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PSYCHOACTIVE

Author: iHeartRadio and Protozoa

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Drugs, drugs, drugs. Almost everyone uses them. Almost everyone has an opinion about them. Drug policy pioneer Ethan Nadelmann gets to the bottom of our strange relationship to drugs by talking with those who love them, hate them, and study them.

We’d love to hear your stories and ideas. Send us a note at psychoactive@protozoa.com or leave a voicemail at 1-833-PSYCHO-0 (1-833-779-2460).

14 Episodes
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Patrick Radden Keefe is a brilliant journalist and staff writer for The New Yorker. His recent book, Empire of Pain, examines the ways in which the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma contributed to the opioid epidemic in the United States by aggressively marketing OxyContin to physicians and patients. His story is unique in its focus on the owners of that company – the Sacklers.  Patrick's revelations about the ways in which Purdue and the Sacklers gained advantage and avoided responsibility through revolving door relationships with officials at the FDA, DEA and Justice Department are particularly compelling and infuriating. But I also pressed him to address the concerns of legitimate pain patients who use opioid medications responsibly but are now increasingly stigmatized and unable to obtain the medicines that enable them to manage their pain. I challenged Patrick on his view that the entire Sackler family merits collective responsibility for the actions of some. And we had a lively discussion about who should be held culpable for the epidemic of overdose fatalities when so many variables play a role. Listen to this episode and let me know what you think. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com. Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
I first crossed paths with Larry Krasner almost thirty years ago, when he was a young activist attorney representing a needle exchange program in Philadelphia. Today he is district attorney of Philadelphia and one of the highest-profile progressive prosecutors in the United States. We talked about what it’s like to switch sides after decades of criminal defense and to occupy the single most powerful law enforcement position in city government. I asked about his support for local harm reduction policies, as well as his efforts to take on the “evil twin” of mass incarceration: mass supervision. And I pressed Larry on a few questions he was more reluctant to answer, like the influence of his upbringing on who he is now, and whether he might best accomplish his reformist objectives by running for mayor of Philadelphia. Listen to this episode and let me know what you think. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com. Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
In the early 2000s, Clive Bates was one of Britain's foremost advocates against cigarette smoking and Big Tobacco. Today he is one of the world's foremost proponents of e-cigarettes as a way to help people quit smoking and reduce the harms caused by combustible cigarettes. There's no better teacher about tobacco harm reduction than Clive, which is why I pressed him on the toughest questions: Aren't the risks of e-cigarettes still unknown? Shouldn't we be concerned about people developing a lifelong addiction to vaping nicotine? Isn't Big Tobacco just trying to hook a new generation of nicotine users just as the demand for cigarettes is declining? Is Britain's successful experience with tobacco harm reduction really a model for other countries. And, of course: what about the kids? Listen to this episode and let me know what you think. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com. Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Tim Ferriss is an entrepreneur, investor, podcast host and productivity guru who first gained fame as author of the "4-Hour" self-help book series. During the past few years, he has focused much of his attention on psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted therapy both to deal with his own trauma and to help others. He has invested in the nascent psychedelics industry and contributed millions of dollars to support research as a philanthropist and fundraiser. I’d never met Tim before. We talked about how his own life journey had been influenced by his experiences with psychedelics. I liked the perspective he brings to blossoming debates about the powerful ways in which for-profit interests both expedite research and government approval of psychedelics but also pose risks by putting money first. And we discussed growing concerns regarding sustainability and environmental impact now that millions of people are seeking out plant-based psychedelic substances. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Dr. Nora Volkow has headed the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which funds a majority of the world’s research in the area, since the early years of George W. Bush’s administration. I was pleasantly surprised when she agreed to join me for an episode of PSYCHOACTIVE since I’ve been highly critical of the agency’s priorities and its failure to fund important domains of research for what appear to be political reasons. I pressed Dr. Volkow on a host of questions I’d long wanted to ask her: Why does NIDA devote relatively little funding to the sorts of ethnographic research that might provide important insights into the overdose epidemic? Or to researching the health effects and consequences of mass arrests and incarceration for drug law violations? Or to studying the medical benefits of marijuana and psychedelics? Or to better understanding “controlled drug use,” i.e., the ways in which people use all sorts of drugs without their drug use becoming problematic? Or to examining the potential of supervised injection facilities, heroin-assisted drug treatment and other innovative harm reduction interventions that have proven successful abroad? I also wanted to know how she’s managed the political challenges of working under four different administrations as well as those presented by members of Congress who favor highly punitive approaches to illicit drug use. We discussed her frustrations with current laws that constrain what NIDA can do and how she tries to maintain the integrity of an agency that claims the scientific high ground while operating in a highly politicized context. I’m fairly sure that Dr. Volkow had never before been pressed on these issues in a public interview. I found her responses frustrating but was grateful for her willingness to have this conversation. Listen to this episode and let me know what you think. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com. Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Juan Manuel Santos was president of Colombia from 2010 to 2018, during which time he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to negotiate a peace treaty to resolve the multi-decade conflict with the FARC guerrilla group. He also emerged as the outstanding political leader in Latin America, indeed the world, advocating for far-reaching reform of global drug policy while still in office. We discussed his interactions with Presidents Obama and Trump, as well as other Latin American presidents, during a period when momentum for drug policy reform was greater than ever. I asked President Santos about the evolution in his own thinking about drug policy, and the challenges he confronted in advocating for reforms within his own country. We talked about the impact of marijuana legalization in the United States within Latin America, and the steps he took to advance drug policy reform discussions and policies at the Summit of the Americas and the United Nations. And we discussed current drug policy developments in Colombia, the United States and the broader region. Listen to this episode and let me know what you think. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com. Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Michael Pollan is an extraordinary journalist and thinker whose writing about food and drugs has educated and influenced tens of millions of readers. No book in recent history has done so much to enlighten people about the benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy as his 2018 best-selling How to Change Your Mind. His latest book, This is Your Mind on Plants, examines three psychoactive drugs: opium, caffeine, and mescaline. But I first met Michael in 1997, when he wrote a prescient article about the political and cultural impact of California’s pathbreaking medical marijuana initiative, Proposition 215. Here, we discuss why Michael's book on psychedelics has had such a transformative effect, and whether he still believes the new psychedelic revolution may be proceeding too quickly for its own good. He reflects on the challenges of writing about one's own psychedelic experiences -- and why caffeine is the one drug one studies not by using it but by abstaining from it. Few relationships are as complex and multi-dimensional as those between psychoactive plants and us humans, and few humans are as insightful on this relationship as Michael. Listen to this episode and let me know what you think. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com. Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
More people died last year from a drug overdose than from gun shootings, motor vehicle accidents, drownings and AIDS combined! Few people bring greater research and insight to this issue than Dan Ciccarone, a physician and professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who has studied illicit drug markets, communities and consumers for two decades. We talked about the role of prescription opioids and street heroin, why the fentanyls are so deadly, and why COVID made the problem worse. I asked him why overdoses increasingly involve stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, why fatal overdose rates vary so greatly around the country, and why so few other countries are suffering similar problems. And we talked about what needs to be done, including lessons from abroad, to dramatically cut the number of people dying this way. Listen to this episode and let me know what you think. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com. Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
When New York legalized marijuana in late March, it did so in a way that instantly became the new gold standard for how best to legally regulate marijuana. No one deserves more credit for this victory than Melissa Moore, director of New York State advocacy efforts at the Drug Policy Alliance, who spearheaded the campaign over the past two years. Melissa explains how the advocacy effort and ultimate legislation were profoundly shaped by prior struggles over gross racial disparities in marijuana arrests. It breaks new ground in automatically expunging past marijuana convictions. It prevents the biggest marijuana companies from dominating the industry. And, perhaps most significantly, it integrates economic, social, and racial equity objectives into both the regulatory framework and the allocation of marijuana tax revenues. With this law, New York is also the first state to allow adults to smoke marijuana in public anywhere one can smoke a cigarette. Melissa and I caught up on how all these provisions became part of the historic law. Listen to this episode and let me know what you think. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com. Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Dan Savage is the famed podcaster and columnist on sex and relationships. We talked all about drugs and sex – what works, what doesn’t, how our brains are wired for risk, and how there’s no clear line between use and abuse when it comes to sex or drugs. We got personal, with Dan describing how MDMA (“Ecstasy”) saved his marriage. And we compared perspectives on the struggles for gay rights and for drug policy reform.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Yale Law Professor James Forman won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for his courageous and remarkably insightful book, Locking Up Our Own, in which he reflected on his experience as a public defender in Washington, DC in the 1990s. Many of James’ clients were young Black men getting arrested and often locked up for drug offenses and other drug-related crimes. He saw himself engaged in the unfinished work of the civil rights movement and needed to understand why so many Black citizens and even political leaders viewed the drug war as essential to the survival of their community.   We talked in depth about the simultaneous over- and under-policing of crime, and the ways in which mass incarceration results from small, distinct steps taken mostly at the local level. It’s a testament to the nuance he brings to his book that it was cited by both Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor in a recent Supreme Court case. Listen to this episode and let me know what you think. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com. Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
The pioneering physician explains why there are no good or bad drugs, just good or bad relationships with drugs. There’s no one who has shaped my own thinking about drugs so much as Andrew Weil. Andy is famous as the force behind integrative medicine – the synthesis of traditional and alternative medicine – but he first became known to me and many others for his writing on drugs and consciousness, with books like The Natural Mind, From Chocolate to Morphine and The Marriage of the Sun and the Moon. Our conversation covers an incredible diversity of drugs and topics: the wonders of the cannabis plant, the implications of psychedelics going mainstream, the potential of placebo medicine in better understanding chronic pain, the value of kava in treating anxiety, the psychoactive pleasures of eating a ripe mango, even the ways in which cannabis and dogs have evolved similarly in their relationships to human beings. There are, Andy explains, infinite ways of altering consciousness. Psychoactive drugs can show us possibilities, but how we foster those possibilities is up to us. Listen to this episode and let me know what you think. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com. Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
0 | The Real Drug Czar

0 | The Real Drug Czar

2021-07-1508:122

Rolling Stone called me “the Real Drug Czar.” I’m Ethan Nadelmann and this is Psychoactive, the show about all things drugs.  We want to hear from you. Our number is 1-833-779-2460. Our email is psychoactive@protozoa.com Or tweet at me, @ethannadelmann. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Introducing PSYCHOACTIVE

Introducing PSYCHOACTIVE

2021-07-1202:022

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Comments (1)

Jay Terry

Great series, thank you

Aug 29th
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