Will Harvard drop acid again?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Will Harvard drop acid again?

Interview with John Halpern

Before we head into his office at McLean, Halpern wants to take a walk in the woods that surround the hospital’s Belmont grounds. It is a crisp spring morning, and I half expect Halpern to pick and ingest some lichen, or start scraping some bark off a tree that he would brew into a psychedelic tea. Eventually we find our way to his office, where I imagined would be cushions on the floor, or maybe a giant statue of Shiva or Vishnu. What I see instead is the office of a typical Harvard professor: wall-to-ceiling papers, books, and journals. And while the screen-saver on his computer monitor is decidedly psychedelic, there is nothing here to suggest I am in the den of a mad Harvard scientist, hell-bent on dosing the collective American consciousness with LSD. In fact, when I mention the ghost of Leary and his legacy, Halpern smiles and says, “Well, we have seen how not to do it, haven’t we?”

It’s true Halpern is giving MDMA to dying cancer patients who are suffering from related anxiety, but he explains that these are not take-home medicines. The same would be true of LSD if his study of that drug is approved, which he hopes will happen sometime this year. First he must deliver protocols to McLean’s Institutional Review Board. If these are accepted, he can go to the FDA to get its approval to use LSD in a clinical trial. [More...]



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