Psychedelic Infonauts for Drug Control


Not brand-new, but this L.A. Weekly feature on the founders and functioning of Erowid, the Web's most popular information site on exotic mind-altering drugs, is worth a look. Reporter Erik Davis doesn't really press site founders and operators Earth (the guy) and Fire (the girl) on this point, at least not in print, but while Earth early in the article points out that "Basically we act as if there isn't any prohibition…We are trying to publish this information as if the world were already making rational choices around this complicated area," he later scoffs at the notion of complete psychedelic liberty: "No Controls? That seems crazed to me. I like government controls in a lot of ways. I think stop signs at four-way intersections are fantastic."

Now, one shouldn't take everything publically stated by people in as delicate a field as spreading information on illegal substances at face value. By using the "stop sign" example–a sensible convention that would doubtless arise in a stateless world of private roads and certainly doesn't require a monopoly of legal force to function–maybe he is slyly noting that, in a world where everyone has ready access to the kind of information Erowid supplies, people could make their own rational, informed decisions that would protect them from potentially dangerous substances and negate many of the excuses for government drug controls.

Or maybe not. Maybe he just thinks people do need laws to stop them from eating what they might want to eat, and that no useful social conventions like stop signs would ever arise without a centralized state. The article does point out that Earth and Fire have been invited guests at a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) conference, at which a NIDA rep apparently poo-poohed the notion of closer cooperation between the two groups because it would damage Erowid's credibility.

NEXT: Dueling Doyens

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  1. Eurowid is a pretty informative website, and does have some interesting entertainment value. Like DanceSafe, I fear the drug warriors will eventually, if not already, want to shut it down. I am sure they will spin the website like they do DanceSafe, if you provide information to the potential user of the substance instead of confiscating and turning them in, you are in essence, condoning its use.

  2. In a “stateless” world, there would be no need for stop signs, because there would be no oil distribution system, no working cars, nothing but complete chaos and crime. Like, say, Somalia writ large, but without the rest of the world to make it even a little tolerable.

  3. So what happened to Wind?

    What do they mean by “complete psychedelic liberty”? Is putting a minimum age on purchase a sufficient reduction. I will admit, it’s tough for me to advocate 100% legality. The only thing that keeps me, reluctantly, in that campo is that the cure is worse than the disease. I am concerned that with complete chemical liberty we’ll get all sorts of products like Opium-Os and Coca-Puffs (or Coca-Cola ;>). I’m more in favor of legalization and regulation than complete legalization. At least with a legal substance, you have a “white” market to regulate and you reduce the black market, even though you don’t eliminate it.

  4. where can i get these magical opium-o’s, mo? 🙂

    i’m more in favor of complete legalization because people need to learn to walk again. not that i relish the idea of cheap cocaine for everyone (unimaginable annoyance factor) but i definitely don’t like the other choices even more.

    besides, at one point a large number of well-to-do housewives in america were sitting pretty with their various opium preparations, suffering nothing more than terrible constipation.

  5. I am concerned that with complete chemical liberty we’ll get all sorts of products like Opium-Os and Coca-Puffs (or Coca-Cola ;>).

    Mo, I don’t know if you looked at the ingredient labels lately, but I will tell you that it is complete chemical liberty in Coca-cola, coca-puffs, etc. If they put cocaine or opium in these products, I can probably get a better affect with a lessor amount consumed, therefore, saving an ulcer from going inflamed! Ultimately, this would be better for the children too!

  6. in a stateless world, there would be no crime because there would be no state to define anything as a crime.

    there would be chaos alright, there is always chaos.

    Im not saying bad things wouldnt happen either – but perhaps thousands of people wouldnt be so quick to endorse opression if they werent so sure they would be the ones handing it out.

  7. This quote baffles me:

    ?Erowid is so comprehensive, and so much of the information is correct, that unless you?re an expert in medical toxicology you may miss the dangerous information that?s close to the surface.?

    The good doctor seems to be saying that one shouldn’t put out accurate information unless it’s covered in warning labels. Take some of the idiots covered in the piece: how smart is it to take an “unknown amount” of a relatively rare chemical like 2C-I? Alexander Shulgin has taken it and its chemical homologues dozens of times and had very few problems. Why? Because when he was developing them he very carefully titrated the dosage.

    How smart is it to take a drug you attempted to make yourself when you have little knowledge of chemistry? This is especially stupid (though the article doesn’t mentio this) with a chemical like GHB. The difference between a deadly dosage and a recreational dosage would not necessarily be apparent without a scale. Perhaps I’m odd, but I have little sympathy for people who are willing to put chemicals in their body when they have little understanding of them or their effects. In any case, sites like Erowid will substantially reduce the incidence of such stupid cases, not increase them.

  8. fair enough. my experience with cocaine is limited to extremes: running people to the hospital or listening to them annoy everyone around them in bars/parties, etc.

  9. DHEX: i’m more in favor of complete legalization because people need to learn to walk again. not that i relish the idea of cheap cocaine for everyone

    SinC: Actually, I’m of the school of thought who believe that cheap and accessible cocaine is the best way to get someone to stop.

    Shocking revelation: Cocaine in big, continual doses isn’t much fun after about the first 30-60 minutes. In fact, it pretty much sucks.

    Cocaine in big, continual doses is so fucking debilitating that in my experience both as a user(though mostly AB-user…blush) and in working with hundreds and hundreds of other people who used and were trying to quit, that given an uninterupted supply line, the biggest party bear in the forest will be on his knees in less than 30 days…and that’s generous.

    The reason why your average (read – most) users of cocaine often find themselves going back again and again over a number of years is that they DON’T get an unending supply.

    Rather they get a limited supply in a single setting or over a few days, and in that short span, the benefits are highlighted and the downside is not noticed until you run out.

    Then a period of abstinence follows, usually due to a combination of real life and/or lack of needed funds to buy it. A few days or weeks go by and then they score again for a night or weekend. Each time they think, “If this was just a bit better quality and/or in bigger quantity, I’d REALLY be cooking!”…So they go back out repeatedly in search of the perfect non-stop run.

    Be Careful What You Wish For….cuz if you could get it, as noted above, you’d burn out incredibly fast.

    Thus my hope that it’s eventually legalized and then everyone that wants to can just get it over with and then quit and get on with life and other substances that offer great rewards without all the down side of cocaine.

  10. I just don’t care whether people take LSD, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, coca-cola, cocoa-puffs, or whatever.

    Individuals should be expected to make decisions for themselves.

    What *really* chaps my hide is that ONE group of loons is spending MY tax dollars to keep ANOTHER group of loons from exercising their personal freedoms.

    This is not the way I want to spend my hard-earned cash.

  11. Well, no matter what, cocaine will never be up for a legal hearing. And if that does ever happen this country (usa) will be up Shit Creek without a paddle. Although i wouldn’t mind seeing other substances with a legal age and a set quantity. But, if legalization of most abused substances was up for a vote, I would definatly vote for it. The way I see it you have to be able to trust yourself and know your limits on what you’re dealing with. These people that go to the hospital because the “OD” make me sick. That is the reason for sites like erowid. Know your limits and know EXACTLY what you’re using.

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