The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 39.0°F | Fair

Pamphlet Offers Drug Use Advice

By Anna K. Benefiel
STAFF REPORTER

Over the past two weeks, 2,250 copies of a pamphlet entitled, “Drugs At MIT, A Practical Guide for the Intoxicated Engineer” have been distributed on campus.

The pamphlet, which includes information and advice relating to eleven drugs, appeared on The Tech news stands and in the Student Center coffeehouse.

“Published anonymously for protection of the authors,” the pamphlet says that it “accept[s] the fact that you will use, or might be considering using, drugs.”

Pamphlet motivated by death

An author of DAMIT, who wished to remain anonymous, said that he published the pamphlet in an effort to increase the safety of students who chose to use recreational drugs and were not being educated by the Institute.

“MIT seems to be dealing with its own politics and less with its own students,” he said. DAMIT is an effort to “try to help out the students.” The pamphlet hopes to be a source of reliable information “instead of allowing people to rely on street lore.”

The recent death of Richard Guy ’99 provided the immediate impetus for the publication. The author described MIT’s attitude towards the Guy death as “punitive.”

MIT did not seem concerned with the fact that a student died, he said, but concentrated on asking “‘where else can we put the blame?’”

“When something is prohibited, it is driven underground rather than genuinely stopped. Declaring its intent to crack down on drug use... the MIT administration has unequivocally and directly put students in a position of greater danger,” the author of DAMIT said in a press release received by The Tech.

“The possibility of students suffering real harm or even death is greater than ever before” says the pamphlet. “People need to know how to be safe if they choose to use recreational drugs, and people need to not fear legal repercussions if they’re saving the life of someone in danger.”

Education vs. encouragement

While the pamphlet strives to educate it could be read as portraying drugs as “perhaps safe, perhaps worth trying,” its author said.

The pamphlet is “designed for the person who has chosen to use drugs, and who is looking for genuinely useful information on how to minimize his or her risk when doing so,” the authors said in the release.

DAMIT does not advocate or condemn drug use but “encourages [students] to think about what is the right thing” for them “rather than dismissing it (drug use) out of hand,” he said.

“It would be terribly inappropriate to to just come out and say, ‘ecstasy is great! you should try it!’ -- that kind of pressure is unacceptable,” the author said in a release.

Heroin use discouraged

The pamphlet admits a bias against certain drugs. For instance, it advises readers to “avoid heroin at all costs” but says “we don’t want to sound preachy.” It also discourages alcohol use.

The pamphlet “certainly does discourage the use of some drugs, like heroin... I took the route of trying to say [in the pamphlet] that there are some recreational drugs that are quite safe and that produce truly mind-blowing experiences... But you need to consider all the ramifications first and decide for yourself,” the author said in a release.

“From a medical perspective those are dangerous drugs,” he said.

Positive response to the pamphlet

Several people have contacted the pamphlet’s author via email drugsatmit@hotmail.com, saying “they are very happy that [the pamphlet] was finally written, and needed to be written.”

“I do not think there has been any encouragement or discouragement from any organized entities” perhaps due to the fear of drawing “too much political and legal attention.”

While the author said that he agrees with some of the views of drug advocacy groups such as the National Organization for the Repeal of Marijuana Laws, he is not an active member of any group.

He also said that he knew Rene Ruiz ’99 and Susan Mosher ’99 and felt that it is a “shame that they are being prosecuted” but did not release DAMIT with the intent of affecting their pending case.

The pamphlet is the work of a single author who “received comments from a couple of other people regarding content and formatting.” The pamphlet was xeroxed and distributed with the help of “eight people” who were “actively involved in the project.”

Information for the project was obtained from the world wide web and several books listed in DAMIT.

Frank Dabek contributed to the reporting of this article.