Many influential world figures have openly discussed their experiences with psychedelic substances such as LSD. Aldous Huxley (author of Brave New World), Richard Feynman (Quantum mechanics Nobel prize winner), and Steve Jobs have used LSD and have expressed the positive impact it has had on their lives. During an interview, Steve Jobs remarked, “LSD reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money”. These credible figures’ view of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide is very opposite to that of the general public and federal government.
These brilliant minds all believed LSD had an extraordinary impact on their professional careers and personal lives. However, why would these intelligent world leaders advocate the consumption of a Schedule I drug? The FDA considers substances in this class to be more dangerous than Schedule II drugs such as Methamphetamine, Cocaine, and Fentanyl. The Controlled Substance Act of 1970, signed into law by Richard Nixon, created five classes for controlled substances. Drugs are categorized based on their potential for abuse, accepted medical uses, and the likelihood of dependence to the substance.
Schedule I substances, the most dangerous class of controlled substances, have a very high potential for abuse, no accepted medical applications, and a lack of safety under medical supervision. LSD is one of the drugs listed as a Schedule I substance, but the modern scientific understanding of Lysergic acid diethylamide may support the declassification of the drug.
A ‘high potential for abuse’ implies that LSD has a highly addictive nature. When discussing drug dependencies, it is important to acknowledge that physical addictions are very different than psychological addictions. Physical addictions are generally considered more dangerous because the drug “...changes your brain’s production of or response to neurotransmitters like dopamine...”, according to the American Addiction center. For this reason, addictions that develop from physical dependencies are much harder to shake than psychological addictions. According to Addiction Center website, “LSD is a non-addictive substance [but] people can become addicted to the sights, sounds, and revelations they experience”. The LSD experience itself can be psychologically addictive, probably because of the supposedly profound and impactful nature of the experience. In contrast, alcohol is considered an addictive substance, which means it has a physically dependent nature. In fact, most people know someone that suffers from alcoholism and it is considered a serious but common problem. A legal substance is more addictive than a Schedule I drug. This current classification is strikingly alarming.
It is widely agreed that pure Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) cannot cause fatal overdoses. Reported deaths using the drug result from the users actions while LSD is in their system, not the physiological effects of the drug itself. Alcohol may be the most abused psychoactive substance in the world but, in contrast, often results in fatal overdose. Despite the evident danger of alcohol, millions of people abuse it regularly and the federal government has not listed it as a controlled substance. LSD is in the most controlled class of drugs yet its physiological harm to the user is negligible when compared with alcohol.
It is staggering that such inconsistencies are so easily found within the federal drug classification system. It should make us all question how things have gotten to this point. Maybe the influential advocates of LSD such as Steve Jobs had merit for their support of the drug. In the next article, a closer look at the origins of federal drug policies in America will shine more light on some reasons for these worrisome inconsistencies.
To many people’s surprise, hallucinogens have been consumed throughout human history. These powerful, mind-altering substances have influenced numerous native tribes, ancient civilizations, and modern societies around the world. Although our modern American society does not currently condone the consumption of psychedelic substances, in many ways psychedelics have helped to shape the world we live in today. This article includes an anthropological chronology that provides an outline highlighting several examples of psychedelic use. This timeline is by no means complete but serves to demonstrate the longevity of psychedelic consumption and allude to the impact on the spiritual, philosophical, and cultural development of humanity that is still evident to this day.
An ancient fresco discovered in Tassili, Algeria provides very early evidence of psychedelic consumption. Archaeologists that have studied this cave painting believe it depicts a shaman in an altered state of consciousness. The art illustrates a man with the head of a bee and a body covered in mushrooms. The mushrooms are most likely Psilocybe mairei.