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Prisoner of the War on Drugs: A Conversation with William Leonard Pickard [ONLINE]
February 27 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
by Psychedelic Society (UK)
On July 27th 2020 it hit the news that after 20 years William Leonard Pickard, convicted for conspiracy to manufacture LSD in the largest psychedelic case in history, was released from serving two life sentences in a maximum-security federal prison. During incarceration, he hand wrote, with pencil and paper alone, an immense novel: The Rose of Paracelsus, while also conducting academic research into civil liberties and drug-related matters. We are honoured to host Leonard in conversation this February, exploring his fascinating life-events before his arrest, and stories from inside a violent prison system.
The past two decades have seen radical changes in the ongoing conversations and policies towards drugs, an eruption of technological advancement and now, a global pandemic. How must it feel to emerge from behind bars in the current climate of today’s world? What hopes and shadows do Leonard foresee in the ongoing psychedelic renaissance? And with literary accounts of psychedelic distribution as a means of humanity’s evolution, how does he feel about psychedelics and their potential for shaping humankind and the future?
With a dedicated audience Q&A allowing our followers to ask questions of their own, join us for this unique and memorable evening of conversation with William Leonard Pickard.
About William Leonard Pickard
Released from prison after serving 20 years of two life sentences, for producing what the United States government alleged was “90% of the world’s LSD”, William Leonard Pickard is now employed in New Mexico defending the rights of the Hispanic community. He also engages with academia and start-ups in tech and psychedelics. During his lengthy incarceration under the most extreme conditions, Pickard wrote “The Rose of Paracelsus”, a semi-autobiographical work centred around six chemists in an international drug organisation. Handwritten in pencil over five years, the book is renowned as a psychedelic masterpiece.
Pickard has been involved in working in altered states for over fifty-five years, being well-acquainted with pivotal figures such as Sasha Shulgin. He has a strong academic background, receiving a Princeton scholarship and graduating from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Prior to his arrest, Pickard was the Deputy Director of Drug Policy at the University of California, conducting research on drug issues in the United States, Russia, and the Middle East: inquiries which he continued during his sentences. A key focus of his research in drug policy is the opioid epidemic in the United States and worldwide. In 2019, the American think tank RAND published a definitive book on the future of fentanyl and accredited Pickard with predicting the ongoing epidemic in 1996 – over twenty years before it occurred – and with making recommendations for its prevention.
Outside of his interests in drugs and policy, Pickard is a practising Buddhist, enjoys walks and runs amongst nature, skiing in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, and both operatic and synth-pop electronic music.