I GREW UP during the final years of the Cold War.
Being artistically inclined, and with a penchant
for reading fantasy and fairy tales, I was curious about
visionary drugs. But not knowing at the time that LSD is
physiologically safe, and believing the anti-drug propa-
ganda I heard during my pre-teen years that told me "acid"
would fry my brain, I decided that it really should only be
taken at the end of one's life. So I figured when I heard
that the Russians were going to nuke the USA, I would
pop a hit right before the end. Ah, misguided youth; these
days I can't imagine a worse scenario for an acid trip.
The first topical book that I saw was Schultes and
Hofmann's 1979 Plants of the Gods. I suspected that my
parents would not approve of this tome, so I didn't
purchase the book,
but rather just read it
when I visited the
bookstore. Then it
and shortly thereaf-
ter the whole "drug
This was during
what Jonathan Ott
calls the "Reagan/
Bush Dark Ages."
Nancy's "Just Say No"
bookstores to stop
carrying titles that
substances. My sojourns to Tower Books for drug educa-
tion were brought to an abrupt halt. Left with no access to
information, eventually the only recourse seemed to be to
hunt down the drugs themselves.
I took LSD for the first time when I was 17. It wasn't
anything like what I had expected, but it was entirely
fascinating. While I can count the occasions I smoked
Cannabis during my high school years on one hand, I took
LSD many times. Both the good and the bad trips provided
psychological insights that were highly valuable in
helping me to form my identity. Primarily, they allowed
me to realize that a life spent in pursuit of materialistic
goals was an absurd waste of time, as well as being
harmful to people and the planet.
Kids growing up these days don't have the same
problems that I had in obtaining information. We are
currently witnessing the first generation of youth who
have lived most of their lives plugged in to the Internet,
able to access all manner of good and bad information
about drugs. Having access to realistic data from sites like
Erowid allows today's youth to realize at an early age that
the "drug education" they receive in school is largely
inaccurate. Consequently, when I interacted with some of
these kids while working on this issue of the Bulletin, I
was quite impressed by the scope of knowledge that they
had and the sophisticated approach that they took toward
the topic. I was surprised to find myself with a hopeful
outlook. Kids these days are getting a decent education on
the topic of drugs--not in the classroom perhaps, but on
their own by visiting web sites. And of course there has
recently been a Renaissance in publishing on the topic, so
the book store is once again a reasonable tool.
I was also impressed by some of the teenagers I spoke
with whose parents openly use psychedelics. These kids
stated that, although they have an interest in drugs, they
have decided to wait until they get older to try them.
Perhaps this is an example of a "if the parents are Demo-
crats, the kids will be Republicans" type of rebellion.
Ironically, the best way
to keep your kids off
drugs may be to use
Coming of age
frequently does include
some acts of rebellion
against adults or
Becoming an adult is
largely about asserting
one's own choice rather
than blindly following
what one is told is an
important step in the
growth of an indi-
vidual. Breaking the
laws prohibiting certain drugs can be seen as a part of this
process. Yet it is much easier for kids to adopt an attitude
of disrespect for all laws when they feel that they have
been lied to by adults. Hence, it is important to be truthful
My own daughter just turned five years old. She is
blissfully unaware of most of the world's problems. As our
nation offensively bombed Iraq, she didn't see the horrors
up close on TV; instead she watched her Shrek DVD.
Similarly, at the moment, she has no real concept of illicit
drugs. For her, "drugs" come in sickly sweet "cherry" and
"bubblegum" flavored syrups--cold medicines and
antibiotics. Needles carry vaccines rather than vacations.
At this point in her life, there are few questions about
drugs that need to be fielded. But as the topic arises, I will
strive to make high-quality fact-based information
available. I will be honest with her about my own past use
and my belief in the importance of cultivating a respon-
sible attitude. If she trusts me, she will be more likely to
come to me when she has questions or problems.
-- Jon Hanna, Editor