Buy Illegal! Magazine So Its Vendors Can Buy More Drugs
Michael Lodberg Olsen is the bearded, benevolent guardian angel to Copenhagen’s drug addicts. A couple of years ago, the Dane started driving a van around his home cityoffering heroin users a safe, sterile environment in which they could inject under the supervision of volunteers and trained nurses, rather than behind some trash cans in the park or in a shitty hostel. Olsen’s scheme was initially met with a fair amount of local opposition, but in the end he managed to win many of his detractors over.
Michael’s latest project, which he launched a couple of weeks ago, is Illegal!—a magazine that hard drug users can buy for $1.80 and sell to the public for around $5.00. At first glance it seems similar to the Big Issue, until you get to the mission statement. While the Big Issue was set up to feed homeless people and get them off the streets, Illegal!'s explicit aim is to help drug addicts—many of whom are homeless—raise money to buy more drugs.
Again, the scheme has attracted criticism—after all, much of the cash handed over will be going straight into the pockets of heroin dealers—but Michael has presented a case that’s hard to argue with. Surely it’s better that Copenhagen’s drug addicts are earning their money selling magazines, than if they are—for example—robbing people, shoplifting, or selling their bodies for sex?
Michael (left) and his colleague Thomas Paalsson