Colour­ful his­tory of ‘truth drug’ that bent mil­lions of minds

Irish Sunday Mirror - - STYLE ON SUNDAY -

SWISS chemist Al­bert Hof­mann first dis­cov­ered ly­ser­gic acid di­ethy­lamide, known as LSD or acid, in 1938 while try­ing to de­velop a blood stim­u­lant for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany San­doz. He wit­nessed its strong hal­lu­cino­genic

ef­fect first hand when he spilt some on his skin. In 1943 he took the first in­ten­tional acid trip, and once the prop­er­ties of the drug were con­firmed, LSD was ad­mit­ted for ex­per­i­men­tal ob­ser­va­tions.

By the late 50s, sam­ples were sent out to psy­chi­a­trists for med­i­cal re­search. The CIA ex­am­ined the pos­si­bil­ity of us­ing the drug as a truth serum dur­ing the Cold War.

The pow­er­ful hal­lu­cino­gen be­came the sub­ject of re­search, mass me­dia at­ten­tion and thou­sands of sci­en­tific pa­pers. As LSD grew in pop­u­lar­ity, hippy claims about its cre­ative ef­fects were tem­pered by sto­ries of hor­ror drug trips.

Pos­ses­sion of LSD was de­clared il­le­gal in the US in 1968. It re­mains il­le­gal in the UK. Pos­ses­sion can lead to seven years’ jail.

IN­VEN­TOR Hof­mann

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