Author Michael Pollan had always been curious about psychoactive plants, but his interest skyrocketed when he heard about a research study in which people with terminal cancer were given a psychedelic called psilocybin — the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms" — to help them deal with their distress.
The late actor John Spencer was best known for his character Leo McGarry, the president's chief of staff, on The West Wing. Spencer's and McGarry's lives ran parallel: Both were recovering alcoholics and both had driven personalities. McGarry suffered a heart attack on the show, and Spencer died of a heart attack. Spencer was previously a regular on "L.A. Law" and began his career on "The Patty Duke Show." This interview originally aired on April 5, 2000.