The Timothy Leary Conviction


On january twenty first nineteen seventy former harvard professor and so called priest of lsd timothy. Leary was sentenced to ten years in prison on drug smuggling charges but in september of that year. The fifty year-old academic broke out of a san luis obispo facility with the help of the weatherman. The daring escape only added to the mystique of the man president. Nixon wants declared the most dangerous man in america. But just what made leery so dangerous. Well it might not surprise you. That richard nixon may have been exaggerating for his own political game according to authors. Bill minna tag. Leo and stephen l davis nixon's advisors suggested he find a public enemy to distract the public from his own flagging approval rating the war in vietnam and the struggling economy. They leary a prominent figure in the counterculture movement and because the former professor was a proud exponent of hallucinogenic drug use. The president's ir fit right in with his war on drugs narrative timothy leary was something of a self appointed spokesperson for the benefits of drug use. Which heat enjoyed since one thousand nine hundred sixty after an experimental magic mushrooms trip. The already noted psychologist became excited about the possibilities. Mushrooms and similar drugs had on the human brain during his tenure. At harvard he conducted academic experiments on the effects of hallucinogens. Drawing the attention and admiration of other notable nineteen sixties figures famed authors. Like gin berg and jack kerouac willingly participated in leary's experiments and it was perhaps their involvement that catapulted the professor onto the national stage before long leary was touring the country speaking about his research and reportedly brushing up against the rich and famous inevitably a backlash arrived. Leary's teaching colleagues criticized his experimentation with lsd. They believed research of that. Nature should be left to medical doctors not psychologists meanwhile psychology experts who once lauded leary's earlier work now made it clear that his drug centered experiments were less praiseworthy. Despite these blows leary insisted that taking lsd was quote a sacramental ritual one that could expand human consciousness. Harvard university did not agree and fired him in nineteen sixty three but by that stage leary had a new life. He was a counterculture touchstone for the masses and a legitimizing scientific voice in the pro drug movement. He rubbed shoulders with marilyn monroe and sang with john. Lennon and yoko ono in short he was a powerful voice advocating for drug use throughout the nineteen sixties. He even appeared before a senate committee to argue in favor of legislation. That would make it legal for adults to use hallucinogenic drugs. So when richard. Nixon assumed the presidency in nineteen sixty nine leary was squarely in his sights. Ostensibly nixon wanted to eliminate drug use in the country. Leary very much did not. That made him dangerous. So it's little surprise that when leary's appeal of his nineteen sixty five drug-smuggling conviction was overturned. The government wanted a second bite at the apple but any joy nixon and his cabinet might have felt in putting leary. Away was short lived using his network of contacts. The former professor escaped prison remaining on the run until nineteen seventy three when he was detained in afghanistan and sent back to the united states. There he was jailed in the notorious folsom. Prison and briefly befriended charles manson and though his sentence was for ten years leary was paroled in nineteen. Seventy six having served just three. It's a surprising twist day given that so many drug offenders imprisoned for decades on similar offenses then again timothy leary was famous and white which might have had something to do with his early release

Coming up next