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.