How Silk Road Saved the World’s LSD Scene


This is a story about a drug, LSD, which was brought back from the brink of obscurity (extinction?) by a darknet website and a fearless group of volunteers and vendors. I feel compelled to tell this story of a scene that is taking place in dorm rooms and flop houses across the country. LSD, the compound that recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of its synthesis, is something that most drug enthusiasts will eventually try, if they haven’t already. The LSD scene is unlike almost any other, rivaled only by the natural mushroom and mescaline/cacti devotees … and perhaps the RC (research chemicals) freaks in the world of psychedelics.

Unfortunately, acid’s use peaked around 1996—and by the early 2000s, the LSD scene was in shambles. MDMA and other drugs were in style, many of the major US distribution rings had been busted, and the stuff was so cheap that people were almost giving it away (at purity levels and dosages which varied widely).

What does this have to do with “bad acid”? I’m getting to that.

At Woodstock in 1969, Pig Pen uttered the words, “There is no bad Acid—only acid that has been made wrong.” This was shortly after mentioning the infamous Brown Acid that apparently wasn’t particularly good, when compared to the Orange Sunshine Acid going around on the West Coast.

According to the DEA, the average purity of raw, crystalline LSD in the mid- to late-90s was only about 70%—and purity had been falling since the early- to mid-80s. LSD is a tricky compound. After it is produced, it isn’t just salted out of solution like most drugs; instead, the manufacture of pure LSD requires a Chromatography Column or similar device to purify it … not to mention doctorate-level chemistry knowledge to successfully synthesize the compound to begin with.

Many people (mostly old hippies) say that LSD has never really been as good as it was when Owsley Stanley and the other original LSD chemists made their mark in the 60s with 99.9% pure LSD, aka (+/-) d-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. Owsley Acid was the Dom Perignon of LSD. Some even say that it was more pure than the Swiss pharmaceutical LSD from Sandoz, the company where Dr. Albert Hoffman invented LSD in 1938 (and later discovered its effects in 1943). It was legally marketed for over 15 years as a research chemical, available by mail order until 1966, for psychiatrists and other scientists.

So, this brings us back to the 2000s. I wasn’t part of the online drug scene then; however, I can tell you that LSD had gotten a bad name on the streets. Outside of a small and ever-shrinking circle of Deadheads and artists, there was very little LSD going around until the mid-2000s, which is when it began to appear boasting higher quality, as well as a higher price—roughly double the retail value that it had in the 1990s.

The problem at that point was supply—people no longer wanted to sell it face-to-face. You might have noticed that your local weed dealer probably doesn’t sell acid anymore. There are primarily two reasons for this. First, no one wants to risk the jail time associated with LSD distribution, which can be substantial. Second, it is a huge liability selling psychedelics at concerts, festivals, and raves; after all, no one wants to go to jail … or to be blamed for someone else’s bad trip and have to take care of them, rather than enjoying the show. “Not part of my job description,” most drug dealers would tell you.

Around 2008, the scene was looking rather desolate. People were often being bunked out with blank paper or being sold “acid” that wasn’t LSD at all, but instead some less-safe mind-altering research chemical. What legitimate acid was around was often less potent than advertised, nor was it available on the scale needed to supply a large summer festival. The knock-off research chemicals were the worst, as none of the hallucinogens in existence have the extreme safety profile of LSD, which can be dosed in singles, tens, hundreds, or even thousands of doses, with almost no deaths resulting in the past 70 years.

So what was it?

The first of many compounds to be passed off as LSD were of the DOx family (DOM, DOC, DOB, etc.), which are amphetamine analogs of mescaline and structurally related to MDMA in some respects. These drugs take a longer time to kick in than LSD; plus, they have a nasty taste and stimulant side effects that LSD shouldn’t. These drugs are for serious psychonauts—and the worst thing you can do is give a party full of college kids a mega-dose of DOM. I like it personally, but to each their own.

Now, the DOx family’s little brothers and sisters are called the 2Cs, meaning that their Alpha-chain has 2 carbons, while DOx has 3. Mescaline is the prototypical natural 2C compound, along with 2-CB, 2-CI, 2C-T-7, and so forth … which are all synthetic. There have also been various substituted tryptamines on blotter; although they have not occurred as widely, because their duration is so short.

So what does this have to do with LSD?

In the mid-2000s, a new series of compounds were invented by researchers in Germany and the U.S., which are known as 2,5-NBOMe’s (25i, 25C, 25D, etc.), or Nitro-Benzyl Oxy-Methylated Phenylethylamines. If  you think you know about drugs, you should know this shit. What NBOMe is, is a 2-Cx compound where the Nitrogen atom at the end of the chain is bound to a benzene-ring with a little methyl-oxygen group hanging off of it. All you need to know is that it tastes like shit and it fits on a blotter, disguised as LSD.

Now, I know I’m boring you with chemistry, so I’ll skip to the good part. Making NBOMe out of 2Cs makes them 100 – 500x more potent, even 10 – 20x stronger than the mighty DOx compounds. 25x-NBOMe has reportedly caused several deaths and amputations, as well as flashbacks (also known as HPPD). The pharmacological action of the NBOMe class of drugs can be described figuratively as fist-fucking your 5HT2a receptors, while LSD is more like a talented pianist who gently plays a sonata on the 16 serotonin, dopamine, and adrenal receptor subtypes that it is known to affect.

NBOMe is also about 1/10th – 1/50th the cost of LSD, meaning that over a thousand doses can be made from a $50- to $200-gram of any 2C drug. It is important to note at this time that many NBOMe’s and other derivatives of the 2C drugs were not scheduled in the U.S. or U.K. until very recently, which is to say within the past year. Vast amounts of these drugs have been produced and imported from China and manufactured in other parts of the world for almost five years without interruption. This shit is everywhere. If you’ve got a dollar, they’ve got a trip for you … but be careful what you wish for!

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So what does this have to do with Silk Road?

Silk Road, as a marketplace, sold all kinds of drugs. This gave people a choice. They didn’t have to buy NBOMe at concerts … unless of course if people want it—that is, they actually prefer the prohibition-era bathtub gin (NBOMe) to Bombay Sapphire (LSD)—they can have it. If someone wants DOM or DOB, they can have that, too, on tabs labeled as such. In the beginning, there was not very much LSD on Silk Road—barely enough to keep up with demand most of the time, and the site was rife with scams. That all changed in the past two years, though—and the market is now flooded with some of the best LSD you will ever take in your life!

How did this come about? The main thing that happened, is that consumer groups rose to the occasion, such as the LSD Avengers (now retired) and their successors, the L-team (refugees from BMR), who do laboratory testing and actual trip-testing … and using these results to rate the various LSD vendors, they are able to ensure purity and dosage. Vendor ratings are “Star” for the highest level of honesty and quality about their products and methods; then “Good,” meaning trustworthy and honest; followed by the “OK,” “Bad,” and “Untested” vendors. Every time an LSD listing would go up, The Avengers and L-Team would take orders from the vendors posing as regular customers, review the products, and post the test results on their review threads in the Silk Road Forums. Quality control at its best!

People could finally trust their online LSD dealers again, after being bunked out and ripped off countless times on the U.S. festival scene and by their local, unscrupulous dealers. This showed how the community could band together to ensure that good vendors prospered.

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These tests have some margin of error … but they’re able to detect whether an LSD product is genuine or not … and the common adulterants would show if they were present. In Europe, there are NGOs such as Energy Control in Spain, who can legally test street drugs; however, in the U.S., we do not have that option. It is actually illegal to test scheduled drugs for purity and adulterants in this country. It really sounds like our government cares about the bodies and minds of our youth, doesn’t it?

The prevailing philosophy in the online community is that if people want LSD, they should have access to the highest quality LSD in the world. Sure, it might be more expensive than it would be on the street, but you don’t have to hang out with people you don’t agree with, or listen to music you don’t particularly like, just to find it—if you even can find it. With that being said, you can’t really put a price on such an amazing experience; although LSD is the world’s most expensive and powerful psychedelic, retailing for over $10 million dollars per kilo(~7 million doses.)

This is where greed enters the picture. LSD is one of the highest grossing sellers amongst online markets—and competition is now fierce, compared to the early days where only a few sellers dominated the market. For a while, a few sellers took advantage of users. The infamous Tony76 and Lucydrop were vendors in 2011, who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, in out-of-escrow deals from users desperate to get onto the LSD train before it left the station, in times when only a few vendors claimed to have the real thing.

This has quieted recently, as more really awesome vendors and LSD products have popped up and established Good- or Star-rated reputations, becoming celebrities in the online scene—and their brands are known world-wide. If you ask who JesusofRave, GammaGoblin, Envious, MachineMaid, Jersey Cow, Order of the Phoenix, or Tessellated are, most people in the community are familiar with the names and they will tell you that they are solid vendors. If you don’t take their word for it, take mine—I know that they are the real deal. There are more awesome vendors than I can list … but I don’t want to blow up their shit right now. Look at the review threads if you really want to know who is boss.

So What does this have to do with LSD purity?

The holy grail of LSD is called Needlepoint, it has been extra-purified and re-crystalized until the pointy crystals are solid and clear. The vast majority of LSD on Silk Road now is called White Fluff grade, meaning that the LSD is of 85-90% pure, and its crystalline structure looks something like ice crystals after a heavy frost. This is better than most of the 90’s acid, which was graded by color, and is generally agreed upon as being Grade A quality, mind-bending awesomeness in a tab or drop. There are no known compounds that exist in the other 10 – 15% that should have any biological effects at microgram levels; although there is still debate as to how much total purity affects the experience. This argument is being sorted out at this very moment, as you are reading this.

Needlepoint, called so because it is over 95 – 98% pure, is becoming more and more common now on the markets, as connoisseurs have demanded increasingly pure products. The labs who make the LSD, from Canada to Switzerland, have responded with better and better LSD—all to the delight of acid-heads everywhere!

This is how Silk Road made LSD classy again—by ditching the stereotypes of  LSD users and promoting safe practices and the distribution of high-quality LSD. By taking these actions, the community around Silk Road and other online markets have ensured that a healthy culture of LSD use will be a rite of passage for many years to come. In just two short years, the online marketplace has saved a very distraught scene, one previously filled with distrust; instead, it has now filled it with the love and respect that it deserves, paying homage to the King (or Queen) of psychedelic drugs.

I have been honored to have been a part of this movement, which has saved the LSD scene. I would like to thank DPR and all of the great vendors on the various markets, who have sacrificed their freedom, so that we can enjoy this new era of safety, as well as all of those who came before them.

And remember: Drugs are tools, so use them responsibly!

Lion Coffee
Full Member, Silk Road forums.


  1. WindApp

    June 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Great article! I hadn’t considered it this way. I remember wanting something good in the 90’s, and running across a few disappointments, when they could even BE found. Now with the advent of the darkweb, and vendors of note (MachineMaid and TheScurvyCrew being my favorites), those items that were once vaporware are now available, to the savvy. The forums and feedback/ratings serve as a self-guiding ship, if you do the basic research, you know?
    Thanks for the write up!

  2. Daniel Williams

    January 21, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    What has happened since this was written last January? (Besides the Ulbricht trial starting.)

    • John T. Schmitz

      January 24, 2015 at 4:05 am


      What has happened? Quite a bit, actually. Can you be more specific?

      For one thing, Silk Road 2.0, the ill-conceived re-boot of the original, was seized on its 1-year anniversary. Two of its admins, Defcon & DoctorClu, have been arrested (and that’s just a start). Law enforcement took over a SR1 moderator/admin’s account in July, 2013–and that same mod, Cirrus (LEO), went on to work at SR2 … so, SR2 was compromised before it even started. What’s worse, is it turns out that the Feds have identified/located a number of other darknet markets (17, according to them), which means that the whole scene is fucked. I’ve known that for a long time, even if no one else wants to admit it. What started as a snowball rolling downhill is quickly becoming an avalanche.

      Dominoes, dominoes….

      No one is anonymous when the alphabet-soup agencies put their heads together and go on a blitz. Just because someone boots a Tor Browser and logs onto the deep web with a name like AcidMan or SnoopySativa69 doesn’t mean they’re fooling the FBI.

      I invite you to read my article, The death, rebirth, and eventual decay of the darknet markets, which I published in May, 2014. There’s a lot of food for thought in there, especially when considering the current headlines.


      • Daniel Williams

        March 11, 2015 at 5:34 pm


        Thanks – I will read your article.

        I’m one of those old hippies you referenced. I did a hit of Orange Sunshine the summer of 1970, and it was an exquisite experience. I’ve kept my hand in over the years but, since my friend Leonard was arrested (I’ll be visiting him again next month), I stick to mushrooms.

        My wife and I had the good fortune to spend a long afternoon with Albert Hofmann (not Hoffman) in 2003 at his home in Rittimatte and, as you can imagine, it was quite an honor. (He even got me drunk, but that’s another story.) He invited us to his 100th birthday party in Basel, and we went. The whole LSD Symposium was pretty neat. (We remained pen pals till his passing.)

        In Basel I met Nick Sand, the actual chemist behind Orange Sunshine, and he corrected my belief Orange Sunshine was 250 mics; it was 300. My wife and I got a few minutes with Albert, which was nice. Also, we got a few minutes with Sasha Shulgin (both he and Albert wrote jacket blurbs for my book, The Naked Truth About Drugs).

        You answered my not-so-clear question just fine. Thanks. I’m about halfway through my new novel, and LSD, the DEA and the darknet figure prominently. So I was interested in info about what has gone on since the first Silk Road bust. So again, thanks for responding and taking me to school.


        Daniel Williams
        Bonita Springs, Florida

        • John T. Schmitz

          March 14, 2015 at 3:58 am


          Thank you for your very good comments, and thank you for reading. I, personally, think that LSD is a blast. Many people have some pretty big misconceptions about its effects … but then again, that’s true of almost any drug.

          If you’d like to contribute to Secret Laboratory, just let me know. Check out our Submission Guidelines. It’s very informal around here. I just think that you probably have some very cool tales to tell and you’re obviously capable of doing so. Feel free to email me, about that or whatever.

          Thanks again.


  3. Daniel Williams

    March 23, 2015 at 11:19 am


    I sent you an email regarding your offer to submit. Did it arrive?


  4. oldshoe

    May 12, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Good article, but could it be possible that the “lsd” around now is of higher quality bc its not lsd but al-lad or 1p-lsd or another derivative of lsd? They seem to be very similar in structure. Or it could be possible they are produced in the same place. Just something that ran through my head while reading this.

  5. Aesop

    July 3, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Excellent article really liked hearing about the chemistry bits.

  6. Josh Markey

    April 3, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    So, I came across this post and thought I’d chime in and add a little bit to the discussion. I’d like to start by saying for any representatives of the government acronyms that I am only talking about this now because I have absolutely no involvement in any of it these days. I’m a grown up now. I spent 20+ years living on Grateful Dead and later Phish tour. I know what I’m talking about here. First off, it’s a major misconception that Needlepoint is a type of L. It’s actually man u fact in get method. Specifically a way of laying on paper, although most ppl dip. There is no such thing as “double dipped”. The paper holds what it holds. It used to be the different types tended to be named after the color of the crystal. Amber. Silver. Lavender. There was Fluff, but those guys got busted back in ’95-96. Lots of ppl like to call anything good on white paper Fluff now. It isn’t. Anyway, getting to the point. Back in the 90s after Fluff family got busted, there was a lot of low quality stuff around. Mostly the Amber. It was dirt cheap if bought by the gram and you could make a killing on it, but most ppl in the know wouldn’t eat the stuff themselves. Around ’99-2000 a guy by the name of William Pickard got busted. He got snitched out by a piece of shit named Skinner (I wanna say Andrew?) who told the Feds everything in exchange for the dropping of his own charges. It’s worth noting that same piece of shit got arrested a few years later for beating and raping some poor girl and leaving her in a ditch to die. I always heard Pickard was a relic of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, but I can’t confirm that. Anyway, after his network went down, EVERYTHING disappeared over night. It was crazy. A few years later when L started to pop back up again, it was about 3x the price wholesale, but the quality was consistent with some of the best stuff I had ever done in the past. It was around 2006 that this super L started popping up. The rumor among ppl in the know was that there had been an LSD anniversary party thrown in Switzerland by Hoffman, and it just so happened that afterwards this stuff surfaced on the scene. The crystal was blue, And man oh man. I’d been taking the stuff for a very long time and had never experienced anything like it. 1 hit would make the world explode into neon and start spinning around. 2, and shit would start vibrating and colors would burst everywhere like fireworks. I had never believed a lot of the crazy stories about someone the shit ppl saw on L back in the 60s and 70s, but I do now. It makes a lot of sense that the stuff would be from Europe though. In order to make it properly, you need Ergot fungus, and it is native to eastern Europe. It hasn’t gone away ever since. You just don’t see a lot of it anymore cuz most of the ppl who used to distribute the stuff got into other things when it went away, so the networks aren’t really there anymore. The price of Molly fell through the floor after an explosion of availability, with the price dropping from $150 a G in the 90s if you were eve lucky enough to find it, to $40-$60 is you know the right ppl. Everyone got into that cuz that’s where the money was at. Now that the Dead and Phish are both on tour again, I would expect to see more L around for a while. That was always the big distribution network. Although I don’t recommend selling anything at concerts anymore if you value your freedom, it’s still a good place to find that sort of thing.

    • Feliz Navidad

      July 19, 2016 at 11:09 pm


      Thanks for this.

    • Rick Simpson

      August 11, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      I also am not involved in any way with dispensing or making L, but never understood the differences between Amber , fluff , silver, and then needlepoint.
      The original article made sense, but , Josh, your explanation was always what I was led to believe, not through any verifiable explainations…. Just stories heard on tour from heads who’d been around longer than me. I didn’t get on tour till 98. Born a little too young.
      I’m more curious to the chemistry behind different types of L, and differences in effect. I just ate some beautiful “L” last summer. ( first time eating it since early-mid 90’s, btw. I couldn’t tell if it had just been so long or it was better quality. Now I lean toward better quality, although I def ate the best L at the Woodstock gathering around 97 ( before they turned it into an amphitheater. ) … It used to hold a small festy with fewer than 5000 people tops. But they had some amazing L anyway

  7. Margus Meigo

    June 28, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    article quality and potency, this have to be Needlepoint

    ( for personal add-on ,For starters, the Liberal kids fked up the security with online propaganda that was feed to them by agents, about how secure Tor is, just use it and no one can find u, (not putting effort HOW it can be secure, more. Completely ignoring that browser that it was based on is from… and the Onion Router it self is from government, the internet s are from gov and does not help to be secure if someone uses same handles in normal web forums, in darknet or surfs their personal facebook or other accounts from Tor browser while filling in orders and bragging about it on Twitter and irc, bringing down all other legit sellers also, contaminating them.. but demanding trust as one of the one in scene.. so yea.. wish there should have been strong hacker and IT professionals co-operation from technology scene.. before jumping on to train.. remembering, that Eye is everywhere and u have to keep Your soul in pure road.. it is human destiny changing technology .. )

  8. z5555

    November 23, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    You can’t fit active doses of 2C- compounds on blotter paper. Even the biggest complexed blotter tabs hold max 2mg of material.

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