If you are caught with LSD, you could face a series of legal consequences including arrest, jail time, a life-long criminal record and financial penalties.

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), is illegal to possess in any form. Possession of LSD is a criminal offense that can result in legal repercussions including arrest, imprisonment, a life-long criminal record, heavy fines and more.

LSD is a chemically manufactured hallucinogen with extremely psychoactive and psychologically addictive qualities. Because LSD has no accepted medical uses and has the highest potential for misuse along with psychological and physical dependence among controlled substances, it is classified as a Schedule I narcotic by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). LSD possession is illegal throughout the United States, but penalties vary by state and are largely dependent upon the quantity of LSD found in a person’s possession.

Article at a Glance:

  • LSD is a schedule I substance, which means the FDA designates the drug as one of the most dangerous substances
  • Possessing any amount and any form of LSD is illegal
  • The only way people can acquire LSD is through illegal means
  • Specialized drug tests are used to detect LSD use for up to 28 hours following the latest use
  • Trafficking schedule I substances can result in tens of millions of dollars in fines and multiple, lifetime sentences

Crimes Associated with LSD

As with other illicit controlled substances, the possession, use, distribution, sale and trafficking of LSD in any form and in any quantity is an unlawful offense, each with varying degrees of consequence. As an illicit substance without any accepted medical uses, LSD may only be purchased on the black market or from an individual who has obtained it on the black market.

At the state level, LSD-related penalties range from a misdemeanor to felony charges, depending on the amount in possession, how the LSD came into one’s possession and intent of possession. Smaller quantities of LSD will typically result in misdemeanor possession charges, while larger amounts or an established intent to distribute lead to felony charges and prosecution. An individual who is charged with a misdemeanor will likely be penalized with fines, probation, and a short prison sentence. An individual who is charged with a felony could face up to 20 years in prison depending on the severity of their offense.

Certain offenses, such as trafficking, are also subject to federal penalties and prosecution. As stipulated by the Federal Controlled Substances Act, an individual charged with trafficking LSD faces federal felony charges. These charges carry a financial penalty of between $1 million and $50 million and a potential prison sentence of up to life in prison. Repeat offenders are likely to face steeper penalties, with a maximum fine of $75 million, alongside additional, concurrent life sentences.

The Legality of Possessing LSD

As a schedule I substance, possession, distribution, manufacturing, trafficking or any other interaction with LSD is a criminal offense in every state of the United States.

An individual caught with LSD in their possession is likely to face state misdemeanor, felony or federal felony charges, with several serious legal and financial consequences.

Amount of LSD Possessed

While no amount of LSD possession is legal, the type and severity of state-level criminal charges an individual caught with LSD faces are largely determined by the amount of LSD within that person’s possession at the time they’re caught.

While state-level offenses are determined by the amount of LSD, federal offenses related to LSD possession are primarily determined by the nature of the criminal act (trafficking, manufacturing, etc.) and an individual’s relative criminal history.

In each state, laws governing the use, possession and penalties for controlled substances are likely to vary considerably. As such, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney regarding your state’s specific laws and penalties for LSD-related offenses.

Previous Criminal History

In the United States criminal justice system, individuals charged with drug crimes are subject to enhanced penalties when those individuals have a history of drug-related convictions or violent felonies. As such, an individual caught with LSD in their possession, who has already been convicted of a drug-related crime, is likely to face more severe legal and financial consequences than a first-time offender.

Even if an individual does not have drug-related convictions on their criminal record, they may still face more severe sentences than first-time offenders if they were convicted of other violent felony offenses.

The criminal history of an individual caught with LSD also has a compounding effect at the federal level. In simple possession cases, the first conviction for any amount of LSD possession carries a minimum $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail, while the punishment for second convictions is twice that of a first offense. For individuals with multiple drug-related convictions, these penalties are even steeper.

Court Appointed Rehab

As part of nationwide efforts to divert those suffering from substance use disorders out of the criminal justice system, many states began offering reduced sentences or the complete dismissal of charges in exchange for voluntary enrollment in court-appointed rehabilitation programs. These programs, commonly referred to as pretrial intervention programs, substitute convictions, incarceration and the negative externalities of living with a criminal record, for court-mandated treatment programs designed to reduce the likelihood that an individual commits further crimes.

Pretrial intervention programs were first offered by the state of Florida, that allows any first time, non-violent misdemeanor or felony offender to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement that includes court-appointed rehabilitation alongside counseling, education, supervision and additional medical and psychological treatment. After the conditions of this agreement are fully completed, the state dismisses all charges against that individual.

According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, drug courts such as those in Florida are considered to be the, “…single most successful intervention in our nation’s history for leading people living with substance use and mental health disorders out of the justice system and into lives of recovery and stability.”

Getting Caught High on LSD

Individuals can be charged for criminal offenses for the use of LSD, in addition to possession, trafficking, and distribution. Individuals enrolled in pretrial intervention programs, on probation or other conditions, face serious legal penalties if LSD use is detected in their court-mandated random drug test programs.

LSD is not detectable in any mainstream drug tests; however, there are specific drug tests, often used by employers and probation officers, that can specifically check for LSD use. These tests are called Abuscreen and EMIT. LSD is detectable in these tests for between 15 and 28 hours following use.

If you’re struggling with LSD, contact The Recovery Village today. Take the first step to a healthier future by reaching out to one of our representatives, who can get you started with the enrollment process. Using proven treatment methods, The Recovery Village helps patients get on the path to a healthier lifestyle. Call today, you deserve good health.

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By – Bryan Hindin
Bryan Hindin is a law clerk with years of experience working in personal injury, criminal defense, and employment law firms. Read more
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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more

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Schneiderfreibergerlaw.com.“LSD Possession & Distribution Charges in NJ.” Accessed April 14, 2019.

Yeh, Brian T. “Drug Offenses: Maximum Fines and Term[…]and Related Laws.” Congressional Research Service, January 20, 2015. Accessed April 14, 2019.

England, Deborah C. “Possession of LSD: Defenses and Impact of Conviction.” NOLO. Accessed April 14, 2019.

Criminaldefense.1800nynylaw.com. “New York Penal Code § 220.18: Crimin[…]he second degree.” Accessed April 14, 2019.

Law.cornell.edu. “21 U.S. Code § 844. Penalties for […]imple possession.” Accessed April 12, 2019.

Justice.gov. “Pretrial Diversion Program.” Accessed April 14, 2019.

Leg.state.fl.us. “Pretrial intervention program.” Accessed April 14, 2019.

Nadcp.org. “Treatment Courts Work.” Accessed April 14, 2019.

Usdrugtestcenters.com.“Probation Drug Testing.” Accessed April 14, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.