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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    BRITAIN - A new Big Issue-style magazine designed to give hardcore drug users a source of money beyond theft and prostitution is being sold on London’s streets. The first English-language edition, published by Danish drug-reform campaigners, was last week given to people dependent on drugs. Those who buy the £3.50 magazine are advised the seller is “more than likely” to spend the money on drugs.

    The quarterly magazine Illegal!, which was launched in Denmark in September 2013, has enjoyed a circulation of up to 15,000 copies. An initial 2,000 copies of the English-language version are being offered to drug users in Hoxton, east London. The magazine’s foreword says: “Everyone has a right to do with their body as they wish and, if that means a two-day acid trip in Camden or an ecstasy-fuelled night in Shoreditch, then so be it. What we lack is education. Welcome to Illegal! magazine in London.”

    Michael Lodberg Olsen, editor-in-chief and self-styled social entrepreneur who came up with the idea, said it would initially be handed out free to drug users to sell, but if it proved a success they would be charged £1.50 a copy to cover publication costs. “We are challenging the ‘war on drugs’. The magazine is about the drug culture, good and bad. The point is that anyone can sell this magazine and we hope that it will spark a debate about drug use.

    “We can’t just ignore that drugs are everywhere and there are heavy drug users on the streets who often fund their habit through theft or prostitution. This offers them an alternative. It is about breaking the cycle between drug use and crime.” The theme of the first edition is “safer and more enjoyable drug use”, and it has been written with the help of the Global Drug Survey, an independent drug research organisation.

    The magazine’s publishers say future editions will seek to reflect the drug culture of its host nation. He added: “It all depends on how successful the magazine is in London. We have asked drug users on the streets of Hoxton what they think of the idea and they love it. But they all ask if we have talked to the police about the magazine. We haven’t yet, but we will do of course.

    “We don’t think the magazine breaks any laws. We have told people that, if someone is unhappy about the magazine being sold near a particular place, then they should move on and not cause any problem.”

    By Daniel Boffey - The Guardian/Nov. 16, 2014
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Phenoxide
    This sounds little different in concept to Big Issue. Here's a quote from the founder of Big Issue in a BBC interview, which shows that what Illegal! are doing is no different to what Big Issue were thinking 25 years ago:

    So I'm not sure I like what they're going for here. Big Issue and other smaller not-for-profits have been set up with the goal of giving the homeless a means of income but also challenging society's perception of the homeless by creating interaction between the general public and the vendors. There was always the implicit possibility that the money spent on a copy of the magazine would be used to buy a few cans of Special Brew or other drugs. But to state in such a candid and almost celebratory fashion that the proceeds will be spent on drugs is gimmicky and crass in my opinion.

    Another quote from the BBC article that the founder of Illegal! also seems to have failed to address here:

    That is absolutely critical in my opinion. Without that long term goal of helping these people to tackle their drug abuse problem, it's effectively subsistence wage employment to keep drug users from committing serious crime, while doing nothing to help them out of that cycle.

    It's funny that the article mentions Camden. That's one place I could see this playing well, because it's an area full of young middle-class people with a wonderfully naive and glamorized view of drug use. Elsewhere in the UK, I actually think this will be viewed as regressive rather than a challenge to the 'war on drugs'.
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