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The Controlled Substances Act provides the following definition:

(6) The term "controlled substance" means a drug or other substance, or immediate precursor, included in schedule I, II, III, IV, or V of part B of this subchapter. The term does not include distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, or tobacco, as those terms are defined or used in subtitle E of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

In particular this definition excludes "distilled spirits" for which subtitle E provides the following definition:

(8) The terms “distilled spirits”, “alcoholic spirits”, and “spirits” mean that substance known as ethyl alcohol, ethanol, or spirits of wine in any form (including all dilutions and mixtures thereof from whatever source or by whatever process produced).

The definition of "distilled spirits" is expansive and includes all mixtures from any source or process.

Additionally, LSD is listed in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.


Then,

  1. Is a mixture of LSD and vodka a "distilled spirit" as defined in subtitle E of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986?
  2. If so, as a distilled spirit, is a mixture of LSD and vodka exempt from the meaning of a "controlled substance" as defined in the Controlled Substances Act?
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For IRS purposes, "distilled spirit"

mean that substance known as ethyl alcohol, ethanol, or spirits of wine in any form (including all dilutions and mixtures thereof from whatever source or by whatever process produced)

So it is a distilled spirit, with or without LSD, for those tax purposes. LSD is a controlled substance, see 21 USC 812

(c) Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation, which contains any quantity of the following hallucinogenic substances, or which contains any of their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation...(9) Lysergic acid diethylamide.

Presence of ethanol does not exempt LSD from being on the list. Nor does presence of blotter paper, see Chapman v. US, 500 U.S. 453 (weight of the carrier medium is included in computing the sentence for trafficking).

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  • You use the phrase "for those tax purposes" to distance the status of the entire mixture as a distilled spirit from the Controlled Substances Act, but the definition of a controlled substance specifically excludes such distilled spirits. A mixture which contains any quantity of LSD is scheduled "unless specifically excepted", and this specific exception is written in the definition of a controlled substance: "The term does not include distilled spirits". A solution of LSD in vodka is distinguished from the precedent in Chapman because blotter paper is not a subtitle E distilled spirit.
    – SNDRI
    Sep 26 at 19:32
  • Legal definitions are always for a specific purpose. The tax code definition is not applicable to the CSA definition and vice versa.
    – user6726
    Sep 26 at 19:55
  • I agree that definitions from different statutes cannot be arbitrarily combined. That is why I have highlighted that the definition of "controlled substance" within the Controlled Substances Act explicitly refers to "distilled spirits ... as those terms are defined or used in subtitle E of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986". Congress chose to write a definition of "controlled substance" that excludes "distilled spirits" as defined in the cited tax statute.
    – SNDRI
    Sep 26 at 22:55
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The key phrase here appears to be "dilutions and mixtures thereof". The term thereof would suggest that this phrase applies to mixtures of "distilled spirits", "alcoholic spirits" and "spirits" only, not to mixtures of these with some other substance.

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  • Am I correct in understanding that this interpretation would provide that a mixture of vodka and table salt is not a distilled spirit?
    – SNDRI
    Sep 25 at 21:12
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    @SNDRI No, that's incorrect, it is still a distilled spirit "including all dilutions and mixtures thereof from whatever source or by whatever process produced...". They are saying that once it's a distilled spirit, anything you mix it with does not change that definition. I think this answer is incorrect.
    – Ron Beyer
    Sep 25 at 22:29

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