Roland Griffiths, Pioneer of Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Studies Dead at 77

in Culture

A Johns Hopkins professor who championed groundbreaking new research into psychedelic substances passed away Monday from colon cancer at the age of 77.

Dr. Roland Redmond Griffiths, according to a New York Times obituary, helped usher in a new era of psychedelic research during his time at Johns Hopkins by leading several studies regarding the ways in which psychedelic substances may help combat a myriad of mental health disorders. 

Dr. Griffiths’ 2006 paper “Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance” was a first-of-its-kind study in which otherwise healthy adults were administered psilocybin in a controlled environment. 80 percent of the participants described their experience as “mystical,” that is holding the same weight or significance as the birth of a child or the death of a parent or an otherwise monumental life event. These effects lasted as long as years in some of the study participants, many of whom were interviewed by well-known author and advocate of psychedelics, Michael Pollan, for his book How to Change Your Mind, which was later adopted into a Netflix series.

“Roland had such a sterling reputation as being a rigorous and conscientious scientist,” Pollan said in a phone interview with the New York Times. “No one of his stature had stepped into this area in such a long time that it gave a lot of other people confidence,” he added. “When he presented this completely weird study, which was so out there for science, it could have been dumped on, but it wasn’t.”

The double-blind placebo-controlled study served as a baseline for dozens of subsequent studies on psychedelic substances, all of which have pretty poignantly indicated that psychedelics can potentially have massive, overwhelmingly positive effects on human beings. A cursory search of the phrase “psilocybin study” on High Times online …

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Author: Patrick Maravelias / High Times

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