NYT on medical research into hallucinogens

April 12, 2010

Psychedelic pioneer Timothy Leary, whose research into therapeutic uses of hallucinogenic drugs is being taken up once again in the US. Photo via AP/Wide World Photos.

“All of a sudden, everything familiar started evaporating,” he recalled. “Imagine you fall off a boat out in the open ocean, and you turn around, and the boat is gone. And then the water’s gone. And then you’re gone.”

…thus explains retired clinical psychologist Clark Martin in today’s New York Times his first psychedelic experience, as part of a medical study on the effect of psilocybin on cancer patients.

Noting that federal regulators have recently begun again to approve controlled experiments with psychedelics, the article highlights some of the research currently being conducted from Johns Hopkins to Harvard to UCLA. Nevertheless, the NYT notes, federal funding is not so forthcoming. Studies like the one Martin participated in are mostly funded by nonprofits — notably MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, whose annual conference is taking place this weekend in California.

For more on the history of the psychedelic therapy movement, and the central role of Harvard University, see Don Lattin’s new book, The Harvard Psychedelic Club.