Soccer fans will not only be allowed to bring drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin to Russia for the World Cup, they may even be able to bring them into stadiums, as detailed in a Moscow Times report.
The Eurasian Economic Union, a bloc of nations led by Russia that also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, allows travelers to bring banned substances inside their borders as long as the travelers have the necessary medical paperwork. Russia’s World Cup organizing committee says that law enforcement officers will be on site at host venues to verify the authenticity of fans’ medical documents.
There are a couple things at work here. For starters, while the stigma surrounding marijuana has lessened in recent years, the idea that fans could possibly enter stadiums with harder drugs won’t do anything to help the already negative perceptions surrounding this World Cup, from warnings about fan violence to official guidelines set forth to help protect gay and transgender people in a country with a hideous record of failing to do so.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has repeatedly pledged to make sure the World Cup goes off without major incident. And to be fair, last summer’s Confederations Cup, often utilized as a dry run for countries hosting the World Cup a summer in advance, took place with barely any hint of controversy.
If Putin and the organizing committee are serious, then it’s highly doubtful any fans get drugs like cocaine and heroin into stadiums legally. Heroin, for example, while prescribed as a pain medication under intense control in some countries, has been classified as having no acceptable medical use in the United States. Cocaine, meanwhile, is used as a topical anesthetic, but something tells us zero surgeries will be performed at World Cup venues this summer. At least we hope.
Another concern raised, however, comes from Yevgeny Bryun, a psychiatrist-narcologist from the Russian Ministry of Health. He believes that openly accepting marijuana possession and usage could have political reverberations.
“The very fact of the appearance of people who freely use marijuana for certain ‘green’ doctors, is propaganda for the legalization of drugs,” Bryun is quoted as saying. “That’s bad. I do not think that people who come to the (World Cup) will start selling marijuana. … But I’m shocked.”
So there are clearly several layers of concern with this policy. Here’s hoping it won’t tarnish fans’ experiences in Russia or the tournament itself.