The man known as the “Grandfather of ecstasy”, Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin, died aged 88 on June 2 after a battle with liver cancer, according to statements posted on his Facebook page and on the shulginresearch.org website.
Throughout his life, Shulgin had synthesised and self-tested hundreds of psychoactive chemicals, including MDMA – which became known as the drug ecstasy.
“In 1976 Shulgin was introduced to MDMA by a graduate student in San Francisco”, DJ Mag reports. “He developed a new synthesis method and passed the finished results to his therapist friend Leo Zeff. Zeff began using it for sessions with clients, and soon word spread about the effects of MDMA — or XTC — on people’s emotional states. As has been well documented, ecstasy then spread to the club culture in New York, Chicago, Ibiza, and then the UK and across Europe”.
”There can never be a new Alexander Shulgin”
In 2010, Vice’s VBS.tv contributor and psychedelic connoisseur Hamilton Morris met with Alexander Shulgin and his wife Ann, also a chemical researcher, in their California home.
“Pretty much every psychedelic drug known came from this house”, says Morris, a personal fan of the man he calls “the grandfather of ecstasy”.
According to Morris, Shulgin first started his career at Dow Chemical where he synthesised the first biodegradable insecticide. After this first success, he was given the opportunity to work in a field of his choice. Shulgin chose psychedelic drugs.
His first psycho-active molecule, an amphetamine only a little weaker than LSD, was sold by the kilo by a chemist in New York to bikers’ gangs, flooding the hippie counter-culture with potent psychedelic highs. When the origin of the drug was identified, things deteriorated for Shulgin who eventually left Dow. He then focused on psychedelic drugs.
Today, Morris posted tributes on Twitter and Instagram:
I started writing so I could speak with Alexander Shulgin, he was a truly great person and scientist and will live on through his syntheses.— Hamilton Morris (@HamiltonMorris) 3 Juin 2014
“In today’s legal climate, there is no way” Shulgin could reproduce his work of the 1960s Morris says in his VBS.TV reportage. “There can never be another Alexander Shulgin”.