THE DRUG WAR PHILOSOPHER: essays against the bloody Drug War DRUG WAR BLOG updated
Essay date: November 6, 2019

Open Letter to Addiction Specialist Gabriel Maté

by Ballard Quass

ending the torture-friendly 12-step programs

a new way of fighting addiction, using entheogenic plants, ending the needless torture of addicts

Dear Dr. Maté.

My name is Ballard Quass and I am the webmaster of

As the name of the site suggests, I am greatly bothered by the outlawing of natural substances in America, and therefore in the world. I think that the government has thereby made plants the scapegoats for societal problems while turning America into a penal colony and creating a whole new movie genre worth of violence, namely the Drug War movie. The result, I believe, is not only ruined lives, but stolen elections, since the Drug War results in tens of thousands of Americans being dropped from the voting rolls on account of felony convictions for drug offenses, thereby ensuring that the conservative Drug Warriors remain in power at election time, simply because their opponents cannot vote.

I am further motivated on this topic because I have spent over 40 years on what turned out to be mind-numbing and addictive LEGAL medicines, going a lifetime without self-actualization, all because my government has decided that I could have no recourse to psychoactive medicines from the rain forest, because, in effect, my government has outlawed the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet. This is why I tell everyone who will listen that the Drug War is not just a war against minorities, but it is a war against patients everywhere - even a war against DEA agents themselves, many of whom will get old someday and find themselves lonely and depressed in a "home for the aged," wanting to die, perhaps - a condition that could so easily have been remedied by the intelligent use of the entheogenic substances that the agent has spent a lifetime confiscating and burning.

With this backstory in mind, I wanted to share my views about the treatment of addiction. I believe I have some common sense ideas that have never been considered, because, in my opinion, modern thinkers on both the left and the right are so in thrall to a myriad of unfounded assumptions of the Drug War.

One of these assumptions is that we should automatically be disdainful of treatments that involve a patient getting "high." Even this terminology itself, "high," is a drug-war pejorative, since it describes what one person may think of as a life-changing religious experience as something tawdry and cheap. In the works of Poe and De Quincey, we find that "highs" can bring about a deep appreciation of nature and the opera respectively, but the Drug Warrior dismisses all that positivity in favor of the metaphysical assumption that "highs" are bad in and of themselves, period, full stop.

But I agree with these authors that "highs" do not have to be seen that way, that certain kinds of "highs" can be put to work in the treatment of addiction, despite our Protestant-inspired conviction that addiction treatment must be a hideous experience from which one learns life lessons.


Consider an alcohol, cocaine, or opium addict who visits a "drug dealer" instead of a psychiatrist to "get off' of their favorite poison. Let's suppose for the sake of argument that this "dealer" is extremely empathic and has access to (and deep knowledge of) every psychoactive plant in the world, as well as the ritual uses which best enhance their therapeutic value. I believe that, in theory, such a shaman-like figure could cure the patient's addiction in a relatively painless way (perhaps even a psychologically insightful way) using a wide variety of what the Drug Warrior would dismiss as "happy pills" or "happy plants," but plants which, viewed rationally, would be seen as nature's godsends, not demons in disguise.

What is the main problem with addiction, after all? It is the fact that the body is crying out for a status quo metabolism, so to speak, screaming bloody murder when a certain substance is suddenly absent from the bloodstream. One obvious but seldom considered response to this metabolic panic is to take a cue from Google and fight bad drugs with more drugs, in the same way that the search engine fights bad speech with more speech. In other words, the therapeutic goal of the shaman would be to drown out and/or override the body's panic signals with a host of positive messages brought about by the clever and strategic use of various psychoactive plant compounds. Such treatment would be continued, at least until the body has made its metabolic peace with the absence of the original addictive substance.

Here is where the Drug Warrior would charge the dealer in question with being a "Doctor Feelgood." But what exactly is wrong with being a Doctor Feelgood? A Doctor Feelgood is bad only to the extent that he or she prescribes treatments that are addictive*. But I am advocating the strategic use of a wide variety of highs (or, less pejoratively, entheogenic states), chosen and administered according to a schedule such that no addiction is created, the point of the highs being to shout down the negative metabolic messages of the withdrawal process, to incentivize the addict to hold firm during that process, and to ideally even learn something about his or herself through the ritual use of the therapeutic plants thus employed.

*Note: addiction is another concept whose meaning and significance has been muddled by Drug Warrior assumptions. No one is in a hurry to remind us that HG Wells and Jules Verne were strategically habituated to coca wine or that Benjamin Franklin was an habitual user of opium, since to acknowledge these facts would violate a central strategy of the Drug Warrior, which is to never say anything positive about banned substances. The Drug Warrior also fails to distinguish between the problems caused by addiction to a given substance and the problems caused by an interruption of the supply of that substance. Finally, the use of the term "addiction" often involves a subjective judgment: thus a Drug Warrior will call a heroin user an addict (even a bounden slave) to the drug, but he or she will describe a daily SSRI user as someone who is simply "taking their meds."

According to psychiatrist Julie Holland, one in four American women are addicted to SSRI anti-depressants, many of which are harder to quit than heroin. Why? Because heroin rapidly leaves the system while SSRIs screw up one's brain chemistry for months if not years at a time -- by causing the very chemical imbalances that they purport to fix. (See Robert Whitaker's "Anatomy of an Epidemic" for more.) Yet our most addicted country demonizes non-addictive therapeutic godsends from Mother Nature.

Here I possibly part company with your viewpoint, but to be clear, I am not saying that addicts do not have deeper issues. But I do dispute the assumption held by many Americans that the withdrawal process has to be a living hell - one that leads at best to livable lives but only very rarely to self-fulfillment.

The idea that withdrawal has to be hell is, I believe, an unexamined philosophical tenet more than a fact.

It may well be a scientific fact, as well, given current drug law which outlaws all mood-improving medicines - but we should not draw conclusions about what's possible by taking an aberrant legal system as a given. We should state what would work - and then point out the fact (loudly and clearly) that drug law is standing in the way of the proposed solution.

Unfortunately, psychiatrists are not always this honest. I have read many stories of cases in which psychiatrists say they used ECT as a "last resort." But this is misleading, because the psychiatrist is thereby ignoring the fact that thousands of potentially harmless alternatives were outlawed by our government, namely almost every psychoactive plant and fungi in the rain forest. It would therefore be far more honest to say, "I used ECT as a last resort, but it would not have been necessary except for our drug laws." That would be a helpful statement, too, because it would remind the reader of the still unrecognized truth: that the Drug War is anti-patient.

In short, I think the outlawing of ayahuasca cures is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drug-war outrages. The real story is the outlawing of Mother Nature itself, a despotic government power grab which has deprived would-be mind healers of a vast arsenal of natural therapeutic substances, some of which appear to have been custom-made by Mother Nature to bring about the precise sort of fundamental healing that psychiatry has always claimed to have as its ultimate goal.


I think the long-term answer to all these problems lies in the re-legalization of Mother Nature's plants, possibly requiring an amendment stipulating that the government cannot outlaw plants at all, this flora being the birthright of every citizen. (Jefferson and Locke clearly would have said that Natural Law already covered this proscription, but apparently nothing in the world is so obvious that it cannot be denied by racist and power-hungry politicians.)

Folks then ask me, how would I ensure public safety?

First, I'd have to stop laughing in order to answer this question. After all, the Drug Warriors, as mentioned above, have created so much violence by outlawing Mother Nature that they have single-handedly created a whole new movie genre: the drug-war genre, in which DEA agents gleefully subvert the US Constitution in order to stop Americans from using the plants and fungi that grow at their very feet. They have militarized local police forces and created civil wars overseas.

When I succeed in controlling my laughter, I would point out that it is not my responsibility to say how I would ensure public safety. If someone takes away my right to free speech, I am not under the obligation of telling the tyrant how my free speech can be restored without causing problems. My free speech was taken from me unconstitutionally and must be restored NOW.

Likewise, when the government has criminalized plants and fungi - some of which may naturally grow on my very own real estate - I am under no obligation to explain how the natural state of affairs can be restored without problems.

But in the hopes of getting my rights back sooner than later, I will condescend to reassure the tyrant as follows:

First, you might stipulate that natural substances cannot be distributed for profit. This will stop any ridiculous ads from encouraging ill-advised plant consumption.

Second, why not crack down as always - but this time on actual behavior, not on substances. Stop punishing a supposititious "pre-crime" (the mere possession of substances) and start punishing REAL crimes (rape, murder, undue rowdiness, etc.) - whether they were inspired by substance use or not? Indeed, crack down still further for crimes in which drugs were involved, since the offender's actions threaten the rights of reasonable substance users everywhere, in the same way that gun-related violence puts rational gun owners on the defensive about their own gun ownership.

That said, with full legality, users will have the opportunity to correct their drug-related errors - say their accidental addiction to coca consumption - by using more benign and non-addictive psychoactive plants under expert guidance, in such a way as to transcend their unwanted addiction.

Finally, my number one suggestion for curing America of its addictions and drug obsessions:

The psychiatrist of the future must be an empathic shaman with legal access to all the psychoactive substances in the world - rather than a handful of addictive nostrums that have been misleadingly popularized by psychiatrists on the Oprah Winfrey show, psychiatrists and other opinion leaders who were being paid for that endorsement by the pill makers themselves.

Yours Truly,
Ballard Quass

PS Speaking of addiction, there are two kinds that psychiatrists seem to ignore:

1) Effexor (like many modern anti-depressants) causes such chemical dependency that it has a 95% recidivism rate for those who attempt to "kick it," and this is according to the NIH. Yet, perversely, psychiatrists say that this somehow proves that it works! If so, my brain chemicals never got the message. If so, then heroin works too, probably even better.

2) Secondly, no one seems to realize the negative effects of turning a depressed person into a lifelong patient. This is what happens when they are put on SSRIs and SNRIs. After spending 40 years on the receiving end of psychiatry's pill-pushing paradigm, there is nothing that bothers me more than having to visit a doctor every three months of my life and tell him or her how I'm feeling. This has made me a patient for life, which is the exact opposite of "empowering" me as a normal human being. But psychiatry as an institution does not even acknowledge this situation and the way that it damages patient morale (meanwhile driving some of us into the poorhouse as it does so).

APRIL 30, 2022

Drug War ideology is so pervasive and based on so many hidden assumptions and half-truths that it takes constant rigorous philosophical thinking to grasp the totality of the hydra-headed beast. This is why I have long maintained that the Drug War is the great philosophical problem of our time (a problem that is more relevant than ever given the fact that "cuddly" psychoactive drugs like Ecstasy could help end school shootings and avert the nuclear-Armageddon toward which hate-obsessed humanity seems to have been heading ever since it first began using pronouns like "us" and "them"). But with perseverance, I hope that I am making myself, if not perfectly clear on this topic, then at least perfectly clearer as time goes by. With that in mind, I would like to point the interested reader toward my article entitled Heroin and Alcohol. It's more than a year old itself, but I recently appended an editorial comment to it that I hope will clarify my views on the topic of addiction and how Drug War ideology itself bars us from dealing with the problem effectively -- and without glaring hypocrisy, I might add.

The Links Police

Do you know why I pulled you over? That's right, I wanted to give you some links to more essays about addiction and the Drug War. Oh, how about these two Addicted to Addiction and Addicted to Ignorance. Oh, and what was the name of that movie in which wine-swilling Glenn Close manifests all the worst qualities of the brain-addled Drug Warrior? Oh, yes: Glenn Close but no cigar. But far be it from me to micromanage your browsing experience. Just search 'addiction' to find more. (Oh, and just between us, psst! your left rear signal light is out.)

Addiction Comix

Let us know what you think. Send your comments to me, Brian Quass, at Thanks! Please be sure to mention the title of the essay to which you are responding.

The Addiction Blog


Pro-Choice about drugs Americans lost the right to decry addiction ever since they signed off on the psychiatric pill mill, which has caused the greatest mass chemical dependency in human history. One in four American women are taking Big Pharma meds that they must continue taking for the rest of their lives, this despite decades of waging a drug war that was supposed to be saving America from chemical dependency!

How did we get here?

Answer: Drug warriors didn't realize that you can outlaw specific substances, but you cannot outlaw the desire for peace of mind and happiness. And by taking away the naturally occurring godsends which can be used intermittently and responsibly (drug war propaganda notwithstanding), they force those seeking happiness to become wards of the healthcare state. The drug war has thereby ushered in a huge medical dystopia, which, however, is off the radar of most Americans (and addiction experts), who falsely believe that antidepressants have "sorted" depression scientifically, when what they actually have done is turned America into a nation of Stepford Wives. Earth to America: SSRIs do not fix a chemical balance, they cause one (see Richard Whitaker: Anatomy of an Epidemic) -- and even if some find them useful, that's really unimpressive testimony given the backstory according to which all naturally occurring competition for these dependence-causing pills has been outlawed (conveniently enough, from the point of view of the stock market).

It is in light of these inconvenient truths that the modern talk about addiction comes across as hypocritical and condescending. For although it's heresy to say so, one can live their entire life while regularly using heroin, morphine, opium or coca. (One of the founders of the Johns Hopkins medical school, Dr. William Stewart Halsted, was a lifelong user of morphine.) But if one does so, they are considered morally flawed -- yet if a patient FAILS to take THEIR drugs (FAILS to take them) we conclude that they are a bad patient.

I once naively assumed that the drug war was all about saving folks from chemical dependency, but it turns out it's all about guiding folks toward the right kind of chemical dependency, the capitalistic form that literally pays dividends for Big Pharma shareholders.

And yet the very folks who are literally profiting from my misery are the ones who have seen to it that I will be arrested if I reach down and access the plant medicine that grows at my very feet.

My point here, and indeed throughout all my writing on this topic, is to convince you, reader, of a so-far largely unrecognized fact: that the drug war is not simply wrong, but it represents an entirely bogus way of looking at the world, one in which we superstitiously judge certain politically despised substances and declare them to be evil a priori, a standpoint unbecoming a nation that purports to be rational-minded and scientific -- let alone one founded on natural law and which therefore had no right to outlaw mother nature in the first place.


Drug War Psychiatry forced me to get off Valium by slow withdrawal, with no other medications to help me. What an unnecessary waste of many years of my life. In a world in which we did not have a jaundiced Christian Science view of psychoactive medicine, my treatment would have been very different indeed. I would have been treated one week to opium use with an empathic guide, in which I would discuss my feelings, my hopes, my fears, and speculate on the meaning of it all. Next week I might be treated to a day of morphine use, thanks to which (again with an empathic guide) I am brought to a fresh appreciation of the natural world around me. Then next week, via using the mushrooms that grow at my feet, I would have been guided to a greater appreciation of music. (This is just one of endless therapeutic scenarios that become obvious to us the moment that we abandon the Drug War ideology of substance demonization.)

In other words, in a sane world, free of the drug war, my withdrawal years would not be a big black hole in my life, sucking in all useful activities. We would not obsess about the idea that I was addicted to a medicine -- we would simply solve that problem unostentatiously, using a variety of other medicines, not simply in order to make the valium withdrawal psychologically palatable for me, but to ensure that my withdrawal experience is not all about withdrawing -- but rather that I am still LIVING during the months and years in which I am getting "off" a given substance or substances. This is very different from the current Drug War treatment of addiction, which turns the withdrawal process into a momentous morality tale, an epic struggle between good and evil, in which one is fighting for the Christian Science goal of becoming "sober," as that word is hypocritically defined by the modern drug warrior.

The current treatment for addiction involves 12-step sob sessions in which "addicts" confess their helplessness. But wait! Why are these addicts helpless in the first place? Because the Drug War denies them all the godsend medicines that could help them get their lives back in shape without the horrors of cold turkey.


Here's something that today's addiction experts won't tell you: coca and opium can be used non-addictively, and even the regular use of opium does not destroy a life -- except when there is a drug war out there to make sure that such lives are destroyed. But let's say that you foreswear such mental nostrums and desire to seek mental help legally like a good Christian and patriot? This will save you from a life of chemical dependency, right?

Wrong. For while habituation is a mere POTENTIAL side effect of drugs like opium and coca, habituation is a BUILT-IN FEATURE of modern Big Pharma drugs. From benzodiazepines to SSRIs, all of those drugs create a chemical dependence that can be harder to kick than heroin.

But according to the modern addiction "expert," we are troubled individuals if we develop a habit of, say, opium use -- while we are good patients if we develop a habit of anti-depressant use.

Ever notice the following line in modern movies: "Did you take your meds?" It's usually said half-jokingly, but it's a sign of the hypocritical times. When it comes to using demonized substances, one is "doing drugs" -- but when it comes to using Big Pharma substances, one is "taking their meds." The former act is horrible -- the latter is a moral duty. Moreover, the phrase is usually uttered when a person is "acting up" and annoying his or her fellows, thereby implying that the point of drug taking in America is to tranquilize users and make them "peaceable," as opposed to empowering them to be the unique human beings that they are. Considered in this light, the massive chemical dependency of 1 in 4 American women on Big Pharma drugs begins to look like an insidious conspiracy, as if we are living the real-life version of "The Stepford Wives."

And yet when we choose the less addictive options of opium and coca, we are told by our addiction "experts" that we have an inner pain that will only be resolved when we deal with our innermost issues.

Wrong. The real problems here will only be resolved when America deals with ITS inner issues (like inadequate education for the young and the mass incarceration of minorities) rather than blaming everything on the boogieman called "drugs." The real problems here will only be resolved when America stops mindlessly demonizing one set of drugs (plant medicines and MDMA, etc.) while mindlessly canonizing another (those Big Pharma meds that inevitably lead to a lifetime of drug dependency).

Now, don't get me wrong (you fans of Gabriel Maté): it may well be true that those who seek out godsend plant medicine for emotional cures are those who have "inner issues" in the sense that, perhaps they received few hugs as a child or had no positive role models, et cetera. But the number of such individuals is so enormous in the world that it's almost meaningless to say that they suffer from inner issues. We should say, rather, that they suffer from the common lot of humanity in an imperfect world. We should not look to the enormously rare self-sufficient individual and conclude that anyone who is not like them is pathological in some sense. We should say, rather, that the self-sufficient individual is extraordinary, and/or extraordinarily lucky.

Nor is it obvious that even the seemingly self-sufficient individual could not benefit from psychoactive medicine. We know, for instance, that there are drugs out there which, under the right circumstances, can drastically increase one's love of music, or one's appreciation of the byzantine intricacy of Mother Nature's plants, etc. Once we speak honestly about how such drugs can be used safely -- Drug Warrior misinformation notwithstanding -- it begins to look foolish, in fact, for that seemingly actualized individual to shun such medicine on principle. Wouldn't they rather see what they're missing viz. music and nature, rather than assume that there's nothing left for them to learn in life, experientially speaking? Smart people could only answer "no" to that question if they've been bamboozled by hypocritical drug warrior lies that seek to demonize psychoactive medicine by falsely claiming that it is too dangerous to use anywhere, ever, for any reason whatsoever -- which is the noxious lie that sends American troops overseas to burn plants like so many superstitious Christian Science zealots.

Sure, one can overdo it on these meds -- but only in a world in which we demonize medicine rather than teaching about it. Nor can we opine advisedly on the difficulty of treating any resulting addictions, given the fact that we as a Drug War society have ruled out, a priori, the use of thousands of godsend medicines which could guide the user from destructive use to constructive use -- and/or keep the destructive use from happening in the first place. The addiction crisis in these cases arises from our Christian Science bias that the "cure" for addiction must be a hypocritically defined "sobriety," as opposed to the advised use of substances that help the "addict" (habitué?) succeed in life according to their own definition of that term.

Drug War Author Blog


I hate to flatter myself, but sometimes I think I am one of only a handful of people who recognize the full scope of Drug War evil. (Actually, there are probably a lot more than that, but most of them apparently know better than to speak up about their misgivings -- hence the culture of silence one encounters when attempting to get modern philosophers to even discuss the topic: see Speaking Truth to Academia"). Who, for instance, talks about the censorship that drug war ideology causes in "free America"? And yet this censorship is all around us in any bookstore. Francis Fukuyama has written a wonderful new book about the current trend toward illiberal thinking (Liberalism and its Discontents), and yet in the opening chapters, he mentions "the right to drugs" with implied derision, failing to recognize that the word "drugs" is a modern term created by drug warriors to denigrate certainly politically demonized substances -- a pejorative description that drug warriors hypocritically adopted for psychoactive plant medicine after passing a constitutional amendment to let their beloved alcohol completely off the hook for the 95,000 deaths that it causes in America every single year.

But Francis is hardly alone when it comes to authors who are "reckoning without their host" on this topic. Almost every author and academic who writes today on modern cultural and legal issues seems to consider that the drug-war provides a natural baseline for analysis, as if it's normal to criminalize godsend plant medicine and as if that criminalization in no way affects their analyses of the topics that they cover.

1) Take the late Father Joseph Koterski. He produced an otherwise wonderful 24-lecture series for Great Courses entitled Natural Law and Human Nature in which he never once mentioned the DRUG WAR! Not once. And yet we live in a country in which there was a coup against natural law in 1987 when Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello and confiscated Thomas Jefferson's poppy plants in violation of the natural law upon which Jefferson founded America. For those who don't see the connection here, it was John Locke himself (TJ's "go-to man" on natural law) who wrote that human beings have a natural right to the land "and all that lies therein." To put it another way, human beings have a natural right to access the plants and fungi that grow all around them. And yet the good father has nothing to say on this score.

2) In his unfortunately very popular book on addiction, In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, Gabriel Maté writes extensively about "drug problems" like addiction, but he claims that they are almost always the cause of "inner pain." What? Was Benjamin Franklin suffering inner pain because he was an habitue of opium? Were HG Wells and Jules Verne suffering "inner pain" because they took regular hits of coca wine to help them focus and write great stories? Sure, there's plenty of inner pain to go around in the world, but we should not blame that pain for all the trouble that the drug war has caused by outlawing all the godsend medicine that folks relied on in the past to carry on despite said inner pain.

3) In Blue Dreams by Lauren Slater, the author seems to be making one long implicit argument against the drug war -- and yet she does not seem to realize that the drug war created the psychiatric pill mill upon which, according to her own testimony, she appears to be hooked. Instead of recognizing the fact that the drug war has limited her to a ridiculously small and addictive pharmacopoeia for mood treatment, she embraces modern SSRIs as a worthy part of her own mood therapy program, even though she readily admits that it has led to unwanted weight gain and a variety of other personal side effects (including, I might add, the demoralizing fact that the expensive dependence-causing pills has turned her into a "patient for life"). If only drug warriors would cut psychoactive plant medicine the same kind of slack that Slater cuts for Big Pharma meds. Instead, Slater embraces the assumption of many researchers today (a view held by the Heffter Research Institute and MAPS: the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) that Big Pharma anti-depressants are just fine, thank you very much. It's just that some users don't respond to them. In other words, folks like Laura essentially blame the failure of antidepressants not on the drugs, but on the users, in the same way that the dairy industry taught us to blame intolerant milk drinkers for their own gastroenteritis, rather than the milk itself.

If Slater really understood drug war injustice, she would be pushing back with all her might against the psychiatric pill mill. Instead, her book reads like a peon to Big Pharma, essentially saying, "You're doing great, but maybe we can eke out your assistance by tweaking the drug war here and there." Like most authors today, she fails to realize that the drug war is wrong root and branch, that it represents a wrong way of looking at the world.

4) Sometimes authors do not simply ignore the drug war, but they implicitly support it. John Halpern's support for the drug war policy of substance demonization is clear in the title of his 2019 book: Opium: How an Ancient Flower Shaped and Poisoned our World. Here Halpern blames a flower for the evil that was actually caused by immoral British agents who sought to create addictions in China in order to earn money. Flowers do not poison the world, John. People do. But by demonizing the flower instead of the evil men who used it, Halpern gives a free pass to greed and ignorance. Had greed not been at play in 19th century and if honest and non-hypocritical substance education had been universal, there would have been no problems with opium use -- except in the minds of sinophobes and WASP prudes, who prefer alcoholic stupor to dream-rich opiate imagery.

5) Then there are authors who support the drug war perhaps unintentionally by coming up with good reasons why drug warriors do bad things. Thus in Good Chemistry by Julie Holland, the author tells us that Richard Nixon outlawed psychedelics because he was worried about the nation's health. In How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan comes up with his own justification for Nixon's actions, the slightly more plausible notion that Nixon wanted to make sure that young people were physically ready to join the fight in Vietnam.

With all due respect to Julie Holland, if Nixon were truly worried about health, he would have cracked down on cigarette smoking and drinking which kills half a million Americans a year -- as compared to the nearly zero deaths via psychedelics. Moreover he would have sought to educate users, not charge them with felonies that would ruin their lives. It's not impossible that Nixon, like a 20th-century Chicken Little, had been fretting that psychedelics would render young people unfit for military service (although Nixon was trying to end the Vietnam War at the time), but even if true, his fears were informed by total ignorance of the substances involved, which he sought, like all drug warriors, to demonize a priori rather than to understand.

For as I learned at the dinner table as a teenager who naively broached the subject of marijuana facts, Americans (and my parents) prefer to fear "drugs" rather than to discuss and evaluate them honestly. That message was eloquently communicated to me by the pin-drop silence that followed my well-intentioned faux pas.

Newest Essay: Elderly Victims of Drug War Ideology

Next essay: Running with the torture loving DEA
Previous essay: The REAL Lesson of the Opium Wars Page one Essay List

Welcome to The Drug War Philosopher: Philosophical essays against America's bloody war on plant medicine, aka the drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-science, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some. Calling for fear not fact, education not demonization.

Deviant Art You Tube

old time radio playing Drug War comedy sketches

Stop Audio

Top 10
1: How Ecstasy could end mass shootings
2: The Drug War as a Litmus Test for Philosophical Wisdom
3: Addicted to Addiction
4: Why the Holocaust Museum must denounce the Drug War
5: Open Letter to Francis Fukuyama
6: Ten Reasons why the Drug War is Nonsense
7: Time to ACT UP about the racist drug war
8: Forbes Magazine's Laughable Article about Nitrous Oxide
9: How the Monticello Foundation betrayed Jefferson's Legacy in 1987
10: John Locke on Drugs
Click here for more essays against America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-nature, imperialistic, a violation of the Natural Law upon which Jefferson founded America, and the establishment of drug-hating Christian Science as a state religion.

2021 Deaths Caused by the Drug War*

  1. Chicago:797
  2. New York City: 485
  3. Los Angeles: 397
  4. Memphis: 346
  5. New Orleans: 218

*"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 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!!!

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.

When They Ask You For a Piss

A Drug War Poem

When they ask you for some pee
Tell them no 'cause you are free
Free to use what nature grows
Both shrooms and plants

Should they ask you for a piss
Tell them no and let them kiss
Kiss your ass because they're full
Of grade-A shit

Being born on plant earth
Shrooms and plants are yours by birth
Show them what your freedom's worth
Refuse to pee


The Drug War Poem

Chick-chick churri
Your drug war is crazy, as crazy can be
It banishes godsends that grow at our feet
Till bad vibes and loneliness slowly accrete
Till bad vibes and loneliness slowly accrete

Chick-chick churrod
The coca plant, as per the Incas, is God
It sharpens your prose till your fame is widespread
As Jules Verne would tell you if he were not dead
As Jules Verne would tell you if he were not dead

I'd like to smoke opium straight from a pipe
To travel to lands seen by Lovecraft and Poe
Though racist drug warriors always say no
Though racist drug warriors always say no

The mushrooms around us have something to teach
They grow in my garden, I'm fain to partake
Though Chimney-Pot Bennet says Put on the Brake
Though Chimney-Pot Bennet says Put on the Brake

My anger subsides with some MDMA
If only Vlad Putin would follow my lead
There'd be much less bloodshed and cynical greed
There'd be much less bloodshed and cynical greed

I'll use what I want so get out of my way
I'd rather do opium coca and such
Than Big Pharma pills that addict me too much
Than Big Pharma pills that addict me too much

Forgive me for saying your drug war is junk
It's dumbness incarnate to demonize plants
I turn a deaf ear to your 'just say no' chants
I turn a deaf ear to your 'just say no' chants

Check out the latest Drug War News!
Today's story:
It's the Prohbition, Stupid!

Lights, Camera, Drug War

Quotes From TV and movies


"Against hard drugs in the community."

"Hard" drugs? As defined by whom? The DEA? That agency which ranks psychoactive substances by the degree to which they threaten the WASP establishment?
More TV and movie Quotes at Lights, Camera, Drug War.


by The Drug War Philosopher

Turnip blood as a drug on the market!

If you think it's hard to get blood from a turnip, try finding a positive reference to demonized "drugs" in American TV shows and movies. Search the database for the word "drugs" and you'll get over 4,000 hits, with nary a one testifying to the life-affirming power of godsend plant medicine. Drugs like coca and psychedelics have inspired entire religions, but you'll see the word "drugs" used only in connection with lowlifes and scumbags, extortionists and murderers. In short, American script writers have been bribed by the DARE organization and the local State Police with far too many "just say no" teddy bears to think rationally on this topic.

That's why I hope that "decriminalization" states like Oregon will gradually teach these brainwashed screenwriters that the sky, at least, will not come crashing down the moment that Mother Nature's bounty is legal again, just as it was before Chinese-hating racists outlawed the poppy plant in 1914, thereby elevating common law above the natural law upon which America had been founded. My concern is that without full legalization, however, the otherwise responsible "users" in those states will be forced to choose their psychoactive medicines from the limited and often tainted formulary provided by criminal gangs, gangs whose incentive lies in money-making, not in assuring safe product. Because you know that if problems arise for this reason, the drug warriors will instantly blame them on decriminalization rather than on the way that the drug warrior limits choice and empowers economically minded cartels.

MORE Anti-Drug War Blog

Thoughts? Contact Brian Quass at


Andrew, Christopher. 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.
Aurelius, Marcus. Meditations. 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!)
Carroll, Lewis. 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.
Ellsberg, Daniel. 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.
Fadiman, James. 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.
Fleming, Thomas. 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!!!
Fukuyama, Francis. 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."
Gottleib, Anthony. 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.
Holland, Julie. 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.
Huxley, Aldous. 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.
Leary, Timothy. 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.
Lovecraft, HP. 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)
Mate, Gabriel. 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.
McKenna, Terence. 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
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.
Noe, Alvin. 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.
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").
Pollan, Michael. 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."
Richards, William. 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.
Rosenfeld, Harvey. 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."
Russell, Kirk. 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.
Schlosser, Erich. 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.
Sewell, Kenneth. 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.
Shirer, William. 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."
Slater, Lauren. 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.
Straussman, Rick. 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!!!
Szasz, Thomas. 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.
Szasz, Thomas. 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.
Whitaker, Robert. 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

Welcome to THE DRUG WAR PHILOSOPHER: essays against America's bloody war on plant medicine, aka the drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-science, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some. Calling for fact not fear, education not demonization.

What You Can Do: 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."

This site does not use cookies.