Anniversary Post: Intentional Use of LSD

Albert HofmannBack in 1938, Albert Hofmann synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD. I remember a story (possibly apocryphal) dating back to the 1970s. On the first day of Introduction to Chemistry, a certain professor would walk in and write on the calk board:

C20H25N3O

He would say, “This is the chemical formula for LSD. I don’t want to be asked for the rest of the year!” Of course, it would take at least another year of chemistry to gain the skills in organic chemistry to actually make it.

On this day in 1943 — almost five years later — Hofmann intentionally took the drug for the first time. It wasn’t the first time that he had taken the drug. The thing about LSD is that it is super potent. Most drug doses are measured in milligrams, but LSD is measured in micrograms. So all you have to do is get some on your skin and you will probably absorb enough of it to get high.

In his way, Hofmann was as much an advocate for the drug as was Timothy Leary. And he was an advocate right up to his death a few years ago at the age of 102. I’m ambivalent about the drug. I remember a music teacher of mine saying, “When we first started taking LSD, we thought we were learning a lot of spiritual lessons. But gradually, we learned we were just getting high.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But LSD does rather have a reputation for being more serious than it is.

Happy birthday intentional use of LSD!

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