The Summit Meeting Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Albert Hofmann’s Discovery of LSD

Summer 1993 Vol. 04, No. 2 So Close Yet So Far

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Sometimes, an event is so filled to overflowing with people, emotion and content that there is virtually no way to summarize it and do it any justice. That is the way I feel about the events that MAPS helped to coordinate commemorating the 50th anniversary of Albert Hofmann’s discovery of LSD. Over the course of a lengthy evening in Santa Cruz on April 16 and a twelve-hour marathon summit meeting the next day in San Francisco, April 17th, over 50 distinguished speakers spoke to over 1000 remarkable people.

Many millions more heard about the event via the media coverage we received from CNN, NBC National News, several San Francisco TV stations, BBC World News, NPR, local radio stations around the US, lengthy articles in San Francisco and Los Angeles newspapers, and shorter articles and mentions in USA Today, New York Times, and newspapers all across the country and even in China! To our surprise and pleasure, a nuanced message was communicated more or less faithfully, namely that we felt that psychedelics and marijuana had numberous beneficial uses that could help virtually all members of society and not just "aging hippies." I think this message got through because the events were, in part, fund-raising benefits for FDA-approved research, a fact which the media took special note to mention. (The events raised $5,000 for LSD research, $2,000 for MDMA research and $2,000 for marijuana law reform.) Of course, we benefited greatly from the media hook of LSD’s 50th anniversary and the relative rarity of such an organized show of support for psychedelics and marijuana in the midst of the Drug War. And I think that President Clinton’s still fairly recent electoral victory provided a backdrop of hope that positive change might be in the offing, further contributing to the media’s willingness to take a look at what we had to say.

The evening in Santa Cruz focused just on LSD and was especially moving. I highly recommend the tapes. The UC Santa Cruz Performing Arts Theatre was an excellent setting for the event and fostered a precious sense of intimacy and openness which prevailed despite a late start and problems with tickets. The twelve-hour event at the Unitarian Center in San Francisco was a cornucopia of people, information, music, food and inspiration. The predominant impression I was left with was the incredible warmth, diversity, expertise and potential contained within the community of people interested in psychedelics and marijuana. If we can just find the proper ways to work together, and to present our case to the American people, significant, dramatic and positive change will certainly result. Rather than try to summarize the talks, I can only suggest that you listen to the tapes that most appeal to you, and share them with friends.

To give you just a little feel of what took place, this issue of the newsletter is publishing transcripts of the threee special videotaped messages from Albert Hofmann, Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs, and Humphrey Osmond. Also, Earl Davis has contributed an article about his experiences curating the psychedelic art show at the San Francisco event.

I would personally like to express my deepest appreciation for the contribution made to these events by Dale Gieringer of California NORML; Debby Golsberry and John Hunt, of Cannabis Action Network; and Matthew Brenner and Kevin Kough and their friends from the US Santa Cruz student group, Millbrook West; all of these people labored long and hard and unselfishly to cosponsor the event. I think the wisdom of the psychedelic, marijuana and student groups joining together for the first time was evidenced by the grand success of an event that none of us could have organized on our own.

My lasting impression of the events are that they empowered speakers and audience alike, both at the event and afterwards, to give voice to their honest assessment of the dangers and opportunities associated with various drugs. This courage to speak out more clearly to family, friends, associates, strangers and "opponents", when combined with the ability to listen and respond to the fears, both justified and exaggerated, that people harbor about drugs, is the most important tool that we possess in going about our work to create a healthier society.

Who’s Who on the Audio and Video Taped

Speakers and Introducers at the UC Santa Cruz Performing Arts Theatre

Matthew Brenner, UCSC Millbrook West; Bruce Eisner, Island Group; Rick Doblin, MAPS; Oscar Janiger, Albert Hofmann Foundation; Tape from Albert Hofmann; Tape from Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs; Tape from Humphrey Osmond; John Beresford, physician; Laura Huxley, author; Francis Huxley, anthropologist; Lester Grinspoon, psychiatrist; Donna Dryer, LSD Researcher; Richard Yensen, LSD Researcher; Will Penna; Island Group; John Robbins, author; Myron Stoloroff, pioneer psychedelic researcher; Willis Harman, Institute for Noetic Sciences; R.U.Sirius, Mondo 2000; Robert Anton Wilson, author; Nina Graboi, author; Ralph Abraham, mathematician; Elizabeth Gibbs, radio host; Stephen Gaskin, teacher; Sasha Shulgin, alchemist; Claudio Naranjo, pioneer psychedelic researcher. Music by Giest.

Speakers at the San Francisco Unitarian Center

Welcome – Dale Gieringer, California NORML; Rev. Karla Hansen; Unitarian Minister; Rick Doblin, MAPS; Robert Zanger; Albert Hofmann Foundation.

MDMA – Claudio Naranjo,psychiatrist; George Greer, psychiatrist; Requa Tolbert, nurse; Gary Bravo, psychiatrist;

Raves – Jerry Beck; sociologist; David Presti, psychologist; Gantt Galloway, pharmacologist; Nicholas Saunders, author.

Women and Psychedelics – Nina Graboi, author; Laura Huxley, author; Kat Harrison, Botanical Dimensions; Caroline Garcia, Merry Prankster.

Marijuana – Dennis Peron, political activist; Mary Rathbun (Brownie Mary), patient advocate; Valerie Corral, medical marijuana patient; Lester Grinspoon, psychiatrist; Donald Abrams, physician; Tod Mikuriya, physician; Ed Rosenthal, author; Judy Osburn, hemp activist.

Sacred and Healing Plants – Ralph Metzner, psychologist; Tom Pinkson, psychologist; Kat Harrison, Botanical Dimensions; Dennis McKenna, ethnopharmacologist.

Psychedelic Drugs in the Treatment of Substance Abuse – Richard Yensen, psychologist; Donna Dryer, psychiatrist; Howard Lotsof, NDA Inc. (ibogaine research); David Lukoff, psychologist.

Psychedelic Foundation Proposal – David Nichols, medicinal chemist.

Psychedelics and Society – Stephen Gaskin, teacher; R.U.Sirius, Mondo 2000; John Barlow, Grateful Dead lyricist; Caroline Garcia, Merry Prankster; Bruce Eisner, Island Group.

Drug Policy – Rick Doblin, MAPS; Dale Gieringer, California NORML; John Beresford, psychiatrist; Shari Himel, Families Against Minimum Mandatories; Stuart Reges, National Libertarian Party; Erik Fromberg, Dutch drug researcher; Marsha Rosenbaum, sociologist; Dick Cowan, NORML; John Morgan, physician; Mark Kleiman, Kennedy School of Government; Ethan Nadelmann, drug legalization theoretician; Kevin Zeese, Drug Policy Foundation.