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I could write a fairly good answer to the question Why does the weight matter when consuming a certain amount of a specific drug? quite easily, but in the body of this question the user states that the question refers to hallucinogenic mushrooms. Although the general question about the relationship between the dose and the body mass is interesting, I have a problem answering inquiries on ways of using hallucinogenic drugs, even if the question is theoretical/hypothetical.

Do you have any recommendations on what to do?

  • Ask the OP to change the question and omit controlled substances from it?
  • Flag the question for moderator attention?
  • Go ahead and answer the theoretical part (from pharmacokinetics aspect)?
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    I think that's a decent question; the fact that he's referring to mushrooms is really irrelevant (and a very, very minor part of the question.) I'd like to read an answer. – anongoodnurse Jul 15 '15 at 0:02
  • @anongoodnurse Thanks for your insight, I'll get to writing an answer tomorrow then. – Lucky Jul 15 '15 at 1:18
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From an ethical point of view: a solid yes

Is there a chance that freely available information about drugs will increase the damage drugs do to society? I have known and still know drug users from teen-aged to 40+, as well as kids who had access to drugs but chose not to do them. My impression is:

  • such information won't lead to non-users becoming users. Drugs are not an "out of sight, out of mind" matter, they are very much in sight. And keeping them a mysterious taboo actually increases their allure. On the other hand, discussion like "There is also evidence that 6-MAM binds to a subtype of μ-opioid receptors that are also activated by the morphine metabolite morphine-6β-glucuronide but not morphine itself" doesn't produce a yearning to try a drug, it brings it from the realm of cool dudes doing forbidden things to the realm of boring eggheads.
  • such information will have neutral or slightly positive effect on the number of users kicking the habit I don't see how good information about the medical side of illegal drug use can prevent somebody from stopping. In fact, somebody wishing to stop needs strong social support, and if somebody in this position finds on this site a place where he is heard and taken seriously, this will be one more small prop of the hundreds he needs to get back on track.
  • such information will have slightly positive effect on drug users Educated drug users are more likely to use their drug in a safe way, avoiding overdose and comorbidities. Thus harm to this particular part of society is reduced when there is more information about less harmful drug practices. If you are worried about this tricking non-users into thinking that doing drugs is safe overall: Everybody I know can discriminate the danger of overdose from the danger of addiction, even in early puberty. I've never heard somebody say "well, if this is a safe way to take it, I'll try".

So having more good quality information easily available will likely neither increase the number of drug users, nor increase the amount of damage drugs are doing to their existing users. It could even have the opposite effect.

From a cultural point of view: a more cautious yes

I dislike the generalized censoring of information, turning certain subjects taboo or even illegal. But we humans can, and should, hold back discussion of certain topics under certain circumstances, out of consideration for others for example. So the question is, is this discussion appropriate for a Stack Exchange site?

For my personal understanding, and in the culture of the social circles I move, a levelheaded discussion on drugs from a medical point of view is appropriate for most settings, including a professional one. I opened the drug-related question today from my work computer and did not think anything of it.

But cultures are different, and sometimes, it can be a big deal. The network has had incidents before due to controversial topics making it into the list of hot questions, even back when the list was hidden in the notorious multicollider. Among the objective arguments brought up in one such situation by Jeff Atwood was that this content, once it appears on Stack Overflow, risks the site being automatically put onto the nanny list of corporate filters, so that a discussion on English could have deprived thousands of programmers of SO help and also seriously hurt the SERP placement of the whole network. In another case, users were very upset by a question about marijuana butter on Cooking.

Regardless of how open the Health users are towards questions about illegal drugs, whenever they are mentioned in the title, they will probably have enough magnetism to get the most views (drugs are a subject on which everybody has an opinion) and will probably jump onto the hot question list, leading to the lamented effect plaguing some SE sites: "our worst questions get on the hot list".

I would still like to see legitimate medical questions about illegal drugs included, because they are very much part of human health and disease. But if we don't like the potential cross-community effect, we might try to think of preventive strategies, maybe extensive editing of the titles to sound as neutral as possible.

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    I was actually concerned with the ethical part - I imagined two mushroom users reading the question and one saying: "I have 100kg and you have 50 kg, so... How much did you take? I'll just take double" and then this person is overdosed. I also was concerned if this would be a way to popularise the use of drugs. Thank you for a very comprehensive answer :-). – Lucky Jul 15 '15 at 20:14
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    I was silently assuming that we have users who are responsible and competent enough to create, up/downvote and annotate answers in such a way that no misinformation is presented as true, and no partial information with obviously dangerous conclusions is left alone. If this doesn't happen, you are right that misinformation can cause harm. But misinformation on any medical issue can cause significant harm. If we are afraid that we cannot ensure good quality of our information, we had better shut the whole site down. – rumtscho Jul 15 '15 at 20:18
  • I don't think "habit" is an issue here. We're talking about mushrooms, not addictive drugs. I've done more than my fair share of illegal substances, and I have never met anyone who was addicted to hallucinogens. That's not how they work. XTC can be habit forming, but mushrooms are definitely not. – Wad Cheber Jul 24 '15 at 0:50
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    @wadcheber we are not talking about mushrooms, we are talking about the general category of illegal drugs. The first question happened to be about mushrooms, but the meta question and the answers are intended to create a policy applicable to all of them. If you have a proposal for different treatment of questions about addictive and nonaddictive drugs, post an answer. For this answer, the addictivity of a substance doesn't matter, as it is only one of the discusses points which becomes moot, and the total conclusion does not change from that. – rumtscho Jul 24 '15 at 5:50
  • @rumtscho - I took the title "Should we answer the question about using hallucinogenic drugs" at face value. My apologies. – Wad Cheber Jul 24 '15 at 5:54
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    @wadcheber I see. Now that I look at the Q again, it is formulated to be specific. Knowing that this type of meta question early in a site history will later become part of the site "precedent law", I formulated an answer intended to cover all cases which may create an objection on similar grounds without even paying much attention to the exact Q formulation. So yes, I was the one who missed something this time, sorry for that. But my answer is indeed intended to cover far more than only mushrooms, even if the q wasn't. – rumtscho Jul 24 '15 at 6:04
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    @WadCheber actually the mistake is mine - I wanted an answer about illegal drugs in general, but I transferred the example to the title, because that was the question I was concerned with at the moment. I'll edit to make it a bit more general (for future questions). :-) – Lucky Jul 25 '15 at 10:23
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Yes. Drugs are a integrated part of human beings since before the first text was written. Also hallucinogenic mushrooms are not even illegal in many countries. And this should not matter in this site. I don't know any country where is forbidden to discuss/talk about any drug.

We shouldn't censure any kind of discussion about any kind of drug, illegal or not. This is not only hypocritical since drugs and humans walk together since immemorial times. But centuries of war on drugs also show us that the only way we can deal with drugs is with education, discussion, understanding. Not censoring or repressing.

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It appears to me that if someone is coming here to ask about illegal drugs, they are probably going to use them regardless of whether their question is answered. Ignoring the issue of whether all illegal drugs are harmful, it should be obvious that what is (or isn't) said here probably won't change the person's behavior.

Since we can't stop people from using drugs, even if we wanted to do so, I think the best course of action is to give the person the information they are looking for, in the hopes of allowing them to make the best decision possible. An informed drug user is better than an uninformed drug user.

It is up to you to decide whether or not to advise the person to avoid the substance in question, but if we assume that the person is going to use drugs either way, it makes sense to provide all the information that would help them do so as safely as possible.

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