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On and Off
May 2, 1966
On many a high-fying LSD trip, Dr. Timothy Leary has glimpsed bizarre and exotic vistas. He could search high or low, however, and never encounter a vision as downright provoking as the one that came to visit him in the witching hours one night last week. The former Harvard psychologist was at his headquarters in Dutchess County, N.Y., a baroque and musty old 64-room mansion; the rented house doubles as his home and as a lab for experiments with the mindexpanding drugs that "turn on" the users and carry them out of this world. Shortly past 1 a.m. a swarm of cops suddenly materialized; they bore arms and a search warrant and spoke in brusque prose of the workaday world. "You're under arrest," said one of them on entering Leary's bedroom. "Let me put my pants on," rejoined Leary, clothed only in his constitutional rights and a pajama top.

In just this way, the 45-year-old high priest of LSD found his experience with the reality of the law unexpectedly expanding. Already facing a 30-year Federal prison sentence for transporting marijuana ( Newsweek, March 21 ), Leary was now slapped with a new charge of possessing marijuana. So were three of the two dozen or so guests occupying various parts of the house at the time of the raid. Leary and the others waived preliminary hearings, but he flatly denied the charge‹without disputing that the raiders may have found some pot somewhere on the premises. Leary put it wryly to a reporter: "You don't expect that 30 policemen could search this house for five hours without finding something, do you?"

Mostly, Leary seemed outraged at the timing and scope of the raid ("intolerable violations of my rights"), and the inconvenience to his guests. "The sheriff's men had no right to ransack my house, to rout my guests out of bed, and to take just anything that looked interesting," he said. Leary said county lawmen had been peeking through bushes for weeks to scout his activities.

Wild Dancing: "We 'surveilled' the place," Sheriff Lawrence M. Quinlan insisted, "but there was no peeping." Quinlan said he ordered the raid after his men observed "people acting differently" around the 4,000-acre estate, which Leary's Castalia Foundation rents from Manhattan banker William Hitchcock, 26. Only hours before the raid, Quinlan said, his men had spotted "a great many people dancing wildly around a bonfire." And he added, "That's not normal."

Inside the four-story retreat-which smells strongly of the cats and dogs that wander freely about it-the sheriff's men found a labyrinth of rugless, chairless rooms furnished with legless tables and mattresses encased in colorful sheets‹ pink, blue, red, yellow. As for the guests, said Quinlan, "many had retired, though they were not asleep. Many were paired off, man and woman, and one of my men found one pair having sex relations." Leary explained that the numerous mattresses were solely for his fellow travelers to recline on ("sometimes even with our shoes off!') when "turning on" with or without drugs. He also pointed out that many of his guests were married couples.

Confiscations: The local sheriff did not specify what property he had seized, besides some marijuana. Leary, however, said the sheriff had confiscated 34 hardcover books-including "The Agony and the Ecstasy -"and 52 of Leary's taperecorded lectures. "I hope the sheriff learns something from them," said Leary, who was dropped as a Harvard lecturer three years ago during a dispute over his use of students in LSD experiments.

Now deeply in trouble with the law on two fronts, Leary evidently had learned something from the big raid. At the weekend in a Manhattan lecture he surprised his audience by proposing a year-long moratorium on the use of LSD and marijuana. "I'm going to stop," he said to 1,000 of his followers, "and I'm asking you to stop." Leary urged the younger generation to learn to "turn on" without drugs. For the moment, he himself appeared turned off.