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Behind it all is an "Indo-Chinese" drug cartel, a stand-in for the Vietnam War and ultimately a front for whatever cosmic antiplan you like--Doc Sportello being a sort of acidhead Don Quixote complete with intermittent sidekick, maritime lawyer Sauncho Smilax (Benicio Del Toro).
As an old acidhead joke goes, LSD is a highly volatile drug that can induce heart palpitations, panic, and paranoia--in those who have never taken it.
Military strategist Herman Kahn of the RAND Corporation was also a heavy Army acidhead. He insisted that during one particularly heavy trip when he seemed to be just lolling about on the floor muttering "wow, he was really quietly reviewing potential bombing strategies against Red China.)