Articles Published in Media Outlets

60 Minutes on Psychedelic Medicine

Study participants at some of the country’s leading medical research centers are going through intense therapy and six-hour psychedelic journeys deep into their minds to do things like quit smoking and worry less. Watch the whole 60 Minutes episode here.

Where I Stand on Magic Mushrooms

My position on the recent initiatives to change the legal status of psilocybin in various jurisdictions is somewhat nuanced and perhaps for that reason has been misrepresented in several press accounts. To be clear: I support decriminalization. “No one should ever be arrested or go to jail for the possession or cultivation of any kind of mushroom,” as I said in my New York Times op-ed piece. As I told interviewers in the days after the Denver initiative passed, I would have voted in favor of it had I been eligible.

Today, Explained: Mushroom magic

Denver and Oakland have become the first US cities to effectively decriminalize magic mushrooms. Michael Pollan, author of “How to Change Your Mind,” explains how taking a trip could help treat depression. Listen here.

Not So Fast on Magic Mushrooms

Only a few days ago, millions of Americans probably had never heard of psilocybin, the active agent in psychedelic mushrooms, but thanks to Denver, it is about to get its moment in the political sun. On Tuesday, the city’s voters surprised everyone by narrowly approving a ballot initiative that effectively decriminalizes psilocybin, making its possession, use or

A Renaissance in the Forbidden Science of Psychedelics

After decades of being forbidden by law for recreation or research, psychedelics are legally enjoying a renaissance in the scientific community as a potential way of treating a wide variety of ailments including PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, OCD, anxiety, and dependence on alcohol and nicotine.

Michael Pollan on the Science and Sublimity of Psychedelics

Michael Pollan has long been fascinated by nature and the ways we connect and clash with it, with decades of writing covering food, farming, cooking, and architecture. Pollan’s latest fascination? Our widespread and ancient desire to use nature to change our consciousness.

Brimming with X

In his new book How To Change Your Mind: The new science of psychedelics, Michael Pollan sets out the twentieth-century history of the use of “psychedelic” substances with clarity, insight and humour. He does his fieldwork – with appropriate trepidation. He goes mushroom hunting. He consumes four different psychedelic tryptamines under suitably controlled conditions – LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca (active ingredient N, N-dimethyltryptamine, sc DMT), and, with shattering results, 5-MeO-DMT, the smoked venom of the Sonoran Desert toad Incilius alvarius – and tells us, as well as he can, what happens. He ends with two chapters laying out the latest neuro­scientific speculations and describing the extraordinarily fruitful renaissance of the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy in the 1990s.

’Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky

In 1938 Albert Hofmann, a chemist at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, created a series of new compounds from lysergic acid. One of them, later marketed as Hydergine, showed great potential for the treatment of cerebral arteriosclerosis. Another salt, the diethylamide (LSD), he put to one side, but he had “a peculiar presentiment,” as he put it in his memoir LSD: My Problem Child (1980), “that this substance could possess properties other than those established in the first investigations.”

A Guide for Psychedelic Virgins and Skeptics?

When Pollan agrees to take psychedelic drugs, he presents himself as a stand-in for the skeptical reader; he is an LSD-virgin turned “psychonaut” for the purposes of journalistic and scientific inquiry.

How to Change Your Mind: Michael Pollan on How the Science of Psychedelics Illuminates Consciousness, Mortality, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

Psychedelics, Pollan argues, eject us from our habitual consciousness to invite a pure experience of reality that calls to mind Jeanette Winterson’s notion of “active surrender” and Emerson’s exultation in “the power to swell the moment from the resources of our own heart until it supersedes sun & moon & solar system in its expanding immensity.” Pollan arrives at this conclusion not only by surveying the history of and research on psychedelics, but by conducting a series of carefully monitored experiments on himself — he travels the world to meet with mycologists, shamans, and trained facilitators, and to experience first-hand the most potent psychedelics nature and the chemistry lab have produced, from the psilocybin mushroom to LSD to the smoked venom of a desert toad.