by talking about the politics of marijuana reform in Congress but then focused on the fu...

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“We could not have civilization without intoxication,” says Professor Edward Slingerland in his important new book: Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization. Indeed, “the use of intoxicants should puzzle us as much as religion does.” This episode examines how and why intoxicants – and particularly alcohol -- have played such a crucial role in the evolution of human societies. Humans are, Professor Slingerl...

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September 22, 2022 70 mins

Jockeying over patents is driving investment and competition among the growing number of people and companies trying to profit from the psychedelics renaissance. Graham Pechenik is one of the smartest and most respected attorneys specializing in this area. We started off by discussing a recent victory against the DEA, which had tried to put a number of promising compounds into Schedule I. Most of our conversation thereafter focused...

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