Key Facts About Erowid, the Online Encyclopedia of Drugs

Erowid.org is a detailed catalogue of drugs consulted by recreational users as well as toxicologists. In our annual Tech Issue, Emily Witt speaks to the founders of the twenty-year-old site about how they’ve gathered so much information on (often illegal) psychoactive substances: http://bit.ly/1MS0e17
  1. It contains profiles of more than three hundred and fifty psychoactive substances, from caffeine to methamphetamine.
  2. Its name means, roughly, “earth wisdom.” It was coined with assistance from a dictionary of Indo-European roots.
  3. The site's founders go by the names Earth and Fire. The early Internet pioneers are a couple who live together in California.
  4. Earth and Fire themselves are not heavy drug users. One reason they haven’t tried opiates, Fire says, is that “Erowid’s legacy would take a nosedive” if one of them were to die of an overdose.
  5. Last year, the site had at least seventeen million unique visitors.
  6. In February, Reddit users deemed it the fourth-most-worthy nonprofit out of more than eight thousand candidates—ahead of NPR—and granted the site a donation of more than eighty thousand dollars.
  7. It’s not only a catalogue of drugs. You can read about drum circles in the “Mind & Spirit” section, and about Jerry Garcia in “Culture & Art.”