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Yesterday I was thinking about LSD, and how drugging an enemy soldier with it would probably really screw up their plans of staying safe and being alive. The problem I'm still having, though, is the delivery method.

So I thought back to WWI, and chemical warfare. I imagined an artillery strike of LSD gas, which seeps through the trenches, affecting any soldier with exposed skin.

The main question I have about this, though, is if LSD could actually be converted into gaseous form, and if this gas would have the desired effect (that is, of being heavy enough to linger and potent enough to cause effects when in contact with human skin). Is this scenario possible/plausible?

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    $\begingroup$ This question has been flagged for further attention by the world intelligence organizations. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Mar 10 '16 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre I'm sure they already have experimental data from the 50s. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Mar 10 '16 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ +1! I've spent quite some time thinking about extremely similar concepts as well. Mostly water solubility property mixed with water vapor in air giving LSD rain, in my case. $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Mar 10 '16 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre I'm pretty sure this site has been put on a dozen international watch lists by bots by now. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Mar 10 '16 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ 🐧 You didn't read anything. 🐧 $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Mar 11 '16 at 4:51
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No, not as a gas!

But you might use it as an aerosol, which will behave like fog. However, I'd gauge this as impractical, as the fog will not last longer than a few seconds, maybe a minute, and it will not have a large area of effect. Unlike natural fog, it doesn't renew itself unless supplied with substantial quantities.

It should be potent enough though, as it will be in contact with eyes and the respiratory system.

I think for an actual delivery method, artillery or even aircraft (WWI era rigid airships) of any kind is probably out of question, as the volume of fire necessary to produce a lasting fog is too large to be feasible. Using that many shells would have a much larger effect if you'd just shot normal rounds to create terror, which would probably be more suited to really screw up their plans of staying safe and being alive than the drug could ever do.

I don't know about well-trained soldiers, but on average, the soldiers in WW1 were not really prepared for the war at all - a couple of high-altitude airships dropping conventional bombs is really terrifying and is known to have induced much terror in the civilian population of cities, as did the Paris Gun, both during WW1 by Germany.

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Actually, history is way ahead of you. For more than 20 years Agent BZ, a potent hallucinogen, was part of the US Army's chemical weapon stockpile.

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  • $\begingroup$ BZ is nasty nasty stuff. If it doesn't outright kill you, you'll wish it had. $\endgroup$ – Green Mar 10 '16 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ Doing some googling, it looks like BZ is considered a "deliriant"--those are considered a type of hallucinogen in the sense that they can make you hallucinate, but the effects of deliriants are otherwise fairly different from "psychedelics" like LSD or magic mushrooms, see this article for example. $\endgroup$ – Hypnosifl Mar 11 '16 at 2:05
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Leaving aside "could you" then there is a white elephant in the room, why would you?

What does it offer over any number of other agents we have available to our regrettably over-full book of ways to do horrible things to each other?

If you want to cause fear or eliminate enemies then nerve agents will kill everyone.

If you want to incapacitate people then again we have agents that will knock everyone unconscious very fast.

So what would this ever be used for? Without a use-case there doesn't really seem to be any way to design a delivery mechanism.

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Probably not though you would need an organic chemist to tell you for sure.

The molar mass of lysergic acid is 268.32 g/mol. For comparison, oxygen is about 16 times lighter at 15.9994 u ± 0.0004 u. The molar mass of normal air is 28.97 g/mol or about 1/10th as heavy as lysergic acid. Based on nothing but simple buoyancy, lysergic acid will just fall out of the air. If the flakes are made small enough, they may stay airborne for long periods but this isn't the same kind of weaponized gas that chlorine offers.

Note, I'm not an organic chemist.

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Well like Phosgene and chlorine, Atomized LSD would fall into chemical warfare. You are putting a chemical into the air as a means of attacking other troops. Of course like any airborne weapon, you have to take care not to 'poison' your own troops.

Reading up on it a little bit here heat, light and moisture all help breakdown LSD. So it would be a less effective attack in the desert during the day or in a jungle.

Since you would need to atomize it but still deliver it over a wide area, you can't use normal explosives since they would ruin your payload. It would also tend to fall and settle on the ground.

So the most effective way to use it would be to spread it like a crop duster over a camp in the evening/night/early morning with drones, about 30-60 minutes before attacking. Even sending a few mortars in to get things lively might be enough to set off bad chain reactions.

But it would take a specific avenue of attack designed just for such a thing. Meaning you'd likely get caught before you even get to deploy such a weapon and charged with war crimes.

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As WhatRoughBeast mentioned, BZ is the closest thing to this in real life, though the CIA's Project MKUltra dealt heavily with LSD. Reading a bit about it via declassified documents could help you understand the "why", and maybe give you some foothold on potential "how" options. I think the aerosol would be the most likely route, but that might fit the bill based on your definition of gas. It's not a true gas, but aerosols often move in similar ways. From a layman's perspective, they are close enough for storytelling.

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