In January of this year 2006, there was a symposium in Basle, Switzerland. It celebrated the 100th birthday of a very special man, and the discovery of a remarkable chemical. The man was Albert Hofmann, and the chemical was LSD-25.
And shit, me and my friend Tom were gonna go. But then we ran out of money, and it was hard explaining to our parents exactly why we wanted to go to a conference in praise of an illegal drug. So we didn’t go.
And then I read this.
Jesus H. Christ!! I mean I knew there’d be acid floating around the event, but I had no idea that someone would turn up with Sandoz acid! For those who don’t know much about LSD, here’s the rundown: Albert Hofmann discovered it when working for the Sandoz pharmaceutical company in Switzerland. Once the effects of the drug were known it was distributed worldwide to psychologists under the brand name ‘Delysid’ with the suggestion that it mimicked states of psychosis. Of course it was far too much fun for the doctors, and in the sixties the drug escaped the labs and hit the streets, predominantly in San Francisco. By 1967 it was illegal, and Sandoz were forced to stop producing it. As of that point in time, acid was driven underground.
Ever since then, some old hippies have been saying “Ah, the acid you kids get these days is crap. You should have tried that Sandoz stuff! My God, that was acid.” One of my favourite authors, Hunter S. Thompson, talked about using pure ‘Sandoz’ in such a way as to imply that anything else just isn’t good enough. Of course, no one could ever prove them wrong or right, because the Sandoz acid was long gone by the end of the seventies.
Until 2006. When someone, some unknown genius, brought some Sandoz Delysid from 1951 to the event and said: “Hey guys! Let’s trip on the real fucking deal!”
The results are interesting. You can read them for yourself here, but the rub is this: Sandoz acid is pretty much the same as the acid you can buy from your dealer today.
What does this mean? Well, for one thing it means that LSD is just as good as it ever was, and that’s definately a good thing. But how could this misconception have been brought around in the first place?
Well personally I think it’s down to two things. The first is that the strength of the doses has steadily decreased since the sixties. Back then it was common to get 300 micrograms from a single blotter, but these days it’s more like 50 micrograms (I would know – I once had some acid where I had to eat five blotters just to hit mild effects) – so any old hippie who tripped his face off on two blotters in 1965 would probably think that two 1980’s blotters were ‘worse’ acid than the sixties stuff.
The other reason is that you become very… suggestable, when on acid. If you take it with the subconscious belief that what you’re taking isn’t as good as the stuff forty years ago, you’ll invariably end up experiencing that.
What’s my point? I don’t know. I’m just pleased that the concensus now is that LSD = LSD. Go forth and trip.