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Conference Report:
Drugs: The Shape of Things to Come; Sacred Elixirs; Psytopia
by Erowid
Nov 2005
Citation:   Erowid. "Conference Reports: Drugs: The Shape of Things to Come, Sacred Elixirs and Psytopia". Erowid Extracts. Nov 2005;9:21.
Drugs: The Shape of Things to Come — London, England : June 17, 2005 (
Organized by DTL (Drug Treatment Limited), this conference focused on the near future of psychoactive and performance-enhancing drugs. Wrye Sententia of CCLE chaired the event, Earth and Fire presented, and Ann and Sasha Shulgin made appearances; the rest of the speakers were new to us.

Robert Forman described his research tracking the explosion in online availability of "no-prescription" opiates over the last few years and some of the law enforcement implications of internet medicine sales. Michelle Verroken spoke about the complex emerging problems of performance-enhancing drugs and "nutraceuticals"; as the use of supplements that improve physical and mental function becomes normalized in the general public, athletes are increasingly being denied the use of drugs that are freely available to the rest of the population.

In a talk entitled "Super Soldiers", David Neil covered the use of prescribed amphetamines in the military, and the future use of battle field stimulants and painkillers. John Marsden talked about smart drugs and the growing use of mild performance-enhancing drugs in the general population. Finally, Fire and Earth discussed the history of drug information online and described the effects of some new technologies and mobile wireless devices on peer-to-peer sharing of information about psychoactives.

We had an amazing, but sadly short, trip to England and enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the Beckley Foundation as well as a visit to the amazing Kew Gardens.

Sacred Elixirs — San Jose, California : Oct 2223, 2005 (
Sacred Elixirs, organized by Mike and Melanie Crowley, was held in the center of San Jose, California at the Montgomery Theater and the San Jose Convention Center. Overall, the conference went very well. The program was weighted towards traditional entheogens and the spiritual use of psychoactives, with a focus on mushrooms.

The Saturday lineup included Ralph Metzner, Cynthia Palmer and Michael Horowitz, Clark Heinrich, and Dale Pendell, followed by a panel discussion about the identity of Soma with David Flatttery, Scott Haijcek-Dobberstein, Dale Pendell, Clark Heinrich, and John Winslow. Sunday featured Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Paul Devereux, Tom Riedlinger, Earl Crockett, and Ann and Sasha Shulgin. The event was rounded out by poetry readings between speakers, experiential workshops on meditation and Holotropic Breathwork, and music. Erowid manned a table, answered questions, and chatted with new and old members.

As this was the organizers' first conference, there were a few rough edges; perhaps the worst was that, due to space limitations in the Montgomery Theater, the room where workshops took place was a block away from the auditorium where the lectures were held. This made it difficult to move between the primary auditorium and the workshops.

Psytopia Festival - Cancelled — Runaway Bay, Jamaica : Aug 1722, 2005
Scheduled for August 2005 in Jamaica, the Psytopia festival was designed to be a fundraising event for five organizations: the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Alex Grey's Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, the Albert Hofmann Foundation, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Unfortunately, the event was cancelled at the last minute by organizer Alex Pearlstein. Most of the decisions that led to the cancellation can be forgiven except the following:
  1. Perlstein waited until the day people were leaving for Jamaica to cancel the event, so many guests did not receive notice of the cancellation in time.
  2. Perlstein did not go to Jamaica himself or send a representative, leaving those guests who showed up to fend for themselves. Sadly, Psytopia ended up wasting the time and energy of many groups, including the charities it was intended to help.