Journal of Psychoactive Drugs

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The oldest peer-reviewed journal (originally as Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, 1967-1980) examining the use of licit and illicit drugs which alter consciousness. Published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group since 2011.


In 1967 a new periodical appeared “to compile and disseminate objective information relative to the various types of drugs used in the Haight-Ashbury subculture.” Conceived and edited by David E. Smith, MD, the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, which began as a house organ for the Haight Ashbury Free   Medical Clinic of San Francisco, soon found its topical focus shifting, reflecting the replacement of the Haight-Ashbury district’s hippie subculture and its use of psychedelic drugs with a scene predominated by high-dose intravenous amphetamine users, who either burned out or turned to the use of other drugs, such as barbiturates and heroin, in an effort to ameliorate the speedy effects of the stimulants.

The Journal also saw its geographical focus rapidly expanding as the use of psychedelics and other psychoactive drugs (especially LSD and marijuana) spread throughout the nation’s urban centers and around the world. Hundreds of free clinics, hotlines and drug information/education centers emerged to provide this largely youthful population with confidential, credible and nonjudgmental services, which at that time were unavailable from traditional medical, social service, and mental health agencies.

Published by STASH

The directors of the Student Association for the Study of Hallucinogens, Inc. (STASH) – a Wisconsin-based drug information resource center – approached Dr. Smith in June of 1970 with the idea of entering into a cooperative arrangement to publish the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs and to expand its distribution. In September 1970 (Volume 3, Number 1), the Journal’s publication, subscription, and general business offices moved to STASH headquarters in Beloit, Wisconsin. The editorial responsibility for the Journal’s content then alternated between the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic and STASH. This collaboration led to the successful expansion of the Journal in 1974 (Volume 6) to a quarterly schedule and the establishment of a professional Editorial Review Board, including such well-known names as Howard S. Becker and A.T. Shulgin, to provide peer assessment in the selection of articles. To mark this occasion and to further delineate the scope of the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, the subtitle “A Multidisciplinary Forum for the Study of the Drug Culture” was adopted. During the late 1970s the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs built an international reputation as a respected and authoritative periodical, validated by the inclusion of the Journal in the prestigious Index Medicus in 1979.

Return to San Francisco

In 1981 the Journal returned to its birthplace in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury under the aegis of Dr. Smith, Founder and Medical Director of the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinics, and the continued editorship of E. Leif Zerkin, Co-Founder and Co-director of STASH. At that time, the Journal’s title changed to the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs to better reflect the broadening scope of its contents. In 1982, Jeffrey H. Novey joined the editorial staff as Co-Editor, and after a distinguished editorial tenure of more than twenty years, Leif Zerkin moved on to other pursuits and new challenges in October 1991.

The responsibilities of Managing Editor then passed to Jeffrey Novey. In December 1991, Terry Chambers joined the Journal as Publishing Services Manager. Six years later, in September 1996, Jeffrey Novey left to pursue further academic achievements and Richard B. Seymour, a long-term contributor to the Journal, became Managing Editor, serving until his retirement in 2008, and serving thereafter as a consulting editor. Terry Chambers was named Managing Editor, continuing in that role until her retirement in December 2012.

In November 2010, the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs was sold to the Taylor & Francis Group, who retained the editorial staff. In January 2013, Joseph Guydish, PhD, accepted the position of Editor and Barbara Tajima the position of Managing Editor, while Dr. Smith took on the title of Founding Editor.

Throughout its nearly fifty year history, the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs has been on the leading edge of developments in the field of drug use, abuse, and treatment. It has consistently addressed the complex nature of substance use and abuse from a multidisciplinary perspective and has examined a host of topics through the publication of peer-reviewed articles by individuals and theme issues focused on specific topics, including the misprescribing of prescription drugs, dual diagnosis, MDMA/Ecstacy, process addictions, ayahuasca, chemical dependence and AIDS/HIV, the adverse effects of tobacco smoking, and the impact of drug use/abuse on the elderly, women, families, the workplace and much, much more. Many of these topics were presented before finding their way into the mainstream.

The Journal continues to serve both professionals and laypersons as an important multidisciplinary forum for critical thinking, analysis, innovation, and evolutionary development in the fields of licit and illicit substance use, misuse, and treatment.