LSD - the case for legal change


LSD was first synthesised from ergot in 1938 by Albert Hofmann at Sandoz laboratories in Basle. Hofmann had researched the chemistry of the ergot fungus and derived valuable medicines used in childbirth and migraine relief. It wasn't until 1943 however that he unwittingly absorbed LSD and experienced the most profound and disturbing effects - "an uninterrupted stream of fantastic images of extraordinary plasticity and vividness and accompanied by an intense kaleidoscopic play of colours" (see LSD — My Problem Child). The first therapeutic use was undertaken by psychiatrist Werner Stoll, son of Sandoz president Arthur Stoll. His findings were published in 1947 and Sandoz then offered to supply LSD to select researchers under the trade name Delysid. During the 1950s and 1960s, it was used to treat various psychological and psychiatric problems in the US and elsewhere. Although it was certainly no panacea, there were dramatic successes with some patients who had failed to respond to more conventional treatments.

Black market 'acid' was one ingredient in the turbulent decade of the 1960s. In the United States it was becoming a popular form of recreation, particularly amongst the young. Sensationalist media reporting led to its prohibition in 1966 and US influence eventually led to a world-wide ban, even for therapeutic use. Meanwhile the Pentagon and CIA continued to research its use covertly - often on naive subjects with little concern for their well-being (see The Search for the Manchurian Candidate). Perhaps its most lasting impact during this period was in the arts where it contributed to new styles and sounds in popular music, and some memorable compositions.

Despite the creation of many new substances since its discovery, LSD is considered the premier psychedelic by many recreational users and therapists. Two compounds that have attracted particular interest more recently are ketamine and MDMA, although there is research to suggest that ketamine may be habit forming and that both ketamine and MDMA may have neurotoxic properties when used frequently and in large quantities (see 1998 McCann MDMA Neurotoxicity Study). More recent research indicates that chronic ketamine use can kill bladder cells - see also Marcia Moore & Howard Alltounian - Journeys into the bright world. Probably the best advocate of LSD in psychotherapy is the psychiatrist and writer Stanislav Grof. Grof treated many patients successfully in his native Czechoslovakia and continued his work in the United States until prohibition. The case studies are described in his seminal work Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research. The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience is another classic study by Robert Masters and Jean Houston based on the experiences of 112 LSD and 85 peyote subjects. (See also The LSD Therapy Career of Jan Bastiaans, M.D.) And one should not forget Dr Timothy Leary, a much lampooned figure, whose writings and antics attracted much media interest and helped to mobilise opposition to American genocide in Southeast Asia. (Alas, the "Christians" feel no obligation to clear their munitions and toxic defoliant from the region, which continue to mutilate to this day.)

A number of educated men have written about the psychedelic experience, the best known work being The Doors of Perception by novelist and philosopher Aldous Huxley, which describes his first encounter with mescaline. A lesser known, though equally erudite title is The Joyous Cosmology by philosopher Alan Watts.

LSD is very much a product of the modern age, its manufacture requiring facilities, raw materials and scientific knowledge far beyond the reach of the lay practitioner. Despite these difficulties it is ideally suited to mass production being the most potent hallucinogenic substance ever discovered. In spite of the fact that tobacco and alcohol present far greater dangers to public health, LSD remains unlawful. To this day the governments of the western world pursue a zealous campaign to eradicate its use and incarcerate those concerned with its production and distribution. And since the news media is controlled by the same governments, or by business interests, opposition to this policy goes unreported.

LSD and the Law

In Britain LSD is classified as a Class A Controlled Drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Its possession is punishable by up to 7 years’ imprisonment. Producing LSD or supplying it (including possession with intent to supply) carries a maximum term of life imprisonment. The government was advised in The Independent Inquiry into the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 by the Police Foundation in March 2000 that LSD should be transferred from Class A to Class B (recommendation 8). This advice was ignored and the document has been removed from the Police Foundation website. Since then the government has also placed psilocybin mushrooms under Class A, the same category as heroin! Section 21 of the Drugs Act 2005 outlaws all forms of psilocybin mushrooms from 18 July 2005.

The United States, as the dominant world power, has been the main instigator of laws prohibiting the use of psychoactive plants and chemicals. Many of its citizens are incarcerated for lengthy terms without parole as a consequence of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing and can lose their homes under the Forfeiture Laws (see Families Against Mandatory Minimums and Forfeiture Endangers American Rights). These Prisoners of Custom are ignored by the news media and even by Amnesty International.

The prohibition of LSD cannot be justified on health grounds. It has extremely low toxicity and no addictive potential. Although its use clearly entails some risk it is far less hazardous than tobacco and alcohol, which are promoted around the world by big business with the support of corrupt western governments. In the UK tobacco accounts for 114,000 fatalities each year and alcohol 40,000. Alcohol is also a factor in many road accidents and acts of violence and in high doses causes progressive damage to the liver and brain, as well as damage to the unborn through fetal alcohol syndrome. It is the most widely abused drug in western society. Although I enjoy a beer or malt whisky myself I think a strong case could be made for a ban on the advertising and promotion of alcohol. As testament to its virtues one only has to read the weekly newspaper accounts of drunken brawls, observe the beggars in every town and city, and regard the accumulation of broken bottles and cans that blight our public spaces. (LSD and peyote have been used efficaciously in the treatment of alcoholism and other addictions - see Native American Church Peyotism and the Treatment of Alcoholism)

Tobacco is probably the most addictive and damaging of all drugs. It is responsible for 95% of lung cancers and also causes tumours to the mouth, tongue, throat and stomach. The survival rate from lung cancer in the UK is currently 6%. Smoking also causes progressive damage to the lungs, heart and circulation. It is perhaps no accident that the nation that is the chief abuser of entheogen users' rights is also the most active sponsor of tobacco. Why does the US support this drug empire which annually accounts for 4 million deaths worldwide? Simply because it's a very profitable business.

Present day laws controlling inebriating substances are based on prejudice and vested interest. They reflect Christian traditions which promote alcohol use and the persecution of other customs. Nothing short of a democratic revolution is likely to diminish the power and influence of the corporate drug barons and their political stooges on either side of the Atlantic. State funded parties, proportional representation, online referenda and open media access would be a start.

So what form of regulation would I propose? Simply abolishing laws prohibiting the personal use of LSD. Some legislation should be maintained to restrain the more foolhardy element who might drive or operate machinery under its influence, or administer it to others without their knowledge or consent. I certainly do not advocate over the counter sales. Permitting use on prescription would restrict access to irresponsible or vulnerable individuals.

A Cautionary Note

LSD is very powerful. It is probably best avoided if one is not in good spirits as the experience can be overwhelming. (LSD should also be avoided at times of illness as it may suppress the immune system.) If you use LSD alone and encounter difficulties, an experienced companion can be helpful to sit or take a walk with. If you prefer to wander alone, I would recommend taking a mobile phone, a plastic water bottle and avoiding traffic. Obviously one should never drive or operate machinery whilst under its influence - it is best to avoid driving until the following day as one's own assessment can be deceptive. Be careful not to leave LSD anywhere where it might be eaten by children. It should be avoided by patients with impaired liver or kidney function, with epilepsy or vascular disease and particularly during pregnancy since its vasoconstricting effects cause contraction of the womb. Taken on an empty stomach the full effects should be reached after three hours and reasonable normality should return after eight or ten, although it may not return completely until the following day. Taking LSD after food tends to cause indigestion and will delay the onset of effects.

In case of adverse effects, have drinking water handy in a plastic cup or bottle. Absolutely no glass. Caffeinated drinks should be avoided as should alcohol, cannabis or any other drugs. Psychotic symptoms can be overwhelming but should improve over time if the person is kept calm, ideally with the minimum of illumination. In this event any future experimentation should be undertaken at a reduced dose.

Do psychedelics make you crazy? In a word, no. In medicine they are termed psychotomimetics because they can mimic some of the symptoms of psychosis (schizophrenia). Although schizophrenia is caused by genetic factors, the use of these compounds is likely to exacerbate the symptoms of people with this disease. They can also trigger the early onset of the disease in susceptible individuals. Another condition that might be aggravated is epilepsy (by contrast cannabis is reported to have anti-convulsive properties).

Sadly it is still not universally accepted that schizophrenia is the product of genes. This is due in part to the writings of psychiatrist R D Laing who popularised the myth that the disorder was the result of environmental factors. Even today the news media pays scant attention to the issue of inheritance, whilst uncritically acclaiming the products of the pharmaceutical industry.

Future generations will continue to be afflicted with diseases and defects, regardless of medical advances, until our species adopts a programme of selective breeding. I speak as a bearer of inherited disease myself and simply advocate the compassionate use of eugenics to improve the physical and mental constitution of our kind (see Future Generations).


According to Home Office statistics LSD seizures by police and customs have declined to an all time low while Ecstasy seizures have risen dramatically during the same period. The same pattern of use is repeated across Europe and is probably due to the convenience of the latter's shorter duration (around four hours) and milder effects. From my own experience I find that Ecstasy gives an unpleasant hangover which lasts until the following day, even with modest doses. The manufacturing costs of LSD are far less than MDMA as it is around 1000 times more potent and distribution is easier as it is physically far smaller. One disadvantage of LSD is stability - ideally it should be kept refrigerated which makes concealment difficult over long periods.

The advent of the anonymous online market Silk Road in 2011 heralds the dawn of a new era in availability. Access requires pre-installation of TOR Browser Bundle to provide network anonymity and all transactions are made using Bitcoins to avoid them being traced (available at Bitcoin Exchanges). Obviously one should avoid using one's own name for delivery (details can be encrypted with the seller's public key), ordering large quantities or signing for receipt (see Silk Road Article - refers to previous URL). (see also


LSD is traditionally synthesised from ergotamine tartrate which first has to be converted into ergine (d-lysergic acid amide). Ergine occurs naturally in the seeds of various morning glory plants although the fats present make extraction difficult. Alternatively the ergot species Claviceps paspali has similar alkaloidal constituents to morning glory seeds and is free of fats (cultures available from DSMZ). The culture is grown onto potato dextrose agar and then fragmented in a strerilised blender (Eberbach container) and used to inoculate liquid media using a laminar flow hood or bleach spraying to avoid contamination. The scale of production is limited by the size of fermentation vessel (such as an erlenmeyer flask or demijohn) that can be fitted into an autoclave (non-borosilicate glass can only be pressurised to 7 psi). The vessel would need to be fitted with an air filter (0.3 µm), magnetically stirred or regularly agitated and kept at 24-26 °C, depending on the strain. (Air filters are not 100% effective, so a better option is to slowly bubble oxygen into the media using a two hole bung fitted with a sterilised glass aquarium valve.) The presence of alkaloids in the vessel can be tested easily since they fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light. The extraction of crude alkaloids and the isolation and separation of ergine and iso-ergine is described in Ergoline Alkaloidal Constituents of Hawaiian Baby Wood Rose (Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Vol. 62, No. 4, April 1973, 588-591).

The traditional synthesis of LSD from ergotamine is included in Tihkal (no 26) by Alexander Shulgin. This method gives a yield of 66%. A simpler and more efficient method using a peptide coupling reagent gives a yield of 90% and is described in Novel Condensation of d-LA into d-LSD via PyBOP by Casey Hardison.


Casey Hardison

Home Laboratory

Casey Hardison, 33, of The Vale, Ovingdean, near Brighton, received a 20 year prison sentence for manufacturing LSD at Hove Crown Court on 22nd April 2005 (see The Argus). His main offence was the production of 145,000 doses of LSD (7 grams), although this is in doubt since the police claim to have found this evidence two days after the initial search was completed and the house had been left unguarded (see The Argus).


Download Casey's texts (in Adobe PDF):

Civil Legal Submissions:
Hardison_JR_Cm_6941_Oral_Hearing_Skeleton 1.0

Criminal Legal Submissions:

Court Judgements, Orders & Declarations:

Articles & Essays:
An Amateur Qualitative Study of 48 2C-T-7 Subjective Bioassays
Points_of_ Law_or_Legal_Distinctions_Misuse_of_Drugs_Act_1971

Leonard Pickard Former missile silo Clyde Apperson

William Leonard Pickard, 58, of Mill Valley, California was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole and Clyde Apperson, 48 of Sunnyvale, California was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment without parole in March 2003. The Drug Enforcement Administration allege that the pair produced LSD at the former missile silo in Kansas although the quantities they claim to have found appear to be grossly exaggerated (see Largest LSD Lab Seizure In DEA History).

Free Leonard Pickard

These three men have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our delectations. They are non-violent offenders imprisoned for manufacturing a non-toxic, non-addictive drug which bears a close similarly to ones found in nature. While there is certainly potential for harm in having unregulated access to hallucinogens, to which I am opposed, these sentences are grossly excessive from any standpoint. To be frank the death penalty would have been more humane - perhaps future LSD chemists should keep a capsule of cyanide handy in case of capture by the enemies of liberty. (Such a capsule would have to be kept at all times since the US government now employ armed SWAT thugs who fire tear gas canisters through windows and will shoot any dogs on sight.) This conflict is likely to continue indefinitely until a compromise is reached to keep these compounds away from the irresponsible or vulnerable, whilst allowing them to responsible adults.

The Future

The use of powerful hallucinogens is never likely to become more than a minority interest, enjoyed by people who are geographically dispersed. By contrast cannabis has millions of adherents many of whom campaign for legal change.  It is conceivable that the increasing popularity of natural alternatives to LSD may diversify demand in the future. Much interest is currently focused on DMT containing plants, psychoactive cacti and magic mushrooms, particularly the latter (see, and (My experiences with Salvia divinorum have been less enjoyable.) Magic mushroom cultivation is likely to spread worldwide in spite of legal restrictions and may ultimately penetrate the mindset of our legislators. From my own experience I would say that mushrooms, particularly Hawaiian Copelandia cyanescens, have a gentler action and shorter duration than mescaline or LSD and are less likely to cause serious mental disturbance. Using DMT orally is another option as it provides a powerful experience of limited duration.

Although we appear to have the might of 'democratic' governments ranged against us there is ground for optimism. The internet offers free speech to all. In spite of this asset, television and radio remain the dominant media and are unwilling to give airtime to our point of view. Future advances in internet technology with fibre optic communications will ultimately break the monopoly of television and radio broadcasting and open these media to us.

And finally...

The Biological Revolution

Today genetic engineering is in its infancy and will offer us advances in food production and healthcare in years to come - whatever people think of it. There is discussion of genetically modifying plants to produce pharmaceutical drugs which are very difficult or expensive to manufacture synthetically - see Molecular Farming Presumably once a single plant has been produced, more can be grown from seeds or cuttings. Genetic modification of a plant or organism to produce LSD may be a possibility - ergot or morning glory might be suitable candidates for modification since nature has done half the job already. It may only take one biologist to do the necessary work - then Dr Hofmann's genie would finally be out of the bottle.


Drug War Prisoners (A Project of the Committee on Unjust Sentencing)

Drug Equality Alliance

The Albert Hofmann Foundation

Why LSD Should Be Legalized

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and Recommended Links

On Cognitive Liberty (Part 2) by Richard Glen Boire, Esq.


Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies

Parents Against Lethal Addictive Drugs

Other sites by the same author:    PDF version    PDF version    PDF version    PDF versions    PDF version