Austin Krantz
Ben Simon
Mrs. Price
American History


Illicit Drugs specifically, Psychedelic drugs and Hallucinogens, became very prevalent during the 60s counter culture movement. Marijuana was very influential in jazz music throughout the 1920s and 30s, but by the late 50s Marijuana and other hallucinogens, such as LSD and "Magic Mushrooms", began being referenced in popular culture, including different works of literature, essays, and popular protest songs. The psychedelic phenomena rapidly spread across the United States as a result of Psychedelic Gurus, such as Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey,who advocated the legalization and ideology of the Psychedelic Phenomena.


There were several role models that played a key role in the prevalence of Psychedelic Drugs in the 60s, including Albert Hoffman,Timothy Francis Leary, and Ken Kesey.

Albert Hoffman
To begin, Albert Hoffman first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide in 1938, but not until 5 years later did he first experience the psychoactive effects of the drug. He first experienced the psychological effects of LSD when he accidentally ingested the substance. A few weeks later he deliberately took the chemical and rode home on his bike, enthusiasts recall this historic event as "bicycle day". LSD wasn't Hoffman's sole chemical achievement he also formulated methergine, which helped cure the leading cause of childbirth death


Hoffman's Opinons of LSD
  • “Through my LSD experience and my new picture of reality, I became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the animal and plant kingdom,”
  • "Hoffman took LSD hundreds of times, but regarded it as a powerful and potentially dangerous psychotropic drug that demanded respect."
  • "More important to Hoffman than the pleasures of the psychedelic experience was the drug’s value as a revelatory aid for contemplating and understanding what he saw as humanity’s oneness with nature."
  • Hoffman argued that LSD could be used as a valuable tool for psychiatry and
could be used to awaken a deeper awareness of mankind’s place in nature and help curb society’s ultimately self-destructive degradation of the natural world.

Timothy Francis Leary
Next, Timothy Francis Leary was a Harvard Professor known for his advocacy of Psychedelic Drugs. Timothy was referred to as one of the earlier Utopian based Psychedelic Gurus. He began his first psychedelic experience with the consumption of "sacred mushrooms". He described his first Psychedelic "trip" as, "The deepest religious experience of my life." Following this "religious experience" he began introducing mescaline and psilocybin to his associates and students at Harvard. After dropping out he dedicated most of his life to drug advocacy and was a drug figure for the counter culture.


Timothy Francis Leary's Opinions
  • Leary is remembered for his favorite quote, "Turn on, tune in, drop out,"
  • "Deepest Religious Experience of My Life"
  • "You have to go out of your mind to use your head"

Ken Kesey

Finally, Ken Kesey is a famous 1960s writer who is most remembered for his book, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Kesey began first taking drugs when he volunteered for a government drug research program where he explored the effects of, LSD, Psilocybin, mescaline, and amphetamines. Although Kesey was a Stanford graduate specializing in creative writing, the use of drugs catapulted him to superstardom as an author as well as an influential psychedelic guru. Above all Kesey wanted to break through conformist thought and unite American Society into an age of "peace and love".

Kesey's Opinions
  • Drugs produced creativity
  • Break through conformist opinion
  • More unified society

Other Books and Authors Concerning Psychedelics
  • Can You Pass The Acid Test by Ken Kesey
  • The Further Inquiry by Ken Kesey
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
  • On The Bus by Ken Babbs and Paul Berry.


Information on some Psychedelic Drugs

  • Mescaline and Peyote- is a hallucinogen from the peyote cactus, as well as certain members of the fabaceae "bean family". Users of the drug typically experience radically altered states of reality, dream like states, and euphoria, sometimes accompanied with anxiety.
  • Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)-Similar to mescaline, Psilocybin creates a distorted reality where hallucinations occur, including brighter or more vivid colors, distortion of space time, and instances where intimate objects come alive. Psilocybin comes from specialized mushrooms, such as "sacred" or "magic mushrooms", which can be synthetically made or be found growing in the wild.
  • Marijuana- is the most illicit drug used in the United States. In 2007 a survey concluded that 20% of high school seniors had reported smoking marijuana within the last month. Marijuana comes from the cannabis plant, which also contains THC the most active chemical in Marijuana. THC is that chemical that gives users a "high" where people begin feel to more relaxed and have a distorted sense of reality. Marijuana is mostly known for its psychological effects on users, such as rare cases of schizophrenia,depression, and anxiety later in life. However, there are very few and arguably somewhat insignificant physical effects.
  • LSD- is the most powerful hallucinogen known and can have very negative effects on one's health. Lysergic Acid comes from the ergot fungus first synthesized in 1938 by Albert Hoffman. It was thought that LSD caused permanent brain damage, but was later disproven with the notion that it only caused changes in brain chemistry while on the drug. However, in some instances people can suffer large psychological changes and develop permeant Schizophrenia, but isn't a direct result of LSD, the person must have a predisposition to obtain this permeant side effect.


Psychedelic drugs were the cornerstone to the counter-culture, also known as the lifestyle of the rebellious, as well as used almost daily for some people back in the 70s. Drugs were a big part of the rock and roll lifestyle. Artists often did drugs before going on stage, and listeners would do drugs, such as LSD or shrooms, to enhance the listening experience. When stars such as The Beetles would do drugs, the youth of the country would say that, whatever the beetles did was acceptable, using the group as a set of role models to build their life around. During the early 70s, LSD was very prominent throughout the US hippie culture, in addition to the cultures around the world. LSD was extremely powerful, sometimes thousands of times more powerful than other comparable drugs being done at the time. This is what made LSD, among others, a very popular drug at the time. Overall, psychedelic drugs were an intricate part of the culture and lifestyle in the 70s, and life during this time period would have been completely different without them.

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