New magazine to fund drug users

The money made from ‘Illegal!’ will most likely go to buying drugs, but that is precisely the point

A new magazine will hit the streets today, but its content – and its sellers – is not the typically glossy fare. 


The street sheet 'Illegal!' is a cultural magazine on drugs and drug culture that will be sold on Copenhagen's streets by addicts themselves. The magazine sells for 30kr, 20kr of which goes directly to the seller. 


Michael Lodberg Olsen, a social entrepreneur who was behind Copenhagen's mobile injection room, said the money sellers earn from the new magazine would most likely be used to buy drugs. But that is the whole idea behind the magazine, as Olsen says it will give drug users an alternative money source to prostitution and crime. 


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A press release announcing the launch of 'Illegal!' characterises the global war on drugs as an abject failure. 


"All over the world, governments' war on drugs have become a war against our fellow human beings," the release reads. "In the attempt to solve the problems of drugs, we kill innocent people, criminalise a large group of people and create immense profits for the drug lords."


And while Olsen acknowledges that a street magazine isn't likely to change things, he said it can do a small part to help. 


"As a civil society, we cannot decide to decriminalise drug users," Olsen said. "But we can make them a little less criminal, bring a war that has failed into focus and create more dignity."


The first issue of 'Illegal!' has, among other things, articles on the US War on Drugs, portraits from an injection room in Aarhus and a list of the twenty most dangerous drugs, in which alcohol claims the top spot. The magazine is in Danish. 


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Olsen said that for now, the magazine is mostly likely to be found in the Vesterbro district but that he hopes it will expand to other areas of Copenhagen. 


He pointed out that it took 'Hus Forbi', a magazine sold by the homeless, to become an accepted part of Copenhagen's street life so the road to success for 'Illegal!' is likely to be long. 


"It will take some time for the drug users to feel comfortable selling the magazine," he said.


If the magazine is a success in Copenhagen, Olsen said he would be interested in expanding the concept to other European capitals like London and Berlin.