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NonprofitWe are EmmaSofia, the organization that helped get Norwegian Supreme Court to reduce sentencing for LSD to community service after presenting research on the low health risks. AMA.

Nov 13th 2017 by EmmaSofia • 12 Questions • 87 Points

We are Henrik Akselsen (the defendant), Pål-Ørjan Johannesen and Teri Krebs who has done research on psychedelics and their harm effects.

We were thrilled to see the story trending on /r/worldnews a few days ago. link

The short story is this: Henrik got his apartment raided by police do to a confiscation of LSD in a mail order that they were able to link to him.

The police originally wanted a 5 month prison sentence, but through three court instances we managed to present enough evidence to convince the court to reduce precedence for LSD-related cases quite substantially. The Supreme Court decided on 45 days of community service.

If you have any questions regarding the case, we’re happy to answer.

EmmaSofia is a non-profit organization, working to get Norway into a drug policy based on evidence and respect for human rights. EmmaSofia is part of a growing movement within all the major political parties to turn Norway into a model country for a 21st century drug policy based on evidence and human rights. Check out nordicreform.com, a Nordic Drug Reform conference in Oslo on November 23rd - 24th

Article in NYT in may 2015: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/05/world/europe/an-uphill-campaign-in-norway-to-promote-lsd-as-a-human-right.html?_r=0

Former IAmA

Proof: Confirmation on our frontpage: http://www.emmasofia.org/

Q:

How long of a time do you think is realistic in terms of regulation/legalization of psychedelics in Norway, if ever?

A:

Henrik: I believe it's inevitable that it will happen, my guesstimate is 4-8 years. I believe that we will get decriminalization of most drugs within the next four years.

The cognitive dissonance in the current system is just getting too much. It makes no sense to punish LSD-use whilst alcohol is legal, and I think more and more people are seeing just how weird the system is.


Q:

Do you think Magic Mushrooms merit the same designation as LSD?

A:

Henrik: Yes, and I think this case also changes precedence for magic mushrooms. No-one disputes the similar profiles of LSD and magic mushrooms, both for usage patterns (fx how many times per year people use it) and potential risks.


Q:

First and foremost: thanks a bunch for the great work you guys are doing!

How do you realistically see Norwegian drug policy changing the next 10 years? Will there ever be an official policy solely for psychedelics? Either medicinally or even recreational use. When can SWIM come home to their mom and dad and invite them on a journey without being condemned?

Same question regarding Europe as a whole.

A:

Will there ever be an official policy solely for psychedelics?

Henrik: I think that is an interesting question. It's perfectly normal to talk about "alcohol-policy" and "tobacco-policy", but when it comes to illegal substances we seem to just lump them into the "narcotics" category (Narkotika in Norwegian, meaning might be a little bit different than in English).

It would make more sense to use more precise categories like opiat-policy, a benzo-policy, a psychedelics policy. It's really dumbing things down when we treat so different things as one. In my ignorance I used to think LSD was as addictive as heroin only a few years ago because, "hey, LSD is a narcotic and all narcotics are addictive aren't they?"

Language matters, especially when it comes to people who don't know much about this. I think we'll get there if we can achieve this level of language differentiation.


Q:

It seems that the problem of judicial systems and media lumping all illegal stimulants into one big scary category of "drugs" (even classifying legal stimulants and medicines as "prescription drugs" to take the edge off) is world wide.

Does EmmaSofie do any work to combat this specific problem?

A:

Henrik: Yes, I think that fighting the public perception of this is important, but it's long term and mostly a matter of bringing facts to the public.

Check out this eye-opening difference between what everyday people perceive as harmful and compare with what the best science on relative harm effects says is harmful


Q:

It seems that the problem of judicial systems and media lumping all illegal stimulants into one big scary category of "drugs" (even classifying legal stimulants and medicines as "prescription drugs" to take the edge off) is world wide.

Does EmmaSofie do any work to combat this specific problem?

A:

Henrik: Personally, I thankfully haven't had any mental health issues, but I was deeply moved by this BBC Newsnight segment about using psilocybin-assisted treatment for severe treatment-resistant depression: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHbVSclR5qk

That's a very good video to share to friends and (especially) family IMO.


Q:

What is your elevator pitch for legalizing psychedelics?

A:

Henrik: Great question. Sharing personal experience is probably my best elevator pitch.

It is also important to stress that it is a pretty much undisputed fact that psychedelics are not addictive. In fact it is a good tool for treating OTHER addictions. That will break a lot of peoples programming, and get them curious. Especially people who are addicted to nicotine etc.

What is, in my experience, NOT a good elevator pitch, is to make the "liberty argument", that each person should be allowed to put what he wants in his body. That never really seem to convince anyone but the choir, and it annoys a lot of people for some reason.


Q:

Hi, excited Norwegian here!

What other drugs do you think merit the same or similar treatment in the judiciary system?

A:

Henrik: psilocybin (magic mushrooms) is an obvious candidate, and I expect this case to also change the precedence for cases regarding that. The court agreed that LSD pretty much has the same profile as psilocybin, but because there is even fever cases with psilocybin, it didn't matter much to the outcome, since there was not any sentences to compare with!

LSD has previously been compared to MDMA and amphetamines. We argued that LSD should be regarded as same level as cannabis (In fact I believe it should be regarded as even lower but the court didn't follow us quite that far.

The funny thing about our system is that it only compares illegal drugs against each other. If you compare it to alcohol or tobacco they would just look at you funny.


Q:

what are the easiest and most difficult illicit drugs to obtain in Norway? is LSD commonly used at least once by most of the population?

A:

what are the easiest and most difficult illicit drugs to obtain in Norway?

Henrik: I don't really know, but cannabis is probably the easiest.

The problem is that since there are no quality controls it's harder for users to assess the purity of what they are consuming. Norway is close to the top for European overdose deaths, probably partly because of that. https://www.tnp.no/norway/panorama/4861-norway-tops-in-overdose-deaths


Q:

Hey guys, a few questions.

How do you think your work will affect other countries and their drug laws?

What do you think will be the most effective way to reduce the stigma against LSD as medicine?

How can a bad trip affect someone in a medical setting?

A:

How do you think your work will affect other countries and their drug laws?

Henrik: In Scandinavia the Supreme Courts do keep an eye on the decisions from the other countries, so I believe it will have some effect, at least in this part of the world.

This only goes for the pentalty levels, not the underlying laws, but in Norway the debate has come up, why it should even be regarded as illegal since the court admitted that the potential harm effects are as low as they are. Penalty levels influence laws indirectly in that way.


Q:

Hey guys, a few questions.

How do you think your work will affect other countries and their drug laws?

What do you think will be the most effective way to reduce the stigma against LSD as medicine?

How can a bad trip affect someone in a medical setting?

A:

Teri: "Psychedelic Societies" are popping up in every country and city, like mushrooms after the rain.

In Denmark, check out Psykedelisk Samfund:

A partial global list of psychedelic societies:


Q:

I'm from Finland and in here it is common to see people have their psychiatric care denied entirely until they go to rehab, because using drugs is seen as "not being motivated to receive care/ not doing their part." This means until you are completely sober, you often won't receive other care than drug rehab. In other medicine, you'll have specialists of all sorts in your treatment as needed to get the patient the best care possible, but in drugs and mental health this same standard is intentionally not met.

Is there a similar problem in Norway, and if so, have you done/ have you thought about doing anything to combat the issue?

I also want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking slow but steady steps in humanizing users again.

A:

Henrik: I don't know much about this particular issue TBH, but I believe we have much more humane practice than what you describe in Finland. https://helsenorge.no/rus-og-avhengighet/behandling-av-samtidige-rusproblemer-og-psykiske-lidelser

Although, I do occasionally read stories about addicts who have problems because different health care institutions don't see the addict as "their" responsibility, and hence they have trouble getting help: https://www.aftenposten.no/meninger/kronikk/i/95PEd/Pasienten-som-ingen-ville-ha--Andreas-Pahle


Q:

I believe he was sentenced to 45 hours of community service, not 45 days?

A:

Henrik: The system is a bit weird. 1 day of jail time is a kind of equivalent of 1 hour of community service. So the verdict is really 45 days, but since they allowed to serve it as community service it comes down to 45 hours.