- uploaded: Apr 23, 2009
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Alexander T. (Sasha) Shulgin has been called "The Ultimate Drug Designer." He has invented almost two hundred psychedelic substances. He rediscovered MDMA (aka Ecstasy) in the mid 1970s, and did the first human trials of it. On himself.
Sasha launched MDMA into the Bay Area's therapeutic community. Nearly 4000 therapists were utilizing this substance before it was banned. Ann, a therapist and writer, quickly became his staunchest advocate. This was long before anyone ever had gone to a rave.
Working within the system as well as above it, Sasha Shulgin became an underground legend. He calls himself a "manic libertarian psychedelic chemist." He began his career at Dow Chemical in the 1950s: in 1963 he took mescaline and never looked back. The Shulgin's book PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story ("Phenylethylamines I Have Known and Loved") is a fictionalized account of their careers with reviews of 179 substances that was published in 1991. As well as describing the compounds, their books deal explicitly with their love affair, past and present.
Sasha specializes in creating drugs chemically related to mescaline and MDMA. He tries all his new compounds first on himself, very carefully. Then, if there's any reason to be optimistic, he tries them with Ann-- even more carefully. A small group of like-minded friends comprises their research group. Sasha has invented a lot of psychedelic drugs in this way, over the years.
As teachers, authors, expert witnesses, and outspoken proponents of legalization, the Shulgins had many friends in the law-enforcement community; and Sasha long held a license to analyze scheduled compounds. A 1994 visit by the Drug Enforcement Administration and local Environmental Protection Agency brought an end to that era, although the Shulgins have continued to write about their discoveries. Their second book, TIKHAL ("Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved") was published in 1997. They are currently writing the third installment, about cacti.
"Ann & Sasha: A Chemical Love Story," the documentary film project, has gone underground and is mutating. Watch This Space for it's Phoenix-like re-Emergence in the Very Near Future!