Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs

In 1967, a landmark symposium entitled Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs was held in San Francisco, California. It was the first international, interdisciplinary group of specialists – from ethnobotanists to neuroscientists – who gathered in one place to share their findings on the use of psychoactive plants in indigenous societies. Follow-up meetings were intended to be held every ten years, but the War on Drugs intervened.

A symposium with a selection of the most well-respected and emerging ethnobiological researchers

The findings of the symposium were printed in a book entitled with the same name as the gathering. This book was an inspiration to Dennis to become an ethnopharmacologist. Under his leadership two anniversary conferences were held and it is the McKenna Academy’s vision to host an ESPD conference every five years to stay abreast of the latest research in the field of ethnopharmacology, ethnobiology and ethnobotany. 

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ESPD Publications

“The discovery of ESPD’s publication changed my life. For me, at least, that book was influential because it provided a cultural context for psychedelics based on traditions older and richer than anything I had encountered in mass media sources.”

Read about Dennis’ personal journey with the first ESPD symposium volume here

ESPD50 Collector’s Box Set

In collaboration with Synergetic Press, the McKenna Academy reprinted the 1967 symposium volume and published the 2017 ESPD conference findings together in a high quality collector’s edition box set that won the esteemed James A. Duke Botanical Literature Award. This popular publication has been reprinted seven times already.

ESPD55 Symposium Volume

The McKenna Academy is again working closely with Synergetic Press to publish the findings of the third edition of ESPD as a stand-alone volume, “ESPD55” in 2023.