LSD could make you smarter, happier and healthier. Should we all try it?

In 1970, Congress dropped psychedelics into the war on drugs. After a decade of Timothy Leary, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” and news reports of gruesome murders, the federal government declared that the drugs had no medical use — and high potential for abuse. The chairman of New Jersey’s Narcotic Drug Study Commission called LSD “the greatest threat facing the country today . . . more dangerous than the Vietnam War.”

But over the past decade, some scientists have begun to challenge that conclusion. Far from being harmful, they found, hallucinogens can help sick people: They helped alcoholics drink less; terminal patients eased more gently into death. And it’s not just the infirm who are helped by the drugs. Psychedelics can make the healthy healthier, too.

On this subject, only a handful of peer-reviewed studies have been conducted; sample sizes are tiny. There’s still a great deal researchers don’t know. But early results suggest that, when used by people without a family history or risk of psychological problems, psychedelics can make us kinder, calmer and better at our jobs. They can help us solve problems more creatively and make us more open-minded and generous. Some experiments even suggest that a single dose can change our personalities forever.

LSD

Is LSD illegal|Lucy Drug

Americans have had a complicated history with psychedelics like LSD, magic mushrooms and peyote. In the 1950s, researchers began to investigate whether psychedelics could treat mental-health disorders and addiction. Between 1953 and 1973, the federal government funded 116 studies on the subject, affecting thousands of people.

At the same time, large numbers of Americans started using these drugs recreationally. As many as 2 million had dropped acid by 1970. Stories about “bad trips” and psychotic breaks emerged in the press. In one widely publicized incident, a 5-year-old accidentally took her uncle’s drug; people got scared. By 1968, President Richard Nixon had declared drugs “public enemy number one.” Congress banned all psychedelic use in 1970, which made research nearly impossible.

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