ou'd think that American botanists would be the first to see through the lies of the Drug Warrior, since the Drug War places legal restrictions on which plants they are even allowed to study. Surely, such academics would take umbrage at this government interference and push back, loudly and clearly, in the name of free scientific research.
Not necessarily. When I visit the home pages of certain mycologists, for instance, I get the feeling that they are DEA agents first and mycologists second. These "scientists" make it very clear that they will have nothing to do with the psychoactive mushrooms of which their government disapproves and even imply that it is a civic duty to report such plants to the DEA should they be encountered in one's work-related perambulations (this in keeping with the government viewpoint that Mother Nature is a drug kingpin rather than a source of godsend medications).
In reality, of course, botanists can become just as bamboozled by Drug War propaganda as anybody else, and there is, alas, little online evidence to suggest that they are taking the lead, as a group, in denouncing America's jaundiced attitude toward psychoactive plant medicines. I encountered the latest evidence of this sad fact when browsing the Web to discover the psychoactive properties of ergot, aka Claviceps purpurea, a fungus affecting the rye plant. It is known to human beings mainly as an agricultural poison, but it is also the substance from which LSD was isolated -- and may have even had a role in creating the psychedelic potion employed during the yearly rites at Eleusis, rites which lasted almost 2,000 consecutive years and proved philosophically enlightening to such western luminaries as Plato, Aristotle and Plutarch.
This evidence of "bamboozled thinking" appears on an online study page for a course entitled Botany 135 at the University of Hawaii Manoa, wherein the anonymous professor/author states that LSD "was eventually made illegal due to abuse."
Of course, this is just a Drug Warrior lie. LSD was criminalized simply because it was the drug of choice for the political opponents of Richard M. Nixon. But since the uncredited study page appears dated and seems to have no functioning hyperlinks, I could not point this fact out to the original professor-author, being unable to identify that no-doubt-distinguished botanist. I therefore addressed the following "gentle remonstrance" to Dr. Kasey Barton, Chair of the Department of Botany at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. My goal in so doing was not simply to urge the Department Chair to correct a misleading Web page, but to encourage his whole department to start doing its part to denounce the anti-scientific viewpoints upon which the entire Drug War is based.
Hello, Professor Barton.
I hope you do not mind if I point out an error in a botanical course syllabus at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.
In the page entitled "Ergot of Rye History," the author states that LSD was outlawed because it was being abused. This is simply false. President Richard Nixon outlawed LSD because it was the drug of choice of his political opponents. If he had outlawed LSD for public health reasons, he would have also outlawed cigarettes and alcohol. Instead, he outlawed a whole raft of psychedelic plants, about which he knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. He simply wanted to make sure that he criminalized every possible substance that his opponents might use in order to help them "think outside the box," politically speaking. In the 50 years since LSD was outlawed, there have been tens of thousands of deaths due to alcohol and cigarettes, with only a handful of deaths reported that might have been due (albeit indirectly) to LSD use.
Alcohol was certainly being abused in the late '60s and '70s, leading to daily deaths. But that was an abuse that the Richard Nixons of the world did not want the world to acknowledge and therefore it was never highlighted in lurid TV news stories.
If Nixon had been truly interested in the health of young people, he would not have made LSD use a felony. Rather, he would have educated these "drug users" and sent them on their way. But Nixon's goal was not education: his goal was to remove his opponents from the voting rolls: that's why he made drug use a felony: because felons could be prohibited from voting in US elections. Nixon's enemies were not drug abusers: they were vote abusers, young people who routinely failed to cast votes for Richard Nixon and his fellow narrow-minded political cronies.
I hope you will correct this and any similar errors in your botanical websites, since errors like these help promulgate America's disastrous Drug War thanks to which, even as I speak, hundreds are dying daily in Mexico alone. I can't even keep up with the list of grade-schoolers being killed by drug-war-related gunfire in America's inner cities: on today's WTOP website alone I see that a 4-year-old girl has been killed by errant gunfire in Washington, D.C., and an 8-year-old boy has met the same fate in San Francisco, both killed by errant gunfire from urban zones that became militarized as a natural consequence of Drug War prohibition. Do these urban victims have to be white before America's hypocritical Drug Warriors will reconsider their disastrous policy of criminalizing mother nature's plant medicines?
Why are these grade-schoolers dying? Because the United States, unlike any country in the past history of the world, has decided that botanical substances should be held responsible for evil and therefore criminalized, thereby creating a violent black market to be run by drug cartels around the world, cartels that were created, as it were, out of whole cloth by the Drug War itself. Not only does this unprecedented attitude toward plants violate the natural law on which America was founded (by denying Americans the right to the botanical bounty that grows unbidden at their very feet) but it allows politicians to ignore the real cause of bad behavior (whether that bad behavior takes the form of substance abuse or not), and that is a lack of proper education and a lack of access to the full range of medicinal cures that Mother Nature offers, forcing citizens to rely instead on a small range of highly addictive synthesized substances, most of them far more addictive than anything Mother Nature has ever grown. (Even as I type, 1 in 4 American women are addicted to Big Pharma antidepressants, many of which are harder to "kick" than heroin.)
In an ideal world, botanical experts would be making these points loudly and clearly to the laity while calling for an end to all governmental strictures regarding which plants can and cannot be studied. Indeed, all academics would be doing this ideally, since the government control of research should be anathema to a supposedly free people. Unfortunately, Drug War propaganda has been so successful in quashing dissent (with flat-out lies like the "frying pan" ad) that the laity is forced to remind the experts of the fact that they are living under the thumb of the DEA and that they practice their science only to the extent that scheming politicians will allow them to do so.
And so, as a botanical expert yourself, I urge you to join the fight against America's unprecedented war on plants by reminding America of what Paracelsus stated explicitly over 500 years ago:
Sola dosis facit venenum.
Only the dose makes the poison.
In other words, there are no bad substances. Substances are morally neutral.
This is a truth that wise men and women have understood implicitly for over two millennia. That's why there was no drug problem in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Persia, Rome or even in the Mongol Empire. Those societies punished actual bad behavior, not the pre-crime of substance consumption. For there were no such things as bad plant substances. True, substances could be misused, but the blame for that has, in the past, always rested entirely with the substance user and/or with the society that he or she lived in, never with the substance itself - until scheming American politicians realized in 1914 that they could marginalize their political opponents by outlawing their drugs of choice.
Follow-up: Professor Kasey wrote back, essentially saying my email was too long for him to read and that I should contact the author of the text to which I took exception. Here was my response to that latter email:
Dear Professor Kasey:
The page is not credited and the links are invalid. But I'll investigate and see if I can deduce who might have written the text in question. Thanks.
My email is lengthy because I'm trying to combat the wrong-headed thinking of an anti-scientific Drug War that keeps botanists from doing their job.
Sorry if I overwhelmed you.
If you're ever open to persuasion on this topic -- and the need for American botanists to protest governmental restrictions on what they can and cannot research -- I invite you to visit my website devoted to such topics at abolishthedea.com.
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