Essay date: April 30, 2020

America's Blind Spot

The Drug War as the New Slavery

how the American drug war is made possible by false cultural assumptions about plants and a western distaste for the world of feeling, Mother Nature and her psychedelics

n his class entitled Natural Law and Human Nature, Professor Joseph Koterski reminds his students that early thinkers were blind to the injustice of slavery because they lived in a culture that held a variety of unfounded assumptions on that subject.

I recently e-mailed the professor, suggesting that modern Americans have the same kind of blind spot when it comes to the drug war: we cannot see the injustice in IT because WE live in a culture that holds a variety of unfounded assumptions on THAT subject.

I have yet to hear back from Professor Koterski, but that's probably to be expected. After all, if my theory is right, then my ideas about the drug war will seem as crazy to most people living today (professors included) as the abolitionist viewpoint would have seemed to an ancient Greek or Roman philosopher.

I'll give the professor a few more weeks to respond before publishing my e-mail to him as an "open letter." Meanwhile, here are a few of the harebrained American cultural assumptions that let the drug warrior get away with murder, literally speaking, fomenting completely unnecessary violence overseas in the name of protecting the American people from plants.


False Assumption One: It is legitimate to criminalize plants in the first place. COMMENT: Wrong. They are the birth right of human beings under natural law. As John Locke writes: we have the right to the use of the earth "and all that lies therein."

False Assumption Two: It makes sense to punish pre-crime: namely, the possession of substances that have become linked in the popular imagination with violence. COMMENT: Americans assume that pre-crime is an injustice limited to the plots of Philip K. Dick novels, but the punishment of pre-crime began in 1914 with the Harrison Narcotics Act. For the first time in American history (or in English history, for that matter), a person could be punished for something other than the way that they actually behaved. Now one merely had to possess a substance that had been linked in the modern imagination with evil.

False Assumption Three: Psychoactive substances have no function except as a "crutch" or to make a person "high." COMMENT: Entire books could be written to annihilate these assumptions on philosophical grounds. Suffice it here to say that early Vedic religion was inspired by psychedelics, the discovery of DNA was inspired by psychedelics, great literature was inspired by a wide variety of psychedelics and other psychoactive plants. Meanwhile, science has finally been granted just enough freedom from our aptly named Drug Czars to establish that psychedelics can be powerful therapeutic medicines for overcoming depression and PTSD. The notion that "drugs" - i.e. psychoactive plants - can only be used for sordid goals is, at best, a Christian Science superstition or at worst, a drug warrior lie, persisting for the sake of its propaganda value.

False Assumption Four: a country has the right to go overseas and burn plants that induce psychological states of which American politicians disapprove. COMMENT: {^If we have the right to travel overseas in order to burn plants that we hold responsible for American addictions, then surely other countries have the right to come stateside to burn tobacco and grape vines.}{ This is why assumption number one must be overthrown. Once we criminalize plants in violation of natural law, we open up a Pandora's box full of ways for politicians to corrupt our democracy and destroy American values. American politicians inevitably use our crazed drug-war mentality as an excuse to give monopolies to Big Liquor and Big Pharma when it comes to providing transcendence and psychological treatment. And if that means burning plants that have been used responsibly overseas for millennia, then so be it. And so colonialism thrives under the drug war, where it can now fly below the radar of our usual moral distaste for that practice. Meanwhile, torture and murder become the new American values, as we so demonize plant users as to call for their execution. Behold, the anti-nature drug war run amok.

Next essay: Don't Worry, Be Satisfied
Previous essay: America's Great Anti-Depressant Scam

More Essays Here

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. 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)

Selected Bibliography

  • Bandow, Doug "From Fighting The Drug War To Protecting The Right To Use Drugs"2018
  • Barrett, Damon "Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People"2011 IDEBATE Press
  • Bilton, Anton "DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule"2021 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Boullosa , Carmen "A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'"2016 OR Books
  • Brereton, William "The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade"2017 Anna Ruggieri
  • Burns, Eric "1920: The year that made the decade roar"2015 Pegasus Books
  • Carpenter, Ted Galen "The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America"2012 Cato Institute
  • Chesterton, GK "Saint Thomas Acquinas"2014 BookBaby
  • Filan, Kenaz "The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally"2011 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Irwin-Rogers, Keir "Illicit Drug Markets, Consumer Capitalism and the Rise of Social Media: A Toxic Trap for Young People"2019
  • James, William "The Varieties of Religious Experience"1902 Philosophical Library
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • Rudgley, Richard "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances"2014 Macmillan Publishers
  • Shulgin, Alexander "PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story"1991 Transform Press
  • Shulgin, Alexander "The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact"2021 Transform Press
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief"0
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology"2022
  • St John, Graham "Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT"2021
  • Szasz, Thomas "Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt"0
  • Wedel, Janine "Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class"2014 Pegasus Books
  • Weil, Andrew "From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs"2004 Open Road Integrated Media
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at