Friday, December 16, 2016

Cannabis and the Military - The Weird

After World War II many experts in the CIA and the military agreed that fighting the Cold War against communism meant understanding, and engaging in, psychological warfare operations. This included studying the effects of psychedelic pharmaceuticals, including cannabis, on the human mind for the purposes of using the plant as a weapon.

In 1950 the CIA began project BLUEBIRD. Declassified documents relative to BLUEBIRD indicate that the government wanted to explore subjects as hypnotizing a person into betraying their moral principles, inducing an unwilling person into performing tasks against their will, mind controlling people into crashing planes or wrecking other vehicles while operating them, altering the personality of captured enemy spies and creating total amnesia in operatives for enhanced operations security.

Eventually the military began investigating ways of using cannabis to nullify an enemy without firing a shot. One scientist, Dr. Edward Domino, used a cannabis concentrate called “Red Oil,” which he developed by using it to get monkeys and dogs so stoned they couldn’t move. Since paralyzed solders can’t pull triggers, the military knew they were onto something, and BLUEBIRD evolved into project MKULTRA.

The CIA divided MKULTRA into three portions. One group studied ESP. Another studied how to control the mind of a person remotely. The final group studied hypnosis for the purposes of brainwashing subjects. They used a cornucopia of chemical concoctions to further this aim, including heroin, morphine, mescaline, magic mushrooms, alcohol, sodium pentothal and even cannabis. Interesting as it is, we’ll never know exactly what the CIA discovered since all documents pertaining to MKULTRA were annihilated by the director of the agency at the time, Richard Helm.

Meanwhile, Dr. James Ketchum, a scientist stationed at center for the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in Maryland, began experiments on soldiers in the 60’s that expanded upon large portions of Dr. Domino’s previous research. Soldiers were given massive doses of cannabis extracts and studied closely. Experiments revealed that when under the influence soldiers became confused, apathetic and eventually completely immobilized. Some had conversations with invisible entities lasting for days.

Dr. Ketchum eventually created a compound that could be sprayed upon enemy combatants to render them invalid. “Paradoxical as it may seem,” he said, “one can use chemical warfare to spare lives, rather than extinguish them.” By 1975 officials claim that both the CIA and the military had abandoned studying cannabis because it wasn’t predictable and powerful enough to suit their purposes, so they focused on LSD.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) afflicts many military veterans of armed conflicts, resulting in many negative debilitating psychological effects including insomnia, rage disorder, anxiety, avoidance, etc. One group, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, studies PTSD and possible treatments for it, including using cannabinoids, an active compound in cannabis.

According to one report written by Lee,  “Researchers found that people with PTSD had lower levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid compound, compared to those who did not show signs of PTSD…innate to all mammals, anandamide triggers the same receptors that are activated by THC and other components of the marijuana plant.”

In other words, veterans with PTSD are missing a compound that cannabis replenishes. Without this compound, mental issues result. If the body can’t produce it, thanks to PTSD, cannabis can help. This is great news for all military, especially since new legislation allows military veterans to use cannabis without risking their benefits. What began as a weapon is now a medicine, and the many medical cannabis patients who have been healed by the plant probably aren’t surprised.


Weinburger, Sharon. “Army’s Hallucinogenic Weapons Unveiled.” Wired,

Rahn, Bailey. “Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stess Disorder (PTSD).” Leafly, www.

Marks, John. The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control, Times Books, 1979.

Hidell, Tom A. “CIA’s Greatest Hits: Project MK-ULTRA.” Illuminatirex, CIA's Greatest Hits Project MK-ULTRA Illuminati Rex.html

"Edgewood Arsenal Chemical Agent Exposure Studies 1955–1975". United States Department of Defense, Force Health Protection & Readiness, Medical Countermeasures website. Retrieved 2013-06-19.

 Researchers tested pot, LSD on Army volunteers Richard Willing, USA TODAY, 4/6/2007

Lee, Martin A. “Synthetic Pot as a Military Weapon? Meet the Man Who Ran the Secret Program”. Alternet, Synthetic Pot as a Military Weapon_ Meet the Man Who Ran the Secret Program _ Alternet.html


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