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A Guide to Psychedelics

Release 1.1 1992


Although every effort has been made to compile accurate information, the reader is warned that factual errors may be present. Only the legal information is specific to the United Kingdom. Apologies for the representation of chemical structures being limited to ASCII. Feel free to distribute this file or copy in it any form whatever.

INTRODUCTION
This file gives practical information about using a class of drugs most commonly known as the 'psychedelics' by their advocates (of which I am one) or, more pejoratively, as the 'hallucinogens'. More recently some Americans have suggested 'entheogens' or 'empathogenes' (the later specifically for the new drugs such as MDMA) as new names unblemished by association with the drug sub-culture, which emerged in the advanced world, most notably in California, in the late 1960s.

These drugs are not generally habit-forming and many have been used for centuries in many different countries and cultures for religious purposes. More recently in Europe and America they were used in psychotherapy (before the imposition of legal controls) and they are suitable to be used for self-discovery. These drugs, when used correctly, have pleasant, inspiring effects and most are completely non-toxic. Many the effects are very difficult, if not impossible, to describe and therefore, I have made little attempt to do this.

Unfortunately due to the ignorance and intolerance of many governments most of them have been declared illegal. The most obvious anomaly in the law is the classification of cannabis as an illegal drug. Cannabis is a mild psychedelic drug with a sedative action, which is widely used in Europe and North America. That moderate use of cannabis presents little danger to health is admitted in official government publications of many countries, including the UK. Yet possession is punished by a fine or imprisonment in many countries. In continental Europe many other countries take a more sensible view of cannabis use than the UK. The best example of this is the attitude of the Dutch authorities, which is discussed in greater detail later.

LSD, mescaline and psilocybin are subject to the same harsh control in the UK as drugs such as heroin, with which they have nothing in common pharmacologically or socially. However, in England these three classic psychedelic drugs are currently still legal in their original natural forms, although any extracts would be contraband.

Many myths, e.g. smoking dried banana peel gets you stoned, exist as an oral tradition of urban folklore. Yeah, we had that one at high school. A number of materials (mainly plants) are listed in Adam Gotteib's classic ('Legal Highs', Greenham and Gotto, 1981) as having psychedelic effects. Many of these have effects so mild as to be negligible.

For example, Dried hops are sold for home brewing. This plant is related to cannabis and its active principle is Lupulune, a yellow powder similar to THC (present in Cannabis) in chemical structure. Effects when smoked are said to be like cannabis, but milder and more soporific. However, in the author's experience, hops seem ineffective. Dried hops are a very harsh smoke but hop extract is also available and might be a more potent material. The belief that hops can be crossed with cannabis to produce a hop plant containing cannabiniods is a myth. Damiana (available from herbalists) is supposed to act as a stimulant and increase the effects of hops. Cigarettes called 'Cloud Swept' containing hops and damiana are sold in the UK. Some say this has some effect. Claims have also been made that Catnip and dried Broom flowers can also be smoked as cannabis substitutes. I remain sceptical.

Of those substances with psycho-active effects most of these are, alas, either unavailable or highly toxic and therefore not psychedelic, but rather delirium causing. For example, both Belladonna or Nutmeg which could be lethal.

MAGIC MUSHROOMS

   OH  O-
   | /
   P
   |
   O                  CH
   |                /   3
 // \___  _ CH CH N
|   ||  ||    2  2  \
|   ||  ||            CH
 \\ / \ /               3
       N
       H
PSILOCYBIN For thousands of years before Europeans set foot in the New World the sacred mushroom was in use in native rituals. In the 1950s R. Gordon Wasson, a Wall Street banker, participated in a Mexico mushroom ceremony and eloquently described the 'Divine Inebriant' in a piece of writing which could go some way to explaining the fascination with which many people regard psychedelic drugs. These words, of course, could really equally apply to any of these substances:

'There are no apt words ... to characterize your state when you are, shall we say, 'bemushroomed.' ... How do you tell a man born blind what seeing is like? In the present case, this is especially true because superficially the bemushroomed man shows few of the objective symptoms of one intoxicated, drunk ... [the mushroom] permits you to see, more clearly than our pershing mortal eye can see, vistas beyond the horizons of this life, to travel backwards and forwards in time, even (as the Indians say) to know God. It is hardly surprising that your emotions are profoundly affected, and you feel that an indissoluble bond unites you with the others who have shared with you in the sacred agape ... All that you see during this night has a pristine quality: the landscape, the edifices, the carvings, the animals - they look as though they had come straight from the Maker's workshop. This newness of everything - it is as though the world had just dawned - overwhelms you and melts you with its beauty. Not unnaturally, what is happening to you seems to you freighted with significance, beside which the humdrum events of everyday are trivial ... What you are seeing and what you are hearing appear as one: the music assumes harmonious shape, giving visual form to its harmonies, and what you are seeing takes on the modalities of music - the music of the spheres ... All your senses are similarly affected: the cigarette with which you occasionally break the tension of the night smells as no cigarette before had ever smelled ; the glass of simple water is infinitely better than champagne.'

From 'The Hallucinogenic Fungi of Mexico', R. Gordon Wasson in The Psychedelic Reader, Ed. Gunther M. Weil et al, Citadel Press Inc., 1973.

Fortunately one does not have to visit Mexico to experience the mushrooms, probably the most effective and safest of natural psychedelics. Psilocybian mushrooms should not be confused with the Fly Agaric (amanita muscaria) a toxic deliriant. The most common species of 'Magic Mushroom' found wild in the UK is the increasingly popular 'Liberty Cap' (psilocybe senilanceata). Indeed this particular species, despite its relative weakness, is prized by the South American Indians as one of the best. The Liberty Cap contains psilocybin, which is converted to psilocin in the body. Psilocin is a close chemical relative of LSD. However, the effects, according to many users, are milder, more pleasant and there is said to be less risk of bad trips. The greatest danger comes from eating other mushrooms -- different poisonous mushrooms picked by mistake. Therefore any potential mushroom picker should be quite sure they know what to look for (many reference books about mushrooms describe the Liberty Cap). The season for the mushroom is between September and December. During this time many people, not known for a previous interest in fungi, can be seen scanning the grass in fields with bent heads. The mushrooms are usually found after heavy rain and a long search. After picking they are dried on paper. Although the dried mushrooms are less potent than the fresh, if not dried the mushrooms might contain flies harmful to the liver.

Some people say mushrooms make them sick, but then I have never had any toxic effects from the mushrooms. A test for psilocybin-containing mushrooms is to look for a blue colour at the end of the stem after they have been picked. Those who want to make quite sure can buy a chemical called methaminophenol sulphate from photographic positive identification. Add it to twenty times its volume in distiled water. Apply to stem of mushroom and wait half an hour for a deep purple colour.

The American mushrooms include Psilocybe cubensis and caerulescens and are far more potent on a weight basis than the English ones. Whereas typical doses of the Liberty Cap are 25-50 dried little mushrooms, only a few grams of the American mushrooms ('shrooms) are needed. The effects, as with any drug, depend on the individual's body weight as well as the size and strength of the mushrooms. The mushrooms have a greater effect if a soup is made from them and also if taken on an empty stomach. To prepare a soup it is necessary to boil up the 'shrooms for ten minutes, add packet soup powder or instant coffee to hid the (disgusting) taste then drink the soup and repeat the process using the same mushrooms.

The effects start after about twenty minutes for soup and forty-five minutes when eaten. At low doses effects last about four hours and at higher doses up to six hours. Once the effects start to end they do so rapidly, unlike acid which seems to linger on a bit.

Possession of fresh mushrooms, in the UK is not illegal at the present. This may well change in the future. Even now possession of a preparation or product of the mushrooms is an offence. This includes drying mushrooms to a powder, crushing or boiling them. Mushrooms which are dried but are still intact are legal (excuse: 'I picked them like that, Officer. The sun must have dried them out, honest guv'.').

Kits to grow the mushrooms at home in jam jars are available from the USA by mail order. 'FS' has a 'Resource Guide' containing information about 43 companies selling every thing from mushroom videos to edible cultures and spore prints (more than 50!). The address is given in the bibliography. Judge Clive Callman ruled in 1983 test case that the cultivation of 'magic mushrooms' is legal in the UK, unfortunately it's also quite difficult. A friend once tried it and failed due to lack of sterile conditions.


FLY AGARIC

THIS DRUG IS ONLY INCLUDED TO WARN OF ITS CONSIDERABLE DANGERS. The Fly Agaric ('amanita muscaria') is the well-known red toadstool with white spots which appears in illustrations in fairy tales. It is not a true psychedelic drug and at best has unpleasant side effects. At worst it could kill you.

Effects are said to be dizziness, muscle twitching and possible vomiting after a half hour. This is followed by a drunken feeling and perhaps a light sleep lasting about two hours. Numbness may be present in the extremities. On waking feelings of great strength and hallucinations (especially of size) lasting about six hours have been reported. Overdoses can lead to convulsions, derangement, coma and amnesia. There are reports that this drug can cause ergotism, constriction of blood in the extremities of the bodies (e.g. nose, fingers etc) leading to gangrene. Death or permanent brain damage is possible from overdose (caused by respiratory paralysis). Kidney damage is also possible.

Neither the toadstool nor any preparation of it are controlled substances. They are not likely to be ever classified as such, since hopefully few will be foolish enough to try it.


MORNING GLORY SEEDS

Ipomoea violacea seeds can be bought in high street shops. Most of the British seed packets (e.g. Suttons) say 'Ipomoea' on them and are not coated with chemicals. The various strains have evocative names such as Heavenly Blue, Pearly gates and Flying Saucers.

Other rather more exotic and potent seeds (Hawaiian Wood Rose and Turbina corymbosa) can be purchased by mail order from seed merchants. All contain Lysergic Acid derivatives. Although these are very close relations of LSD their psychoactive effects include a narcotic element rather than the euphoric effects typical of other psychedelics. The seeds also contain other ergot derivatives which if consumed in quantity might theoretically cause ergotism. However there are no reports of this happening.

I once consumed a foul tasting infusion of about 300 ground Ipomoea seeds. There were no effects for the first five hours, except a strange physical feeling of tension in the body, which led the author to draw the mistaken conclusion that the seeds had little effect. Others have reported vomiting at this point. However, after this time LSD-type effects became apparent. My friends have reported positive results from it, but I still believe this drug is unreliable in its effects and I would recommend acid or mushrooms as being preferable.


CACTI

The possession of the Peyote cactus (lophophora williamsii) is legal in the UK, but not in the USA (unless you are a member of the Native North American Church). Peyote and several other cacti, such as San Pedro (trichocereus pachanoi), contain mescaline which has very similar, if not identical, effects to LSD. Both cacti should both be available from Cacti dealers. Someone I knew once ate 5' of San Pedro bought in the UK, both the cactus skin and the disgusting pulp found inside, to experience very mild effects. The mescaline may well make one sick.


KETAMINE ('Vitamin K', 'Special K')

Ketamine is chemically related to PCP ('Angel Dust'). PCP, a dangerous American street drug rather than a psychedelic, is characterized by resulting in frequent bad trips, psychotic reactions and extreme violence in its users.

But Ketamine appears to be much safer than PCP. It is still used in human medicine unlike PCP. Currently Ketamine ('Ketalar') is a prescription only medicine rather than a controlled drug in Britain. It is a powerful drug used as a general anaesthetic, which has some strange psychedelic effects when used at low doses (25-100 mg). The usual medical form is a liquid when it is injected intramuscularly. American street users heat the liquid to obtain a white powder which is smoked or snorted. Ketamine may be ineffective when taken by mouth - although one report from Denmark claims it to be orally active at the 200 mg level with the effects becoming apparent slowly.

The effects are stronger and more profound than acid but last only an hour or so. The subject should remain still. Experiences of the mind leaving the body and floating in space, or even death are common. Bad trips are supposed to be absent but there are serious dangers following heavy use. Dr John Lilly and his fellow researchers have used the drug continuously for weeks. Several believe themselves to have contacted alien intelligences and two committed suicide. Although non-toxic (unlike PCP) it appears to have potential for psychological dependency. K has been used in experimental psychotherapy.

In 1991 reports have emerged of K usage by the nightclubbing fraternity in New York. This practice has now spread to London where K is available for about 100 pounds per gram. I am rather surprised by this since clubbers tend to go for stimulating drugs rather than those sedative in nature.


LAUGHING GAS (Nitrous Oxide N2O)

This is also a medical anaesthetic with some psychedelic effects. This is most easily found in small green pressurized gas chargers used to whip cream and available in many large stores. They fit in soda syphons in exactly the same way as the usual CO2 chargers they resemble. This should never be breathed directly (it could freeze the lungs) but always from a balloon and also diluted with air. There is a warning on the box -- 'Do not inhale. Misuse can be dangerous to your health'. In fact it seem to be fairly safe. Classic effects of N20 are a very short (a few minutes) and intense trip. I found it pleasant enough but still a little disappointing - no more than a tingling body high.


CANNABIS

TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL (THC)

Cannabis is the most common and safest of all 'street drugs'. The vast majority of drug offences in most countries are simply the possession of small quantities of cannabis. But, as even the police admit, the vast majority of cannabis users are never caught. A simple solution to 95% of the 'drug problem' in Europe and America would be to decriminalise cannabis.

An advantage of cannabis is that it can be readily recognized as genuine by its physical appearance. As far as other drugs are concerned it must be remembered that any pills or tablets bought on the black market may either contain no drug at all or a substitute drug. An additional danger is that illegally manufactured drugs may contain dangerous impurities. This is less true of which LSD is a reasonably good bet. Your tab is most likely to be dosed with acid or nothing. A marginal possibility, also, would be the presence of DOB in blotter. Ecstasy could have anything in it.

The effects of dope are due to a mixture of many psychoactive chemicals. Different sorts of dope contain different quantities of these and so have slightly different effects. Studies at St Louis Medical School in 1988 have identified the THC receptor, which is mainly in the front brain, and discovered that THC caused no damage to brain cells. There is some really strong (and therefore dear) weed around now, e.g. Thai weed and Semsemilla (seedless). These have very high concentrations of THC and can cause strange visual effects -- almost like LSD -- if quite a bit is consumed. As a rough rule of thumb the more tacky, sticky, darker, wet with resin the cannabis material the stronger it is. The negative effects of cannabis (confusion, unease, slight paranoia, anxiety and a feeling that you are unable of performing the simplest tasks) are very mild usually pass quickly and can be overcome by power of will. The only report of a death directly attributable to cannabis is of several tons falling on one unfortunate man.

Smoking when drunk is a bad idea unless you really want to get smashed out of your mind, because you end up being both very drunk and very stoned at the same time and liable to pass out. Yeah I have been there.

Hash oil can be easily made from hash. Pour an inch of petrol lighter fuel into a small test-tube (from any chemist). Add enough hash for a spliff. Gently heat with lighter. It's OK to hold since it boils quickly, dissolving the chemicals you want and leaving a residue. Soak cigarette in fuel and leave five minutes to dry, then smoke (without tell tale smell).

An alternative to smoking is to eat dope, which has a different effect and lasts longer. It is less economical than smoking. I am told that a sixteenth will get eight people buzzed or four heavily stoned. For the latter try dissolving about half a gram in enough butter or margarine and adding to coffee or the traditional instant chocolate brownie mix, since THC is soluble in fat but not water.


AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND

Although in Holland possession of up to thirty grams for personal use is still technically illegal it is often tolerated by the local authorities. In Amsterdam (and some other Dutch cities) high quality cannabis can be openly bought and consumed, mainly in coffee shops dedicated to this purpose. Even ready rolled joints and 'space cake' (containing about a gram of dope) can be purchased. They adhere to the following simple and sensible code:-
  1. No Hard Drugs
  2. No one under 18
  3. No aggression tolerated.
I can particularly recommend 'Skunk Weed' -- purple and green Dutch semsemilla -- as the best grass I've ever smoked. It is apparently grown in Holland from the seeds of an infamous Californian strain. It cost between 4-10 guilders a gram in 1991. After several bong hits of this stuff you are practically tripping. I had to lie down.


LSD ( 'Acid' )

D-Lysergic acid diethylamide

'I see the true importance of LSD in the possibility of providing material aid to meditation aimed at the mystical experience of a deeper, comprehensive reality. Such a use accords entirely with the essence and working character of LSD as a sacred drug.' Dr Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD.

'... LSD is best understood as a powerful unspecific amplifier, or catalyst, of mental processes, which facilitates the emergence of unconscious material from different levels of the human psyche. ' Dr Stan Grof, Esalen Institute.

LSD is believed to be illegally manufactured in Northern Californian and, perhaps also, Holland. An underground lab was also busted in England in early 1991. LSD is cheap and widely available. The currently hip English name for acid is 'A'. There are many dosage forms available: pieces of paper or cardboard ('tabs' -- often with colour pictures printed on them), very small pills ('microdots') and transparent gelatin sheets ('windowpane'). The doses present in each unit are on average 75-125 micrograms (mcg) of very pure LSD. This is a quite a strong dose but about half the strength of the 1960s dose. This, and the greater public knowledge of the drug, is probably why bad trips are less common now than in the past.

The lowest psychedelic dose is 50 mcg -- recommended for beginners. Doses below this level have a similar effect to cannabis or MDMA. The effects increase with dosage until about 400-500 mcgs where any more has no more effect. LSD cannot cause toxic poisoning but in this dosage range bad trips are practically certain. The effects last up to eight or twelve hours. LSD must be treated with respect. It can be a completely overwhelming experience. Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief acid will not turn normal people permanently insane.

Since acid came back into fashion the media treatment of the subject has been appallingly inaccurate. In September 1989 a English football fan fell overboard a ferry to Sweden and was presumably drowned. It was reported that this had resulted from LSD use. He had died fifteen minutes after taking a tab. However, LSD takes about half an hour to an hour to have any effect and, therefore, is unlikely to have contributed to his death. What the media had paid less attention to was been drinking very heavily. 'Drunk drowns' is obviously an inferior headline to 'Trip To Hell'.


MDMA ('Ecstasy')

The N-methyl analogue of MDA

'It can be compared in its effects to marijuana, to psilocybin devoid of the hallucinatory component, or to low doses of MDA.'
-- A T Shulgin.

'I found it entirely pleasurable and very enlightening. It's a diffused sensuality. Everybody became very open about their feelings.'
-- American User.

' ... Grinspoon, who has tried the drug himself, said recently that it may prove to be 'the first pharmacologic agent that actually gives a patient the capacity for insight. It enhances positive feelings of love and trust and seems to facilitate the retrieval of early memories.''
-- David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 December 1987

'Ecstasy, also called MDMA, is methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (whew!), a drug synthesized in 1914 as an appetite depressant ... It is a short-acting psychedelic that doesn't give bad trips or flashbacks, and does reduce anxiety. BUT, although it may not be as lethal as crack, like any drug it is intense and dangerous if used in a risky way, such as snorting it or injecting it intravenously.'
-- Beth Winship, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 June 1988

'A psychedelic drug nicknamed Ecstasy, invented in laboratories in the 1970s and outlawed in 1985, is enjoying a vogue in nightclubs in downtown Manhattan, where it is attracting a young and arty following and even sparking a wave of Ecstasy theme parties, T-shirts and music ... In Ecstasy, a combination of a synthetic mescaline and an amphetamine, users believe they have found a mildly hallucinogenic stimulant that amounts to the perfect drug ... It is difficult to determine how many people are now experimenting with Ecstasy across the country. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration says most of the drug is made in clandestine laboratories in Texas and California ... Ecstasy, a bitter white powder also called MDMA, short for 3,4-methylenedioxy methamphetamine, is a chemical variation of mescaline, a hallucinogenic drug obtained from the mescal plant, and amphetamine, or speed, a drug that stimulates the central nervous system.'
-- Lisa W. Foderare, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 December 1988

'Ecstasy, for example, which is known chemically as MDMA, has been ruled by the federal Food and Drug Administration to be useless medically and dangerous, although it has been used for many years by a few psychiatrists to help their patients talk more freely ... And it can in fact lead researchers to important insights into the way the mind operates, according to Dr. Reese T. Jones, a psychiatrist at the University of California in San Francisco who has conducted government- sponsored studies of psychedelic drugs including marijuana, LSD, mescaline and cocaine ... Although human studies with MDMA are banned, Jones and Dr. Stephen J. Peroutka, a Stanford neurologist, noted that some psychiatrists have confirmed its value in inducing a sense of serenity in mental patients, an increased sense of self-esteem, and a closer, more confident alliance with their therapists ... No one knows just how MDMA works. But Jones insisted the drug has shown no long-term adverse effects when it is used moderately. ... As for using Ecstasy to study how the mind operates under the stimulus of profound human emotions, Jones commented: 'There's just no way I can study love and lust in a rat, and I'd like to study how MDMA works in humans, but it's just not worth the hassle with the FDA.'
-- David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 January 1989

MDMA is a weaker and less toxic version of a very similar drug MDA which is taken in similar doses. It is available in a number of forms, usually caps, tablets or a white powder. It has been made in the UK but is more commonly manufactured in Holland or America. It was first produced for the black-market in America in the early 1970s as a then legal substitute for MDA. In 1985 it started to attract media attention. It was declared illegal in the USA in the same year. Californian psychotherapists, typically of Jungian persuasion, had been using MDMA or 'Adam' as they called it together with 2CB and Ketamine. Adamson (1985) contains much information on therapeutic use.

When used in normal doses of about 100 mg it has very mild effects like a combination of very low doses of LSD and speed , but with no hallucinations or chance of a bad trip. It causes enhancement of the senses (like all psychedelics), a loss of inhibitions, empathy and openness between people and lasts about four hours. Despite its mild effect it can leave the user with a slight but persistent hangover for the following two days! And it is somewhat toxic, unlike cannabis or LSD, and can cause sickness and, like speed, a feeling of tension in the jaw and grinding of teeth. High doses (200 mg+) seem to result in LSD-type effects. Doses of 500 mg+ of MDA can be fatal. MDA has be eclipsed in publicity by MDMA, which is ironic since much MDMA may actually be MDA. MDMA is thought to be less toxic than MDA. MDA is slightly stronger and lasts longer than MDMA. There are an estimated half million users in the UK.

'E' has become a popular accompaniment to dance music despite its cost of around twenty pounds for a dose of about 100 mg and despite (or perhaps because of) much adverse and inaccurate publicity, particularly in the down-market papers. Quarter tabs of acid are also used as a far cheaper, but poorer and less reliable substitute. The police made 90 seizures of E in 1988 and 570 in 1989. There was one bust of 900,000 tabs in Amsterdam during the summer of 1989. In 1990 5,500 tablets were seized in London. In 1991 this number had increased to 66,200. This suggests European supplies to be increasing. Certainly E is cheaper now than when it first reached the UK in the early 1980s and demand is very much higher. Black market MDMA might actually be MDA or a mixture of the two as they appear in the same forms. Also, MDMA has been mixed with speed. And beware, very cheap E is more likely to be a cocktail of other drugs, probably including speed, than the genuine article.

Experiments in rats show MDA and MDMA lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Even although the rats recover and there is no evidence that low serotonin levels are dangerous in humans this had led many journalists to spread the 'Ecstasy causes brain damage myth'.

Of course you can get screwed up (severe anxiety, depression and paranoia) on even a relatively safe drug like Ecstasy if you try openness between really hard (10-15 doses per day like some idiots in San Francisco did) and taking it as often as three times a week is probably abusing it. A very small number of people have died in a heat-stroke reaction after taking MDMA, because they were allergic to it. Although, allergic responses can be a problem with common medicinal drugs, e.g. aspirin or even peanuts, this will no doubt be used as propaganda against E. Another media favourite is to describe MDMA as a sex drug, in fact a side effect of the drug is to make ejaculation difficult. In Adamson users describe it as a 'love drug' which can make intercourse unnecessary. Perhaps it is the ideal drug for the post-AIDS generation.

Many people seem to use MDMA together with LSD. In general, mixing drugs is a bad idea since many have a synergistic effect on each other (2+2=5) but this is said to be a good combination. I would expect very strong trips to be the result.

MDE ('Eve') is the N-ethyl analogue of MDA and has been available in the USA. It is even shorter in action than MDMA and is believed to have sedative rather than stimulant effects.


'DESIGNER DRUGS'

DOM DOB DOI MMDA DMMDA MDE 2CB 2CE DOET DOPR 2CT2 p-DOT MBDB MMA LE-25 etc.

'At first you can't really say what's happening after you ingest these substances. Then suddenly everything is a little brighter, conversation is a bit more relaxed, the music is just right and you slowly begin fitting into the new environment. It's a fabulous feeling.' Dr Alexander T Shulgin, Californian Chemist.

All these new drugs are psychedelics which have been synthesized by researchers. They should not be confused, as the press does in its ignorance, with other 'designer drugs' which are dangerous narcotics, eg. MMMP ('synthetic Heroin') which was produced with an impurity (MTMP) that caused Parkinson's disease. The new psychedelics are mainly manufactured from crossing a mescaline-type structure with amphetamine ('speed'). There are hundreds of these chemicals many of which seem to be safe psychedelics when correctly used. There are other new psychedelics related to tryptamine and also a more potent analogue of LSD. This has not be tested in humans to the best of my knowledge.

Some have been manufactured for the black market in North America, particularly in Canada. They are very rare and but they are all likely to become more popular, as they represent an advance on LSD. The drugs seem to have similar effects, which are highly dosage dependent and they are best used in low doses where many have been described as empathogens -- non-hallucinogenic psychedelics, which promote empathy between people and remove fear in the same context. Some say there are subtle differences in effects between these drugs, however there is little reliable information at the present time. Despite the potential usefulness of these drugs they were listed in the UK in 1977 as class A and banned in the USA in 1988 under sweeping rules.


2CB This is the phenylethylamine analog of DOB but it is safer, only lasting about 8 hours. It is very similar to MDMA, but it is stronger with mild visual effects more common and probably fewer of the amphetamine-type side effects. It is supposed to enhance all the senses. By 1987 it was available in the USA as 'bromo-mescaline'(sic) or 'Venus'. According to The Face magazine it has been found in London. It has been described as an 'aphrodisiac' (well it would be, wouldn't it?). A dose is about 10-20 mg.

DOB ('Bromo-STP') 4-Bromo, 2,5-Dimethoxyphenylisopropylamine

This drug first appeared in the UK in the summer of 1973. It is a stronger version of the famous 1960s drug DOM (or 'STP'). The drug was being sold then as an LSD substitute. DOB commonly appears as drops on blotting paper, just as LSD does, since it is so potent. Like DOM some producers have been producing dosage units containing massive overdoses of the drug, which can last between 24 and 36 hours. There have been reports from the USA of really huge overdoses (e.g. 75 mg) causing ergotism (see Fly Agaric section). However, DOB is active at less than 1 mg and is, therefore, not toxic and likely to be safe at the correct dosage level.

Other drugs on sale on the rave scene are 'Fantasy', 'Fantasia', 'M25'. I don't know what these contain. An educated guess would be that they were ring-substituted phenylethylamines like the drugs previously discussed, related to amphetamine or aspirins.

E4Euh (Intellex)

This recent addition to the psychedelic underground is a long lasting (~14 hours) amphetamine derivative, orally active at about 10-20 mg of the free base. Claimed to boost intelligence and encourage verbosity with some MDMA-like effects. Mixes badly with LSD (unlike MDMA).

DMT DET DPT DIPT

These are substituted tryptamines which are related to psilocin. The first three are not orally active and must be smoked (but not with tobacco). They have short lasting intense LSD-type effects. DIPT is orally active and is so specific in its action that it only alters the perception of music.

Although these are the easiest of the psychedelics to manufacture at home the procedure is still difficult with difficult to obtain and dangerous chemicals needed. Sometimes available on the American black market but rare.


SMART DRUGS

There is a wide range of materials which may have some improving effect on mental functioning and memory. These range from nutrients available in health food shops to unapproved drugs available through mail order. All are legal. I suspect that many of these to be a waste of money. Hydergine, for example, is supposed to be worthless. The two most popular are Piracetam (which is orally active in large doses (2.4-8.0g) and Vaspressin - a nasal spray.


GENERAL GUIDELINES

  1. Never trip alone but with friends
  2. Start off with small doses
  3. Only trip in pleasant, comfortable places where parents, policemen etc. are absent
  4. Only trip if you feel OK
  5. Always remember that you are under the influence of a drug and you will feel normal again in a few hours
  6. Giving a psychedelic to someone without their knowledge or consent is an incredibly dangerous thing to do as well as being morally wrong
  7. If you run into problems try changing the topic of conversation, music or whatever you are doing
  8. If you are careful you should run into few problems and you will enjoy the overall trip.
  9. Occasionally a few days or even weeks after a trip slight memories of the effects surface, but this is fairly rare. These 'flashbacks' are a split second long, a kind of intensified 'deja vue', perhaps accompanied by some of the same feelings as on the trip.
  10. Have Fun!
The effects of LSD can be reduced by taking about 600 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C (from any chemist shop). A mixture of one cup sugar and a quart of orange juice is said to help as well. These methods take about a half to three-quarters hour to work. Alcohol will relax you and reduce psychedelic effects when you are on a trip.


A SHORT BIBLIOGRAPHY

There is a vast literature of psychedelic drugs. The following books are superb in their own right and offer pointers to furthur reading.

'Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered' Lester Grinspoon & James B. Bakalar Basic Books Inc., New York, 1981.
'Psychedelics Encyclopedia' 'Marihuana Reconsidered' Lester Grinspoon Harvard University Press, 1977.
'Storming Heaven: LSD and the American dream' Jay Stevens, Heinemann, London 1988. An excellent description of the social history of psychedelics in America.

'Through the Gateway of the Heart' 'Sophia Adamson', 1985 $16, Four Trees Publications, PO Box 31220, San Francisco, CA 94131, USA. 'Phenylethylamines I Have Known and Loved (PiHKAL)' Alexander T. Shulgin Transform Press, San Francisco.