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

September 22, 2022 70 min

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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Here's a bonus episode of Psychoactive. I was was recently a guest on the Dear Chelsea podcast, a weekly advice show hosted by comedian Chelsea Handler. I thought our listeners might enjoy hearing this fun, lively discussion, so we're dropping it in your feed as a bonus episode.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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There is probably no other country in the world with such a fluid and counterintuitive history of drugs as Iran,” says Maziyar Ghiabi, professor at the University of Exeter, in his book, Drugs Politics: Managing Disorder in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Its problems with illicit drug misuse are among the greatest in the world. It is unique among Muslim countries in having embraced syringe exchange and other harm reduction programs ...

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September 8, 2022 67 min

The Narcotic Farm was a remarkable institution. Opened in Lexington, Kentucky in 1935 and closed in the 1970s, the massive hybrid prison/treatment facility was for many decades one of the only publicly available drug treatment facilities in the United States. The writer, William Burroughs, spent time there, as did his son. So did jazz musicians like Chet Baker, Sonny Rollins, Elvin Jones, Jackie McLean, Sonny Stitt, Joe Guy and man...

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Chesa Boudin, a public defender and child of “radical royalty,” was elected as district attorney of San Francisco in late 2019 and recalled by voters in mid-2022. Derided by critics as soft on crime and heralded by supporters as a principled and effective proponent of reforms that voters actually favored, we talked about his accomplishments and challenges, including his interactions with San Francisco’s mayor and police officials. ...

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August 25, 2022 75 min

Many people consider ayahuasca “the queen” of psychedelic plant medicines – and few people know more about ayahuasca than the Brazilian anthropologist, Bia Labate. She has authored, co-authored or co-edited over twenty books about ayahuasca as well as other plant medicines, shamanism, ritual, religion and drug policy. The U.S.-based educational and advocacy organization she founded and directs, The Chacruna Institute of Psychedelic...

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Hitler’s military forces achieved immense success in the early years of World War II by making the Blitzkrieg (or “Lightning War”) central to their offensive strategy. Norman Ohler, author of Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich, tells the story of how methamphetamine enabled this success, sometimes over the opposition of medical and military skeptics, and how its value diminished as the war dragged on. Even more fascinating is the st...

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August 11, 2022 56 min

"You know, it's a funny thing,” said President Nixon to his aide, H.R. Haldeman, “every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews." Well, today you'll find out. Eddy Portnoy is the curator of a novel exhibit at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City entitled “Am Yisrael High.” It explores the role of Jews in all aspects of mariju...

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Immortalized in Tom Wolfe’s famous book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the Merry Pranksters were a pivotal link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and both the Grateful Dead and the hippie generation that emerged later in the 1960s. Mountain Girl was romantically involved, and had children, with both the Pranksters’ leader, Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), and the Grateful Dead’s, Jerry Garcia. She th...

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Philip Morris International (PMI) is a leader in Big Tobacco, profiting from the sale of Marlboro, Chesterfield, Virginia Slims and other cigarette brands. It’s also at the forefront in transitioning to the sale of non-combustible nicotine products, which now make up 30% of PMI’s revenue. André Calantzopoulos has worked for PMI for almost forty years, most recently as CEO and now executive chairman. We talked about the opportunitie...

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Rick Doblin founded the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in 1986, and we’ve been friends since shortly thereafter. He and his organization stand at the forefront of the movement to destigmatize and legitimize MDMA and psychedelics for therapeutic purposes and even more broadly. We talked about his battles with federal agencies, his efforts to advance MDMA-assisted therapy in Israel and Jordan, his fundra...

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Netflix released a new documentary series last week, How to Change Your Mind, based on Michael Pollan’s book by the same name about psychedelics and medicine.  The next episode of PSYCHOACTIVE, out Thursday, is my interview with Rick Doblin, who has played a pioneering role in psychedelics research and advocacy for four decades.  He is featured in episode 3 of the 4-part Netflix series.  Today, however, we’re reposting the PSYCHOAC...

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Dr. Julie Holland is a psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist who has written and edited many outstanding books about drugs, including most recently Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics. Julie and I teamed up last year to answer questions submitted by Psychoactive listeners. We enjoyed it so much, and the feedback was so positive, that we decided to do it again. This time the questions involved the sa...

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July 7, 2022 74 min

What is microdosing?  Why do so many people swear by it?  But does it really work?  Dr. Sophia Korb is a therapist and researcher who worked for the Fadiman Group on the largest microdosing study in the world.  We talked about the findings from that study, including perceived benefits and downsides, why people start or stop microdosing, and patterns of consumption including combining tiny doses of psychedelics with chocolate, lion’...

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Marijuana was integral to the evolving culture wars of the 1970s, with long criminal sentences meted out to some while others flouted the law with alacrity. No one was more central to the battles over marijuana policy than Keith Stroup, who founded the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in 1970 and directed the organization for most of the decade. His allies spanned the spectrum of respectability from Ha...

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How does marijuana affect driving? Can one learn to drive safely while high? Are there reliable tests for detecting marijuana-impaired driving? How accurate are simulator tests of people driving under the influence of marijuana? Why do marijuana users tend to think they’re driving worse than they actually are? Has marijuana legalization resulted in more motor vehicle accidents and deaths? How are laws changing in this area? No one ...

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Is it possible that MDMA and psychedelics offer a master key for reopening the “critical periods” in our infancy when the brain’s development and maturation is strongly dependent on experience or environmental influences? Gul Dolen, a brilliant neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, has approached this crucial question by administering these drugs not just to humans but also mice and octopuses. Her research suggests that these...

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Vancouver’s drug policies are among the most progressive in North America but the city still suffers from high rates of fatal overdose, mostly involving fentanyl. Garth Mullins has been part of the drug scene in Vancouver for many years: as a former heroin consumer who now takes a daily dose of methadone; as a journalist who joined with other drug user activists in launching an award winning podcast, Crackdown, about the overdose c...

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In spite of a massive spike in overdose death, BC’s government still refuses to offer a genuinely safe supply of drugs. Eris Nyx and Jeremy Kalicum tell the story of how the Drug User Liberation Front has stepped up to do what the policy makers refuse to do themselves: offer people a safe version of the drugs they already use. Then, Crackdown’s science advisor, Professor Ryan McNeil talks about his recently published work on BC’s “...

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I first met Amanda Feilding in the late 1990s, when she was launching the Beckley Foundation to conduct and support research on psychedelics. I must admit that I failed to anticipate how successful and influential she would become, with Amanda described in the media as “the queen of consciousness” and her Beckley Foundation playing a leading role in psychedelics research and advocacy not just in Britain but globally. We talked abou...

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