I received the following email via my wegsite, Michael Swanwick Online, the other day. I've withheld the correspondent's name in case he/she is displeased with my response and doesn't want to be associated with it.
I am a drug educator and harm reduction specialist, so I would like to correct Michael Swanwick in one thing: in one of his stories (Covenant of Souls) he states that LSD contains strychnine as a 'byproduct of its manufacture'.
Not only is this not true, it's just staggeringly unlikely, given that LSD is dosed in 50-100 microgram amounts, that enough could be present in an LSD dose to affect one at all noticeably. Particularly not when the dose is in a glue backing on a piece of paper one licks (as the story has it) versus some sort of tablet formation.
This may seem like a very small thing, but children read his books and stories, and the last thing our kids need is more bad drug information.
My first reaction, of course, was, So what caused those pangs that I felt, back in the day? Then, with a little help from a friend (thanks, Vlatko!) I looked to see what the connection between LSD and strychnine actually is. Here's what I found at a site called Drug Safety:
Strychnine in LSD simply doesn't happen. There are probably under 25 people in this country at any given time, across all ages and spectrums of existence, who have had any hand in ruly producing real LSD. The people that know how, and this is a paraphrase of a report BY the DEA on the difference in busting LSD manufacturers versus the rest of the illicit drug spectrum: "LSD manufacturers are different from every other sort of drug criminal we have profiled through past dealings with. The chemists who make it, and the high level distributors who deal it do not do it for the money, but rather because they feel they are doing what they were destined to do, what they were *supposed* to do with their lives, regardless of consequence. They don't slip up and get sloppy because they are too high, nor do they cut deals for themselves to bring down others/chemists, as that would be a direct slap in the face of everything they stand for...."
Link here and scroll down for more info.
So, kids: There are three lessons to be drawn from this:
1. LSD is as safe as mother's milk.
2. Provided only that you know its manufacturer by name and reputation, so you can be sure that that's what you're getting.
3. People who get their drug information from science fiction stories are going to be seriously disappointed when a large enough dose doesn't transport them physically into a far better world.
Oh, and . . .
I wouldn't normally mention a t-shirt that combines the magic of Middle Earth with the convenience of the London Metro. But you have to admit that it's clever. Click here to see.