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Influential People Who Have Tried Psychedelics
Many of us know that English physicist Francis Crick was high on LSD when he discovered the double-helix structure of DNA in the 1950s. However, there are scores of influential figures that used or are using experimental drugs that fly under the radar. Many of them are a large part of making psychedelics mainstream today, and some have even changed the course of human history. From the Father of LSD to a professional baseball player to political petitioners, you’ll be amazed at the following stories of influential people who have tried psychedelics.
“Father of LSD” and counterculture icon Timothy Leary shaped a psychedelic era in the 1960s. In fact, most everyone learned about psychedelics after Leary was fired from his department position at Harvard. Leary had worked on the Harvard Psilocybin Project with Richard Alpert at the prestigious university before they were sacked in the Harvard Drug Scandal. They were both let go because the powers-that-be at the college deemed some of the methods they used during their psychedelic research unsafe.
After the scandal, Leary continued to promote the use of LSD and other hallucinatory drugs fiercely. He became a prominent and influential public figure largely because of his enthusiasm and theatrics. Some of his contemporaries considered Leary a publicity hound, but in reality, he is a visionary for his unwavering belief that LSD had potential therapeutic applications for harmonizing the brain.
Today, LSD-assisted therapy is being clinically studied for treating psychiatric disorders ranging anywhere from major depression to PTSD. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sanction much of this innovative psychedelic research. These legitimate therapeutic applications of LSD means there is certainly a paradigm shift, and studies under the FDA’s umbrella will be fast-tracked. The Father of LSD would be proud.
It is hard to imagine a better time than now to be a huge influencer. Social influencer and comedian Joe Rogan seized this opportunity by advocating for responsible drug use on his provocative podcast. Through the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) podcast, the former “Fear Factor” host reaches millions of YouTube listeners.
Joe Rogan connects the dots between certain drugs and their unique benefits on JRE, and he often features psychonaut guests on the show. Rogan’s podcast #1169 that featured Tesla CEO Elon Musk smoking a doobie almost seemed like simulated reality; it also understandably went viral. As far as his psychedelic use goes, the hyper-excitable Rogan said to Rolling Stone, “I’ve had trips where my sanity became slippery. But I don’t see any negative in it.”
Other comedian trailblazers that used humor to influence future generations of psychedelic fans include Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong (Cheech & Chong), Bill Hicks, George Carlin and everyday man Shane Mauss.
Anthony Bourdain is world-renowned because of his television show, “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.” Unfortunately, life lost some of its flavor after the beloved celebrity chef committed suicide in a hotel room in 2018. His legacy lives on, though, in the eclectic dishes and culinary tips that is featured in his books and cooking TV shows.
Bourdain was a little trippy, too, and one culinary tip he gave stands out if you are a fan of psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms). On the preparation and partaking of magic mushrooms, the chef said,
“We used to soak hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms in honey overnight and then mix them into hot tea before work. You’ve never seen such over-garnished plates in your life. I’d have to tell my sous-chef, you’ve been working on that plate for 22 minutes!”
Famous Parisian playwright Jean-Paul Sartre put on many hats during his career, and he also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964. Also importantly, he is considered a major influencer in 20th century French philosophy and Existentialism. Sartre also had a penchant for “tripping balls” on mescaline, and he often spoke of his experiences.
In 1929, when Sartre attended the prestigious École Normale Supérieure, he had “le plus étrange” of all trips. When John Gerassi interviewed the Existentialist, he described the bizarre experience in full. He said that crabs began following him literally everywhere he went -- and at all times. Sartre noted that the crabs were persistent enough to chase him while he ran alongside the Champs Elysées.
The trip in 1929 must not have been that bad because six years later he did the same thing. During this trip on mescaline, Jean-Paul Sartre reportedly saw the lightning-fast crustaceans again, along with houses that gnashed their teeth and orangutans.
Doc Ellis is often called “the Muhammad Ali of baseball,” and he gained fame as a right-handed pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1970s. He gained the most notoriety during the times the Pirates won five National League Eastern Division titles. In 1971, he helped lead the Pirates to a World Series.
Dock Ellis was an acid user, too, and he pitched a no-hitter while high on LSD during one of the Pirate games. That happened on June 12, 1970 at the San Diego Stadium. The no-hitter was a sporting feat of epic proportions, especially since he was tripping at the time.
Fourteen years after pitching in the June 12 game, Ellis told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about playing almost all of his games while under the influence of LSD, including that astounding no-hitter.
We now know that psilocybin from magic mushrooms has beneficial properties. However, they may never have been officially discovered outside of a privileged few had María Sabina not allowed others to participate in veladas, a healing vigil that used that used Psilocybin mexicana. Luckily Sabina, a Mazatac shaman, did. One of the participants that attended the vigil in the 1950s was fungi expert and biologist, R. Gordon Wasson. And what he did at the vigil would have implications that reverberate all the way until today.
Wasson must have thought there was something magical about those ceremonial ‘shrooms because he collected their spores and took them back to Europe. He later cultivated them into mushrooms and gave samples of them to Albert Hofmann. Hoffman then isolated psilocybin from them, and he was the first person to do so.
That first sharing of traditional medicine by María Sabina came to prominence today through legitimate therapies that even the FDA recognizes. In a similar stance to that they took for LSD, the agency says that psychedelic psilocybin is a “breakthrough therapy” for patients having severe depression.
Psilocybin Therapy Petitioners
Because of word of mouth or through people reading about its therapeutic uses, some people with depression are bound to try dosing themselves with psilocybin to get better. At present, that makes them a criminal if they do it since this psychedelic fungus is a Schedule I drug at the federal level in the United States.
Meanwhile, there is some noise being made in Oregon to decriminalize these psychedelic mushrooms for the use in therapeutic settings. There, a push to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use just got closer to appearing on the Oregon ballot come November thanks to the advocates, supporters and volunteers that gave Initiative Petition (IP) #34 the signatures it needed to come to fruition.
If passed, Oregon would be the first state to legalize the substance. IP #34 will legalize the use of it in controlled doses when it is administered to people by professionals in therapeutic setting. According to The Oregonian, only professionals that hold licenses are the only ones allowed to “provide psilocybin therapy, cultivate psilocybin, or own a psilocybin service center."
Author: Sydney Waldner
* The objective of this article is specifically for speculation and discussion on the comparisons between these two substances. I do not condone or encourage the consumption of any illegal substances. Please use this information to further your education on these substances in a responsible matter. *