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?
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.
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.
The Drug War is a bipartisan effort, hence its staying power, but if the Republicans have their way, we will have an insurrection to install a president who wants to carry out "the final solution" for the drug war, by executing those who dare to traffic in botanical godsends of which racist politicians disapprove. Yes, Joe Biden himself is part of the problem with his belief in prioritizing fear over facts and incarceration over education. Moreover, he just doesn't "get" the simple fact that prohibition causes violence, it's as simple as that. But the openly traitorous republicans, with the help of Fox News, want to take the drug war to "a whole new level" -- while turning America into a Banana Republic, by getting rid of free elections and installing demagogues by force. Surely the least we can ask of American corporations is that they do not attempt to profit from the peddling of the lies that support this ongoing effort at insurrection. Sign the petition today to tell American businesses that they will be held responsible for supporting networks that openly support insurrection.
*"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!)
Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People.
: IDEBATE Press, 2011.
In which we learn how over 150 countries withhold godsend pain medicine from dying kids in the name of the drug war ideology of substance demonization.
DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule.
Vermonth: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, 2021.
America spends millions on SETI and billions on NASA looking for alien beings -- and yet we ignore the world of world of inner visions with which naturally occurring substances seem determined to put us in touch
Society and Drugs.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1970.
Boullosa , Carmen.
A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'.
New York: OR Books, 2016.
How the US Drug War and Its Mexican Collaborators caused the so-called Mexican Drug that has killed over a hundred thousand
The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade.
India: Anna Ruggieri, 2017.
1920: The year that made the decade roar.
New York: Pegasus Books, 2015.
Carpenter, Ted Galen.
The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America.
Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2012.
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!"
Cohen, Jay S..
For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health.
New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2011.
Science is censored in a Drug War. They cover only the downsides of psychoactive medicine. That's why we need to learn the upsides of use from unconventional sources, like Lovecraft, Poe and Aleister Crowley.
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.
The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally.
Rochester, Vermoont: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, 2011.
Psst! Don't tell anyone. This book actually talks about beneficial uses of the plant medicine that used to be in almost every medicine cabinet in England. That situation couldn't last long under unfettered capitalism.
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!!!
Wall Street Journal.
New York: WSJ, 1989.
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."
Cocaine: Global Histories.
New York: Routledge, 1999.
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.
Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms.
Annapolis: William Griffiths, 2021.
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.
Illicit Drug Markets, Consumer Capitalism and the Rise of Social Media: A Toxic Trap for Young People.
London: , 2019.
The Varieties of Religious Experience.
New York: Philosophical Library, 1902.
Synthetic Panics: The Sym- bolic Politics of Designer Drugs.
New York: New York University Press, 1999.
The Birth of the Modern.
New York: Harper Collins, 1991.
Johnson says that opium caused Samuel Taylor Coleridge's problems. Nonsense. Lack of education and irresponsibility causes problems. As Johnson himself says, most Brits used opium as needed without trouble.
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.
Mortimer MD, W. Golden.
Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas.
Berkeley, California: Ronin Publishing, 2017.
Mortimer reveals how Coca leaf chewing was to the long-lived Peruvian Indians what coffee drinking is to modern society. It provided them with endurance and social cohesion, just as coffee provides us with ambition and competitiveness.
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.
Drug War Capitalism.
Chico, California: AK Press, 2014.
Substance prohibition causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some. Nowhere is this more true than in Latin America, as Dawn Paley describes in painstaking detail.
Alistair Crowley on Drugs.
unknown: uploaded by Misael Hernandez, 2021.
Because of drug war self-censorship, we have to turn to renegades like Alistair Crowley to learn the positive sides of so-called 'drug' use.
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."
The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances.
New York: Macmillan Publishers, 2014.
Hurray to Rudgley for failing to dance to the Drug Warrior's tune and name his book "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs." Instead, he refers to "drugs" as substances, removing all the value judgments with which prohibitionists seek to demonize the sub
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."
PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story.
New York: Transform Press, 1991.
'A tale of self-discovery, accompanied by the faint
stirrings of a technology that is yet to be fully born, much less developed.' - David Nichols
The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact.
Santa Fe: Transform Press, 2021.
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.
Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief.
: , 0.
Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology.
New York: , 2022.
St John, Graham.
Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT.
: , 2021.
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!!!
Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography.
New York: Picador USA, 2003.
Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy.
New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.
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.
Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt.
: , 0.
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.
The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness.
New York: Vintage, 1965.
Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class.
: Pegasus Books, 2014.
From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs.
New York: Open Road Integrated Media, 2004.
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.
Here are two additional steps for good measure:
Replace pill-pushing psychiatrists with pharmacologically savvy empaths
Replace the Drug Enforcement Agency with the Drug EDUCATION Agency