US ‘Godfather of Ecstasy’ dies at 88

June 3, 2014

LOS ANGELES, California – U.S. chemist Alexander Shulgin, known as the “Godfather of ecstasy” for turning an obscure chemical into a widely-used party drug, has died at 88, his family said. “Sasha died [Monday] … he was surrounded by family and caretakers and Buddhist meditation music, and his going was graceful, with almost no struggle at all,” his widow Ann said on Facebook in a statement posted early Tuesday.

The octogenarian, who lived in California and studied chemistry at Harvard and Berkeley, suffered from liver cancer.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Shulgin developed an interest in the swinging 1960s in so-called psychoactive chemicals, testing hundreds of them including anti-depressants, aphrodisiacs and stimulants on himself and his friends.

In the 1970s he began working with the amphetamine MDMA, which later became the rave or nightclub drug of choice, Ecstasy, or E. It allowed clubbers to dance for hours, although there have been cases of sudden death, raising questions particularly about the purity of the drug.

The stimulant had already been synthesized at the end of the 19th century and patented in 1912 by pharmaceutical firm Merck, before being abandoned.

Shulgin created a new way of synthesizing it, working with a psychologist, Leo Zeff, who used it himself and recommended it to colleagues to treat patients.

The chemist, who organized psychodelic drug sessions with friends, wrote several books on his experiments.

You may be interested

Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas, Real Madrid nab third consecutive Champions title
Keylor Navas
94 views
Keylor Navas
94 views

Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas, Real Madrid nab third consecutive Champions title

Katherine Stanley - May 26, 2018

Costa Rica's star goalie, Keylor Navas, continued his historic march through world football as his club team, Real Madrid, won…

Adaptive surfing, part III: Riding the waves with Noah
sports
178 views
sports
178 views

Adaptive surfing, part III: Riding the waves with Noah

Ellen Zoe Golden - May 25, 2018

Part III in a series on adaptive surfing in Costa Rica. Read Part I, about the country's association for disabled…

It’s frog orgy season
Environment and Wildlife
1280 views
Environment and Wildlife
1280 views

It’s frog orgy season

Lindsay Fendt - May 25, 2018

The rainy season is upon us. For many of us that means hiding indoors for the next few months, but for Costa…