Journalism about psychedelic medicines

At least there’s no evidence that he did.

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Here we go again.

Showtime just released My Psychedelic Love Story, an engaging documentary about Joanna Harcourt-Smith, the rich and beautiful young girlfriend of Timothy Leary, who tripped around the world with the irrepressible Leary after he was smuggled out of a a minimum-security prison in California in 1970.

For those of you too young to remember, Leary was a Harvard psychology professor who became a hero of the 1960s counterculture and an evangelist for LSD who exhorted his followers to “turn on, tune in and drop out.”


Jonathan Lubecky says MDMA-assisted therapy helped him overcome PTSD. Now he wants to help others.

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Jonathan Lubecky, at The Citadel with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a progressive champion. Matt Gaetz is a conservative firebrand. They don’t agree on much — except psychedelics.

Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, and Gaetz, a Florida Republican, have joined forces in Congress to try to make it easier for scientists to research marijuana and psychedelic drugs, including MDMA and psilocybin.

Such bipartisan cooperation will be needed to support the growth of psychedelic medicines and end the drug war, says Jonathan Lubecky, a retired Army sergeant and Iraq war veteran who now lobbies on behalf of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS.

“This isn’t a party…


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Led by voters in Oregon, Americans from coast to coast voted by decisive margins to take steps to end the war against drugs. We’re moving closer to making this a country where people are no longer punished for what they put into their bodies.

Oregon voters approved two historic ballot measures. One will decriminalize the possession of all drugs, from marijuana and ecstasy to LSD and heroin — a model pioneered, mostly with good results, in Portugal, which treats drug addiction as a disease, not a crime.

Oregonians also approved a measure that will allow the medical use of psilocybin…


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Cancer patients will be given psilocybin in rooms designed for drug trips. Photo credit: Halkin Mason

As medical director of the Aquilino Cancer Center, Dr. Manish Agrawal has seen the progress made possible by cancer research.

Death rates from cancer have declined steadily among men and women, and for most common cancers, including lung, breast, and prostate cancers.

“The longer you’re in practice. you realize that we do a really good job with cancer-directed treatment,” Dr. Agrawal says.

But Dr. Agrawal has also seen patients struggle with depression and anxiety. Some cannot get the help they need.

“There’s so much emotional and psychological suffering that cancer patients and their families go through,” he says, “We never…


Bill Richards has been exploring the worlds of religion and psychedelics for more than half a century

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Psychedelics researcher William A. “Bill” Richards

Pastor James Lindberg was unmoored by his first trip on psilocybin. “I’m a pretty normal middle aged white guy who found myself involved in things that were a bit larger than I intended them to be,” says Lindberg, who leads a Lutheran church in an Omaha suburb. He questioned his place in the church but, after some soul-searching, recommitted “to the tradition that has been entrusted to me.”

Rabbi Zac Kamenetz’s first journey on psilocybin led him to “light, connection, warmth, gratitude and the sense that all is well,” he says. “I left that experience inspired, energized and grounded, in…


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[Photo courtesy of Dr Bronner’s]

Civil rights. Feminism. Gay rights. Environmentalism. Meditation. Yoga. Natural childbirth.

Much of the politics and culture of the 1960s has been absorbed into mainstream America.

Not psychedelic drugs — not yet, anyway.

That will soon change if David Bronner, the CEO of family-owned soap-maker Dr. Bronner’s, has his way.

“Psychedelic medicine is the last and arguably the most powerful gift of the counter-culture that hasn’t been integrated,” says Bronner, who has put millions of dollars of his company’s money behind drug policy reform.

Bronner, who is 47— he came of age in the 1990s, not the 1960s — is a…


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Tim Ferriss, an evangelist for psychedelic medicines

MDMA, the man-made drug often called ecstasy or molly, has a colorful history. It was patented in 1914 by the German drug company Merck, and set aside for decades. The US Army studied it during the Cold War, perhaps seeking a chemical weapon or interrogation tool. Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, an iconoclastic chemist, rediscovered MDMA during the 1970s and gave some to a psychotherapist friend, who in turn shared it with hundreds of therapists around the world; some called the drug “Adam” because it returned patients to a more innocent state. …


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Oregon is approaching a milestone in the drug wars: It’s poised to become the first state in the US to decriminalize possession of all drugs, from marijuana and ecstasy to heroin and LSD.

This fall, voters in Oregon will be asked to approve an initiative that would end prison sentences for people who possess drugs for their personal use, and instead offer treatment to all who want it.

Supporters of the ballot initiative, known as IP44, have collected 147,000 signatures, well over the 112,000 signatures need to secure a place on the ballot. …


Startups want to profit from psilocybin and LSD. They have the potential to heal millions.

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Despite Covid-19, a crashing economy and formidable legal obstacles, a growing number of entrepreneurs and investors are betting that medicines derived from psychedelic drugs can become a real business and heal millions of people. They are joining the researchers, activists, philanthropists and journalists who until now have been driving what’s been called the psychedelic renaissance.

A dozen or more startup companies are developing medicines from psilocybin, MDMA, ibogaine and LSD, all of which are illegal in the US, as well as from ketamine, a legal anesthetic with hallucinogenic properties. …


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Psychedelic drugs are having a moment in the sun. They have great potential, we’re learning, as a treatment for a variety of mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. They are also attracting interest as a gateway to meaningful experiences that, advocates say, should be available to all.

Philanthropists are taking note. More donors — though not nearly enough — are stepping up to support both research into the medical benefits of these days and advocacy on their behalf.

Here’s why psychedelics present an untapped opportunity for philanthropy.

The latest on psychedelics as therapy: Last month in London, Imperial…

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