Journal of Psychoactive Drugs


Haight Ashbury Publications

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Published by Haight Ashbury Publications


Editors' Introduction: (40th Anniversary Edition - September 2008)

David E. Smith, M.D.
Terry Chambers, B.A.
Richard B. Seymour, M.A.

With this issue, the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs celebrates its fortieth edition. In looking back at articles in the first few editions (some of which is posted on our website at with commentary by Dr. Smith) one can see clear differences but many similarities. As the first journal in the United States to address issues concerning drugs and drug abuse, the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs (the Journal’s previous name) was the product of its time and place (Haight Ashbury in the 1960s). The initial focus on psychedelic drugs very quickly moved on to other drugs appearing on that scene and over the years has grown into a wide-ranging interest in the seemingly endless variety of drugs that have become available to their consumers. The intent of the Journal has not changed: to provide honest and straightforward information about drugs to those who need to know more, whether they are researchers, those concerned about drug users, or concerned drug users.

One thing that has changed is the range of countries from which these articles originate. Included in this issue are (1) an article from South Africa on heroin users in Cape Town; (2) an article from Brazil studying how journalists there deal with reporting on drug issues; (3) one from Australia on a program for helping young substance abusers, their families and siblings deal with the abuser’s (and thus the families’) problems; (4) another article from Australia outlining traditional use of Banisteriopsis caapi among indigenous Venezuelans; and (5) an article from Iran surveying substance abuse among medical patients in Shiraz.

Another change is in the drugs being studied. In 1967, MDMA was not well known. The Journal provided one of the first comprehensive looks at this emerging drug with an issue dedicated to MDMA that came out in December of 1986. In the present issue there are several articles devoted to MDMA. A study from Spain describes MDMA-assisted psychotherapy using low doses in a sample of women with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder. The research project was unfortunately shut down by the Spanish government before completion, but the study nevertheless provides compelling reading. An article from the US examines young adult Ecstasy users and their sex habits—and AIDS risks.

Also addressed are the risks involved with the use of gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), which was also little known in the 1960s. Another short article discusses the characteristics of betel products and their availability in the US (another nonissue in the 1960s).

Finally, there is a review of information currently available (some of it the latest information that science can provide) on drug craving—an issue that crosses most national and topical boundaries. An article providing a statistical analysis of data addressing cancer risks of marijuana versus tobacco smoking returns to one of the drugs discussed in the earliest journals.

For many years, the Journal followed a particular educational format. First a conference was held at UCSF that addressed a particular drug—whether it was LSD, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin or MDMA. A multidisciplinary forum of leading clinicians and scientists was convened and papers were presented that were later published in the Journal to provide a broad dissemination of this important information. In many cases, the Journal provided the earliest and most comprehensive review of new drugs and drug trends, including the upper-downer cycle and associated polydrug abuse and dual diagnosis issues. It also provided a forum for the integration of treatment modalities such as methadone maintenance in therapeutic communities. As a result of this cutting edge information, the Journal is now studied around the world and has a disproportionate impact relative to its circulation. The Internet has greatly enhanced its impact.

The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs continues to cover a wide range of topics in a variety of formats. It spans an extended period of time. There is something to be learned from indigenous societies who use drugs only within the rituals and rules of their society, and have been for centuries. There is also much to be learned from the up-to-the-minute and ever-increasing store of information available from science on how drugs affect the brain. The Journal’s reach also spans the length of the world itself: it is truer today than ever that a drug problem in a far away country may be a problem in your country tomorrow.

So please join us in celebrating the Journal’s fortieth birthday and in hoping that it continues for many more years.




Vol. 40 (3)

September 2008

Fortieth Anniversary Edition

Table of Contents



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