January 18

1945: “Wild Bill” Donovan set up a “truth drug” committee

The committee was headed by Winfred Overholser, MD, superintendent of St. Elizabeths Hospital for the mentally ill in Washington, D.C. Overholser, a Harvard graduate was Chairman of psychiatry at George Washington University, who presided over St. Elizabeths for 25 years. He was elected President of the American Psychiatric Association in 1948. St. Elizabeths was probably the first hospital in the U.S. to have conducted covert psychoactive drug experiments on unwitting patients on behalf of the government. The truth committee tried and quickly rejected mescaline, several barbiturates and scopolamine — as had the Nazi doctors at Dachau. In the spring of 1943, they decided that Cannabis (i.e., marijuana) showed the most promise. A secret testing program in cooperation with the Manhattan Project, the TOP SECRET effort to build an atomic bomb, supplied the first dozen test subjects for interrogation experiments using various routes to administer marijuana. (OSS Report on T.D. Cannabis, 1945)


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