Some states have decriminalized shrooms and a few other hallucinogens. But is LSD legal in the US? To find out the answer to this question and learn more about the legal status of LSD, including the potential penalties for its possession, keep reading!

TL;DR

  • No, LSD is not legal in the US
  • It’s illegal on a federal level, though penalties for simple LSD possession vary from state to state 📈
  • The manufacture or sale of LSD is usually persecuted as a federal offense

Is LSD Legal in the US Under Federal Law?

No, LSD is not legal in the United States. It’s federally classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. In other words, the use of LSD is deemed dangerous to public health, so its manufacture and possession are prohibited.

What Is the Controlled Substances Act?

Is LSD legal in the US? No, and to understand why, let’s take a look at the Controlled Substances Act itself. It’s a federal law that was passed in 1970. The CSA regulates the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of certain substances in the United States.

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The CSA establishes five schedules of controlled substances, with Schedule I substances considered the most dangerous and having the highest potential for abuse. These illegal drugs include:

  • heroin;
  • lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD);
  • marijuana;
  • ecstasy;
  • methaqualone;
  • peyote.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lumps all the above together, though as you probably know, many states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana and a few psychedelic drugs. Still, at federal level, even simple possession of LSD is illegal. Every state will punish such an offense.

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Do Any State Laws Allow LSD Use?

No, no state in the United States allows the use of LSD for any purpose. The answer to “Is LSD legal in the US?” is always “no.” However, some states have enacted laws protecting people who use psychedelic substances for medical or therapeutic purposes. For example, in 2020, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, and legalize its therapeutic use. 

But these measures don’t apply to LSD. It remains an illegal drug, even though research has shown that small amounts of LSD could help people with depression and anxiety.

Did You Know… 🔍

In the last few years, legislation that would legalize LSD has been widely discussed and filed in some parts of the US. For example, in January 2023, the HB328 measure was filed in the New Hampshire House of Representatives by Kevin Verville. This bill is supposed to decriminalize the possession and use of all hallucinogenic drugs – including LSD – by people who are 21 or older. Similar voices are being raised throughout the US.

What Are the Penalties for Possession of LSD?

Breaking the law can come with some hefty consequences. Even a first-time conviction involving less than 1 gram of illicit drugs like LSD could lead to up to one year behind bars and an expensive $1,000 fine, according to federal regulations.

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Possessing more than 1 gram of LSD would be seen as trafficking. The penalty is at least 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000,000 for a first offense. Subsequent offenses, or ones involving more than 10 grams of LSD, carry harsher penalties. So, is LSD legal in the US? Definitely not.

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Depending on your state, the actual sentence for LSD possession might be more or less lenient. For example, having less than 5 milligrams of LSD in New York is a misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to 1 year in jail. In Texas, on the other hand, being caught with <20 doses of LSD can result in up to 2 years in state jail.

When and Why Was LSD Made Illegal?

In 1968, the US government made an unprecedented move to stifle a growing counterculture movement – they criminalized LSD. This decision was justified by claims of its potential for misuse and harmful effects on users, as well as fears that it could be used in mind control tactics by hostile nations. As such, the no-nonsense stance established social norms amidst changing times during this pivotal period of history.

Conclusion: LSD Is Illegal in the US

Now, let’s put it all together: is LSD legal in the US? No. LSD possession is either a misdemeanor or a felony in all 50 states. There’s no accepted medical use of this drug, although there are a few studies to support it.

It’s possible that in the future, personal possession and use of LSD for therapeutic purposes could become legal – we’ve seen it happen to marijuana and psilocybin. But recreational use is unlikely to be viewed by the government in a positive light, period.

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FAQ: Is LSD Legal in the US?

Is LSD Illegal in All Countries?

While it’s illegal in most of the world, some countries like the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Mexico have decriminalized or legalized the possession and use of small amounts of LSD. What makes the drug illegal in most places is the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971), which was signed by 184 state parties.

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Have Any Countries Recently Legalized LSD?

Not too recently, but I remember a story about how LSD was briefly made legal in Switzerland (from 1988 to 1993). In those years, psychiatrists and psychotherapists were allowed to prescribe LSD to their patients.

Has LSD Ever Been Legal in the United States?

Yes. LSD was only outlawed in the US in 1968. In the early 1960s, the drug was even tested on Harvard students by two tripping psychology professors!


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