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Coast to Coast - 2024-05-26 - Norman Ohler - LSD, CIA, & Nazis

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Hosted by
George Knapp

Guests:
Norman Ohler

Sunday - May 26, 2024

In the first half, journalist Norman Ohler joined George Knapp to reveal the untold story of how Nazi experiments into psychedelics covertly influenced CIA research and eventually became part of the foundation of America's War on Drugs. This policy ended up holding back therapeutic research of psychedelic drugs like LSD for decades, he pointed out. During WWII, the Nazis had experimented with psychedelic compounds on prisoners in a concentration camp outside Munich to try and extract secrets like the drug was a 'truth serum,' he recounted. Ohler traced the beginning of the drug war to 1945 in post-war Berlin, when drug use was rampant, and America sent the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Arthur J. Giuliani, to the divided city to regulate the situation. He pushed for the prohibition of various substances, which ended up becoming a kind of blueprint for drug policy around the world.

Ohler sought out information in the archives of the Novartis pharmaceutical company (which had merged with Sandoz, the company that initially synthesized LSD). During the Cold War, the CIA bought a huge stockpile of LSD from Sandoz in Switzerland to conduct experiments and tried to convince the company only to sell it to Western countries, he reported. In recent years, studies have shown that in low doses or microdoses, LSD could be effective for a variety of conditions and diseases like dementia. "LSD is a disruption of your brain chemistry...for not only for those hours while it lasts, but they found that up to two weeks afterwards, your brain is still animated from that experience and creates new neurons," he remarked.