5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs

Now that most people can just add "pick up weed" to their afternoon to-do list, we forget how shady it is to snag drugs that are less than legal.
5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs

You like drugs, right? Of course you do. Everyone likes drugs. I suppose people who've never done drugs are the exception there, but you can chalk that up more to ignorance than anything else. They just don't know any better. For the people who've tried them, though, the science is no longer out. We have the information and we're voting yes. Drugs are great.

Unfortunately, with the lone exception of weed and a whole bunch of smoke shop "incense" garbage that isn't worth your time anyway, illegal drugs are hard to find. I know this to be true because ... SWIM (that means "someone who isn't me," narc) tried recently. It didn't go well. We talk about it on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...

... where I'm joined by comic Vanessa Gritton and podcast historian Brett Rader. That's also what I'm talking about in this column here today. Trippy, man! Here are a few reasons why buying illegal drugs is always a nightmare.

The Obvious Concerns

5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs
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I should say right up front that buying illegal drugs is, well ... illegal. Don't do it. Nothing you're going to read here amounts to me suggesting that you go out and explore the twists and turns of the drug trade for yourself. Quite the opposite, actually. As you'll eventually read, a decision like the one I made can lead to the most dire of consequences. Not the least among them being the risk of going to jail.

That said, avoiding jail is a thing I've had decent luck with recently. For example, during a recent traffic stop in Wisconsin, I was reminded that my license in that state was, in fact, suspended. That news combined with the fact that a tow truck had been summoned while I was awaiting my fate led me to the obvious conclusion that I was about to go to jail. Nope! The cop just had the tow truck take me to the Illinois border and let me go about my business, hundreds of dollars in traffic tickets poorer. That last part sucked, but holy shit, it beats getting arrested.

5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs
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I've never felt more white!

That wasn't drug-related, obviously, but I also live in California. Thanks to weed being mostly legal, the closest I've come in recent years to getting in legal trouble for drugs was when a cop at a comedy festival lectured me for throwing a bunch of weed away when he spotted me rolling a joint. Turns out he was just going to tell me I couldn't smoke it on the boardwalk. He didn't even ask if I had a card.

Stuff like that tends to make a person way too confident when carrying around real drugs, and that's the last thing you want to be. I still don't even like to get too brazen with weed. When I fly out of L.A. I still hide it in my own special way (no, not my ass) so as to not answer any questions from the TSA, even though there isn't a whole lot they can do or say provided I have all the proper documentation. Or maybe they can and it's just a situation I've never encountered. You just never know. It's a risk you have to take if you want to party like a professional, though, and once you do, you'll run into a whole new set of problems.

Meeting People Is Hard

5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs
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I've written a lot about my appreciation for marijuana, which is totally fine, because I live in California. Like I said, it's legal here, provided you have an illness or condition that warrants using it for medicinal reasons, even if that reason is just that you have a tendency to lie about having a medicinal reason to use it.

Of course, with attitudes about weed shifting more toward the "Who gives a fuck?" side of things, in a lot of places where it's still mostly illegal, the punishment for possessing it has been reduced so much that it might as well not even be a crime anymore. Getting caught with a recreational amount of weed is a nuisance on par with getting a speeding ticket, basically.

As welcome of a development as that may be, mere decriminalization means there's a huge obstacle remaining in the way of anyone who likes to party ... you still have to know a guy.

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Or a girl; I'm no sexist. The point is, if you want to get high in a place that's still clinging to the idea that doing such a thing is an act worthy of imprisonment, you have to know a person you can call to make that happen.

Even for a normal person looking for something as commonplace as marijuana, this part can be a nearly impossible challenge, unless you're the Hail Mary type who has no qualms with calling the nearest pizza place and asking to speak with the driver who will be delivering your order as many times as it takes to find one who can make a stop on the way.

Things get exponentially more challenging if you're a moody shut-in who leaves your apartment only for work purposes, especially if you're looking for something that's less readily available. So, imagine my surprise when a friend of mine just out of the blue announced that they knew a guy who sold acid. That's LSD (or lysergic acid diethylamide, if you're the science type), a drug so powerful it compelled your parents to stop hating black people and war all at the same time back in the '60s. It made The Beach Boys sing about something other than surfing. It made The Beatles stop being pussies. It made people pretend The Doors were a good band. For better or worse, it changed the world.

5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs
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I'm pretty sure it's worse.

Now, I want to write the next Pet Sounds or get tricked into believing my body is possessed by the spirit of a dead Native American as much as the next man, but in my experience, acid has been incredibly hard to come by. Depending on who you believe, that may or may not be attributable to the arrest of just two men in Kansas in 2000, who authorities claim produced more than 90 percent of all the LSD sold in this country. According to this Slate.com article, that bust combined with the fact that The Grateful Dead stopped touring (seriously) meant a steep decline in the drug's availability.

So, when my friend asked if they should pull the trigger on their potential LSD deal, I brushed the unfortunate association with drug deals and gun violence aside and said I thought that was a fine idea. Through the magic of trickle-down economics, I knew this would lead to me also having acid without living the nightmare of actually having to meet and hang out with a drug dealer. That's as close to an ideal buying situation as I'll ever get, or at least that's what I assumed it would be.

The Customer Service Is Awful

5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs
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On paper, not having to meet up with an actual drug dealer seems like a good deal. People who enter into that kind of job, side gig or otherwise, tend to be lonely, outsider types who view every business transaction as a chance to hang out. Maybe you could watch a movie and take some of the drugs you just purchased! Except, no, that's not how shopping is supposed to work. If you buy a car you aren't obligated to give the salesperson a ride to the dealership in return. You don't buy a coffee then share it with the barista. Life doesn't work that way, but drug dealers want it to.

So, this was better, right? I'd hand the cash off to a friend, they'd go see their friend, and a day and a few screenings of Half Baked later they'd return with a cornucopia of pharmaceutical treats. Unfortunately, dealing with a middleman means you face an entirely different kind of problem. When that money leaves your hands, you have no idea where it's going.

In my Utopian vision of how illicit drug deals work, I was going to hand the money over to my friend, they were going to make a beeline for the drugs store and give my money to a helpful service associate who would immediately retrieve my order off a nearby rack, place it in a paper bag (stapled shut, so as to prevent spillage or the suspicion of driving with an open container of drugs), and promptly hand it back to my middleman friend.

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"Yes, of course we have heroin."

That's what I'm used to now. Whether it's buying ADD meds or a bottle of cannabis-infused orange soda, the process is remarkably simple, because I have a prescription for both, even if that word should be surrounded by quotes for the latter of those two examples.

This was not that. Not even close. I dropped the money off on a Wednesday and, after hearing nothing for a while, checked in Thursday afternoon to find that my money had found its way to the dream maker, but that for reasons no one was privy to, they wouldn't be around again until Friday. It was at that moment that I realized my plan for getting turnt up in a flower child way was no more or less risky than responding to a mail order advertisement for acid from the a vintage copy of Rolling Stone magazine from 1971. My cash was now in the hands of a nameless, faceless entity who was no doubt depositing it into some offshore account with no intention of ever delivering on their end of the deal.

This uncertainty intensified when another day passed with no word on whether my investment would pay off in party time or a reason to wonder if I'm less of a man if I handle being soft-arm robbed in any way other than what I know from watching The Wire. Even worse, I had plans. Acid isn't the kind of drug you take with designs on just going about your day with a minor snap on. It's an ordeal. You should be surrounded by people. You should be doing things. For me, the plan was to meet up with a few friends and go see a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

No way am I doing this without drugs!

I'd made plans to do that earlier in the week even though I knew I'd hate it, because I'm an adventurer at heart. When I realized it was a thing I could do while being in the throes of an acid trip, I was actually excited about it.

As time went on, though, the prospect of actually landing the requisite drugs in time to make a bunch of crazed cosplayers screaming hack jokes at a movie screen seem like life-altering shit was seeming like a pipe dream.

Then, all of the sudden, it happened. The package was acquired, or whatever the fuck. Even better, it had Banksy pictures on it.

5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs


Neat! I was ready to rock! At least I was until I was reminded that ...

5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs

You Never Know What You're Getting

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Have you ever had a bad experience with marijuana? If so, you're probably a person who steadfastly refuses to smoke it to this day. That's a really common thing, and it happens because, if you go in as a novice, knowing what you're getting when you ingest marijuana obtained through less than legal means is next to impossible. Is it a sativa or an indica? What's the THC percentage? What's THC? These are all things you absolutely should know before you dabble in weed, and the medical/recreational industry makes that very much possible. It's a good thing. The world needs it.

In fact, it's such a good thing that, if we're being honest, the world needs it for all drugs. Especially when you take into account that so many of the party chemicals we ingest these days are made in a lab/dorm room by someone who you just kind of have to hope knows what they're doing. These days, that your ecstasy might also contain meth or that your cocaine might be served with a side of pet de-wormer is just a risk people have to take.

5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs
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On the bright side, your dog loves to party.

For some reason, I didn't even take this into account when the idea of buying acid came up. I mean, why would it? We're only talking about a drug that apparently all but vanished from existence. Hearing someone could get their hands on it was like hearing someone had a sasquatch chained up in their basement. Granted, I'm sure I'm overstating how hard it is to find, but that's only because I'm an adult who doesn't actively seek out real drugs on a regular basis. Whatever the case, it never really dawned on me that what I was buying might be ... something else?

That all changed when, shortly after finally seeing my investment pay off, I had lunch with a friend who I trust to give me sound advice on this kind of thing. When she found out that I'd never actually taken any of this acid, her advice was to give the first hit to "someone you kind of like but also wouldn't mind watching have a mental breakdown."

OK, well, for starters, that describes literally almost everyone I know. Beyond that ... what? Why? "Because it might just be research chemicals," was the unfortunate answer I received. Of course! People are spraying nail polish remover on marshmallow leaf and selling it as weed these days. Why the fuck wouldn't it maybe be some weird chemical approximation of acid instead?

My experience with synthetic weed has sort of put me off trusting my good times to the whims of strangers with chemistry sets. It's not unusual for shit like that to be significantly more potent than the drug it's supposed to mimic. That's especially bad times when we're talking about something like acid, where "too much" could mean the difference between seeing colors in a cool new way and throwing yourself through a window like Helen Hunt in an ABC after-school special.

So, was what I bought actually acid? Only one way to find out! Let's get this party started!

It's Only Fun If You Have Other Drug Friends

5 Things No One Thinks About When Buying Illegal Drugs
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Despite the warning that what I was planning to take may not actually be acid at all, it was too late. The ball was rolling. The plan had been set in motion. Say it however you want, but me and a group of friends were going to take drugs and go see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight, and nothing was going to stop us.

Well, nothing was going to stop me, is probably a better way to put it. Acid is an experience that takes up to eight hours to run its course. That's a heavy time commitment, even for something that doesn't include the possibility of prolonged and terrifying hallucinations. As it turns out, not a lot of people have time for that shit. One by one, the people who planned to attend this carnival of terrible ideas backed out. In almost every case, it was because, even at midnight on a Saturday, taking acid is a remarkably irresponsible thing to do.

Also irresponsible ... being the only person in the group who's high on acid. I'd made the plans to go see this movie with two people who had no desire to get high like the '60s. Being a man of my word, I stuck to the plans, minus the acid. The experience was everything I expected it to be in that I wished I was on drugs the entire time but wasn't. That's how pictures like this happen.


How am I not on drugs for this?

It was around then that I realized I'm probably too old to take acid. Or too busy, if nothing else. Whatever the case, it was a remarkably disappointing and depressing realization. Made me kind of sad. I told you there would be dire consequences.

On the bright side, at least I still have a bunch of acid.

Adam is not on acid, but he is on Twitter. Follow him there @adamtodbrown.

See why you have to do a hefty amount of drugs to make a drug bust in 6 Realities Of Buying Drugs (While Wearing A Wire), and learn how Breaking Bad missed the mark when you read 6 Realities Of Cooking Illegal Drugs (Not Seen On TV).

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