drug policy

Episode 21: Ethically Documenting Drug Use Activism

Sometimes, you’ll be reading a great piece on the drug overdose crisis that is just ruined by a crappy stock image of a gigantic syringe and a mountain of what is obviously flour or someone nodding out on the sidewalk. On this episode, Narcotica explores what accurate, tactful drug imagery should look like.

The team speaks with Nigel Brunsdon, the official/unofficial photographer of the modern day harm reduction movement, who is joining us via from the UK. He has shadowed the Chicago Recovery Alliance, Harm Reduction International, and many others on the front lines of the so-called drug war. His photos of the workers, advocates, people who use drugs, and the academics are loaded with grief, emotion, hope, and solidarity. He explains balancing privilege, relationships and representation of impacted communities through drug war photojournalism.

Follow Nigel on his website nigelbrunsdon.com and check out harmreductionphilosophy.com for more on how harm reduction works as an ideology.

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We talk a lot about this image that we used from Nigel for Episode 3, memorializing harm reduction activist Dan Bigg. Here it is for reference:


Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy and Aaron Ferguson
Image Credit: Nigel Brunsdon / Edit by Troy Farah

Episode 16: The Crew Interviews the Crackdown’s Garth Mullins

Canada’s Downtown Eastside in Vancouver is known around the world as a city of pain and trauma. That’s not the whole story. Vancouver has produced trailblazing harm reduction activists and scholars who have changed the fabric of drug user health care. The Crackdown is a podcast that features some of the bravest activists who are pushing the envelope in drug policy. In this episode, Chris, Troy, and Zach interview Garth Mullins, host of The Crackdown, about what spawned the show, the differences between American and Canadian drug policy, and what journalism looks like when it is owned and produced by drug users. Check out The Crackdown.

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Producer: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Music: Glass Boy and Aaron Ferguson
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson — https://soundcloud.com/knowmad1

Episode 11: Beyond Borders — How the U.S. Exports Dangerous Drug Policy

America practically invented prohibition, or at least popularized it to the point where nearly every country models itself after U.S. drug policy. The results have been nothing short of disastrous. Troy Farah talks with foreign policy expert Sanho Tree about how the ‘Land of the Free’ have exported draconian drug laws, enslaving the rest of the planet. This discussion covers poppy fields in Afghanistan, Central American migrants fleeing gangs, the Bolivian model for cocaine regulation, death squads in the Philippines and how Trump’s wall is just more bad drug policy.


Follow Sanho Tree on Twitter.

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Producer: Troy Farah
Image credit: Alastair Rae, Flickr / Edit by Troy Farah
Music: Inaequalis and Glass Boy

Episode 5: Speed Up, Slow Down Pt. 1


With all the focus on opioids, Narcotica has decided to launch a series on stimulants called “Speed Up, Slow Down.” In the first installment, Zachary Siegel takes a critical look at how media depicts meth and cocaine use. He interviews two users about how stimulants actually help them function. Then, he talks to Sheila Vakharia from the Drug Policy Alliance about harm reduction, and Kat Humphries from the Harm Reduction Action Center about her “Methamphetazine” that features art from Denver stimulant users.

Download link for the zine.

More info on harm reduction for stimulants here. Follow Sheila Vakharia: @MyHarmReduction

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Photo credit: Composite of Wikimedia images by Troy Farah