November 16, 1938: LSD is synthesized for the first time.

LSD was first synthesized by Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist who had been conducting research on ergot, a potentially poisonous fungus, in order to produce a respiratory and circulatory stimulant from lysergic acid. The result was lysergic acid diethylamide - LSD-25. It did not suit his intended purpose, so Hofmann set the new drug aside for several years. Five years later, on April 16, 1943, Hofmann began work with LSD again and exposed himself to it; he described the ensuing sensation in his autobiography:

I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors…

On April 19, a day known as “Bicycle Day”, Hofmann ingested the drug intentionally and became the first person to experience the psychedelic properties of LSD. He described the “kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux …” Although Hofmann criticized the public’s eventual rejection of a drug he believed was not yet fully understood, he also rejected many of the casual users who “hijacked” the drug in the 1960s as amateurs whose understanding of the drug was as scant as that of many of its opponents. 

Although its use was supported by many prominent figures, Aldous Huxley and particularly Timothy Leary among them, public backlash against the drug and its effects led to its illegalization in California in 1966. By 1968, possession of the drug was illegal in the United States, but medical research continues. 

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