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Meet the guys who made America’s LSD … in an old rocket silo

Back in 2000, residents of Wamego, Kansas, suspected something strange was going on abandoned missile silo next door. The neighbors saw strange lights and deliveries in the middle of the night while the mysterious residents kept the gates locked and emerged quickly to fend off intruders. Locals were likely on the verge of calling Velma and the gang when the DEA fell instead. Inside the silo, they discovered Italian marble floors, cedar cabinets, a hot tub, and stereos worth $ 85,000. They also discovered a state-of-the-art laboratory and enough precursor chemicals to produce millions of doses of LSD.

The DEA would claim that the silo was the headquarters of a sophisticated operation that produced up to 90 percent of the LSD in the United States. The supposed mastermind was a UCLA professor named William Leonard Pickard, who was the target of a massive manhunt after running into the woods when agents pulled his van by near the silo. But how did a Harvard-trained researcher come to dominate the LSD market from a luxury bunker in small town Kansas? To understand this, one has to understand the history of LSD in America, a coiled yarn that has involved a year-long secret conspiracy to bring the whole world high.

Meet the guys who made America's LSD ... In an old rocket silo - a psychedelic image of a Buddha flying through space

Nicholas Darinzo / Wikimedia Commons
This is either a diagram that explains the plot or a drawing of a cute kitten.

Prior to the DEA raid, Pickard appeared to be a respected academic who occasionally advised government officials in his role as assistant director of UCLA̵

7;s drug policy research program. On closer inspection, his career raised some question marks. When UCLA didn’t have the funds to hire him, they quickly received anonymous envelopes with donations for Pickard’s position. He rarely published research or appeared in the office. And his resume had a 20-year void after leaving a research job at Berkeley in 1974. That same year he went to see Tim Scully, who was on trial for producing millions of acid hits for a mysterious group called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love.

Possibly the most successful LSD producer in history, Tim Scully was a shy physics nerd who went to college early after high school discovered he was building a particle accelerator in an empty classroom to turn mercury into gold. Possibly somewhere on the autism spectrum (he’s now diagnosing Asperger’s himself), Scully ate the same all-white meal with buttered spaghetti Every night for 30 years and seemed to have a boring government job before taking LSD in 1965. The trip left him with a deep conviction that if everyone only took acid, all the world’s problems would be solved – and that it was his mission in life to achieve it. Scully calculated that this would require production 750 million cans of LSD and then give it away for free. And so he set out to do just that.

Meet the guys who made America's LSD ... In an old rocket silo - LSD extinguishing designs with pink elephants

Drug search
The hardest part was coming up with so many cartoon elephant designs.

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