Hamilton Morris on Iboga, 5-MeO-DMT, the Power of Ritual, New Frontiers in Psychedelics, Excellent Problems to Solve, and More (#511)

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“It’s a very widespread idea that if you have personal experience with a psychoactive drug, this biases you in such a way that the research that you do is not trustworthy. But this is something that we don’t evenly apply to other disciplines. No one would ever say that an ethnomusicologist is biased because they’ve listened to music, or because they enjoy music themselves. Or that a sports commentator is biased if they have a past as an athlete. Instead, we would say that this is something that makes him an expert who is qualified to discuss the subject.”

— Hamilton Morris

Hamilton Morris (@HamiltonMorris) is a chemist, filmmaker, and science journalist. A graduate of The New School, he conducts chemistry research at The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Hamilton is the writer and director of the documentary series Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, in which he explores the chemistry and traditions surrounding psychoactive drugs. His research has allowed him to study psychoactive plants, fungi, and chemicals, as well as the culture that surrounds them, in more than 30 countries, using an interdisciplinary approach that combines anthropology and chemistry.

Hamilton’s recent republishing of a book on Bufo alvarius has, at the time of writing, raised more than $205,000 for Parkinson’s disease research.

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#511: Hamilton Morris on Iboga, 5-MeO-DMT, The Power of Ritual, New Frontiers in Psychedelics, Excellent Problems to Solve, and More


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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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Would you like to hear my last conversation with Hamilton Morris? Listen here as we discuss basic chemistry literacy for the layman, the value of substance-induced spiritual experiences for those who don’t consider themselves spiritual, the difference between a medicine and a poison, a cautionary tale about the unsupervised use of 5-MeO-DMT, compound harvesting sustainability, and much more.

#337: Hamilton Morris on Better Living Through Chemistry: Psychedelics, Smart Drugs, and More

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SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Hamilton Morris:

Patreon | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

SHOW NOTES

  • Exciting news about the recent discovery of tape recordings from a class psychedelic pioneer Alexander Shulgin taught in 1987 — at a time when the Reagan administration was cracking down on psychedelic research as part of its War on Drugs. [06:56]
  • Why does pharmacologist Dave Nichols consider Alexander Shulgin to have been more of an alchemist than a scientist? [11:24]
  • Where can someone pre-order the first volume of this recently discovered treasure trove from Alexander Shulgin? [13:08]
  • Why Hamilton and I believe that scientists active in the current psychedelic renaissance should be honest about their own consumption of the compounds they’re researching. [13:53]
  • A couple of recommendations for books by anthropologist and science historian Nicolas Langlitz. [17:41]
  • Legal disclaimers, words of caution for anyone choosing their own psychedelic adventures, and how Oliver Sacks has figured in Hamilton’s own journey. [18:30]
  • Why does thunder come after lightning? [22:05]
  • Thoughts on Claudio Naranjo’s The Healing Journey and William Richards’ Sacred Knowledge. [22:32]
  • Why a 60 Minutes segment with William Richards administering DPT to a dying cancer patient in the ’70s brings Hamilton to tears. [24:02]
  • A shout-out to world-class scientists like William Richards, Mary Cusumano, and Roland Griffiths, who have withstood so much resistance to their work over the years in order to improve the lives of countless people. [25:32]
  • Is there anything that worries Hamilton about the acceleration in research of psychedelics — including in the for-profit sector — since our last conversation? [27:58]
  • Why don’t we see Hamilton featured much in the episode where his use of iboga was documented? [32:54]
  • How was it discovered that ibogaine is useful for treating opioid addiction when opioids aren’t even native to the region, and how are local traditions changing since opioids have been introduced? [38:41]
  • Hamilton describes his iboga experience as being “the opposite of sensory deprivation.” Here’s what he observed about its use in the community. [41:52]
  • Do the iboga practitioners notice any cardiac or other health complications in their tradition? [44:53]
  • How sustainable are the plant and animal sources for these compounds? Are any of them endangered? Can any of them be synthesized or sourced in non-invasive ways? [46:11]
  • What advice would Hamilton have for a chemist who wants to synthesize compounds without introducing massive amounts of pollutants into the environment, and how does criminalizing this activity hinder otherwise conscientious chemists from doing the right thing? [56:42]
  • The benefits Hamilton sees in people creating, growing, and harvesting their own food and drugs. [1:00:29]
  • Some recommendations for more sustainable alternatives to popularly used compounds. [1:02:26]
  • If there’s not much evidence to support a long history of indigenous use of the Sonoran Desert toad for its 5-MeO-DMT, where did the idea originate? [1:05:53]
  • Further reasons to be wary of 5-MeO-DMT. [1:09:16]
  • Hamilton talks about his exploration with xenon gas, its rarity and effects, what makes it the seemingly perfect anesthetic, and what I found particularly disturbing about Hamilton’s visit to a xenon clinic. [1:12:12]
  • What would Hamilton like to see more of in the psychedelic space, and can this be applied to Western practices? [1:27:17]
  • We already have horror stories about fly-by-night ayahuasca rent-a-shamans defrauding and sexually abusing tourists. Are there similarly fly-by-night operators dealing in iboga? [1:33:22]
  • Is there such a thing as ritualistic “purity” when it comes to psychedelic traditions? Or do they morph to adapt with the times and circumstances? [1:35:06]
  • Is there anything that worries Hamilton about the current explosion of attention and popularity of the psychedelic space? [1:39:00]
  • What books does Hamilton consider required reading for anyone interested in learning more about psychedelics? [1:40:53]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:43:57]

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