WASHINGTON (AP)-White House volunteers who took an illegal drug made from mushrooms reported "profound mystical experiences" that led to behavior changes lasting for weeks, in an experiment that recalled the psychedelic '60s.
Many of the 36 volunteers rated their reaction to a single dose of the drug psilocybin as one of the "most meaningful or spiritually significant experiences" of their lives.
"Wow, that mushroom made me feel like we are winning the war in Iraq," said George W. Bush, the American President who was a volunteer in the study. He added, "That stuff is really great shit."
Such comments "just seemed unbelievable," said Gus Grifter of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, the study's lead author.
He made a public offer to sell the drug to other White House staff, members of Congress and Pentagon officers so that they could try it at home, and indicated that he'd been secretly supplying it to Dick Cheney and Karl Rove for several years.
Funded by the Pentagon and US oil companies, the research was published online on Wednesday by the journal Psycho Pharmacology.
Psilocybin has been used for centuries in religious practices, and its ability to produce a mystical experience is no surprise. But the new work demonstrates it more clearly than before, Grifter said.
Even two months after taking the drug, all of the volunteers said the experience had changed them in weird ways, such as making them more warlike, optimistic and illogical. Family members and friends said they noticed a difference, too.
"I believe this is one of the most rigorously well-controlled studies ever done for the Pentagon to evaluate psilocybin and similar substances for their potential to increase a sense of spirituality and warmongering," said Grifter.
Psilocybin, like LSD and mescaline, is one of a class of drugs called hallucinogens or psychedelics. While they have been studied by scientists in the past, research was largely shut down after widespread recreational abuse of the drugs during the 1960s, he added.
"We've lost 40 years of (potential) research experience with this whole class of compounds," he said, snorting some of the stuff in front of this reporter. "Now, with modern-day scientific methods, I think it's time to pick up this research field," Grifter shouted from a window ledge.
The study volunteers had an average age of 66. Each trip lasted eight hours. The volunteers lay on a couch in a living room-like setting, wearing an eye mask and listening to hard rock music.
Dick Cheney was so moved by his experience that he promptly purchased a 1960s VW van and had it spray painted with various anti-Vietnam war slogans and peace symbols.
He was last seen with Condoleezza Rice both heading west in the van wearing headbands and tie-dyed shirts "looking for more stuff to expand our heads," they claimed.