and the Sixties
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City does not condone the use of drugs. This page is intended
for background info only.
One, and not the most beneficial, of the social changes exploding
from the ground zero of the Sixties was the increasingly widespread
use of drugs, most notably LSD and marijuana. Prior to this
era marijuana was primarily used by American jazz musicians
and other 'hip' denizens of the larger inner cities.
The main followers of this culture in the mid-Fifties, the 'Beats'
or 'Beatniks', in idolising and adopting the habits of the jazz
musicians, started to use marijuana and references to the allegedly
mind-expanding group of drugs, known collectively as hallucinogens,
began to make an appearance in protest songs, essays, novels
and verse by the Beat poets.
Almost unknown to the American society of the early Sixties
and inexplicably still legal until 1966, LSD (Lysergic acid
diethylamide) gained widespread recognition and notoriety in
the U.S. as a consequence of the very public exploits of 'acid
gurus' Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary who charmed 60s youth with
his mantra "Turn on, Tune in, Drop Out".
SAY NO TO
By the middle of the decade, and quite insidiously, the use
of LSD and marijuana had become quite common amongst the youth
of the entire country. In the U.K. the 'drug culture' started
with the increasing popularity of amphetamine 'pep pills'.
A form of pep pill containing the drug Benzedrine had been in use
perfectly legally during WW2 to ward off fatigue and tiredness. The
post-war development of synthesised drugs rapidly expanded and Benzedrine
was being used in drugs for many other purposes, such as weight loss
and enhancing self confidence.Amphetamine began to be used more prominently
in these drug concoctions and very many varieties could be bought
'over the counter' in chemist shops.
In order to get the energy for their 24 hour dance-til-you-drop lifestyle,
mods popularised the perceived common use of drugs. There was always
something happening somewhere and the Mod drug of choice, amphetamine,
kept them going for days. Although available, marijuana did not fit
in with the Mod culture as it had the effect of 'slowing down' not
'speeding up'. It is the modern perception that the Sixties youth
society was rife with substances of various sorts, and there is no
doubt that they were becoming increasingly available, particularly
towards the close of the decade, but the fact is that they were generally
pretty hard to get hold of and the actual overall usage was comparatively
very low compared to today. At that time, the only legislation the
police had to work with was the outdated Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920
which, although amended several times up to and including 1964, did
not cover synthetic drugs such as 'amphetamines' and LSD.In 1964 additional
legislation known as 'The Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act' was introduced
in an attempt to control these other substances.
The Dangerous Drugs Act was left in place which led to a misconception that
still exists today, in that the substances controlled by the Dangerous Drugs
Act are more dangerous than others controlled by the Prevention of Misuse
Act. So the mid-Sixties legislation saw opium and its derivatives (heroin,
cocaine etc., known as 'hard' drugs) being controlled by the earlier Act
of Parliament and the 'pep pills' (that were causing increasing problems
for the youth of the country by the end of the decade) were controlled by
the 1964 and rapidly became known as soft drugs. Other, more harmful, drugs
were to follow, including amphetamine derivatives, barbiturates and cocaine,
pushing the concept of the use of 'mind-expanding' drugs to gain some special
insight into the world to one side in favour of plain, frequently harmful,
of the day, musicians Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, died directly
as a result of such 'recreational drug' use. One of the original proponents
of the use of LSD, Ken Kesey, had started to denounce its curative
values by early 1967 but, by then, the habit had already taken a grip
amongst youth cultures and its use had become too widespread to be
so easily controlled. Much was written to try to justify, explain
or vilify the use of these drugs, examining the use of substances
such as peyote and mescaline in the religious ceremonies of native
Americans and referring to the use, in ancient texts, of marijuana
for both medicinal and spiritual purposes. One of the most famous
of these was Aldous Huxley's 'The Doors of Perception' in which he
describes his experimentation with mescaline in Mexico.
The hallucinogenic group of drugs were called "psychedelics" and affected
a person's perceptions, sensations, thinking, self-awareness and emotions.
It included drugs such as LSD, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms and DMT.
Some of them come from natural sources, such as mescaline which is derived
from the peyote cactus. Others, like LSD, were synthetic or manufactured.
PCP [phencyclidine] was sometimes considered to be a hallucinogen because
it had some of the same effects on the user, but it does not fit so easily
into any one drug category.
The most well-known Sixties hallucinogen, LSD, is a chemical discovered
by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938 at the Sandoz Laboratories
in Basel during research for medically useful ergot alkaloid derivatives
(LSD is derived from a fungus that grows on rye and other grains).
Its 'psychedelic' properties were unsuspected for many years until
Hofmann, acting on what he called a "peculiar presentiment", returned
to work on the chemical and attributed his discovery of the effects
of the substance to the accidental absorption of a tiny amount through
his skin on April 16 1943, which led to him testing a larger amount.
LSD was originally available in tablet form, but after it was made
illegal it was more often used in straight liquid form (via oral,
eyeball or mucous membrane entry), crystalline form (window-pane acid),
as 'dots' on blotting paper, in a mixture with other drugs (e.g. dropping
some onto marijuana before smoking) or a drop on a sugar cube.
An LSD 'trip' could last anything from 2 to 12 hours, when the user
experiences distorted vision, impaired judgment and, often, vivid
hallucinations. Note: A bad psychological reaction to hallucinogenic
drugs is quite common. The frightening sensation may last just a few
minutes or many hours and can vary from mildly scary to absolutely
terrifying. Flashbacks can occur years after the user has quit taking
LSD, where a person may experience the effects of the drug without
even taking it. The effects are completely unpredictable and can depend
on the quantity taken, mood, personality and external surroundings.
Physical effects include increased heart rate and blood pressure,
dilated pupils, higher body temperature, sweating, loss of appetite,
sleeplessness, dry mouth and shaking. Frightening emotional and mood
swings or the feeling of several different emotions simultaneously
can cause the user to panic.
/ Cannabis / Hashish
Grass, pot or weed are common names for the crude drug made from the
plant Cannabis Sativa that contains the mind-altering ingredient THC
(delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) among more than 400 other chemicals
also found in the plant. A marijuana "joint" is made from the dried
particles of the plant and the amount of THC in the plant determines
the strength of the effect. The strength of today's marijuana can
be as much as ten times greater than the marijuana used in the Sixties
and this more potent plant increases the possibility of physical and
mental effects and health problems for the user. Hashish, or hash,
is made by taking the resin from the leaves and flowers of the plant
and pressing it into cakes or slabs. Hash is usually stronger than
crude marijuana and may contain five to ten times as much THC. Pure
THC is almost never available, except for research. Substances sold
as THC on the street often turn out to be something else, such as
PCP. Some immediate physical effects of marijuana include a faster
heartbeat, bloodshot eyes, and a dry mouth / throat. Studies of marijuana's
mental effects show that the drug can impair or reduce short-term
memory, alter sense of time and reduce the ability to do things that
require concentration, swift reactions, and coordination, such as
driving a car or operating machinery. A common bad reaction to marijuana
is the "acute panic anxiety reaction" which is an extreme fear of
"losing control" which, in turn, causes panic. Although these symptoms
usually disappear in a few hours, long-term regular users of marijuana
may become psychologically dependent.
'Magic mushrooms' are a powerful, naturally occurring hallucinogenic.There
are about a dozen varieties of hallucinogenic mushrooms found growing
in the wild in the UK, the most popular being the 'Liberty Cap' (Psilocybe
Semilanceata). After picking, mushrooms are eaten raw, cooked, made
into a drink, or dried for later consumption but as the body quickly
develops a tolerance, continued use is unlikely. One of the biggest
risks is in people picking and consuming poisonous mushrooms by mistake,
which is very easily done.
Mescaline is one of the oldest psychedelics known to man and is the
major active component of the small dumpling cactus known as Peyote
which is a spineless cactus (Lophophora Williamsii) with a long root.
Growing in the south-western United States and Mexico, its crown,
or 'button', is cut from the cactus and dried into a hard brown disc.
The disc, sometimes referred to as a 'mescal button', contains a methoxylated
Drugs, of course, includes
alcohol and many other substances than the 'iconic' types listed here. 'It
couldn't happen to me'..... maybe not, but here's a list of a few of the
famous names of the Sixties who have died from drug-related causes (including
suicide), some of whom probably thought the same thing.....
Chet Baker, Florence Ballard, Lester
Bangs, Scotty Beckett, George Best, Dave Bidwell, Mike Bloomfield, John
Bonham, James Booker, Lenny Bruce, Tim Buckley, Michael Clarke, Sonny Clark,
Montgomery Clift, Brian Cole, Pamela Courson, Dorothy Dandridge, Jesse Ed
Davis, Desmond Donnelly, Nick Drake, Bobby Driscoll, John Entwistle, Brian
Epstein, Rick Evers, Rory Gallagher, Judy Garland, Bobby Hatfield, Tim Hardin,
Wynonie Harris, Alex Harvey, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Hite, Michael Holliday, Howard
Hughes, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jack Kerouac, Frankie Lymon, Phil Lynott,
Steve Marriott, Clyde McPhatter, Joe Meek, Marilyn Monroe, Keith Moon, Jim
Morrison, Johnny O'Keefe, Christina Onassis, John Phillips, Elvis Presley,
James Ray, Johnnie Ray, Rachel Roberts, David Ruffin, George Sanders, Jean
Seberg, Edie Sedgwick, Judee Sill, Inger Stevens, Rory Storm, Screaming
Lord Sutch, Gary
Thain, Dinah Washington, Danny Whitten, Alan Wilson, Kenneth Williams, Natalie
City does not condone the use of drugs - they are highly addictive
and can kill. You only have 1 life - don't find out the hard way!