Erowid Update: New Drugs, New Challenges, New Technologies

MAPS Bulletin Spring 2014 Vol. 24, No. 1 – Psychedelics and Education

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Erowid’s Educational Mission

Erowid Center’s mission is to develop and provide accurate information about psychoactive plants, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and technologies in order to educate, improve health, and encourage beneficial cultural reform. We directly educate the public about psychoactive substances—from legal caffeinated beverages to prescription pharmaceutical painkillers, from nicotine to MDMA and LSD. Erowid presents information from a non-judgmental viewpoint in a new paradigm that isn’t intended to convince people to abstain, but instead provides the data necessary for them to make their own rational choices.

Practical, Specific, and Reliable

Erowid Center delivers practical educational information to the public through both digital and print publications. Over the past eighteen years, the website has evolved into one of the world’s top internationally respected libraries of information about psychoactive plants and drugs. It contains a growing collection of more than 63,000 documents about these substances, covering topics that include: history; effects; dosage; legal status; chemistry; pharmacology; images; traditional, spiritual and medicinal use; benefits and harms; media coverage; research results; personal experiences; bibliographic and web resources; and drug use statistics. In 2013, more than sixteen million unique visitors used Erowid’s online resources.

Novel Drugs, New Challenges

Educating people about the constant flow of new drugs available in online markets is one of our major ongoing projects. In 2012 alone, 73 new drugs were reported by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. In 2013, (Erowid’s street drug testing project) saw 42 substances new to our testing program. Further, our internal tracking of vendor sites shows over 80 different research chemicals currently available for purchase.

Traditional drug information sources focus on substances that have been widely used for decades. But, the natural outcome of prohibition is an unending progression of novel, more potent, and less tested drugs. In order to reduce the harms associated with the use of new drugs, we monitor the situation through volunteers, forums, and medical professionals; analyze chemicals through; coordinate between interested parties; and publish practical information.

In a world filled with materials and technologies that affect the mind, adults need robust education and accurate, pragmatic information in order to take charge of their of their relationships with psychoactives and teach young people how to do the same from an early age.

Educating the Educators

Erowid is dedicated to helping both the public and professionals educate themselves about psychoactive drugs. As students gain knowledge of the complex world of psychoactive drugs through sources like, curriculum developers are compelled to improve academic programs.

Our rich and nuanced approach is useful for educators and parents who want to offer a practical, more refined message about psychoactive drugs to young people. We provide independent educational materials for teachers and professors—from elementary to graduate school—who might otherwise rely on politically-driven drug education programs. Educators around the world make use of our resources and we regularly hear from teachers and students who tell us that is on the required reading list for their courses.

Early 2014 Update

Earth and Fire Erowid

There are a number of other projects we’re working on in early 2014. We recently finished a chapter for an academic book about Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), as well as the foreword to a new digital book about psychedelic care services at festivals. The next issue of Erowid Extracts will include an analysis of our first Wisdom Cycle survey, which asks elders what lessons about psychedelics they would like to pass along to younger generations. Our EcstasyData street drug analysis project has ramped up to publishing results every week. The Erowid team has just completed the first 600 abstracts for the 5000-document Stolaroff Collection. We now have a template in place so we can bring in volunteers to help us in the final steps of creating a publicly searchable database of this psychedelic researcher’s letters and papers. Finally, we are working to improve’s functionality on mobile devices, to make sure our educational resources are available to those accessing data through their smart phones.

Erowid Center ( is a US-based 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organization founded in 1995. Earth and Fire Erowid are the co-founders of Erowid Center and currently serve as the Technical Director and Executive Director of the organization. Both Fire and Earth have studied psychoactive plants and drugs since the early 1990s. They have written thousands of pages of information about these substances, have spoken internationally at numerous academic and professional conferences, and in 2011, received the Drug Policy Alliance’s Dr. Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education.

MAPS Bulletin Spring 2014 Vol. 24, No. 1 – Psychedelics and Education