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Is the Color of LSD an Indicator of Purity?

Is it true that your reaction to different psychedelic substances changes as you get older? If so, how?

Well, what you’re really asking is whether your relationship to different psychedelic substances changes as you get older. Which is, generally speaking, true, just like your relationship with different people changes the longer you know them. Your psychonautic journeying may ebb and flow, your interests and personality may change, you may add or subtract medications or health conditions from your roster… but individual psychedelic molecules themselves will stay exactly the same.

In other words, yes, you will change as you get older.

What that means in terms of your dynamic with psychedelics will vary, of course. It’s common for people to find that they are no longer “hit as hard” when doing psychedelics in familiar environments. You might end up having easier experiences as time goes on – or more difficult. Your body might be less happy with being uncomfortable. Your mind might crave quiet or adventure, depending on who you are and where your path has taken you. 

Will you continue to seek out psychedelics, when all is said and done? I don’t know, and neither do you.

No two psychedelic experiences are ever exactly alike. This principle will continue throughout your life and as you dabble in different drugs. That’s part of it, though, right? Letting the journey unfold and figuring it out as you go? Learning to release this relationship if it’s no longer fulfilling? As I’ve said before, there is always a lesson, even if it’s hidden. 

So make sure that you’re building a relationship with yourself as you go. Your body and brain will give you feedback about how your dynamic with various psychedelics is working out, and you’ll learn more about yourself in the process.

I know some people who think they are qualified to lead psychedelic sessions for others after a handful of psychedelic experiences, but I feel they are poorly equipped. Don’t you think people should have more adequate training than just “prior psychedelic experience” before charging money and leading others on psychedelic journeys?

Much depends on what exactly is being promised here. I’m not a fan of the language “leading others on psychedelic journeys” because it implies a power dynamic of guide and student. This sets up situations that can disrupt friendships, establish systems of control, and even sow the seeds for sexual abuse to take place during an experience. There is a major difference between a supportive presence (I like to refer to this as “baby-proofing” someone’s trip) and a guide.

I think it might be more helpful for me to state my personal opinion on what is an appropriate position for someone to hold after they’ve had a few experiences. I am, for example, a fan of supportive space holding (the classic phrase “sitting, not guiding”). This kind of dynamic is common in our communities: Strong emotional or mental health-related experiences can resemble psychedelic states, which we support each other through on a daily basis. I do think that we are individually capable of providing warmth, resources, and security while others around us move through their own separate processes.

What I’d expect to see, though, is humility. There is quite a lot of ego in psychedelic spheres, which can make space holders feel responsible for controlling the outcome of someone else’s experience. People may also inflate their knowledge, wisdom, or experience to gain validity as a “leader” or “guide.” Setting up a dynamic of “I know more than you and I am here to guide you” establishes a hierarchy, which can deeply interfere with the safety of the dynamic.

I think it’s OK for someone who’s tripped a few times to offer to sit with their friends, so long as it’s under the guise of being there to help physically support their safety and maybe act as a sounding board. If the promise is of loving companionship during a voyage, that’s a totally different vibe and level of responsibility than promising guidance. I do not think that it is okay for someone to charge money with the claim that they are capable of offering any outcome except for, perhaps, someone’s physical safety being monitored. 

I’m recently in possession of some acid that is a brownish or yellowish tint. I know I should test it, but was curious if you had any insight as to whether color is an indicator of anything. Like, can acid go bad?

For future reference, more information is always going to be needed when describing the physical form of a drug. Is this fluff? Liquid in a vial? Gel tabs? Blotter? Dropped onto a candy? My answer would be different for each of these. 

I think, however, that the more important tidbit to get into here is this question of whether color is an indicator of drug contents/quality in general. At DanceSafe I get asked this all the time about everything under the sun, and I also see hundreds of people making claims about how their drug was “x color” so it’s “good” or “pure.” As my favorite example, I’ve tested MDA that was shock white (which is how it looks in a lab) and MDMA that was deep purple. There is a widespread assumption that MDA has a purple tint and smells like root beer, which is ironic because MDMA is also known for having a purple tint and smelling like root beer. 

In fact, this whole color scheme has gotten so enormous that clearnet vendors are actually dying their product and selling it as “amethyst strain MDMA.” This is convenient and clever, since now 1) Marquis will be harder to read and 2) the food coloring will make it hard to tell if the crystal is dark and poorly washed.

As I’ve probably said at some point in this column before: There are over 1,100 novel substances in circulation globally, as well as 19,000 pharmaceuticals and 4,900 supplement ingredients in the U.S. alone. Most drugs can come in liquid, oil, or crystalline form. The amount of combination and permutation that’s possible is astounding! Anyone who’s spent meaningful time testing drugs will know that even the most experienced eyes can and will deceive you eventually. 

Here’s the caveat: While color is not an effective positive indicator that you have what you think you have, it can be a negative indicator that makes you pause and second guess your stash, just like your acid. 

I’d guess (without additional context) that you might be referring to tabs of LSD with a white paper backing that has tinted yellow/brown-ish. My immediate question would be whether or not the tabs have been in a hot car or other hot/humid environment, which can tint the color of blotter paper (especially when it has ink on it).

Or perhaps you’re referring to liquid LSD that’s tinted, which could be because it’s diluted in some sort of darker alcohol instead of vodka (I’ve come across whiskey-diluted LSD before). That’d have a pretty noticeable alcohol scent. 

Or maybe you’re even talking about fluff, in which case color remnants are not as common and may be a sign of organic or inorganic impurity from the synthesis process, if I had to guess as a non-chemist. 

Infuriatingly, it all comes back to the basics: Test it if it looks right, and test it if it looks wrong. Happy hunting!

About Your Psychedelic Auntie

When we have questions about psychedelics, we often consult our Auntie. An Auntie can be a person of any gender who offers wise advice about psychedelic substances and how to effectively use them. Lucid News is asking a collection of well-informed people to step in as Auntie and answer your questions about psychedelics. Some of the best peer-based, accurate information about psychedelic substances and harm reduction comes from DanceSafe, a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1998. DanceSafe provides health and safety services at festivals and events. This month, our Psychedelic Auntie is DanceSafe Programs and Communications Coordinator Rachel Clark. Send your questions to the Psychedelic Auntie via the Lucid News contact page and watch this space for the answers.

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