I am a filmmaker and the son of renowned drug-policy activist Amanda Feilding. My latest feature documentary, The Sunshine Makers, is out now on select US cinemas and VOD. It's about Nick Sand and Tim Scully, two underground chemists united in a mission to save the planet with the consciousness-raising power of LSD. Together they manufactured industrial quantities of Orange Sunshine, the most famous LSD ever made - with the Fed hot on their tails... I am here with Tim Scully, the science genius behind the Orange Sunshine who changed his mind about the ultimate use for LSD. Ask us anything!


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Comments: 121 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

glibraltar5 karma

Hi and thanks for doing this AMA. NYT recently ran a story on micro-dosing, do you feel stories like these hint at a growing awareness or push for further study? Do you ever see LSD being legalized recreationally like marijuana?

cosmofeildingmellen4 karma

I think we are a very long way away from legalization of psychedelics. The best we can hope for is that they might be rescheduled so that it becomes easier to do scientific research

At the moment they are classed along with the most dangerous and addictive drugs which is actually crazy because they are extremely non-toxic and non-addictive and very little social damage has come from them

There are so many more cannabis users that it will be hard for there to ever be enough popular support to force psychedelic legalization, but if enough convincing science comes out that shows the potential benefits of these substances then who knows? It's hard to argue with science.

I believe there is a very long way to go in terms of changing the public image around psychedelics, but I believe Silicon Valley are a very powerful influence on the whole world, so maybe they can bring about change faster than one might expect

Pakamaniac5 karma

What are your thoughts on the new research being done on the binding and behavior of LSD in the brain with the serotonin receptor? Also do you feel the hyper empathy and ego destruction of acid could bring people together through microdosing and/or recreational doses.?

RTimScully13 karma

I was delighted to see the research done with x-ray crystallography that explains the duration of LSD trips. I certainly believed that hyper empathy and ego destruction of acid could bring people together; that's what led me to want to make LSD and give it away. But I don't know whether micro dosing has those effects. Back in my day we took relatively large doses compared to what's usual now.

cosmofeildingmellen6 karma

And when Tim says relatively large doses he means MASSIVE

An Orange Sunshine pill was 300 mics, which is between 15x to 30x bigger than a microdose!

cosmofeildingmellen4 karma

I think the research being done on LSD right now is totally fascinating. I was actually a participant in one of the pilot studies where they injected participants with LSD and tested your cognitive functioning

My mother, Amanda Feilding, runs the Beckley Foundation which was involved in designing the first brain imaging study ever done on LSD so I am very close to the subject.

cosmofeildingmellen6 karma

The science suggests that LSD could have amazing potential for treating serious psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety, but there is still a lot of research to be done.

We don't want people running out and thinking they can cure their mental illness on their own with acid from the street. This has to be taken extremely seriously. The scientists leading this research into LSD have gone to great lengths to insure safety. The studies are done in hospitals and there is always a medical professional there along with many other safety measures.

THere is a lot of room for LSD to be abused, and if too much of that happens it will hinder the scientific research again just as it did in the 60s.

I hope in the next 5-10 years there will be enough science for LSD to be approved as a medicine under very strict regulations

cosmofeildingmellen3 karma

In terms of microdosing, The Beckley Foundation are planning to do a study on the effects of a microdose on creativity and other metrics.

So far there has been very little research onto microdoses. It is mainly anecdotal evidence for that

qEEGJay2 karma

in 1974 there was a funded study (Larry Rouse if I recall) which was cancelled, but it was looking at microdoses as an anticonvulsant. It enhances conditioned inhibition.

cosmofeildingmellen2 karma

Wow. Interesting. Jim Fadiman is the other great expert. He's still around. My mother Amanda was talking to him the other day. I hope they will be able to collaborate. He has done some fascinating research but it is primarily anecdotal so far

KubaKomorebi5 karma

What would be your preferred process for reintroducing LSD into society? Do you feel the main priority is to reduce restrictions on, and enable state funding for, research so that we can treat people with certain illnesses?

Are you in favour of making it accessible to the whole of society? If not, why not? If so, do you feel there needs to be an informational campaign to debunk decades of misinformation about LSD and educate people about its most suitable application – as a ‘tool for introverted spiritual growth’?

RTimScully13 karma

Realistically I think the path forward is going to involve medical research first. I hope that medical research can include applications such as death and dying. I also hope that if the many possible medical uses of psychedelics are eventually accepted that then some progress can be made on what healthy people can do with psychedelics for self-improvement or exploration.

I don't think that everyone is a candidate for taking LSD. I don't think it's a good idea for young people to take LSD before their personalities are fully formed. I think people with mental health issues should only consider taking psychedelics under appropriately skilled medical supervision.

I believe that the broader culture's beliefs about psychedelics have as much influence as the individuals personal mental set and the physical setting and I think that our culture's beliefs are in many cases wrong. It appears to me that psychedelics have been most successful in societies where there are belief systems that support appropriate use of them and rituals that help reinforce those beliefs.

cosmofeildingmellen3 karma

Tim's answer is MUCH better than mine.

One thing I learned from interviewing Tim is that he has a great answer to almost anything. I consider myself extremely lucky to have hung out with him as much as I have

cosmofeildingmellen4 karma

Good questions...

I think first and foremost the focus should be on getting psychedelics approved as medicines for very particular medical conditions which will be heavily regulated by the government.

In the long run I think people should be allowed to experiment with these substances in very controlled and safe environments - just as psychedelics have been used in most ancient cultures for millennia.

But as you say, I think a lot of education is needed to prepare society for this kind of wider societal use.

Psychedelics are certainly not for everyone, but they can clearly be of great benefit to some people and some of those people have been a great benefit to society as a whole: e.g. Steve Jobs, Jimmi Hendrix, the Beatles, and Nobel Prize winning scientist Francis Crick

pondini4 karma

Can either of you please expound on the 'Thumb-printing' initiation that was an alleged requirement for Brotherhood membership?

EDIT: Thanks for clearing that up.

cosmofeildingmellen2 karma

I've no idea I'm afraid

I don't think I've even heard of it

rickmuscles3 karma

Why did you choose Sand and Scully as your subjects?

How did you fund your film?

cosmofeildingmellen3 karma

Thanks for your question. I was looking for a way to make a film that could touch on really big ideas about psychedelics, society, and spirituality but was driven by a really gripping story. I always loved drug dealer/gangster films growing up so Nick and Tim offered a chance to make a drug-dealer film with the twist that think they're saving the world with LSD which allows us to dig deep into the big ideas I also wanted to touch on

So I guess it really ticked both boxes

cosmofeildingmellen3 karma

And in terms of funding I was lucky enough that my exec producer had seen my first documentary and was very impressed. So together we started thinking of ideas and this one came up quite quickly as one that we both really believed in. After that everything else really fell into place

rickmuscles1 karma

Do you believe LSD should be legalized based on your research making the film?

cosmofeildingmellen8 karma

It's hard to separate my research in making the film from my knowledge of the broader subject from growing up with my mother who set up The Beckley Foundation and has done a lot of the research on psychedelics

What I did find really interesting from speaking with Tim is how he regrets taking the distribution of LSD into his own hands because it played a part in provoking the government to ban LSD which in turn stopped further scientific research which could have helped legitimise LSD from the start.

In the long run, I certainly believe LSD should be removed from the criminal underworld and regulated. I believe the War on Drugs as a whole is a very flawed policy which causes far more harm than the drugs themselves and denies help to those that really need it.

afqrzv3 karma

Hello Tim, I was wondering how your first experience with LSD went? what situation were you in? What made you want to try it?

RTimScully6 karma

I took LSD for the first time in my living room with a close friend, Don Douglas, who was studying oriental philosophy. We sat in front of the fireplace in a quiet setting. If you see the movie you'll get a pretty good idea of what the setting was like.

My friend Don Douglas convinced me to take LSD by turning me onto Aldous Huxley's writings, particularly Heaven and Hell, Doors of Perception, and Island.

afqrzv2 karma

One thing I am scared of is not getting real LSD. I would love to try it and understand. Would you advise someone now a days to try lsd now that there are a lot more chemicals out there that it could be instead?

gryphonnyc1 karma

Interesting point--is there anyway of testing to insure quality?

cosmofeildingmellen2 karma

Good question. I know in places like Switzerland you can test ecstasy pills but I don't know about LSD

Tim is definitely NOT going to encourage you to try LSD illegally. He's been there and done that and got the ex-con T-shirt!

gryphonnyc3 karma

Is there anyway to purchase a print of the movie poster? It is great!

cosmofeildingmellen1 karma

Thanks. I love it too

I just got my print, I'm so proud of it. I'm not sure if you can get prints - maybe get in touch with Film Rise (our distributors) directly or ask them on facebook/twitter

gryphonnyc1 karma

I actually did ask them--as they responded to a FB message as I was exiting the theater last week--they said there was no way :(

cosmofeildingmellen1 karma

really? That's kind of stupid. I'll ask them too

liamquane3 karma

Why are people more vocal about drug freedom than they are about Healthcare, gun control and other issues that plague the US?

cosmofeildingmellen3 karma

Are they?

I think it just depends on who you're hanging around with

gryphonnyc2 karma

I saw the film last week here in New York--It was wonderful; very informative and a lot of fun. Will any of the filmmakers or Tim or Nick be doing any public appearances in support of the film? Is there anyway to write to Nick or Tim directly?

cosmofeildingmellen1 karma

Thanks so much. Tim in here now to answer your questions...send him a message :)

atuneortwo192 karma

Hi Tim! What are some of your all-time favorite books?

cosmofeildingmellen1 karma

I can't wait to read Tim's answer. He's got the biggest sci-fi library I've ever seen!

I think Stranger in a Strange Land is one of his favourites, but I'm not the person to tell you...

gusmoreno152 karma

Best films to watch while under the influence of LSD?

cosmofeildingmellen2 karma

The Sunshine Makers :)

cosmofeildingmellen2 karma

Have you seen Arrival?

I didn't see it on LSD, but it's an amazing movie I think

3oclockam2 karma

You hear a lot of propoganda about LSD but you also hear from past users who did a lot of LSD and now struggle to think clearly and rationally and refer to themselves as acid casualties. Do you believe that LSD can have such a negative effect (apart from causing psychotic breaks in the already mentally ill)?

cosmofeildingmellen3 karma

I think you're right. A lot of the scare stories are just plain fabrications that were part of a huge propaganda campaign against LSD - like the idea that LSD causes deformed babies!

That said, LSD is the most powerful drug to act on the brain ever invented and people have used the substance very recklessly - especially in the 60s when everything was so new and there was so little guidance on offer, but even today.

Set and setting is extremely important for psychedelics - as Mike Randal says: "waves, not raves". A lot of people make the mistake of taking LSD at a rave when they are already wasted and it's a very intense situation that can lead to some pretty unpleasant experiences.

I can believe that people have done real damage to themselves by taking excessive amounts of LSD with the wrong set and setting. But that said, you can do damage to yourself with pretty much anything. As Prof David Nutt pointed out, you are statistically much more likely to damage yourself riding a horse than taking MDMA or LSD.

There are risks involved in everything, but LSD is an obvious substance that people should treat with great respect and caution.

forava72 karma

when did you know that you wanted to make this into a movie?

cosmofeildingmellen2 karma

I knew Nick Sand when I was a teenager and then went to Burning Man with him and his family when I was about 20. So I've been interested in the story for a long time, but only really investigated it seriously a few years ago.

I wanted to make a film about drug policy first, which I was lucky enough to be able to make, and then I turned my attention to psychedelics and wanted to do a real story driven film rather than a political campaign film, which I hope this is

Mr_Gnaram1 karma

What's the next film? Another doc, or something completely different?

cosmofeildingmellen2 karma

I'm not entirely sure yet. I've got a few different ideas on the boil. I love documentaries because I think if it's real it's just more exciting.

I have one idea that is really incredible. Not about drugs, but about another group of people who wanted to save the world. But it's not entirely clear whether it's even possible to make it yet.

It would be amazing if it did. It even has relevance to the Trump administration...

liamquane1 karma

Hi Do you have any directorial advice?

cosmofeildingmellen3 karma

I would say just make stuff. That's the best practice you can get. I'm still learning so much.

And if you can work with people you like and who care about the subject that makes a huge difference. It takes a whole team to make a film

liamquane1 karma

What was the distribution process like?

cosmofeildingmellen1 karma

Ask me in a few months ;)

It's slower that you would like but i think that's the same for everything to do with film.

I was really lucky to have a good production company, sales agent, and interest in big platforms and theatrical release, so I can't complain, but at this stage it's really out of my hands

liamquane1 karma

Did you ever feel like a nuisance directing? Asking for Favors or calling in chits?

cosmofeildingmellen1 karma

Yes. I was definitely a nuisance to Tim!

Sorry about that Tim :)