Dr. John Beresford died on September 2, 2007 in a hospital in Canada. British-born John Beresford began his psychedelic research interests in 1961, when he resigned his post as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the New York Medical College and founded the Agora Scientific Trust, the world's first research organization devoted to investigating the effects of LSD. In contrast to Leary's invitation to "tune in, turn on and drop out," Beresford wanted to keep LSD in proper perspective as a tool of scientifically trained specialists.
He spent the next several decades working in psychiatry until 1991, when he resigned and founded the Committee on Unjust Sentencing, a group focused on the cause of people imprisoned on psychedelics-related charges. Beresford testified in front of the US Sentencing Commission and spoke out on his passion in many forums. In his later years he lived in Canada and continued to correspond with psychedelic prisoners.
At the international LSD Symposium in 2006, at the occasion of the 100th birthday of Albert Hofmann in Basel, Switzerland, Beresford presented the talk "Psychedelic Agents and the Structure of Consciousness: Stages in a Session Using LSD and DMT." Beresford was known for his outspokenness and persistence on many topics, and is fondly remembered for his tireless devotion to the causes he championed. He laid in state for four days, untouched, a Buddhist tradition, and was cremated later. His ashes mixed with rose petals and rice will be given to the river that flows through the Tibetan monastery he was closely affiliated with, as he asked.
Beresford, who described the discovery of LSD as possibly the most critical event in human history, remarked: "Take it once and you know that all you've known about consciousness is wrong." (From The Acid Queen, Robert Hunter, Chapter 7 of The Storming of the Mind, McClelland and Stewart Ltd., Â©Robert Hunter, 1971)
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