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Meme Cultivation
Good Drugs / Bad Drugs?
by Earth Erowid
Dec 2001
Citation:   Erowid, Earth. "Meme Cultivation: Good Drugs/Bad Drugs?" Erowid Extracts. December 2001;2:18.
Publishing information about psychoactives continues to be challenging work. We face a constant barrage of incoming commentary, criticism, and praise and difficult choices to make about where to spend time, what to include, and what to exclude. Criticism comes from all sides, from the expected angry parent, to members of the psychedelic community who think we're not doing enough or that we're selling out their ideals. Praise also comes from all sectors, with surprising support coming from people who work for prohibitionist organizations and agencies. The ratio of positive to negative feedback remains extremely high, with perhaps one critical note per hundred or more we receive in support.

We continue to expect that the level of scrutiny on our work will rise. The NEJM article and the various prurient national news-tainment publishers continue to offer extremely unbalanced and partisan forums for the complex issues around psychoactives. The Hive's recent inclusion in an expose on ecstasy production by Dateline NBC (October 2001) and the new backlash against information with the "War on Terrorism" has increased paranoia and fear in many on the edges of this controversial topic.

Our work continues to spread into the corners of the wider culture. Dozens of newspapers, television shows, and websites have included images or bits of text from erowid in the last 6 months, most with a note in the corner saying "erowid.org". Examples are too many to list, but include a group in Hungary (www.daath.hu) translating a number of Erowid documents into Magyar (Hungarian language), a German medical journal using an image, and a French author who is using an experience report in an upcoming book. One of the small uses which particularly pleased us is the use of our 3D caffeine molecule in a recent issue of the San Francisco Exploratorium's newsletter.

We continue to believe that our work is very directly affecting the way people think about and relate to psychoactives. A generation is growing up with unprecedented access to information and we hope that as the quality and accessibility grows, the next generations will make better and healthier decisions.

"You people need to be educated about ghb. I cannot believe what i am reading in this demented web site. I will make it my full time job to have this site outlawed. I will donate money to people to help me organize the formation of an ant-erowid site coalition. You and your whole company are the biggest joke and embarrasment to this world that I have ever seen."
-- email sent to Erowid by B.G.
Good Drugs / Bad Drugs?
One of the specific meme-changes we work to promote is informed differentiation between specific plants and chemicals.

Unfortunately we are swimming upstream against the tax- and corporate-funded juggernauts and their "public service announcements". Prohibitionists repeat ad nauseum that there is a class of things called "drugs" which one can "stay away from" or "just say no" to. Many alternative publishers believe that this "drugz" meme has done long term damage to the public's critical skills, weakening people's ability to make important distinctions. There is an unspoken assumption that everyone knows which drugs are "bad". Certainly they're not talking about ibuprofen, probably not coffee, but how about Viagra, Prozac, or Dexedrine? The intentionally vague grouping seems to offer little in the way of practical advice beyond "don't smoke crack".

The very chemicals which make our brain function can and do change how we think and feel. Nearly every plant, if concentrated and smoked, snorted, eaten, or injected in sufficient quantities will alter your thinking. Nearly every chemical under the sink or in the hardware store and nearly every medicine in your medicine chest will make you feel funny if you take enough. Some neurotransmitters required for brain function are actually scheduled in the United States (DMT and GHB).

There is no escaping that our mental states are built on an ever-changing and userserviceable biochemistry. Drink a Coke, get a little stimulated, lie down on the floor with the lights off or drink herbal tea, relax a little. Play a computer game, use a mind machine, take supplements, snort cocaine, smoke pot, inject heroin, swallow ecstasy, chew khat, take Prozac, Valium, cough syrup, Ritalin, Viagra, Adderall, Tylenol III, Benadryl, Zyban, Oxycontin... the list is endless and growing.

Everyone makes choices about how to regulate their moods and feelings; some choices lead to happier people and healthier humans and others lead to more depressed people and more disease, but there are no firm lines around what works and what doesn't. As more and more people are exposed to ever more choices, "Just Say No to Drugs" seems a quaint relic of a failed cultural experiment.

As this century progresses, humankind must come to terms with a radically different psychoactive technology playing field. We must face this technology with accurate and complete information and useful critical frameworks.