I'm asking about this question, where using drugs is the main goal of the OP.

My opinion has already been done long time ago: drugs are bad. But this is a personal opinion, and not the point. What I want to raise here, and where our community opinions are important, is this:

What do we do with questions involving the use of substances?

To me, if it's about talking to a drug user, it could be on the verge, i.e. "how can I tell my friend to seek professional help?" or something close to that. But when it comes to seeking approval for substances, well... And one thing to keep in mind is the legal aspect of the use. Some countries allow some drugs, some prohibit all/some. I'm not even mentioning the possible outcome on some other "social thing" if the question hits the HNQ.

What should be our line of conduct here?

  • 3
    That's a great question, thanks for asking! I think you did make the difference but just to be clear, I'd like to make sure that everyone understands that the question you mentioned is off topic and got closed for reasons that were not directly related to drug usage (I checked the drugs mentioned in the post, they're all legal in some parts of the world). What's wrong with this question is that OP's author is trying to convince their partner to think that it's okay to use drugs while they clearly said before they disagreed with it: that's trying to force someone's opinion. Which is off topic.
    – avazula
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 17:19
  • Yup! You too nailed it ;)
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 17:23
  • May I qualify for this then?! Sorry, that's what happens to a ɥɔnɯ ooʇ ʞuɐɹp oɥʍ ıpǝſ ! :)))
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 17:31
  • you sure do pal! I need to keep an eye on that post :)
    – avazula
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 19:07
  • Do we even care which specific drug is being talked about? Can we just use "a drug" everywhere? That mostly shouldn't matter from an interpersonal standpoint. In some cases legality or other properties of the drug may come into play, but those should naturally find their way into the question and we shouldn't be expected to know anything about any given drug.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 23:38

3 Answers 3


Downvote if you don't like the post, but we shouldn't police this.

Legal issues are out of scope here; it's up to individuals to know whether or not particular substances are legal in their jurisdiction. The most we should do here is edit in a disclaimer.

Same for medical. I don't know what specific types of drugs are considered highly dangerous and which aren't, or how much use is considered addiction or not, but that's not for us to decide. That's between the user and their doctor.

We also have to consider there's different norms across the world for substance use. I'm from the US, where marijuana is only legal in some states, and that very recently. If we think OP is from a state where it's still not legal should we close it? And what about cigarettes, alcohol? Vaping? These all have dangers too but are more widely socially acceptable.

In this question, OP feels he is being safe and is not at risk of harm or addiction. So it does not appear to be a concern of imminent danger (whether to self - where we'd remove and escalate to CMs, or to others - where we'd remove probably as R/A).

If we did get a question about clear substance abuse (not just use) like, say, "how to ask partner to stop complaining that I get blackout drunk every night of the week" - well, I would expect a bunch of frame challenges :p Depending on the details, I could also see such a question being closed as "needs professional help". But that's something we decide post-by-post.

I agree that pressuring others into partaking of anything is not ok, but I don't think we need to specifically call out drugs here - for instance, it's also inappropriate if the person is vegan and the "substance" is meat. Depending on the amount of pressure, it could be considered harassment and thus violating the CoC (like with PUA), or just a "convince" question which we've discussed are not generally a great fit for the site.

As far as HNQ... we'll cross that bridge if we come to it, but we do have the option now to remove a question from the sidebar if it's generating a lot of trouble.

Prior work on IPS meta:

I also searched around on the network to see if other sites had similar discussions:

  • Fitness.SE

    Drugs shouldn't be excluded, and it's not the community's job to take a stance, especially if it's more politically or ethically driven rather than driven by curiosity or knowledge.

  • Travel.SE considered making a tag specifically for recreational substances (though apparently they never went through with it?), and they do have questions referencing recreational drug use.

  • Chemistry.SE can get questions regarding controlled substances. They don't ban them, but added to their help/on-topic that they don't discuss legality.

  • Lifehacks.SE suggests downvoting and flagging.

  • Last but certainly not least, Main Meta: Dealing with questions of nefarious intent:

I think that there are five levels of action that you can take:

  1. Just answer the question without comment. Who are we to pry into other people's business, which may be confidential?
  2. Do nothing. The original poster won't get an answer and will have to try somewhere else.
  3. Leave a comment indicating that you think this is "evil" and asking for more information as to why the asker wants to do this. Then you can choose whether or not to answer the question based on their response.
  4. Down-vote the post, and preferably leaving a comment that explains why to the poster.
  5. (The nuclear option:) Flag the post as spam, offensive, or just in need of moderator attention.

Basically, what I'm saying is that you have to treat each post on its own merits.

So I think this stance is consistent with how the rest of the network deals with such topics.

  • FWIW: it's not about drugs specifically, I even mentioned in a comment that I would think exactly the same if it was about another topic (someone mentioned vegan). It's about the manipulation of the other person that I'm "fighting" against, and I'd like a clear standard of the community in this case.
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 18:32
  • 1
    @OldPadawan the question here just talks about substances... if it's actually about manipulation, we've already had some discussions like the ones I linked, about "convince" questions and getting around boundaries, are those not clear enough? are you asking if they apply to the linked question too?
    – Em C
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 18:40
  • Yes, as @avazula and other(s?) said earlier, it's about manipulation, and I want to make sure this specific question is covered by our existing policies. I asked because it seemed to me I was too lonely interpreting the OP like I do. Just in case I was wrong, I asked :)
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 19:02

Two points:

  • On Apple.SE, jailbreak, Hackintosh etc questions are allowed. Doing so is illegal in some parts, legal in some. But that's not under the answerers' job to mention every country where the answer would apply to.


  • We cannot replace psychiatrists and other professional help, but for less severe questions, where it's about talking things out, it can be handled as other questions. If it's about convincing, provide some resistance, if it's "should I do drugs", close as opinion based, if it's about telling someone in the family/friends about one's drug habits, we can help.


We already have quite a few questions regarding substances and I think this is a good thing. Depending on the drug, in some places it can be deeply ingrained in the culture. And if it's a cultural norm, it means there's room for some great IPS questions about etiquette and bucking etiquette.

However, there is one type of substance question that I think we should deem completely off-topic: trying to convince someone else to use. We have a strict policy against harming others. I believe that all or most substances have adverse effects on the body, making any discussion about trying to get someone else to partake, an infraction of this policy.

Concerning the question in question: I agree with you--drugs are bad. However, if the OP's girlfriend, you and I were all vegan and OP is trying to have a conversation with the girlfriend about eating nothing but meat for one day every year, I think that would be a valid question despite you and I both feeling that processed meat is bad, right?

I see your issue that any good answer may seem to be advocating drug usage by arguing it's okay in moderation like OP is suggesting. While I disagree that that argument is true (and feel believing and perpetuating that argument is dangerous to others in the future), the point answers should be focusing on isn't the argument, but the interpersonal aspect of holding a discussion with the girlfriend and coming to an agreement.

  • Thanks for answering. I can see your points. I will disagree, I would do the same with vegan :) because I think that, in our case, OP is trying to get approval from GF. Not discuss it. Manipulation is sooo close here... It's not quite phrasing request, it's more like "argument request".
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 16:29
  • 1
    @OldPad maybe that's just a sign that the question is off-topic regardless of the drugs then? I agree with you that it is a little close to a "how can I convince...?" question.
    – scohe001
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 16:38
  • To me, it's exactly that. You nailed it (too): a "how can I convince... ?". So, no matter what the subject is, it's off-topic. And answering this kind of question is a slippery slope IMO.
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 16:53
  • 1
    @OldPadawan Importantly we already have a system in place for closing this question without resorting to creating a new special rule for drug related questions.
    – sphennings
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 18:14
  • 1
    @sphennings: this isn't about drugs. It's about the rules on IPS. As pointed out in comments by scohe and avazula, it's really about the heart of the question, and the way it's written, what it's asking for, and so on... Really not about a new rule, just to make sure this is covered.
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 18:26
  • @sphennings: I do believe its important to have reached a common consensus on such a sensitive topic though, for many reasons. We can't always know for sure where does the OP come from (and therefore if it's a legal drug to use in their country), and neither can we for the answerers. Does having Q&As on drugs could incite some people to start using (I.e. If someone says "I used to do crack when I was depressed and it helped me go through those tough times")? This definitely seems to me like a conversation to have together, if it wasn't already discussed in the past.
    – avazula
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 19:13
  • @avazula I don't think your "crack cured my depression" is the best example in this case since that seems to be talking about a solution to a personal problem, not a interpersonal one. Such an answer either doesn't answer the question, (and can be deleted), or seems to imply that the hypothetical question, is off topic, in which case we should have closed it. I think this highlights the difficulty with preemptively discussing this. Without concrete examples of how our current policies run short we're left worrying about hypotheticals. This creates a lot of room for misunderstanding.
    – sphennings
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 20:32
  • 1
    @sphennings I could see an answer to a question about getting to know/bonding with someone being answered with something like "Just invite them out to smoke a bowl or two! I had these friends I made and we weren't really close until..." Is that an okay answer? What if it was inviting out to drinks? What if it was a harder drug? I think where we draw the line somewhere like that is an interesting question, but I also agree that chasing hypotheticals isn't all that productive.
    – scohe001
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 20:37

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