Fascinating film footage from 1958 has emerged of U.S. Army volunteers tripping on LSD as part of a government experiment to see if hallucinogens could somehow be used as weapons of war.
Judging from the footage, the marching troops were having such a good time tripping that weapons of war seemed to be the farthest thing from their minds. Laughing and chaos ensued as a squad officer barked orders at them.
The film clip, taken at Edgewood Arsenal Facility in Maryland in 1958, re-emerged online recently. Between 1948 and 1975 the U.S. Army Chemical Corps reportedly conducted several experiments using LSD, as well as other drugs.
Apparently, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was enthusiastic about this particular type of clinical research.
The LSD experiments featured in the footage were part of a research program, which hoped to find “effective psychochemical incapacitants to be delivered in aerosol form on enemies.” Sounds either horrifying or trippy—or both.
The video, titled “Effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) on Troops Marching,” shows the army volunteers being put through a series of drills before being given LSD, in which they all “responded like well-trained soldiers.”
Then they are given the LSD and tested again two hours later. “The response was not the same,” says the narrator, in a hilarious understatement.
The group immediately starts laughing uncontrollably, walking into each other, overcome by fits of giggling as the drill sergeant tries to given them orders.
The stoned soldiers end up sauntering off into different places as the drill turns to chaos. When the sergeant orders the leader of the squad to drill his fellow soldiers, he responds: “You wanna drill, drill ’em!” The squad laughs even more.
Although most of the soldiers seem to be having a good time, we know that not everyone has the same reaction to tripping on acid. At one point during the video, the narrator says that one of the soldiers fell into a “severe depression,” which caused them to end his participation in the test.
The purpose of this entire project was reportedly to evaluate the impact of low-dose chemical warfare agents on military personnel and to test protective clothing, pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
A small portion of these studies were directed at psychochemical warfare and grouped under the title “Medical Research Volunteer Program” (1956–1975).
Overall, about 7,000 soldiers took part in these experiments, which involved being exposed to more than 250 different chemicals, according to the Department of Defense.
Ironically, after all these years, psychedelics are back on the scene.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the design of two Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA for treating PTSD. This is especially important in view of the epidemic levels PTSD has reached lately. In particular, America’s recent wars have pushed PTSD-related suicides among veterans up to as high as 22 per day.
So, maybe it is time to bring back psychedelics for a good cause. We know that they work.