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Five Examples of LSD “Blotter Art” from the collection of Mark McCloud

In the 1960s, when LSD was legal, it was distributed in large pills, sometimes called barrels because of their shape. It was also sold on anything from sugar cubes to animal crackers. Dealers began to want their batch of LSD to be recognizable from the others, so they began to invent ways to trademark their acid. 

The chemists would make the pills a certain shape or colour as to set them apart from others, especially if they were packaging particularly potent dosages. This also served as a form of a validation of authenticity, proving that the dealers were not selling fake LSD. As a bonus, the dealers would get a kick out of the buzz created by their “brand” of acid.

Sometime after LSD became illegal, mandatory minimum sentencing was set into place. These laws placed mandatory sentences on drug offenders based on the weight of the substances with which they were caught. Therefore a drug dealer busted with one dose of acid on a sugar cube that weighed 1 gram would get the same sentence as a dealer caught with 1 gram of LSD crystal, which would represent about 10,000 doses of LSD! It didn’t take a genius to figure out that a new, lightweight, medium for distributing LSD was needed.

The first blotter sheets were simply white sheets perforated into hits, soon after that, coloured paper was used and the designs began to become more elaborate, many times reflecting the signs of the time. 

The foremost Blotter Art historian, Mark McCloud, suggests that after Owsely Stanley’s pill press was busted, that Blotter Acid began to make its way on to the streets, replacing the pills as the standardized medium.

In the early 1970s Blotter Acid began to make an appearance on the streets of San Francisco. Shortly after, iconic images began to make their way onto the Blotter Paper, which allowed dealers to put their own logo on the acid they were selling. 

The logo could have been professionally printed or have been a rubber stamped image. Not only did this serve to identify a brand of acid, but by using Blotter Paper, which weighed far less than other mediums, it kept drug dealers who got busted from getting as much mandatory time.