That time the U.S. Army gave LSD to its soldiers to test effectiveness as a weapon


Being in the military, you’re often subject to a lot of experimental technologies, often times without really being told what kind of ride or side-effects you’re in for.

From anthrax vaccines to Gulf War Syndrome and Agent Orange, the servicemember is subjected to all kinds of weird stuff.

But one of the goofier substances that have been tested on military guinea pigs is easily LSD or Acid.

Beloved by hippies, new-age healers and party animals alike, the illicit substance has been tested on American and friendly troops for some time.

As early as the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency (under the project name MK ULTRA), the US Army Chemical Corps and even the British Army experimented with LSD use on soldiers, resulting in some interesting results.

In the British Royal Marines, an experiment was conducted in 1964, resulting in soldiers quickly losing their bearing and one even climbing a tree.

On the other side of the Atlantic (and a few years earlier, but not as well-known as the British experiment) US soldiers and airmen were given the drug and instructed to do menial tasks, such as marching and standing in formation. Within a very short period of time, the soldiers were unable to maintain composure, let alone march (although, to be fair, a lot of soldiers aren’t very good at drills to begin with).

Ultimately, LSD made soldiers inefficient at their job, leading researchers to wonder just how the drug could be used as a weapon, possibly to render enemy troops unable to effectively fight.

On the “civilian side of things,” President Eisenhower and the CIA (which goes back to MK-ULTRA and so-called “mind control” experiments) seemed pretty excited about weaponizing the grooviest drug known to man. Keep in mind, Eisenhower was known as a great general and all-around “good guy” who was against the military-industrial complex, so that says a lot about how effective and interesting such a weapon could be.

However, dreams would soon be dashed as it would later be discovered that the weapon was too expensive, too hard to get a patent for and incredibly difficult to properly deploy such a substance.

Despite the initial letdown concerning the failure to weaponize LSD, a similar substance is still used as a weapon: 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate.

Known by NATO as “BZ” (better known as “Buzz”) and by the more sinister Soviet code of “Substance 78,” the odorless incapacitating agent was invented in 1951 and standardized by the US Army in 1961.

A powerful chemical agent, the chemical was eventually packed into cluster bombs and remained in the US Arsenal until 1989, when US chemical warfare programs were seriously downsized.

Since then, accusations of use have been documented as recently as 2013, during the ongoing war in Syria.

However, BZ bombs are nowhere as “groovy” as LSD bombs. “Entrench in place but go on a trip,” ‘ya dig?

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