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'Godfather of Ecstasy,' Chemist Sasha Shulgin Dies Aged 88

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the rest-in-more-peace-than-most dept.

Science 164

EwanPalmer (2536690) writes "Alexander 'Sasha' Shulgin, the chemist, pharmacologist and author known for popularizing the drug MDMA as well as creating and synthesizing hundreds of psychoactive drugs, has died aged 88. Shulgin was known for discovering, creating and personally testing hundreds of psychoactive chemicals and documenting the results, along with his wife, in his books and papers. He is also known for introducing the positive aspects of MDMA to psychologists, which in term helped it become a popular recreational drug in the 1980s." With less irritation from auto-playing video sound, try the BBC.

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And thousands of candy ravers ... (0)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#47157137)

And thousands of candy ravers bit down on their soothers and took another one.

And thousands of candy ravers ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157197)

This is no longer 1999. Raves still exist, but pacifiers are far, far less common and the drugs are far better quality.

Re:And thousands of candy ravers ... (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#47157769)

Better? Say, where is that magical land where the drugs are BETTER today?

If anything, you get more junk, more crap, more additives and less of the good stuff.

Re:And thousands of candy ravers ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158357)

Your claim is completely false. You used to need to be really connected to the underworld to get quality drugs. Now it's as simple as scoring some bitcoins and making a purchase on Agora or Silk Road. Btw, Silk Road has nearly paid everyone back the bitcoins lost in their breach. Many people thought the operators were thieves like at several other black market sites, but they worked for free to pay us all back and prove the doubters wrong.

Re: And thousands of candy ravers ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47159171)

Wait, Silk Road 1.0, or one of the 2.0's?

Re:And thousands of candy ravers ... (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 6 months ago | (#47159139)

Better? Say, where is that magical land where the drugs are BETTER today?

If anything, you get more junk, more crap, more additives and less of the good stuff.

Weed is better today then it has been in the past.

Re:And thousands of candy ravers ... (1)

painandgreed (692585) | about 6 months ago | (#47160075)

Better? Say, where is that magical land where the drugs are BETTER today?

If anything, you get more junk, more crap, more additives and less of the good stuff.

Actually, it's gone in a circle. Things were all mixed up and still are if you are getting "X", but if you are buying "Molly", then you should be getting the pure MDMA. There is a market for it so somebody is fulfilling it, but it says something when things have gotten such as a new name has to be come up with to describe the pure form of what you always thought you were buying to begin with.

Re:And thousands of candy ravers ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158233)

This is no longer 1999. Raves still exist, but pacifiers are far, far less common and the drugs are far better quality.

I think if the drugs were better the soothers would have increased since MDMA has a tendency of making you grind your teeth in a brutal way

Re:And thousands of candy ravers ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157479)

Yeah, am not really sure what happened to rave culture when it went to the states..

Re:And thousands of candy ravers ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158385)

same thing as everything else it had its soul stripped and turned into mass market crap

Re:And thousands of candy ravers ... (1)

Bramlet Abercrombie (1435537) | about 6 months ago | (#47160165)

They were charging $5 for a bottle of water and people left and did their own things.

At least.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157227)

He lived a truly ecstatic life.

But LSD must be better (2)

rduke15 (721841) | about 6 months ago | (#47158053)

Because it's inventor died 14 years older at 102 [wikipedia.org] . :-)

And seriously, the one time I tried ecstasy, I didn't like that it seemed to interfere with my emotions.

LSD modifies percepetions and paths of thought, which can be a fantastic experience (or just great fun) if you are in the right mood for it, but I don't remember it ever modifying my emotions.

Ecstasy gave me the impression of creating out of proportion artificial emotions in me. After the fact, I really didn't like that aspect. No wonder it was all the rage during the years of techno music. I guess people dancing to that cold techno music really needed something to still feel human.

But anyway, peace to "Godfather of Ecstasy" and all chemists experimenting with psychoactive drugs. When used right, these all give valuable experiences.

Re:But LSD must be better (5, Interesting)

oneiron (716313) | about 6 months ago | (#47159535)

I realize it was tongue in cheek, but you really shouldn't reduce Shulgin down to "the inventor of ecstasy" and draw cute comparisons with other famous chemists. Shugin "invented" countless other phenethylamines and tryptamines, and he documented the synthesis and experience reports thoroughly in a few different volumes that you can find on amazon.com. He was also a pioneering inventor of a massively popular pesticide which preceded other pesticides that are foundational components of modern agriculture.

obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157379)

I am the one who dies!

It's just sad... (2, Interesting)

Jahoda (2715225) | about 6 months ago | (#47157393)

How sad it is that psychoactive chemicals like this and LSD, which have been well demonstrated to have profoundly positive psychological effects (under responsible use) still cannot be used by responsible, grown adults? They can be the key to truly overcoming the psychological demons seem to be the human condition, and unlocked our true potential as self-aware, well-adjusted human beings.

It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157461)

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "cannot be used by responsible, grown adults". They can't be used legally, no, but they certainly can be used responsibly, and do! One thing I've noticed about soft psychedelic drug culture (which is far removed from hard drug addict culture), is that users are primarily intelligent, contributing members of society. They are utterly under the radar of law enforcement and it's extremely rare for these types to get caught. In general, only the stupid and reckless drug users get caught.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

vonWoland (615992) | about 6 months ago | (#47157547)

Maybe it is the "stupid and reckless" get caught, but those who, for whatever reason, are inducted into the underground economy that supplies the "contributing members of society," that do the time.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157639)

Nope.

LSD is very common, as is pure, locally-manufactured MDMA. When is the last time you've heard of producers of these things getting caught? It's _extremely_ rare. No border crossings. No chemical supply trail. No idiotic acquaintances to squeal on them.

Drugs busts are almost always importers and distributors of hard drugs and crunchy shit-pills. This is not the same thing as quality hippie drugs.

I mean, sure, it happens, but it's a teeny tiny drop in the bucket compared to the number of people actually producing good shit.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157749)

Nope.

LSD is very common, as is pure, locally-manufactured MDMA.

Where do you live? What is the radius from your location where LSD and "pure, locally-manufactured MDMA" is available to consumers? (coordinates in decimal preferred)

Thanks

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#47157813)

Oh c'mon, you have to try harder to earn your keep, narc.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 6 months ago | (#47158011)

I lived withing spitting distance of a meth house a couple of years ago, in a nice neighborhood. Wouldn't have known anything were it not for the fact that it got raided. 'Course compared to LSD, Meth is nasty.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47159357)

No. I've used both meth and LSD and taking meth actually feels rewarding, unlike LSD. However, a bad trip on LSD is far worse than the dysphoric comedown from meth.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47159167)

DEA agent detected

Re:It's just sad... (1)

koreanbabykilla (305807) | about 6 months ago | (#47159331)

What in the FUCK are you talking about no chemical supply trail???

look at these links, you know a bunch of people just have all that shit laying around, plus all the glass you need?

http://www.erowid.org/archive/... [erowid.org]
http://www.erowid.org/archive/... [erowid.org]

and last in honor of shulgan, his synth:

http://www.erowid.org/library/... [erowid.org]

SYNTHESIS: (from MDA) A solution of 6.55 g of 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as the free base and 2.8 mL formic acid in 150 mL benzene was held at reflux under a Dean Stark trap until no further H2O was generated (about 20 h was sufficient, and 1.4 mL H2O was collected). Removal of the solvent gave an 8.8 g of an amber oil which was dissolved in 100 mL CH2Cl2, washed first with dilute HCl, then with dilute NaOH, and finally once again with dilute acid. The solvent was removed under vacuum giving 7.7 g of an amber oil that, on standing, formed crystals of N-formyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine. An alternate process for the synthesis of this amide involved holding at reflux for 16 h a solution of 10 g of MDA as the free base in 20 mL fresh ethyl formate. Removal of the volatiles yielded an oil that set up to white crystals, weighing 7.8 g.

A solution of 7.7 g N-formyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine in 25 mL anhydrous THF was added dropwise to a well stirred and refluxing solution of 7.4 g LAH in 600 mL anhydrous THF under an inert atmosphere. The reaction mixture was held at reflux for 4 days. After being brought to room temperature, the excess hydride was destroyed with 7.4 mL H2O in an equal volume of THF, followed by 7.4 mL of 15% NaOH and then another 22 mL H2O. The solids were removed by filtration, and the filter cake washed with additional THF. The combined filtrate and washes were stripped of solvent under vacuum, and the residue dissolved in 200 mL CH2Cl2. This solution was extracted with 3x100 mL dilute HCl, and these extracts pooled and made basic with 25% NaOH. Extraction with 3x75 mL CH2Cl2 removed the product, and the pooled extracts were stripped of solvent under vacuum. There was obtained 6.5 g of a nearly white residue which was distilled at 100-110 C at 0.4 mm/Hg to give 5.0 g of a colorless oil. This was dissolved in 25 mL IPA, neutralized with concentrated HCl, followed by the addition of sufficient anhydrous Et2O to produce a lasting turbidity. On continued stirring, there was the deposition of fine white crystals of 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine hydrochloride (MDMA) which were removed by filtration, washed with Et2O, and air dried, giving a final weight of 4.8 g.

(from 3,4-methylenedioxyphenylacetone) This key intermediate to all of the MD-series can be made from either isosafrole, or from piperonal via 1-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)-2-nitropropene. To a well stirred solution of 34 g of 30% hydrogen peroxide in 150 g 80% formic acid there was added, dropwise, a solution of 32.4 g isosafrole in 120 mL acetone at a rate that kept the reaction mixture from exceeding 40 C. This required a bit over 1 h, and external cooling was used as necessary. Stirring was continued for 16 h, and care was taken that the slow exothermic reaction did not cause excess heating. An external bath with running water worked well. During this time the solution progressed from an orange color to a deep red. All volatile components were removed under vacuum which yielded some 60 g of a very deep red residue. This was dissolved in 60 mL of MeOH, treated with 360 mL of 15% H2SO4, and heated for 3 h on the steam bath. After cooling, the reaction mixture was extracted with 3x75 mL Et2O, the pooled extracts washed first with H2O and then with dilute NaOH, and the solvent removed under vacuum The residue was distilled (at 2.0 mm/108-112 C, or at about 160 C at the water pump) to provide 20.6 g of 3,4-methylenedioxyphenylacetone as a pale yellow oil. The oxime (from hydroxylamine) had a mp of 85-88 C. The semicarbazone had a mp of 162-163 C.

An alternate synthesis of 3,4-methylenedioxyphenylacetone starts originally from piperonal. A suspension of 32 g electrolytic iron in 140 mL glacial acetic acid was gradually warmed on the steam bath. When quite hot but not yet with any white salts apparent, there was added, a bit at a time, a solution of 10.0 g of 1-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)-2-nitropropene in 75 mL acetic acid (see the synthesis of MDA for the preparation of this nitrostyrene intermediate from piperonal and nitroethane). This addition was conducted at a rate that permitted a vigorous reaction free from excessive frothing. The orange color of the reaction mixture became very reddish with the formation of white salts and a dark crust. After the addition was complete, the heating was continued for an additional 1.5 h during which time the body of the reaction mixture became quite white with the product appeared as a black oil climbing the sides of the beaker. This mixture was added to 2 L H2O, extracted with 3x100 mL CH2Cl2, and the pooled extracts washed with several portions of dilute NaOH. After the removal of the solvent under vacuum, the residue was distilled at reduced pressure (see above) to provide 8.0 g of 3,4-methylenedioxyphenylacetone as a pale yellow oil.

To 40 g of thin aluminum foil cut in 1 inch squares (in a 2 L wide mouth Erlenmeyer flask) there was added 1400 mL H2O containing 1 g mercuric chloride. Amalgamation was allowed to proceed until there was the evolution of fine bubbles, the formation of a light grey precipitate, and the appearance of occasional silvery spots on the surface of the aluminum. This takes between 15 and 30 min depending on the freshness of the surfaces, the temperature of the H2O, and the thickness of the aluminum foil. (Aluminum foil thickness varies from country to country.) The H2O was removed by decantation, and the aluminum was washed with 2x1400 mL of fresh H2O. The residual H2O from the final washing was removed as thoroughly as possible by shaking, and there was added, in succession and with swirling, 60 g methylamine hydrochloride dissolved in 60 mL warm H2O, 180 mL IPA, 145 mL 25% NaOH, 53 g 3,4-methylenedioxyphenylacetone, and finally 350 mL IPA. If the available form of methylamine is the aqueous solution of the free base, the following sequence can be substituted: add, in succession, 76 mL 40% aqueous methylamine, 180 mL IPA, a suspension of 50 g NaCl in 140 mL H2O that contains 25 mL 25% NaOH, 53 g 3,4-methylenedioxyphenylacetone, and finally 350 mL IPA. The exothermic reaction was kept below 60 C with occasional immersion into cold water and, when it was thermally stable, it was allowed to stand until it had returned to room temperature with all the insolubles settled to the bottom as a grey sludge. The clear yellow overhead was decanted and the sludge removed by filtration and washed with MeOH. The combined decantation, mother liquors and washes, were stripped of solvent under vacuum, the residue suspended in 2400 ml of H2O, and sufficient HCl added to make the phase distinctly acidic. This was then washed with 3x75 mL CH2Cl2, made basic with 25% NaOH, and extracted with 3x100 mL of CH2Cl2. After removal of the solvent from the combined extracts, there remained 55 g of an amber oil which was distilled at 100-110 C at 0.4 mm/Hg producing 41 g of an off-white liquid. This was dissolved in 200 mL IPA, neutralized with about 17 mL of concentrated HCl, and then treated with 400 mL anhydrous Et2O. After filtering off the white crystals, washing with an IPA/Et2O mixture, (2:1), with Et2O, and final air drying, there was obtained 42.0 g of 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) as a fine white crystal. The actual form that the final salt takes depends upon the temperature and concentration at the moment of the initial crystallization. It can be anhydrous, or it can be any of several hydrated forms. Only the anhydrous form has a sharp mp; the published reports describe all possible one degree melting point values over the range from 148-153 C. The variously hydrated polymorphs have distinct infrared spectra, but have broad mps that depend on the rate of heating.

Re:It's just sad... (1, Troll)

jellomizer (103300) | about 6 months ago | (#47157661)

Responsibly means using it in a controlled manner, where there is a sober and knowledgeable guidance to the usages. Preventing OD, insuring their body can handle it and that they have taking the correct precautions.
The problems with these drugs is they either block and/or excite parts of your brain functionally. In essence have your brain function erratically.

Now these people are using this to get cool dreams, feel bliss, or see things, while otherwise they are healthy adults, then they are misusing the drug. Aka Drug Abuse. As well many of these drugs have long term effects that build up over time. So the first time you are 99.99999% Ok, but after a while your brain gets more damaged.

So for these drugs, you need to know if what they are curing is worse then the damage it causes. Drug Culture, is being responsible only that they are not OD enough to kill themselves, or let it get in the way of their productive lives. But they are still slowly messing up their brains.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

Ionized (170001) | about 6 months ago | (#47157819)

let me introduce you to this little drug called 'alcohol', and his friends caffeine & nicotine

Re:It's just sad... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158063)

Those are three very unrelated substances.

Alcohol is a carbohydrate. It's food. It also happens to block up various glucose consumption mechanisms in your nervous system. Your body deals with it rather quickly. You also glean some calories from it.

Caffeine is a stimulant. It may be considered a "drug" in light of that, but it's quite mild. It's also hard to acquire naturally. It's difficult to get an overdose without a lot of heavily industrialized refinement, and even then, it's difficult to get beyond the taste. Your body generally has no use for it, and most of what goes in to your body goes right back out when you pee.

Nicotine is a toxin best suited to killing bugs. It can kill people too, it just takes longer. Some people speed up the process by also inhaling smoke, which is an asphyxiant and causes lung inflammation and disease. Smoke ranks right up there with asbestos and fiberglass on the list of things that cause rapid lung damage. Nicotine, well, not so much. Nicotine-laced material directly applied to mucus membrane tissue for extended periods of time, however, is a known localized carcinogen.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

Ionized (170001) | about 6 months ago | (#47158509)

yes, all three substances affect the body quite differently if you take an up-close look at their chemical mechanisms. however that is completely tangential to the point i was making, or the post i was replying to.

read the post i was responding to again, and see if you can't grok my meaning.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

Kinky_B (2701909) | about 6 months ago | (#47159075)

Nicotine ... also used to create mutations in biochem.... much better and cheaper than those evil radiation inducing mutations too... ah well people will try anything

Re:It's just sad... (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 months ago | (#47159305)

let me introduce you to this little drug called 'alcohol', and his friends caffeine & nicotine

Let me introduce you to water and the effect of water intoxication, a potentially fatal disturbance to brain functioning that results from drinking too much water.

Anything is toxic in sufficient quantities. What matters is dose, abuse factors, and so on. While one can abuse ANYTHING a morning cup of coffee is NOT the same thing as taking LSD.

Alcohol, caffeine etc are also both 'traditional' and 'natural'. That's not to say they are less potent per se, but it is not inconsistent or wrong for society to have different acceptance of alcohol vs lsd simply due to the history. Alcohol has a long and respected history - craftsman making beer, wine, scotch etc compete over taste not 'how drunk you get'. There is a long and well respected culture behind it.

LSD has no such traditions. Its just a chemical to get you high. It has medicinal value -- and I'd support making it a prescription drug. But there's no reason to sell LSD next to the pop at 7-11.

If alcohol were 'invented' today, sure we might well make it a prescription drug, but it wasn't, so its not, and its got all this other stuff going on. So it gets special treatment... that's life.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158017)

Shuglin lived to 88! The notion that all drugs, with repeated use, lead to brain damage is simply not true. Many things simply distort pathways temporarily and get metabolized.

You're a victim of the common state-sponsored paranoia associated with such things. Some drugs are going to alter your brain chemistry over time, yes, but many others - including many phenethelamines (sp), like Shulgin was an expert in, are not believed to carry very much risk.

The real world is not as black-and-white as your world.

Re:It's just sad... (2)

koreanbabykilla (305807) | about 6 months ago | (#47159453)

Phenethylamines. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

Phenethylamine /fnlmin/ (PEA), -phenethylamine, or phenylethylamine is an organic compound and a natural monoamine alkaloid, a trace amine, and also the name of a class of chemicals with many members well known for psychoactive drug and stimulant effects.[1] Phenylethylamine functions as a neuromodulator or neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system.[2] It is biosynthesized from the amino acid phenylalanine by enzymatic decarboxylation. In addition to its presence in mammals, phenethylamine is found in many other organisms and foods, such as chocolate, especially after microbial fermentation. It is sold as a dietary supplement for purported mood and weight loss-related therapeutic benefits; however, orally ingested phenethylamine experiences extensive first-pass metabolism by monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B), which turns it into phenylacetic acid. This prevents significant concentrations from reaching the brain in low doses.[3][4]

The group of phenethylamine derivatives is referred to as the phenethylamines. Substituted phenethylamines, substituted amphetamines, and substituted methylenedioxyphenethylamines (MDxx) are a series of broad and diverse classes of compounds derived from phenethylamine that include stimulants, psychedelics, and entactogens, as well as anorectics, bronchodilators, decongestants, and antidepressants, among others.

Re:It's just sad... (2)

scubamage (727538) | about 6 months ago | (#47159497)

Some drugs do lead to brain damage. For instance, there was a study (later retracted) which showed 3,4 MDMA caused brain damage in recreational doses in rhesus monkeys. The study was retracted because the chemical provider had goofed, and provided pure reagent grade methamphetamine instead of MDMA. So, while MDMA was clinically safe, it put a BIG warning sign on meth, and for good reason.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158091)

I isn't clear if this is what you meant, but I agree that, given the current culture, it is next to impossible to get actual data for determining safe/unsafe doses.

But I disagree with the notion that using a drug recreationally automatically equates to drug abuse.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 6 months ago | (#47158371)

But they are still slowly messing up their brains.

That's no different than aging. At least drugs make you feel good.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

dj245 (732906) | about 6 months ago | (#47158583)

Now these people are using this to get cool dreams, feel bliss, or see things, while otherwise they are healthy adults, then they are misusing the drug. Aka Drug Abuse. As well many of these drugs have long term effects that build up over time. So the first time you are 99.99999% Ok, but after a while your brain gets more damaged.

You're equating changes in the brain with "brain damage". Many drugs enact changes within the brain, some permanent and some temporary. The term "brain damage" is a loaded and inflammatory term signifying that all changes as a result of drugs are bad. Some are not bad. Some might either be good or bad depending on who is defining what is desirable in a brain.

I struggled for years with depression, anger management, and had difficulty relating to people. After smoking weed for a few months, my depression and short temper have almost vanished completely. I can look at people now and have an inkling of what emotions they might be feeling, and I don't say so many insensitive things anymore. I also sleep much better. I get upset when I see people say that weed is a wonderdrug, and I don't mean to imply that. It has made my quality of life much better though. You might describe the effects on my brain as "increased feminine qualities", which sounds bad and is how this kind of change is often described. Maybe that's exactly what my brain needed though. Not all changes in brain chemistry are bad.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158693)

Now these people are using this to get cool dreams, feel bliss, or see things, while otherwise they are healthy adults, then they are misusing the drug. Aka Drug Abuse. As well many of these drugs have long term effects that build up over time. So the first time you are 99.99999% Ok, but after a while your brain gets more damaged.

You're equating changes in the brain with "brain damage".

Correction, they are equating changes in the brain from using drugs recreationally with "brain damage". Presumably that means they are ok with changes in the brain from using drugs to "be normal". Which might seem hypocritical to you (I know it seems that way to me), but I know plenty of people who besmirch recreational drugs that "alter consciousness" while simultaneously taking their own "conscious altering" drugs in order to "fit in". Or worse, forcing such drugs on their kids.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 6 months ago | (#47158349)

For the most part, the police aren't all that interested in arresting drug users (assuming their drug use is not creating a public problem). They're more interested in the distributors.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158961)

Not if they're white anyway.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47159629)

" They're more interested in the distributors." Only because competition eats into their profit margins.

Re:It's just sad... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157555)

That's too black and white especially when there are people like me that have extremely addictive personalities. You probably don't know much about that, and if you don't be glad because it's not easy. I'm the type if 100 will kill me I'll take 99 and there is no calming the beast, all reason goes out the window until I get that 99. I cannot even answer why I'm like that because I don't even understand it myself.

I am the gray.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#47158447)

At least in the case of LSD, you would be hard pressed to OD. Neither is considered an addiction risk.

There is still no good reason a psychiatrist shouldn't be able to prescribe them for use in a controlled therapy session.

It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157619)

Right, because all those kids partying with it are so psychologically stable.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#47157799)

There's no logic in laws concerning sex, drugs and copyright. Don't even try to come up with sane, logical arguments. They don't work in a world that's ruled by corporate interest and thinkofthechildren.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157879)

I agree with you, but want to mention that the dissociatives are much more useful for reprogramming yourself into a superior human. One ketamine trip cured my life-long depression, made me extremely happy with my simple life, took me from being a slob to having a neat, organized house, and led to getting into great physical shape. MXE works just as well, and is much less expensive, but has the downside of drugging you for about 10 hours, where ketamine wears of in just a few hours.

These drugs can also cause complete immersion in movies, TV, and video games by triggering a delusion that you're in the game. The complex delusions wear of with the drug and sanity returns with a greater appreciation for the miracle of life.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157909)

Agreed. I've used LSD and DMT several times. They were the most enlightening experiences of my life and left me with no dependence on either chemical. In fact, I have no desire to use either again any time soon, not because I had a negative experience but rather because I don't believe repeating the experiences would offer any further benefits. The "problem" with the drugs is that they offer a completely novel perspective of the universe through altered states of mind that makes one question nearly every aspect of their existence, including the nature of authority. Such thoughts undermine the system designed to keep the vast majority of people passively institutionalized starting with school, then corporate careers, and finally nursing homes. It's no surprise that authority figures see them as the bane of their existence. I'm just thankful that we live in a time when technology allows for the open but still anonymous sale of such goods. The worst crime of all is robbing others of all that life has to offer for entirely selfish reasons.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158309)

Adult use isn't the reason why MDMA is illegal. It's because of kids getting their hands on it and using it. The shit destroys their lives, and I would know.

I had a friend in high school who first tried MDMA at around 15. He was out with friends, they went to buy pot, and wound up buying MDMA instead. He was addicted to it for something like two years, and ran away from home within a year of his first experience with it. The only reason he stopped was that he was hit by a car one night while high, and wound up in the hospital, where they found pills on him and called the cops. By the time he got cleaned up, he was out of high school and had totally missed going to college. Fortunately, a few years later when I met him, he went back to school and now as far as I know he's doing okay.

What stuck with me was his advice to me when he told me about the whole thing, which boiled down to "Don't ever do MDMA. Do pot, do coke, do anything but it."

I personally don't do any recreational drugs and have no plans to, but I know I'll never touch MDMA.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

digsbo (1292334) | about 6 months ago | (#47159201)

Wait, let me understand: MDMA is illegal so kids can't get it. And kids are getting it despite being illegal. So you're arguing for failed policies by your own admission? Asinine.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

Jahoda (2715225) | about 6 months ago | (#47159405)

So, because you knew a 15 year old with a drug problem (and much more likely problems at home), and so MDMA is bad, recreational drugs are bad, and it's not possible that they could offer anything positive to the experience of being alive. Gotcha. Ok, well, me personally, I credit MDMA and LSD with some of the most profound discoveries of self and the world around me, and I would be worse off for never having taken them.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

jythie (914043) | about 6 months ago | (#47158685)

While I am in favor of legalization and letting people decide, one thing to keep in mind is that psychoactive chemicals are kinda like chloroform when it it comes to danger, the dosage for effectiveness and the dosage for risky side effects have a pretty big overlap. The difference between people who have a reaction and who do not is not in the strength or maturity of the user, but often just down to luck. Granted heavy users have their own risks, but even the 'responsible' recreational dosages can randomly do lasting damage.

One of the problems with drugs being underground is we tend to get all our perceptions from, well, direct perceptions, so if nothing goes wrong with our local community (or we can write off bad trips as 'the person must not have been responsible) then it gives the perception of being much safer then it actually is. Which is one of the reasons I feel they should be legal, there would be much better visibility.

Re:It's just sad... (1)

kick6 (1081615) | about 6 months ago | (#47158865)

How sad it is that psychoactive chemicals like this and LSD, which have been well demonstrated to have profoundly positive psychological effects (under responsible use) still cannot be used by responsible, grown adults? They can be the key to truly overcoming the psychological demons seem to be the human condition, and unlocked our true potential as self-aware, well-adjusted human beings.

The propensity to get in a 4000 lb. weapon, and go on a killing spree (aka driving) is too large. And, yes, I realize alcohol is the same way, but at least we have a roadside test with relatively accurate results for that. Beyond that, I personally have no problem with legalizing all the things. I just don't want to be on the road with people blasted 20 different ways.

Re:It's just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47159237)

Why should your timid nature interfere with adults access to chemicals? Your fear does not trump other people's rights.
 
The people who would drive while out of their minds on drugs are the exact same people who are driving drunk now. New drugs do not make people irresponsible. People are inherently either responsible or not.

And for those that weren't aware (5, Informative)

mugetsu37 (1485997) | about 6 months ago | (#47157423)

He also wrote two books on these experiments, Pihkal and Tihkal, both of which are part fictional autobiography, part detailed instructions on how to synthesize a lot of what he discovered. They're interesting reads, at the least.

Re:And for those that weren't aware (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#47157881)

Before anyone goes "oh no, he tells you how to make drugs": No. Despite containing "recipes" for a lot of psychoactive chemicals, they don't work well as a "hobbyist cookbook to easy highs".

In a nutshell, if you can follow his "formula", you not only know what you're doing, you also have a rather well stocked lab and access to many things the average person could not even get his hands on by illegal means. So if you CAN follow his lead, you don't really need to, chances are, you did a long, long time ago if you are this good a chemist and interested in psychoactive drugs.

So what is left is that they are great to read (I especially enjoy his "trip reports"). You may consider the formulae given as a way to preserve these findings, so maybe a more enlightened world may still remember them in the future when we finally overcome our irrational fear of drugs and can actually have a level headed discussion about them.

Re:And for those that weren't aware (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 6 months ago | (#47158419)

I read somewhere, years ago, that Shulgin had an "informal understanding" with the authorities: he would keep his "recipes" obscure enough to prevent casual duplication by anyone without a PhD in organic chemistry, and in return "they" would leave him alone to do his work -- and they would also reap the benefits of his research via his copious and detailed lab notes and trip reports.

I have no idea if this is true, but it sounds nice.

In any case, well played, Sasha... RIP.

Re:And for those that weren't aware (1)

Yebyen (59663) | about 6 months ago | (#47158787)

If that's what you heard, well... I heard that it wasn't an informal understanding so much as it was a Real Actual "Schedule 1" license to house and manufacture the most illegal chemicals known to man and laws, and it was revoked (informally or ostensibly because of the publishing of PIHKAL and TIHKAL) after a raid where they destroyed his lab because they managed to get a soil test from around his place that showed slightly elevated levels of mercury. In other words, a snow job.

Re:And for those that weren't aware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158793)

Sounds unlikely.

More probable is that by the time the government got around to illigalizing any particular thing he'd made, he was already moving onto the next one.

Ex post facto laws being unconstitutional their hands would be tied with regards to anything he did before they got around to restricting the substances, and publishing books is protected under freedom of the press.

Saw the old man 10 years ago (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 6 months ago | (#47157447)

A friend of mine called me up and told me he was presenting a talk at MIT so we went. It was amazing to see a nearly 80 year old man bouncing around. He is the same age as my Grandmother, yet he had more energy and was more with it than she was at 60.

It was a really great talk; I could watch him talk about his "dirty pictures" all day long.

Very sad day but, it had to come someday.

Re:Saw the old man 10 years ago (2)

leathered (780018) | about 6 months ago | (#47158131)

It was amazing to see a nearly 80 year old man bouncing around. He is the same age as my Grandmother, yet he had more energy and was more with it than she was at 60.

I'd love to know his secret.

Re:Saw the old man 10 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158219)

>I'd love to know his secret.

Better living through chemistry. Once you use psychedelics and dissociatives to cure yourself of all the harmful behaviours that evolution left in us, you don't overeat anymore, and you make an effort to maintain your body.

Re:Saw the old man 10 years ago (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#47158399)

I'd love to know his secret.

Ecstasy and other designer drugs he created. ;-)

Re:Saw the old man 10 years ago (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 6 months ago | (#47158805)

> I'd love to know his secret.

Honestly, I think its that he kept active and kept working on things that excited and interested him.

If you understand the basics of what the human mind does, matching patterns and re-wiring itself to respond to them better, if you have seen the research on dementia and alzheimers and the evidence that novel environments that keep the mind active and experiencing new things can mean drastic differences....

Is it really any surprise that when comparing a person who has mostly spent the last 30 years watching TV isn't in as good a place in terms of energy or mental capacity as someone who kept working, kept experiencing new things, and kept interacting with people?

Re:Saw the old man 10 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158185)

Was he high?

This is not a telephone conversation. (1)

vonWoland (615992) | about 6 months ago | (#47157463)

I'd post a comment in this thread, but my NSA file is getting heavy enough as it is. How sad that Sasha did not live to see a bit more sanity in this world.

Re:This is not a telephone conversation. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#47157953)

Why care about the NSA? You can't even say you are sad that someone died without them getting on your case?

What is this, the USSA?

Re:This is not a telephone conversation. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158277)

>What is this, the USSA?

No, but many paranoid SlashDerpsters think it is. The groupthink here ranges from exceptionally stupid to completely delusional.
 
It's been a real eye-opener as to the mental state of the tech community. People with minor technical skills who mistake themselves for smart people seem to go off the deep end just as readily as any far-right-wing nutjob on the wingnut blogs or Twitter wingnut tags like #TCOT or #TGDN.

Re:This is not a telephone conversation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157999)

>but my NSA file is getting heavy enough as it is.

It's too bad that you're mentally ill. Maybe some medication would help with that paranoia.

>How sad that Sasha did not live to see a bit more sanity in this world.

Are you high? He did live to see the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition, and absolutely knew that we're getting smarter about drugs and are becoming more free.

Re:This is not a telephone conversation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158199)

You think the NSA actually cares about you. How cute.

Re:This is not a telephone conversation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158499)

Actully more likely the FBI and the DEA since they all share now.

Re:This is not a telephone conversation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47160057)

Because the NSA's mission is domestic...drug...oh wait neither of those words show up. Idiot

Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0, Offtopic)

Servaas (1050156) | about 6 months ago | (#47157493)

As a former and still (sadly :() marijuana user i can tell you right now that if you are vulnerable to it drugs, any drug can cause you serious mental harm. I have suffered a psychoses episode just by smoking pot 1.5 year ago. Do note however I was seriously "down" at the time. Constant headaches, constant thinking about my problems really fucked me up. Worst 4 weeks of my life thus far. I literally trusted noone (not even my parents who in my psychoses state were holding me back from fully embracing the world order Illuminati!, yes I actually believed in it, I could write a book about how I viewed the world...) and I was a danger to myself.

I still sadly smoke it but I'm hoping to go clean in the next week or so. Thankfully I'm in a much better place right now so hopefully no more mental stuff.

Sadly the lure of the high still gets me. I listen to the Johnny Cash song "A Junkie's Prayer" a lot.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157597)

I literally trusted noone (not even my parents who in my psychoses state were holding me back from fully embracing the world order Illuminati!, yes I actually believed in it, I could write a book about how I viewed the world...) and I was a danger to myself.

Sounds more like you have schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or something else going on.

Weed does NOT cause psychosis like you describe.

I suggest you find out what is your actual underlying cause. Because, it aint the weed.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157671)

It's possible to get that kind of shit from weed though if you have certain mental disorders. Note that you would get sick either way, but probably one to a few years later.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157991)

Please don't speak out of your ass.

While the evidence is not cut-and-dry, smoking marijuana does seem to be a trigger for psychosis in some people (Check out wikipedia for a starting point of possible references). However, it has been argued that the people at risk actually have a genetic predisposition to psychosis and marijuana might just be a trigger to something that could have been triggered by any number of other things.

I suffered the same conditions as the OP described and I was in a similar phase (way down) when this happened. The psychologist at the hospital where I was (twice), and the psychiatrist later kept underlining this fact. They made it abundantly clear that while they cannot say with certainty that marijuana was what was causing the bursts (since I did have other things going), it does attract suspicion considering my specific case history (and the studies that point to possible psychoses in _some people_).

Since the first episode, I have had about three/four episodes and the one common factor was marijuana consumption prior to the episode. In the beginning I could smoke lightly for sometime, get confident that things are fine, smoke as a normal user, and end up feeling psychotic for a month. Gradually smaller and smaller doses brought out the demons. Perhaps because of having stopped the anti-psychotic pills (after consultation with the psychiatrist) and having resumed normal life, I had lower threshold...

Anyway, the last time, I had four puffs and ended up feeling mildly psychotic for a week. This was after a very long stable break and with everything perfectly fine in my life. So as much as I hated this, I decided not to smoke again.

Feel free to go on and enjoy your smoke but please don't say that you don't need to keep an eye out for possible danger. Weed _can_ be dangerous. Even if it is generally a safe drug, it helps no one spouting nonsense like "it does NOT cause psychosis." Good luck servaas.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 6 months ago | (#47158429)

But it didn't cause your psychosis. It exacerbated it. You had me until your 2nd to last sentence. ;)

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158615)

Noticing mental illness in others is not a sign of psychosis.

I had you until I noticed that the tech community has gone nuts? Why is that? Is the truth too much to deal with?

Any problem you perceive with my very honest post is clearly on your end. Maybe you're part of the crazed groupthink.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47159317)

But it didn't cause your psychosis. It exacerbated it

We don't know that for sure. The research is inconclusive so far. I think it is harmful to state it as matter of fact when even professionals doing research in the area are not sure. Also, it can and does induce psychosis for some people (as opposed to making it worse). The disagreement is whether or not these people will suffer from mental illness eventually anyway.

You had me until your 2nd to last sentence. ;)

I am not sure I understand. Are you objecting to me saying,

Even if it is generally a safe drug, it helps no one spouting nonsense like "it does NOT cause psychosis."

?

To clarify, I wasn't saying that weed does cause psychosis. My point was two folds. Firstly, research is not conclusive yet that anyone who suffers weed-induced psychosis was bound to have a psychotic episode sooner or later. It is not settled that it _does not_ cause psychosis (albeit, it is pretty clear that even if it did cause mental problems, it does for a small subset of users).

Secondly, you _do_ need to be careful. Weed-induced high has all the features of a psychotic state. Just that it is for most people benign and temporary. Saying "it doesn't happen" is only likely to make someone careless if the high doesn't subside as quickly as it should. In an ideal world, a casual weed user who has been high for much longer than the usual time will go see a doctor and/or consider abstaining (for he might in the risky-crowd). This likely will not happen if the user thinks that weed may not induce a non-existing psychosis but just exacerbate it.

PS: I have no idea what the other AC is on about in response to your post. S/he seems to be implying that s/he made the post you replied to. S/he didn't.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158635)

However, it has been argued that the people at risk actually have a genetic predisposition to psychosis and marijuana might just be a trigger to something that could have been triggered by any number of other things.

That was the point ... you likely would have had the psychosis eventually anyway at some point in your life, with or without the weed.

Weed did not cause your psychosis. It might have triggered your underlying predisposition to it. But it didn't cause it.

Feel free to go on and enjoy your smoke but please don't say that you don't need to keep an eye out for possible danger.

Nobody is saying that. What is being said is that you would have had this happen to you anyway, and while it might have exacerbated it, the cause was another underlying condition.

But, among people who don't have underlying issues which meant they would eventually experience psychosis anyway, there is zero evidence that weed will cause it to happen. (Sadly, there is zero real evidence because the governments refuse to actually study it instead of decreeing it to be a narcotic, which it isn't.)

It sucks that this is how you discovered this condition. But the reality is, you would likely have experienced it (and likely will again) with or without weed.

Much like running up a flight of stairs won't cause you to have a heart condition, it sure as hell might be how you find out about it.

Trust me, I have a family member with schizophrenia, have known numerous people with various neuro-chemical imbalances and/or issues with psychosis -- I know more about this than you might think.

For people like that, mind-altering drugs can trigger absolutely terrible things. It's not, however, the cause, just what sets it off. But sooner or later, something else would almost certainly have set it off.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47159123)

Actually, it is being argued that it _might be_ the case that marijuana triggers psychosis that was bound to happen. The evidence is not clear that such psychoses would have been triggered anyway. That is _one_ hypothesis (a valid one until more research clarifies things, but not a conclusion we can clearly derive yet).

I mentioned it to be clear that I am not saying that marijuana causes psychosis (or even can do so in some people). My point was rather that saying it is _not_ the case with tone of knowledgeable authority is neither honest not entirely helpful.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (4, Insightful)

sosume (680416) | about 6 months ago | (#47157847)

Shulgin's work had nothing to do with weed, addictive drugs or getting a body high.
He invented and classified an entire new spectrum of chemicals closely related to the brain's chemicals such as serotonine. He tried to synthesize every possible combination, moving the amino groups around, substituting existing compounds with allyl or methoxy groups, and experimented with all these chemicals on himself with precise procedures to ensure his safety. These chemicals have proven to be extremely powerful consciousness-altering drugs, active at just a few milligrams, producing profound mind-bending effects and providing an unparalleled insight in the inner workings of the mind and its chemical balance.
He has provided the public with detailed descriptions of these chemicals, both synthesis and their subjective effects. He never profited financially and risked his life and freedom many times just to chase this knowledge. (And have great sex, as he states in his books). Alexander Shulgin was a genius, and the way society is developing there will probably never be a man like him again.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (1)

cashman73 (855518) | about 6 months ago | (#47159673)

No doubt that Shulgin was a definite genius, and made significant contributions to his field. The biggest issue with him among many professionals in the biomedical sciences is his rather unorthodox methods. He often tested compounds on himself, which is a major safety issue and generally frowned upon among professionals. If he followed common laboratory protocols and human subjects guidelines, he would be more accepted among his peers.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157911)

It's clear that you have serious mental problems, unrelated to any drug. There is no lure to get high on pot, beyond the lure to have any sort of fun, and it has nothing to do with being a junkie. Please see a psychiatrist about your underlying condition.

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158247)

What's a "noone"?

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158511)

Probably dusted

Re:Drugs can be bad mmkay! (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#47158523)

Fortunately, you have no physical addiction to deal with. But if you do backslide, don't smoke one of the super powerful varieties. Find a more mellow one where the anti-psychotic cannabinoids are proportionally stronger.

i hope they do closed casket (1)

Cardoor (3488091) | about 6 months ago | (#47157499)

can you imagine all the touchy-feeling-corpsey groping otherwise? dude...

Bad headline, give Shulgin the credit he is due (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157511)

This headline is terrible - Shulgin was WAY more than just some "godfather of ecstasy." He was a true scientist, pioneer, and explorer - a brilliant chemist and great writer. Everyone should at least read his book, PIHKaL. You'll get great insight into why he explored psychoactive chemicals, how he synthesized them, and (imo, most interestingly) how he went about exploring their effects.

Not just the Godfather of Ecstasy (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157533)

He was much more than just the Godfather of Ecstasy. A brilliant chemist who wanted to unlock the secrets of the brain and the inner workings of the mind and soul. He was bigger than just one drug, his work was far more important than just the Rave culture. He won't be understood in his own time and his contributions will not be fully understood for hundreds of years. Once humanity has decided that chemical and substance research can be of great use to mankind, his contributions will finally be recognized.

Rest in Peace, Sasha.

Good riddance (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47157577)

It's always good to hear about another drug evangelist dropping dead. These types of people have sought out euphoria while turning a blind eye to the impact drugs have on society, notably on poor people, minorities, and the mentally ill.

Drugs are a terribly selfish thing, which is why people can spend their lives being obsessed with drugs and not caring who else is hurt along the way. It's a shame Shulgin didn't kick the bucket earlier.

Re:Good riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158303)

I hope you die in a fire you ignorant fuck.

Re:Good riddance (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 6 months ago | (#47158771)

Get back under your bridge.

Baaaaah...

RIP Sasha (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 6 months ago | (#47157691)

Your brilliant mind and revolutionary work will be missed. And no doubt the world will be a little dimmer without your bright spirit glowing among us.

Document his wife (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158021)

documenting the results, along with his wife, in his books and papers.

And what did he document about his wife?

MDMA: Empathy (5, Informative)

digsbo (1292334) | about 6 months ago | (#47158137)

Too bad fear rules all. MDMA was highly effective in couples therapy, leading to years of progress in hours.

Re:MDMA: Empathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158649)

Maybe that was why it was banned. They can't be promoting empathy, think of what it would do to the Military Industrial Complex, and unethical corporations. They could have their decision making affected and prioritize people over short-term profits! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

Re:MDMA: Empathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47158723)

MDMA is highly effective in treatment of PTSD as well. Not counting the medical effects, I don't know anyone who has used it responsibly and didn't enjoy it.

Re:MDMA: Empathy (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 6 months ago | (#47160099)

Too bad fear rules all. MDMA was highly effective in couples therapy, leading to years of progress in hours.

Until two days later when they went back to hating each other again but twice as bad. MDMA can give you some short term breakthroughs in communication, but the side effects are counter productive. The experiments were far from "highly effective." Now if we can just get a drug that ratchets up serotonin production without the re-uptake "hacks" like Prozac or short term "dumps" like MDMA we would have something.

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