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When the Drugs Hit

A Motherboard journey into the science, politics, and culture of today’s psychedelic renaissance.
Illustration by Chris Kindred

At Motherboard, we know the future can be both wonderful and terrifying. Kind of like tripping on psychedelic drugs.

Welcome to When the Drugs Hit, a new Motherboard series about the trippy science, politics, and culture of today's psychedelic boom. We'll be taking a deep, sober look―with some fun along the way―at how these drugs are shaping our collective futures.

From the utopian counter-culture optimism of the 1960s to the pessimism of today's millenarian cyberdelia, psychedelics have profoundly shaped recent American history. These mind-altering substances, notably Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD, or acid) and psilocybin (magic mushrooms), influenced our music, literature and aesthetics; inspired murderous cult leaders, Harvard professors, and the War on Drugs; led to breakthroughs in neuroscience and consumer technology; and even changed the way we think about space travel.


But only nowadays, after decades of harsh government prohibitions, do these psychedelic drugs seem to be enjoying a moment. The landscape of 2017 would probably be unrecognizable to the pioneering psychonauts of the 1950s and 60s: Obscure designer drugs are now the kids' chemicals of choice. MDMA is on the brink of becoming an FDA approved medicine. Psilocybin is being administered to the terminally ill. There's a community dedicated to tripping in virtual reality. And scientists want humans on LSD to play ancient board games against artificial intelligences.

It can be easy to get swept up in sensationalist reporting amid such activity and renewed interest in psychedelic research. In fact, this tendency to exaggerate in psychedelic journalism may have been one of the main contributing factors to the moratorium on psychedelic research that began in the 70s. Motherboard has always made a point of covering this world of mind-altering substances without falling into hyperbole, and will continue doing so. But we want to push our psychedelic editorial coverage further.

In the days and weeks ahead, we'll be talking with more of the people on the frontlines of today's (and tomorrow's) psychedelic resurgence. Whether it's the chemist supplying America's psychedelic drugs and the scientists taking on the DEA or the Silicon Valley bros eating miniscule amounts of acid for breakfast, we want to know what's really going on in the world of psychedelic science.

So come, join us.

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