LSD Use Spikes Among Teens in This Coastal California Town, Authorities Issue Warning

By Seth Ferranti 12/21/16

Last week, a teen was hospitalized for an overdose after eating an LSD-laced popsicle. 

Teens having fun at a party.

In Santa Cruz, a lazy Golden State coastal town well known to surfers, law enforcement officials have issued a warning to residents, and especially to concerned parents, to be aware of a surge in LSD use among the area’s teenagers.

A series of LSD-related incidents have put public officials and the community on high alert as we enter the Christmas season. In the most recent incident, a 17-year-old girl who ate a popsicle laced with LSD was hospitalized for an overdose, according to the Santa Cruz County sheriff’s office.

"It was an unfortunate situation. A young lady ingested LSD from a popsicle with a friend and began having seizures and was rushed to a medical center and her case is serious," Chris Clark, a spokesman for the Santa Cruz County police department, told KSBW. “If we get information like what we're seeing now, we want to provide that information to the public as quickly as we can so we can hopefully prevent future harm.” 

In a previous incident in November, Luke Smith, a 15-year-old high school student, ingested liquid LSD and went berserk, stabbing his uncle and father and then reportedly advancing on officers with the knife before being shot to death by a sheriff’s deputy. Smith was brandishing a nine-inch knife at police for 13 minutes while they tried to persuade him to surrender. Smith continued to threaten deputies, even after being hit by 40mm foam rounds, a stun gun, and being bit by a K9.

"Everyone loses in cases like this," Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart told KSBW. “This was a very unique, difficult, upsetting situation. It's hard for me to watch this video. Luke Smith was a great kid. He was well liked by everyone.” But he ingested what’s being called a “bad batch of LSD.” Smith’s sister, Savannah, wrote a warning message to other Santa Cruz teens on Facebook. In her post, she writes:

"There is a bad batch of LSD circulating throughout the area. This batch of LSD made my brother extremely violent and ended with the police shooting him. Nothing could stop him from what he was doing, because he wasn't himself; this drug brought out some form of evil in him. Luke Smith was, and still is, the funniest, happiest, most loved kid in the county. He brought a smile to everyone's face and emitted nothing but good vibes. He could befriend anyone, which he often did. No matter how experienced you are, you cannot control substances; at a certain point, substances control you."

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.