How to Unite Drug War Opponents of all Ethnicities
by Ballard Quass
Open letter to Sean McAllister, drug policy reform lawyer
Dear Sean Mcallister,
I just watched your presentation on the MAPS Webinar and enjoyed it greatly. When you have a moment, I have some ideas for you about the strategy of drug decriminalization.
You say that it's difficult to find a single unifying motive around which a variety of folks can come together to fight in favor of psychedelic decriminalization. I think there are two main reasons why that problem exists.
1) Drug-law reformers fail to understand (and therefore to adequately publicize) the enormous shortcomings of the current pill-mill approach to modern psychiatry. Those who really understand these shortcomings (especially those, like myself, who have been victims of them) consider psychedelic legalization to be a moral imperative! What shortcomings? Well, one in eight male Americans are addicted to anti-depressant SSRIs and one in four females - an addiction problem that the hypocritical drug warrior ignores, as do most psychiatrists. And, as Julie Holland reports, many of these antidepressants are harder to kick than heroin. These Big Pharma meds turn the individual user into a lifelong patient who has to take these pills every day of their life, which is expensive and demoralizing - but results in just so many annuities for uber-rich Big Pharma. What's more, Robert Whitaker has shown that these drugs actually cause the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix! And now they're being marketed to toddlers!!!
The failure of decrim advocates to point these things out makes me fear that they're afraid to criticize Big Pharma and the American Psychiatric Association. But if these things were known and publicized - along with the psychotherapeutic promise of psychedelics and the fact that they're non-addictive - then there should be a vast community of interested parties lined up to push through psychedelic legalization in order to unhook America and empower folks who are otherwise being turned into "eternal patients." But first someone's got to speak up to the American public and tell them that the psychiatric emperor is wearing no clothes - despite the fact that many doctors have appeared on shows like Oprah over the years (under the pay of Big Pharma) to suggest otherwise. But if we pretend that psychiatry as it exists now is just fine, then few people are going to get excited about legalizing exotic-sounding drugs that can replace the status quo.
2) There is another reason why the psychedelic decriminalization project does not attract more benefactors. That is because this approach ignores the root problem behind ALL drug laws, both in regard to psychedelics, cocaine and opium, etc. The original sin of the drug war is that, beginning in 1914, it began criminalizing Mother Nature's plants. I believe that this can and must be construed as a violation of the natural law upon which this nation was founded. Surely, Thomas Jefferson never for a moment thought that government had the right to give or withhold access to specific plants based on political considerations. I can think of no more obvious fundamental right than our right to what John Locke referred to as "the use of the earth and all that lies therein." By failing to make this point, and arguing for piecemeal legalization of certain plants instead, we are basically conceding that government does have the right to interfere with our access to Mother Nature's plants in the first place. We just want to carve out a few exceptions to that rule. But if we wish to unite all reformers with a common goal, we need to argue for the re-legalization of Mother Nature's plants, period, full stop - for which I've even created a bumper sticker on my website, AbolishTheDEA.com: "END DRUG WAR SHARIA - RE-LEGALIZE PLANTS."
Besides violating natural law, the drug war is a violation of the separation of church and state. Why? Because laws that prohibit the use of plant medicines represent the enforcement of Christian Science with respect to emotional healing. Again, this line of argument is one that can be advanced in regard to both psychedelics and cocaine, etc., and thus it is an approach that could bring together the otherwise culturally separated parties. Once we recognize the common denominator in all drug-war problems - the original sin of criminalizing plants - we reformers can all come together under one banner to denounce the DEA with one synchronized voice.
A comment about peyote and justice. I am sympathetic with those Native Americans who fear for the peyote supply. That said, as I understand it, their interest is in peyote that comes from specific traditional locations, such as southern Texas - and I do not believe that they would be materially injured if peyote were grown elsewhere and then used by non-Native Americans. In any case, I trust and hope that there is a way to respect all parties without using the icky expedient of embracing the intolerant and racist drug law itself. That's kind of like "finding some good" in the "three-fifths law" and embracing it for specific cases. In my opinion, we should be ending drug laws (which are really "plant laws"), rather than seeing how we can accommodate them to our own purposes, whatever our end goals might be.
In ending, I would like to share with you my number-one strategy for deconstructing the propaganda of the drug warrior: simply take drug war statements and replace the word "drugs" with "plants." For instance, when Trump says that he wants to execute drug dealers (a statement that sadly seems to resonate with many Americans) re-write the sentence as: "Trump wants to execute those who deal in Mother Nature's plants." That sounds a lot less reasonable, yet that's what the drug war really is: it's a war on plants (complete with philosophical links to the burning of plant-using witches and the Conquistadors' disdain for plant-centric religion). But the drug warrior knows that sounds silly. That's why they always replace the word "plants" with the pejorative and baggage-laden term "drugs."
Meanwhile, I invite you to visit my website, abolishthedea.com, and spread the word about its existence, if you believe in what I'm doing. I have about zero visitors per day because I neither advertise nor accept advertisements! But I am hoping to publish a book with my content later this year!
Best wishes, thanks, and stay well....
PS I believe the drug war in the west dates back to Emperor Theodosius in 392 CE when he abolished the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian Mysteries (after almost 2,000 consecutive years of overawing participants such as Plato, Cicero and Plutarch). Why? Because the Emperor (quite tellingly) considered the obviously compelling ritual to be a threat to Christianity. I believe that the modern drug war is waged for the same philosophical reason, to protect Christianity from a perceived metaphysical threat - and also for financial reasons: to support the Corrections Industry, Big Pharma, psychiatry, Big Liquor, and law enforcement - and finally to win elections for conservatives by removing leftists from the voting rolls (after arresting them for felony drug charges). Incidentally, that's another grievance on which all drug reformers can unite: the recognition that the drug war strategically steals elections for drug warriors by removing thousands of drug war opponents from the voting rolls.
PPS Better yet, put the Drug Warriors on the defensive for once. Demand that the DEA not simply be abolished, but call for a trial to prosecute those who have knowingly lied about medical godsends for 40+ years, along with DEA Chiefs like John C. Lawn, who have knowingly poisoned marijuana users with Paraquat, a weed killer that has been found to cause Parkinson's Disease. If the drug war is an actual war, then John C. Lawn is a war criminal, who knowingly poisoned Americans, knowingly endangering their lives and ultimately punishing a misdemeanor with the potential infliction of a catastrophic illness.
NOTE: Another way to interest a wider audience in psychedelics: Highlight their ability to facilitate the growth of neurons and then perform intense clinical trials with them on Alzheimer's patients. Impoverished ethnicities may think of psychedelic "trips" as a luxury, but surely they don't feel that way about preserving and restoring the memory capacity of their elderly parents.
NOTE 2: When Americans encounter unjust laws, they never do the right thing: seek to change the law in question. Instead, they seek to amend the law in order to help out certain interest groups. That's why the tax system in the US is such a mess. No one has the guts or energy to change the worse-than-byzantine nightmare that it's become. And so homeowners demand changes that will help them, investors request changes that will help them, corporations request changes that will help them -- and so the system becomes more byzantine every year.
This is why we hear talk of inequity in the fight against the drug war. One group wants to focus on this drug, the other on that. But just like in the tax example, both sides ignore the one unifying approach that the situation cries out for. Only by rejecting the drug war itself on first principles, as a violation of natural law, can we bring about a strategy that will unite all the stakeholders: including that often overlooked and totally "unleveraged" demographic: those who go without adequate medical treatment thanks to the DEA's lies about Mother Nature's medicines.
So the anti-drug war movement shoots itself in the foot. Its lack unity is all down to the fact that they are not focusing on the principal evil of the drug war, namely the fact that it unjustly criminalizes Mother Nature's plants and is thus a violation of natural law. Once you rule out fighting back on this the principal ground of complaint, you're left with only piecemeal protests that attack facets of the drug war based on parochial interests. This go-slow, selfish approach to fighting injustice is a recipe for overall failure. Until all parties recognize that the drug war is flawed root and branch, they will remain divided and achieve only partial victories.
The author has been accused of being "reactionary" for comparing the modern drug warrior to the Conquistadores of yore. Here is his response:
There is an ideological current running through western culture that can be discerned from Columbus to Donald Trump, wherein we, the west, think we know what's best for other countries. When the Conquistadores shut down the mushroom cults in South America and killed thousands of the adherents, the act was motivated by the same self-assured scientistic and religious hubris that America demonstrates when it travels overseas today to eradicate plants that have been used responsibly by other cultures for millennia, and doing so without a care in the world for the feeling of the locals. The motivation is philosophically the same, then as now, as is the goal: to spread western ways around the world and make the world safe for alcohol and tobacco and Christianity and give them a monopoly.
I believe using the term "conquistadores" is important to show how modern drug warrior attitudes are not appearing out of nowhere, as if by magic, but that they are part of a western intolerance toward other cultures that dates back many centuries, at least to the time of Emperor Theodosius II when he outlawed the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian Mysteries in 389 AD. For while the west has largely abandoned the intolerant church, they have not abandoned the intolerance associated with it.
To summarize: I did not mention "conquistadores" randomly and in order to shock, but rather to highlight a thread of intolerance toward other cultures and "other ways of being" that runs through western history. For again, the drug war mentality did not spring like Venus, ready-made out of a clam shell. It came from a European Christian culture that has long felt it acceptable to run roughshod over the religious and cultural practices of non-westerners. We shouldn't hide this fact from our adversaries in an effort to sound conciliatory, but rather get them used to hearing the truth, that, unbeknownst to them, they are perpetuating a reign of western intolerance for other cultures that has been going on now for millennia.
Are you wondering why I stopped you? Well, aside from the fact that you're Black, of course. No, seriously, seriously! (Sorry, my mom always said I should have been a comedian.) I stopped you to give you a warning. No, not about your dodgy right headlight (tho' you really should get that fixed). I wanted to warn you that this website is all about criticizing the willful ignorance of society when it comes to so-called "drugs." It is not -- I repeat NOT -- about encouraging either "drug use" or the LACK of "drug use." Ya feel me? It's about encouraging EDUCATION about substances rather than DRUG WARRIOR DEMONIZATION of substances.
Got it? Okay, repeat after me, then: THIS WEBSITE IS ABOUT ENCOURAGING EDUCATION ABOUT SUBSTANCES RATHER THAN DRUG WARRIOR DEMONIZATION OF SUBSTANCES!!!
So if you're contemplating using anything from table salt to heroin, you've come to the wrong site. The author is neither a doctor nor a pharmacologist. This is a philosophical website, not a practical website. You dig me? You need to study up on any and all substances using reliable sources: don't get your medical opinions about specific substances from a philosophy website like this one, for Peter's almighty sake! Ya feel me? Is the copper right or is the copper right?
Now, be on your way -- unless, of course, you're Black, in which case, get out of the car this instant and put your hands on the top of my vehicle! Move! Move! Move! Papa's gonna rough you up a bit. (Tee-hee.)
Just kidding. I really should have been a stand-up comedian, you know.
And get that right headlight looked at, ya numbskull!
Bone up on slam-dunk arguments against the drug war, starting with the fact that it was a violation of natural law to outlaw plant medicine in the first place. Check out
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for fun ways to learn more about the manifold injustice of the status quo, including many knock-down arguments never made before. Why? Because even the majority of drug-war opponents have been bamboozled by one or more of the absurd assumptions upon which that war is premised. See through the haze. Read on. Listen on. And Learn how tryants and worrywarts have despoiled American freedom, thereby killing millions around the world, totally unnecessarily, ever since the fateful day in 1914 when ignorant America first criminalized a mere plant -- and insisted that the rest of the world follow suit or else -- an act of colonialist folly unrivaled since the days of the genocidal Conquistadors.