Dosed by the CIA
It was only a short amount of time after Albert Hofmann's success synthesizing LSD from the grain fungus ergot in 1938, that the drug was sought after as an innovative tool for psychiatric care, and tested by the government for all potential uses on the population, both foreign and domestic. In 1970 LSD was listed as Schedule 1 under the Controlled Substances Act, barring it from the population and further research.
In 1975, when congress revealed the Rockefeller Commission Report, it was made public that beginning in the 1950's, the CIA ran a research program that went by the name Project MK-ULTRA, which tested LSD on varying populations from CIA employees, the military, mentally ill patients, prisoners, and the general public without the consent or knowledge of their test subjects. Recently, investigative journalist H.P. Albarelli Jr, has unearthed a similar CIA experiment administering LSD to a portion of the French population. In 1951, a village in southern France, by the name of Pont-Saint-Esprit, was struck by a wave of mass insanity and hallucinations, known as "the mystery of Le Pain Maudit (Cursed Bread)."
Albarelli came across CIA documents while investigating the suicide of Frank Olson, a biochemist working for the Special Operations Division of the CIA, two years after the incident in France. One transcript of a conversation between an official from the pharmaceutical company Sandoz, which was manufacturing the LSD for the Army and CIA, and a CIA agent, mentions that the "secret of Pont-Saint-Esprit" was "not at all caused by mould, but by diethylamide"--LSD. Also, in the Rockefeller Commission's report, it was revealed that a number of French nationalists were in the employ of the CIA where they made direct reference to the Pont-Saint-Esprit incident, as well as the claim that "the US army drugged over 5,700 unwitting American servicemen."
After almost 60 years, light has been shed on the mysterious bought of hysteria afflicted on a small town, while the underhanded dealings of the government and CIA are cast in even greater shadow.
Image: "muse d'art sacré (PONT-SAINT-ESPRIT,FR30) 091" by jean-louis zimmermann on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.