Friday, August 17, 2012

UPC weekly blog 8/17/12: Erowid

Are you aware of Erowid? Do you know what the word Erowid means? If not, ask the nearest teen or young adult.  They will probably be familiar with When youth are looking for information about drugs of abuse, they often start at Erowid.
I’m going to let the site speak for itself, and allow you to draw your own conclusions regarding Erowid.
Erowid was founded in October 1995 by two people who call themselves Fire and Earth Erowid. As of January 2008, operation of the site was taken over by the newly formed non-profit Erowid Center. The site states that the word Erowid is a created word based on indo-european roots meaning approximately "Earth Wisdom". states that it is “an online library of information about psychoactive plants, chemicals, and related topics”.
“Although the risks and problems of psychoactives are widely discussed, it's also clear that psychoactive plants and chemicals have played a positive role in many people's lives. Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of balance in the information provided by many resources. As our culture struggles with integrating the increasing variety and availability of these substances into its political and social structures, new educational models are clearly needed. Erowid is founded on the belief that a healthy relationship with psychoactives is one grounded in balance, where use is part of an active, intellectual, physical, and spiritual life. We believe that access to information is key to creating these healthier relationships with psychoactives.” states that it contains more than 50,000 documents related to psychoactives including images, research summaries & abstracts, media articles, experience reports, information on chemistry, dosage, effects, law, health, drug testing, and traditional & spiritual use. It takes over 37 gigabytes of disk space. Each day, Erowid receives an average of 3.8 million file hits (445,000 page hits). We get an average of 55,000 unique visitors a day, viewing about 8 pages each. They estimate that more than 12 million unique people visited during the past year.
Erowid states that it “contains thousands of unique documents and images created and collected by thousands of authors, photographers, and artists. The information found on the site spans the spectrum from solid peer reviewed research to fanciful creative writing. We work hard to provide accurate information, but we also archive things like historical documents, experience reports, fiction, and satire which may be valuable despite not being "accurate".

”The value of any specific piece is unique to that article and there is no way to make blanket statements about the "accuracy" of the site as a whole. Is a piece of poetry "accurate"? Is a historical document which describes the state of knowledge about a substance in 1750 "inaccurate"? As with all resources, the accuracy of each article or page needs to be considered on its own merits.”

”There are nearly 3000 experience reports in our Experience Vaults, most submitted anonymously. These vary in quality from extremely reliable & well written to the poorly written and the possibly fabricated.”

”Some of the information has never been published anywhere else (such as dosage information about uncommon illicit recreational drugs) and is based primarily on the testemony(sic) of those who have used a substance.”
Erowid does not violate any federal or state law. Some people are concerned that simply providing controversial and diverse information about controlled substances (aka 'illegal drugs') could be a violation of the law. The issues are more complicated that a simple yes-no answer can provide, but generally there are two major components: first, 'illegal drugs' are not 'illegal' in all cases, and second, it is legal to talk about them as long as one is not otherwise committing, facilitating or encouraging the commission of a specific criminal act.

” The main thing that we strive to avoid and try to train all our volunteers to avoid is providing specific advice to individuals that could be used in the commission of a crime.”

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