This article has been medically reviewed by Katrina Oliveros, MSN-ED, BSN
Being an illegal substance in nearly every country worldwide, acquiring lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) comes with a particular set of risks. We do not condone or endorse breaking the law, but we do realize that consenting adults sometimes engage in illegal activity in otherwise nonviolent ways.
The “just say no” approach of bodies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse does not help reduce risk. If people are going to use LSD for microdosing and other purposes, the best way to allow them to stay safe is by providing accurate information.
Read on to learn more
Where to find LSD
Generally, the only legal way to ingest LSD in the US is to participate in FDA-approved clinical trials. But, these are rare and not open to everyone. While LSD psychotherapy was more common in the 1950s, it is currently illegal, though we hope this will change.
There are underground, black market sources—both online and offline —that sell LSD. Third Wave’s Ultimate Guide to Sourcing Psychedelic Medicine offers step-by-step instructions for navigating the Dark Web. Since the counterculture revolutions of the 60s, music and art festivals have attracted LSD “vendors” (illegal, of course.) However, you may not know what you are buying and/or ingesting without first testing the product.
A safer option is to be part of a community of people who use psychedelics safely and responsibly. An excellent way to do this is to get involved with a local psychedelic society or club. For legal reasons, such organizations can’t direct you on how to get LSD or give you a referral to an illegal source. But their events are a great way to connect with other people who share your interests, and they can offer experienced-based safety advice. The most comprehensive list of psychedelic community groups we know of is the Psychedelic Community Airtable list.
That said, having face-to-face contact with people isn’t the only way that LSD changes hands. There’s always the Internet.
Can you buy LSD online?
Yes. It’s possible to buy something labeled as LSD online, either as blotters, gelatin “window panes”, or liquid. This activity can result in a range of outcomes, including:
- Purchasing some actual LSD
- Buying something that isn’t LSD
- Paying money for something that never arrives
The last of these, where the sale is a scam, is more common on the open (regular) Internet. Running a website and taking PayPal payments is not the most untraceable activity and eventually attracts official attention. So, if someone is selling illegal substances openly on the web, there is a higher chance that it’s a scam and that you’ll be throwing your money away.
People claiming to be selling LSD through social media, who often pop up in the comments under psychedelic-related posts, present a similar risk. They might be reliable, or they might take your cash and disappear.
It can be challenging to know where to begin or which sources you can trust. That’s why we compiled our tips and resources into the Ultimate Guide to Sourcing Psychedelic Medicines.
Risks & best practices on the dark web
Since regular websites and social media aren’t always helpful, many buyers of LSD have turned to what’s known as the Dark Web. While this sounds foreboding, this is just the name for all the websites that aren’t indexed by any search engines and are not linked to from anywhere else on the everyday “surface” Internet.
Even though large darknet markets, such as Silk Road, are eventually shut down by authorities, they remain popular. Buyers get anonymous access to Amazon-style websites where customers review vendors. This review mechanism results in products that have more consistent quality. Vendors get access to more customers, with less chance of being caught by law enforcement or mixed up in criminal-related violence.
Accessing darknet markets requires specialized software, most commonly The Onion Router (Tor). People also use PGP/GPG encryption tools to encrypt messages, and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or Monero to pay for their purchases. Secure operating systems, such as Tails, may also help keep sensitive details off personal devices. If you don’t know what any of these things are, you aren’t quite ready to go on the dark web. Good places to start learning about these tools and the dark web include the subreddits r/TOR and r/darknet.
Once you have a handle on the technical details, the main things to keep in mind are relatively common sense. Use escrow services, research vendor ratings carefully, be patient, and do not cut corners on security.
While the nature of the dark web and the tools people use to access it mean that being caught buying and selling illegal substances is less likely, it is never impossible. With sufficient effort, authorities can sidestep anonymity tools such as Tor, and many cryptocurrency transactions are traceable, especially if buyers or sellers do not follow the correct steps.
Even if it comes from highly-rated darknet vendors, the purity and safety of what you’re buying can rarely be verified with any degree of certainty. It’s best to use a testing kit or drug-checking service for LSD, MDMA, or any other substance you buy from an unverified source. This uncertainty neatly brings us to the next important safety consideration.
How to know if your LSD is real
Before you ingest it, it’s vital that you know if what you have is LSD or more dangerous substances such as 25I-NBOMe or 2,5-Dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI), as these substances carry a higher risk of physical side effects, such as elevated heart rate, as well as psychosis. Similarly, if you’re purchasing MDMA, it’s a good idea to check that it isn’t adulterated with methamphetamine or N-ethylpentylone.
If you live somewhere that has drug checking services, these can give you a reasonably precise analysis. These services sometimes operate at music festivals and other events; others are at set locations. The cost for testing varies, as analytic laboratories are expensive to run. But these services give the most exact results as they use precision techniques such as Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS).
You can use test kits to make sure you have LSD rather than something else. If you are using LSD alternatives (more on those shortly), be aware that they may give different reactions to LSD. So always make sure you read up on which reagents to use and what chemical reaction to expect.
Some people claim that they can taste the difference between LSD, which is generally tasteless, and other chemicals, which may be bitter or numbing. This method isn’t beneficial, as not everyone seems to be able to taste the difference consistently.
Unexpectedly long drug experiences (greater than 12-16 hours) or strong physical side effects of the drug may also indicate that what you’ve taken isn’t LSD. As with taste, this is not a precise measure and isn’t very helpful once you’re in the situation. But if this does happen, you should consider switching sources. If you or someone you know has taken something that seems like it isn’t what you expected, and their physical safety or mental health is at risk, always seek emergency medical assistance. This isn’t to say that every challenging experience (sometimes known as a “bad trip”) requires medical attention. But it is best to err on the side of caution, especially if you have doubts about what they’ve taken.
In an ideal world, where you could legally source quality-controlled psychedelics from reputable vendors and pharmacists, most of this wouldn’t be necessary. But we’re not there yet and, until we are, these steps are essential to your safety.
Where is LSD legal?
LSD is a Schedule I drug of abuse in the US and treated similarly under the law in most places. Even though over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen are vastly more physically dangerous than most psychedelic drugs, hysteria about flashbacks (which are relatively uncommon) and political manipulation mean that LSD use is illegal in most states and countries around the world.
There is a slight nuance in this, though. In a few places, possession of small amounts of LSD is decriminalized. Precisely what this means varies depending on the laws in place. But, essentially, decriminalization means that while you can’t legally and openly buy LSD, if the police catch you with a small amount, the only penalties will be a fine or possibly some mandatory drug use counseling. Where is this the case?
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Switzerland (in some localities)
Being caught up in the criminal justice system is harmful, even if you don’t do time in jail. So, you must know the laws where you are. This means checking the exact amounts of what’s considered possession for personal use.
Because how authorities categorize psychoactive substances varies, there are alternatives to LSD that local laws might not cover in some places. This effectively creates legal substitutes to LSD and other psychedelics. What are some of these alternatives and what are they like?
LSD legal substitute
Many LSD analogs exist. The effects of these chemicals vary, with some, such as ETH-LAD, being slightly more potent than LSD (which is a good reason to approach it with extreme caution). Others, such as ALD-52, have a reputation for being somewhat less visually potent. One of the best-known analogs is 1-propionyl-lysergic acid diethylamide (1P-LSD).
1P-LSD is technically not illegal in the US and Canada, though vendors generally label it as being “not for human consumption”. In terms of effects, many people who have used both it and real LSD say they cannot perceive any significant difference, though research indicates that it may be slightly weaker.
While research on 1P-LSD is relatively limited, it seems to have a similar safety profile as LSD. All this makes it an attractive substitute for people in the US and Canada who do not want to take legal risks to pursue psychedelic experiences and microdosing practices.
Please note that this is not the case everywhere. In some countries, like Australia, the law covers all analogs of known psychoactive substances. There are places where possession of 1P-LSD could get you into just as much trouble as the real thing, so always check local laws!
Whether you are interested in strong psychedelic experiences from high doses or controlled microdosing, there may be alternatives, some of which may be easier to source than LSD, or have fewer legal issues attached. This includes psilocybin magic mushrooms and natural sources of DMT (e.g., ayahuasca), which are now decriminalized in Washington State and a growing number of cities across the US. If your focus is to overcome mental illness, such as depression that has not responded to mainstream antidepressants, ketamine clinics, such as those run by Mindbloom, are increasingly common across the US as well, and could be a viable option for your healing journey.
So, you want to know about LSD microdosing?
You’ve made it to the end, fantastic! Once you start learning about psychedelics, there’s always something new to discover, either about the science or yourself. Third Wave aims to help people learn about safe and intentional psychedelic journeying. For those not quite ready to take the plunge into a full-on macrodose, we’ve created an extensive Microdosing Course. In it, you’ll learn how to elevate your mind, body, and spirit with the basics of microdosing—then dive deeper, tailoring your routine to meet your personal goals, enhance creativity, and optimize performance. Ready to microdose? Learn about our microdosing course and coaches.
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