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Pakistan’s Psychedelic Renaissance

No matter how hard the Pakistani government tries to protect its citizens from the perceived dangers of drugs, the youth in the land of the pure has found multiple avenues to enjoy themselves, psychedelics being the latest craze. 

200 tabs of LSD ordered from the Dark Web. Picture sent to The Pakistan Daily by a former dealer.

The primary psychedelic products available in Pakistan are ecstasy and Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), although, some dealers have been trying to import N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, popularly known as DMT, which is also found naturally in the Ayahuasca plant. 

A tab with 100 ug of LSD, which is more than enough for a trip which lasts anywhere between 8 and 12 hours costs around 3,500-5,500 Pakistani rupees, while an ecstasy pill would set you back anywhere between 1,000-3,000 rupees. 

A girl with taking an ecstasy pill. Source: Dreamstime.com

These drugs are sold the same way hashish, marijuana and booze is sold, via dealers operating in an illegal and unregulated market. 

The Pakistan Daily spoke to an individual who used to sell psychedelics full time and was making a few hundred thousand rupees in profits every month. 

“It’s really easy to import it since not many people know what psychedelics are. I’ve never had a problem with customs, because you can import 2 million rupees worth of LSD in a single envelope. The pills are easily disguised in vitamin bottles.

“I used to sell other products before but there was always a risk when it came to selling, since one could be caught by the police but selling LSD and ecstasy is easy because even if we’re caught with it, we can just say that it’s a medicine, in a way, it is,” the former dealer told The Pakistan Daily in a phone interview. 

Underground party in Pakistan. Creator: STRINGER/PAKISTAN | Credit: REUTERS

The rise of private raves and concerts in farmhouses across the country have spiked the demand for psychedelics, according to people familiar with this side of Pakistan’s party scene. 

Organisers sell tickets for such events for thousands of rupees, and sources confirm that it’s easy to buy ecstasy or LSD at the events since many dealers attend such parties and are allowed to sell by the organisers once the terms are set. 

While not many international level concerts are held in Pakistan, when they are, Pakistanis flock out in droves, many of them wish to trip at such events. 

“When Diplo came to Pakistan, there was a surge in sales, I had run out days before the concert and had to buy from Karachi. I must have sold over 500 pills easily,” the former dealer said, highlighting the rising demand of psychedelics in Pakistan. 

Khan (name changed) is a university student who has tried LSD 3 times in his life. The Pakistan Daily spoke to him about his experience. 

“The first time I was in Hunza with a couple of friends and had taken LSD along with us. It was our second day and we decided to make it more interesting. Two of us took it while the other two didn’t to take care of us in case shit went bad. 

“It was a truly life changing experience. I experienced an ego death, I observed myself in ways I didn’t think were possible but it’s difficult to describe the experience to someone whose never done it.” 

Hunza Valley. Source: Shehzaad Maroof / Getty Images

Khan said that he had taken LSD twice after that, and has not had a bad trip so far although some of his friends faced mental health problems from the excessive use of psychedelics. 

Ali (name changed), another player from Pakistan’s psychedelic business told The Pakistan Daily, “When I started selling, not many people were aware of classical psychedelics – that is LSD, Magic Mushrooms, Ayahuasca and Mescaline.

“Pakistan was not involved in the grand spiritual awakening the youth of the west were involved in in the 60s. So many of my customers were first time trippers who had no idea what they were in for.”

Ali said, “What happens when you take a psychedelic is the ‘default mode network’ in your brain shuts down. The DMN is in charge of your sense of self, but when it shuts down, you experience yourself as the whole universe, which is why people often report having been “one with the universe” after acid trips.”

Psychedelics are banned in almost all countries in the world but Brazil, Jamaica and The Netherlands have relaxations on the sale of psychedelic drugs. 

Psychedelic truffles openly advertised in Amsterdam. Source: Boing Boing.

In Amsterdam, anyone above the age of 18 can buy psychedelic truffles from several shops spread across the city. 

As the stigma surrounding psychedelics recedes across the world, many universities are increasing research into the use of psychedelics to find out whether any significant health benefits can be derived. 

Imperial College London and John Hopkins University are leading psychedelic research with dedicated centres established solely for researching psychedelics. 

Research has shown that micro-dosing, or using very small amounts of psychedelics may improve a person’s mental health, however, the overall research is inconclusive so far and the majority of medical practitioners do not advise people to use psychedelics for any reason. 

However, it is interesting to note that the global psychedelic renaissance has found its way in Pakistan, where LSD and Ecstasy are easily available in major cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. 

(This story does not promote the use of any illegal substances)

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