Pasman: Microdosing brings LSD back to cultural relevance

LSD was first synthesized back in 1938 and secretly studied by the CIA in the ’50s, before peaking in popularity during the ’60s. (Creative Commons)

A new group of silicon valley techies, professionals and others around the world are starting to experiment with small doses of LSD in hopes of improving their creativity and focus at work, along with alleviating issues of anxiety and depression. They are calling this idea microdosing.

By using about 1/10 of a recreational dose, the user experiences a slight mental change, what James Fadiman, a leading figure in psychedelic research and author of the The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, calls “sub-perceptual.”

LSD was first synthesized back in 1938 and secretly studied by the CIA in the ’50s, before peaking in popularity during the ’60s. Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters frequently dropped acid, traversing the country in their psychedelic themed bus. As the wild ’60s came to a close, the U.S. federal government made LSD possession illegal and the FDA-approved studies drew to a close in the forthcoming decades.

Ever since, LSD has made occasional appearances in the news, such as when MLB pitcher Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter under the influence of the drug, or when Steve Jobs reported it was one of the “two or three most important things” he had done in his life.

It wasn’t until recently a new trend in LSD use has appeared. Rolling Stone, Forbes and the Huffington Post all ran stories in the past year discussing the new trend of taking microdoses of the substance.

People are beginning self-experimentation using these microdoses in hopes of improving their lives. Fadiman receives anecdotal reports from people who have tried microdosing along with giving them a protocol to follow, which involves the user dosing every three days. He says that he has received reports from people ranging from a Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner to a warehouse manufacturer, all raving about the positive effects of their new routine.

Baynard Woods, author of the Vox article on microdosing, says microdosing helped him knock his internet addiction, at least temporarily. Woods explains that he doesn’t think microdosing increased his willpower, he simply, “Didn’t feel a desire to go online.” He says the “habitual cycle got broken.”

It’s not clear how many people really are on board with this new fad, since LSD is illegal, and people are reluctant to admit to using psychedelics. But people are beginning to realize that the propaganda that has spread surrounding hallucinogenic drugs is greatly exaggerated.

As attitudes towards marijuana have rapidly changed in the U.S. over the past decade, people’s views on psychedelics are starting to follow suit. These substances might have great potential in treating trauma and addictions and aiding with positive transformational experiences if used in the right setting.

Drugs such as LSD have been around and studied for much longer than the pharmaceutical drugs that are reaching the market. Because of the outdated beliefs that are in place, we somehow feel okay dosing 5-year-olds with amphetamines (Adderall) but refuse to examine a substance because of it’s illegality or negative associations.

Fadiman said, “Microdosing is the safest known way to use psychedelics.”

He also suggests that microdosing LSD is a reasonable alternative to Adderall or anti-depressants that have addictive properties and a lot of side effects for many people.

Not all people are so convinced quite yet. “It [microdosing] strikes me as a media phenomena,” said Woods. He went on to say that the reason these sort of drugs got banned in the first place was because of grandiose claims from people who see psychedelics as a great evil.

The media frenzy surrounding microdosing may be blowing the movement out of proportion, but the important thing is that people are beginning to become aware of the potential good this substance could bring. Despite being in its infancy, formal research surrounding microdosing LSD is beginning in Europe and Australia.

People should have the right to choose what to put into their own bodies, not the government. It’s clear the drug war was a failure on all ends, resulting in racial discrimination and unfair punishments for drug use. We are moving into an age where people are beginning to see the discrepancies between what doctors, pharmaceutical companies and the government are claiming, and the truth.

The new LSD microdosing trend is just the beginning of a much bigger movement towards drug reforms and a more open approach to substances that were once thought of as destroying society.