You’ve got to tip your hat to Hamilton Morris. Over the first season of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, the young man regularly offered up his scrawny person as a test subject, all in the name of drug research. Season two is about to hit SBS VICELAND, and this time Morris travels from remote jungle to clandestine lab, debunking or confirming myths while pushing the limits of his consciousness further than ever before. As ever, there’s no doubt he's one increasingly wild and crazy science guy. Here's what you can expect from the new season...
Tripping on psychedelic toads
Morris heads to Mexico to locate the Sonoran Desert Toad, an elusive species that carries in its glands one of the most potent psychoactive substances on earth. When said toad is milked and its venom smoked, an individual experiences an “ego death” and goes through a 15-minute process of inspired lunacy that’s apparently akin to 15 years of therapy, for better or for worse. Those who advocate use of the toad venom believe it exists to help humans purge demons and connect with a sense of universal love. But what will it do to our host, a self-coined cynic?
Going deep with peyote
Hamilton also travels in Thailand, North America and Mexico, all in the name of peyote. With the help of an Indigenous American peyotist, he sources a kind of fresh cactus and ingests the mescaline compound that houses the powerful hallucinogen. The peyotist, a former alcoholic, argues that regular use of the stuff is a surefire way to inner peace and enlightened perspective. In a lone tepee in the middle of nowhere, Hamilton finds out how much truth there is to the statement.
What is the deal with kratom?
If you’ve never heard of kratom, know that tons of the (tentatively legal) plant derivative are imported into the US every day. Some argue kratom is a kind of opiate, while some refuse to place it in that alarming category. Either way, thousands of heroin and oxy addicts consider the milder, safer and less addictive substance a lifesaver – a means of substitution that offers invaluable assistance with the unfathomable pain of withdrawal. Before the US criminalises the plant, which they almost certainly will, Hamilton travels from the last remaining kratom forest in Thailand to a kava bar in Brooklyn that serves it in drink form.
The Ketamine conundrum
In a later episode, “Ketamine; Realms and Realities”, Hamilton explores one of the most misunderstood drugs around. Contrary to popular belief, “Special K” is not a horse tranquilliser, but rather a dissociative anaesthetic that is currently being tested for a bunch of uses removed from getting “high”, including “microdosing” in the treatment of severe depression. That being said, ketamine is an incredibly strong hallucinatory substance that comes with a bunch of side effects, and the best (and far safer) alternative to trying it yourself is to watch Hamilton do so.
In addition to playing lab rat, Morris interacts with those smack-bang in the middle of a DMT trip (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) – an experience that quickly launches the user’s consciousness away from reality and onto a completely different plane. Most fascinatingly, this mysterious “spirit molecule” is unlike other mind-altering substances, as it’s a naturally-occurring chemical found inside our own brains.
He also travels to meet a clandestine chemist who was once arrested and charged, and who now lives with his wife in the middle of nowhere. This man is not your average drug manufacturer, having spent the years prior to his arrest achieving feats of synthesis on par with the world’s greatest chemists.
To round out the season, Morris traverses the Carpathian mountains to investigate the legendary Amanita muscaria mushroom, then heads to Peru in order to serve as a cactus-happy Shaman’s apprentice.
Watch season two of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia on Tuesday 9 January at 8:30pm on SBS VICELAND.