Essay date: December 21, 2022

Depressed? Here's why you can't get the medicines that you need

how the FDA's drug approval process is based on big-money politics and the drug war ideology of substance demonization

An open letter to Roland Griffiths, Professor in the Neuropsychopharmacology of Consciousness at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Dear Professor Griffiths:

As a 64-year-old depressive who could benefit from MDMA use, I am frustrated by the FDA's hypocritical and unscientific standard for approving psychoactive drugs. They seem to think that one study that cites potential long-term negative effects can block approval, as if the only stakeholders in the approval game were juvenile delinquents who might misuse the drug. What about the millions of Americans living lives of what Thoreau called "quiet despair"? What about the thousands of American soldiers who have gone for the last four decades without a godsend therapy for PTSD? What about the thousands of kids in South America who have lost parents to our Drug War or the kids killed in our inner cities due to the violence that Prohibition creates out of whole cloth? Why are the only stakeholders considered to be white American sons and daughters who have to be saved from their own ignorance, an ignorance that we support by teaching them to fear psychoactive substances rather than to understand them?

This is your Brain on Godsend Plant Medicine

Stop the Drug War from demonizing godsend plant medicines. Psychoactive plant medicines are godsends, not devil spawn.

In fact, the use of MDMA has been MORE than safe, historically speaking; it has been BENEFICIAL too. Yes, beneficial. It has resulted in a literally unprecedented world in which everybody got along. As one British rave-scene DJ said: "It was black and white, Asian, Chinese, all up in one building." But, of course, that's of no concern to the FDA. They never consider the "up" sides of psychoactive drugs because Drug War ideology tells them that there can be no "up" sides to "drug use." The Drug War is far more important than mere peace, love and understanding, apparently. Meanwhile, questions like these are never asked in the FDA drug approval process: "How many suicides might the use of this drug prevent? How many cases of road rage? How many school shootings? How many users might cut back on cigarettes and alcohol, or else never start using them in the first place?"

Okay, let's grant that the long-term and excessive use of MDMA may be problematic, though folks like Rick Doblin and Charles Wininger disagree: why not publicize that fact rather than using it as an excuse to block use by anyone, ever, at any time, for any reason? But let's not be hypocritical. If overuse of alcohol and anti-depressants results in downsides, then let's be sure to trumpet those as well, if only to keep young people from cynically rejecting all government warnings based on the FDA's obvious hypocrisy in singling out MDMA for such criticism.

This go-slow approach to drug approval (more accurately called a "go-glacial approach") has now kept me from accessing plant medicine for my entire life. Moreover, it is glaringly political in nature. Although it has been used safely for generations now, MDMA is criminalized based on a mere thread of potentially negative evidence; meanwhile 1 in 4 American women are chemically dependent upon Big Pharma meds for life, most of which were never intended for long-term use, and the FDA has no problem with that whatsoever. In fact, thousands of these "patients for life" are screaming bloody murder on the Internet about the downsides of SSRI withdrawal, which are far from theoretical in nature: brain zaps, dizziness, foggy thinking, etc. And yet anti-depressants remain the go-to drug for depression and other mood disorders, and those who fail to respond to them, we're told, just have to find the right brand name. In other words, the drugs themselves are supposedly beyond reproach. The problems, if any arise, are blamed on the user's finicky response to them.

The whole system reeks of politicization, big money, and double standards.

And now scientists like Dr. Robert Glatter are holding laughing gas to the same absurd standard, a standard that is never applied to Big Pharma drugs.

BUMPER STICK: Just say no to addictive psychotherapy

Anti-depressants weren't meant to be taken for life. Only when Big Pharma learned they were addictive did psychiatrists tell us to stay on our meds FOREVER.

Instead of telling the millions of depressed how to use laughing gas safely, the FDA assumes that the only stakeholders in the approval process are juvenile delinquents who cannot be educated, and so they slam on the brakes of legalization, ignoring the many invisible stakeholders who must pay the price for their purblind analysis: folks like myself, who have spent their entire life without godsend psychoactive medicines, all because the FDA has a hypocritical and money-driven approach to approving drugs. And so laughing gas, a drug whose use inspired the ontology of William James, is placed off-limits, not just for the depressed but for the philosopher and truth seeker as well.

Thank you for your time. As you continue your work with drugs like MDMA, I urge you to speak up on behalf of folks like myself, one of the millions of forgotten stakeholders in America's corrupt and biased drug-approval process. For I fear that many who watch your interviews get the impression that the FDA is moving slowly but wisely toward legalizing drugs like MDMA -- whereas the FDA's drug-approval decisions are clearly based on politics and a variety of false assumptions inspired by the drug-war ideology of substance demonization.

Related tweet: January 13, 2023

The use of laughing gas changed William James' ideas about the very nature of reality. To outlaw such substances is to outlaw human advancement.

Next essay: News Flash: Drug Use Can Be a Good Thing!
Previous essay: The Michael Pollan Fallacy

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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. 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