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/

Comments: 63 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

simbakung16 karma

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

EmmaSofia21 karma

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.

hooklineandsinkers-9 karma

Are you equating LSD with alcohol?

EmmaSofia6 karma

Henrik: In general alcohol has much more potential for harm, both for the user and the society, than LSD.

Since the usage patterns and their "use cases" are so different, it's hard to compare directly. I was just pointing out that it's a paradox that LSD is prosecuted while the much more harmful alcohol is legal (and almost celebrated) in popular culture.

OG2G12 karma

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

EmmaSofia14 karma

Teri: Magic mushrooms (or truffles) are sold legally in shops in the Netherlands. Hundreds of thousands of servings per year, mostly to tourists, with very little information and without any supervision. Imagine wandering the streets of a foreign city while high on mushrooms plus possibly hash and alcohol, that cannot be the ideal setting for tripping! Yet hospital and police records show very few problems related to magic mushrooms. And an official harm assessment concluded:

"The use of hallucinogenic mushrooms... poses such a low risk for the health of the individual and for society that prohibiting their use would appear to be a disproportionately grave measure in relation to the nuisance and damage caused by their current use." http://www.rivm.nl/bibliotheek/digitaaldepot/cam_paddo_advies.pdf

Basically, LSD and magic mushrooms are certainly not risk free, but they are not particularly dangerous. The risks are generally comparable to other activities considered to have acceptable safety, such as bicycle riding, skiing, soccer, etc.

EmmaSofia9 karma

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.

daddelsatan11 karma

Have you (Henrik) experienced any stigma after the trial?

EmmaSofia9 karma

Henrik: Not really, all the people I have discussed this are a bit surprised and cautious, but never judgemental.

With an hour of two explaining personal experiences and providing sources on the relative low risk, I usually get a cautious initial acceptance, and when people get some time to do their own research, they come around.

All the people I know who knows anything at all about psychedelics have been extremely positive so that more than makes up for it!

napajigneb8 karma

Hi! Have you had any experience with LSD or other psychedelics to combat mental health issues?

EmmaSofia8 karma

Teri: There is some evidence from clinical trials that LSD and/or psilocybin can help treat alcoholism, nicotine addiction, depression, anxiety related to terminal illness, and other mental disorders. This is being studied at Johns Hopkins University, Imperial College London, and other research institutions.

Unlike most psychiatric medications that are used daily possibly for years, psychedelics are given just once or a few times within a treatment program.

Patients report that while under the influence of psychedelics they get new perspectives on their problems as well as renewed enthusiasm for participating in therapy.

Here are some videos of patients and researchers from psychedelic clinical trials: http://heffter.org/media/

EmmaSofia6 karma

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.

perandre7 karma

What is your elevator pitch for legalizing psychedelics?

EmmaSofia13 karma

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.

EmmaSofia4 karma

Teri: Yeah, as Henrik says, you are unlikely to change someone's mind in one encounter. Just state your opinion, say as much as you feel comfortable about your personal experience, ask genuine questions (not rhetorical or gotcha questions) to the other person, and let them ask you questions. Welcome questions and concerns. Just get the idea out there and let people know you are open to talking about psychedelics.

Remember, most people have so much stuff going on in their lives, psychedelics are just not something they think about one way or another. There are very few people these days who are actively opposed specifically to psychedelics. Even FoxNews has posted several positive stories about psychedelics.

If they ask for details about how regulation would work (will they be sold in licensed shops?), you can say "Yeah, these are good questions, this is where we should be having a public discussion."

If someone says, "That is never going to happen". You can say that public opinion seems to be rapidly shifting, clinical trials are happening at major universities, etc. A recent YouGov poll found most Americans would consider trying psychedelic therapy if it was demonstrated effective. https://today.yougov.com/news/2017/06/23/americans-ready-embrace-psychedelic-therapy/

This is obviously going to happen sooner or later (things just take time). So act relaxed and confident.

Just go ahead and try talking to your friends, family, and colleagues about psychedelics. Over 30 million Americans have tried LSD or psilocybin, so if we all spoke up about this, we could make something happen.

laughter_track7 karma

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.

EmmaSofia14 karma

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.

laughter_track3 karma

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?

EmmaSofia3 karma

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

Klaus_Goldfish1 karma

Narkotika in Norwegian

Since I had a Norwegian correct me on it once: Bokmål or Nynorsk? ;)

Aside from the asinine nitpicking on my part, I agree with you. Legislation should be precise and understandable, and in no other context are such things as LSD, cocaine, and synthetic cannabinoids called "narcotics".

EmmaSofia1 karma

Henrik: Bokmål! Nynorsk is nice for poetry though ;)

baconportal225 karma

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?

EmmaSofia2 karma

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.

coryrenton4 karma

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?

EmmaSofia4 karma

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

pegasuspect934 karma

Hi, excited Norwegian here!

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

EmmaSofia8 karma

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.

73656e646e756465733 karma

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.

EmmaSofia3 karma

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

73656e646e756465732 karma

Fair enough, thanks for the reply and links. The first one actually answered my question pretty thoroughly. We're heading there too, thankfully, but, seems Norway is a bit further in the change.

I also realize now that in my original post I made it seem like it's a rule or something, when it's really just ignorance on the doctors' part. Sadly it's not at all uncommon to run into this line of thinking. It's (rightfully) thought that in a lot of cases drug use usually makes psychological problems worse, and combined with a doctor who's ignorant to psychedelics and their actual effects, this is sadly often the result. I have no doubt this is hugely affected by the "nicotine policy vs drug policy" -point you made earlier in the thread.

So now that i think of it, you're definitely doing something to combat my original question's problem, whether you intended to or not. ;)

No further questions, but just wanted to elaborate a bit. Most of my family lives in Norway and your example will hopefully set a good example for Finland, too, so I can't thank you enough.

EmmaSofia1 karma

Henrik: Thank you, that means a lot!

monobrow_pikachu3 karma

Hi guys. first of all, congratulations!

How can I best make a difference? Do you know of any Danish organization like EmmaSofia that I could support?

Also, you forgot to add a hyperlink to the "Go to the IAMA on Reddit." on top of Emmasofia.org :)

EmmaSofia2 karma

How can I best make a difference?

Henrik: Organizing is the best way to make any meaningful change. (Politicians respect groups with many members).

The main enemy is ignorance about the evidence. Basically being a part of the public discourse is important. => social media.

Also: Tell your story. People love stories, they are much more convincing than facts, to most people.

EmmaSofia1 karma

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:

VaguesSun3 karma

Do you have intentions on convincing the government to consider it for legalization for medical/recreational use?

EmmaSofia5 karma

Henrik: Yes, it's no good reason why it shouldn't be. It's not addictive, very low health risks, and can be a powerful tool for personal development, and also give beautiful and profound experiences.

It all comes down to responsible use (dosage, set and setting), and that's best served by giving proper information and allow quality control of the substances.

The current system is bad for both the users and the state, but good for the black market players.

didtrowie2 karma

Pål-Ørjan an Teri Krebs, you are doing some very interesting research, and I am worried that your activism will hurt your reputation and your chances to expand your research. Even though the academic world is boring and stiff, it’s still there in my opinion that you have the biggest chances of creating a long lasting change, in for example the medical usage of mdma and hallucinogenics.

What are your thoughts about this?

EmmaSofia2 karma

Teri: Scientists, clinicians, and other informed people have a duty to speak out when policies are not based on evidence, especially when they hurt people and violate human rights.

(Think of Linus Pauling and other scientists who opposed nuclear weapon testing.)

Research on psychedelics has been impeded by misunderstandings and out-dated prejudices. So working on human rights and drug policy reform goes together with increasing possibilities for clinical trials with psychedelics.

katentreter2 karma

The truth (or facts) about LSD are unbelievable, especially when you are from the "drugs are bad"-fraction.

So as soon as you talk about LSD and its effects or properties or even about your own personal experience to people who don't know much about it (or most of the time they THINK they would know about it, but it's 95% nonsense) they encouter like "Haha what are you talking about? You have done too much drugs, now your brain is damaged and you talk nonsense".

How do we deal with such situations?

Because most people think in black and white or good and bad. Since LSD = Drug and Drug = Bad ("LSD or Cannabis or Meth or Heroin, doesn't matter, drugs are drugs!!!"), telling them the opposite cannot just be right in their minds. And as we all know, people can find it difficult or impossible to change views. And people rarely admit "Oh yes, I was wrong about that all my life long, thank you for giving me a new perspective on this!". Since LSD and Drugs is a topic they don't really care about because it does not affect them.

EmmaSofia2 karma

Henrik: Yeah, it's fascinating how few people are in fact swayed by facts alone. It's important to tell stories.

Interestingly, the imagery and stories that is "anti-LSD" has a been extremely effective. Almost everyone I have talked to about LSD inevitably mentioned the old (mostly mythical) stories about "people on LSD think they can fly and jump out a window". It's such vivid imagery, it's an idea that is Made to Stick.

I believe books like Acid Test really does a good job of doing this kind of effective story-telling. I very much recommend it.

I also recommend videos like this, which has a good chance of breaking peoples programming, especially for people which score high on Care/harm on their moral foundations.

Mdiasrodrigu1 karma

What are your opinions in regards to the discrimination of drugs in Portugal? Would it be doable in Norway?

EDIT: I meant decriminalization and NOT discrimination

EmmaSofia1 karma

Henrik: Assuming you mean decriminalization. In terms of overdose deaths we have had far to many avoidable overdose deaths https://i.imgur.com/iGy3Rj5.png Drug reform advocates bring up the chasm between Portugal and Norway all the time, and it seems to finally bring about some change. I have big faith in drug reform the next 4 years. Our minister of health (from the conservative party) became an advocate of drug reform earlier this year, so things are certainly in motion!

In terms of psychedelics, Netherlands is a more interesting country to look at. I think allowing smart shops as in Amsterdam is a much better solution than giving the black market free reign as it is now. This allows for quality control and advice from professionals.

Mdiasrodrigu1 karma

You are right, I've meant decriminalization :)

Thank you for your answer !!!

EmmaSofia1 karma


phresch1 karma

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

EmmaSofia1 karma

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.

BakedOllie1 karma

When do you guys plan to come to America? The psychedelic drug laws are very broken here.

EmmaSofia2 karma

Henrik: Norwegian law tends to "default" to US law, so Norway is quite heavily influenced by it. The basis of Norwegian drug laws are still the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961) and Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971) Thankfully, the Norwegian courts have more power/leeway to set precedence than their US counterparts.

I believe "medication before legalization" is a very important factor here. People tend to listen to doctors when it comes to health issues. The most effective way to help getting to a more sensible system is to support organizations like http://www.maps.org/ and http://psychedelicscience.org/ (and EmmaSofia of course :-) )