Thank you for your interest in this event! Online registration has now closed. To register please come to the on-site registration desk located on the 1st floor of the UMass Amherst Campus Center from 7:30 - 10AM on Friday.

Join us!
Join us for a day-long symposium honoring Lester Grinspoon, the Harvard psychiatrist who became a celebrated advocate for reforming marijuana prohibition laws and for recognizing marijuana’s potential benefits both medicinal and recreational. Hosted by the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center (SCUA) and the UMass Amherst Libraries, it brings together experts and activists who knew Grinspoon or were inspired by his work and culminates in a keynote address from Carl Hart, the renowned psychologist and neuroscientist and author of works both scientific and popular, including Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear.

SCUA holds the Lester Grinspoon Papers and other drug policy-related archives. 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 are underwriting the symposium.

Where and when
Friday, June 24, 2022, starting at 7:30 a.m.
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Campus Center Auditorium

Pre-registration information
There is no cost to attend the symposium, but registration is required and includes parking, lunch, snacks, and the reception following the keynote address, as well as access to all sessions.

The deadline for registering is June 19, 2022, by 11:59 p.m. EDT. Click "Register Now" to sign-up today! For assistance completing your registration and/or to register a group, please contact UMass Conference Services at 413-577-8102 or

If you find you are unable to attend, please help us by emailing to cancel your registration.

Video recording
We are excited about gathering together and sharing conversation and ideas during and between the day’s sessions, and we encourage you to join us. If you are unable to join us in person, the symposium will be recorded, captioned, and made available for viewing at a later date, via the Libraries’ YouTube channel and social media.

On what would have been Lester Grinspoon’s 94th birthday, the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center (SCUA) and the UMass Amherst Libraries are hosting the day-long symposium honoring him, planned in partnership with the Grinspoon family and longtime activist and friend Allen St. Pierre. The symposium brings together in conversation experts and activists who knew Grinspoon or were inspired by his work as a psychiatrist, researcher, writer, speaker, and advocate for reforming marijuana laws, as well as those whose work takes a visionary approach to the role that cannabis and psychedelics can play in society.

Starting things off in the morning, two of Grinspoon’s sons, astrobiologist David Grinspoon and physician Peter Grinspoon, will welcome attendees with a talk about their father; the afternoon will feature a multifaceted tribute to Grinspoon.

The symposium will culminate in a keynote address from Carl Hart, the renowned psychologist and neuroscientist and author of works both scientific and popular, including Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, followed by a reception.

The Grinspoon Symposium will also raise awareness of the drug policy archives held in SCUA and 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.

Symposium Schedule at a Glance
7:30 – 8:30 a.m.: Registration and coffee/snacks, Campus Center Auditorium Foyer (1st Floor)
8:30 – 9:30 a.m.: Plenary session with David Grinspoon and Peter Grinspoon, Campus Center Auditorium (1st Floor)
9:30 – 10:00 a.m.: Break with coffee/snacks, Campus Center Auditorium Foyer (1st Floor)
10:00 – 11:00 a.m.: Session 1: Where we have been, Campus Center Auditorium (1st Floor)
11:00 – 11:15 a.m.: Break with coffee/snacks, Campus Center Auditorium Foyer (1st Floor)
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.: Session 2: Where we are now, Campus Center Auditorium (1st Floor)
12:15 – 1:30 p.m.: Lunch break, Campus Center Retail Eateries (2nd Floor)
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.: Session 3: Where are we going?, Campus Center Auditorium (1st Floor)
2:30 – 2:45 p.m.: Break with coffee/snacks, Campus Center Auditorium Foyer (1st Floor)
2:45 – 3:30 p.m.: Tribute to Lester Grinspoon, Campus Center Auditorium (1st Floor)
3:30 – 4:00 p.m.: Break, Campus Center Auditorium Foyer (1st Floor)
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.: Keynote address by Carl Hart, Ph.D., Campus Center Auditorium (1st Floor)
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.: Reception, Campus Center Amherst Room (10th Floor)

Descriptions of Symposium Sessions and Events
Panelists are still being confirmed.

Plenary session with David Grinspoon and Peter Grinspoon
Two of Grinspoon’s sons, astrobiologist David Grinspoon and physician Peter Grinspoon, will start the morning with a talk about their father and his work as a psychiatrist, anti-prohibition advocate, antinuclear activist, and more.

Session 1: Where we have been
Activists and researchers discuss where drug policy has been and the journey to (more or less) cultural acceptance. Panelists include NORML founder Keith Stroup; Drug Policy Alliance founder Ethan Nadelmann; nurse, anthropologist, and researcher Melanie Dreher; writer and Grinspoon’s collaborator James B. Bakalar; and journalist Dan Adams, who will moderate.

Session 2: Where we are now
Experts currently active in research, policy, and industry converse about impacts of cannabis, psychedelics, and drug policy on medicine, scientific research, business, and culture. Panelists include former NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre; physician Genester Wilson-King; and attorney and legal scholar Jay Wexler; with Peter Grinspoon as moderator.

Session 3: Where are we going?
What lies ahead for cannabis and psychedelics in medicine, policy, and the culture at large? What role can they play in reflecting, and even enacting, positive social change? Drug Policy Alliance executive director Kassandra Frederique; cannabis and psychedelics researcher Rick Doblin; and attorney and drug policy activist Shaleen Title ponder these questions and more, with attorney Richard Evans moderating.

Tribute to Lester Grinspoon
A multifaceted tribute to Grinspoon will feature contributions of many who knew him, were inspired by him, or carry on his work.

Keynote Address by Carl Hart, Ph.D.
Carl Hart, renowned psychologist and neuroscientist and author of works both scientific and popular, including Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, will give the keynote address.

About Carl Hart, Keynote Speaker
Carl Hart, Ph.D., is the Ziff Professor of Psychology in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University. Professor Hart earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming and has published numerous scientific and popular articles on neuropsychopharmacology. His books include the textbook Drugs, Society and Human Behavior (with Charles Ksir); High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, which won the 2014 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award; and, most recently, the acclaimed Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear. Professor Hart has appeared on podcasts, radio, and television shows, and in documentary films including the award-winning The House I Live In. More information is on his website.

About the Panelists and Session Moderators

James B. Bakalar co-founded the Harvard Mental Health Letter, which he also edited and contributed to for twenty-three years. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he lectured in law in the psychiatry department of Harvard Medical School, and he collaborated with Lester Grinspoon on many articles and books, including Marihuana, The Forbidden Medicine, Cocaine: A Drug and Its Social Evolution, Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, and Drug Control in a Free Society.

Dan Adams has been a journalist with the Boston Globe for more than a decade; in 2017, he became the Globe’s first-ever dedicated cannabis reporter. The author of the newsletter “This Week in Weed,” the irreverent and definitive insider’s diary of legalization in Massachusetts, he has also reported extensively on marijuana business news, including as part of the Globe’s Spotlight Team, and covered breaking news, municipal politics, business, and the alcohol industry. He has moderated numerous panels, served as a speaker and emcee at national conferences, and regularly appears on public radio and network television. Adams is a graduate of Emerson College.

Rick Doblin, Ph.D. , is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and has been researching uses of cannabis and psychedelics for 35 years. He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his master’s thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients. A certified holotropic breathwork practitioner who studied under Stanislav Grof, Doblin is interested in helping develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people. He founded MAPS in 1986, lives in Boston with his wife and dog, and has three grown children.

Melanie Dreher, Ph.D., former dean of the UMass College of Nursing and other nursing schools, is an award-winning nurse, anthropologist, and an advocate for an objective and scientific appraisal of cannabis and its relationship with society. Her early work opened the door to three decades of funded research on the social context of marijuana and the impact of cannabis on the health, development, and performance of adults and children.

Richard M. Evans, a western Massachusetts lawyer since 1973, authored the first comprehensive marijuana regulation/taxation plan to be introduced as legislation in any state. As a member of NORML’s board of directors in the 90s, he was the moving force behind their Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use, now adopted worldwide, and was awarded NORML’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. His numerous op-eds and other writings helped shape and propel the counter-prohibitionist narrative. In 2016, he chaired the Massachusetts Yes on 4 initiative campaign committee, and served on the drafting committee, which produced the first legalization law to include a social equity mandate.

Kassandra Frederique is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), a national nonprofit that works to end the war on drugs—which has disproportionately harmed Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, and LGBTQ+ communities—and build alternatives grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights. During her time at DPA, Frederique has built and led innovative campaigns around policing, the overdose crisis, and marijuana legalization, with a consistent racial justice focus, mobilizing cities to rethink their approach to drug policy from the ground up. Frederique has been featured in the New York Times, MSNBC, USA Today, National Public Radio, and the Netflix documentary Grass is Greener; honored with the Activist Award from SEIU32BJ, New York City Council Women of Distinction, VOCAL New York’s Joe Bostic Advocacy Award, and the National Advocates for Pregnant Women Emerging Leader award; and recognized on both Essence magazine’s Woke 100 and The Root’s ROOT100. A New Yorker, Frederique holds an M.S. in social work from Columbia University and a B.S. in industrial labor relations from Cornell University.

David Grinspoon, Ph.D., is an astrobiologist whose research focuses on climate evolution on Earth-like planets, potential conditions for life elsewhere in the universe, and the planetary scale impacts of human activities on Earth. He is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado and Georgetown University. He lectures widely about climate change in the solar system, and his work has appeared in journals including Nature and Science and popular publications including Slate, the New York Times, and Sky & Telescope, for which he writes the Cosmic Relief column. His most recent book is Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto, coauthored with Alan Stern. He was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for Public Communication of Planetary Science by the American Astronomical Society, and in 2022 he was elected a lifetime fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science. He is involved with interplanetary spacecraft missions for NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Japanese Space Agency and, as a musician, leads the House Band of the Universe. The main-belt asteroid 22410 Grinspoon was named after him.

Peter Grinspoon, M.D., is a primary care physician and cannabis specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, a certified health and wellness coach, and a member of the board of directors of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR). He spent two years as an associate director of the Massachusetts Physician Health Service helping physicians with addiction and mental health issues and is the author of the memoir Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction, and Seeing Through the Smoke, coming in 2023.

Ethan Nadelmann, Ph.D., a prominent voice in drug policy reform on an international level, founded and directed The Lindesmith Center (1994-2000) and the Drug Policy Alliance (2000-2017). He holds a bachelor’s degree, J.D., and Ph.D. from Harvard and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics. From 1987 to 1994, he taught politics and public affairs at Princeton and during that time began lecturing and writing extensively on drug policy. He is the author of the books Cops Across Borders and (with Peter Andreas) Policing the Globe and of articles in a variety of publications, including Science, Foreign Affairs, the National Review, and The Nation. Nadelmann cofounded the Open Society Institute’s International Harm Reduction Development (IHRD) program and has served on the advisory board of the Open Society Foundation’s Global Drug Policy Project (GDPP) since its creation. He has been drug policy advisor to the Global Commission on Drug Policy and to George Soros and other philanthropists as well as elected officials in the U.S. and abroad. In 2021, he launched the podcast Psychoactive.

Allen St. Pierre ’89, during his long tenure at NORML (1991-2015; executive director 2005-2015), established himself as one of America’s hardest working cannabis law reform activists, helping to turn public opinion from anti-pot to anti-pot prohibition. He has made thousands of media appearances; published significant pro-cannabis law reform public policy reports; organized national conferences, legal seminars, public protests and pro-reform festivals; met with elected officials; and testified before local, state and federal legislatures. His writings have appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including more than 200 columns for High Times, and—post-prohibition—in Cannabis Business Executive and Cannabis & Technology. After leaving NORML, St. Pierre has been a vice president of Las Vegas-based Freedom Leaf, a partner at Boston-based Sensible Alternative Investments, an advisor to cannabis-centric software company getAmbr, and curator of the WeedMaps Museum of Weed. Currently he serves as board chair for the California-based cannabis cultivation company Cypress. An alumnus of UMass Amherst, where he majored in legal studies, St. Pierre was instrumental in the development of SCUA’s drug policy archival collections. He lives on Cape Cod with his wife and two children.

Keith Stroup is legal counsel for NORML, the organization he founded in 1970. Stroup obtained his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Illinois in 1965, and in 1968 he graduated from Georgetown Law School. He spent two years as staff counsel for the National Commission on Product Safety before founding NORML, which he ran through 1979. In that time, eleven states decriminalized minor marijuana offenses. Stroup has also practiced criminal law, lobbied on Capitol Hill for family farmers and artists, and for several years served as executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). In 1994 Stroup resumed his work with NORML, rejoining the board of directors and serving again as executive director through 2004. He received the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform, presented by the Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C. (1992); the Al Horn Award for Advancing the Cause of Justice from the NORML Legal Committee (2010); and the High Times Lifetime Achievement Award (2012). In 2013 Stroup published It’s NORML To Smoke Pot: The 40-Year Fight for Marijuana Smokers’ Rights.

Shaleen Title is an Indian American attorney and longtime drug policy activist who has been writing, passing, and implementing equitable cannabis laws for more than twenty years. A former top regulator for the state of Massachusetts, she served as commissioner of the Cannabis Control Commission from 2017 to 2020. In 2021, she cofounded the drug policy think tank Parabola Center. Since 2021, Title has served as Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. She is a founding member and current vice chair of the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition; an advisor to Supernova Women, a nonprofit creating a space for women of color in cannabis, and the THC Staffing Group mentorship program; and a national advisory board member of Rank the Vote. As a founding board member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, she led the creation of the first state-level model legislation created to guide states in the process of reinvestment and reconciliation. The author of Fair and Square: How to Effectively Incorporate Social Equity Into Cannabis Laws and Regulations and Bigger is Not Better: Preventing Monopolies in the National Cannabis Market, Title has received lifetime achievement awards from Students for Sensible Drug Policy and New England Cannabis Community, among other honors, and, in 2021, was on the Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list.

Jay D. Wexler has taught at Boston University School of Law since 2001. A scholar who focuses on church-state law, constitutional law, environmental law, and marijuana law, he has published articles in both law journals and major media outlets and is writing his seventh book, devoted to marijuana policy. Before joining BU’s faculty, he worked as a law clerk for Judge David Tatel on the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, and for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the United States Supreme Court. From 1999 to 2001, he was an attorney advisor at the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice. In 2005, Wexler published an analysis of humor in Supreme Court oral argument in the legal journal The Green Bag that has been widely referenced in the media.

Genester Wilson-King, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist with more than 20 years of clinical experience. In 2010, she founded Victory Rejuvenation Center (VRC), a private holistic and integrative wellness medicine practice that provides life-transforming management modalities and customized medicines to patients. She is vice president of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, a nonprofit that works to empower and educate healthcare providers on the use of cannabis medicine, author of two modules in the new SCC Cannabis Clinicians Training Curriculum, and co-director of the Training Curriculum. Dr. Wilson-King is on the board of directors of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR), the first and only national physicians’ association dedicated to the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adults.

Lester Grinspoon, M.D., (June 24, 1928 - June 25, 2020) was born in Newton, Mass., served in the Merchant Marines, and graduated from Tufts University and Harvard Medical School. He trained at the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute but later turned away from psychoanalysis. He spent 40 years as a senior psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and was an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, where he co-founded and edited the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

In the mid-1960s, struck by the rising popularity of marijuana and its reputed dangers, Grinspoon began to examine the medical and scientific literature about marijuana usage. To his surprise, he found no evidence to support claims of marijuana’s harmful effects, and his resulting 1969 Scientific American article drew wide attention. His research ultimately convinced him of marijuana’s benefits, including enhanced creativity and medicinal uses; his interest took a deeply personal turn when his young son, undergoing treatment for the leukemia that eventually took his life, found that marijuana eased his severe nausea.

Grinspoon served on the board of NORML; testified as an expert witness in some high-profile court cases; and published numerous influential articles and books including Marihuana Reconsidered (1971) and Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine (1993; with James B. Bakalar). He also wrote or cowrote books on schizophrenia—an early research interest—psychiatric drugs, cocaine, and amphetamines and was an early prescriber of lithium for bipolar disorder, and he was a dedicated antinuclear activist. More information about the Lester Grinspoon Papers can be found on the SCUA website.

Area Information
Whether you are new to Western Massachusetts or making a return visit, if you are extending your stay beyond the day-long symposium, you will find plenty to do. Check out any of the following websites for some ideas.

Symposium Parking
Complimentary parking will be available in the Campus Center Parking Garage, located at 1 Campus Center Way in Amherst, MA 01003. Click here to obtain turn-by-turn directions from your location. Upon entering the garage proceed down to park on Level 2 where you will find a flat walkway into the Campus Center. Take your garage gate ticket inside with you and follow the signs directing you to registration, located on the 1st floor outside of the Campus Center Auditorium (or take the elevators to the 3rd floor hotel lobby if you arrive on Thursday to check in to Hotel UMass). At registration you will receive a parking coupon and additional instructions. 

On-Campus and Area Lodging
Conference registration fees do not include lodging, so please be sure to make your own hotel arrangements. Because the summer is a busy time of year in the area we recommend booking your room as early as possible!

On-Campus Lodging at Hotel UMass
Rated the best hotel in Amherst and seated in the center of the picturesque UMass Amherst campus, Hotel UMass blends a tranquil countryside escape with the bustling energy of campus life, making it your ideal destination when staying in the area. Located in the Campus Center just an elevator ride from meeting spaces and amenities, including the University Store and several newly renovated dining options, Hotel UMass offers unbeatable convenience for a discounted conference rate of $149.00 for Thursday night or $189.00 for Friday night (plus applicable fees, currently 6% plus $1.00 per room, per night).

The discounted conference rate will expire on May 26, 2022 (or once space fills), so early reservations are strongly encouraged. To complete a reservation, visit Enter your dates of stay and number of guests at the top of the page and click "Check Availability". A new page will load. Click "Rate Options" and enter group code LIS22C in the "Promotional/Group Code" box and click "Apply". The available room types will now load, and you can click on each type to learn more. Select your preferred room type and click "Book It!" to complete your reservation. Reservations may also by made by phone by calling 877-822-2110, but note due to high call volumes you may experience delays. When possible, please complete your reservation online for the quickest service. Note: payment for your stay at Hotel UMass must be made separately from your registration payment.

Area Lodging
The Amherst area is filled with many other hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts. A variety of hotel chains offer their familiar comforts just a short 5 - 10 minute drive from the UMass Campus on Route 9/Russell Street in neighboring Hadley, while charming independent inns and B&Bs dot the area, offering a true taste of Pioneer Valley living. Below are some popular lodging options, including the estimated drive time to the Campus Center. Looking for something a little more unique? Click here for more options courtesy of the Five College Area Bed and Breakfast Association. 

• Hotel UMass: rated the best hotel in Amherst and the most convenient lodging option for our campus guests; 1 Campus Center Way, Amherst; click here or call 877-    822-2110 (on-campus). Discounted conference rate available with group code LIS22C.
• Allen House Inn: award winning historical Victorian bed and breakfast; 599 Main Street, Amherst; click here or call 413-253-5000 (9 minutes)
• Amherst Airbnb: over 8,000 guest reviews for places to stay in Amherst with an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars; click here for available rooms and homes
• Black Walnut Inn: ranked #1 of 14 Amherst B&B and Inns; 1184 North Pleasant Street, Amherst; click here or call 413-549-5649 (8 minutes)
• Inn on Boltwood: a historic Amherst hotel with 49 unique guest rooms; 30 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst; click here or call 413-256-8200 (10 minutes)
• University Lodge: a budget friendly motel just 1,000 feet from campus; 345 North Pleasant Street, Amherst; click here or call 413-256-8111 (6 minutes)

• Courtyard Marriott: centrally located hotel with an indoor pool, fitness center, and a newly renovated lobby with evening bar service and dinner menu; 423 Russell    Street, Hadley; click here or call 413-256-5454 (8 minutes). Discounted conference rate available.
• Econo Lodge: convenient and budget-friendly hotel with free breakfast and indoor heated pool; 329 Russell Street, Hadley; click here or call 413-582-7077 (9 minutes)
• Hampton Inn: provides a mix of value, comfort and convenience, with free hot breakfast, indoor pool and fitness center; 24 Bay Road, Hadley; click here or call 413-    586-4851 (16 minutes)
• Homewood Suites by Hilton: offers studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites (with kitchenettes) and free hot breakfast; 340 Russell Street, Hadley; click here or      call 413-387-0583 (15 minutes)
• Howard Johnson by Wyndham: conveniently located and pet friendly hotel with free continental breakfast, fitness center, and outdoor pool; 401 Russell Street,    Hadley; click here or call 413-586-0114 (10 minutes)
• Comfort Inn & Suites: indoor hot tub, oversized vehicle parking, business center; 400 Russell Street, Hadley; click here or call 413-341-1556 (12 minutes)

Questions for SCUA
For more information about collections in the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center (SCUA), including the drug policy archives, please visit the department’s website. Have questions about access to collections? Thinking about plans for your own records? Email the department:

Questions on symposium registration and/or payment
If you have questions regarding completing your registration or submitting payment, or if you wish to register a group, please contact UMass Conference Services at 413-577-8102 or