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Clarifying Erowid's Vision
Citation:   Erowid. "Clarifying Erowid's Vision". Erowid Extracts. May 2003;4:22.
Part of our ongoing work with Erowid includes working to raise the necessary contributions and donations to support the continued maintenance and growth of the site. As part of this year's fundraising efforts we put together a 16 page packet which helps describe the Erowid Project and our funding needs. A major part of the difficulty in producing this packet was trying to coherently describe in writing the ideas and visions which motivate us to work in this complex and difficult field. The following are excerpts from the current drafts of our mission and vision statements.

Vision Statement
We imagine a world where people treat psychoactives with respect and awareness; where people work together to collect and share knowledge in ways that strengthen their understanding of themselves and provide insight into the complex choices faced by individuals and societies alike. We believe that truth, accuracy, and integrity in publishing information about psychoactives will lead to healthier and more balanced choices, behaviors, and policies around all psychoactive medications, entheogens, herbs, and recreational drugs. Erowid's vision is to facilitate and create resources that are part of the evolution towards this goal.

A World Full of Psychoactives
We believe it is important for people to understand that human consciousness is a chemically-mediated process that is subtle, difficult to define, and constantly in flux. There are no simple lines between "psychoactive" and "non-psychoactive". In concrete, measurable ways, almost everything affects consciousness. The food we eat, the air we breathe, the work we do, the games we play, and the people we meet all affect our thoughts, feelings, and reactions.

Mission Statement
Erowid is a member-supported organization providing access to reliable, non-judgmental information about psychoactive plants and chemicals and related issues. We work with academic, medical, and experiential experts to develop and publish new resources, as well as to improve and increase access to already existing resources. We also strive to ensure that these resources are maintained and preserved as a historical record for the future.
In addition, people in consumer cultures are faced with choices about strong psychoactive medicines and technologies on a daily basis. Overlooking the ubiquitous presence of caffeine and refined sugar, as well as cold, flu, cough, and allergy medications, people are faced with how to relate to alcohol, nicotine, and an ever-increasing cornucopia of psychopharmaceuticals. Novel pharmaceuticals continue to make inroads into the general population and diagnoses develop to fit the available treatments. The variety and availability of both mainstream and subculture psychoactives are increasing dramatically and it seems we are in the early stages of an even larger explosion in psychoactive technologies.

Yet, as use increases, the dominant educational models suggest that intentional mind-alteration is aberrant and immoral. People are not trained or educated to make informed, rational decisions around managing their own consciousness. Erowid works to dispel the myth that there is any such thing as a well-defined class of things called "drugs" or that there is a single, universal "sober state" shared by everyone. We believe it is key that people learn to differentiate between different psychoactives based on rational, articulable characteristics, and to understand the uses and risks associated with these substances.

A Shared Dataset
Erowid would like nothing more than a world in which psychoactives are discussed honestly and openly at all levels of society: among friends, between curious adolescents and their parents, within the extended family, within the community, and at the level of government and social policy. The issues that drugs present to society can only be addressed once users and non-users agree on the facts and engage with each other in collaborative problem-solving and policy making. While Erowid does not have the answers, we hope that by providing a source of high-quality, accurate, and multi-perspective information, we can help reduce the contradictory claims that block productive problem-solving.

Balance and Multiple Viewpoints
One of Erowid's founding design principals is to include documents that represent multiple viewpoints. We believe that representing conflicting opinions or facts side by side promotes awareness of the multiplicity of viewpoints and helps to highlight specific areas of conflict.

Critically Reviewed Content
Providing critical review of published information is nearly as important as providing access to the information. Our goal is to have all documents that are published on Erowid reviewed by at least two crew members.  We are also working to develop systems that will allow a wider community of experts to verify the quality and accuracy of information and documents on the site, and would increase the number of people who can add to the collection without degrading the overall reliability of the library.

It's a Library
The mission of Erowid is explicitly academic and we work to avoid becoming involved in specific legislative or political issues except to comment on factual matters touched on by these issues. While we believe that our work has harm reductive effects in the long term, harm-minimization is not the primary consideration we make when choosing what and how to publish. Erowid is a library. We believe that the creation of this nonpolitical library has desirable effects and is its own political statement.

To see Erowid's Spring 2003 fundraising packet online, visit: