April 20th, 2016


Bicycle Day

Quote from a friend:

- Dr Albert Hofmann April 20th 1943

For those who don't know, today is the day that the man who synthesised LSD for the first time did an experiment on himself that would change the world. He had some inkling that his molecule was psychoactive after having experienced some effects from accidental absorption through the skin. He thought that 250 micrograms would be a pretty safe starting dose to explore this further (apparently experimenting on yourself was pretty common in those times). Normally he'd be right, but LSD was something new and different.

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Apparently Albert Hoffman took LSD many, many more times in his lifetime. He lived to over 100 years old and was lucid till the day he died. For 50 years, his problem child has been listed as one of the supposedly most dangerous substances known - Schedule 1 in the UN Conventions, claiming high potential for abuse with no medical benefits. In that time there have been no deaths that are attributable to LSD. There have been many deaths that were *claimed* to be caused by LSD, but none of them stand up to scrutiny. Likewise, the common myths associated with it:

- staring into the sun until you go blind
- thinking you can fly
- acid casualties

are also unsupported by evidence. In fact, when ranked for level of harm against 20 other drugs by a panel of experts in the UK a few years ago, LSD ranked 18th*, below cannabis, ecstasy, and khat.

Now, research is finally being allowed again. It's being looked at as a potential therapeutic aid for end-of-life anxiety in terminal patients**, and most recently, images of brains on LSD are finally beginning to reveal how it has such a profound impact on our perceptions.

I think Albert Hoffman would be pleased to know that his problem child is finally getting some understanding, and it makes me a little sad that he didn't quite live to see it.

* mushrooms were 20th
** I would have loved for my mother to have had access to this in her final year with pancreatic cancer. Instead they gave her benzos for her anxiety and she crashed her car because of them, which took away her confidence and was the catalyst to her final downward spiral. She stopped driving, became completely housebound, and gave up. LSD may have helped her retain her identity for longer.