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'Godfather of Ecstasy' Dead at 88

Chemist Sasha Shulgin was a 'psychedelic pioneer'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2014 12:44 PM CDT

(Newser) – A chemist named Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin has died at age 88, notes Gawker, and while that might not be a household name, his nickname explains the attention: "godfather of ecstasy." Shulgin didn't invent the drug otherwise known as MDMA, but he "rescued the circa-1912 pharmaceutical from obscurity by suggesting it would be viable for mental therapy," explains LA Weekly. The rest is rave history. Shulgin did, however, invent somewhere around 150 psychedelic drug compounds with his wife, Ann, using themselves as test subjects.

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The respected chemist began his career with Dow Chemical and eventually authored two books with his wife titled TiHkal (Tryptamines I Have Known And Loved) and PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved). The Guardian and Vice have resurrected their interviews with Shulgin from years past. In its tribute to this "maverick chemist, psychedelic pioneer, and inspiring human being," Boing Boing quotes Shulgin himself: Everyone deserves "the license to explore the nature of his own soul." (Read more obituary stories.)

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