Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Kristina Wirtz

Second Advisor

Chien-Juh Gu

Third Advisor

Whitney DeCamp


On June 2nd, 2014, Alexander Shulgin died. The normally neutral colored banner of three large Internet drug forum websites changed to a vibrant display with Shulgin's picture at the top reverently silhouetted by the words 'Rest in Peace.' Threads opened up across forum boards referencing how Shulgin's books Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved and Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved had influenced poster's lives and shaped their perspectives on drug use.

Shulgin, a Berkley educated psychopharmacologist, is a key symbolic figure amongst Internet drug communities. Though Shulgin never openly participated in Internet drug community discourse, his works offer a rubric for active Internet drug forum members to understand 'healthy' drug use habits. Being a highly educated and relatively successful scholar, Shulgin represents a kind of messianic authority figure for drug use groups stigmatized by institutionalized domains of knowledge, such as science and medicine. Having designed popular families of grey market psychoactive substances, such as the '2C' chemical family, Shulgin is considered amongst Internet drug communities to have largely paved the way for new 'legal' drug use trends.

Although not a key figure throughout the rest of this work, Shulgin's prominence informs readers of the cultural dynamics within Internet drug communities. Shulgin is perceived to have rationally reinterpreted one-sided messages regarding drug use, specifically designer drugs, and created a paradigm for potentially healthy and educated drug use amongst willing drug users. Drug use protocol propounded by Shulgin, such as irregular ingestion, is widely adopted and circulated throughout Internet drug forum discourse. Taking Shulgin as a symbolic starting point, Internet drug forum communities believe that drugs can be objectively understood and positively applied to a healthy lifestyle.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted