In the short story "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" by Edgar Allan Poe, an artistic but moody young man named Augustus Bedloe walks off into the highlands, under the influence of an immoderate dose of morphine. As he begins to lose his way in the dense and foggy forest southwest of Charlottesville, Virginia, he describes the drug's onset as follows:
"In the meantime the morphine had its customary effect- that of enduing all the external world with an intensity of interest. In the quivering of a leaf- in the hue of a blade of grass- in the shape of a trefoil- in the humming of a bee- in the gleaming of a dew-drop- in the breathing of the wind- in the faint odors that came from the forest- there came a whole universe of suggestion- a gay and motley train of rhapsodical and immethodical thought."
I don't know about you, but that's the kind of wide-awake world that I want to live in - or at very least have access to - and I have no patience with the meddling Drug Warriors who insist by law that I renounce that desire. They seem determined to make me view Mother Nature with the same bleary eyes that they possess. "If God had wanted us to improve our minds," they seem to say, "he would have boxed up the relevant therapeutic plants, stamped them with a bar code and placed them on sale at the local Rite-Aid or CVS Pharmacy. Besides, surely a blade of grass is a blade of grass. If you've seen one, you've seen them all. Now, let's go bowling and have some brewskis."
Such Drug Warriors are like a self-satisfied Mr. Magoo who wants to outlaw glasses in the belief that his own natural vision is as good as it gets for anybody - or as good as it should get, according to Mr. Magoo's own glasses-scorning religion.
I don't say this to extol the virtues of addictive morphine. The rain forest is full of the sort of psychoactive plants that could help me see through Bedloe's wonder-filled eyes, none of which entails addiction if used with a full pharmacological appreciation of their effects. But the attainment of this essential knowledge is actively discouraged by the Drug Warrior, who seeks to outlaw - and if possible burn -- objectionable plants rather than to learn about them (thereby reminding one of the superstitious third-world villagers in the Frankenstein films rather than the educated citizens of a first-world country that prides itself on being scientific).
That said, modern society has no right to denounce Bedloe for his "addiction" (a morally tinged word that Poe never employs in this story), since most modern anti-depressants require lifelong administration, which is just a polite way of saying that they're addictive, too. Take me, for instance. I'll be on Effexor for the rest of my life, not because I want to be but because I have to be - given the 95% recidivism rate for those who attempt to quit that so-called "miracle drug."
Poe didn't use drugs to "get high" -- he used drugs to truly appreciate the world around him. Freud didn't use cocaine to get high -- he used it to goad himself on to become prolific. Thomas De Quincey used opium to better enjoy the opera and Benjamin Franklin did so just because he wanted to -- but that was back at a time when people still judged other people for how they actually behaved, as opposed to what substances they happened to have ingested.
The only miracle is that the drug can have such a damnable recidivism rate and still be blithely prescribed by psychiatrists to this very day - many of whom will tell me that I have no right to use morphine. To which I can only respond: "Thanks for nothing, Mr. Magoo!" Apparently, I can become addicted, as long as the addiction fogs my mind and conduces to anhedonia. Heaven forbid that my addiction should give me anything that could be remotely construed as a "high."
This is the negative morality of the Drug Warrior, for whom the ideal tombstone epithet would read: "He/she just said no to Mother Nature's bounty!" Such a sheepish legacy may please the Nancy Reagans of the world, but my goal is to achieve the mental clarity of an Augustus Bedloe in my lifetime, not to curry favor with nature-hating fascists who encourage kids to report their parents for using mother nature's plants.
But how does one attain the awe-filled and grateful visions of Augustus Bedloe in drug-war America? Granted, a few of us are born with the ability, being blessed from birth with the supranatural vision of the reformed St. Francis of Assisi, able to literally "see a world in a grain of sand" thanks to our peculiar psychochemical nature (combined with what Poe might call a felicitous upbringing). For most of us, however, we require a little help - not from our friends, as the Beatles song would have it, but from Mother Nature herself, which appears, upon close inspection, to be full of precisely those kinds of plants that can assist us in our quest for mental clarity.
In a sane world, I could emulate Bedloe's nature-friendly disposition by visiting a pharmacologically savvy shaman who can prescribe for me safely based on his or her unfettered access to all of the naturally growing psychoactive plants of the world. Instead, I'm living under the ruthlessly enforced Sharia of Christian Science, subject to a government that has a metaphysical contempt for mother nature's psychoactive plants and their ability to improve the mind.
Thus mother nature remains inaccessible for my purposes, forcing me to rely instead on modern psychiatry's ineffective, addictive and expensive nostrums. Meanwhile, the millions of addicts that are thus created for Big Pharma continue to fall short of self-actualization in a needlessly dreary life, quietly envying the Augustus Bedloes of the world - those who insist on living life to the fullest and therefore "just say no" to the nature-hating morality of the Drug Warrior.
DISCLAIMER: I should explicitly state (or rather re-state) in this censorious age of ours that I am not advocating the use of morphine. Neither was Poe when he wrote this short story. Rather we both are merely pointing out, in our own ways, the inconvenient truth that many of the drugs that we vilify today have a positive side to them, a side which the Drug Warrior strategically ignores, preferring instead to focus exclusively on a substance's potential negative effects in the hands of irresponsible users. They have to argue in this way in order to make their desired crack down seem like a civic duty rather than like the war on consciousness which it actually is.
In this they are abetted by today's movies, which never illustrate the mind-clarifying use of cocaine (from which Sigmund Freud, for one, benefitted so enormously in his professional life), preferring instead to vilify the substance by associating it with grade-A morons (such as Neil Patrick Harris in the movie "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," in which the actor snorts cocaine off of the rear end of a half-naked lap dancer).
The newspapers are just as guilty of supporting this libelous drug-war sensibility about mother nature's plants. One can scour an early 20th-century newspaper archive for hours and never find a positive story about opium's well-known ability to spur creativity, nor a reference to the fact that opium is non-addictive if used intermittently. Instead, we find countless references to foreigners and minorities using the substances while engaged in highly suspicious activities, such as frequenting opium dens, thereby turning opium into the very incarnation of anti-Christian evil rather than treating it as an amoral substance which, just like cocaine, can be used for good or ill.
June 30, 2022
It's weird. Like all Americans, Brian has been told from his birth to just say no to Mother Nature's godsend medicines, so when he wrote this essay three years ago, it actually almost felt to him like he was performing a criminal act. He was like: "Can I really write honestly about morphine??? Is that even LEGAL???" You've got to remember that the answer to this question was all but "no" in the '60s, when it was almost illegal to publish a "drugs song," namely a song that suggested that it might be okay to use the plant medicines that grow at our very feet. That's why, upon rereading this post today, after three years of writing essays against the Drug War, Brian finds the wording to be unnecessarily apologetic, as if the author were desperately trying to reassure his readers that he had not completely lost his mind, for Brian knew all too well back in November 2019 that his take on morphine was at odds with every bit of propaganda that he had ever consumed in Drug War America.
Had he written it today, trust me, he wouldn't be shuffling his Florsheims and looking down apologetically at his tightly grasped hands, knuckles glowing red. Oh, no. He'd be standing straight up, talking about:
What's wrong with properly guided morphine therapy, say, for the purposes of increasing our love for mother nature? Answer: absolutely nothing -- unless we believe the Drug War lie that medicines like morphine can only be used for evil purposes, that they absolutely have to end in addiction. Which, wrong! There are plenty of ways to avoid addiction, by the proper scheduling (on a calendar, I mean) of psychoactive substances. So those who seek the benefits of "drugs" -- like improved mental focus, creative dreaming, ability to appreciate nature, ability to appreciate music -- can be educated about substances (coca, opium, morphine, and psychedelics respectively) and put on a schedule whereby they can use them wisely, for all the worthy purposes cited above and many many more (a list of benefits limited only by the imagination of the pharmacologically savvy empath who might administer such demonized godsends in a free country).
But Americans are so thoroughly brainwashed by Drug War lies that it's impossible for them to even imagine this paradise of mental possibilities.
But wake up, America. Coca use does not have to be addictive. Opium use does not have to be addictive. Even morphine use does not have to be addictive. And psychedelics just plain AREN'T addictive.
We can actually use our brains to use these godsend meds safely for good purposes. It's up to us. Do we want to demonize plant medicine or use it for the benefit of humanity and humankind?
(That said, even if they WERE addictive, why, exactly, is that any worse than being chemically dependent on brain-numbing Big Pharma meds for a lifetime, especially considering that these latter meds are not known to have any of the rejuvenating powers enumerated above?)
Sadly, Americans have been programmed to despise the above-listed medicines, which is odd given the fact that they could never be rightly banned in a country that professes to believe in natural law.
Yet the Drug War has so fried the American mind, that we not only have decided to hate godsend plant medicine, but we now believe it our right and duty to bully every other country in the world to follow suit -- so that when we ban a substance, everyone everywhere bans that substance. In other words, America has created a Drug War-inspired Christian Science theocracy that rules not just in the States, but worldwide, which leads to needless suffering by hundreds of millions who could have lived a fuller life with the help of the botanical medicine which grows all around them.
Why do we ignore these hundreds of millions who, thanks to our imperialist folly, must live diminished lives, emotionally, spiritually and mentally speaking? Because these "mass of men" lead lives of quiet desperation, and quiet desperation never makes it to the evening news (except in the case of a few prominent suicides) -- whereas the statistically rare misuse of substances by white American youth makes headlines, inspiring skinflint demagogues to irrationally blame their politically defined category called "drugs" for all the evils on the planet.
Let us know what you think. Send your comments to me, Brian Quass, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks! Please be sure to mention the title of the essay to which you are responding.
*"Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist." -- Heather Ann Thompson, The Atlantic, 2014.
The above numbers may represent undercounts since some of these totals were compiled in late 2021.
The news media just doesn't get it -- or doesn't want to get it. Most stories about the deaths of blacks in inner cities never mention the drug war, as if the fact that prohibition led to armed gangs had nothing to do with the skyrocketing gun deaths that they're reporting on today. For a case in point, check out the article by Micaela A Watts in CommercialAppeal with the headline: "Following 346 homicides in Memphis in 2021, officials consider what's driving the violence."
Yes, that's a real poser, Micaela. The city fathers must really be scratching their heads!
The author notes three major theories for the violence, all of which have nothing to do with the drug war: "Lack of conflict resolution skills," a lack of "fair wages," and (get this) poor mental health.
Looks like the city officials failed to ask themselves why city residents were armed to the teeth in the first place. Hello? That was due to the drugs warriors' substance prohibition which incentivized the poor and poorly educated young people to get into the fantastically profitable business of selling drugs!!!
Substance prohibition created drug gangs and cartels just as surely as liquor prohibition created the Mafia.
Yes, drug warrior, YOU are responsible for these deaths. You! It's a natural result of your ban on medical godsends, some of which have inspired entire religions and have the potential for treating (if not curing) such diverse conditions as Alzheimer's, autism, and depression.
Drug War Victim of the Day
killed in Prince Georges County, Maryland on August 15, 2022
Southeast Washington DC remains a no-go zone, even for UPS drivers, as this latest shooting incident points out, which is 1 in 6 shootings that have taken place in the last week, two of them fatal. If this were happening in Hollywood, California, it would be a scandal. But movie stars are people, and victims of the drug war, especially when poor and black, are what Noam Chomsky calls 'unpeople.'
Yes, even the director of "Bamboozled" is bamboozled about drugs. He agrees with the drug warrior lie that there are psychoactive substances in nature that have no positive uses whatsoever, in any place, any time, any context. This superstitious way of thinking has forced me to go without godsend medicine my entire life. Thanks, Spike. Why do you want people to become drug-hating Christian Scientists, exactly? These things that you call "drugs" have inspired entire religions. The conservatives are laughing as they rush to the polls to elect fascists, because they have bamboozled Spike Lee himself to sign off on the drug war which brings death and incarceration to inner city blacks. Throw away that "just say no" teddy bear with which you were bribed in childhood, Spike, and open your eyes.
Mangual is the author of 'Cities got deadlier in 2020: What's behind the spike in homicides?' in which he never once mentioned the drug war!
Here's my letter to his website:
Hi, Rafael. Just wanted to suggest that you start holding the drug war responsible for inner-city violence -- since substance prohibition incentivized 'dealing' in poor neighborhoods and the guns soon followed. Because no one mentions this 64,000-pound Gorilla, Trump is able to blame the deaths on Democrats, so that, rather than ending the violence-causing drug war, he can begin executing the blacks that drug warriors were previously happy with merely incarcerating.
The Secret World: A History of Intelligence.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019.
All warfare is based on deception, said Sun Tzu. Yes, but what is all deception based on? A mistrust of one's fellows. And how do you combat that, Chris? With empathogens like MDMA and psilocybin.
London: East India Publishing Company, 2021.
Pious drug warriors have usually thought of Marcus Aurelius as the perfect replacement for bad evil drugs -- but Marcus had his cake and ate it too. He philosophized under the influence of opium (but don't tell the kids!)
Alice in Wonderland: The Original 1865 Edition With Complete Illustrations By Sir John Tenniel.
New York: Amazon, 2021.
Alice's shroom-powered adventures are a standing reproach to glum-faced drug warriors, who closely resemble the Queen of Hearts, shouting: "Off with their heads, for using godsend medicines of which I disapprove!"
De Quincey, Thomas.
Confessions of an English Opium Eater.
New York: Dover, 1995.
During De Quincey's informed opium use, he "partook" only weekly in order to better enjoy the opera, making his weekday life happier as well, however, thanks to anticipation of use, a benefit of which materialist science takes no account.
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner .
New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
A stark reminder that the world is living under a nuclear sword of Damocles. And why? Because it demonizes all the godsend medicines (like MDMA and shrooms) that could bring humanity together in universal harmony.
The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys .
New York: Park Street Press, 2011.
First-hand accounts of psychological breakthroughs achieved with the guided use of entheogens, suggesting that one-time givens like "character" and "human nature" are far more susceptible to improvement than we thought.
A Disease in the Public Mind: Why We Fought the Civil War.
New York: Da Capo Press, 2014.
The late historian Fleming cites the popular mob-led public "diseases" of Witch-Hunting, Liquor Prohibition, and Communism -- yet says nothing about the Drug War, which was the great disease in the public mind of his own time!!!
Liberalism and Its Discontents.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022.
Great bipartisan insights, BUT... Francis reckons without the drug war, so, like a good drug warrior, he blames all the ills caused by prohibition on the politically created boogieman called "drugs."
The Dream of Enlightenment: the Rise of Modern Philosophy.
New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2016.
The author seems unaware of the increasingly clear ability of empathogens like MDMA and shrooms to improve the very human nature which grumps like Hobbes portray as being so irrevocably fixed.
Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics.
New York: HarperWave, 2020.
Julie claims that Nixon criminalized psychedelics for health reasons. What? That's not the Nixon I know. He said himself that Leary was enemy #1. He was removing "users" from the voting rolls, not protecting them.
The Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell.
New York: Penguin Books, 1970.
Huxley's speculations about perception jibe with modern science, which finds that human beings see what is presumably useful to them, not necessarily what is "really there" in the sensory-rich physical world.
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead .
New York: University Books, 1964.
Americans have been primed by the drug-war zeitgeist to consider everything Leary writes as nonsense. But he was the first one to announce loudly and clearly that what's really nonsensical is to outlaw plant medicine.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
New York: Del Rey Books, 1970.
Lovecraft's work is full of opiate imagery that drug warriors want to render impossible for artists to feel: "I would often drift in opiate peace through the valley and the shadowy groves..." (Ex-Oblivione)
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.
Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2009.
Gabriel moralizes "addiction." Addiction, however, is a political term. One can use psychoactive Big Pharma meds every day and be a good patient -- use heroin every day, however, and you're just escaping "inner pain." What?
Maupassant, Guy de.
Le Horla et autres contes fantastiques - Guy de Maupassant: Les classiques du fantastique .
Paris: , 2019.
In "La Horla," Maupassant anticipates Huxley by speculating that our perceptual habits blind us to a world of wonders. Many of today's demonized drugs, it appears, can at least partially open our eyes to that world.
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution .
New York: Bantam, 1992.
This was the book that reminded me of what I already vaguely knew: that it is tyrannical insanity for a government to outlaw plants. McKenna's philosophical speculations on why we criminalize inspired me to create abolishthedea.com.
Miller, Richard Louis.
Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle .
New York: Park Street Press, 2017.
Informative interviews with movers-and-shakers in the field, including Rick Doblin, Stanislav Grof, James Fadiman, David Nichols and Robert Whitaker. Packed with eye-opening one-liners about godsend meds.
Out of our Heads.
New York: HiII&Wang,, 2010.
Noe reveals how patients with "locked-in" syndrome have reported being supremely aware of their surroundings during their supposedly brain-dead coma, a fact that puts in question our materialist assumptions about consciousness.
When Plants Dream.
New York: Watkins Publishing, 2019.
I find philosophical problems with most of the books that I read on the subject of psychoactive medicine, but Daniel Pinchbeck is one of the few authors who could teach me a few things on this topic.
Poe, Edgar Allan.
The Essential Poe.
New York: Warbler Classics, 2020.
Because drug warriors never mention the good side of "drugs," we must turn to Poe to learn, for instance, that morphine can bring a surreal appreciation of Mother Nature (see "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains").
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence .
New York: Penguin Books, 2018.
Pollan has yet to realize that the very term "drugs" is just a modern pejorative epithet for "plant medicine of which botanically clueless politicians disapprove. "
Reynolds, David S..
Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville .
New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Exhaustively researched account of the 19th-century zeitgeist, and yet the word "drugs" (as defined, or rather derided, by today's drug warrior) is never even used. Last century's boogieman was liquor, it seems, not "drugs."
Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences Hardcover.
New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
The psychedelic experience was once characterized as pharmacologically induced madness. Richards shows how the properly guided experience can lead to sanity instead -- and a way of life that is not self-destructive.
Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898 .
Connecticut: Praeger, 2000.
The war took place 16 years before anti-Chinese Drug Warriors criminalized the poppy plant, and yet opium is only mentioned with regard to a group of unimaginative volunteers who smoked some and "couldn't see the point."
Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered.
New York: Arlington House, 1967.
Burke was a conservative in a sense, but he would not recognize America's Republican party of today. He would surely have seen that prohibition causes all the problems we ascribe to "drugs," and then some.
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.
New York: Penguin, 2014.
In 1980, the Air Force nearly blew up Arkansas and irradiated half the country. When Reagan took office the next year, what was his priority? Outlawing plant medicine that could make our species less warlike.
Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. .
New York: Pocket Star, 2006.
On March 7, 1968, a rogue Soviet submarine nearly blew up Pearl Harbor with a thermonuclear bomb. Instead of launching a war on nukes, then-President Nixon launched a war on medicines that could inspire peace, love and understanding.
The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler.
New York: RosettaBooks, 2011.
Paraphrase from book: "No one who has not lived for years in a DRUG WAR SOCIETY can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda."
Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds.
Back Bay Books: Boston, 2019.
Despite griping about the weight she's put on from taking her daily 'meds,' Slater gives Big Pharma a big fat mulligan for consigning 1 in 4 American women like herself to a lifetime of chemical dependency on SSRI antidepressants.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences .
New York: Park Street Press, 2001.
Rick doubts DMT's therapeutic usefulness, but common sense psychology suggests that any break from full-on introspection would be a treat, notwithstanding materialists who aren't even sure that laughing gas could help the depressed!!!
Ceremonial Chemistry: the ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers.
New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1974.
Filled with inconvenient truths that critics ignore rather than refute, including how politicized science tells us a la God: "Eat of the fruit and you shall die," ignoring the fact that education tells us how to eat of that fruit safely.
Our Right to Drugs: The case for a free market.
New York: Praeger, 1992.
Chock-a-block with all-too-rare common sense: "Doctors, lawyers and politicians started the War on Drugs and continue to wage it, and they are its real beneficiaries -- the drug war's ostensible beneficiaries... are its victims."
Tyler, George R..
Billionaire Democracy: The Hijacking of the American Political System.
Michigan: Pegasus Books, 2016.
Doesn't mention drugs, but illustrates how drug reform can be stymied by just 3% of the public: namely, those holding stock in Big Pharma, etc., especially when these elites can bribe politicians to retain the status quo.
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America .
New York: Crown, 2010.
Prohibition has facilitated the creation of a psychiatric pill mill upon which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life. Moreover, these pills cause the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix.
Zuboff , Shoshana.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.
New York: Public Affairs, 2019.
Surveillance capitalists and drug warriors share the same goal: to keep human beings predictable: one by rendering us more robot-like and the other by denying us the mind-improving blessings of psychoactive medicine
There are an absolute LEGION of online articles and newspaper stories that get it wrong about so-called drugs. Even those in favor of drug law reform have been subject to drug war propaganda from childhood (and they probably have a DARE teddy bear to prove it!) so speak truth to nonsense and comment on the articles that get it wrong.
Bloody disgusting fact: The Drug War brought almost 800 deaths to Chicago in 2021 by incentivizing the hugely profitable sale of psychoactive medicine in poor communities. And now Trump and his fellow fascist drug warriors want to use that violence as an excuse to KILL drug dealers via execution! Any community leaders supporting the drug war are complicit in this genocide. For as Heather Ann Thompson wrote in The Atlantic in 2014: "Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist."
How America can end inner-city homicides overnight in three easy steps:
Re-legalize Mother Nature's plant medicines
Treat substance abuse as a health problem
Buy back inner-city guns at double their purchase price (even triple the price would be a huge bargain in the long run)
This will, of course, be a huge sacrifice for everyday Americans, who do love their drug war, bless them.