White people, mostly.

The board of directors of Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies oversees more than $7 billion in assets

The Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, which consists of two foundations with assets of more than $7 billion, is based in Eden Prairie, MN, a well-to-do suburb of Minneapolis. When Minneapolis was shaken by protests after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died at the hands of police, the Cargill Philanthropies, like so many others, felt a need to respond.

“The senseless killing of George Floyd is evidence of the underlying inequities and racism that continue to exist in our community and our country more broadly,” the philanthropies said.

Margaret Cargill Philanthropies promised to look at “equity and inclusion” in its…


Drug trips, under controlled conditions, break down the barriers between people and bring users closer to nature

Photo: jhillphotography/Getty Images

This is a remarkable moment for psychedelics. Elite universities, including Johns Hopkins and Imperial College in London, have opened centers to research the medical benefits of drugs such as psilocybin, a hallucinogen found in certain mushrooms.

The nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is recruiting people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to participate in FDA-approved clinical trials using MDMA, better known as molly or ecstasy. CBS News’ 60 Minutes last fall reported on life-changing psychedelic journeys.

So far, the psychedelic renaissance has focused on the potential of these drugs to address mental illness and rightly so. A growing body…


Advocacy groups and their political allies want to ban flavored e-cigarettes. There are better options.

In the epilogue to Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, Daniel Okrent’s lively and deeply-researched history of prohibition, he writes:

In almost every respect imaginable, Prohibition was a failure. It encouraged criminality and institutionalized hypocrisy. It deprived the government of revenue, stripped the gears of the political system, and imposed profound limitations on individual rights. It fostered a culture of bribery, blackmail and official corruption.

Much the same could be said about the 50-year-old war on drugs, which has been prosecuted with enthusiasm by every president since Nixon.

No matter that the drug war was rooted in racism…


Industry-sponsored research can contribute to scientific knowledge. Conflicts of interest are everywhere.

Juul produces research, as well as e-cigarettes

Last month, a scientific journal published a peer-reviewed study with encouraging news for anyone concerned by the toll that smoking takes on people’s health.

The study in the American Journal of Health Behavior identified more than 17,000 cigarette smokers who purchased a Juul starter kit, which includes a rechargeable e-cigarette and four flavored pods. A year later, more than half said they had stopped smoking and switched to e-cigarettes, which, by nearly all accounts, cause much less harm than combustible tobacco.

“It is a startling result,” says Cheryl Healton, the dean of New York University’s School of Public Health and…


It could help people suffering from trauma, people who drink too much, couples in therapy and, importantly, the rest of us.

In 1976, Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, a brilliant and eccentric chemist who concocted hundreds of psychoactive drugs in a home-based laboratory in the hills of Berkeley, California, cooked up a batch of MDMA, the drug that later became known as Ecstasy or Molly. He then tried some, as was his habit.

He loved it. “I feel absolutely clean inside, and there is nothing but pure euphoria,” he wrote in his lab notes afterwards. “I have never felt so great, or believed this to be possible. The cleanliness, clarity, and marvelous feeling of solid inner strength continued throughout the rest of the…


Animal-rights nonprofit Animal Outlook wants the authorities to investigate aquaculture giant Atlantic Sapphire

It’s pretty on the plate. Not so much at the Bluehouse. Photo: Atlantic Sapphire

Atlantic Sapphire, a Norwegian company, calls itself the largest land-based aquaculture company in the world. It is building a giant salmon farm, known as the Bluehouse, on what used to be a tomato field in Homestead, FL, about 40 miles southwest of Miami.

Lately, things have not been going well.

In March, Atlantic Sapphire destroyed five hundred tons of fish, the equivalent of about 600,000 salmon (1), after a filtration system failed to keep water tanks clean. “Fish gathered at the bottom of the tanks, disrupting the flow of new water, causing increasing mortality,” the company said.

The previous July…


The worst vaping poster ever? Photo credit: Danny Giovenco on Twitter

Take a look, please, at this poster from the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, a nonprofit supported by tax dollars. Setting aside the idea of a drug-free New Jersey — presumably, there are no plans to ban alcohol, caffeine and aspirin from the Garden State — the clear implication is that e-cigarettes will kill everyone who tries them. This is so patently false that it is unlikely to deter anyone from vaping. It is, however, an extreme example of how unscientific, distorted and one-sided the debate about vaping has become in the US.

Dominating the conversation are well-funded…


Why I’m writing about e-cigarettes

Welcome to The Great Vape Debate. This publication on Medium will be a home for my writing about tobacco control issues, particularly those affecting electronic cigarettes. I’ve never smoked cigarettes or vaped with a Juul or a Puff Bar. During my years as a reporter covering business, I never wrote about the tobacco industry. So I’m mildly surprised to be engaged by the questions surrounding smoking and e-cigarettes. But engaged I am.

I came upon the debate about vaping while reporting on philanthropy, which I’ve been doing since 2015, regularly for The Chronicle of Philanthropy and occasionally for others, including…


Vaping may be harmful. Smoking kills.

Something very curious is happening as anti-tobacco groups led by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids seek city-by-city, state-by-state bans on flavored tobacco products.

They have succeeded in just one state — Massachusetts, which ended the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, e-cigarettes and cigars, last June. In a full-page ad in The Boston Globe, the anti-tobacco groups thanked lawmakers “for protecting our kids and communities.”

And yet. Sales tax data shows that as cigarette sales declined in Massachusetts, they grew in neighboring states — an early indication that the bans may not be reducing tobacco consumption.


The Biden administration is under pressure to ban menthol cigarettes, and for good reason: A menthol ban will probably save hundreds of thousands of lives, many of them Black lives.

A ban would be the biggest change to tobacco regulation in years. Menthol cigarettes account for more than a third of all cigarette sales in the US, according to the CDC. Of African Americans who smoke, about three in four choose menthol.

In a 2020 editorial in the journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, scholars Cristine Delnevo, Ollie Ganz and Renee Goodwin describe a menthol ban as “a social justice…

Marc Gunther

Reporting on philanthropy, psychedelics, animal welfare, global poverty, etc. Ex-Fortune. Baseball fan. Runner. Seen in Gen, Marker, Elemental, OneZero.

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