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LSDLSD is Schedule I in the United States. This means it is illegal to manufacture, buy, possess, or distribute without a DEA license.

Addictive Potential: None

Emergency Room Visits Yearly: 656 in 2003

Mandatory Minimum Sentence: 5 years for 1-9 grams mixture

Mechanism of Action: partial agonist of the serotonin receptors, at the 5-HT1A,  5-HT2A, 5-HT2C, 5-HT5A, 5-HT5B, and 5-HT6, among others (see a more detailed discussion below)


LSDLysergic acid diethylamide is also known as LSD, LSD-25, or acid. It is synthesized from lysergic acid derived from ergot, a grain fungus that typically grows on rye.

LSD is sensitive to oxygen, ultraviolet light, and chlorine, especially in solution, though its potency may last years if it is stored away from light and moisture at low temperature. In pure form it is colorless, odorless, and mildly bitter. LSD is typically delivered orally, usually on a substrate such as absorbent blotter paper, a sugar cube, or gelatin. In its liquid form, it can be administered by intramuscular or intravenous injection. The threshold dosage level is around 20 to 30 µg (micrograms). Although typical dosages range from 50 to 150µg and can evoke positive effects such as therapeutic psychological reflection, closed-eye and open-eye visuals, and life-changing spiritual experiences (Erowid, 2012). Religions have even been based upon the sacramental use of LSD – namely, the League for Spiritual Discovery.

Introduced by Sandoz Laboratories as a drug with various psychiatric uses, LSD quickly became a therapeutic agent that appeared to show great promise. However, the extra-medical use of the drug in Western society in the middle years of the twentieth century led to a political firestorm that resulted in the banning of the substance for medical as well as recreational and spiritual uses. Learn more about LSD History…


LSD affects a large number of the G protein coupled receptors. The graph below (Ray, 2010) shows the affinity for forty-two receptors, arranged in order of decreasing affinity (click the image to enlarge).

LSD Receptors Affinity

As explained by Ray (2010), “The black vertical bar represents a 100-fold drop in affinity relative to the receptor with the highest affinity. As a rule of thumb, this is presumed to be the limit of perceptible receptor interaction. Receptors to the right of the black bar should be imperceptible, while receptors to the left of the black bar should be perceptible, increasingly so the further left they are” (p. 14).

Learn more about LSD Pharmacology

Substance Identification:

     p-DMAB Reagent          Marquis Reagent     Mecke Reagent    Froede Reagent   
LSD Deep purple Olive black Greenish black Moderate yellow green

(Info provided by DOJ, 2014)

Here are several other LSD identification resources.

Side Effects and Adverse Reactions:

The effects of LSD depend largely on the amount taken. LSD can cause a variety of negative effects including:

  • dilated pupils
  • raised body temperature
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • sweating
  • loss of appetite
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth
  • tremors
  • panic/fear reactions

Sensations and feelings can change dramatically. Users may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in large doses, LSD can produce delusions and/or visual hallucinations. The user’s sense of time and self is altered. LSD may also give the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds – a phenomenon referred to as synesthesia.

Bad Trips. Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts alongside feelings of despair, fear of losing control, or fear of insanity and death.  Cole (2014) examined the estimated frequency of bad trips associated with the use of LSD through an online survey of recreational users (n=2557); 1.2% of respondents reported experiencing bad trips during all of their LSD experiences, while 53.4% of respondents reported never having bad trips on LSD.

Flashbacks. LSD users can also experience flashbacks, which are recurrences of certain aspects of the drug experience. Flashbacks occur suddenly, often without warning, and may occur within a few days or more than a year after LSD use. In some individuals, the flashbacks can persist and cause significant distress or impairment in social or occupational functioning, a condition known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). It’s estimated that about 1 in 50,000 hallucinogen users develop HPPD.




Trip Reports:



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