High Times in L.A.: Today’s Hit Drugs

Forget medical marijuana. Twelve drugs altering many a local mind

Photograph courtesy Ben Franklin: Shutterstock

L.A. is a narco-fueled city, with dispensaries that shovel out the stuff by the bushel, doctors who double as dealers, and dealers who’ve gone tech to move their goods. Even with its quasilegal status, pot is still big on the black market, and in MacArthur Park meth is outselling coke and heroin these days. But there are a panoply of other ways and means by which Angelenos are altering their minds. Herewith, a taste.



  • Vicodin
    Nicknamed hydro, norco, and vikes, this synthetic and often counterfeit opiate is available for purchase on Craigs-list, along with warnings from sellers like “Don’t call if you’re a cop.”

  • Salvia
    A Central American herb, Salvia divinorum is smoked in shamanistic rituals. Rec users boast of going into a state where “injuries can be sustained without feeling pain.”

  • Kratom
    Chewed by addicts to alleviate the effects of kicking, Kratom leaf is a natural, opiate-like stimulant that can be as addictive as Vicodin.

  • Adderall
    The pharmaceutical psychostimulant is popular with college students and club kids pulling all-nighters. Lindsay Lohan recently tried to abort her court-appointed rehab stint when staffers threatened to confiscate her supply.

  • Nitrous Oxide
    Used by ravers who want to feel dizzy, “laughing gas” is sold in shops that illegally label it as a component for welding torches. Small whipped cream chargers are a common source as well.

  • Blue Dollar
    Combining MDMA (Ecstasy) with caffeine, benzylpiperazine, or other stimulants, these pill cocktails sell like Frappuccinos at raves.

  • Spice
    Pot on steroids. The shredded plant material (various kinds are used) is mixed with synthetic cannabinoids and sold online as K2, Yucatan Fire, or Moon Rocks.

  • Smiles
    Like dropping mescaline with an Ecstasy shooter, the popular chemical compound 2C-1-a white powder that’s snorted-debuted a decade ago in Dutch drug bars. Increased emergency room visits in L.A. are blamed on the substance.

  • Bath Salts
    Sold in packets with names like Crazy Train and Scarface, the synthetic stimulant mimics methamphetamine. Last year a user chewed on a man’s face.

  • Molly
    Pure MDMA, it’s for drug connoisseurs who disdain Ecstasy cocktails as just another version of the New Coke.

  • Afghan Incense
    A legal compound resembling hash, it’s featured in YouTube videos, where bong-wielding men smoke the stuff in what appear to be their parents’ basements.

  • Special K
    Injected as a pain blocker in medical procedures, Ketamine is snorted by users seeking to “slip into the K Hole”-conscious but paralyzed, like watching a Michael Bay movie.