Open letter to Niamh Eastwood (Executive Director of Release) and Dr. David Nicholl (NHS neurologist), in response to their recent interview about laughing gas on Channel 5, UK
As a 64-year-old chronic depressive, I am bothered by the fact that discussion about controversial psychoactive substances never takes into account people like myself. Everyone is so concerned about the safety of a relatively small number of young people, whom we fail to educate about drugs, yet no one ever worries about the MILLIONS of folks like myself who are living what Thoreau called "lives of quiet desperation." Laughing gas, for obvious reasons, could be a blessing in my life when used wisely and at appropriate times, at appropriate intervals, in appropriate doses, etc. Even if it doesn't work according to materialist reductionist standards, it would work for me by merely giving me something to look forward to.
But folks like myself are never considered to be stakeholders when the topic turns to potential substance criminalization.
The newscasters who spoke to you were all but saying that NO2 should be outlawed, that all the evidence points that way. But that's nonsense. The only reason that "all the evidence points that way" is because they are ignoring all stakeholders except ignorant juveniles. In America, it's more specific than that: we outlaw coca to protect not just juveniles, but AMERICAN juveniles, for we do not care how many MEXICAN juveniles lose parents to the Drug War down south, given the fact that the prohibition we champion naturally creates violence.
When evaluating drugs, we must stop thinking about merely those who misuse the substance. If that's the only standard, then no drugs would be legal, least of all alcohol and cigarettes.
We have to think about those who will be killed by the violence caused by drug prohibition, we have to think of those who may commit suicide because we have outlawed godsend treatments, we have to think about how scientists will be censored because they will have trouble researching the drugs that we demonize and criminalize.
The Drug War and prohibition only make sense to people because they ignore all these considerations.
(By the way, the idea that most use is recreational ignores the fact that some users may be self-medicating -- which is understandable in a world where the default legal treatment for depression and anxiety is a lifetime regimen of addictive tranquilizing drugs.)
It's all well and good to "attack the suppliers," but what about the depressed who thereby go without a godsend medicine?
This is why we have to push for education and stop prosecuting substance users. The money that we're currently spending on law enforcement should go to teams of healthcare workers instead, who will visit affected communities with kiosks and concerts and block parties, etc., and spread the news about how to use popular substances as safely as possible. Unfortunately, this goes against the grain of Drug War ideology, which tells us to fear drugs rather than to understand them.
Nor should we simply fight suppliers. We need suppliers. But we need regulation for a clean drug supply -- and regulation to make sure that all the info is out there to teach safe use.
Otherwise the safety that everyone talks about is purchased by the misery of folks like myself.
It's the same MO every time a drug gets misused: "Oh, we must outlaw it to save our children!"
Great, but then we throw millions of sufferers under the bus by denying them what, for them, is godsend medicine.
It's like the crackdown on MDMA in Britain, one of the safest drugs on the planet.. The drug brought unprecedented peace to the dance floor, and yet it was demonized because it was associated with a single solitary death -- A DEATH WHICH WAS CAUSED BY THE DRUG WAR ITSELF WHICH CAUSED USERS TO FEAR SUBSTANCES RATHER THAN TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE THEM CORRECTLY. The 100-pound Leah Betts, in short, should have remained hydrated while dancing and using Ecstasy, something she would have known had we decided to teach users instead of punishing them.
(By the way, If we're really concerned about safety, we would actually ENCOURAGE the use of MDMA, at least for hotheads, so that they would feel enough love in their heart that they could no longer bring themselves to shoot up grade schools. The use of MDMA could also help the world avoid nuclear Armageddon by bringing people together in love -- talk about SAFETY! But the Drug Warrior is, of course, blind to all positive uses of so-called "drugs.")
And what did the crack down on Ecstasy accomplish? After Ecstasy was removed from rave concerts, the dance floor became so violent that special forces troops had to police the venues. Special forces! (See the documentary "One Nation" by concert promoter Terry "Turbo" Smith.) But the Drug Warriors who scream about safety concerns never worry about such things. Despite their alleged concern for the safety of our youth, they're absolutely blind to the violence generated by their own prohibition policies.
And so Ecstasy is pilloried for a handful of well-publicized deaths, while alcohol kills 90,000 people a year in the States and nobody bats an eyelash.
The Drug War is all about scaring kids about drugs rather than educating them ("drugs" being Drug War Newspeak for "substances of which pharmacologically clueless politicians disapprove"). Biden's Office on Drug Control Policy actually had a charter that forbade it from considering positive uses for "drugs," for fear of sending the wrong message. In other words, the ONDCP is a propaganda arm of the US government. Its goal is to inspire fear, not knowledge about safe use.
Drug warriors may save a few lives of juveniles with prohibition, but only by throwing victims of the Drug War, including the millions of depressed people around the world, under the bus.
Other ignored stakeholders include: victims of drive-by shootings, victims of a tainted and unpredictable drug supply, those who lose their livelihoods due to unconstitutional "drug tests" -- and the biggest victim of all: democracy itself, which disappears as we militarize police forces, censor our scientists, outlaw religions, and Nazify the English language, calling our fellow citizens "scumbags" and "filth," should they dare to sell mother nature's plant medicines to their fellow human being.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, laughing gas has other uses than just "recreation": it can evoke spiritual states. Indeed, the use of laughing gas inspired the whole philosophy of William James, teaching him that "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy." And so to outlaw substances like laughing gas is to outlaw philosophy and human progress itself. This fact alone should prevent us from continuing down the well-worn dead-end path of prohibition, littered as it is with hundreds of thousands of deaths in Mexico alone over the last ten years.
To repeat: the money that we are throwing away on law enforcement should be turned over to health workers who will launch real education campaigns, teaching how to use all psychoactive substances as safely as possible -- rather than teaching potential users to "just say no" and thereby proselytizing them on behalf of the drug-hating religion known as Christian Science.
Most of all, we need to acknowledge ALL the stakeholders (including folks like myself) when we discuss potential drug criminalization, not just the young whom we ourselves have failed to educate because we're too busy punishing them instead.
January 26, 2023
The headlines in the UK claim that the laughing gas ban is being considered to "combat bad behavior," but in the interview, Dr. Nicholl spoke only of safety concerns.
5% of proceeds from the sale of the above product will go toward getting Brian a decent haircut for once. Honestly. 9% will go toward shoes. 50% will go toward miscellaneous. 9% of the remainder will go toward relaxation, which could encompass anything from a spin around town to an outdoor barbecue at Brian's brother's house in Stanardsville (both gas and the ice-cream cake that Brian usually supplies).
You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at abolishthedea.com. Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.
A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.
The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.
It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)
If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.
PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.
Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company