Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin is the world's foremost "psychonaut" and author of PIHKAL and TIHKAL. The 82-year-old chemist has not only created more of the 300 known consciousness-altering (or psychoactive) compounds than anyone living or dead, he has, by his own account, sampled somewhere between 200 and 250 of them himself.
"I take them myself because I am interested in their activity in the human mind. How would you test that in a rat or mouse?" says Shulgin.
One by one, Shulgin has seen many of the compounds he invented or experimented with become illegal in the United States, including some that have never been synthesized by anyone and some that he thought might prove therapeutic, such as MDMA, better known as Ecstasy. "I was very sad to see MDMA achieve the status of a Schedule 1 drug," a designation that prohibits its manufacture or use in the USA, he says. "I felt that it would inhibit research into its medical value and that's the way it's turned out."
Some researchers agree that the government's response to psychoactive drugs has deprived them of a unique window into human consciousness. After all, rodents will happily ingest most intoxicants and narcotics — from marijuana to heroin— but not the psychedelics.
Read the Scientific American article here: Self-Experimenters: Psychedelic Chemist Explores the Surreality of Inner Space, One Drug at a Time