What follows are excerpts from the 1996 interview with ethnobotanist Terence McKenna. Please see the great video of this interview with McKenna and Sasha Shulgin at the bottom of the page
"Drugs" is a word that has polluted the well of language.
Part of the reason we have a drug problem is because we don't have an intelligent language to talk about substances, plants, psychedelic [and] sedative states of mind, states of amphetamine excitation. We can't make sense of the problem and the opportunities offered by substances unless we clean up our language.
"Drugs" is a word that's been used by governments to make it impossible to think creatively about the problem of substances and abuse and availability and so forth and so on.
So it's a kind of a paradox isn't it?
"Drugs" mean that which cures us and the greatest social problem of the generation.
Apparently there are "good drugs" sanctioned by science and medicine and "bad drugs" used by brown people in strange rites and growing in unusual plants in distant parts of the world. This kind of thinking, because it's naive, leads of course to social problems and bad politics and bad social policy.
Every society chooses a small number of substances, no matter how toxic, and enshrines them in its cultural values, then demonizes all other substances and then persecutes and launches witch hunts against those users whenever some political pretext requires...So it's an old game and it's been played in many places.
Hopefully part of the advancement of society toward ideas of universal human rights and that sort of thing it certainly must include the idea of the universal human right to take responsibility for and to alter your own state of consciousness as you see fit.
I don't think we can even pretend that we are on the edge of a civilized dialogue until we grant that people's minds, like their bodies, must be a domain free from government control. In American law we have the notion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If the pursuit of happiness means anything it must mean the right to use and experiment with substances and plants.
We need endless amounts of research. The fact that these things have been illegal in most countries for 50 years means there is a huge lag in understanding of the impact of these things on human beings.
Alan Watts on why our culture
is making people unhappy
Shamans of the Amazon Part 1:
Ayahuasca, Politics, & the War on Drugs
"This is a personal account of filmmaker, Dean Jefferys, returning to the Amazon with his partner and one year old daughter. They journey deep into the heart of the Ecuadorian rainforest to meet two Amazon shamans to learn about and experience the ancient hallucinogenic ayahuasca ritual. The film brings to the viewer an intimate and fascinating look at the shamans of the Amazon, their culture and their rituals that are fast disappearing. The ayahuasca ritual is thousands of years old."
Scroll down for the 'Shamans of the Amazon' two part documentary and 'Science & Sacraments,' a documentary from the Purdue University Psychoactive Substances Research Collection.
Nature of Things: The Jungle Prescription
Sacred Plants as Guides:
New Dimensions of the Soul
Science & Sacraments: Psychedelic Substances and the Mystical Experience - Purdue University Psychoactive Substances Research Collection
NPR: Is This Your Brain on God?
Palenque Mexico. January 28, 1996.
Shamans of the Amazon Part 2:
The Last Word with T. McKenna (1999)