LSD timeline: A long, strange trip, with Sonoma County origins

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1938: First synthesized by the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in the Sandoz (now Novartis) laboratories in Basel, Switzerland. Hoffman was trying to come up with a respiratory and circulatory stimulant, but created a hallucinogen.

1947: LSD was introduced as a commercial medication under the trade name Delysid for various psychiatric uses.

1950s: Mainstream media reports on research into LSD and its growing use in psychiatry. Studies show some success getting alcoholics to stop drinking after being given LSD. Film star Cary Grant is one of many people given LSD in conjunction with psychotherapy, disclosed in glowing terms in a Look magazine article. The Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Army, the Canadian government and Britain’s spy agency all jump in, hoping LSD would serve as a truth serum or a new method of chemical warfare.

Early 1960s: Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary becomes one of the foremost advocates for the use of LSD before being dismissed from the university along with colleague Richard Alpert, who changes his name to Baba Ram Dass and writes the book “Be Here Now.”

Mid 1960s: Owsley Stanley, a former chemistry student and sound engineer for the Grateful Dead, sets up private LSD labs that supply the drug for huge “Acid Test” parties in the Bay Area held by author Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters.

1966: California and Nevada outlaw LSD. Other states and countries followed with similar bans.

1967: The “Summer of Love” brings tens of thousands of young people to San Francisco to the Haight and Golden Gate Park, where LSD is part of the rite of passage. Paul McCartney of the Beatles admits to experimenting with LSD around the same time a whole genre of psychedelic rock emerges, personified by groups such as Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish and Quicksilver Messenger Service.

1968: Possession of LSD is criminalized nationally.

1969: TV personality Art Linkletter blames LSD for the death of his 21-year-old daughter, who falls from a sixth-story window. President Richard Nixon labels Timothy Leary “the most dangerous man in America.”

1969: Charles Manson is arrested for mass murder along with followers he manipulated with LSD.

1970s: LSD retains a youth following before publicity about the drug’s psychiatric ill effects slows usage.

Early 1990s: LSD potency ranges from 20 to 80 micrograms per dosage unit, considerably below levels reported decades before, when it ranged from 100 to 300 micrograms.

Early 2000s: LSD use drops from 958,000 new users in 2000 to 606,000 in 2001. Research into the treatment of alcoholism with LSD is revived, with some researchers concluding that it might provide benefits.

2010: Scientists at Harvard and the University of California at San Francisco receive permission from the FDA to experiment with LSD once again.

2014: FDA-approved study shows LSD paired with psychotherapy alleviated end-of-life anxiety in patients suffering from terminal illnesses.

The Press Democrat

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