In this Bicycle Day edition of the podcast, Joe had the honor to sit down in-person with chemist and researcher, William Leonard Pickard. In 2004, Pickard was famously convicted for the alleged manufacture of 90% of the world’s LSD – the largest case in history – scoring him two life sentences in a maximum security prison. Prior to his conviction, Pickard was a drug policy researcher at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and deputy director of the Drug Policy Research Program at UCLA.
Pickard discusses his prediction of the current fentanyl crisis (warnings which fell on deaf ears) and watching it all unfold and desecrate lives across the globe from behind bars on the televisions of the Tucson, Arizona Penitentiary he found himself in. With new and dangerously addictive substances like fentanyl being produced carelessly at staggering rates, he believes that it’s incredibly important that we be stronger than any substance, while cautiously asking: will there soon be a drug that is stronger than the will of man?
He talks about the unfair and ongoing sentence of Ross Ulbricht; the alchemy in drug manufacturing; the Fireside Project; what made LSD special; substance overuse and what he saw when volunteering in an ER; the inhumanity of prison and the coping mechanisms of prisoners (like making pets out of ants); 2C-B; NBOMe; LF-1; LSD (of course); and perhaps the most sultry devil of them all, caffeine. And he shares his stance on why it’s okay to be drug-free: how the natural and unaltered mind is the greatest gift of all, and how it’s actually a sign of great respect to the sacraments to finally put them down after you’ve received the message you needed to hear.
Happy Bicycle Day from Psychedelics Today! If you’re celebrating, please be safe and respectful.
“I do think that it’s important to remember that these powerful drug experiences that people have had (psychedelics or otherwise) are not the end-all and be-all – not a religion in themselves but simply a place that points to a greater realization; a greater purity of life and practice. And in the end, you don’t need the drug. That’s one of the beauties of psychedelics, I think, is that they tend to be not only non-lethal (at least the classical hallucinogens: mescaline, LSD, largely psilocybin), but they also are self-extinguishing; that is to say, after a number of long nights of the soul, one may realize that one has learned everything that this particular sacrament can teach and it’s time to put it down. It’s not necessary to go chasing after analog after analog, after different drug experiences with hundreds, soon to be thousands of things available on the net. It’s not necessary to be continually stoned on a different analog every weekend. …It would be respectful for these particular sacraments to put them down and, in honor, say farewell, and simply go about a healthful life of caring, loving one’s friends and families, [and] doing good work in the world. It’s okay to be drug-free. And that’s one of the beautiful things that these particular compounds teach us.”
“I believe that the nobility of ourselves, the dignity of ourselves, is that we are stronger than any substance. We are stronger than heroin. We are stronger than cocaine. We are stronger than methamphetamine. We are stronger than fentanyl and carfentanil or sufentanil or any of its analogs. We are stronger than alcohol or nicotine. And that must always be true or the world will be enslaved to a substance.“
“The problem children of the future are not developed by rogue underground chemists. There are few of those and most are not well-trained. The problem children of the future, drug-wise, comes from Big Pharma [and] their relentless tweaking of molecules.“
“When I first was released, … the first thing that happened when the government van drove away and suddenly, for the first time in twenty years, I’m standing alone with no inmates or officials or anything around – I’m alone for the first time in twenty years – the first thing I did was I saw a flower on a growing tree and went to stare at the flower for about twenty minutes. It was quite beautiful.“
About William Leonard Pickard
Alleged by United States federal agencies to have produced “90% of the world’s LSD,” William Leonard Pickard is a former drug policy fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a research associate in neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, and deputy director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). As a researcher at Harvard in the 1990s, Pickard warned of the dangers of a fentanyl epidemic, anticipating its deadly proliferation in the illicit drug trade decades before the current opioid crisis. Pickard’s predictions and recommendations for prevention have been acknowledged as prescient by organizations like the RAND Corporation. In 2000, Pickard was convicted of conspiring to manufacture and distribute a massive amount of LSD, and served 20 years of two life sentences, during which time he wrote his debut book, The Rose of Paracelsus: On Secrets and Sacraments, using pencil and paper. Pickard was granted compassionate release in 2020. Presently, he is a senior advisor for the biotechnology investment firm, JLS Fund, and the Fireside Project.
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