A MAPS Podcast Bit of Hate Mail

I’ve been waiting for this email to come. I admit it’s an ego trip to bring it out into the public like this however, this is the first and last time I want to address it.


I think you are a good podcaster. You’re a good interviewer and actually listen to your guests which is nice to see. I’m stuck on another issue – how could you possibly host the MAPS podcast with a good conscience? Rick Doblin spent years publicly shaming your father and turning him into psychedelic research enemy number one. It was blatant, often and ultimately seemed political. MAPS early years were built off of the trash Timothy Leary trip.

Are you that hungry for fame and notoriety that you’re willing to ignore these facts? MAPS is the biggest brand name in psychedelics and no doubt hosting the podcast is good for your career. Just seems obvious and cowardly to me. Stand up for your dad and don’t fall into the trap of mainstreaming psychedelic pandering.

I do admit, I enjoy listening to your interviews, I just sometimes wish it were someone else doing it.


Complicated topic for me. First, yes I admit doing the podcast was a good opportunity for me. I’m not naive in that. The history is much more complex from my perspective, I want to start by saying that I personally like Rick and what MAPS is doing.

I do vaguely recall the days when Timothy was alive and interacting with MAPS/Rick and I do recall Tim being pretty prickly and lovingly difficult. As he often was. That was part of his charm. It’s not like he was trying to make friends with Rick. Subsequently, I think Rick admired Timothy a great deal but was also frustrated that his already existing persona was getting in the way of the MAPS agenda and they were at a crossroads. What happens next is not for me to comment on simply because I’m not an expert.

Cut to 2016 and even before the MAPS podcast, I found myself in the middle of the new wave of psychedelic research simply because of my last name. It was booming while also creating a cultural explosion of love, curiosity and open minded dialogues. I was being invited to more psychedelic salons, podcasts and whatever else seemed appropriate to have a Leary a part of it. Turned out that I also had my own perspective to share that was very different than Timothy’s and I started to feel a certain sense of pride in being able to articulate a narrative separate from Timothy’s.

I’m a pragmatist in that I was also very impressed with the success that MAPS was responsible for. I have no problems with going to the inside of the devils playground (ie, the Pentagon) or taking money from all sides of the political spectrum – these things do not bother me. I don’t believe that keeping this culture as an underground, secret society is helpful for anyone in the long run. Because of all of this, it made sense for me to host the MAPS podcast. I’ve spent time with Rick in recent years and his stance on Timothy has softened and our dialogue is healthy, honest and vibrant. Rick would be the first to have a public discussion with me on Timothys work if the need were ever to arise. The point being – no one is avoiding it. I believe in the MAPS vision and the even larger psychedelic movements new warm waters. If you listen to the podcast you’ll see that I have no talking points given to me and no editor. I talk about Timothy, my own work, the people who have influenced me and the research that I find most interesting. MAPS has been generous enough to give me a platform that is based off of mutual respect. If any of my listeners feel that I need to specifically address the Timothy situation on the podcast, I’ll be more than happy to do so. I just don’t think there is a need. I’m more saddened by the Pollan book stance on Timothy and that I didn’t properly address it in that podcast.

We’re all doing the best we can and I’m feeling good about where I am and how I can help this bigger movement. I never ever wanted to be so close to psychedelics as a movement, it always seemed to close to the Sun. But we all change, adapt and evolve. Timothy wasn’t perfect, neither is Rick and neither am I.

Zach Leary, March 22, 2019

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