Lysergic acid diethylamide, also known by the acronym LSD or as acid, is a hallucinogenic drug. It is also illegal in the U.S., so possessing it can lead to serious legal penalties, especially if you are caught with large quantities of the drug. While it is rarely addicting, the long-term impact of prolonged LSD use is significant, and there are no medically-accepted uses of LSD.
Because LSD is a controlled substance in the U.S. and in California, being charged with possession of acid can carry severe penalties if you get arrested. Los Angeles drug defense attorney William S. Kroger can help defend you against these accusations, protect your rights, and fight for an outcome in your case that you can live with.
What is LSD?
LSD is a drug that can be derived from ergot fungus – a type of mushroom or fungus that grows on rye or wheat stalks – or can be chemically derived from other compounds. The effects of the ergot fungus have been known since the ancient times and through the Middle Ages, when outbreaks of the fungus on crops caused plagues of psychological and circulatory problems.
While the raw materials for LSD have been around for a long time, it was not until 1938 that lysergic acid -– the chemical form of the ergot fungus -– was synthesized to in the lab to create LSD by a chemist in Switzerland. It was not until 1943, though, that the hallucinogenic properties of LSD were discovered when the same chemist accidentally ingested a large dose. While LSD was known to be powerful, there was little other information about it, leading the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to test the drug on unwitting subjects in the 1950s. Artists used LSD throughout the 1960s, and the drug became a symbol of counterculture until it was added to the Controlled Substances Act by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 1968.
Despite being prohibited by law, LSD continues to be used as a powerful hallucinogenic drug. In its pure form, it looks like white or transparent crystals of salt. However, LSD is typically manufactured and sold as small squares of blotter paper that contain the drug. These squares are often only around a centimeter across and are held under a user's tongue to dissolve. Less often, LSD is produced as a tablet or gelatinous square that either dissolves in a user's mouth or gets swallowed.
Effects of LSD
Despite being a popular recreational drug and the subject of plenty of medical studies, surprisingly little is known about how LSD interacts with the body and brain of someone who takes the drug. While some researchers think that acid works by interacting with the serotonin system, there are other possibilities, as well.
The effects that LSD has on one user can be completely different than the effects that a different user feels. Even different sessions of LSD can lead to drastically different results, from “bad trips” to “good trips.” Therefore, there are no “typical” effects of LSD. Instead, there are numerous broad types of experiences that users have while high on acid.
The most prominent types of effect that acid produces – and the reason why so many people use LSD recreationally – are skewed sensory perceptions. Known as “trips,” these are hallucinations and other sensory illusions and perceptions that are far more vivid and unusual than reality can produce. These often involve extremely vivid colors, sounds, tastes, and other feelings, as well as “out-of-body” sensation and an altered sense of the passing of time.
Trips can also come with intensive emotional feelings, as well. In some cases, these are very positive, leading to a rush of happiness that is often described as euphoric, as well as lowered inhibitions and a swell in confidence. In other cases, though, the emotions are very negative. These bad trips produce feelings of paranoia, fear, and hopelessness that are so severe that suicide becomes a risk.
There are also physical components to the effects of LSD, though these are far less intense than the emotional and perceptive changes. The physical effects of LSD include
- Intense sweating
- Wakefulness and insomnia
- Excessive saliva and mucus production
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tremors
- Extreme body temperatures that can produce hypothermia or hyperthermia
These effects begin around half an hour after ingesting a dose of LSD and continue for a far longer duration than many other types of drugs, with effects lasting up to 12 hours. The intensity and duration of a dose, which can be as small as 20 micrograms, depends on the amount consumed as well as the level of tolerance that the user has developed.
Over the long term, LSD can have far-reaching effects, particularly for regular users. One of these long-term effects is the tendency of people who have used acid to flashback to an earlier trip – typically a bad trip – months or even years after the fact.
Surprisingly, acid is not addictive, though users can develop a tolerance for the drug, requiring more of it to create similar effects as the body gets used to synthesizing it.
How is Acid Used in LA County?
LSD is typically taken as a small square of blotter paper that has been saturated with a mixture of dissolved acid and alcohol. These squares are tiny -– often only a centimeter wide -– and usually contain only around 50 micrograms of LSD, a small fraction of the total weight of the blotter square. They are often sold by the dose, instead of by drug weight, in strips of several doses of blotter paper with printed pictures of psychedelic images. Users cut or break apart these squares into doses, and let the square of blotter paper dissolve underneath their tongue.
Less often, LSD is sold in tablet pill form, or inside tiny squares of gelatin. These are then swallowed so the drug can dissolve quicker.
LSD is a Controlled Substance in the U.S.
Despite its lack of addictive qualities, LSD is nevertheless labeled as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act by the DEA. This Schedule – the most severe in the statute – is normally reserved for drugs that are highly addicting, dangerous, and have no medically accepted use.
Therefore, possessing LSD – particularly in high amounts – can lead to serious criminal charges in California.
Possession of LSD in California
You can be charged with simple possession of LSD if you are arrested with small amounts of the drug on your person or in your control. Under California Health and Safety Code 11350, the legal penalties for a conviction of LSD possession are significant: up to a year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. However, if you have a criminal background that includes either a prior sex crime that required registration on a sex offender list or a prior serious and violent crime, you can face felony charges for possession of LSD. These felony offenses come with up to three years in jail, in addition to the maximum $1,000 fine.
However, because Health and Safety Code 11350 only deals with small amounts of LSD that are presumed to be for personal use, drug diversion can be an option. Whether drug diversion is a better alternative than jail time, though, is not a clear-cut decision every time. Talking to a drug defense lawyer can help you understand why.
Possession of High Quantities of LSD in California
If you are caught with the possession of high quantities of LSD, though, law enforcement will no longer presume that it was for your own personal use. Instead, they will assume that you intended to sell the drug, which is prohibited by California Health and Safety Code 11351. Convictions for possession of LSD with an intent to sell it are more serious and carry higher penalties of between 16 months and three years in jail and fines of up to $20,000.
Issues in Determining LSD Quantities in LA County
Unfortunately, the law has struggled to accurately determine the quantity of LSD. Because acid is such a powerful drug, a typical dose can be as small as 20 micrograms –- less than 0.05 milligrams. However, acid is often dissolved and transferred into a carrier, like a slip of blotter paper, that is far heavier than the weight of the drug.
Whether the weight of the LSD's carrier is included in the total quantity of the drug has been a source of debate. While it seems clear that it should only be the volume of LSD that should matter -– it is not like possessing blotter paper is illegal – law enforcement has vigorously argued that it should count in sentencing guidelines and whether you should be charged with simple possession or with possession with intent to sell.
Los Angeles Drug Defense Lawyer William S. Kroger
William S. Kroger is a drug defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Contact him online or call his law office at (323) 655-5700 for the legal defense you need if you have been accused of possessing acid or with the possession of LSD with an intent to sell it.