The Strange Trip and Fall of Leonard Pickard
Criminal Injustice in the Heartland
CJ Hinke firstname.lastname@example.org
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) http://facthai.wordpress.com
Download: US censors LSD trial
More than 13 million Americans have tried LSD. US President John F. Kennedy himself engaged in LSD sessions with his lover Mary Pinchot with acid supplied by Timothy Leary. His brother, US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, was a vocal critic of the LSD ban; his wife, Ethel, was successfully treated for alcoholism in LSD sessions at Vancouver’s Hollywood Hospital, under the auspices of the International Association for Psychedelic Therapy, which claimed a success rate of 80%. Both brothers were assassinated; few know that Pinchot was also assassinated in her Washington apartment in 1964; her address book was never found.
This article addresses another kind of assassination, life sentences for LSD.
Nike Atlas Minuteman ICBM
The heartland of the United States is riddled with hundreds of nuclear missile silos, now relics of the cold war. Many of these 20+ acre properties were sold to individuals including those doomsday proponents who saw them as the perfect place for survival come Armageddon. The silos have 47-ton fortified blast doors and a 66,000-pound battery bank. They also seem to be popular as a great modern location for server farms and hacker camps.
Wamego, Kansas, is the heart of the heartland and welcomed the silos for their government employment opportunities in the country’s farm belt. Waumego was named after Potawatomie chief Waumego but all the Potawatomies were killed in the American Indian Wars in frontier massacres during the mid-1800s. Accordingly, Waumego has modernised its name to Wamego but the local pride in country values and simple pleasures of its residents remain the same.
Dorothy’s farmhouse was blown to Oz from Kansas in L. Frank Baum’s famous children’s book. Although the Dorothy Gale house is located in nearby Liberal, Kansas, Wamego is home to the Oz Museum, one of the largest private collections of memorabilia from the 1939 MGM film, The Wizard of Oz.
The circumstances of the 2003 trial of Leonard Pickard in Wamego, however, belong far more to the Land of Oz where things just might not be what they seem than to the grey Kansas prairie where the colors of the law are simply black and white.
On November 6, 2000, William Leonard Pickard and Clyde Apperson were arrested by a force of US Drug Enforcement agents while attempting to flee from a leased Kansas missile silo while allegedly dismantling a “large non-operational [emphasis supplied] clandestine LSD laboratory”. They were charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and dispense LSD, carrying a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison without parole. Regardless, there has been no parole available to Federal convicts since 1987.
Government statistics and lies
The DEA called the silo site “one of the largest LSD laboratories in the world” capable of producing “one-third of the world’s LSD supply” and the first lab bust since 1991 calling their 2000 effort “Operation White Rabbit”. The chemical ingredients seized from the site were alleged to be capable of producing between 36 million and 60 million doses of LSD. However, in conflicting testimony at trial two DEA witnesses testified that the chemicals seized could produce either 413 million or 826 million doses.
This stupendous quantity of LSD was supposedly to be produced from ten US ounces of ergotamine tartrate, alleged by the DEA to cost $1,000,000 and used only for producing LSD. A total of 40 E.T. canisters were seized, including 30 at another location, secreted, that is to say, stolen, and stored at the home of the inlaws of chief DEA informer Gordon Todd Skinner. These ‘extra’ canisters are simply not mentioned in the DEA press release on Pickard’s conviction. At trial, these were described by a DEA witness as one-litre canisters. Elsewhere, they are described as being one-kilogram canisters. Furthermore, on DEA analysis, some of this material was found not to be E.T. at all but ergocristine which, they allege, can be used interchangeably with E.T. in LSD manufacture. Ergocristine was, at the time of their seizure, which was not illegal and not controlled in law as a an LSD precursor chemical until 2011.
Convicted LSD chemist Nicholas Sand mentions that he was able to obtain 375 grams of LSD from one kilogram of E.T. In any case, a 20% yield of LSD can be expected from using E.T. Where the E.T. came from remains a state secret and was never revealed at trial; however, Poland, Hungary, the former Czechoslovakia, Mexico, and Costa Rica remain among the world’s leading producers. Local Wamego police said LSD was never manufactured in the silo facility.
d-Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
The LSD lab allegedly operated undetected for two years in Santa Fe, N.M., producing a kilogram every five weeks, before being moved to a second silo at Carneiro, Kansas, rented by Skinner, an uncharged co-conspirator turned DEA informant. The DEA also alleges Pickard and Apperson operated prior illegal LSD labs in Colorado, California and Oregon.
The lab was said to have been moved from the Carneiro site after the silo’s owner committed suicide, despondent following his divorce. Both 115-foot deep, 15,000 square foot silos were former homes to first-generation Nike Atlas-E (at Wamego – missiles housed horizontally and lifted vertical by hydraulics) and Atlas-F (at Carneiro – missiles housed vertically) Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying four-megaton nuclear warheads at a cost of $3.4 million, as part of a mutual assured destruction strategy; the silos themselves cost three million dollars to build in 1960.
Local residents who thought nothing of having a nuclear weapon of mass destruction in their backyards were horrified by the alleged LSD lab. Local news media commented wryly, “LSD is not a common Kansas drug”.
Although Clyde Apperson was released on $200,000 bail, the Kansas judge refused to release Pickard despite letters from the chief San Francisco district attorney, British aristocracy, the director of UCLA’s drug policy program, and his neurobiology prof at Berkeley, ruling that he might “flee or endanger the community”.
At his first court appearance after being denied bail, Leonard Pickard’s handcuffs were removed just long enough for him to hold his newborn daughter. He was being held nearby in Kansas’s Leavenworth Penitentiary, a Federal institution built in 1895 and notorious for its gang violence. Under US law, a “James hearing” is conducted in conspiracy cases, allowing the prosecution to use hearsay or third-party evidence which was later freely admitted at trial.
The former missile silo was owned by the Wamego Land Trust, a corporation owned by one Gordon Todd Skinner who had previously been charged in June 2000 with presenting a false Interpol (also described as US Secret Service) identification card at a gambling casino and sentenced to pay a $10,000 fine. Skinner had also been charged with involuntary manslaughter due to a multidrug overdose at the missile silo in April 1999, having represented himself as a doctor and prescribing medication in 2000, fraud, and theft of a pair of $120,000 stereo speakers seized in the DEA raid. In his role as a DEA informant he stated he was part of a conspiracy to manufacture LSD at the Wamego silo and was distributing LSD in Kansas.
Betrayal and lies
The fate of Leonard Pickard became bound to the betrayal of convicted petty criminal Todd Skinner in exchange for immunity from prosecution not only for the LSD case but for all his other charges. Skinner’s legal paranoia caused him to fly to Washington, D.C., with an attorney to make a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice in exchange for the LSD lab. It is apparent authorities had no suspicions about any of these locations before Skinner confessed them. Skinner further stated at trial he was willing to lie to stay out of jail.
DEA witnesses testified at the Pickard trial that a 100-microgram dose of LSD cost 29¢ to produce, a process taking 10 to 14 days, and would sell for three to 10 dollars. Skinner testified that he and Pickard had received at least $30 million in LSD sales but that he only used psychedelics as “sacraments” and not as recreational drugs although he admitted to having used 163 different drugs. Skinner’s girlfriend, Krystle Cole, claimed that each kilo of LSD was worth three million dollars.
Skinner stated that this money was received in Dutch guilders and converted to US dollars at gambling casinos. He also stated that they had received some $500,000 US currency notes. However, US $100,000 notes were the largest denomination ever minted, not circulated, as a gold certificate and only in 1934, thus exposing Skinner’s lie.
During Skinner’s role as a government informant following the arrests of Pickard and Apperson, the DEA stated he had hidden 26 (30 is also mentioned) canisters of E.T. at his inlaws’ home in nearby Manhattan, Kansas. In conflicting trial testimony, the DEA alleged each ounce of E.T. cost $1,000,000 but Skinner testified that each canister cost only $100,000, or $4,000,000 in total, rather than $40 million. This was not Todd Skinner’s first starring role as a government informant having previously been principal witness in a New Jersey marijuana sting which he orchestrated.
Unusually, Skinner was accused of perjury by the prosecution at the close of the Pickard case, in an apparent attempt to head off defense calls for a mistrial and subsequent appeals due to legal and procedural improprieties and misconduct throughout the case.
Following the trial and the expiration of legal immunity granted him by the DEA, Skinner was arrested for firearms possession and threatening with a firearm; and distributing Ecstasy, and possession of 10 ounces, at the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. His luck ran out when he was convicted in 2006 of the kidnapping, assault and torture of a teenager for which he received a life sentence, as well as 30 years and 60 years to be served consecutively.
In all, six prosecution witnesses were given immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony. Although Skinner’s betrayal was clearly the most heinous, he was not alone.
Pickard had given $319,000 in cash from 1996 to 1999 to Dr. Richard Halpern, associate director of substance abuse research at Harvard University’s McLean Hospital and a principal researcher funded by the pro-legalization Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Although he was not called at trial, Halpern became a “cooperating witness” for the DEA, signing a total of nine reports from 2000 to 2002 and recording telephone conversations. Although his research is still funded by MAPS (with Pickard’s support), his cooperation in Pickard’s conviction and sentence called his ethics into serious question in the psychedelic community.
Government use of self-interested informants calls all evidence presented into question. A legal case either has intrinsic merit or not. If there is insufficient evidence, as is apparent in this case, the exploitation of informants guaranteed immunity from prosecution for their crimes should not afford greater legal weight in a criminal trial where citizens’ very lives hang in the balance.
LSD blotter art [Alex Grey]
”I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation – the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence … flowers shining with their inner light and all but quivering under the pressure with which they were charged … words like ‘grace’ and ‘transfiguration’ came to mind.”
[Aldous Huxley on LSD, 1953]
The demonization of LSD exploration
San Francisco doctor David Smith who has researched LSD use since 1967 said that a “philosophy of psychedelics” establishes that LSD makers are more interested in benefitting society than profiting by the enterprise. DEA-licensed biochemist Alexander Shulgin writes in PIHKAL, “…there seems to be no violence associated with any level of the LSD trade, and acid chemists and dealers (and many users) typically have a semi-mystical, proselytizing reverence for the substance.”
Expanding consciousness was the goal. At least one trial witness was funded by singers Sting and Paul Simon.
Todd Skinner testified as a prosecution witness that Leonard Pickard was a member of a both shadowy and flamboyant psychedelic smuggling network named the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, formed 10 days after LSD was made illegal in 1966. Lore has it that Brotherhood chemist Nicholas Sand produced 3.6 million tabs of Orange Sunshine in 1969 alone, the most popular ever. The demonization of the Brotherhood with Congressional hearings in 1971 resulted in the discovery of four complete LSD labs and the seizure of 3,500 grams of actual LSD amounting to 14 million doses in 1972.
But the impact of the Brotherhood was largely a creation of the US government; in fact, Timothy Leary has stated, “The Brotherhood was about eight surfer kids from Laguna Beach, California.” Leary escaped from prison aided by the radical group, The Weathermen, with $60,000 from the Brotherhood of Eternal Love and, some would have it, secret funding from the CIA.
Government tried continually to link LSD with terrorism through the US Weathermen, the German Baader-Meinhof Group, the Angry Brigade, the Red Army faction, the Red Brigades, and the Irish Republican Army as a national security issue just as now government insinuates that the illegal drug trade finances terrorism. There is preliminary evidence to suggest that the CIA actually promoted and protected LSD distribution in order to disrupt and neutralize the New Left. Other rumors even suggest that Timothy Leary worked for the CIA.
We may never know for sure: Richard Helms, CIA director under presidents Johnson and Nixon, ordered all secret MK-ULTRA documents–130 boxes of them– destroyed on his departure from office in 1973. He was the only CIA bureaucrat convicted of lying to Congress over illegal, undercover operations. The demonization of psychedelics was the result of another CIA experiment: the importation of tons of cocaine which had the effect of destroying any groundswell of a radical community for political change.
Carl Oglesby, former national president of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) makes this observation: “What we have to contemplate nevertheless is the possibility that the great American acid trip, no matter how distinctive of the rebellion of the 1960s it came to appear, was in fact the result of a despicable government conspiracy…If U.S. intelligence bodies collaborated in an effort to drug an entire generation of Americans, then the reason they did so was to disorient it, sedate it and de-politicize it.”
In 2007, the US government once again blamed 90% of American LSD on another ’shadowy’ group, the Llama Tribe. The Llama Tribe began in La Conchita, California, in 2003 founded by punk musician Charlie Womack aka Charlie Llama and Papa Chongo; they are a major presence at the annual Burning Man festivals in the Nevada desert. It seems “90%” is the DEA’s favorite number and a gullible public always falls for this hysterical propaganda.
Dr. Albert Hofmann (1906-2008), Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, Father of LSD
Leonard Pickard is hardly the first and perhaps the least famous LSD chemist to be arrested. Bernard Roseman, Bernard Copely, Augustus Owsley Stanley III, Melissa Cargill, Tim Scully, Nicholas Sand, Ronald Stark, Denis Kelly, Robert Thomas (Order of the Golden Toad), Quentin Theobald, Peter Simmons, Richard Kemp, Christine Bott, Paul Arnaboldi, Gerry Thomas, and Lester Friedman all served only minor sentences after being arrested with massive quantities of LSD. G. Walter Dash and Casey Hardison were not so lucky—Hardison got 20 years in England and Dash 30 years in America. Many others convicted for LSD distribution have been equally unlucky. However, many believed, and believe still, that their lives should be devoted to the manufacture of psychedelics and made LSD as a conscious act of civil disobedience.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency estimates there have been fewer than one dozen LSD chemists ever to feed what Freud called “the Nirvana instinct” in man: “Their exclusivity is not surprising given that LSD synthesis is a difficult process to master.” The DEA further states that 25 kg. of E.T. can produce five or six kilograms of pure LSD crystal”…which, ideally,…”could be processed into…“100 million”…doses…”enough to meet…the entire annual U.S. demand”. Wow—100 million hits is the amount of LSD the DEA says is consumed each year by the 300 million US population, one dose for every three people.
There are at least six chemical processes to make LSD. Ironically, the process of public trials of LSD chemists had the very public result of releasing the processes of LSD synthesis, published and made available to a mass audience, in particular, the previously unpublished peptide coupler method. Government was determined not to make the same mistake with Leonard Pickard.
d-Lysergic acid diethylamide [World of Molecules]
Pickard’s defense subpoenaed Robert Cleve Bonner, commissioner of the US Customs Service and a retired US District Court judge, to testify about a telephone conversation from Pickard relating to a Russian lab manufacturing a synthetic narcotic called fentanyl.
Fentanyl was invented in 1959 as a synthetic morphine analogue used in anesthesia and pain relief. Unlike LSD, fentantyl is highly addictive and 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is produced by a simple, four-step process at room temperature. Twelve different fentanyl analogues have resulted from clandestine manufacture, some of them 1,000 times more potent, and at least one of them 17,958 times morphine in strength. Pure domestic fentanyl from the source sells from $240,000 to $640,000 per kilo, imported heroin for $100-200,000; fentanyl offers six times the profit margin. When diluted, fentanyl is 7,000 per cent more profitable than heroin.
This wonder drug has one principal adverse side effect: instant death from respiratory arrest. Pure fentanyl is lethal in infinitesimal doses—think a dose as small as a speck of dust. Fentanyl kills users before they have time to pull the needles from their arms. The DEA calls fentanyl “the serial killer of the drug world”, a “weapons-grade narcotic”.
In 2002, 800 theater-goers were taken hostage in Moscow by Chechen rebels. Russian special forces ended the siege by pumping the theater full of gaseous fentantyl. 117 hostages and 50 rebels died.
For this sort of drug, there is another sort of underground chemist. George Marquardt was, fittingly as it happens, named for the Army photographer on the Enola Gay. He was a self-proclaimed genius who won the 1964 Kansas State Science Fair award the same day he was expelled from high school. Marquardt was a self-taught fentanyl chemist who set up his lab in tiny Goddard, Kansas in 1991. Once Marquardt’s fentanyl hit the streets, scores—at least 126 and up to 300—users died from overdose in the eastern US. In 1993, Marquardt was sentenced to 25 years.
Marquardt was an unrepentant chemist, saying “[It’s] the last American folk adventure…the light in the moon…narcotics agents chasing you all over the land. It’s a fantasy made real,” and telling the judge his profession was “drug manufacture”. Of what sort? “Clandestine.” He also ratted out his principal dealer.
Leonard Pickard wrote to Marquardt in his Oregon prison. One of Marquardt’s revelations to Pickard was that the DEA had not seized his complete laboratory but only a small portion of it. The Kansas court ruled that this was hearsay and thus inadmissible as evidence despite the fact that the prosecution was permitted to rely on hearsay evidence. One of Pickard’s principal defenses at trial was that Todd Skinner had possession of Marquardt’s lab stored at the Wamego silo and Pickard was going to destroy it.
Leonard Pickard won a Westinghouse Talent Search scholarship in 1962 as one of the top forty science students in the United States and was offered twenty-two further scholarships. He studied at Princeton University for a year, then graduated with his baccalaureate degree in science from New York Regent’s. Pickard also served an 18-month Federal sentence in California from 1976 for LSD manufacture. When he was free, he became a Zen Buddhist monk for two years and studied neurobiology at the University of California at Berkeley. Pickard was arrested again in 1988 for a California LSD lab but charges were dropped when he became an informant. Charges were also laid for a lab in Oregon in 1998. The Kansas court also alleged that Pickard studied at Purdue University under David Nichols, a biochemist with a DEA Schedule I license to manufacture LSD.
It appears that Leonard Pickard, described in academic references as a “talented” and “brilliant” chemist may have succumbed to self-preservation by becoming a DEA informant himself. We have, however, uncovered no evidence that he ever testified against anyone in court nor did his information seem to damage anyone.
Pickard went on to complete a Master’s degree in the criminal justice policy and management program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997. The fields of Pickard’s research were future drug epidemics, heroin trafficking into the United States, drug abuse in Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union and offshore money laundering. Leonard Pickard then became deputy director of UCLA’s Drug Policy Analysis Program.
He attempted unsuccessfully to broker an exchange of 800 kg. of seized heroin for the return of US Stinger missiles from Afghan warlords in order to secure a shorter sentence for a Mohammed Akbar, a convicted Afghani heroin smuggler, whom he had met in prison.
Unless the reader has not been paying attention, an enormous number of discrepancies are evident throughout the Pickard case. These discrepancies served to prejudice a Kansas jury in favor of conviction, a jury which reached a verdict in only five hours following an 11-week trial. Uniquely American, jurors were invited to wear jersey sweaters from their favorite schools on Fridays during the trial: seven from Kansas State University, three from the University of Kansas, one from Washburn University, one from the University of Michigan and another “the red and white colors of Emmett Grade School”.
The jury foreman, Scott David Lowry, forgot to mention he was a lawyer and in the same law class at Washburn University’s School of Law in Topeka with the Federal prosecutor, Gregory C. Hough. Lowry was also in law school with another Federal prosecutor from the Tenth District, Thomas Luedke, and the U.S. Attorney for Kansas, Eric Melgren. The law school is housed in a single building at Washburn, and is described as a school “where every student can know every other student” in the admissions brochures. Surely such disclosure by jurors must be incumbent in order to prevent ethical conflicts of interest.
Although never mentioned during trial, the DEA press release following conviction stated that “this was the largest LSD lab seizure ever made by the” DEA, producing 90% of the world’s supply, and that DEA agents seized 41.3 kilograms (90.86 pounds) of LSD and approximately 23.6 kilograms (51.92 pounds) of the (non-psychoactive) LSD byproduct, iso-LSD, capable of producing 13 kilos more LSD. Except for the troubling fact there was no LSD.
These figures appear to have been reached by extrapolation from traces of LSD found during the seizure. However, the DEA spun the truth on Pickard’s conviction, stating that “LSD in its pure form…and its related chemicals” amounted to 198.9 grams or just over seven ounces. (Yes, but how much LSD???)
The DEA also states that they have only ever made “four seizures of complete LSD labs and that three of these seizures involved Pickard and Apperson”. In fact, a DEA report, “LSD in the United States” states they seized six LSD labs from 1981-1987; by 1993, 13.2 million Americans had tasted LSD. If these amounts had actually been LSD, we are talking about more than 400 million 100 mcg. doses.
One life to give
On November 25, 2003, Leonard Pickard was given two life sentences without possibility of parole and Clyde Apperson was sentenced to 30 years also without possibility of parole. Leonard Pickard’s and Clyde Apperson’s sentences were upheld on appeal to the US 10th Circuit Court on March 28, 2006. Their only remaining avenue for appeal is the US Supreme Court.
Intelligent citizens, of course, find the very idea of the state putting someone to death barbaric public vengeance. A life sentence, two life sentences, 30 years, without any possibility of release, is equally, and perhaps even more, inhuman. If war criminals, mass murderers, serial killers, need to be separated from society forever, just perhaps, such sentences may be justified…maybe.
But Leonard Pickard and Clyde Apperson harmed no one. The only conceivable reason they received such unprecedented sentences is because they know the secret. Government wants to make sure these highly skilled chemists never get a chance to cook again.
LSD 60th Anniversary blotter art [Steve Postman]
As was written (anonymously) of another prolific LSD chemist: “Nicholas Sand was taught a secret process, a sequence of actions so dangerous, so overwhelming, that they can only be performed away from the eyes of the crowds, in hidden forests that others only whisper about. ¶The product of these actions is a trace, an engraving in the fabric of nature that can seek out the most intimate regions of your mind and open them up to the infinite worlds, the storms of possibility in which you washed for certain moments when you were young (but you were taken away to dry and rest, ‘forget about the storms you saw, they never happened’). ¶When you live in the storms, reality is another word for adventure and in the sky are faces where others see clouds.”
“There are millions who have been touched, and millions who are just waiting.”
“I knew who I was this morning, but I must have changed several times since then.”
[Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland]
Certainly, in the 1967 words of Canadian psychologist Duncan Blewett, “…the discovery of LSD marked, together with the splitting of the atom and the discovery of…DNA…, one of the three major scientific breakthroughs of the twentieth century…The psychedelics are the strongest tools ever dreamed of for man’s betterment.” Perhaps American psychologist and world expert on altered states, Stanley Krippner, in 1981 went even further: “I think it would be no exaggeration to compare the discovery of LSD, and the use of LSD…to the Copernican revolution, the Darwinian revolution, and the Freudian revolution.” Paediatrician John Beresford pioneered the delivery of polio vaccines on sugar cubes. Dr. Beresford bought a gram of Sandoz Delysid for $300 and it was an easy step for sugar cubes to turn on Aldous Huxley.
LSD, however, is not merely a laboratory tryptamine but has been, and still is, used extensively by indigenous Mexicans in its natural form. Botanical LSD derivatives, ergot alkaloids, are found in the seeds of at least 500 species of Convolvulaceae or morning glory, found widely throughout Central and South America, as discovered by the acknowledged founder of modern ethnobotany, Richard Evans Schultes, of Harvard University in 1941. Used particularly were Rivea corymbosa, named in Nahua dialects ololiuhqui by the Mazatecs and vucu-vaha by the Mixtecs, along with Ipomoea viloacea, named bahdo negro by the Zapotecs and tlitliltzin by the Aztecs before them.
These only to came to light in Western scientific circles through the work of famed American amateur ethnobotanist, R. Gordon Wasson, following Dr. Hofmann’s discovery. As the last chief of the North American Quahadi Comanche tribe and founder of the Native American Church, Quanah Parker, put it, “The white man goes into his church and talks about Jesus. The Indian goes into his tipi and talks to Jesus.”
Xochipilli, “Child of Flowers”, Tlalmanalco, Mt. Popocatépetl, Mexico, circa 1450 A.D. Adorned with morning glories, tobacco and psilocybin mushrooms, “the dream flowers”. [Mark Franklin]
Down the memory hole
This is the real reason why there was almost no national or international media coverage for the biggest LSD lab ever. Despite a major investigative article following the arrests in the almost-mainstream biweekly Rolling Stone based on prison interviews with Leonard Pickard, the story was not picked up by a single wire service, nor did articles appear in the mainstream press, the alternative press or even Internet media right through to sentencing. Government didn’t even bother to resort to media spin. The story was hardly a whisper and went almost universally unreported except for local media.
British author and philosopher George Orwell coined the term “memory hole” in his novel, 1984, to refer to a small chute in the Ministry of Truth leading to a large incinerator for inconvenient documents and records accompanied by media articles which had been “revised” by the Ministry of Truth. Wikipedia states that current usage “is seen by some as a precursor to the tactical and strategic operations of governments, particularly as a method of silencing those whose historical views are out of synchronicity with governmental or more popular views.” A seminal quotation from 1984 notes: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
Leonard Pickard and Floyd Apperson’s trial and repressive for a nonviolent “crime” which had not even yet occurred were effectively obscured in all media and disappeared down the memory hole.
LSD requires a sophisticated system of manufacture under highly controlled conditions, including raw materials and scientific expertise far beyond any amateur efforts. An anonymous prominent author writes, “In spite of the fact that tobacco and alcohol present far greater dangers to public health, LSD remains unlawful. To this day the governments of the western world pursue a zealous campaign to eradicate its use and incarcerate those concerned with its production and distribution. And since the news media is controlled by the same governments, or by business interests, opposition to this policy goes unreported.”
Today, LSD is still readily available, even without Leonard Pickard and Floyd Apperson, often costing only 25¢ (US cents) or 10p. (British pence sterling) per dose.
It is not only Pickard and Apperson’s case which has gone entirely unreported. There have been at least 2,000-3,000 younger and older followers of The Grateful Dead in prison in the United States who consider LSD their sacrament. Overwhelmingly, these Deadheads are incarcerated for many years over possession of small amounts or for small-scale sales and distribution to their friends. Most serve time in state prisons. These young people were targets of the DEA’s Operation Dead End in 1993 and 1994.
A few notables are Federal prisoners. A case in point is that of Timothy L. Tyler. Tim was arrested for sending LSD through the US mails. As the acid was sent to his family home, his father, Timothy V. Tyler was also arrested and given a 10-year sentence; after serving nine of those years, the elder Tim died in prison. Tim the younger pled guilty to drug distribution for 13,045 hits of acid, roughly three grams, for which he had netted around $3,000. As this was his third arrest, the mandatory sentence under Federal three-strikes guidelines was a life sentence without parole. Tim has been in prison since 1992; he was 24.
These cases are completely unknown in the public sphere. The Deadheads bring the total number of psychedelic prisoners worldwide to almost 3,000. The most egregious example of press accommodation to censorship is the case of an LSD chemist sentenced to 38 years in Australia which was unmentioned in the press.
In September 2007, Stefan Wathne, a wealthy trustee of the American Ballet Theater in New York, was arrested in New Delhi and spent 57 days in jail before being voluntarily extradited to the US in January 2008. Wathne, an Icelandic national, is charged with laundering three million dollars of Pickard’s money through Russia on a indictment dating from 2005. Watne had been introduced to Pickard by Harvard psychedelic researcher, Dr. John Halpern.
Wathne received a rather unusual flavor of justice when a Federal judge in San Francisco ruled his extradition from India was illegal after video testimony by a former chief justice of the Indian supreme court and its solicitor general clarifying that Indian law does not prohibit money laundering. In May 2009, the US judge ordered Wathne out of the country but did not dismiss the charges against him. This means that Wathne could only travel to a handful of countries not having mutual extradition treaties with the US.
It is unclear whether he will be deported if he does not leave voluntarily or if charges will proceed if he remains in the US. He is currently free on five million dollars bail and has not left.
Alice Through the Looking Glass Blotter Art, 900 hits [Mark McCloud]
The future of LSD research
LSD was first synthesized in 1937 and discovered to be psychoactive in 1943. It was criminalized in the US on October 16, 1966.
Dosage levels for LSD vary widely, typically measured in micrograms or µg, gamma, millionths of a gram. As used for consciousness expansion and religious experience in the 1950s and 1960s, 250-350 µg was a common oral dose, available as liquid, powder, crystal, tablet, gelatin, windowpane, and blotter. A group calling themselves the Psychedelic Rangers used dosages of two to three thousand micrograms. Currently, 20 µg is said to be a party dose and 100-150 µg a normal dose.
The ban on LSD created a nation of cultural expatriates and spiritual exiles. By declaring war on psychedelics, the US created a criminal class unprecedented in human history, a generation of the privileged, the affluent, the educated. After LSD was outlawed, only outlaws had the acid. Lest readers think governments’ so-called ‘war on drugs’ is well meaning, we urge you to reflect on Mississippi State Senator Bobby Moaks’ “Smoke a Joint, Lose a Limb” bill which provides for punishment of marijuana smokers by amputation of an arm or leg instead of prison.
LSD is never toxic–no lethal dose in humans has ever been discovered. CIA scientist Dr. Louis Jolyon “Jolly” West dosed an African bull elephant named Tusko with 28 grams (or two million eight hundred thousand micrograms) at the University of Oklahoma in 1962; this enormous dose of LSD did not kill the beast but attempts to revive him did. It should be noted that this vitally important experiment was repeated on two further elephants at UCLA with no ill effect.
Tusko [Gayle Curry]
LSD has no potential for addiction; if one takes it frequently, it simply ceases to have any effects at all. In CIA experiments, seven prisoners were kept on LSD for 77 days, responding to their increased tolerance by trebling or quadrupling their dosages with no long-term adverse consequences. A 1960 study of 25,000 LSD trips of 5,000 subjects determined no prolonged adverse reactions. The test subjects were the most hopeless psychiatric cases, who were given from 25 − 1500 mcg once to eighty times, proving a wholly remarkable pharmaceutical safety record.
Consider this—the US Federal Drug Administration approves the licensing of hundreds of psychoactive compounds every year. Unlike the psychedelics, these drugs have no proven safety record and many, like Paxil, have disastrous consequences. However, unlike the psychedelics, these drugs are patentable and generate millions in profits for pharmabusiness, and millions in taxes. Big pharma’s lobbyists to politicians produce piles of money.
R.J. Mishan writes in 1985: “I have suggested that, if their sale were legalized, the popularity of these psychedelic drugs would be limited, their widespread use—which, I think, is feared—could indeed prove a threat to the continued expansion of modern industry. If new opportunities were extended to individuals for strange and exhilarating explorations into the mysterious universe and the mysterious self, the markets for media entertainment, for package tourism and for all the modern accessories of commercial hedonism would surely diminish. And if the popularity of such psychedelic drugs were to have any perceptible and enduring effects, they would certainly involve the curtailing of economic growth. For they do tend to shift the individual’s interest from the search for ways of keeping up with the machine toward the search for meaning and purpose….Finally, in our technocratic civilisation, in which adjustment to the machine entails becoming like the machine, the hallucinogenic experience is one way of releasing, for a while, the faltering human spirit trapped inside the machine.”
In the late 1950s, the CIA applied to dose with LSD the unwitting crew of a live, armed Nike missile silo with its finger on the button. Shades of Dr. Strangelove (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), it’s likely a good thing such an experiment was not approved or we might not be here to tell the tale! It took till 1992 for LSD to finally find its way into the temples of war.
Enter the spooks
The late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy chaired a committee which denounced the CIA’s Project MK-ULTRA brainwashing and mind control experiments using LSD running for two decades. MK-ULTRA itself is an acronym for for “Manufacturing Killers Utilizing Lethal Tradecraft Requiring Assassination”.
Spy v. Spy [Antonio Prohias]
Government confusion over dosages is not peculiar to the Pickard case. The CIA tried to purchase 10 kilograms of LSD from inventors Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Switzerland in 1954 for $4,240,000–enough for 100 million doses–to be told that only 10 milligrams were available.
Eventually, the CIA persuaded the Indianapolis pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to synthesize and supply them LSD “in tonnage quantities” in direct violation of the international patents owned by Sandoz. Eli Lilly became the first government-sponsored, illegal LSD lab.
Many unwitting test subjects, among them prisoners, mental patients, foreigners, the terminally ill, sexual deviants and ethnic minorities, have successfully sued the US government for a lifetime of insanity. One American soldier, James Thornwell, a black American stationed in France, was tortured after being dosed in 1961 over his alleged theft of classified documents; at least nine “foreign nationals” died under the US Army’s LSD interrogation program, “Operation Third Chance”.
MK-ULTRA also sought to monitor all scientists engaged in LSD research on a worldwide scale. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is thought to have created the first underground LSD labs in both San Francisco and New York City in the early 1960s.
Optical LSD Laboratory [Mycotopia]
LSD is harmless. We’ll repeat that again, in case you didn’t get it the first time: LSD is harmless. LSD can only used for its integrative and visionary potential, to “discover and cultivate the divinity within each person”, as described in Acid Dreams, a seminal work on the subject.
Even MK-ULTRA’s CIA spooks were not immune to LSD’s mystical potential. One spy wept openly during his LSD session, declaring, “I didn’t want it to leave. I felt I would be going back to a place where I wouldn’t be able to hold on to this kind of beauty.” His colleagues promptly labelled him psychotic. In one way, the spooks got it right even though they were talking about the Soviets when they described psychedelics as an “outside genius over which…[the user] has no control”.
LSD’s human potential
As integrative physician honored as “America’s most trusted medical expert”, Dr. Andrew Weil, stated in Peter Stafford’s Psychedelics Encyclopedia: “Employed intelligently, they [the psychedelics] are not only safe but sometimes highly beneficial, since they have the potential to produce dramatic cures of both mental and physical problems as well as to provide experiences of great personal value.” In short, LSD can make you a better person.
Pioneer LSD researcher who invented the term ‘psychedelic’, British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond described it best: “I believe that the psychedelics provide a chance, perhaps only a slender one for homofaber, the cunning, ruthless, foolhardy, pleasure-greedy toolmaker to emerge into that other creature whose presence we have so rashly presumed, homo sapiens, the wise, the understanding, the compassionate, in whose fourfold vision—art, politics, science and religion are one. Surely we must seize the chance.”
LSD docked in the human brain’s 5-HT2A receptor
[The Basement, Neurophys, University of Wisconsin]
No one has ever discovered exactly how LSD works. Early researcher Dr. Sidney Cohen has estimated that for every average dose only about 3,700,000 molecules of LSD (approximately 2/100ths of a microgram or 0.00000002 gram) pass from the blood into the brain’s billions of cells “and then only for a very few minutes”. The universe can still conceal some of its mysteries from humans.
LSD creates no social problems…unless one considers the 1960s rebel generation. As Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain write in their book, Acid Dreams, “The LSD story is inseparable from the cherished hopes and shattered illusions of the sixties generation.” LSD was the chemical catalyst for an entire generation to question authority, the first ever to question the management of government and its methods. If the government lied about the dangers of psychedelics, what else were they lying about? As Peter Stafford comments, “…Taking a psychedelic became something of a political act.” Government certainly wouldn’t want that to ever happen again. Does LSD contain a cure for apathy? Consciousness pioneer John Lilly handed down an 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not bore God”!
Levitating the Pentagon: October 21, 1967 [Mungo Thomson]
Where do we go from here?
Our modern society is distinctly lacking in shamans and visionaries. We have lost the path because we won’t credit anyone with a light. We have not had any leader with vision precisely when such visions of a whole planet are most needed. Government wants it that way. They don’t want anyone messing with the system, and slowing down the gravy train.
LSD’s first therapeutic use was by Swiss psychiatrist Werner Stoll, son of Sandoz president, Arthur Stoll. From the late-1940s to the mid-1960s more than 1,000 scientific research papers were written using 40,000 test subjects. For the first time in decades, psychedelic research and scientific study is now being approved worldwide, just as LSD research once was successful in treating schizophrenia, alcoholism and autism. LSD has also been used to great effect as transcendental spiritual therapy for terminal cancer. Psychedelics still show great promise for human society and no menace. At no point in history have we ever been so sorely in need of the very definition of psychedelic—“to manifest our soul”.
Respected visionary and philosopher Aldous Huxley’s last request of his wife on his deathbed in 1963 was for “LSD – try it, intramuscular, 100mm”; an hour later Laura Huxley gave him a second injection of 100mm. Laura writes: “All struggle ceased. The breathing became slower and slower and slower until, ‘like a piece of music just finishing so gently in sempre piu piano, dolcamente’, at twenty past five in the afternoon, Aldous Huxley died.” There is no apology necessary for such an adventure. If LSD can ease our transition from life to death, acceptance of pain and the the terrors of the unknown, for that reason alone should it be made legal. As Huxley writes in Island (1962): “Nothing really belongs to you not even your pain.”
In his 1979 book, LSD Psychotherapy, Czech psychiatrist Stanislav Grof has expressed deep regret that psychiatry lost a unique research tool and powerful therapeutic agent when LSD was legally prohibited: ‘Many observations from psychedelic research are of such fundamental importance and so revolutionary in nature that they should not be ignored by any serious scientist interested in the human mind.’
The question asked is, does popular use of psychedelics cheapen or demean further scientific research?Responsible scientists and inventors, including both trained psychedelic chemists like Albert Hofmann and Alexander Shulgin, as well as underground chemists, have always used their first creations on themselves. That’s what exploration means.
Governments’ wars on drugs have changed the landscape of human society, and not for the better. Drug wars have become wars on privacy, creating legal impunity rather than protection of basic rights and liberties. They have spawned repressive laws and regulations which are not founded in common sense or given any legal latitude. Government prosecutors lie to gain convictions and employ criminal informers on the historical scale of Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, and apartheid South Africa. American prisons are far more packed with drug prisoners than those classical dictatorships ever were. The trial and sentence of Leonard Pickard and Clyde Apperson are not unique. LSD prisoners with huge sentences receive no media coverage and simply are made to disappear.
Most recently, the Deep Web marketplace Silk Road was targeted for online ‘drugs’ sales using untraceable Bitcoins, including the psychedelic sacraments. Its founder, Ross Ulbricht, styled Dread Pirate Roberts, was handed a double life sentence plus 40 years without possibility of parole in February 2015. Eight others, including buyers from the site in several countries were also charged.
Silk Road enabled sellers and buyers to connect along with user comments. Users were able to comment on safe delivery, purity, effects, and honesty of the sellers. Surely, such a system is far preferable to crack dealers on the streetcorners of every metropolis and often accompanying violence and ripoffs. If governments truly believed in public safety, such supermarkets are to be applauded not criminalised.
Two US Secret Service agents were charged with stealing $820,000 in Bitcoins from Ulbricht. US Secret Service agents make $46,964 a year. Of course, they copped a plea. Numerous Darknet enterprises have, of course, already taken up the slack.
Casey Hardison making 2C-B in his lab in the back of his old school bus.
In particular, Casey Hardison was so outraged by the draconian sentences imposed on Pickard and Apperson that he taught himself to cook and was then busted for 145,000 hits in an envelope to an American address.
It is high time for a new renaissance for psychedelic studies and redress for all LSD cases. By pursuing war on consciousness governments are stifling human potential and creativity. Leonard Pickard and Clyde Apperson deserve a new trial resulting in their freedom.