Madison Margolin was born into a life of advocacy. As the second youngest daughter of Bruce Margolin, infamous California cannabis and drug law attorney, and longtime director of the Los Angeles Chapter of N.O.R.M.L. (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), her path was forged as a child.
She didn’t have to leave home to be influenced from just about every high profile drug advocate her father brought in the door, including psychedelic guru, Timothy Leary, whom he represented.
Her sister, Alison, began her own career working with their father, but now has her own practice with a focus on cannabis and drug laws. Bruce is still in practice with his own firm, began at 25 years-of-age, fresh out of law school in 1967.
“I was young when I realized what my dad was doing,” Madison shared. “I remember he smoked weed—I could smell it—but, he typically never did it in front of us kids.”
The fact that her father had a jingle playing repeatedly on the radio promoting his work, “1-800-420-LAWS, Bruce Margolin is down for the cause,” didn’t help her away from home— especially in the classroom. No matter that it was written by the Kottonmouth Kings, for her father’s California Gubernatorial run against Arnold Schwartznager. He lost the seat, but the tune stuck.
Madison remembers being bothered by officers in the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program in middle school, with teachers letting her know they’d heard the jingle, much to her embarrassment.
Important to note, the D.A.R.E. Program that began in 1983 and ran until 2009, was widely believed to be ineffective. Rather than dissuading children from trying drugs, it was said to teach them about drugs, putting actual examples in front of them, detailing them in photos and literature. Many adults admitting years later that the D.A.R.E. Program is where they learned how to identify and use drugs.
A new D.A.R.E. Program launched in 2014, however, cannabis has been taken off the list of drugs in states where they’ve legalized the plant. The program was and is federally subsidized, giving police officers incentive (via income) to speak to kids about the drugs included in the government’s failed War on Drugs.
“I was a good kid—a straight A student,” she continued. “The officers knew who I was, knew who my father was. They would ask me how are things were at home. I was shy and really didn’t like the attention. I just wanted to be left alone.”
Madison said she was just a baby at Timothy Leary’s memorial, with her father’s friend Ram Dass also in attendance. Years later she would realize that the spiritual world was connected to the drug culture she grew up in, along with teachings on Judaism and Hinduism. Cannabis, and the culture surrounding it, was just another part of the backdrop of her upbringing.
Raised with Ritual
The first time Madison smoked cannabis she was just 16 years old, but said she didn’t really get into it until she was 18 and had acquired a medical cannabis card.
“Today, I’m not much of a heavy cannabis consumer, but I do like spliffs,” she shared. “I smoke weed socially, and I’m not that into edibles. I do take CBD daily, mainly for inflammation and anxiety. The brand I have now is from Prismatic Plants, but I switch it up sometimes.”
The first time she tried psilocybin mushrooms was during winter break during her freshman year of college.
“I was with two of my closest friends and my older sister and a medical marijuana doctor who supervised us,” she explained. “We were on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, and it was truly one of the most magical, transcendent days of my life. I finally understood the whole ‘be here now’ thing. Although, I’m still integrating it into my daily, sober life.”
Since that first time, Madison said she’s had many equally interesting experiences since, from taking ayahuasca in cramped Brooklyn apartments, to dropping acid on the beaches of Goa, India.
“By far, however, my favorite ‘psychedelic’ is MDMA,” she said. “I don’t have one specific experience with molly that stands out more than others, but I have a good relationship with the entheogen, and feel like MDMA really gets me.”
MDMA, Madison explained, is really more of a heart opener. And, while it has stimulating properties, it has shown to help people with PTSD and clinical depression, while psilocybin has also been found to help people with depression.
After graduating from U.C. Berkeley, then Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2015, Madison began writing for The Village Voice, with a focus on cannabis, then for Rolling Stone, Vice, and Playboy.
By late 2018, friend and fellow Columbia classmate, Shelby Hartman, had an epiphany and DoubleBlind was born. The name of the publication she and partner Hartman created, Hartman culled from the process of what a substance or remedy is put through in trials—a placebo against a formulated compound for effect, in a double-blind study.
The publication is printed bi-annually, with more stories hosted online, and uses psychedelics as a starting point to explore mental health, social equity, environmental justice, and spirituality.
“We’ve included online courses on how to grow mushrooms, and offered a webinar using psychedelics for intimacy,” she explained. “We’ve also enlisted the help of small artisan craftspeople in the medicinal plant space to white-label our own brand of sacral balancing oil, and we feature artisan kava on our e-commerce platform.”
Some may assume the magazine began on the heels of Denver, Colorado’s nod to decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms, but the launch actually took place six months before the fact.
“One month after Denver’s decision, the City of Oakland, California also decriminalized the substance,” she said. “I wasn’t surprised, because psychedelics have been in the trajectory of cannabis acceptance for a while now.”
Madison said the time has come to cover psilocybin and other entheogens. And though the occasional essay on a personal acid-trip may be enlightening, submissions will be reviewed with traditional journalistic standards in mind.
“We take journalistic ethics seriously, with investigative standards,” she said. “One story that just came out in our third print issue explores the potential of psychedelics to treat patients in vegetative states, caused by traumatic brain injuries.”
Madison said she penned a story for DoubleBlind’s last issue detailing an anecdotal study showing the use of ayahuasca for conflict resolution between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“I’m thinking that psychedelics are about five to ten years behind cannabis,” she surmised. “While substances like MDMA and psilocybin are soon to become FDA approved prescription medications in assisted psychotherapy, we’re also going to see more grassroots groups around the country pushing for decriminalization.”