Decriminalization Now

According to data from the Ministry of Interior of the former Socialist Republic of Macedonia, the number of registered drug users in 1990 was only 314 in a country with a population of two millions. Only fourteen years later, the Ministry of Interior informed that in 2004, the number of registered drug users had increased to 6,583 or more than 20 times.

At the same time, in the past few decades, the state apparatus has been attempting to deal with the growing number of drug users as well as the increased drugs influx with conservative methods – mostly with more severe penalization. Towards this end, the prescribed minimum sanction for criminal acts pursuant Article 215 from the Macedonian Criminal Code targeting production, sale, transport, drug possession with an intention to sell, imprisonment, was increased from one to ten years to three to ten years. Additionally, from 2015, the country began implementing the idiotic legal solution called Law for Determination of the Type and Duration of Sentence.

The modern cannabis culture of Amsterdam and the birth of coffeeshops

The history of modern cannabis culture in Amsterdam stretches back to the 1960s. Use of psychoactive drugs increased, along with heavier drugs such as heroin and opium. The American hippie culture of the 1960s greatly influenced the drug use in Holland. Cannabis was brought in Amsterdam by the Americans, sailors, North African traders.  

The anti-drug laws dictated by the Dutch government were quite restrictive. In 1953, cannabis became illegal. Until the 1960s, the number of all drug-related violations brought to court, including LSD and opium, was considerably low: 10 to 25 cases annually. In 1966, however, drug violations escalated.  

Cannabis use was also prevalent in intellectual circles, which became vocal with claims that cannabis use did not lead to addiction and imprisonment on the ground of cannabis-related violations was too rigorous. In 1965, the small hippie movement Provo, “provoked” the authorities by organizing manifestations and activities and smoking cannabis out in the open. The movement later developed into a cultural phenomenon. Provo’s founder, Robert Jasper Grootveld, started growing cannabis on the roof of his boat. Cannabis dealers sold pot and hash in Amsterdam clubs such as Paradiso and Melkweg, while the majority of hippies smoked cannabis in public in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark.

The So-Called Psychedelic Renaissance

After more than 50 years of prohibition, scientific and clinical research on medical use of standard psychoactive substances (PAS) such as MDMA, Psilocybin, LSD, Ketamine, as well as classic entheogens like Cannabis, Ayahuasca, Salvia and Ibogaine is once again prevailing throughout the world.  

My intention isn’t to thoroughly examine each PAS individually, nor demystify, promote or allude to their use but rather offer an overview on current research in the past decade, particularly in the clinical area of evidence-based medicine.  

All psychoactive substances or so-called drugs, without exception, have been used for medical purposes at one moment of their discovery, or even currently are.

From its accidental discovery by A. Hofmann in 1943, until 1968, LSD was a subject of serious scientific research, for medical or military purposes. Although for decades this research was classified as top secret, unbeknownst to the public eye, the counterculture of the 1960s managed to unearth it, only to become mainstream further on. Prohibitions and regulations were instrumental in ensuring that the potential and verified effects of certain classic PAS were closeted.

“Play Safe”, a word with Eddie Einbinder

In March 2017, HOPS - Healthy Options Project Skopje had the pleasure to host the projection of the documentary “Play Safe,” followed by a discussion on harm reduction, led by the director, Edie Einbinder. Einbinder is also the author of the book “How to Have Fun and Not Die.”

In 2008, Edie began presenting strategies on harm reduction and overdose prevention in more than 200 institutions and conferences throughout the world. He gives lectures in prominent universities, high schools, homeless people and youth clinics.   

In his lectures, Edie combines the documentary “Play Safe”, wherein a real, shocking and educational manner he conveys knowledge to the public on harm reduction policies and practices. The characters depicted in the documentary strive to undertake all necessary measures of caution when using the drugs of their choice, such as: Adderall, cocaine, DMT, heroin, ketamine, LSD, marihuana, alcohol, cigarettes, cigars, MDMA, methamphetamine, mushrooms, nitrogen oxide, oxytocin and salvia.   

Culture is a drug

Drugs: one of the most popular, most used, most banal and most exciting words of the 20th century captivating also, it seems, the discussions and secret/private rooms of the 21st century in all its magnitude and substance. Completely legal, easily available and utterly unknown for the popular masses at the beginning of the previous century, this incredibly potent “mega-phrase” has evolved into the most globally used the secondary substance of all times. The journey from an obscure substance, (ab)used in hermeneutical circles, to a top product for mass consumption by all layers of society, was one of decades-long transformation of awareness, supported and (probably) orchestrated by affluent business centres of power, realized through the cultural and popular movements starving for changes and greater freedom.

The tenth edition of the magazine Drugs - Policies and Practices

Today we are publishing the tenth issue of the magazine Drugs - Policies and Practices. This number was dedicated to  „Drugs Integral to Culture".

Drugs are integral to culture, but you really don’t have to agree with this. It is absolutely irrelevant whether you accept the arguments asserting that even alcohol, coffee and cigarettes, or sedatives you take more or less often to relax or fall asleep, are drugs. It is all drugs and the excuse of not being interested in such “claims” or avoiding more serious arguments in discussions you yourself have initiated will not provide you with immunity from the responsibility that you also participate in the reproduction and development of the drug use culture. Yes, that is correct. You are participants and bear the responsibility. No, you’re not sinners and you shouldn’t be condemned. You, like all others, simply replicate the cultural patterns you have acquired from the environment you grew up in.

 True, since the middle of the 20th century this environment has expanded due to the development of mass media, such as radio, television and particularly the internet. If you don’t like the fact that “young people are increasingly taking drugs” and you fear that your children “will become junkies” and are looking for more repressive measures against people who use drugs – stop. Stop and ask yourself about the role you have played in the development of the drug use culture. We won’t judge. We simply offer a different perspective from the one you have.

HR19 Host City Announced as Porto, Portugal

Harm Reduction International (HRI) and Agência Piaget para o Desenvolvimento (APDES) are delighted to announce that the 26th Harm Reduction International Conference – HR19 – will be held in Porto, Portugal from 28 April to 1 May 2019.

For international visitors, this conference will be a unique opportunity to learn about the benefits and lessons learned from Portugal’s progressive approach to drug policy and harm reduction, which included the decriminalization of the possession and use of all drugs. Since 2001, the country has shown us that decriminalization partnered with harm reduction can reduce HIV and overdose rates and increase access to vital health and social services. The approach has also highlighted the gaps in this policy-first approach and the need to include people who use drugs in policy making and other decisions about their health and rights.

For locals, the conference will be an exceptional opportunity for community groups, networks of people who use drugs, healthcare and social services stakeholders, law enforcement officials, academics and the wider population to learn about other progress and innovation around the world and to share their own expertise and experience with a global audience. HR19 will also provide a rare opportunity for networking among harm reductionists from Lusophone countries.

Call for Articles for 11th issue of the Drugs – Policies and Practices magazine


HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje’s Center for Education, Documentation, and Research and Coalition “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” announce a call for articles for the 11th issue of the Drugs – Policies and Practices magazine.

The main topic for the 11th issue of the magazine is Drug consumption rooms. Despite the main topic, we welcome all other articles related to aforementioned topics.

Deadline for this call is March 20, 2018. Editorial Board will do the selection of received articles and other materials. Selection criteria are:
  • Expertise (knowledge and experience for described topics)
  • Creativity
  • Cutting-edge
  • Due performance

Recommendations for drug users in extremely cold weather

If you use drugs you should take extra care of your health and well-being in extremely cold weather. One way to adapt to climate change is to know how to care for yourself and others during cold and low temperatures.

Your health comes first:
  • Stay in closed and heated rooms during the extreme cold, especially after taking the drug.
  • Always contact your doctor if you do not feel well physically and mentally. 
  • Drugs can affect your body temperature. Drug use can lead to hypothermia, which leads to the appearance of vague speech, tiredness, memory loss, shaking, stiffness, breathing changes, heart rate changes, and blood pressure.
  • Reducing the use of drugs in extremely cold weather should only take place under medical supervision.
  • If you are addicted to drugs (especially opiates or benzodiazepines), do not stop taking the drug at once without medical attention.

Prominent Women in the Field of Drugs

Ann Shulgin

Ann Shulgin (Laura Ann Gotlieb born 22 March 1931) is an American psychotherapist, researcher and the wife (widow) of American chemist, psychopharmacologist and researcher Alexander Shulgin (1925-2014).

Ann Shulgin worked with psychedelics such as MDMA and 2C-B in therapeutic settings while they were still legal. She has unique and valuable insights into the beneficial effects psychedelics can have in therapeutic contexts. In her writings she accentuates the potential these drugs have from a Jungian psychoanalytic perspective.

Ann continues to speak at conferences about the healing potential of MDMA and psychedelics and has continued to advocate the use of psychedelics in therapeutic contexts and research.

Together with her husband she has authored the books PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story - Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved (1991) and TiHKAL: The Continuation - Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved (1997) and she is working on Book Three in that series. Ann Shulgin has also contributed to the books Thanatos to Eros: 35 Years of Psychedelic Exploration; Entheogens and the Future of Religion, Manifesting Minds: A Review of Psychedelics in Science, Medicine, Sex, and Spirituality and many more.        

Source Info: