LSD is not a new drug, but a new interest in exploring the drug’s potential for therapeutic uses has brought the drug back into mainstream medicine. LSD once again is being used within the medical field because it has supposed, “Medical benefits.”
Albert Hofmann synthesized LSD in 1938 in Basel, Switzerland. He was actually looking for ways to use ergot, the fungus that grows on rye and other cereal grains, for health purposes. Hofmann inadvertently created LSD while trying to create a blood stimulant. Hofmann had been experimenting with LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) for some time, and he did not even realize until 1943 the effects that this drug can have. Hofmann had accidentally consumed some LSD that year, experienced unexpected effects from it, and soon found that even just 25 micrograms, the equivalent in weight of a few grains of salt, could produce strong hallucinations in a person. In the United States, experimentation with LSD continued through the 1940s, the 1950s, and the first half of the 1960s.
LSD uniquely affects the brain, with a strong correlation to certain types of psychosis. During the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, LSD was distributed broadly throughout the United States, often for free. Why? Because scientists, chemists, pharmacologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and medical professionals wanted to find ways to use the drug to address psychosis, neurosis, and other mental difficulties of a similar nature.
When it was made clear that LSD had no medical benefits, the 1950s brought a new interest in the drug. “What if we can weaponize LSD?” Was a question often asked of the drug in this period? Fresh out of the end of World War II and fearing a tense future with Russia, American politicians, military commanders, and scientists went to work to discover new uses for the drug. Keep in mind that by this time it was common knowledge that LSD had the effect of entirely knocking a person on their back mentally, creating intense hallucinations. One group, the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP) made this statement:
U.S. researchers who were experimenting with LSD noted that LSD is capable of rendering whole groups of people, including military forces, indifferent to their surroundings and situations, interfering with planning and judgment, and even creating apprehension, uncontrollable confusion, and terror.
After years of research, it was found that LSD was not easily weaponized, and experimentation was finally abandoned. The drug was banned in the U.S. in 1967.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, based out of Santa Cruz, California was able to create an allowance for the use of LSD in a totally legal manner, for the purpose of experimentation. According to Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in his commentary on the Swiss studies:
People are more scared of dying than they are of using drugs. That’s why we were able to start LSD research with people who were anxious about dying, that and the combination of Albert Hoffman and good contacts with the Swiss equivalent of the FDA.
But it is not just LSD that is being looked at again. Psilocybin (a psychedelic compound found in some mushrooms) is being experimented on with cancer patients. MDMA, the active substance in Molly and Ecstasy, is being experimented on with terminally ill patients. Rick Doblin adds, “LSD was the last of the drugs to re-enter the lab because it’s the quintessential symbol of the ‘60s. So our ability to do this study and the publication of the article in The New York Times is the culmination of the end of the suppression of psychedelic research.”
Doblin is only one of a few high profile experts who believe psychedelics should be used in medicine, but no one can deny that this sets a precedent. No one can deny that this is a slippery slope, and just as we see the abuse and manipulation of our relatively new medical marijuana system, we may soon witness a similar phenomena with LSD if it is legalized again.
Taking LSD has negative effects, and that seems to be by and large ignored in the above-cited studies. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse lists LSD as a Schedule I drug (high potential for addiction and no medical use). NIDA formatted a lengthy text solely focusing on the negative effects of hallucinogens here.
It is a bit outrageous that our country is heading in the direction of legalizing previously banned drugs like LSD. LSD creates a drug-induced psychosis. When people take LSD, they often experience absolutely terrifying thoughts and even nightmarish feelings. LSD can even make people feel as though they are nearing death.
It would seem that the Swiss started the scientific movement to prove that LSD could be useful. The United States, a country that is currently on a trend of legalizing formerly illegal drugs (like marijuana) for medicinal purposes, got behind this movement with a full head of steam. It started with giving LSD to terminally ill patients to ease their passing, but the real question remains, where will it end?