The first new studies of LSD in human subjects started at Harvard University last year. Scientists are looking into it as a treatment of cluster headaches, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.
A second research project is under way at the University of California San Francisco.
"Psychedelics are in labs all over the world and there's a lot of promise," Rick Doblin, director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies said. "The situation with LSD is that because it was the quintessential symbol of the '60s, it was the last to enter the lab."
"What poisoned the well was the widespread abuse being promoted by scientists to the public," Dr. John Mendelson, an associate professor of medicine and psychiatry at UCSF who is helping run the LSD study, said. "That put a lot of researchers off, and it made it very hard for researchers to justify getting back into the field. And there were no pressing health needs, no pressing treatments other than curiosity."
Private and non-profit groups are seeking funding sources, but it isn't easy to get an LSD study off the ground. Researchers first need approval from the U.S. food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration. They then need permission to use a specific batch of the drug.
It's also difficult to find volunteers. Subjects need to have done LSD previously, Mendelson said.
"You don't want people who are looking for a legal way to get a first experience," he said. "This isn't fun. There's no Grateful Dead music playing. This is serious business."