Psychedelics have been stigmatized since the government’s backlash against the 1960s ‘counterculture’ movement.
What if Oliver Sacks had been born 20 years later? Would he have been able to explore new avenues of neurochemical and psychiatric research to the extent that he did?
Probably not… at least not legally – since a 20-year delay would have implied breaking the law when he split fifty micrograms of LSD with one of his childhood friends.
While the psychedelic compound was still legal when Sacks ingested it in 1953 it was not long before LSD and multiple other psychoactive drugs were declared to have no medical value and great potential for abuse by the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 that was signed into law by President Richard Nixon as part of his war on drugs.
Despite a number of both national and international studies carried out in the 1950s showing the therapeutic potential of LSD and other psychedelics including treatment for alcoholism and psychological disorders –
– Nixon’s draconian laws not only criminalized people who use drugs but also researchers – whose projects were terminated and funds cut short.