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World' Most Powerful Drug Essay

2524 words - 11 pages

Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD, is one of the most powerful substances in the world. Named LSD-25, as it was the 25th compound deriving from lysergic acid systematically developed by its chemist inventor, was first synthesized in 1938 and discovered to be psychoactive in 1943. It would reach peak popularity as a street drug in the 60’s and by 1968 it became illegal to possess. Hallucinogens produce quite a complex experience that affects the physical sense, the mind, and alter the mood. These experiences, often described as psychedelic, have been experienced as spiritual journeys and used as a form of medical treatment since ancient cultures first discovered their potential. The enormous spiritual and cultural importance has protected the substance Peyote (Mescaline) for exclusively the Native American Church in the USA (Robins, 1996). But no other substance has the same protection though have held heavy cultural and spiritual importance. LSD is one of those substances, it is a semi-synthetic substance, classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and ramifications for possession are similar to those of highly addicting and dangerous substances like Heroin. This classification has drawn controversy, but there are two sides to every tale, this is a substance of remarkable potential for both euphoria and hell. It is safe to say LSD creates unpredictable experiences, and much remains unknown about this heavily criminalized substance.
How Did LSD Come to Be?
In 1938 amongst a team of scientist working for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Basil, Switzerland was University of Zurich graduate, Dr. Albert Hoffman. Hoffman was working in a chemical research laboratory at a time when pharmaceutical companies were deeply invested in exploring lab created substances which held potential for treating common ailments. Alternatively, the small team at Sandoz which Hoffman was part of focused on known medicinal plants to produce pure specimens of these substances (Hoffman, 1979). This team of doctors was researching the potential of a fungus known as ergot, which was used by 17th century midwives to stop hemorrhaging of the uterus. This fungus mainly thrived on rye grains and when eaten caused serious illness characterized by gangrene and extreme nervous dysfunction (Columbia University Press, 2013). At the time Albert Hoffman was experimenting with ergot, the active ingredient lysergic acid had already been isolated and produced as ergotamine by his peers nearly twenty years prior as a migraine medicine. According to Hoffman, he wanted to reopen research into ergotamine to keep up with foreign pharmaceutical companies that were catching up to the work of Sandoz and inventing more stable forms of ergotamine alkaloids. In his own quest to create a stable ergot alkaloid he managed to create an even better migraine treatment from a new lysergic acid derivative. From this he further developed lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD-25....

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