Alexander and Ann Shulgin are well-known elders who have been working in the field of psychoactive research for decades. Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin, Ph.D., is a pharmacologist and chemist, best known for his rediscovery of MDMA (XTC) and the creation of many new psychoactive chemicals, described in the books TIHKAL and PIHKAL.
Alexander started off as a senior research chemist at Dow Chemical Company. In 1965, Shulgin left Dow to pursue his own interests, and became a private consultant.
In order to carry out consulting work, Shulgin obtained a DEA Schedule I license for an analytical laboratory, which allowed him to possess and synthesize any otherwise illicit drug. Shulgin set up a chemical synthesis laboratory in a small building behind his house, which gave him a great deal of career autonomy. Shulgin used this freedom to synthesize and test the effects of psychoactive drugs. He writes extensively about these activities in his classics PIHKAL and TIHKAL.
In 1994, two years after the publication of PIHKAL, the DEA raided his lab. Allegedly finding problems with his record keeping, the agency requested that Shulgin turn over his license for violating the license's terms, and he was fined $25,000 for possession of anonymous samples sent to him for quality testing.
Richard Meyer, spokesman for DEA's San Francisco Field Division, has stated that, "It is our opinion that those books are pretty much cookbooks on how to make illegal drugs. Agents tell me that in clandestine labs that they have raided, they have found copies of those books," suggesting to many that the publication of PIHKAL and the termination of Shulgin's license were related.
The money used to pay the fine was his pension that he built up over the years. The authorities took his money when he was in his seventies. Now, fifteen years later he is in his eighties, and his health is deteriorating (in 2008 he underwent surgery to replace a defective aortic valve). He nor his wife Ann have any money to pay for the hospital bills.
The Shulgins have a large collection of both primary and secondary physical materials (books, journal entries and so on) that need to be organized, archived and made publicly available. Erowid is seeking $25,000-$50,000 for this project in 2010 to support an expert assistant for Alexander as well as for scanning and processing costs. Donations can be made either through the Erowid Center, or directly to the Shulgins.
The Erowid page where you can find more information and leave a donation: Support the Shulgin Collection
To read more about the Shulgins, see their page in our Encyclopedia.