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Drug War Bait and Switch

How the DEA takes our eyes off the prize by conflating coca with cocaine and opium with fentanyl

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

January 9, 2022

he coca leaf was used successfully for millennia by the Peruvian Indians to create universal harmony and group cohesion, long before the creation of cocaine in the late 19th century as an anesthetic for eye surgery. That's why the DEA never talks about outlawing coca, but rather about outlawing cocaine -- a drug which they can more plausibly associate with blacks and violence. Nor does the DEA want us to know about coca wine, which likewise was used uneventfully by such 19th-century luminaries as Jules Verne, HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Alexandre Dumas.

Opium had been used culturally and harmoniously by the Chinese for millennia (notwithstanding the hysterical reports of the Christian Anti-Opium Society of 19th-century England) long before British merchants sought to profit from this cultural preference. THE DEA strategy? Never talk about opium -- talk about its synthesized rivals instead.

That's why the DEA's full-time job is to keep us frightened of the latest forms of crack cocaine and opioids -- anything to keep our minds off of the fact that the DEA has outlawed time-honored medicines and that the DEA has thereby turned Americans into flagrant imperialists, whose armies range around the globe, digging up harvests and spraying godsend medicine with weed killers that cause Parkinson's disease.

The DEA fails to notice (or to care) that they have thereby incentivized the use of all these more dangerous substances by banning all their less dangerous competition.

Author's Follow-up: January 9, 2023

Of course, even crack cocaine can be used non-addictively, but that's a factoid that the DEA will never bother to tell you.

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John Halpern wrote a book about opium, subtitled "the ancient flower that poisoned our world." What nonsense! Bad laws and ignorance poison our world, NOT FLOWERS!
Drug warriors do not seem to see any irony in the fact that their outlawing of opium eventually resulted in an "opioid crisis." The message is clear: people want transcendence. If we don't let them find it safely, they will find it dangerously.
"Judging" psychoactive drugs is hard. Dosage counts. Expectations count. Setting counts. In Harvey Rosenfeld's book about the Spanish-American War, a volunteer wrote of his visit to an "opium den": "I took about four puffs and that was enough. All of us were sick for a week."
In the same century, author Richard Middleton wrote how poets would get together to use opium "in a series of magnificent quarterly carouses."
It's an enigma: If I beat my depression by smoking opium nightly, I am a drug scumbag subject to immediate arrest. But if I do NOT "take my meds" every day of my life, I am a bad patient.
In "Rogue Agent," the bad guy forces one of his victims to quit her antidepressants cold turkey. Had she been on any other daily drug, the take-home message would have been "drug dependence bad!" But the message here is "get her back on those important meds!" What hypocrisy.

essays about

Corner on Coca!
Smart Uses for Opium and Coca
How Cocaine could have helped me
Open Letter to Vincent Hurley, Lecturer
Coca Wine
I come not to praise coca
Running with the DEA -- er, I mean the Devil
In Defense of Cocaine

essays about

In Praise of Opium
Re-Legalize Opium Now
10 Idiots who helped spread drug war propaganda on Listverse
Using Opium to Fight Depression
Smart Uses for Opium and Coca
The REAL Lesson of the Opium Wars
Opium for the Masses by Jim Hogshire
Why doctors should prescribe opium for depression
I've got a bone to pick with Jim Hogshire
In Defense of Opium
The Truth About Opium by William H. Brereton
John Halpern's 'Opium': a pre-review
What Andrew Weil Got Wrong

essays about

A Goliath that even David is afraid of
Rat Out Your Neighbors
Twelve Reasons why the DEA should be abolished
The Dark Side of the Monticello Foundation
Open Letter to Congressman Ben Cline, asking him to abolish the criminal DEA
Defund the DEA
The DEA: Poisoning Americans since 1973
The DEA's War on Alzheimer's Research
How the DEA determines if a religion is true
Put the DEA on Trial
Running with the DEA -- er, I mean the Devil
Torture 101 at DEA University
DEA Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity
Mycologists as DEA Collaborators
Running with the torture loving DEA
The DEA Scheduling System is Based on Lies
COPS: TV Show for Racist Drug Warriors
My conversation with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation
A Misguided Tour of Monticello
How the Jefferson Foundation Betrayed Thomas Jefferson

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans

You have been reading an article entitled, Drug War Bait and Switch: How the DEA takes our eyes off the prize by conflating coca with cocaine and opium with fentanyl, published on January 9, 2022 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)