Tim Scully: The Man Who Made LSD What It Should Be

Introducing the psychedelic polymath behind Orange Sunshine LSD.

By Dan Simms Last Updated: April 28, 2022
Last Updated: April 28, 2022
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You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has lived a more interesting life than Tim Scully. He is most known for his work as one of the foremost producers of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) from 1966 to 1969, but he also had stints as a mathematical physics student, the founder of an electronics company, and a software tester.

This article offers a brief glimpse into the life of Tim Scully, focusing on his relationship with psychedelics and his legacy.

Birth & Death1944–Present
OccupationPsychologist, chemist, computer engineer, software developer
NationalityAmerican

The Life of Tim Scully

Tim Scully showed a propensity for science from a young age, placing second in the 1958 Bay Area science fair for building a small computer at 14 years old. He went on to build a small particle accelerator during his junior year of high school before skipping his senior year to attend U.C Berkeley to study mathematical physics.

Scully dropped out of Berkeley after two years to work on electronic consulting as his services were highly sought after. After he left Berkeley, Scully took his first dose of LSD on April 15, 1965, marking the beginning of his time as a titan of the psychedelics community.

Enamored with LSD after his first trip, Scully acquired the precursor chemical lysergic acid needed to make LSD from Owsley Stanley, an underground LSD producer and sound engineer in the San Francisco area. The duo’s product was named “Orange Sunshine” — which was well-known for being some of the strongest LSD available at the time.

The two became partners, producing more than 400,000 tablets of LSD in Denver, Colorado, between 1966 and 1967 before Owsley was arrested in December 1967.

Scully befriended Billy Hitchcock, a descendent of the famous William Larner Mellon, earlier in 1967, and Billy stepped in to help Scully continue producing LSD after Owsley’s arrest. 

The Brotherhood of Eternal Love began distributing Scully’s LSD during this time.

In December 1968, Scully met Nick Sand, a chemist for The Brotherhood of Eternal Love in Orange County, California. Scully and Sand set up a lab in a house in Windsor, California, where they produced an estimated 4 million doses of LSD in approximately six months.

Scully retired from LSD production in 1969 after being arrested in connection with his work producing LSD with Owsley in Denver years prior. Despite his retirement, Scully was arrested and indicted in 1973 when authorities pressured Billy Hitchocok into testifying against him. Scully was sentenced to 20 years in prison but was released on parole after only two years. During his time in prison, Scully developed assistive technology for people with vocal handicaps.

After serving his sentence, Scully received a Ph.D. in psychology from the Human Psychology Institute. He also went on to work for the engineering software company Autodesk as a tester and senior software developer on the company’s AutoCAD modeling software.

The Philosophy of Tim Scully

Tim Scully’s philosophy comes from an interesting blend of his technical background in math and physics and his experiences on LSD. 

Scully has said that Don Douglas, a childhood friend, introduced him to psychedelics by encouraging him to read Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu and Island and The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley. He says that these books, among others, prompted him to embark on his journey to explore LSD and the human mind.

One of the core tenets of Scully’s philosophy is that everything in the universe, living or not, is connected. While this is a common feature of eastern religions and a view shared by many in the psychedelics community, Scully came to this perspective through the lens of physics.

Scully wrote a paper during his time at Berkeley describing the idea that quantum mechanics gives a scientific basis to the theory that all entities in the universe can “feel” each other’s influence. Quantum mechanical wave functions have a theoretically infinite extent, so even distant objects may influence each other. This complements the idea of oneness present in many religions and philosophies.

Interestingly, Scully established his philosophy before he ever took LSD. His experience with psychedelics confirmed the beliefs he already had, and he describes the feeling of oneness from taking LSD as reinforcing his ideas about quantum mechanics. His combination of physics insight and transcendental experiences on LSD make him convinced that everything is interconnected on a fundamental level.

What Was Tim Scully’s Stance on Psychedelics?

Scully believes that psychedelics offer a window into a deeper reality, revealing connections between people, nature, and the universe. He describes group acid trips where everyone present felt as if they were parts of a larger whole and says that these experiences shaped his view on psychedelics and life.

He also believes that there may be a paranormal aspect to psychedelics, although he readily admits this is hard to prove concretely. One piece of anecdotal evidence he provides is an unexplainable coincidence during a Grateful Dead concert. Several speakers blew during what he describes as an intense energy spike that he and others felt. Despite the lack of hard evidence, he took this as a sign that there is a connection between the physical world and the subjective experiences we have in our minds.

Final Thoughts: Who Was Tim Scully?

Genius is the best way to describe Tim Scully in a single word. His work spans a staggering number of fields, from physics and math to chemistry, psychology, and software development. Any one of Tim Scully’s achievements would be impressive on a resumé, but taken together, they paint a remarkable picture of someone with a truly outstanding intellect.

Tim Scully is a legend in the psychedelic community, and without him, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people would not have been exposed to the mind-opening experiences LSD provides. To call him an LSD pioneer would be an understatement. He was instrumental in bringing the wonders of LSD to the San Francisco area psychedelics community and is one of the few people who can act as a bridge between the worlds of science and mind-expanding drugs like LSD.