America's Anti-scientific Standards for Psychotherapeutic Medicine
lcohol can kill tens of thousands of Americans a year and we consider it a bargain price to pay for a little harmless fun. But if a demonized psychoactive plant from Mother Nature is merely REPORTED as being somehow related to one single solitary death -- one single solitary death -- the Drug Warrior considers it to be a knock-down argument that the plant medicine in question should be made unavailable, not just to Americans but to everyone around the world, including drug researchers studying Alzheimer's, and that we should even send our army overseas to burn those plants, no matter how many millennia they may have been used responsibly by other cultures.
That's why enemies of the Drug War should think twice before turning the regulation of plant medicine over to the healthcare state. The system is hypocritically rigged to pillory therapeutic plant medicine for statistical trifles while it gladly lets non-therapeutic drugs like alcohol and cigarettes ravage the population at will. That's why Americans are depressed in record numbers. Because we're determined to ban the effective drugs over trifles while ignoring the enormities perpetrated by our go-to drugs of alcohol and tobacco.
Author's Follow-up: September 20, 2022
There's another reason why science and the healthcare state should only play a peripheral role when it comes to psychoactive medicine. That's because, when it comes to such nostrums, the user is often looking for self-transcendence and an ability to maximize one's potential, as the coca leaf provides the endurance and opium, the creativity, to allow one to succeed in life. In other words, use of such substances is often an attempt, conscious or otherwise, to achieve self-actualization in life. For many of us, that is the prime directive. If we were stereotypical robots, we would be walking around saying: "Must have a meaningful life," whereas the robots of the medical tribe would be saying something quite different, namely: "Must maximize safety."
Wrong. That makes enough sense in the realm of physical medicine, but it is a purblind maxim when it comes to psychoactive substances. Yes, safety is a consideration when it comes to using psychoactive medicine, so give me all the facts about actual use -- including the subjective reports of actual users -- but at the end of the day, as the Brits would have it, I would rather live a potentially shorter life in which I am achieving my goals than become a centenarian purely for the satisfaction of chart-wielding doctors.
Of course, historians like Paul Johnson ("The Birth of the Modern") cherry-pick a few cases of opium misuse (as in the case of the drug-friendly but hypocritical Samuel Taylor Coleridge) to conclude that drugs like opium probably do not help creativity -- but Johnson makes the usual mistake of expecting such drugs to act like aspirin. Just as we take an aspirin to ease a headache, we should, he feels, be able to take opium to improve creativity. Otherwise, the drug does not "work." But the efficacy of psychoactive drugs involves a great host of contextual and psychological factors that Johnson ignores. They are not one-size-fits all drugs. The question is not whether opium, say, increases creativity in general, but whether it improves creativity in the case of a given person of a given history with a given desire for a given outcome using a given dose at a given frequency in a given situation. It seems to have worked in these ways for Marcus Aurelius and Benjamin Franklin, not to mention Poe and Lovecraft, the latter's work in particular being full of unapologetic opiate imagery.
Johnson goes on to spitefully GUESS that Franklin "probably" became an addict in his old age, but it's not quite clear why even this should be problematic, unless we want to subject opium use to a moral scrutiny that we never apply to Big Pharma meds, let alone to the coffee that Johnson no doubt drank every day of his adult life, or the alcohol that he imbibed, etc. One wonders what uncharitable future historian will look back on Johnson's life and self-righteously conclude that "he was probably addicted to alcohol."
Those of us who have friends and family that smoke are used to said individuals suddenly disappearing from parties and such. We're originally like, "Where is so-and-so?" until the penny finally drops, and we realize that said person has gone outside for a smoke. If we're going to get on high horses about potentially useful drugs like opium, then by rights we should be indignant about smokers. But again, the Drug War is political, and so we only invoke moral disdain when it suits us for non-health-related reasons.
You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at abolishthedea.com. Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.
A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.
The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.
It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)
If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.
PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.
Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company