You’ve Won! Or have you? Is RaffleWinner#33 Performance Art, Prank, or Fraud?

There’s a puzzling fraud that’s been going on using the Erowid name. Beginning in 2018 and continuing through 2020, several people have emailed Erowid trying to claim a prize they ‘won’ through an alleged Erowid raffle ticket. Yet Erowid hasn’t participated in nor offered a raffle of any sort in more than a decade. These raffle tickets were not issued by Erowid Center and there is no prize to be claimed.

Inside of the fake Erowid raffle ticket card.

So far, we have limited details. What we know…

  • The so-called ‘tickets’ appear to be a collage based on a photocopy of an old (actual) Erowid raffle from the Mind States 2008 conference with the addition of a 2009-era Erowid logo.
  • A couple of people have specified that they received it by (snail)mail. One person said it was left “in a card at their door”. (eek!)
  • In at least one case it was pasted inside a greeting card style card with a cover that had “gefeliciteerd” (Dutch for ‘congratulations’) on it.
Cover of one of the fake Erowid
winning raffle tickets.
  • The cards bear a ‘WinnersCode’, referred to as ‘RaffleWinner#33’.
  • One person claims they won “because of a donation”, and the card itself says “thank you for your generous donation to Erowid”

These tickets are not related in any way to bona fide donations made to Erowid Center. It has been suggested that it might be a research chemical vendor that is sending them out with purchases, but we haven’t been able to verify that (or which vendor). Erowid definitely isn’t involved in whatever transactions happened prior to the arrival of these cards.

We’d love any help in tracking down what’s going on so we can try to reduce confusion!

Evolving the Approach to Reagents and LSD Gel Tabs

Drug checking is a complex and evolving area of research. In EcstasyData’s effort to show accurate findings to the public, we’re working with the unique conditions of each sample. Most recently, the lab has innovated in its handling of LSD gel tabs.

There’s LSD, and then there’s gel tab LSD

Since 2014, the year EcstasyData’s lab developed its procedure for a practical and time-efficient way to identify LSD using GC/MS, gel tabs have been infrequently submitted for analysis. The majority of LSD samples submitted to our lab use blotter paper as the carrier (the lab requires that all samples be dry, no liquid samples are accepted without prior arrangement), though it is Erowid Center’s opinion that most of the LSD currently in distribution is in liquid/solution form.

Prior to 2017, the rare gel tab sample would get refused by the lab’s main chemist, who at the time did not feel confident that these samples could be adequately analyzed for the presence of LSD.

Besides analyzing each sample using GC/MS, which is the analytical method EcstasyData uses to detect the presence of chemicals, the lab also tests samples with reagents. Reagent testing adds descriptive data that adds to the collective knowledge base for drug checking. (Reagent testing can’t positively identify chemicals.)

It turns out that gelatin as a medium makes reagent testing more complicated; the pH conditions required to dissolve the gel affect the reagent even when dried. For this reason, gel tabs do not react normally to field reagents such as Marquis or Ehrlich.

De-weirding reagent colors

Between 2017 and November 2018, five gel tab samples were analyzed by EcstasyData, with GC/MS showing that four of them were LSD. The Ehrlich reagent reactions for these four samples were atypical. LSD normally reacts to Ehrlich reagent by turning purple, but when Ehrlich was applied directly to the dry (or even wet) gelatin in these cases, the results were mixed, turning brown or brown-purple, or other atypical reactions.

The lab began working with the special needs of these samples, and in November 2018, they developed a sample-preparation procedure that allows Ehrlich reagent to show a typical positive (rule-in) response to LSD in gel tabs.

New process for gelatin

We are publishing Erowid Center / DDL’s new procedure that is being used to process dry-gelatin-tab dose units, for the historical record, and so that others can duplicate it and critique it.

The following is the procedure that was used to produce the photo shown for Sample 6813, the first sample treated in this way:

  1. Gel medium placed in small amount of water.
  2. Basify gel-water mixture with NaOH.
  3. Gel medium fully dissolves.
  4. Solvent (ethyl acetate) added to gel-water mixture.
  5. Solvent separated off and dropped onto ceramic well plate.
  6. Unheated evaporation of solvent until dry.
  7. Drop field reagents into wells, photograph.

This is the process that the lab will use to prep future gel tab samples for reagents. It will be interesting to see how other samples respond to it, and whether further tinkering with the process will be required.

Shulgin Archiving: Absurd Item: Kids Shooting Peanut Butter (1969)

An absurd news piece that Sasha collected and studiously filed in the wall of filing cabinets behind his desk. Scanned and pointed out as ludicrous by Trout:

Kids Shooting Peanut Butter News Headline

Authored by the Associated Press and published in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969, the “Kids Shooting Peanut Butter” article claims that IV use of peanut butter and mayonnaise is a new trend. It reports that there are “several documented cases” of deaths, though no documentation is provided.

Similar articles were published in other newspapers and the story has been repeated for decades in books and online. Although we were able to find the transcribed text of this article on various websites, we did not find any scans or other direct documentation of the fact that something this stupidly wrong was published as factual news by major publications. Amusingly, the meme is repeated in Richard Nixon’s public papers in October 1969: “In certain regions, they [kids] are so crazy and insane as to inject into their bloodstream peanut butter, because somebody said that peanut butter gives you a high, and they die from that. Mayonnaise they are inserting into their bodies”. [Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard M. Nixon, 1969, pg 851.]

The short AP article makes several errors indicating that the authors and editors had little or no expertise in the area they wrote about. It cites the information to Ernest A. Carabillo Jr. from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for members of law enforcement agencies to be as confused as the news people who repeat the errors they make. Or perhaps the unnamed reporter misunderstood Mr. Carabillo. Who knows!

We’ve been unable to find any scientific papers or real documentation that this was a trend, or led to any deaths, or was in fact ever tried by anyone. There are zero references in PubMed about this topic between 1960 and 1975. One guess as to the source of this rumor is that “peanut butter” and “mayonnaise” might have been used as slang terms for other drugs. We speculate that ‘peanut butter’ might have been used as slang somewhere to mean tar-type heroin. An Erowid team member says he personally heard “peanut butter” being used to refer to brown colored methamphetamine in the early 1980s. Some drug slang dictionaries list “mayo” as a slang term for heroin or cocaine. An Erowid

The story is a good example of false and essentially baseless Drug War hysteria. Sadly, this type of egregious error continues to plague drug news, for example the well-loved Face-Eating Zombie Drug meme from 2012-2018.

Shulgin Geek Note: The news article was clipped, then taped to paper either by Sasha or Nina to make it more stable when filing. In the upper corner of the paper, “Newspaper – drugs” is written in long-hand pen in Sasha’s handwriting.

Kids Shooting Peanut Butter

A Federal drug expert says youngsters in some parts of the country have taken to injecting peanut butter and mayonnaise into their veins as a substitute for narcotics.

In several documented cases the result has been death, Ernest A. Carabillo Jr., a lawyer-pharmacist in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, told newsmen Monday.

Carabillo said the information that peanut butter and mayonnaise would send users “on a little trip” was contained in an underground recipe book purporting to outline “culinary escapes from reality.”

Other recent fads, he said, include the use of paragoric (sic) cleaning fluid, the local anesthetic ethyl chloride and freon, the pressurized propellant gas in aerosols.

Carabillo said users of narcotic substances confused the bizarre and toxic reactions with the so-called “high” provided by such drugs as heroin or marijuana. He cited the smoking of dried banana skins, a fad of a couple of years ago, as an example.

Frank Gulich, a narcotics bureau official stationed in Chicago, said the underground “cook books” usually sell for about $1 and often give the formulas for preparing drugs such as LSD.

Drug users, Gulich said, are “always looking for new drugs that won’t be a violation of the law.”

[Associated Press]

Revision History:
1.0 Published Sep 28, 2018
1.1 Added note that Erowid staff member personally knew people who used term ‘peanut butter’ to refer to brown methamphetamine: He wrote “I’ve never heard heroin called peanut butter but it has been fairly commonly used as slang for crude impure meth that has not yet been recrystallized — or at least I’ve heard that name being used by tweakers since sometime in the early 1980s. Even the people who commented on using it believed it was bad to be using. Go figure.”

Shulgin Archiving: 1967 Nature Editors Confused and Fearful on LSD Synthesis

Background: In late 2017, Erowid Center again began sponsoring the Shulgin Archiving project. We’ve made a lot of progress in the last twelve months. Keeper Trout has been doing most of the scanning and indexing work. The materials in the archive are primarily focused on research and data collection about the chemistry, pharmacology, and use of psychoactive plants and chemicals.

But Sasha had a penchant for collecting absurd, silly, disturbing, and bizarre published materials, including Drug War nonsense, weird drug-related advertisements, and other oddities.

One such item that was recently uncovered is an editorial from the October 21, 1967 issue of the highly-respected peer-reviewed “scientific” journal, Nature. The editorial is titled “Hallucinations to Order”.



The unnamed author, which implicitly makes this authored by the editorial staff of the journal, is responding to an article published a few months earlier, “Some New Behaviour-disrupting Amphetamines and their Significance” by Smythies et al, which explores the topic of substituted amphetamines and their relative hallucinogenic potential.

The editorial opens with a frightened, inaccurate, anachronistic, and telling rant:

One of the most alarming features of the drug LSD is that it can be made in the laboratory. In other words, there is no natural physical limitation of the scale on which, in suitably bizarre circumstances, it could be supplied to the public. It follows that those who are concerned to see that the use of drugs is controlled by legislation are at least a little nonplussed by the appearance of synthetic processes for manufacturing drugs which were originally derived from natural sources and, more especially, by the application of synthetic processes to the design of new drugs. Although it will be a long time before the flower children and their like would be able to synthesize their own psychomimetic agents, it is entirely proper that there should now be considerable anxiety about problems of control.

This bizarre little hysterical opinion piece includes the strange gem: “Although it will be a long time before the flower children and their like would be able to synthesize their own psychomimetic agents […]”. As of the date of publication of this issue of Nature (October 1967), the so-called “flower children” were not only “synthesizing their own psychotomimetic agents”, but were doing so at a scale and efficiency that could be described as “awe-inspiring”.

By October 1967, Nick Sand, Tim Scully, Owsley Stanley, and others had already set up, broken down, and moved their high-volume LSD production labs several times. This is documented not only in biographies and books, but also in contemporaneous testimony from law enforcement agents in criminal investigations and prosecutions. The complex issues related to the potency of LSD and its control were not only widely discussed, but were part of the reasoning for criminalizing these “dangerous drugs” in 1967.

It is worth pointing out that the journal Nature was at the time (and for many years after) a key part of the machinery generating anti-drug hysteria and “scientific” public fears, such as the completely false claim that LSD caused chromosome damage.

As the Shulgin Archiving project continues to progress, we will be providing access to an indexed collection, but will also point out individual curiosities with commentary. We hope that reminding people of the absurd history of the Drug War and the persistent presence of confused stories supporting it and presented as “scientific” or “news” might help society limit its repetition of the worst type of errors.

Milestone: Most Experience Reports Ever Published In a Year

We’re excited to announce that as of Saturday, September 9, the Erowid crew has reached a new high for the number of experience reports published in a single calendar year. We’ve not seen such an active year of reviewing since 2007, when by year’s end, 4,461 reports had been published.

As of September 26, with three months left in 2018, we’ve published 4,671 reports, exceeding the decade-old record.

Late last year in November, as we began working on issue #30 of Erowid Extracts, focused on the Experience Vaults, we realized that it might be possible to beat 2007’s record number if we set the goal early. Crew members Spoon and SellieG together took on this herculean task and immediately started ramping up their reviewing of triaged submissions, publishing hundreds of reports in the final two months of 2017.

But to beat 2007, they and other reviewers would need to shoot for publishing 400 reports per month in 2018. And they did it, publishing 519 reports each month for the first nine months of 2018!

Erowid Extracts #30 goes into retrospective detail about the type of information that is found in experience reports, the perspectives of volunteers (in their own words), and reflections on how the collection has developed since its inception.

Erowid relies on the help of dedicated volunteers to read, filter, flag, grade, categorize, and edit submitted reports. It takes around ten hours to go through the training program and then a few hours a week to be a part of the team. If you’re interested in joining the Erowid Crew, please apply at https://erowid.org/volunteer. We’d love your help!

The newest issue of Erowid Extracts, dedicated to information about experience reports and our process of editing and reviewing, is available to current members. Erowid Center is a non-profit run solely on donations of members and supporters. Though much of the work publishing experience reports is done by volunteers, it requires staff and technology to keep the project growing and improving. The full-issue PDF and individual articles will be released publicly in the next six to nine months. (All back issues are available at erowid.org/newsletter.)

Sturgill Simpson’s Turtles All the Way Down Appreciation

Fuck yeah, I should be able to do these lyrics by memory. Maybe a friend learns to play the song on a guitar so we can sing it. I would have to do a light rewrite of the first stanza, since I have not, myself, seen what I would say fits my understanding of liturgical, mythological, and historical “Jesus” play with flames. But, I do hear tell. Y’all are loved.

If you try the song and don’t like it immediately, give it another minute or two, actually listen to it and you might be impressed where it goes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWx6csgGkg4

I’ve seen Jesus play with flames
In a lake of fire that I was standing in
Met the devil in Seattle
And spent 9 months inside the lions den
Met Buddha yet another time
And he showed me a glowing light within
But I swear that God is there
Every time I glare in the eyes of my best friend

Says my son, “It’s all been done
And someday you’re gonna wake up old and gray
So go and try to have some fun
Showing warmth to everyone
You meet and greet and cheat along the way”

There’s a gateway in our minds
That leads somewhere out there, far beyond this plane
Where reptile aliens made of light
Cut you open and pull out all your pain
Tell me how you make illegal
Something that we all make in our brain
Some say you might go crazy
But then again it might make you go sane

Every time I take a look
Inside that old and fabled book
I’m blinded and reminded of
The pain caused by some old man in the sky
Marijuana, LSD
Psilocybin, and DMT
They all changed the way I see
But love’s the only thing that ever saved my life

So don’t waste your mind on nursery rhymes
Or fairy tales of blood and wine
It’s turtles all the way down the line
So to each their own ’til we go home
To other realms our souls must roam
To and through the myth that we all call space and time

Highest Number of Current Members Ever

We’re still 7 hours away from the end of this donation drive and the close of March 10 2018 at the International Date Line (GMT-12). Fire is still working on merging in the 386 donation records from all the various payment methods in the last three days.

But, as of March 9th, we are now at the highest number of “current members” we’ve ever had, around 1750.

The definitions are pretty complicated, since some donors do not like to be called members and other people move and it takes a while to figure out if they are the same person.

About 3000 individuals have donated each year over the last few years, but only around half donate $30 or more as “members”.

It’s a fabulous service to the world by these 3,000 people.

PS: Fire wants me to make sure to say that these numbers are approximate :]

The January 2018 Miracle con Piña, Flu, y Library Move

Woohf, it’s been busy here at Erowid HQ since mid December. Jan 2018 was the busiest, most challenging month of our lives, making the previous peak of November 2015 seem like a recumbent-bike cruise in a park. Things are still running over capacity, but we caught a little break this weekend with somewhat fewer deadlines.

Our January schedule resembled some sort of uncontrolled explosion. Fire, Earth, and Sylvia all had a long lingering sickness, probably the bad H3N2 flu with possible secondary infections or over-compensating reactive systems.

A couple weeks ago, I posted Flaming Toboggan Ride to the crew blog to try to capture the sensation of this experience, but it didn’t include details about what’s been going on.

We’re normally good at managing too many projects and the associated stress, and except for the flu, this would all be pretty fun. Disabling coughing and lack of sleep make everything harder.

Super short version: 30-day eviction notice on office/library; horrible flu; find a better location for the library; sign lease; begin long new-office space preparation; Pineapple Miracle; Death of a Mentor-Friend; flu symptoms rebound to be MUCH worse for Fire (coughing, unable to sleep, fuzzy brain, could barely sit upright for a couple hours); Pineapple Miracle part 2 – Challenge Drive: Fire too sick to work; a crammed week of contractors and painters trying to get new library/office ready to move in; Erowid team bibliophiles come for a day to pack books (thanks!!); whirlwind neighboring cross-training gym team moves all our 300+ heavy boxes full of books & periodicals from the previous library office to the new library office in 20 minutes. Amazing.

A day or two to get the 250K Pineapple Matching Challenge up and running; Fire slightly better; trouble with bitcoin exchanges; insanely over-capacity Earth; try to keep balls in the air; lose one of our laborer helpers because he got a real job; building shelves; unpacking books onto shelves; trying hard to meet the Jan 31 move out date.

Fail. The very nice neighbor has agreed to Feb 12 instead, but it’s still days and days of work left. Finally find an open storage unit nearby to put all the Burning Man gear and camping gear into. Huzzah! Several pickup loads of Burning Man domes, covers, cloths, misting system, etc. out of unit.

A day of shipping before we tear down the HQ shipping office. Tear down office and pack the fragile items (glass molecules!) and put them aside so the clumsy (Earth, laborers) do not break them. Move all remaining office stuff and furniture to new location.

Plan a day off after weeks with not a full night’s sleep, but things go sideways in two departments (more later).

Last weekend, two days in a row with sufficient sleep. Much, much happier!

What we had previously scheduled for January was finishing, printing, and shipping Erowid Extracts #30. But the library/office move made that impossible.

So, sorry to everyone for the couple month additional delay in getting the newsletter out!

And many thanks to everyone who has supported the project over the years to get the stars to align at these particular moments.