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It hasn’t been since my fifty years back in Berkeley, that I have heard such an impassioned talk on psychedelics. I attended as a sober person the very first LSD party back in Berkeley, in 1962, before the Free Speech Movement, anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, the Berkeley Barb newspaper, and the People’s Park conflicts.

A close friend of mine, Charlie Brown Artman, had purchased a large bag of Heavenly Blue morning-glory seeds, and it was said that eating two rounded tablespoonfuls of these seeds would get the famous hallucinations. The party was attended by about twenty Cal Berkeley students at someone’s private home, after a folk-dance event on campus. I don’t know for sure if anyone got high, but they were acting strange for a couple of hours, and most of them got sick to the stomach and barfed the seeds about a half hour after eating them. Not long after this event real LSD in the form of blue sugar cubes came on the scene, and by about 1964 pot was becoming common. My dates may be a little soft, because I wasn’t really into drugs of any sort, even beer, but I was and still am addicted to cigarettes, although I quit for over a month many times. I finally admitted I was an addict and had to totally avoid smoking for thirty years, because after a single cigarette my experience was that I was back up to a pack a day in a month. I do drink alcohol, but only a single drink at an event, and never more than two per day. The science is in that one or two drinks a day of alcohol is associated with longer life expectancy than no drinks or more than three.

It is with that background experience that I listened to an hour lecture today about the virtues of psychedelics. Quite frankly I tried hard to be open-minded, but my mind automatically quibbled at many fine points. There were about thirty people at the lecture and most appeared to be receptive, and the after-lecture questions were reasonable and polite. There were two individuals who had had deadly events associated with psychedelics, when their high friends did incredibly stupid things and got killed. I spoke briefly to the speaker after the lecture and supported and encouraged her quest for higher truths.

I support people in their life quests, but personally I know that I am an outlier psychologically, so I do my best to keep my brain straight. One of my guiding principles in life is:

“Not to be smart, but to avoid being stupid.”

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