LSD Today: The Comic-Strip Trip
Publication:. Drug Survival News
Editor:. Jim Parker
Date:. November-December 1981 
Pages:. 12-13

LSD Today: The Comic-Strip Trip

LSD's making a name for itself again in most parts of the country. And it's making a name by cashing in on the names -- and faces -- of a growing list of comic strip heroes and other cartoon figures.

According to drug treatment personnel and law enforcement officials we contacted around the country, use of LSD is up over recent years -- and is continuing to rise.

"It's becoming more and more of a problem," Detective Wayne Burch of the Harris County (Texas) Sheriff's Department told us in a recent interview. "There for a while it died down and it seemed like no one used it, but it's back."

A spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration admitted that there has been an "upswing" in LSD use in recent years, adding that the revival has been especially prevalent in California and in large urban areas in the East and Midwest.

"We feel that this resurgence started on the West Coast and to a great degree involves some of the old organizations, the old-timers, getting back into the business."

But if LSD's new wave is a product of LSD's old wave -- a wave that most thought had crested a dozen years ago -- then there's a hole somewhere in the theory that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Because LSD today is as different from vintage LSD in as many ways as it's similar in others.

Smaller is Better

The subject of all the sound and fury currently swirling around LSD is blotter acid -- tiny squares of absorbent paper soaked in liquid LSD. Over the past several years, blotter has emerged as the dominant LSD format, and for several understandable reasons.

Since newly-manufactured LSD is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, there is virtually no limit to the number of objects and substances that can be used as carriers. And although in acid's early days sugar cubes and animal crackers were favored media for delivering doses of the drug, they fell from favor over the large part due to their bulk.

Tablets emerged to dominate the street acid market from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies, but gradually gave way to increasingly small formats, particularly "windowpane" (small gelatin chips), "microdot" (tiny pellets), and blotter.

The object of the smaller-is-better mentality in LSD marketing has been strictly utilitarian: to make the drug as undetectable from prying eyes as possible.

The very minuteness of effective psychoactive doses of LSD has contributed to the small-is-beautiful ethic in LSD marketing: As little as 25 micrograms (one forty-thousandth of a gram) can produce noticeable perceptual and cognitive changes, with progressively higher doses producing increasingly pronounced perceptual distortions and pseudo-hallucinations.

One key consideration that distinguishes today's LSD from the LSD of the past is potency. Most acid today is simply not as strong as the stuff that's gone before. "It used to be around 250 micrograms, but now we're getting around 50 (mcg)," Detective Rene LaPrevotte of the San Francisco Police Narcotics Unit told us in a recent interview. "So it's about one-fifth the dosage it used to be."

LaPrevotte's observation was corroborated by chemists at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. According to the DEA, the average LSD content of currently available street acid ranges from 40 to 100 mcg, with an average dosage of 60 mcg. This compares with an average potency level of 150-200 mcg in LSD's heyday a decade ago, according to a DEA spokesman.

Lower dosage levels may account for the increasing use of LSD, which has been reported in most parts of the country over the past year. "It's weaker now, so it produces a more manageable reaction," according to Willie Fennell, a counselor with the New York Division of Substance Abuse Services. "You don't get that instant insanity. It's more of a recreational drug than a heavy mind-expansion thing these days."

"Packaging Sells"

But if lighter dosage is one factor in increased LSD use around the country, another important factor is surely product packaging. Whereas only a few years ago little thought was given to the appearance of individual doses of LSD, a greater concern for the esthetics of acid has emerged over the last year or two, as manufacturers and distributors have developed a greatly increased awareness of the time-honored American art of packaging. And while this concern for appearance developed as a means of establishing "trademarks" for otherwise indistinguishable products, lately it's turned into a full-scale preoccupation on the parts of acid entrepreneurs.

Today, fairly sophisticated color-screening processes and printing technology have become an increasingly important part of the street acid biz, with a number of well-known cartoon characters peeking playfully off surfaces which their creators never dreamed they'd grace. Probably the single-most desirable LSD "brand" today is "Sorcerer's Apprentice," which features a full-color Mickey Mouse outfitted in wizard's garb from the film, "Fantasia," although Snoopy, Goofy, and the old blotter standby Mr. Natural each retain its own devotees.

In addition, a variety of lesser-known blotter "brands" are also available, featuring various cartoon figures and objects, including dragons, unicorns, flying saucers, stars, and pyramids.

Fennell sees LSD's current vogue as a triumph of the new packaging techniques. "The cartoon stamps cater to a younger generation of users," he said. "It's a device to make LSD more palatable and more attractive to new's packaging, and packaging sells."

Ready for more? Click to check out the sidebar, LSD Cult Poisons Kids with Cute Lick 'N Stick Tattoos!

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