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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 drugs help with creative writing, and on why she considers herself a “pharmacological intuit.”

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi, I'm Ethan Edelman, and this is Psychoactive, a production
of I Heart Radio and Protozoa Pictures. Psychoactive is the
show where we talk about all things drugs. But any
views expressed here do not represent those of I Heart Media,
Protozoa Pictures, or their executives and employees. Indeed, Heed, as

(00:23):
an inveterate contrarian, I can tell you they may not
even represent my own and nothing contained in this show
should be used his medical advice or encouragement to use
any type of drugs. Hello Psychoactive listeners. So today my

(00:45):
guest is somebody who's really famous. UM, her name's Chelsea
Handler and she's got her own podcast. You're Chelsea and
had me on a little while ago and very graciously
accepted invitation to join me on Coactive. So so Chelsea,
thanks so much for doing this. Oh thank you, Evan,
no problem, my pleasure. You know, I am pretty removed

(01:10):
from like what's going on in pop culture in all
sorts of ways. So I'll tell you the truth. And
also for listeners that when you know our folks have
arranged for me to be on your podcast. I I
heard your name, but I didn't really have a clear
idea of who you were, and so I did a
little research, so I know why I was being on
your podcast. But I have to say, you know, doing
this deep dive and preparing for this thing, you're fucking amazing.

(01:33):
I mean, you know I'm looking at you. You're a
world famous comedian. This is for the audience of my audience,
who doesn't know you are. She is a actress. She
is a podcast host. She is a talk show host.
In fact, I think she was only the second woman
ever after Joan Rivers, to e her own late night
talk show. She's been doing documentaries on increasingly serious subjects

(01:55):
while still interweaving holes. It's a humor in it. She's
a political activist, she's a social just as activist. She's
currently at the end of two on tour with a
comedy show called Vaccinated and Horny. So I mean say,
I don't know how you do it all, um, but
you're amazing. Well, thank you, what a nice introduction. I
love it. So I take it that your success is

(02:17):
all about your drug use, Is that right? Yes? Yes,
one leads very nicely into the other. Uh yeah, I
mean I have a very storied history with my affinity
for drugs and the legalization of all sorts of things,
And yes, I like to share that on TV and off. No,

(02:38):
I mean, I guess part of your whole stick right
is that you're very out there about almost everything right.
And one of the things I saw was that one
of the things that first got you into comedy was
when you after you first got arrested with a d
u I or something like that. Yes, I was arrested
when I was twenty one years old for a d

(02:58):
u I, and I had been using my sister, my
older sister's fake i D. So when I got pulled
over for my d u Y, I gave them my
sister's i D because my practice had been to use
her i D for anything involving alcohol. And so that
got me into double trouble because of that, because I
got a d u I and I was impersonating somebody else,
and my sister was Mormon at the time and she

(03:18):
was very very much against drinking and me using her
i D for such activities. So all in all, I
got in a lot of trouble and I had to
go to this d U I class for about eight
weeks where you meet every Wednesday night and the guy
running the class basically explains to you how to get
out of your next du I So I'm not really
sure why why this is a thing, But anyway, in

(03:40):
that time I had to make a speech and get
up and kind of tell my story. And it was
my first experience publicly speaking, and I was terrified, and uh.
I kind of waited and waited and avoided being chosen
and sat in the back of the class every night
until the very last class where I was called to
get up and tell my story. And in telling that story,

(04:02):
it was pretty ridiculous. I mean, I called the cop racist.
We were both white. I spent seventy two hours in
Civil Brand College, which for a Jewish girl from an
upper middle class neighborhood in New Jersey is a hot
mess nightmare. But because of that class, everyone I told
my story and everyone was loving it and laughing and
I could not get off stage. I just thought this

(04:23):
was the best feeling in the world. And when I
did get off, Everyone's like, oh, you have to become
a stand up comedian. And I had never thought about
that before because I just it just seemed like something
that I don't know. I just had never considered it.
It seems scary, and yeah, that's how I decided to
become a stand up comedian. So thankfully that was my
first and last d U. I I learned my lesson

(04:45):
the first time, so I didn't have to learn it
a second time, and uh yeah, it kind of led
to my career in stand up. So the irony is
all over the place. So doing drugs growing up, I mean,
did you start when you were like twelve or thirteen
or what was your doing. I was very anti drugs.
I was very against them until I tried them and
then I was like, oh, I'd like this. But I

(05:06):
didn't really start doing drugs until I was like eighteen,
nineteen years old. And then it was booze or I
mean acid or yeah, lots of lots of LSD. We
go to the Limelight in New York City. We take
a lot of LSD, mushrooms, you know, like psychedelics mostly
and yeah, some alcohol, but not really alcohol as much

(05:28):
until later once I was, you know, in my twenties
and moved to Los Angeles. I moved to Los Angeles
when I was nineteen, but in high school it was
much and more about mushrooms and LSD. Yeah, m hmmm.
And I mean with any of this particularly memorable or
was it just kind of doing it for yucks at
the time, you know, we I wasn't using it as
a therapy, and it wasn't therapeutic. I mean, it was

(05:49):
probably therapeutic, unbeknownst to me, but it was more of
a party, you know. It was more to laugh and
to Dad's and to just kind of be free and like,
you know, it was a great It was a great feeling.
I connected with the feeling right away. I don't think
I've ever had a negative experience. I know some people have,
but with psilocybin or LSD, it was always the same

(06:11):
kind of vibe, you know, very I felt very in control.
I didn't feel out of control, but I felt great.
I love to laugh, you know, on mushrooms make you laugh,
and LSD can do the same thing. Sometimes it kind
of hits me differently. But it just gave me a
sense of um uninhibitedness that I hadn't felt without it.
M hm. That you were the youngest of six growing up,

(06:34):
but I wanted growing up. I mean, were you getting
high with your siblings as well, or was this all
the stuff you did separate from that. Uh No, I
wasn't getting high with them. I definitely started taking mushrooms
with my brothers around nineteen or twenty because I'm the
one who had them, so you know, then I was
able to share with them and they didn't really have
a choice of the matter. So yeah, I took mushroms
with my brothers on several occasions, and you know, smoked

(06:57):
pot with them, but not until I was about nineteen.
Uh huh. And I take it with your parents, zero
drug used together. No, my parents weren't. Yeah, they didn't
do drugs, but my dad and my mom really didn't
have any judgment on that. They just thought, you know,
that's part of being a kid. My brothers and sisters
who were older than be grew up in the seventies,

(07:18):
so I was born in seventy five, so my parents
were kind of used to, like, you know, drug exploration.
They didn't have a big problem with that, even though
I mean, I really you went to a synagogue, you
were bought miss as. Your dad Jewish, but your mom
like was Mormon. Yeah, she came over from Germany, so

(07:40):
there's a big Mormon contingency over Germany or there was,
and after the war she came over. I mean she
was about six or seven when World War two ended
and her father was served in the German military, so
he had been taken as a pow uh in the
first year of the war to Iowa, and so he

(08:01):
was in Iowa for many years. And then the war
ended and he returned, and then they lived in Germany
for about ten more years, and then my mom came
over to visit New Jersey when she was about nineteen
years old. I met my father and went back home
to Germany to tell them she was moving to America.
And then shortly after my mom and dad got married,

(08:22):
they got pregnant, or probably before they got married, quite frankly,
and then my grandparents came over. So my grandparents and
my mother were all Mormon, and they came over and
my dad was like, listen, I'm going to raise my
family Jewish, so you have to get on board with that.
There's not gonna be any Mormonism in this family. And
my mom said, sure, no problem. And so I thought

(08:43):
my mom was Jewish until I was nine years old,
because she was at temple with us every weekend, and
she would, you know, she knew all the Hebrew prayers,
and we celebrated all the Jewish holidays. Um. Yeah. And
I didn't find out she wasn't Jewish until my brother
died when I was nine, and we found out she
couldn't been buried in the same cemetery as my brother

(09:04):
because she wasn't Jewish and she would have to convert
to Judaism. So this was a conversation I overheard in
my kitchen with Rabbi Kasd. In the affrementioned Rabbi Kasden,
we got mitzvahed, your ex wife, and myself, and he
was talking to my father saying, well, we would have
to convert Rita to Judaism. And I remember going, what
do you mean convert? I thought mom was Jewish and

(09:25):
my Dad's like, no, Mom's Mormon. And I was like,
what's Mormon? And my Dad's like, don't worry about it
right now. And then I read the Book of Mormon
about a year later, and you know, I just threw
it at my mother. I go, you can't be serious
with this nonsense. Yeah, well, it's interesting. So your grandfather
served in the German army in World War Two. Yeah,

(09:47):
and they sent him to the Russian Front because he
was one of those soldiers, like many German Men, who
wanted no part of it, but they didn't. You know,
your family was at risk, so you had to serve
in some way. But when they tested you to get
in army, you know, he just he was a very
physically strong guy. He kind of just didn't demonstrate any
of that so that he would be you know, really

(10:08):
relegated to some kind of desk job or something. But
they ended up setting him to the Russian Front, and uh,
that's where he was taken as a pow. Interesting origins here,
and you know, in factually did an episode not long
ago about Hitler, the Third Reich and drugs and would
a pivotal role drugs play like in the Blitz Creek
and amphetamine not weed or anything like that, you know,

(10:30):
when the Germans invaders so quickly through Belgium in France.
But you know, going back, Chelsea, yourman being a Mormon,
I mean, the Mormons are so like you know, not
just no weed or alcohol. It's not even any coffee
or anything like that. Ye, your mom was still kind
of open minded about that stuff. Uh My mom I
think was tired mostly. I mean she had had six children.
I was the youngest, and I was like a hellion,

(10:52):
Like I came on the scene and was, uh, you know,
just challenging them at every turn. I was, you know,
but three years old, telling my parents what I've thought
of them, asking them if I had a dowry, what
the game plan was for savings. I just constantly was
challenging them, and being the youngest, that's typically what happens.
You know, you absorb your older siblings sensibilities and you

(11:13):
pick up on everything and you're listening to everything. So
you grew up very quickly. And I've had a strong
personality in my whole life. So my mom wasn't going
to challenge me on any of that stuff. She only
returned to Mormonism after my brother died. He had a
terrible accident and he was the oldest, and then she
became religious again, as one does. She kind of returned

(11:34):
to her Mormonism to find solace there within the grieving process,
I think, and you remained Mormon throughout the rest of
her life. But yeah, she wasn't sanctimonious or you know,
trying to instill her beliefs in me. She just was
doing her thing and wanted to be left alone doing that.
And I remember also that she struggled with breast cancer

(11:54):
for a long time. Was there any thought of her
using medical merl wanted to deal with NOI your from
chemotherapy and all that sort of thing. No, that was
pretty much before that was you know, thought to be acceptable. Really,
you know, that never even came up. So it was
a long time ago, but I guess, yeah, it feels
like it was before the advent of people understanding that

(12:15):
you know, marijuana comes from that ground and that it's
from Mother nature. M you know, just to shift away
from the drug thing for a second. Um, you know,
I was wondering about this. I mean, you just talked about,
you know, you're Jewish growing up and such, and I
think about, you know, the so many of the famous comedians,
both male and female, but with the female commediany. Think
about Joan River, you know, Goldie Hawn or Sarah Silverman,

(12:38):
who I guess comes up just a little before you,
or Amy Schumer more recently. I mean, when you think
about it, do you how do you think you're growing
up Jewish? And this, I mean does it shape comedy?
Is there a reason why there seems to be a
disproportionate number of Jews doing comedy in America. Yeah, yeah,
I would say, so you have a sharper sense of

(13:00):
humor by being you know, persecuted. You have that feeling.
Whether that happened to our generation per say, where we
grew up or not. I mean, I think that's intergenerational.
You know, you always feel like as a Jew until
you come to Hollywood, that you're in the minority, even
though I grew up in a very Italian Jewish neighborhood
and Livingston like it was very there was lots of
Jewish people, but it's just a very kind of I

(13:23):
don't know, there's something very self deprecating about being Jewish
because there's humility in it. Hm and um, you know,
before we get into cannabis, because I can just I mean,
you're all over the place in the media. You're on
more popular programs and news programs talking about how wonderful
Merril winter is almost that I can think of. But

(13:43):
before we go there, you know, it seems like alcohol
was pretty much the dominant drug in your life throughout
your twenties, and that on the one hand, it seemed
like it almost became a problem, but never really and
maybe it was great and you stand by it, but
there was I mean, just talk about your relationship with
especially in your younger years, and had that evolved. Well.

(14:05):
I was very much a party girl, and I talked
about it and made a living talking about it. Like
you know, I was rewarded for talking about it. My
first book was called My Horizontal Life, a collection of
one night stands, and you know, people were like, oh
my god, I can't believe you got away with writing
a book about that. I'm like, why, what's the problem.
You know, I got a TV show where I talked
about alcohol and drug use openly, and I think for

(14:27):
a while I was probably over using alcohol because of
what happened with my brother. The trauma of you know,
my brother dying at that young age and never really
having the tools to access or articulate that pain, you know,
and react to it. My parents didn't have the wherewithal
to get us into therapy and to get us into
you know, trauma grief, and I think that turns into

(14:49):
I don't think I know from going to therapy as
an adult, that that kind of delayed grief. You know,
you use drugs or you use alcohol to, you know,
cover up your pain, and you don't think that there's
a problem. You just think you're a fun person. So uh,
I think that's in my twenties and the abuse of alcohol,

(15:09):
probably to certain degrees, I never was a problem where
I had to, like you know, go to rehab or anything.
I was always able to cut it out if I
had needed to, or tone it down when I needed to.
But I have to say, no one really ever even
asked me to tone it down because I was doing
well in all facets of my life. If that are measurable,
you know, it's kind of an inside job for you

(15:31):
to take a look at why you want to drink
so much or why you lean on alcohol in the
way you do. So nobody ever brought it to my attention.
It was definitely part of my persona and it still is.
I still drink, Obviously, I don't drink like I did
my my twenties because now I understand you know the
ill effects of drinking and the deleterious impact it has
on you, and you know how to use it more responsibly.

(15:53):
Plus I'm forty seven years old. It doesn't feel good
to drink like that, Like I don't have a desire
like that anymore, but I can still tiwan on ethant
uh huh. I saw someplace you said, Josie said, if
I was an alcoholic, I'd be a functional alcoholic. And
I guess you would never have describe yourself an alcoholic,
even if you were drinking too much of times, because
you could always stop when you wanted to, and you
would just clean out and clean out and all that,

(16:15):
and it never really cost your professionally. It's not as
if you're out there doing sets and you realize that
you were screwing up or forgetting lines or this sort
of stuff, for being off. Although you also talked about
sometimes not you know, next morning, not remembering the last
that you did. Yeah, well, yes, that definitely did happen.
And so there were instances. It just wasn't a comment,
It wasn't a recurring theme, like it didn't happen over

(16:38):
and over again. It happened a couple of times, and
you know, they very much kind of woke me up
and said, okay, this is you're going a little too
far here. Now you have to get yourself under control.
So I've always had a very like um decent, you know,
sense of self awareness with regard to my drinking and
how it's affecting my career. And if it was so, yeah,

(16:58):
it never got to a place where where that you know,
where anybody had to sit me down and say, okay,
you know, let's get a grip here. And did you
have a favorite? I mean, I think the second book
was called are you there Vodka? It's meat, Chelsea? I mean,
with vodka your favorite booze? Or were you like anything?
You know, what could be? Wine, beer, could be I
basically just only drink vodka, uh huh, straight like no,

(17:23):
I put a little soda water in it. Uh huh,
you know, like martinis with that kind of thing. No, No,
I like vodka and soda. That's pretty much. And that's more.
I mean, the genesis of that is more for dietary
and you know, vanity than anything else. It was like
the one drink you could drink without bloating or putting
on weight. You know, vodka was supposed to be the

(17:44):
cleanest alcohol. Now they say tequila is, but I'm still
devoutly vodka drink drink okay, okay? And would you ever
drink on stage when you're performing? Was that party all
the time, of course. Yeah, that's part of that. Yeah,
that while you're on stage. I have been. I have

(18:05):
been on stage where I didn't remember absolutely. I I
used to go on tour. I remember my last stand
up tour. I had to be doing two shows at
Arena's back to back at the same night, and the
second show I would barely remember. And I was exhausted.
I had been doing like eight years of my television
show or seven years. I had four books come out
back to back to back, So that's a book tour,

(18:27):
which is a stand up tour, and I had just
worked myself into the ground and it became my coping mechanism,
which is one of the reasons I stopped doing my
show and I stopped doing stand up. I had just
had had it. I was exhausted, and I was, you know,
using alcohol to like get me through the next show,
to give me energy. And so yeah, that was a
big turning point. We'll be talking more after we hear

(18:51):
this ad for alreadience you. A few years ago, Chelsea
did a series of FOD documentaries on Netflix, like on Chelsea,

(19:13):
does the Internet, Silicon Valley Matter? When, on marriage, when
a racism and one on drugs, and you spent about
a quarter of the episode talking to people who had
been in rehab being addicted. Um, I mean, you know
it felt like I mean, part of other parts of it.
Of course, we're about you know, we'll get into your
ayahuasca trip and other types of elements of drug using.
Getting high in marijuana much more celebratory, and so when

(19:35):
you were doing that part of it, the rehab thing,
I mean, obviously you're trying to show the spectrum of
people's relationship with drugs, but when you see people who
struggle that way, do you just feel like, there but
for the grace of guy though I or that you
just simply can't relate, or I mean, you know, what
did you think about those elements of it. I just
remember someone saying to me at a very early age,

(19:55):
or overhearing a conversation, saying, I don't ever want to
have to give up alcohol, so I'm never going to
abuse it. And that just stayed with me. So I
I could relate to these people. But I thought, oh, like,
I never let it get me, you know, I never
felt that I had let it get me. I'm sure
other people would disagree. By the way, I'm sure other

(20:16):
people would be like, oh my god, she's a lush
or she was a lush or whatever. But that's not
really that doesn't matter to me. It's what I you know,
it's how I experienced it. And whenever I felt like
it had gotten out of control or it could get
out of control, I rained it in because I didn't
ever want to have to give something up completely. I
didn't ever want to have to go to rehab, you know,

(20:38):
or do something like that. And yeah, and I don't
think I have that addictive personality. I just I like
to have fun. But I don't have that addiction gene,
luckily because neither of my parents had it either. Mm hmm, yeah, No,
I'm not sort of the same way I mean I've been.
I think I basically enjoyed the vast majority of drugs,

(20:58):
and most almost every drug been a kind of benefit
of my life. And anytime it seems like if I
get high three or four days in a row, I
just only want to get high the next, you know,
the next fuhile, I just want to kind of clear out.
It's always been the same way with alcohol. But you
threw another drug in the mix back then, which I've
never really played around with that much, which is ambient
and sleeping pills. What was that about? Oh yeah, we

(21:18):
were demonstrating what happens to people when they're on ambient
and what happens when you drink on ambient, because ambient
can be such a dangerous sleeping pit hill. So we
did that. We showed you know, how how people act
when they have one ambient, when they mix it with alcohol,
when they have two ambient. Uh. We were just kind
of going through what drugs we could legally do on television,

(21:40):
and that fell under that category right now. I mean,
and I think it was an interesting point because one
of the things that people I think, you know, don't
or do realize is that when you're combining alcohol with
a sleeping pill like ambient. I think on the TV
show you did at ten look Zambi and a couple
of cocktails as well, when you're combining it with alcohol
and opioids, that basically, if you combine it in quote

(22:01):
unquote the right amounts, there's a mist amounts, it can
actually be a great high, but that if you sort
of do too much of it, it can actually stop
your breathing. So it's got A. It's got a high
danger risk level, but you can understand why people do
it because it feels good. But what about in your
own life. I thought there's a point where you were
sort of getting into the sleeping n till a night
thing and all this and beginning to wonder if that

(22:22):
would be a problem. Uh yeah, I mean I've probably
been through that experience with almost every drug. Like I
I've always experimented. Yeah, there was a period of time
where I used a man I don't know, maybe a
year or something where I experimented with ambient. There was
a year when I experimented with xan X. Sometimes I
take xan x, you know today, like to go to

(22:43):
sleep if I'm traveling and back and forth. I just
came home from my worka for a month, so yeah,
I use xan X to get me back on track.
But again, it's about using these things judiciously and not
becoming you know, reliant on them. That's where cannabis comes
in in such a helpful way, because because cannabis is
a great alternative to almost any you know, drug that

(23:04):
you're going to get from a pharmaceutical company. You know,
it can relax to you, it can help you sleep,
It can help you focus if you're taking the right strain.
There are so many benefits to it. So yeah, I
mean that's why I'm such an advocate for cannabis use
because I mean, what the pharmaceutical companies have done to
this country. You know, we can't be trusting them, and
and and having a reliance on any of these substances

(23:25):
is terrifying for a lot of people. And you know,
when you get your genealogy tested, they do tell you
whether you have that addiction gene They do when you
do twenty three in me, they can tell you that
and if you do have it. I mean, you look
at people with the opioid crisis, people who have done
who did you know oxycodone or not oxycodone? What? What's
the drug? The ones name? OxyContin was the brand name, right,

(23:49):
I mean people would take three of those and be addicted.
And there are other people who did it for three
weeks and weren't addicted. So it's it's also a measure
of what you know your constitution is made up. That's
a huge factor that nobody had been factoring in for
years before we had this genetic testing. Yeah, I mean
it's interesting but by the way, just to finish the
THEELI drugs before cannabis, you never really got into the opioid.

(24:11):
It sounds like not clear if you ever got much
into stimulants, you know, the amphetamine or stuff like that,
or into tobacco. I mean basically, is that basically right,
that those three drug categories you generally avoided or just smoked.
I smoked a little bit of cigarettes. I smoked a
little bit for a few years, and then I got hypnotized.
I gave that up. Uh, stimulants, amphetamines. No, I mean

(24:34):
I've definitely done cocaine. Uh, no heroin or anything like that.
Uh yeah, I mean I've tried pretty much everything that's
out there, probably minus heroin or crack or you know,
crystal math. I have never done those things, or I
have again, I would bet. I don't know what that is.
What's oh well, I don't know. If I tell you what,

(24:56):
you got something to look forward to. But I begain
is the to the few psychedelic things that comes from
a plant actually a root in Africa and gabone called eboga,
and it's the one that people use. Nobody does it
for fun or for yucks. Um. Some people do it
for greater spiritual insight, but it's more commonly associated with
people who have a very serious addiction to opioids or

(25:18):
alcohol or other things using it to basically clear their
system of that. And there's you know, the beginnings amount
of research on it may turn out to be one
of the most amazing of all the psychedelics in terms
of really being helpful to people. But it's a long
long it's it's longer than LSD. It's intense, you know.
I mean when you talked about doing ayahuasca and you know,
weariness about you know, the diarrhea and the nausea and

(25:40):
throwing up. I mean, I begains for many people has
the same thing, if not even you know, more challenging.
But you know so, I guess so when you had
me on your podcast, right you interviewed me for the
first half hour, and then you and I took questions
from your audience, you know, about drugs, and they were
looking for drug use. And either us are doctors, but
we both have a lot of experience and knowledge, and
I was very impressed at the way you're handling a

(26:02):
lot of those questions. And at one point I saw
yourself not when we were talking. But someplace else describe
yourself as a pharmacological into it. There's somebody with natural
intuition when it comes to drug years. Um is that
just based on experience? So you find that, you know,
people are valuing your advice in terms of what you're
telling them about this. I mean, I just have a

(26:23):
pretty good read on people. I can meet somebody and
I understand if they're a person that can handle cannabis,
that can handle alcohol, that can handle you know, mushrooms.
Like people come to me all the time, my friends
and relatives, and they're always like, what do I take
for this? What do I take for that? I just
have a vast experience and interest, you know, I think
when you're interested in something, and the same with pharmaceuticals,

(26:44):
I'm very interested in pharmaceuticals. I'm very interested in anti
aging stuff. I'm very interested in peptides. Like when you
have a natural curiosity about something, you know, you absorb
a lot of the information around it. So I'm an
open book and a like, you know, a reliable sort
when when it's something I've had experience with or I've
seen other people have, you know, positive outcomes with so

(27:08):
on the psychedelic stuff. I mean, you did a lot
of acid back then. Are you still doing asset? No?
I haven't done LSD in a really long time. M h, yeah,
I wouldn't. I wouldn't mind doing some. Actually, yeah, it's funny.
I have this lessons. I like micro dose it, but
it's never been my thing. I think for both you
and me, mushrooms, you know, plays big time and I've

(27:29):
I've read about you doing you know, mushrooms and your staff.
I think mushrooms this, and that's tell us say something
more about you and mushrooms. Oh well, I love mushrooms.
I like micro dosing mushrooms. I have something called fund it.
My friend grows her own mushrooms and she just grounds
them up and then it gives them to me and
you just like put your finger in, take a little,
you know, and put it in your tongue and it's
just like a little pick me up. And you know,

(27:50):
you're talking about ten milligrams or something at most, so
you're not dosing yourself like you know, it would take
five grams to have an actual ushroom sit, which some
of my friends in Whistler, Canada are doing this winter,
which I said I would join them in, which is
one of those guided kind of you know, journeys that
you take with somebody there journaling with you, and you know,

(28:13):
where you put ice shades on and you put your
headphones on and you actually have a sit So that
would be like five grams where you and they say
you get rid of your ego, you know. I was like, well,
what about two and a half gram She's like, you'll
still have your ego, It'll still but you'll be laughing,
like you want to get past the ego part. And
I was like, okay, I'm interested in that because you
can get rid of, you know, really old patterns of

(28:33):
behavior and you can actually see yourself outside of yourself,
which is much like my experience doing ayahuasca when I
went to Peru and one of the episodes of Chelsea
does on Netflix, we did ayahuasca and Peru and um,
that was an experience where I understood what it felt
like to be outside of yourself and looking at your
life and it it was like watching a phantasm megoria

(28:55):
of my own experiences like as an like playing like
an iPod shuffle, just all my childhood memories with my
sister and me just playing like back and forth like
dogs that we had that I had forgotten about, repressed
or suppressed memories that just came alive. You know. It
opens up those neural pathways where you can remember these things.

(29:17):
And it was a really powerful experience, which is what
would draw me to do that with either. I mean,
they the options have recently been ketamine or psilocybin, and
I feel like ketamine sounds a little bit more disassociative
and that's not my preference. So I think I might
do that mushroom sit when I get up to Whistler
this winter for skiing season. Well, I mean, I'll tell

(29:40):
you something. You know, So watching the episode, right the
Chelsea does the aahuasca and so you know, you go
down to Peru, right, you got this shan in there.
You with two friends, a guy and and and a
younger woman and the first night you all drink and
the guys having a terrible experience. At least that's what
he describes it, you know, on Emera and the younger

(30:01):
woman she has a powerful one about childhood stuff and
you're just sitting there like I'm not feeling anything, and
I could almost like empathize you as like a holy
sh it. I mean, first of all, here's my two friends.
They're both having big experience, one bad, one good. You know,
Netflix just paid for the whole camera crew to have
come down here. I'm down here and I took the
same doses them, and I'm not feeling anything. And it

(30:22):
sounds like the next day you said to the sham
and lay it on me and give me, you know,
the dose. I want to make sure I have an
experience and then you know, so I is that more
or less what was happening that first night when you
didn't feel anything or barely? Yeah, well, I think by
both of my friends that I had dragged down to
Peru to do Ayawaska with me, we're having such kind
of histrionic reactions to the drug, I mean, which is

(30:44):
par for the course. So I guess I shouldn't use
that word because that lends itself to think that they
couldn't handle it. I mean a lot of people have
those kinds of reactions, and they were very emotional and
they were very sick, and it just kind of took
me out of mine because you know, I was responsible
for them, So I mean, I just couldn't relax and

(31:04):
let the drug take a hold of me. I felt
it coming on, and then when I saw my friends
and heard my friends bawling and crying, I was like, oh,
I have to be there for them. So the next
day that they were like, okay, no friends, and you know,
let's cut the cameras in half. Instead of having four cameras,
we had one. And I went into a room alone
with a shaman and he gave me a double dose

(31:26):
of what I had tried the night before, and then
I was able to really focus on my own experience.
Have you done it since? No? I haven't. I don't
really have a desire to do that drug again. I would.
I mean a lot of my friends are always asking
me to do it with them because there's people that
do it here and to Panga Canyon, and you know,
all over the country people are doing ayahuasca now. But uh, yeah,

(31:48):
I don't know. I don't have a strong urge to
do that again. M h. You mentioned to paying you
I'm one of your shows. I saw you talking about
doing the toad medicine five mm O d n T.
Yeah was it you talk about that one? I was
not pleasant. That is called an ego killer, but it was.
It's like an eight and ten minute experience, and I

(32:11):
was just it was, it was awful. I was immediately
had to I was recovered in my own sweat within
thirty seconds. I had to lie back. It was dark, dark, ominous.
All I remember black clouds and black clouds, And I
had never felt that on drugs before. I'd always felt
hopefulness and enlightenment, you know, and positivity and twinkling and

(32:34):
things looking like, you know, more beautiful than they would
look in my natural state. But I had never experienced
that reaction where everything just felt odious and and calamitous.
And so I just was telling how my please make
the stop, make the stop, make the stop, and she
was just kind of rubbing my arm and holding my
hand and it was over quickly, thankfully, but I was not. Yeah,

(32:56):
that was not a pleasant experience. So you're not gonna
do that one again? No, I am not, because I
mean so many just people describe smoking his stuff and
having these fifteen minutes of wondrous universal, you know, some
feeling like his last thing a lifetime in a positive
sense of the term, and you know, then coming back
and you know, life transformative trips. I mean, in my case,

(33:17):
I was intrigued by it, and I was kind of
scared of it. And I finally got up the guts
to tell a friend of mine who has laid a
lot of people on their first five you know, five
M O D M T toy medicine things, Okay, I'm
ready to do it. And he says, actually, Ethan, you know,
I'm sorry. I don't actually have the smokable version. I
only have the snortable version. And I said, well, okay,
how it will be different? He goes, you know, I'm
not exactly sure as how long the last he goes,

(33:39):
maybe twice as long, maybe thirty minutes. So he lays
out two long lines and I snort these two lines
of the stuff and a burn like hell going down.
Finally settled down, and I gotta tell you five hours later,
I mean, I was like, but it was kind of
like a mushroomy sort of thing. But I mean at
one point I had energy. Shoot, you got my legs.

(34:00):
I'm lying on my back with their dog licking my
face while I'm doing this thing, and I like, and
afterwards they sit to me from you in Condalini excerci,
I said, what's Condalini because my legs were like zapping
outward all this sort of stuff, and even when I finished,
I was, you know, trying to talk and other you know,
I mean, I literally couldn't get words out of my
mouth coherently until the next morning. So that is definitely

(34:24):
a very very powerful thing, which I think you will
do again. I think I want to try the smokable
version and see what that's like, because it wasn't apart
from how much it burned going down, it was not
an unpleasant experience, you know. I mean, you know when
I think when I was a guest on your show,
we talked to some people calling in and I said,

(34:44):
you know, some people say there's never no such things
as a bad trip. Other people have horrifying experiences, whether
it's on mushrooms or peyote, mescal in ayahuasca. Part of
it's how you interpret it. I know people who felt
like they went through hell and they come out of
it and saying it was the best thing that ever
happened to them. Um, So you know, a lot of
it's in the definition. And I'll also tell you in
terms of doing that megados like you're thinking of doing

(35:05):
with your friends, and mushrooms. I've done it at like
that five six milligram level where you know you can't
let me out in public because I look a bit psychotic.
I don't get the ego dissolution. I stay pretty centered
the whole time. But it's a very powerful, somewhat spiritual,
moving experience, very memorable. UM so yeah, I mean I

(35:26):
definitely encourage you. I think I think you'll really uh
you know. Oh well that's good to know. So, you know,
we talked then You're Brokeram about m d M A,
and I was a little surprised when you said that
you've you've never done it in a romantic situation, just
you and your romantic partner. That you've done it with friends,
You've done it partying. I wonder, since you've done that,

(35:48):
have you had a chance to do it in a
more intimate environment. I mean, now, I've done m d
M A with a romantic partner, but not in a
therapy setting, which is what we were talking about on
my podcast, Like you were talking about couples having problems
and doing m d M A guided therapy, which I
would have I would have loved to do with several partners.
I didn't even know that was a thing. But yeah,

(36:09):
of course I've done it with romantic partners. It's fun
to do with anybody. Okay, Okay, gotta gott got it,
So listen, sonata cannabis. I mean you're out there all
over the place. You had a funny story you were
telling about getting your your sister who was a recovering
Mormon you described or I mean, what what what was
that like when she did was her first cannabis experience
when she did it or she done it when she
was younger or what? H No, No, my sister is

(36:32):
very uh yeah, she's very inexperience when it comes to
drinking or drug use. So I just kind of got
my whole family on board with edibles. We go to
a Whistler, Canada each year to see and they started
baking us cannabis infused cookies up there about ten or
eleven years ago, and we just started handing them out
before we went to dinner, and it made our family

(36:55):
vacations just that much more fun. We all just seemed
to get along great, have great time, laugh our asses off,
and then we just developed this great affinity for cannabis.
So yeah, I serve it up every every Christmas. Now,
I see, I see, have you ever overnosed unanedable? I mean,
like we all have those stories from college about having
too much in a you know, marijuana brownie or something

(37:16):
like that. Yeah, I mean I've had situations where I
felt high for a couple of days. But again, I'm
not one of those people who freaks out like I
don't get like a paranoid that that that's not my
my bag. I've seen lots of my friends react in
that way when you have a brownie or you know.
I mean, I had a cannabis infused dinner that we

(37:37):
filmed for Netflix, a dinner party one night that was
on my Netflix talk show, and I was high for
three days after that because they're just serving you one
meal after another that's cannabis infused, so there is no
way to recover from that. I mean one of my
eyes didn't open for like twenty four hours I was
so high. So that was not a great feeling. But again,

(37:58):
I don't have you know, freakouts. Yeah, I gotta say,
the only time they ever happened to me I was
in college. I I think I had smoked some very
strong marril wine just before I've ever done edibles. And
then sometimes you can do that. And we go to
the sauna and we'd sit in the sauna and we
played backgamut, and it would almost be like this contest, like,
you know, how long can you stay in the sauna,

(38:18):
how far I can you get through the back gamut?
And and I was so baked from the cannabis already
and being in the sauna just doubly baked it into
my head and I almost passed out, almost fell over.
God home, and I'll say it took a good thirty
six hours to clear out and never done that again.
I mean, that was a highly unpleasant experience. So yeah,

(38:39):
that sounds unpleasant. I don't like the idea of sauna
and being high. I'm not having a version to extreme heat.
Mm hm. So you know, you also see, let me
see if I got this right. One of the things
I heard you say, it's surprised me it was cannabis.
I thought you said that it's not something you particularly
enjoy with sex, Is that right? I hear you're wrong.

(39:00):
I mean, I just don't think of it as a
sexual drug. I definitely had sex on cannabis, but I
don't think of it as an aphrodisiac. That's so interesting, Yeah,
I mean, because it's got such a reputation for that.
You know, there's the Polster Prize winning writer Natalie Angier
Rights from New York Times, and she did this book

(39:20):
that When the Poets Here, and she talked about how
herself and and everyone in her family had their first
full blown orgasm and influence of marijuana. I mean, I've
heard many of these things were for so many, both
men and women, but especially women. It's the thing that
just kind of settles all the chatter, helps them get
more connected into it. But that's not really been your
experience and this. Yeah, no, I would say the opposite,

(39:40):
and I think I find it try harder to orgasm
on cannabis has been my experience. Wow, that's interesting. I
wonder what that is not impossible difficult? Yeah? Yeah, yeah,
I think it's just how your receptors in just the drug.
You know, some of us have like a certain reaction,
and I think some people become calmer, some people become

(40:06):
less engaged, some people become hyperactive. You know, it's like,
what are your genes gonna do with that information? That
and the drug being the information, so I think we
all react differently to all sorts of things. Let's take
a break here and go to an ad. You know,

(40:36):
I'm thinking about two prior episodes I did en Psychoactive.
One was about Jews in cannabis. It was based on
an exhibit at the Center for Jewish History in New York,
and I'm thinking you should have been one of the
stars in this exhibit. But the other one that's just
gone up recently is about um jazz and drugs, based
on a book by a phone name Rnintorial Bop Apocalypse,

(40:58):
and it gets all into the various dimensions, you know,
the question about why so many of the famous jazz
musicians used we there's a whole big phase of using heroin,
you know, Charlie Parker and a lot of the other musicians.
Alcohol as oftenime as being a destructivelopment. But in your case,
when you think about the creative process and you're writing

(41:19):
your material and such, what role do the various drugs play,
if any, in all of that. I mean, I definitely
used cannabis and mushrooms when I'm writing books. I've written
six books. I'm working on my seventh right now, which
will have all been number one New York Times bestsellers.
I should add, just because we're in the age where

(41:39):
you have to kind of sing your own praises, So
I'll do that. Um and I definitely use that. Like
I when I write everything, I just kind of spit
it all out or vomit it all out. I should say,
I put everything down, and then I have to go
back and finesse it and and infuse it with humor
and infuse it with all of the fun stuff. And
I find that cannabis or mushrooms are a rate aid

(42:00):
in doing that. You know, if I had the other night,
I was at my girlfriend's house and we smoke to joint.
I came home and I wrote for an hour, you know,
because I was I was like, oh, okay, let me
go through this chapter. So it helps. I don't think
it's for me. It's not part of the initial process,
but it's part of the process. And when you write
for an hour under the influence, how does it look
the next morning? Some of it's great and profound, and

(42:22):
some of its garbage. Yeah. I sometimes find that when
I when I'm getting high and weed, I'll have all
these great ideas, but then the next morning, they just
seem like they're just blown away in the wind, Whereas
with mushrooms, there have been times on mushrooms where I
find myself writing, you know, a very personal letter to
a friend, a former lover, or whatever it might be,

(42:42):
and then the next day, sitting down, it's still totally
clear as a bell, and I can write it out
and send it to the person, and it's probably the
best letters I've ever written in my life. Had been
under the influence of mushrooms. But do you see something
similar in that in the difference between the two. Uh,
I mean, I have there ever been ones where you think,
like a real serious ah ha moment that's come with

(43:02):
one drobe or the other. Yeah, mushrooms, I think is
more that way, because mushrooms are more realistic. It's just
accentuating the beauty that lies there anyway, you see things
in a more kind of magical way. You know. That's
why they're called magic. Mushrooms. Uh, hot can just make
you think things are funny when they aren't, or you know,

(43:23):
you have good ideas when you don't. Mushrooms are pretty.
I think they run parallel to your nature as is.
It's just an augmentation of of the beauty of things
and the use of language. You know, you can write
more elegantly when you're on mushrooms, you can think more elegantly,
and you perceive more elegantly. H So, now when you're

(43:45):
out there, I mean, you're so frank in talking about
so much UM. And I'm curious what has been the
reaction like of Netflix, of HBO or the theaters where
you perform and how is that evolved over time? Mean,
do you have to sign agreement to say you won't
say certain things where there ever constraints on what you

(44:05):
could say yours about stuff? Did? Uh? Yeah, they got
on my ass, but I you know, I always argued
and fought for being able to speak the truth of
my experience. So you know, I guess after a while
of doing that. You know, people don't understand when they
hire me what that comes with and what I'm going

(44:27):
to say, and that I'm not good with a lot
of parameters about certainly about the truth and my own experiences.
You know, UM, language you can edit and you know,
use of bad language or language that's not welcome on
you know, network television, but behaviors I've never been able

(44:47):
to pretend on anything other than what I am. So
anytime I'm doing business with somebody, you know, they know
what they're signing up for. Mm hmmm. And I see
people are always pressing you to apologize for something you
said and are rare occasions you have, but you've never
had to do that around drugs, right, No, No, Well,
you know the other thing I admire about you is

(45:08):
you're not just talking about your own drug use and
giving pretty good advice to people about this, but you've
also become increasingly political. I mean, part of your life
is being being a social justice activists and political activists
and on issues around gay rights and a lot of
other progressive issues, but you've increasingly been stepping out about
the drug war, and I think more recently a few

(45:29):
years ago, you did a documentary on white privilege, and
there was a fascinating personal story where you go back
and visit, you know, your boyfriend from when you were
in high school and just share a bit of that
story and some of the realization from that with the audience. Um. Yeah,
I went. I went and visited my high school boyfriend
whose name was Tayshan, and I had dated him for

(45:52):
two years and we got caught with marijuana two or
three times, and each time we got caught, the police
arrested him because he was black and I was white,
and they told me just to go back to my neighborhood.
Like I was let off immediately, and he was, you know,
sent to jail. And he was the captain of the
football team. He was I think the captain of the
basketball team too. He had a big future ahead of him,

(46:14):
and once you get into that system, it's very hard
to get out, and he ended up spending I think
eleven or twelve years in prison. Um, and while I
was able to just go on my merry way, you know,
I never thought twice about him after we broke up,
you know, every once in a while it would come up.
So I was able to visit him during this documentary
just to demonstrate kind of my naive te and entitlement

(46:36):
and you know, being able to walk into a community
like his and walk out when I was done with it,
versus him being targeted, you know, and us being caught
for the same same act, and one of us being
punished and one of us being you know released. So
it was pretty obvious back in the day, but I
wasn't thinking on those terms. You know, when you're sixteen

(46:57):
years old, you're not thinking about that kind of racial
inequity or discrimination. You know, it's not until you get
older that you're able to reflect and have a more
responsible recollection of things. And through that recollection and reflection,
you know, I wanted to really examine it and examine
all of the things that go with that. So listen, now,

(47:18):
I'm wondering, you know, I'm looking about what you're doing
your in your life now. And you guys, you've got
another book coming out, You're on tour um, You've hosted
a late night talk show before you know, I see,
you know, just recently Trevor Nor saying he's leaving The
Daily Show, And I'm thinking, wow, I mean, Chelsea would
be amazing, you know, in that role to step into

(47:38):
those shoes that he and John Stewart had. And I wonder,
is that something you're like, not either that specifically you're
generally interested in doing. Now, do you think your openness
about so much stuff, both drugs and other stuff might
still be a barrier? Would you be expected to pull
your punches a bit on all that type of stuff?
I mean, what does it look like from where you
sit right now, I mean, we're definitely having conversations about

(48:01):
me going back to TV and doing a late night show. Um,
you know, Trevor Noah quitting is definitely a conversation my
agents and I are having around it. You know, Yes,
I would be interested in pursuing conversations around that. I
am definitely. I hosted Jimmy Kimmel for a week a
couple of months ago, and I really just didn't realize
how much I had missed it. I loved commenting on

(48:24):
everything that's going on politically and you know, kind of
culturally what's happening, and and I'm very good at it.
You know, It's a skill set that I have, and
I would love to go back to TV. Now now
that I've had some time away from it, I can
appreciate it a lot more. Being in the thick of
it and kind of working relentlessly for seven or eight
years makes you kind of just want to bow out

(48:45):
from all things. So now I'm in a different state
of mind for sure. Mm hmmm. So the last question,
you know, I mean, you're obviously very much of a feminist.
You're talking about some of the issues of sexism and
like who gets to be big talk show hosts in
the you know, in the media world and stuff. But
you'll also make some observations about men and women and drugs,
Like at one point you noticed that, for example, men

(49:06):
are much less inhibited in lighting up and such. And
I wonder if you've got other thoughts about differences between
men and women when it comes to their cannabis or
other drug use, or is that about it. I mean,
I just think that women, you know, like anything, it's
a little bit more stigmatized when it comes to women.
Men with all things, have a greater sense of freedom

(49:28):
and a greater sense of liberation, whereas women, you know,
you find us hiding in the corner. You know, there's
a lot of shame attached to drug use, and especially
female cannabis use. It's just not the same as male
cannabis use. So it's a big, you know, point of
talking or talking point for me with regard to because
I you know, I want women to be loud and

(49:49):
proud and men don't get this drug for themselves. Like,
you know, it's a lot like watching you know, Johnny
Depp and Amber heard on trial and you're sitting there
He's being lauded as being this cool guy who drinks
you know, a half corraftive burlow in the mornings and
his snorting lines of cocaine with Marilyn Manson, like and
people love it. They're like, oh, she's a terrible woman.

(50:11):
Look at him, He's so fun. Like that would just
never happen, you know, if that were a woman, a
female who was snorting lines of cocaine. And I mean
it's so you know, hypocritical, and there's such a double
standard for women and drugs that yeah, I'd like to
I like to talk about you can you can do
drugs and have a hugely successful life. I'm here to

(50:32):
prove that, like, you can be a functioning person and
also have a good time on the side. That doesn't
just get to happen for men. Yeah, but I think
when it comes to prominent women, if I google on
on your name and drugs and video and you pop
up on every single major talk show talking about this
in addition to a host of other places, Um, so

(50:53):
I really credit you. I mean I think actually when
you know, in terms of you know, my life's cause,
which was ending marijuana prohibition and rolling back the broader
war on drugs, I think the role that you've been playing,
and also by getting out there, you know, not just
two years ago, but six, seven, eight years ago, more
years ago. About that, I really think you've made a
positive contribution to shifting the culture and also to helping

(51:15):
move along political sentiment in this way. So for that,
I want to thank you. Oh my god, well, thank you.
I appreciate that. Yeah, and I also want to thank
you Chelsea for joining me and my listeners on Psychoactive
for this most enjoyable conversation. Absolutely, what a pleasure. Thank
you for having me. Okay, okay, well take care. If

(51:42):
you're enjoying Psychoactive, please tell your friends about it, or
you can write us a review at Apple Podcasts or
wherever you get your podcasts. We love to hear from
our listeners. If you'd like to share your own stories,
comes and ideas, then leave us a message at one
eight three three seventh of nine. That's eight three three

(52:04):
psycho zero, or you can email us at Psychoactive at
protozoa dot com, or find me on Twitter at Ethan
natal Man. You can also find contact information in our
show notes. Psychoactive is a production of I Heart Radio
and Protozoa Pictures. It's hosted by me Ethan Nadelman. It's
produced by Noam Osband and Josh Stain. The executive producers

(52:27):
are Dylan Golden, Ari Handel, Elizabeth Geesus and Darren Aronofsky
from Protozoa Pictures, Alex Williams and Matt Frederick from My
Heart Radio and me Ethan Nadelman. Our music is by
Ari Blucien and a special thanks to a Brio s
F Bianca Grimshaw and Robert bb. Next week I'll be

(52:56):
talking with Martin Lee all about c b D. He's
the founder and head of Project CBD dot org. We're
at this precipice as over nine d clinical trials now
in effect with CBD. There's a massive amount of preclinical
data that suggests that CBD shows utility and effectiveness and

(53:19):
significant benefits in a number of areas for neurological diseases
for certain mood disorders like anxiety I mentioned, also depression
for pain. Also it's it's clear that those are the
big three pain, anxiety, and depression. Subscribe to Cycleactive now
see it, an't miss it.
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