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Alexander Shulgin
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Scientist
    (June 17, 1925-June 2, 2014)
    Born in Berkeley, California
    Chemist and pharmacologist
    Worked for Dow Chemical (1955-66)
    Held a schedule I license from the Drug Enforcement Agency, allowing him to synthesize and possess otherwise illegal drugs
    Synthesized and analyzed over 200 psychoactive compounds
    Tested effects of the drugs on himself, his wife and a 'research group' of six to eight close friends
    Developed a new, simpler technique for synthesizing MDMA (aka Ecstasy) and encouraged psychologists to study its use (1976)
    Although he was nicknamed 'the Godfather of Ecstasy,' he did not invent the drug. (Merck developed it in 1912 as a blood clotting agent.)
    He complained that MDMA was 'sidelined' by the British rave scene, which 'destroyed its medicinal value.'
    Dow initially gave him great leeway in his work, but after becoming worried about the potential bad publicity of being co-holder of the patents on a bunch of street drugs, they asked him to either stop researching psychedelics or leave.
    He said, 'A lot of materials in [the DEA's] Schedule I are my invention. I'm not sure if that's a point of pride or a point of shame.'
    The DEA revoked his schedule I license following a raid on his lab (1994).
    He said, 'I'm disturbed by the fact that you get someone who wants to make a pile of money and doesn't give a damn about the safety or purity,' but published instructions allowing anyone to synthesize the drugs he created.
    He wrote a two page editorial in the Journal of Chemical Toxicology complaining about people who use the wrong plural for 'amphetamine.' (The correct plural is 'amphetamine,' not 'amphetamines.')
    He was fond of attending formal events in a tuxedo and homemade sandals.
    He served in the Navy in World War II.
    He played piano and viola.
    He made a fortune for Dow by inventing Zectrin, the first biodegradable pesticide (1961).
    He received awards from the DEA, having served as an expert witness for the agency in several court cases. (Although he noted that he had more frequently been a witness for the defense in drug trials.)
    He wrote 'Controlled Substances: Chemical and Legal Guide to Federal Drug Laws' (1988), the standard textbook on the subject.
    Two decades after it was banned, he convinced the DEA and FDA to allow research into potential therapeutic uses of MDMA.
    Surprisingly, he was a member of the conservative, elite Bohemian Grove club, where he reportedly offered to show the president of Boeing 'a new way to fly.'
    He said his own favorite mind-altering drug was 'probably a nice, moderately expensive Zinfandel.'

Credit: C. Fishel


    For 2019, as of last week, Out of 1 Votes: 100% Annoying
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