June 14th of this year marks the beginning of the month-long World Cup tournament, which will be held in Russia. The matches are bound to contain many surprising moments, but the biggest surprise may have already happened—Russia has announced that it will allow foreign fans to bring medical marijuana and cocaine to the matches.
As if football fans weren’t lively and animated enough, right?
According to Russian authorities, travelers who wish to bring the substances will need to fill out paperwork in advance. The drugs must be legally prescribed, and there must be supporting documents—and those documents need to be written in Russian.
According to an Izvestia newspaper, legally prescribed heroin will also be allowed at the World Cup matches. Obviously, you’ll need a doctor’s note for the heroin too, and it will also need to be written in Russian. With the right paperwork, codeine, amphetamines, and morphine will also be permitted.
The notes need to state that the narcotics are for medicinal use. Travelers will need to fill out a customs declaration. Additional paperwork will be necessary if one wants to bring multiple types of a single drug into the country.
The organizing committee of the 2018 World Cup said that there will be security officers posted at the entrances of the tournament’s various playing sites and at checkpoints throughout the sites. Those law enforcement officers will verify the authenticity of the necessary prescriptions for the substances.
While marijuana, cocaine, and heroin will be allowed at the World Cup matches, smoking cigarettes will still be prohibited.
The World Cup will be hosted by Russia in 11 cities, including Sochi, Saint Petersburg, and Moscow. It will last from the 14th of June to the 15th of July. The United States will not be participating as a result of the US men’s national team losses to both Honduras and Panama in qualifications rounds last October. It will be first time since 1986 that the United States won’t participate in the World Cup.
What’s particularly surprising about this whole narcotic situation is that Russia is not exactly known for having particularly lenient drug laws, and the country definitely has a problem with illicit drug use. The country actually has one of the highest populations of intravenous drug users in the world. Unsurprisingly, HIV is a major problem in the country as a result. The rate of HIV infections in Russia is actually rising, which is not the case in the United States or United Kingdom.
It has been estimated that there are between 7.3 and 8.5 million drug users in Russia, and there were almost 100,000 drug-related fatalities in the country in 2014.
The inability to access treatment for drug dependency—and the poor quality of the treatment—in Russia has been widely reported on.
However, despite the strict laws and poor treatment, drug use remains a major problem in Russia.
You might laugh at the idea of medical marijuana or medical cocaine at a football stadium. However, medical marijuana is growing more acceptable—it seems—each and every year. While its use hasn’t been researched as extensively as it probably should have been by now, the evidence we do have suggests that it can be used to reduce chronic pain, reduce muscle spasms, treat the nausea and vomiting that comes with chemotherapy, as well as improve the appetite of people suffering from HIV and AIDS.
Limited evidence also suggests that medical cannabis may benefit those with multiple sclerosis (MS) and certain movement problems. The use of cannabis to treat MS is approved in 10 countries.
Medical cocaine can be used as a numbing agent during procedures of the nose and the mouth, although its use has decreased due to the availability of synthetic local anesthetics. Some ear, nose, and throat specialists still use it when performing nasal cauterization.
Heroin, also known as diamorphine, is not prescribed for medical reasons in the United States; however, it can be prescribed in the United Kingdom as a very strong pain medication for certain conditions, such as chronic pain as well as end-stage cancer. It continues to be used for palliative care in the United Kingdom, especially in cases where a patient can’t swallow a morphine solution.