Essay date: November 26, 2022

Open Letter to Vincent Rado

agreeing to disagree?

November 29, 2022
The author cordially invites you to keep following Vincent Rado. Nothing he is tweeting is 'wrong,' as far as Brian can see. However, Vincent does emphasize elements of the truth that Brian considers a little off-point at this moment in history, given the Drug Warrior's insistence on demonizing substances. For instance, when we attack the claims made for demonized drugs, Brian thinks that we should ideally do so in a nuanced way that does not give fuel to the Drug Warrior, who is liable to say: "See? Even opponents of the Drug War say that the claims for psychoactive medicines are nonsense!"

In Brian's view, psychedelics have a well-established history of working miracles, and that fact should not be obscured simply because the news media, as always, likes to err in the direction of hyperbole by suggesting that what works for some will work for everybody. For psychedelics, as we know, are not like physical medicines. You cannot just "take them" and wait for something to happen. To promote a successful experience, you need the right set and setting, ideally with the help of an empathic guide who knows something about the psychedelic experience. That said, some people are ready for the experience without even knowing it. In the documentary "Fantastic Fungi," Paul Stamets describes how the whimsical consumption of a few mushrooms in his youth brought about the end of his childhood stuttering, by separating himself FROM himself for just long enough so that Paul could see what he was doing to himself, as it were, and to determine once and for all to stop it.

Er, but now onto the essay proper!

I am tempted to part ways with Vincent Rado on Twitter. That could be a mistake on my part. It could be that I'm just misunderstanding where he's coming from. After all, he lists himself as a founder of the DC Psychedelic Society, so I would think he would be on the same page as myself.

But his latest post seems to be saying that psychedelics do not have any particular potential when it comes to healing, and that's a position that seems strange to me for someone with such a bio. What's more, that stance does not accord with history. As I mentioned in response, we know that Plato got his philosophy of the afterlife from the psychedelic ritual at Eleusis and that the Vedic-Hindu religion was inspired by a psychedelic plant med or fungus.

Yet, Vincent mocks me for these allusions, asking me if I am a Hindu and if I was in attendance when Plato partook of a psychedelic. Vincent wants to know why I keep harping on these cases.

The reason I bring these things up is because no one else does, Vincent. That's the problem with the Drug War. No one discusses anything but the down sides of psychoactive medicine. That's why I take issue with Vincent's posts which seem to downplay the potential of psychedelics.

They have one benefit right out of the starting gate, in that they are not addictive -- in stark contrast to the Big Pharma meds on which 1 in 4 American women are addicted for life.

I know there are hucksters in the world and that they're going to try to profit from any newly offered medicine or therapy, but let's be cynical about the hucksters, not the medicines, unless we have reason to believe that they really do not work as promised. I also realize that there are no panaceas -- and yet we can't conclude that psychedelics will not be useful for the depressed simply because modern users do not always see their depression lifted. Modern use is typically uninformed use, where folks take psychedelic like a magic pill and want to sit back and have something happen to them. That's not how the magic comes about. That's how bad trips happen.

I have personal experience with psychedelics that also makes me reject the cynicism that Vincent seems to have on this topic. I was delighted by the insights I received as a teenager from a psychedelic substance and it expanded my expectations about the amazing growth potential that psychoactive drugs in general could have under the right situations -- an incredibly greater value than the mind-numbing tricyclics I was taking at the time. That's why it bothers me to see claims about psychedelics being denounced -- even tho, again, I agree that hucksters will always exaggerate. Just because a flatterer says that I am 6 feet tall does not mean that I should not still insist that I am 5'6". I am under no obligation to tell folks that I'm 5'4" just because someone else exaggerates.

I think psychedelics are extraordinary for another reason. My experience with peyote presented my mind with a slide show of Mesoamerican imagery. From a philosophical viewpoint, that tells me something about reality and consciousness, that life is far more interwoven than we may think. It tells me something about ontology, the true fundamental reality in which we dwell. That's extraordinary to me, and so, again, I recoil from attempts to claim that psychedelics are nothing special.

Maybe Vincent wasn't trying to say that -- but that's just the message that I get from reading his posts. The reason that bothers me is because it plays right into the Drug Warriors' hands, who have been censoring all positive mention of such substances for over 100 years. That's why I will play the Hotspur to Vincent's Worcester and keep saying Plato, Plato, Plato, chiefly because I'm the only one who dares mention the fact that psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian mysteries lasted 2,000 consecutive years and inspired a who's who of the western philosophy and history. That's something that needs to be said when Drug Warriors are telling ourselves and our kids that such substances are "junk" and "dope."

Author's Follow-up: November 27, 2022

Victor is probably right: my responses did not directly address the Tweet that he had posted about Time magazine flaunting the wonders of psychedelics in fighting depression. Had I been a little less headstrong, I might have fashioned a more diplomatic response. But the Tweet in question suggested that the power of psychedelics to overcome depression was "BS," and I think it's far too early to draw such conclusions -- just as it may be far too early for Time to announce a psychedelic victory over depression.

But my support for the power of psychedelics in this regard must be seen in light of the new paradigm that I am calling for in treating mental conditions, one wherein a pharmacologically savvy empath combines talk therapy with the use of any and all substances, in combination or not, at various doses, to elicit change according to 1) what is likely to work best for a given client and 2) what the client's goals are in undergoing shamanic treatment, again using any substance or substances available on God's green earth or Humanity's white lab rooms.

In other words, I picture a world full of Alexander Shulgins, the famous pharmacologist who tested over 200 psychoactive medicines in order to determine efficacy in improving the mental status of the user. There's a man who knew what the problem was with "drugs" -- it wasn't "drugs" themselves but "the overpower of curiosity with greed," in other words the instinct to turn a buck off of such medicines.

Because of Shulgin's pharmacological genius, the DEA let him be for the most part, but when folks began sending him drugs to taste for safety, the DEA swooped in and fined him $25,000, as if the last thing the DEA wants is for someone to use such drugs safely.

Related tweet: November 29, 2022

Hey, Vincent. Maybe it's a difference in emphasis. I don't expect any drug to do the job, but my emphasis is on the fact that psychedelics have worked miracles that Big Pharma could never boast.

Author's Follow-up: December 1, 2022

Speaking of psychedelic benefits, check out the work of Alexander Shulgin.

Next essay: Psychedelics and Depression
Previous essay: Public Service Announcements for the Post-Drug War Era

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old time radio playing Drug War comedy sketches

You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at 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.

Brian Quass
The Drug War Philosopher

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.

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)
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