I belong to a Google group called Metaphysical Speculation, hosted by author Bernardo Kastrup. This morning, one member started a thread concerning Michael Pollan's fears that it's too dangerous to legalize psychedelic plants - and the posting member (Robert) agreed, concluding that the whole subject of drug legalization is "complicated."
I begged to differ vehemently, and I did so in the following response to Robert, Michael Pollan, and all the other Chicken Littles out there who fear that the sky will fall in if we legalize the plants and fungi of Mother Nature.
The "it's complicated" argument has Richard Nixon smiling in his grave. He outlawed drugs in order to get his political opponents off of the voting rolls. Now Nixon finds, half a century later, that even his political opponents have convinced themselves that it's too dangerous to restore the liberties that he took from us. Meanwhile, it's quite all right for American presidents to engage in the Stalinist practice of asking children to report their parents for using the plants of Mother Nature. Those turncoat kids even get a photo op with Nancy Reagan. Nixon's ghost must be ecstatic. His anti-minority drug war tapped into a deep vein of Big Brotherism and paranoia in the mind of the American public, both on the left and on the right.
It's complicated to get our freedoms back? No it's not.
If the government had taken away the freedom of the press and then launched a 50-year campaign to point out the dangers of unbridled speech, we might now be terrified of restoring the freedom of the press. But that does not change the fact that the freedom of the press must be restored - and ASAP. Nor does it mean that the defenders of this freedom are under an obligation to explain how this restoration can be accomplished without causing unrest or even violence. If the restoration of those freedoms brings its own set of problems, so be it. If anyone is responsible for that violence, it is the fascists who outlawed those freedoms in the first place.
Folks like Robert are worried about potential victims of decriminalization - meanwhile they ignore the actual fate of the millions of depressed and anxious that they walk by every day, law-abiding citizens who have been forced to use inadequate - AND ADDICTIVE - medicines because America is so focused on keeping NON-ADDICTIVE substances like psychedelics out of the hands of the minority who might (somehow) abuse them (even though psychedelics are hardly the "go-to" drugs for young people seeking a quick and guaranteed high).
With respect, the government DOES define our rights - in the U.S. Constitution - and among those rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
How can the U.S. government grant us the pursuit of happiness and then deny us the means to attain that happiness - by denying us the naturally growing medications that can increase our mental acumen and appreciation for life?
I'm sure Robert would be angry if the government tried to tell him what to think - how much angrier he should be if the government told him HOW and HOW MUCH he can think, but that's what government does when it denies us the mind-improving therapeutic power of plants and fungi.
Robert frets about those who became addicted to opium. However the morally charged term "addiction" was created by the Drug Warrior to bring shame on opium users (especially the minorities with whom Caucasian prohibitionists associated opium use in the early 20th century). While opium was legal in the U.S., the term used was "habituation," and many doctors didn't even consider it to be a problem - until the drug war interrupted supply. Benjamin Franklin was a regular opium user, and there were no Nancy Reagans calling him out as a "wretch" in need of imprisonment and therapy. Moreover, although daily users could become habituated, the occasional use of opium did not cause habituation, nor did the user require ever greater doses to achieve comparable effects.
I'd much rather see opium legal than see the DEA stomp onto Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and confiscate all his poppy plants, as they did in 1987. Why is this outrage not patently obvious to freedom-loving people??? The DEA stomps onto Jefferson's estate to confiscate PLANTS??? PLANTS!!! Sounds like a Ray Bradbury sci-fi about a future tyrannous government, not a story from our present-day America, at least as I'd like to think of it.
Folks like Robert and Michael Pollan are purblind: they vividly imagine addicts in the street the second that government (in its generosity) decides that we can use the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet. But they are blind to the millions of addicts that pass them on the street every day THANKS to America's drug war. At least one in 10 Americans are currently addicted to antidepressant SSRIs, which became the go-to legal treatment for depression after psychedelics were outlawed. The APA ignores this VAST addiction, of course, or insists pedantically that we call it a "chemical dependency," but from a user's point of view, there is very little difference between chemical dependence and addiction. They are both demoralizing and expensive.
I have been STUCK on Effexor for 25 years. Six months ago, I got sick of being an eternal patient and told my psychiatrist that I wanted to get off of Effexor. He told me that there was no point in trying. He said there had been a recent NIH study that showed that 95% of those who attempted to get off of Effexor were back on it within three years. In other words, Effexor is far, far worse than opium and cocaine in causing addiction - yet Chicken Littles like Michael Pollan have absolutely no criticism for this state of affairs - probably because this American addiction is oiling the wheels of capitalism by giving pharmaceutical companies enormous riches and paying huge dividends for fat cats in the 1%, meanwhile giving psychiatrists overpaid jobs as glorified pill pushers, who disdain to have psychological discussions with their biochemically interchangeable patients. Also, Americans seem to have this Puritan streak in them: that's the only way I can explain their preference for Effexor over Opium. "At least," they reason, "the folks using Effexor aren't doing so to enjoy the opera, like Thomas De Quincey - or to have inspiring dreams, like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, thank God!"
Regarding the following question:
Why not just expect that use of psychedelics in a desacralized setting will be disruptive and should be?
That question is beside the point because it's an attempt to reassure drug warriors that drug legalization will work. But as I've tried to show above, the freedom fighter is under no obligation to prove that the restoration of freedom can come without causing any problems.
That said, if we want the use of psychedelics to be sacred, then the best way forward is through legalization, which would undoubtedly result in the creation of churches (even some Christian churches) that use entheogens as a sacrament. If we take the wimpy path of legalizing psychedelics but keeping them in the hands of "professional clinicians," then we can be sure that every vestige of the "sacred" will be removed from the psychedelic experience. After all, clinicians are materialists (or at least work in an emphatically materialist environment) and so they will naturally want to turn the use of psychedelics into another pill-popping routine, sterilized and routinized to the point that healthcare companies and Big Pharma can establish predictable price points upon which to base psychedelic services.
To sum up, the drug war will never disappear as long as its opponents claim that ending it is "complicated."
It is not complicated to demand the restoration of a right.
As Thomas Paine wrote:
"If the present generation or any other are disposed to be slaves, it does not lessen the right of the succeeding generation to be free. Wrongs cannot have a legal descent."
Those who fear such change just do not adequately realize how much damage the drug war has done and is doing even as we speak.
Richard Nixon's drug war has created so much violence that it has generated a whole new movie genre, in which good Americans (who generally disdain the niceties of the U.S. Constitution) beat-up on evil drug dealers who are simply filling the needs of the black market that we ourselves created for them. We might call this new movie category the "scumbag genre," featuring classics like American Gangster, Asian Connection, Bobby Z, Clockers, Cocaine Cowboys, Empire, L.A. Wars, Marked for Death, Scarface, Rush - all of which owe their existence to the fact that Richard Nixon (with help from Francis Burton Harrison back in 1914) outlawed the plants and fungi of Mother Nature.
Ending the drug war is not complicated. It's an imperative for a freedom-loving people.
If Michael Pollan wants to worry about something, let him worry about the hospital patients who, even as we speak, are undergoing unnecessary ECT procedures, potentially injuring the brain - all because our drug war has denied them non-addictive psychedelic medicines that show such promise in brightening their minds - all WITHOUT DAMAGING THE BRAIN.
Let him worry about the minorities that are being arrested every single day for the possession of naturally occurring substances, after which they are thrown into inhumanly overcrowded prisons.
Let him worry about the millions of Americans who are currently addicted for life to psychiatric drugs thanks to the outlawing of natural non-addictive plants and fungi.
Let him worry about the violence in the inner cities caused by gunfire among drug gangs - gangs that would not exist were the plants of Mother Nature merely as legal as they were 100 years ago.
Let him worry about the fact that drug testing is an extrajudicial way to punish a misdemeanor with starvation.
(Amazing. Minimum-wage employees have their urine tested to make sure they are being good Christian Scientists when it comes to mental health - then they go out to see a movie in which good Americans kill people who are violating that Christian Science sensibility about the use of natural medications - meanwhile their corporate CEO is in the Bahamas doing LSD and marijuana with rock stars on his multi-million-dollar yacht.)
I don't know which is worse, law-and-order conservatives who want to prevent people from improving their minds with psychoactive substances, or "compassionate" leftists who want to protect Americans from themselves. Do these liberals really believe that the drug-related body count would be anything close to what it is today if America hadn't started down the road of criminalizing Mother Nature's plants with the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914? The Drug War itself is the problem, folks!
Let him worry about the fact that millions of elderly Americans are moldering away in group homes, shorn of hope, when we know through recent research that guided use of entheogens could expand their lives, help them cope with mortality, put an end to their constant profitless fretting, and even grow more neurons for them thereby increasing their mental resilience - and all of these benefits are kept from the elderly by our anti-patient drug war.
Let him worry about... I could literally go on and on mentioning the many downsides of the Drug War that seem to be invisible to the modern Chicken Littles of the world.
In short, let Pollan stop worrying about merely potential victims of freedom and start worrying about the real victims of this fascist state of affairs where, though we're not told what to think, we're told HOW and HOW MUCH to think.
Finally, if the "it's complicated" argument were extended to driving, Americans would have never hit the road. The first car accident would have resulted in hand-wringing and condemnation of the automobile as evil incarnate. But even Michael Pollan recognizes driving as a right - and no doubt drives by plenty of car accidents, like the rest of us, without feeling any moral imperative to go home and write a new book about the need to outlaw driving in America.
How sad it is that Americans who insist on the right to drive a car do not insist on the right to improve their own minds with the naturally occurring plants and fungi of Mother Nature.
I can see God now:
GOD: Blimey, I put those plants there to give them inspiration and to help them sense the unity of all life! Now they've bloody outlawed the things. Can you imagine, Gabriel, the hubristic idiots have outlawed my PLANTS!!!
GABRIEL: Well, sir, they do say it's "complicated."
GOD: Complicated? It's a plant! I've said it before and I'll say it again, Gabriel: Human beings really do seem to have the power to muck up anything, absolutely anything at all!
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.