Pubdate: Wed, 25 Apr 2007
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2007, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Rod Mickleburgh
Bookmark: (Hallucinogens)


A Former LSD User Is Turned Away at Border After Guards Use Internet
to Dredge Up Past

VANCOUVER -- Nearly 40 years ago, a young psychotherapist embraced
two-thirds of LSD guru Timothy Leary's advice to the Sixties
generation to "turn on, tune in and drop out."

Curious how LSD and other hallucinogens might be used in treating
patients, Andrew Feldmar turned on and tuned in himself.

But he never dropped out. And, no fan of the late Dr. Leary, Mr.
Feldmar took his last hit of acid in 1974.

Thirty-two years, however, turned out to be but an instant in the
long, unrelenting U.S. war on drugs. Last summer, in an incident that
has just come to light, Mr. Feldmar, now 66, was banned from entering
the United States because of his long-ago use of LSD.

Because Mr. Feldmar had never been charged with possession of the
once-popular illegal drug, privacy advocates are even more alarmed by
the way U.S. border guards at the busy Peace Arch crossing near
Vancouver found out about it.

The guards simply looked up Mr. Feldmar on the Internet and discovered
his own article about using LSD, written for the scholarly,
peer-reviewed journal Janus Head.

Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa lawyer involved in privacy issues for 20
years, said the incident sends a frightening message to Internet
users, particularly those who bare their souls online.

"Don't ever put anything about any illegal activity on the Internet,"
Mr. Oscapella warned yesterday. "It leaves a digital footprint for all
to see, and it's there forever.

"We've gone beyond Orwellian measures. The state can now do things
with a flick of the switch that used to be incredibly labour intensive."

Given the United States' "almost fanatical position on drugs," Mr.
Oscapella said, even a teenager who simply writes in a blog about
smoking marijuana is now vulnerable to online scrutiny by U.S. border

"It's an awful situation. Maybe you're somewhere on YouTube or
Facebook. They just have to Google your name. I don't think kids
understand the consequences.

"It's not like you can just burn your notebooks any more," he said.
"This is forever, folks."

As for Mr. Feldmar, a prominent Vancouver psychotherapist with a long
list of published articles and academic achievements, he still has
trouble comprehending what happened on his bad trip trying to cross
into the United States.

"Over 30 years ago, I did some acid. So what? I just couldn't believe
they would not let me in," he said over the phone, during a break in
his busy practice.

"I've been going to the States for years, and I'd never been stopped
before. My kids used to call me the Border Jedi. It was surreal."

He said he doesn't know why border guards chose this time to question
him further, prompting their Internet search. "Perhaps they didn't
believe my story that I was going to Seattle to pick up a friend at
the airport. Who knows?"

Mr. Feldmar was held at the border for five hours, before being
allowed to return to Canada after signing an admission that he had
once violated the U.S. Controlled Substance Act.

He said he signed out of fear that he might be kept in custody even
longer if he refused.

Willie Hicks, public affairs officer for the border crossing, said
yesterday that Mr. Feldmar admitted violating U.S. drug laws "in a
sworn statement.

"I don't make the laws. That's the policy, and we enforce the laws at
the border. It is up to the discretion of our officers who gets to go

Mr. Feldmar is now banned permanently from entering the United States,
unless he applies for and receives a waiver.

After months of consideration, Mr. Feldmar said he has decided not to
apply for a waiver, despite the hardship of not being able to visit
his two adult children, who live in Los Angeles and Denver.

"It's too degrading," he said. "I would probably have to lie [about
using LSD] and say I was rehabilitated. But rehabilitated from what?

"I feel I was punished because I happened to write about using LDS.
Otherwise, how would they have known."

At one point in his 2001 article, Mr. Feldmar describes an acid trip
with renowned and controversial psychotherapist R. D. Laing.

"I looked into Ronnie's eyes and saw myself reflected there," he
wrote. "I felt unworthy and flooded with shame. Then I felt accepted.
. . .

"The window was open and rainy, moist, cool air streamed in. Birds
sang. I sipped tea from a tea-bowl that my wife had made. I noticed my
reflection on the steaming tea."

Asked why he stopped taking LSD in 1974, Mr. Feldmar replied: "Many
people who experimented with drugs at that time moved on. You learn
from them, and then you graduate." 
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