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LSD is the latest trend in Lebanon's drug scene
Published: Friday, 9 May, 2008 @ 7:07 AM in Beirut (GMT+2)
By Hala Alyan
"It's like being part of a huge spiritual experience. When it hits you and you look around the room and realize that everyone is sharing it with you...that's what it means to me."
With these words, a waifish university student summed up what it means to be in on one of Beirut's best-kept drug culture secrets: acid. While LSD has made appearances in Lebanon in the past, the city of all-night raves is better known in drug terms for substances like hashish, cocaine and ecstasy than it is for Lysergic acid diethylamide, the psychedelic drug that is as much a symbol of the free love, flower power, hippie days as the VW bug.
Indeed, acid wasn't really on anyone's radar in Beirut until quite recently. People in the scene say that it was sometime around the early Fall of 2007 that it began to be more accessible, after a select group of Beirut dealers began offering LSD on a regular basis. Although it happens to be a relatively easy drug to produce, people seem to suspect that acid is not being manufactured within Lebanon, but rather, that it is being smuggled in from various cities in Europe. "The tickets are really, really thin," said an English literature student who has lately begun dropping acid with a group of close friends. "They're so portable that you could probably put them in books or between clothes without any problem."
"Tickets" are the most widely available form of acid in Beirut, made when a sheet of thin blotter paper is soaked in a solution of acid and then cut into 25 tabs. Each ticket is multicolored and has a logo stamped on every tab. As such, each tab has its own unique streaks of colors, depending on which part of the ticket it is taken from, and is referred to by its logo, i.e., as the "bicycle," or the "Hofmann" or the "Rolling Stone."
As for cost, users say that acid is like any other recreational drug in Beirut; the price "depends on who you know." If you happen to be friendly with a "top" dealer, i.e. someone who receives one of the initial batches, a tab can cost a mere $6. The farther down the drug-dealing hierarchy your dealer is, however, the more the prices spike, reaching up to $30 per tab.
Even if the smuggling process is relatively easy, LSD has not so much flooded the mainstream drug market in Beirut as quietly become accessible to choice participants, mostly university students between the ages of 17 and 22.
For dealers, keeping the circle of acid-droppers small is a practical matter. The fear is that, since LSD is a relatively lesser-known drug in Lebanon, people might start taking it without understanding its effects, and a string of bad trips could attract the attention of authorities, or worse, get someone badly hurt. The psychological effects of LSD vary from person to person, and a single dose can sometimes have long-term negative effects.
But for the people interviewed, the focus was only on connection they felt to the people with whom they communally drop acid several times a month. "I hate the idea that there are people who are taking acid and not appreciating it," said the literature student. "I don't want it to become popular so that people will take it just to get [messed up], because that's not what acid is about...It's about sharing a trip with other people and feeling it with them."
Another young woman with heavily-lined eyes echoed similar thoughts. Rolling a cigarette as she spoke, the girl said that when she takes acid with her group, it feels like they are "in the Sixties, like we're starting our own revolution." She's happy to keep Beirut's new wealth of LSD under the radar. "All the people who want to take tabs and go clubbing just don't understand it."