Why is LSD illegal?

Up front I want to say that my purpose in this thread is not to condone or even discuss LSD use, and I really don’t want the thread to go in that direction, especially since it violates board rules.

But seriously… I can get why cocaine is illegal. It’s addictive. It changes people in really bad ways. It kills people fairly easily. It does long-term damage physically. Same for heroin, same for meth, same for a lot of drugs. Even pot, the most debated drug of all, is at least somewhat addictive, and has some negative physical effects.

But LSD? I’ve always said that it wasn’t dangerous, but my boyfriend, who is in medical school, just had a class where they talked extensively about drugs and what each one of them did and so on. They went on at length about the damage that this one or the other one died. Then they got to LSD and after describing the effects and how long it lasted, the doctor pretty much said “and… then it wears off and that’s it.” It doesn’t stay in the system. It isn’t addictive. It doesn’t do any physiological damage of any kind. About the only thing I can think of is “flashbacks” and those are A) rare and B) generally associated with much larger doses than people tend to take these days (more like what they took back in the '60s). The only deaths that have been LSD related were associated with accidents, not with anything directly caused by the drug. You don’t hear about big crime families centered around carting big bales of LSD-soaked blotter across the borders, shooting their rivals with semiautomatic weapons.

So why is it illegal? Is it just that the government doesn’t like the idea of people tripping? Are they just against the idea of people sitting around giggling like idiots while listening to music and staring at the walls and avoiding rice and spaghetti? Is it pressure from religious types? Is it just the whole “it’s a drug, and drugs are bad, m’kay” ideology? Or is there an actual legitimate reason?

A lot of the same arguments that come up about pot are relevant here; cigarettes and alcohol are both worse and still legal, etc. Except with LSD, the arguments that can be used against pot are largely not applicable. About the only thing I can think is… some people have become fairly unproductive because of using too much LSD (similar to potheads who don’t do anything with their lives)… but I don’t see that as something that the government should legislate.

LSD is much better understood now than it once was, and laws and mores have inertia. I think it scared the crap out of a lot of people back in the day. Actively demonized as well, associated with a marginalized subculture, etc.

Weed is viewed much more lightly by science and the public these days, and it’s still illegal too.

I have a pal who theorizes that it is illegal becuase the government once saw it as an interrogation aide or somesuch and wanted to limit its distribution. I think that’s interesting, but unlikely to have been necessary.

I think if Marijuana and LSD suddenly arrived on the scene today, with all of the science associated, they’d be much less likely to be illegal. I wonder about that sometimes- what if a brand new drug was discovered, with no real medical benefits but no side-effects either. How would that be marketed/approved/etc? It would probably have to enter via the grey market and the resultant criminal activity would demonize the substance anyway.

Here’s the obligatory wikipedia link on the dangers and the experience of its inventor, during his bicycle day.

Anecdote: I had a friend in College that got “Puddled”. Meaning, she cupped her hands and liquid LSD was poured in her palms…she lapped it up and waited. :eek: This was 1990. Poor girl was rushed to the hospital for being unresponsive the next morning…To my knowledge she was released from school, and committed. The stories go that she went insane from such a dose of LSD.

Grand as the example may be, I went to college and experimented my fair share with altared states…but LSD always scared me. I’m not sure of the legal ramifications, but of the friends that went to med school and who are now docs, I only know of one who condones it’s use as being “less harmful than other drugs”. I probably have not added to this thread…I’d like to see others remark.

I think things just, on average, tend to stay illegal once illegal. Who wants to be the politician trying to “legalize hallucinogenic drugs”, “lower age of consent”, “increase speed limits”, “legalize bigger guns”, “lower <…> age”, “reduce <…> regulations”, etc. Of course there are better ways to spin it but it’s still an uphill battle. Federal legislation exists with no sound process to automatically remove laws that have gotten stale or inappropriate. It’s getting so bloated that I’ve been a big proponent of quantifying what a fundamental “rule” element of law is, and making it necessary to repeal any two existing rules for any new one introduced, at least on the federal level.

I should add that while mores have inertia, morays move quite fluidly.

The potency of LSD should give pause when considering its legal status. Few illicit drugs have the activity of lsd, which is at the order of micrograms per active dose IIRC. Given the profound psychoactive effects, at such low dosing, its pretty much a given that its use is going to be heavily regulated.

My only issue with LSD is that it seems to attack the spinal cord. I don’t know how exactly it works, but I do know that it can cause a dull throbbing pain in your spine.

Anyone know what’s going on there? I’m sure I would have heard if it actually could cause paralysis, but it can’t be good for your spinal cord, right?

Philosophr: Taking such enormous amounts of LSD is not unheard of. I know a few people who have taken similar amounts and been fine, but (pardon the term) tripped their nuts off for a very long time. In the entire history of the world, no one has ever overdosed on LSD.

LSD can help propel unknown mental problems, and has been reported to antagonize depressive or manic symptoms, but for perfectly normal, mentally stable people, it is not in any way dangerous.

Also, can I get a cite from the OP that marijuana is even a little bit addictive? I have never seen such a claim validated, and my personal experience tells otherwise. But I’m willing to look at any research.

I think the reason LSD is illegal is the same reason most things are illegal: politicians find an activity that most people don’t understand, build a fear campaign and convert people’s ignorance and fear into law.

Brewha: the dosage of LSD is incredibly small. Micrograms small. The majority is metabolized within 12 hours and the rest is excreted in the next 24 hours. It does not stay in your spinal cord for the rest of your life, waiting to be cracked back into action, as the myth goes.

I was always told that people taking LSD were more prone to accidents, and that was why the drug was illegal. For instance, they would jump out of windows because they thought they could fly. Or run out into the streets because some image on tv scared them.

Is there any truth to the stories of people harming themselves during an LSD-trip?

I realize it doesn’t stay in your system and I’m worried about flashbacks. I guess my question is, what causes the pain in your spinal cord while tripping? Or, is this not a normal experience?

Personally, I would say that alcohol is much worse, since it amplifies aggression while decreasing decision making skills and coordination.

The guy took something like hundreds of times the dose that people these days take, so I don’t think it’s really comparable. It’s like trying to say “here are the effects of alcohol” and talking about someone who drank a bathtub full of bathtub gin.

I believe it is considered psychologically addictive. LSD on the other hand tends to be the opposite. The more often someone does it the less they want to. The nature of it seems to sort of be self-regulating.
Maastricht: If you took a really high dose, you might believe such things, or be scared by something, but at the dose that people typically take, hallucinations are very easy to distinguish from reality, and while you may think “wow, I know exactly what it would feel like to fly” you don’t actually believe you can. I think that back in the '60s and such when people tended to take much stronger doses, such things may have been more common. In my experience, the most common thing for people who are tripping really hard to do is to not move around much. They’ll sit in one place and everything happens in their head. (Not always, certainly, but it’s more common than not, I think.)

There will always be idiots who abuse things. I know a guy who drank lighter fluid to try to get high. We’ve all seen people abuse alcohol. But I’ve known a lot of people who take/took LSD fairly regularly, and the worst I ever saw was someone get some fairly bad gas cramping in their tummy. I’ve seen people act fairly stupid, just in the being goofy kind of way, and I’ve heard stories about people I know doing embarrassing things (like wandering outside with no pants on) but I’ve never heard of anyone I personally knew hurting themselves beyond normal clumsiness (banging a knee on the coffee table, etc).

I never had pain in my spinal cord. It could be that it’s regular back pain from sitting in a poor position for too long and not realizing it? Or unconsciously tensing muscles you don’t normally?

There is no physiological affect of the drug that would do anything to your spine.

No, you shouldn’t. :rolleyes:

LSD can be very dangerous but not in the same way as other drugs. This should be obvious to anyone who has any kind of experience with the drug. It is not addictive not does it have a lethal dose like alcohol or amphetamines. That is clear and no one would argue otherwise. That said, it is disingenuous to say the least to claim that there is no danger.

Would you want someone driving or operating heavy machinery on LSD? I think not. LSD massively screws up your perceptions.

As for the “I think I can fly” myth, it’s true that that isn’t likely to happen in the way that it is typically described. What can happen though is someone walking off of the edge of a building or into traffic because they are distracted.

Ever seen someone have a bad trip? I have and it’s not something that you ever want to experience. I am talking about a true bad trip. This isn’t someone who isn’t having fun and wishing they didn’t dose that night. This is someone who has totally lost connection with reality and has to be restrained or, even worse, taken to the ER and pumped full of sedatives until the dose wears off.

LSD mimics schizophrenia. A lot of the early medical research into LSD was because of this fact. If a person already has schizophrenic tendencies, a LSD trip can set it off in the person. Those very few people who really do take acid and end up in the loony bin are in that category.

Disclaimer: In my distant past, I had somewhere around a couple hundred acid trips. I never personally had a bad experience but plenty of people I know have to varying degrees. There are two people out there who would now be dead if I hadn’t have physically restrained them during a bad acid trip. I am not exaggerating here.

LSD is a drug to be respected. If you are going to play with it, be sure that you are in a safe place, are in a healthy state of mind and are with responsible people.

I don’t think that its dangers are enough to justify it being illegal, though. I don’t want anybody driving or operating heavy machinery on a high dose of Benedryl or NyQuil either, but I don’t think they should be illegal.

I hate like hell to blame “the government” for things that happen. Hate it.

But LSD was banned in 1967 because “the government” went to war on people who were different. It’s not exactly the first time such things have happened. Prohibition had a huge anti-immigrant group hate component, “marihuana” was thought of as a “Negro” problem, and also see: red scare - 1919, 1951 etc.

But it was the first and I think only time “the government” went to war on a middle class group. J. Edgar Hoover had quite a bit to do with it, but it was not a full blown war until Nixon took office and expanded it. That’s why in political discussions you keep hearing the phrase, I thought Nixon was bad…

Still, drugs are more often banned in the country for political reasons than medical ones. (Cocaine and heroin were the exceptions: patent medicine abuse was truly severe around the turn of the 20th century.) And LSD was a real-life non-conspirary-theory political vendetta, from what I’ve read about the 60s. You don’t have to be a fan of Timothy Leary’s (and I’m not) to believe the government deliberately went out of its way to get him.