Some people have all the luck. Some people get excited when they win a free order of fries and that’s the best they get. Not my pal, Hamilton Morris. No, he gets things like newly discovered variations of DMT. Before some of you get all huffy with your hours of arguments, just remember that this is scientific work on the cutting edge. Though it is controversial to some, an understanding of what we call consciousness is serious business to people like Hamilton.
Modest though it may be, what we have contained in this letter is possible evidence of the first psychedelic drug of marine origin.1 In 1997 Alexander Shulgin wrote of marine tryptamines, “5-Bromo-DMT and 5,6-dibromo-DMT are found in the sponges Smenospongia aurea and S. echina resp. I have no idea if they are active by smoking (the 5-Br-DMT just might be)… I had the fantasy of trying to scotch the rumor I’m about to start, that all the hippies of the San Francisco Bay Area were heading to the Caribbean with packets of Zig-Zag papers, to hit the sponge trade with a psychedelic fervor. This is not true. I refuse to take credit for this myth.” And so in his semifacetious remark Shulgin sparked what has now been well over a decade of speculation on the possibility of poriferan psychedelics. A priori, there is no reason why 5-Br-DMT should not possess psychedelic activity. The substitution of a hydrogen for a bromine atom actually increases the lipophilicity, giving 5-Br-DMT a pharmacokinetic edge over its close relatives DMT and bufotenine when partitioning into the brain. And it is a well-known fact that the 5-position of the tryptamine molecule accepts a wide variety of substituents while retaining activity.