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History Of Drug Use U.S. (Page 4 of 5)

The 1960s: Hallucinogens

Amphetamines were not the only chemicals being channeled from the laboratory to the streets.


In 1938, Drs. Albert Hofmann and W. A. Stoll of Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, discovered the ergot derivative d-lysergic acid diethylamide. Since this was the twenty-fifth lysergic compound the scientists had discovered, they called the substance LSD-25.

When initial testing on animals showed no interesting properties of the drug, the substance was put away for the next five years.

In 1943, Dr. Hofmann took the first acid trip. On April 16, 1943, Dr. Albert Hofmann ... was working in his lab at Sandoz... was working with the derivatives of ergot, a fungus that grows on grains. Sandoz had successfully marketed ergot derivative for use in obstetrics and in treating migraine headaches. Midway through Friday afternoon Hofmann decided to go home. He felt restless and dizzy.

At home, I lay down and immediately fell into a peculiar state similar to a drunkenness, characterized by an exaggerated imagination. With my eyes closed, fantastic pictures of extraordinary plasticity and intensive color seemed to surge towards me. After about two hours this condition disappeared....

Hofmann went back to the lab the next week and took what he thought was a very small amount of his new chemical.

He began taking notes: mild dizziness ... inability to concentrate ... uncontrollable laughter. Because of the war there were no cars, so Hofmann got on his bicycle to ride the four miles home, probably the last time anybody has tried to ride a bicycle four miles on LSD.

My field vision swayed before me and was distorted like the reflections in an amusement park mirror. The faces of those around me appeared as grotesque, colored masks; marked motor unrest.'

He also had a clear recognition of my condition, in which state I shouted half insanely or babbled incoherent words. Sounds were transposed into visual sensations so that from each tone or noise a comparable colored picture was evoked, changing in form and color kaleidoscopically.

That was the second acid trip. Sandoz sent the new drug off to the University of Zurich, and Hofmann's associate, W. A. Stoll, wrote up the results of the testing. LSD was not toxic and was not addicting, but an extremely small dosage had profound results.

Most drugs are measured in milligrams, or thousandths of a gram; LSD was measured in micrograms, or millionths of a gram. Five grains, an aspirin-sized tablet, could produce effects in 3,000 people.

The United States Army began to stockpile LSD. Therapists around the world began to use it with patients. it allowed, they said, repressed memories to come forth, and the material that came up could be better understood because it took the form of visual symbols.

Yet, with all the imagery, the patient kept a state of awareness, and retained his insights after the experience. Originally, LSD was called a hallucinogen, that is, an agent that causes hallucination.

But the LSD ingester was not quite like, for example, an alcoholic with delirium tremens, who sees snakes and green elephants. The alcoholic thinks the snakes and green elephants are real; the LSD subject does not ordinarily accept them as real. He remains aware that what he is experiencing is a drug-induced phenomenon. So LSD was not a hallucinogen.

Dr. Humphrey Osmond, one of the first psychiatrists to use the drug, called it psychedelic, mind-manifesting or mind-expanding... and he hoped LSD would be an aid to curing schizophrenia in his Saskatchewan hospital (Smith, 1975).


During the next two decades, LSD-25 was tested as a possible cure or treatment aide for a variety of medical conditions.

The Maryland Psychiatric Research center, among other facilities, had success in using the drug for treating chronic alcoholics. The Cook County Hospital in Chicago and Sinai Hospital in Baltimore reported good results when using LSD to treat pain in terminal cancer patients (Smith, 1975).

In 1950, Drs. Anthony K. Busch and Warren C. Johnson published the first report on the use of LSD in psychotherapy treatment. The doctors, after using the drug on 21 hospitalized psychotic patients, offered the conclusion that LSD-25 was a promising means of dealing with chronically-withdrawn patients, and that it might serve as a method for shortening the duration of psychotherapy treatment in general.

In Poland, Dr. M. Rostafinski used the drug to treat a small group of epileptic patients. In the United States, Dr. Charles Savage reported a particular lack of success in using LSD to treat 15 patients suffering from depression.

In 1954, a German physician named Federking proposed that LSD was more effective than mescaline in treating neurotic patients refractory to psychotherapy (Brecher, 1972).

International research continued.

Hallucinogens: One Author's Trip

In The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, published in the early 1950s, Aldous Huxley described some of his experiences with hallucinogens. Following is his account of one day's diversion with mescaline.

Most takers of mescaline experience only the heavenly part of schizophrenia. The drug brings hell and purgatory only to those who have had a recent case of jaundice, or who suffer from periodical depressions or a chronic anxiety...

But the reasonably healthy person knows in advance that-mescaline is completely innocuous, that its effects will pass off after eight or ten hours, leaving no hangover and consequently no craving for a renewal of the dose...

We walked out into the street. A large pale blue automobile was standing at the curb. At the sight of it, I was suddenly overcome by enormous merriment. What complacency, what an absurd self-satisfaction beamed from those bulging surfaces of glossiest enamel! Man had created the thing in his own image--or rather in the image of his favorite character in fiction. laughed till the tears ran down my cheeks.

We reentered the house. A meal had been prepared. Somebody, who was not yet identical with myself, fell to with ravenous appetite. From a considerable distance and without much interest, I looked on.

When the meal had been eaten, we got into the car and went for a drive. The effects of the mescaline were already on the decline: but the flowers in the gardens still trembled on the brink of being supernatural, the pepper trees along the side streets still manifestly belonged to some sacred grove...

And then, abruptly, we were at an intersection, waiting to cross Sunset Boulevard. Before us the cars were rolling by in a steady stream--thousands of them, all bright and shiny like an advertiser's dream and each more ludicrous than the last. Once again I was convulsed with laughter...

The Red Sea of traffic parted...

An hour later-we were back at home, and I had returned to that reassuring but profoundly unsatisfactory state known as being in one's right mind (1954).

Legislation: Hallucinogens

Prior to 1962, almost all the LSD-25 and psilocybin available in the United States and Canada was produced by Switzerland's Sandoz Laboratories. The chemicals could be purchased, legally, by physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental-health professionals who could certify legitimate use for the substances.

The only major restriction was a United States Food and Drug Administration label on each LSD container: Caution: New drug--limited by federal law to investigational use.

During 1962 and the years immediately following, the Food and Drug Administration issued more stringent regulations pertaining to investigational new drugs (IND), including LSD-25. In consequence, many states passed legislation outlawing LSD and a new federal law further restricting use of investigational drugs, including LSD, went into effect. Sandoz virtually curtailed production of LSD-25.

However, the formula for making LSD could be gotten from the U.S. Patent Office for fifty cents, and precursor chemicals were still relatively easy to acquire. Underground laboratories began production. Far from limiting seriously the availability of LSD, the new federal regulations only served to give the drug wider publicity. Both supply of and demand for acid were higher than ever before.

The Sixties took over, the psychedelics became a sub cult, the partisans said it brought Utopia, the antagonists said it brought the plague; LSD became a terror symbol, which made it attractive to children who... knew that the Establishment and the law and their parents were all lying. The anti-LSD publicity, the scare campaigns, and the laws, said Consumer Reports, helped to convert what had been (for twenty years) a relatively unknown and innocuous drug into a quite damaging one.

... The laws were passed, the police were alerted, raids began, the generation gap widened, and the epidemic spread (Smith, 1975).

Timothy Leary And Richard Alpert

Two men who helped spread the epidemic and widen the cultural gap were Drs. Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, instructors at Harvard University's center for Research in Human Personality.

During the summer of 1960, Leary had tried the Mexican psilocybin mushroom--and liked what he found. He and Alpert began experimental work with LSD and synthetic psilocybin--which, by the way, was first synthesized by Sandoz's Dr. Hofmann, some 15 years after his psychedelic bicycle ride.

In the fall of 1960, Leary and Alpert purchased some psilocybin from Sandoz for an experiment they planned with prisoners at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute in nearby Concord. Initial results were promising: Prisoners who had taken a psilocybin trip prior to release from Concord were found less likely to be returned for parole violation than those who had not had an Alpert/Leary trip (Brecher, 1972).

Drs. Leary and Alpert continued to take recreational/experimental acid trips themselves. Being teachers by profession and generous men by nature, they spread the word of LSD to anyone who would listen: There was a revolution about to start. The mind would at last be freed from the bondage of proletarian concerns. 'You are never the same after you've had that one flash glimpse down the cellular time tunnel,' [Leary] said. 'Turn on' (Smith, 1975).

Leary turned on. So did Alpert, their graduate students, and a conspicuous percentage of those living on the Harvard campus. In 1962, the FDA, Massachusetts law enforcement officials, and the Harvard board of trustees caught up with Leary. Harvard's Crimson warned students against using LSD. National media spread the alarm. While FDA and state officials were investigating Leary, the professor took advantage of this new celebrity stature to campaign nationally for LSD.

At the request of the university, Leary and Alpert left Harvard in spring 1963. But this was just the beginning for the two professors. Rather than sneaking off to find tenure at some small university in the midwest, they did what they could to become cult heroes.

It was their cult. Their acid. They had taken the first trips, the first risks. They were the first dropouts. They made the rules.

Leary and Alpert preached set and setting. Everything in taking LSD, in having a fruitful-freakout-free LSD experience, depended on set and setting. You should take it in some serene and attractive setting, a house or apartment decorated with objects of the honest sort, Turkoman tapestries, Greek goatskin rugs, Cost Plus blue jugs, soft light--not Japanese paper globe light, however, but untasselated Chinese textile shades--in short, an Uptown Bohemian country retreat of the $60,000-a-year sort, ideally ...

The set was the set of your mind. You should prepare for the experience by meditating upon the state of your being and deciding what you hope to discover and achieve on this voyage into the self. You should also have a guide who has taken LSD himself and is familiar with the various stages of the experience and whom you know and trust (Wolfe, 1968).

Their mystique grew. Followers arrived. Professors became gurus and America found itself possessed of a subculture that would change its music, life styles, attitudes toward marriage, beliefs in salvation, conception of divinity, the content of its university courses and cookbooks, and the substances it used for recreation and enjoyment.

Post expulsion...[Alpert and Leary] landed in a fifty five room mansion in Millbrook, New York, owned by a Mellon Heir, Billy Hitchcock, with the local cops peering through the bushes. The local cops were led by G. Gordon Liddy, later known as a Watergate burglar...

... [Eventually] G. Gordon Liddy went to prison for burglarizing the Watergate ... Leary went to prison for possessing a fingernail's worth of marihuana... and Richard Alpert went to India and became Baba Ram Dass, the very symbol of the seeker (Smith, 1975).

In retreating to Millbrook, Leary and Alpert had hoped to minimize their difficulties with the law. But, they still had to contend with opposition groups.

Did they bring it on themselves by publicizing the pleasures of psychedelic-heightened consciousness? If LSD-25 had stayed in the laboratory and the parlors of a few university scholars, would it still be legal, available, and pure? Academic questions--and Alpert and Leary were no longer academicians. They were gurus and the substance of their cult, d-lysergic acid diethylamide, was the newest target of American prohibitionists.

LSD: Prohibition

In 1965, federal drug abuse control regulations were passed. Based on its power to regulate interstate commerce, Congress now regulated the sale and use of depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogenic drugs.

The Drug Abuse Control Amendments required the registration of every person who engaged in the manufacture, preparation, compounding, wholesaling, jobbing, and distribution of depressants or stimulants. Penalties were provided for anyone who sold, gave away, or otherwise distributed any substance in violation of the law, but no stipulation was made regarding someone who possessed depressant or stimulant drugs for use by members of his own household.*

*1968 amendments to the legislation granted more strict penalties for any convicted of selling or distribution. For the first time, the 1968 amendments also provided for penalties (not more than one year in prison, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both, for a first conviction) for anyone found guilty of illegally possessing a depressant or stimulant drug.

Not to be caught napping, most state legislatures responded to the early-to-mid 1960s attacks on LSD with prohibitive legislation of their own.

In 1965, New York state passed a law providing for a maximum of two years in prison for anyone convicted of possessing, selling, giving away, or otherwise distributing LSD or LSD-like drugs. Subsequent panic by New York citizenry caused penalties to be increased to a maximum of 20 years in 1966.

In 1966, California passed the Grunsky bill, which prohibited possession, sale, manufacture, or importation of LSD and dimethyltryptamine (DMT) into the state. One notable result of the California legislation was to raise the average price of an acid trip from $3 to $10 (Brecher, 1972). Publicity surrounding the legislation didn't hurt LSD's popularity, either.

Prior to 1962, the Food and Drug Administration had labeled LSD an investigational new drug. By 1966, it was almost as well known as aspirin.

For twenty years, from 1943 to 1963, the dissolving boundaries and unleashed memories and flowing feelings produced by the interaction of Dr. Hofmann's chemicals and minds brought no talk of revolution.

The subjects and the therapists both had short hair, and society paid them no attention ... The Freudians found Freudian symbols. The Jungians found Jungian archetypes and the collective unconscious, the Rankians found separation anxiety, the Sullivanians found oral dynamism...

Then came: Free Speech, birth control pills, long hair, brotherly love, Flower Children, predators on the Flower Children, cops, narcotics, speed, laws, judges, politicians campaigning, busts, riots, Vietnam, war resisters, the Mafia, Richard Nixon, Woodstock. Confrontation.

Psychedelics were no longer experimental substances used by researchers to peel back the layers of the mind, they were a social issue--and a divisive one at that. LSD ADDICTS STARE AT SUN, the newspapers report; no point in detailing the hoax, newspapers print what they believe sells.

Someone at the Saturday Evening Post must have known that picture was thalidomide babies, not LSD babies, but they gave it the LSD caption; more proof that the Establishment lies, said the counter-culture. Were there some chromosome breaks in the lab experiments? Why was that front-page, said the counter-culture, when the same breaks for caffeine and aspirin go unreported? Could it be because coffee and tea and aspirin are major advertisers? (Smith, 1975).

Summer, 1967

Came the summer of 1967. The students who heard Leary and Alpert's promises of universal love, freed consciousness, enlightenment, inner peace, general good times, and LSD all got together in San Francisco for the summer. The media loved it. They called it the Summer of Love, called the LSD takers Flower Children.

Communal living, free love, gentle, stoned people passing out flowers in the parks. Marihuana, LSD, and brotherly love were there for the taking. musicians, journalists, poets, and earnest undergraduates came to Haight-Ashbury to study the phenomenon.

For a very short while, it was phenomenal. All the revelations that Alpert and Leary promised were there.

Right Now there are two ways it can go in Haight Ashbury. One is the Buddhist direction, the Leary thing. There are good heads like Michael Bowen and Gary Goldhill who want to start the League for Spiritual Discovery here and pull the whole movement together in-to one church and give it a focus and even legal respectability. And they have given up much for this dream.

Goldhill is a beautiful head! He is an Englishman who was writing this experimental stuff for TV in England and the BBC sent him to the U.S.

He took a vacation in Mexico and ran into some American heads in San Miguel de Allende who said, Man, you got to come back here when the rainy season start and take some magic mushrooms, and damned if they didn't send him a telegram in Guadalajara or wherever--RAINS CAME MUSHROOMS UP--and he returned out of curiosity and took the mushrooms, just as Leary had.

He discovered the Management and gave up all, all the TV BBC game and dedicated himself to The Life-for, as Leary has said, a home should be a place of purity that the Gautama Buddha himself could walk into from 485 B.C. and feel at home.

For some day grass must grow again in the streets, in pastoral purity, for life is shit, a duress of bad karmas, endless fight against catastrophe, which is to be warded off finally only by utter purification of the soul, utter passivity in which one becomes nothing ... but a vessel of the All.-the All-one ...

... as against the Yesey direction, whict@ has became the prevailing life style of Haight-Ashbury...beyond catastrophe;, picking up on anything that works and moves, every hot wire, every tube, ray, volt, decibel, beam, floodlight and combustion of American flag-flying neon Day-Glo America and winding it up to some mystical extreme carrying to the western-most edge of experience-(Wolfe, 1968).

Owsley (August Owsley Stanley III, sound man for the Grateful Dead rock group) was home-brewing the very finest LSD and everybody's trip was beautiful.

The Haight-Ashbury heads held the first big be-in, the Love Festival on October 7, on the occasion of the California law against LSD going into effect.

Thousands of heads piled in high costume, ringing bells, chanting, dancing ecstatically, blowing their minds one way and another and making their favorite satiric gesture to the cops, handing them flowers, burying the bastids in tender fruity petals of love.

The thing was fantastic, a freaking mind-blower, thousands of high-loving heads out there messing up the minds of the cops and everybody else in a fiesta of love and euphoria (Wolfe, 1968).

Orange Sunshine, a combination of lysergic acid and ergotamine tartrate, was reportedly Owsley's best product. To the buyer on the street, just the word Sunshine was enough to ensure quality in LSD. Soon, due to federal restrictions and penalties, chemically-pure LSD-25 was no longer available.

Owsley and his chemists kept trying to improve their product, but Sandoz they were not. Searching for the ultimate 'acid, they mixed Orange Sunshine with strychnine, amphetamines, other chemicals. They called them Clear-Lite, Window Pane, Purple Pie, Yellow Smash, but with no FDA to control production, acid wasn't only LSD-25 any longer.

The flower children were uncritical consumers. They believed in trust, and they often trusted people who shouldn't have been. Mescaline was rarely pure--or even partially--mescaline. Psilocybin was sometimes the dried magic mushroom, sometimes its synthetic equivalent, sometimes canned grocery store mushrooms soaked in phencyclidine (PCP, an animal tranquilizer producing a chemical reaction close to alcohol intoxication.

Amphetamines weren't pure. Most every substance was cut with strychnine or arsenic--or even rat poison or baby powder. Even the cannabis was often treated with something to make it better than nature intended.

When the children took the strychnine, or the arsenic, or the atropine, or the Methedrine, or even LSD--sometimes there really was a college chemist just cooking for his friends, they sometimes had adverse reactions, whereupon their friends dumped them into the emergency room of a hospital, an environment that can produce a bad trip in people who are stone cold sober and just passing through (Smith, 1975).

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