A sprawling Holiday Inn by the San Jose Airport does not seem like the right place for a conference on the new science of psychedelic drug therapies.Yet, last week, the stucco-walled hotel played host to a mèlange of playful scientific researchers, serious drug self-experimenters, and roving bands of hippies in handmade-looking clothing. The scene was as strange as you’d expect at a conference called “Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century.”
Scientists and doctors studying the medical uses of psychedelics are trying to figure out what to do with the cultural heritage of their drugs. There is a lot of baggage associated with LSD, for example, that new pharmaceuticals don’t carry: There are no Jay-Z songs about Zoloft. On the other hand, the vast numbers of experiences drug users have had with psychedelics could be a dark dataset that, with the right filters, helps aid the pursuit of scientific knowledge.
For the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which organized the conference, the event was the most visible result of their attempt to meld the world of Jerry Garcia with that of the Surgeon General.
“Things were so polarized in the ’60s. I think over the 40 years, the counterculture and the culture have changed. The culture is more receptive and the counterculture is more patient,” said Rick Doblin, a Harvard public policy Ph.D.-holder and the president of Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS. “I think the vast majority of the people at the conference appreciate the scientific model and want to see the research move forward and think it’s a vehicle for change. There are a few that are into crystals and astrology, and then there are the vast majority, who are more scientific thinking.”
[Read more at Wired]