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#024 Ben Westhoff: time to reschedule psychedelics

Psychedelic Diaries episode summary:

We talk with Ben Westhoff — award winning reporter and author — about LSD on a mountain hike, hip hop artist arrest records, and magic mushrooms at a work conference.




— NUGGET AND A NOODLE: Toronto votes to decriminalize all drugs; are transcendent experiences simply a chemical reaction for Darwinian evolution (0:35)

— Ben's relationship with East Coast hip-hop (2:38)

— Research on the drug epidemic (3:09)

— Challenging parts of the book writing process (5:47)

— What surprised Ben about hip-hop culture (7:02)

— Celebrities changing attitudes as they grow older (9:25)

— Why LSD is arguably safer than Water (12:05)

— How LSD gives Ben profound confidence (14:31)

— Why LSD's production should be standardized (21:55)

— Teaser from his upcoming book Little Brother: Love Tragedy and My Search for the Truth (22:21)

— SOUL SEARCH: Ben's three favorite rappers of all time... (24:55)

Ben Westhoff

He is a best-selling, award-winning investigative journalist who writes about culture, drugs, and poverty. His books are taught around the country and have been translated into languages all over the world.

His new book Little Brother: Love, Tragedy, and My Search for the Truth (May 24, 2022, Hachette Books) details his search for the man who killed Jorell Cleveland, Westhoff’s longtime mentee in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Part memoir, part true crime, it’s a three-year investigation set in the northern suburbs of St. Louis that uncovers a heartbreaking cycle of poverty, poor education, drug trafficking, and violence.

Westhoff was interviewed about his latest book for Fresh Air and Joe Rogan, and published an excerpt in The Atlantic. Since the book’s publication, Westhoff has advised top government officials, including from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the U.S. embassy in Beijing, and the U.S. State Department.

Westhoff’s 2016 book Original Gangstas: Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and the Birth of West Coast Rap is one of the best-selling hip-hop books of all time. It received raves from Rolling Stone and People, and a starred review in Kirkus. S. Leigh Savidge, Academy Award nominee and co-writer of Straight Outta Compton said it "may be the best book ever written about the hip hop world."

Westhoff's work has appeared in the Library of Congress, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Rolling Stone, New York, Forbes, Playboy, Vice, Oxford American, Pitchfork, and others. He's been honored by the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Entertainment Journalism Awards, Religion Newswriters Association, Best Music Writing, Best of Southern Food Writing, L.A. Press Club, and the Missouri Press Association.

He has been interviewed as an expert commentator for CNN, BET, A&E, and ITV, and is the former L.A. Weekly music editor and Voice Media Group Senior music editor. He's a contributor to the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap, and his 2011 book on southern hip-hop, Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop was a Library Journal best seller.

Find Ben here:

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