The Discovery of LSD | The 1960's | Cannabis on the Run | The Emperor Wears No Clothes


In 1938, in a small laboratory in Basel, Switzerland, Dr. Albert Hofmann created a drug called LSD, which sat upon a shelf for the next five years. The discovery of this drug is an very important factor affecting the revival of the cannabis culture, a fact which we can thank the US government for. While Dr. Hofmann was working for the Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company in Basel, he developed Lysergic acid Diethylamide - 25 ( LSD ) when he was trying to create a stimulant for blood circulation from ergot, a fungus which contains many interesting alkaloid chemicals. Although the initial tests performed by the company upon animals proved unsuccessful, five years later Albert picked his creation up to perform some more tests, and accidentally dosed himself in the process. Three days later he decided to first try inhaling vapors without effect. He then tried drinking two hundred fifty micrograms in a water solution, a relatively small dose of material for a clinical test. LSD was born!

This first trip on acid, April 16, 1943, has since become a classic example of the initial feelings induced by LSD. First, Albert had a strange bicycle ride home from the lab, experiencing time and space distortions. Then, after being examined by a physician, who assured him that aside from enlarged pupils he was fine, he was overcome with feelings of death and doom. He came down later to see a world of intensified colours, visualized sounds and flowing energies. Upon waking from a refreshing night's sleep, Albert found a brand new world full of beauty and mystery around him. While not entirely pleasant, this experience changed Dr. Hofmann forever.

The LSD experience has since transformed many, many lives. Dr. Hofmann has worked hard breaking through the barriers of consciousness and historical prejudice with mind expanding drugs and reasonable thinking. Aside from discovering LSD, he has isolated the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, Psilocybin and Psilocin, found lysergic acid arnide in morning glory, or ololuiqui, seeds, a substance very, very similar to LSD, which may have been used by the Greeks in the Eleusian Mysteries' ceremonies and by ancient Egyptians, while maintaining an intelligent position towards the use and distribution of LSD since the beginning. We owe much to this man, for his creative insights, time and energy.

The C.I.A. was quick to hear about the creation of LSD. After a few failed attempts to convince Albert to share his secret, they formed Operation Bluebird. This project was in part an attempt to keep Nazi scientist's from Communist influences after WWII and involved the smuggling of Nazi scientists out of Germany, especially those specializing in chemical weapons. The U.S. government, while publicly denouncing nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry, was quietly developing the largest, deadliest arsenal of killing tools in the world, using the expertise of the fallen Nazi regime. In LSD, military leaders saw the potential for mass mind control.

The C.I.A.'s official programs included Operation Bluebird, Operation Paperclip and Operation Artichoke, or MK-ULTRU; MK for Mind Kontrol. These organizations coordinated the secret 'ratline' which transported Nazi officials across the globe under C.I.A. protection, created twenty-six thousand drugs, including lethal nerve gases, blister agents, "riot control" gases and an eighty hour dysphoric, incapacitating agent called BZ ( quinucldinyl benzilate ), a derivative of LSD, which were stock-piled for possible future use, and conducted mass tests with military officers and civilians without written consent or any consideration of the negative affects the testing had upon their human guinea pigs. These toxic substances still sit ready for use. Although the smuggling of Nazi intelligence into the United States is slow in being uncovered and exposed, the effects of these devious schemes hampered the cause of population control more than it did to help it.

The tests using LSD and it's derivatives, some of which cause serious mental and physical problems, were conducted in sterile, even hostile environments, with cold demanding doctors drilling questions at the patient, in undecorated and unfamiliar hospitals. Some submitted to these harsh experiments committed suicide, others became incapacitated for life, and some completely suppressed their conscious memory of their experiences. However, no one has ever died directly from the ingestion of LSD, and many who tried LSD in these experiments, and in their personal lives, became more enlightened, caring human beings.

Soon LSD was introduced to people in and out of the C.I.A. The acedemic and medical reports proving it's success in helping alcoholics and schizophrenics began surfacing from Switzerland. People like Dr. Humphrey Osmond, Captain Alfred "Cappy" M. Hubbard, Dr. Ronald Sandison, Aldous Huxley, Oscar Janiger, Cary Grant, Anais Nin, Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Albert ( who later changed his name to Ram Dass ), Ralph Metzner, Dr. John Bereford, Micheal Hollingshead and Ken Kesey, just to name a few of the early pioneers, all took upon themselves personal quests to spread LSD. These psychedelic voyagers have proven that for some the proper use of pure LSD is a healthy, creative and life-enhancing experience.

Aldous Huxley wrote, THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION, a book about experiences tripping with Cappy. Huxley was also instrumental in turning on many people in Hollywood. Timothy Leary, a psychology professor from Harvard University, paraded around the country, giving away acid while promoting it's use as a mind-expanding, thought-enhancing drug, a theme many others promoted as well. Tim has the distinction of being called"the most dangerous man alive" by Richard Nixon. In fact, he was, for the counter-culture which was forming around Leary and his friends contained the potential to expose government weaknesses and disrupt society. But after the military started to get involved in the production and experimentation with LSD, it was hard for them to back out, especially if there was a possible military benefit which could be derived from the emergence of the counter-culture. Non-conformity exploded through Western society.

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THE 1960'S

In the Nineteen sixties, the New Age exploded in almost every sphere of human thought and activity. Though many at first chose to deny, downplay or ignore new developments in culture, science and historical perspective, others fully embraced these alternative ideas, living in defiance of cultural norms and repressive institutions. A wave of love and inspiration swept across the United States, and throughout the world, generating a renewed interest in ancient arts, healing practices and knowledge, environmental activism and creative awareness. This created feelings of communal peace and love, while also generating intellectual criticism pinpointing government failures and illegal operations, exposing corruption and protesting unneccessary warfare. A reconnection to Mother Earth, sexuality, and the power of love, along with, of course, LSD, magic mushrooms, mescaline, marijuana, and a variety of plants, pills and hallucinogenic substances, gave birth to a new sub-culture. The music industry's incredible assortment of inspiration material became a focal point for youth searching for intoxicated ecstasy. All of these factors did not come together at any one time or under on banner head, but they did have one thing in common: rejection of the rigid authoritative social structures which became consolidated by the US government after WWII in order to contain the public within specified boundaries of intellectual and spiritual exploration. The 1960's explosion was the result of years of suppression of the human desirel to expand consciousness with sacred plants.

Leary and his friends were supplied LSD by the World Psychedelic Center in London, England, which mailed acid all over the world. When the FDA started to restrict LSD in medical experiments, Leary and his crew moved to Mexico and set up the International Federation for International Freedom - later named Castalia - which was soon kicked out by Mexican officials. After a few brief stints on Caribbean Islands, they ended up in a Mansion in Millbrook, N.Y. owned by William Mellon Hitchcock, a wealthy oil man who sympathized with Leary.

While this was attracting media attention world-wide, the Merry Pranksters were causing even more trouble on the West Coast. Kesey turned a log cabin outside of Pulo Alto into a center for psychic exploration, La Honda. He, along with Neal Cassady, Ken Babbs, Allen Ginsberg, Hugh Romney, and others, joined together to create a world of peace, love and freedom through the ritual use of LSD. In 1964, Kesey and the gang bought the magic bus, with a sign an the back saying :Caution - Weird Load:, and one on the front saying - FURTHER. With Cassady, a.k.a. Speed Limit, behind the wheel, these wacky and wonderful characters drove across the country to their idols, lead by Leary, in New York, who found the Merry Pranksters too weird for even them. So the Pranksters went home to California, where Augustus Owsley Stanley III was waiting to offer his services as one of the world's best acid makers.

Public "Acid Tests" were organized during which hundreds of people would drop Owsley's LSD and trip out to sound and light productions specifically designed to create a mind-expanding environment. Bands like the Grateful Dead began playing in the San Francisco neighbourhood of Haigh-Ashbury, where many "Acid Tests" were held. Newspapers dedicated to this increased influx of sense perception investigations, were also brought into existence for a time.

The San Francisco neighbourhood of Haight-Asbury became the focal point for the movement on the West Coast. Rock concerts organized by the Family Dog, featuring all sorts of LSD influenced music and lots of Owsley acid. The scene revolved around a communal feeling of love and respect, creating a wealth of imaginative art and writings which continue to inspire us today. In 1966, however, things were to change slightly towards the worst, as LSD was made illegal by Congress. The hippies replied by getting a few hundred people together to drop acid in Golden Gate Park, calling it a Love Pageant Rally. The first human Be-In which was basically an afternoon in the park with a large crowd of stoned people, was held in January of 1967, later to be repeated in New York City and other places across North America..

The rock and roll scene in Haight was taken over by rock promoter Bill Graham, who sought to exploit the economic potential developing in the corresponding industries. The media built up all of the hype about the problems of drugs, the drug culture and the teenage runaways getting sucked into San Francisco because of the scene. This press only served to draw more freedom-fighters into Haight-Asbury, along with every runaway in the country. The drug problems claimed by the press in '66 and '67 proved to become a self-fulfilling prophecy later on. When Charles Manson showed up on the scene with his love-cult of drugged killers, the media and government were given perfect justification to condemn drug users. When Jim Morrison, Janice Joplin and Jim Hendrix left this world, the music industry, too, experienced a sudden shift in momentum. The Woodstock festival became the symbol of the 60's, the perfect ending to a crazy decade, ten years which saw blood, sweat and tears flow through the streets of America every single day.

The year 1969 proved to be very important in our history for many reasons. For one, it was the year that we landed a human upon the moon, something which had been considered to be a impossible dream to many, a technological feat even surpassing the importance of the atomic bomb. The "Summer of Love", as it became affectionately termed, was a turning point for Western society, not because the sub-culture had awakened a significant proportion of society to new states of health, activism and awareness, nor because the anti-establishment movement was able to offer intelligent, feasible alternatives to the current political and economic problems. It changed because that fateful summer many rich, influential businessmen and politicians became convinced that something drastic had to be done about youth before the militant control that the U.S. government had effectively spread across the globe during the last century was dismantled by peace activists and student rioters at home. Men sitting behind closed doors making important economic and political decisions correctly realized that not only was the Vietnam War getting out of hand, but the population was becoming aware of government secrets which exposed corruption and eroded public trust. Ideas of peace, equality, love and freedom are extremely hazardous to the health of many financial and military institutions. Though they could not directly attack those ideals, they could exclude, discredit, imprison, threaten, or even kill, those who were voicing these revolutionary themes.

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The early 1970's saw a distinct shift in the way that the governments treated the cannabis culture. Protesting against the Vietnam War was not only causing civil unrest and disobedience, but it was also forcing some Americans to question the motives, indeed the very sanity, of those in charge of the military and the Pentagon. There was an abundant amount of evidence suggesting that the current economic, environmental, social, political, educational and religious problems surfacing during these times were only the beginning of an extensive revolution which would drastically alter the power structures throughout the world. The owners of large multi-national corporations, the bishops and priests of organized religions, the military officers and war-loving mercanaries, the CIA and other intelligence communities, black market entrepreneurs, and the elected representatives in government, all realized individually that almost every aspect of their traditional way of life was threatened by this cultural evolution. They had better do something about it soon before it was too late. Increased cultural oppression was accomplished by a variety of different means and was guided by some of the brightest minds in the world.

The ground work for interfering with trends in the sub-culture had been laid through the 60's with undercover police penetrating the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. This group flooded the market with a variety of super-potent, dangerous drugs like speed and cocaine, while penetrating legal, political and economic special interest groupds. Drugs were used to escape the realities of everyday life, instead of being used to enhance awareness. Leary eventually sold to the Weatherman, who had helped him escape jail after a cannabis bust, and the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a group which had taken over the world's production of LSD. When the word came from the Pentagon to come down on the counter culture, it happend quickly with seemingly amazing results. A combined effort of several different organizations successfully pushed the cultural revolution underground. Activists were rounded up and imprisoned, with more than one being beaten, their books, possessions, offices and homes destroyed. Propaganda in the media whitewashed the entire campaign, with all sorts of lies, half-truths and cover-ups. Books were banned and store owners selling paraphernalia were shut down. Organized religions and psychedelic cults attempted to recruit ex-hippies, as many had lost faith in the sub-culture because the repressive forces converging upon it seemed too large and powerful to overthrow.

Many decided that it was necessary to cut their hair, get a 9-5 job, and enslave themselves into normal society, while smoking pot in the privacy of their homes, while living in constant fear of arrest, loss of a job or exile from the family. Others completely quit smoking pot and dropping LSD. Some who clung to the ideals and dreams of the '60's decided to start up a religion which held psychoactive substances in the highest regard, notably marijuana, mushrooms, LSD and peyote. Some came to British Columbia, with those dodging the draft, to start a new life on one of the last frontiers on the planet, living in hippie communes and farms. Growing pot was one of the few tax-free means by which these run-aways could earn a decent living. Several commune-like organizations in the States began appearing in the 70's. Others followed the Grateful Dead back and forth across the country in a state of spiritual bliss and disorganization.

The fact that private interest groups had the power to murder a President of the United States was enough to send many into submission, silence or hiding. And rightly so, for in killing J.F.K. those who truly hold the power in this world demonstrated that they had the ability to execute anyone who did not conform to their program. Anyone. The Vietnam War proved that they had the power to commit murder on an astronomical scale. In fact, the most staggering thing to most people in the counter-culture is how programmed the general public is by the government and the global corporation. The number of blinded, happy optimists running rampant across the United States and the World far outnumbered the informed, peaceful Hippies and other pacifists. A large number of militant, still active citizens, who had either fought in WW1 or WW2 or had loved ones die in those struggles for freedom and democracy. They were prepared to take up arms against the forces which they were being told were eroding away their society. Youth were blamed in the media for causing America's problems, and illegal drugs fueled the dissent.

Steven Gasket escaped from Haight-Ashbury to start The Farm in rural Tennessee. This hippie commune is still operating as a tribute to the real grassroots communities which are the result of a true union with Mother Earth and cannabis. Some who answered the call of the Goddess choose to go to places like The Farm or the Hogfarm, a Northern California commune which provided food and medical care to Woodstock. Thousands of other sub-culture farmsteads and squats grew throughout the world. Others have been satisfied with wandering aimlessly about following the Laws of Nature as close as possible, in whatever particular course their destiny takes them. Several people began writing books during and after the first expulsion of the creative energy force unleashed in the '60's, and these documents of human feeling and emotion continue to inspire us today. Everyone who shared in the enlightening atmospheres surrounding the sub-culture could not help but be touched by the love and compassion being truly expressed form the hearts and minds of it's adherents. Many attempts at living communally were made were not successful, but this could be mostly blamed upon the fact that our society has completely forgotten how to share. Those who experienced living communally, whether for a day or for a week, gained a sense of culture which cannot be learned outside in modern society.

Secret societies have quite often been the basis upon which cultural transformations have occurred. A small select group of men coerced the Christian Church to join with the Roman Empire so that greater control of the State-endorsed religious practices could be used to extract devotion, taxes and respect from the multitudes. It was secret societies which caused a stirring influx of ancient texts and astonishing new theories of human nature to become available to the general public of Europe during the 1500's, resulting in the French Revolution of 1592, during the only other recent time comparable to ours, the Renaissance. The Freemasons existed for thousands of years as evolving forms of a prehistoric guild of stone workers before publically exposing, in part, it's secret operations and ancient knowledge in 1721. It was a secret society which formed the Nazi Party in Germany, with the help of a few men through the New York Stock Exchange, who still tend to conduct a lot of business behind closed doors. In fact, it was basically the same group of men who, 30 years after aiding Hitler in his unholy quest of sub-human savagery, had the President of the United States, murdered in cold blood. Secret societies continue influencing the modern world, and there should be no under-estimating the changes that can be generated by small groups of dedicated people.

For a while in the late 1970's it appeared as though North American governments were about to change the cannabis laws to allow for simple possession. In 1973 the LeDain Commission Of Inquiry Into The Non-Medical Use Of Drugs was released in Canada after 3 years of public inquiry and debate about mind-altering substances. This report urged for the legal distribution of illicit substances and stressed the need for authentic education to replace fear tactics. About 39 different U.S. States passed laws which reduced the penalties pot smokers faced. However, the Ronald Reagen era forced all of these governments, except Alaska, to establish penalties for cannabis possession which were more harsh than the original laws. In Alaska it was not until 1991 that laws forbidding the cultivation and possession of cannabis were enforced again. In Canada under Pierre Trudeau, it appeared as though the government was prepared to legalize the use of cannabis and possibly other substances, in an attempt to curb other disturbing trends in society. In the end, though, Nancy Reagen and her mindless droves of supporters, rekindled the War On Drugs, and the 1980's saw a decrease in the use of smelly pot and more cocaine.

Everyone reacted differently after the turmoil and frustrations of the 60's and 70's. It was obvious to many directly involved in the movement towards planetary super-consciousness that humans were not yet ready to take the next step forward in evolution. It was also obvious to many that the beliefs, wealth and social positions of the elite was threatened by this eruption of free will, equality and creativity. The elite began spending vast amounts of resources directed solely towards manipulating the thoughts of the population trough the media, educational system and the White House. They wanted to perfect the art of subliminal advertising using systematic language patterns intended to create powerful images within one's mind which they could then use to their own commercial purposes. By forming excessively large lobby firms in Washington D.C., the multinational rich family attempted to directly manipulate the language being used by the White House to distract the attention of the population away from problems such as poverty and environment erosion to issues such as space exploration and Monday Night Football. Others thought that they could do nothing about the entire affair and kept working at the same job.

However one reacted to this period, one thing is certain, that the importance of this era is something that many people do not understand, underestimating the strength of the evolutionary currents unleashed in this time period of glorious freedom and hideous repression. In the '80's a few big signs started showing up across the world that things were falling apart, though the status quo remained steady as she goes. The Soviet Union dissolved, bringing down the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. The Cold War finally became exposed for the ridiculous farce that it was; senseless ego-driven race to accumulate mega powerful weapons designed to physically, chemically, or psychologically destroy every living thing on the surface of the planet in the name of world security. The U.S.S.R. crumbled, in part, because it could not possibly sustain the enormous size of it's military and keep up with the nuclear weapons production rates of U.S.A. with an economy which was realistically never more than 1/4 it's size. Many new ways of life were being explored, while old empires tightened their grip, but the status quo held steady.

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In 1985, Jack Herer came out with the celebrated book, THE EMPEROR WEARS NO CLOTHES, which exposed the hemp and marijuana conspiracy to the general public, while at the same time revealing the incredible potential of Cannabis sativa. Many disbelieved that their government could be involved in such a twisted scheme of corruption and conspiracy. Many were intrigued with the potential to make products from environmentally safe materials which could also help revitalize agricultural comunities. Others had their beliefs and suspicions proved in his writings, and many more got turned on by his informative book and strong personality for other reasons.

Meanwhile, most governments in the western democracies were being shaken as one conspiracy after another ruined the credibility of those institutions which once held the trust of the people. Folks from all walks of life learned to distrust government officials, from teachers to senators to city council members, a distrust which was well founded Honest, hardworking, taxpaying citizens are seriously questioning their governments and those who controlled it's policies, as the J.F.K. assassination, covert military operations and arms sales, among a whole host of other black market operations undertaken in coordination with Western governments, began to appear in the newspapers and feature movies. The change in attitude towards political officials and authorities was a measurable occurrence, though no one particular event or person could be pointed to as the focal point of this dissolution of trust. The recent shutdown of the WTO in Seattle proves that mistrust has grown to immense proportions today.

Marc Emery broke the ice for cannabis in Canada in the early 1990s. First, he challenged the laws which forbid his book store in London, Ontario from selling High Times and other information about cannabis. After he won that battle, he sold his store and went to Asia for almost two years. When he returned he was disappointed that no one had started where he left off in the battle to bring cannabis to the people. He then proceeded to open up Hemp B.C. on Hastings St., downtown Vancouver. This store quickly became the focal point for cannabis activism in Canada, inspiring others to open stores acros the country and drawing numberous potheads together to plan rallies, write literature and debate political theories. Cannabis Culture, the now world famous magazine from Vancouver, was once called the Hemp And Marijuana Newsletter, changed it's name to Cannabis Canada, before settling upon it's current title. In fact, I typed in the directory in the first issue. Though Hemp B.C. is no longer around, the legacy it left behind has forever changed Vancouver. Hempology 101 started out of this group.

At the same time in San Francisco, Denis Peron openned the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club for people with serious medical problems. Denis lost his partner to AIDS, which inspired him to strive for access to marijuana to those in serious need because Denis saw first hand the incredible medical benefits eating and potting pot can bring for them. While the group was raided a number of times by the DEA, despite overwhelming local support, they managed to keep the doors open for their members most of the time. They succeeded in initiating state referendums supporting medical marijuana which passed in 1996 At that time a number of States passed pro-medical marijuana laws, including Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona. While the US Federal Government has done everything within it's power to stop people from using marijuana as medicine, Denis Peron and his friends are not giving up.

Hemp hit the market in North America by the late 1990's in a big way, springing from a non-existent trade into a multi-million dollar industry. Farmers throughout Europe and Canada are growing more acres of hemp crop every year, while others in the USA are pushing the government to begin allowing the cultivation of cannabis for fiber and seed. The diversity of hemp products available on the market is dramatically increasing, with prices gradually declining on clothing, hemp seed products and other mass produced goods.

On the other hand, the 1990's saw a lot of experimentation with different techniques of harm reduction, especially in Europe. While groups like ACT UP in New York City had to break the law to supply clean needles, some cities in the Netherlands and England have gone as far as heroin maintainence programs. As overdose deaths from hard drugs increased throughout North America, the violent crime associated with the illegal drug market steadily followed the path of cocaine and heroin into small towns across the continent. We cannot even keep heroin out of the jails, and stories are now being told about people who were totally clean getting thrown into jail, becoming addicts and dying of overdose deaths because they cannot get medadone treatment and cannot kick the habit alone. These trends have brought many to question the intelligence behind prohibition, sometimes even openly challenging the intentions of those fueling and enforcing the War On Drugs. As the livelyhoods of drug companies and police officers are in part economically dependant upon the continuation of the War On Drugs, they defend their work with vigour, much like an evangelical minister at times. However, the facts speak for themselves, and as places like East Vancouver digress because of prohibition, the public becomes more aware of the problems and ready to seek real solutions. People who have never even seen illegal drugs are questioning the intelligence behind the policy of prohibition.

In the late 90's, people began taking their health, education and spiritual guidance into their own hands because none of the old institutions are capable of delivering the goods. Now there are Compassion Clubs or Cannabis Buyers Clubs for people with medical problems in most large cities across North America. There is a ground swell towards freedom bubbling under the cannabis culture and other alternative forms of healing. Cannabis culture is alive and strong.

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Copyright 1996 by Leon Smith
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