Re: Leary and LSD

Michel J Martin (martinmj@astro.ocis.temple.edu)
Wed, 31 Jan 1996 08:48:43 -0500

Following the original post, it has been suggested that Leary's 1966
comment to the New York Times may have been made in jest and that he was
in difficult circumstances at the time, having recently been arrested and
convicted of marijuana charges upon reentering the U.S. from Mexico. The
latter was indeed the case; he was convicted on March 11, 1966--a
conviction that the Supreme Court would later overturn (May 1969). In
addition, people remember Leary as advocating the democratization of LSD use.

Nevertheless, can anyone remember the following message presented in a
book that Leary wrote with Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert:

"Of course, the drug does not produce the transcendent
experience. It merely acts as a chemical key--it opens the mind, frees
the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures. The nature
of the experience depends almost entirely on set and setting." (from THE
PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE, 1964).

The message here seems to place priority on the circumstances of use. I
guess the question that I want to ask is whether people remember this
message getting out to most users or if people remember Leary simply
advocating unrestrained use, period?

Mike Martin
Temple U., history
martinmj@astro.ocis.temple.edu