UMass Symposium Will Celebrate Pioneer In Marijuana Reform


The Free, Day-Long Symposium Will Honor The Late Psychiatrist And Marijuana Reform Advocate Lester Grinspoom

Source: UMass News and Media

“Lester Grinspoon Reconsidered: Celebrating a Pioneer of Drug Policy and a Legacy of Social Change” will take place at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Friday, June 24. The event is a symposium honoring the Harvard psychiatrist who became an advocate for reforming marijuana prohibition laws and for recognizing marijuana’s potential benefits both medicinal and recreational use.  The Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center (SCUA) and the UMass Amherst Libraries are hosting the day-long event in the Campus Center, on what would have been Grinspoon’s 94th birthday. It will feature the renowned psychologist, neuroscientist, and author Carl Hart, who will give the keynote address. Registration is free and is open to the public at the symposium website

Planned with the Grinspoon family and longtime friend and fellow activist Allen St. Pierre, UMass class of 1989, the symposium brings together some of the country’s most prominent experts and activists, many of whom knew Grinspoon, worked with him, or were inspired by his work, and includes those whose work takes a visionary approach to the role that cannabis and psychedelics can play in society. Three panels will explore where drug policy has been, including the journey to (more or less) cultural acceptance; where it is now and impacts on scientific research and business and industry; and what lies ahead for cannabis and psychedelics in medicine, policy, and the culture at large.

Starting things off in the morning, two of Grinspoon’s sons, astrobiologist David Grinspoon and physician Peter Grinspoon, welcome attendees with a talk about their father; the afternoon will feature family and friends paying tribute to Grinspoon. Session participants include NORML founder Keith Stroup; Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) founder Ethan Nadelmann; Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) founder and director Rick Doblin; current DPA executive director Kassandra Frederique; physician Genester Wilson-King; Grinspoon’s collaborator James Bakalar; researcher, anthropologist and nurse Melanie Dreher; attorney and drug policy activist Shaleen Title; activist and lawyer Richard M. Evans, attorney and legal scholar Jay Wexler; and cannabis reporter Dan Adams; as well as the Grinspoons and former NORML executive director St. Pierre.

The symposium will culminate in a keynote address from Professor Hart, author of the acclaimed “Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear and the PEN/E. O. Wilson Science Writing Award-winning High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society,” followed by a reception.

The Grinspoon symposium is being held to celebrate Lester Grinspoon’s life and legacy, to raise awareness of the drug policy archives held in SCUA, and to foster the use of and scholarship in those collections, including Grinspoon’s own papers. The Lester Grinspoon Fund was established to support processing and digitizing his papers. 

In the spirit of promoting open access to information and learning, the UMass Amherst Libraries will be underwriting the symposium, enabling all to attend at no cost. For more information, including bios of the participants, and to register, please visit the symposium website.​​

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