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!
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.
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!