Harvard psychiatrist recently tweeted that "Drugs are not the answer" when it comes to preventing school shootings.
This is a commonplace admonition that is often voiced not just by prohibitionists, but by opponents of the Drug War, as I take this professor to be. In fact, if divided Americans agree on one thing, it's that "Drugs are not the answer."
But does that statement make sense?
Should we tell Americans that they should not get vaccinated against Covid because drugs are not the answer? Should we tell them to forego their "heart pills" because drugs are not the answer?
Why then would we tell a hateful hothead not to use a love-inducing drug like MDMA -- or any of the hundreds of other empathogens in the world, including the 200+ psychedelics synthesized by Alexander Shulgin -- because drugs are not the answer? After all, a prima facie case can be made that a hothead's chances of shooting up a grade school will decrease in proportion as he or she is under the influence of empathogenic medicine.
Sure, MDMA is unlikely to provide a full answer to the problem of school shootings -- but neither will antiviral medicine provide a full answer to the Covid crisis.
The fact is that we have a double standard about drugs. An instinctive fear of psychoactive "drugs" has been instilled in us from childhood as part of the very air that we breathe. Drug-hating is part of the modern weltanschauung of the west. How did we get here? With 100+ years of Christian Science indoctrination, that's how, spread by schools, TV shows, movies, academia, and the workplace.
DARE tells school kids as young as six years old that drugs have no positive uses for anybody, ever (which, of course, is true of no substance on earth and is thus a mere superstition). The high schooler turns to academia and finds only articles concerning the misuse and abuse of psychoactive drugs, almost none about positive uses for drugs (like, say, inspiring entire religions). By adulthood, they will have seen thousands of hours' worth of shows (some of them subsidized by the US government's Office on National Drug Control Policy) whose plot revolves around the misuse and abuse of drugs. In the workforce, they find that they can't even get a job flipping hamburgers if they are found to have used a substance that politicians have demonized, even if said substance was used daily by the likes of HG Wells, Jules Verne, Marcus Aurelius or Benjamin Franklin.
True, "drugs are not THE answer," but that's a truism with which any sensible person would agree. The problem is that most people who speak those words mean more than that; they mean something like the following: "Drugs are part of the problem. The REAL answers are [fill in the blank with the non-drug-related answer(s) of which the speaker approves]."
The problem with this attitude is that it prevents us from seeing what would be obvious to us in the absence of the Drug War weltanschauung in which we've been raised. If we lived in a society that promoted the positive use of psychoactive medicines for the benefit of humans and humanity, we would immediately be struck with the idea of using empathogens like MDMA and psilocybin to treat hotheads and teach them to love their fellows. Now, such a protocol may not prove to be a silver bullet; nevertheless, it would be a no-brainer to try such an approach absent the drug-war ideology of substance demonization in which all westerners have been indoctrinated since their birth. We would also be quick to try psychedelics for treating Alzheimer's, given that the latter class of drugs have been known to grow new neurons in the brain -- but drug propaganda keeps such prima facie protocols off the radar of modern science -- which, incidentally, is an inexcusable blind spot for which a deprogrammed futurity is sure to judge us harshly.
No, "drugs are not THE answer," but they are certainly PART of the answer, if we value peace, love and understanding over war -- which, let's face it, many Americans do not, especially if they hold stock in Halliburton or similar companies that thrive by signing lucrative nation rebuilding contracts with stockholding warmongers. As for the Brits, they are so sure that drugs are not the answer that they cracked down on the incredibly safe drug known as MDMA, which was creating unprecedented peace, love and understanding on the dance floor in the 1990's. The result of the crackdown? Concert promoters had to hire special forces troops to keep the peace as dancers switched from MDMA to violence-promoting alcohol.
This is why I wince when I read tropes like "Drugs are not the answer," because they imply the acceptance of many Drug War assumptions that do not survive philosophical scrutiny and whose influence on modern social policies is disastrous.
That said, I myself am tempted to use the phrase "Drugs are not the answer," but when I do so, I am always thinking of the dependence-causing SSRIs that have turned me into a patient for life. Such drugs are neither the answer, nor even part of the answer. They are part of an enormously expensive and disempowering treatment protocol that makes zero sense in a world in which we outlaw Mother Nature's godsends, which God himself told us were good.
Author's Follow-up: April 27, 2023
Why do Americans think that "drugs are not the answer"? Because fearmongers have taught us to believe that vulnerable young people are the only stakeholders in the drug game. That's false. There are millions, perhaps billions, who could benefit from drugs like MDMA, coca and nitrous oxide, but the masses of the depressed and anxious are not considered stakeholders in discussions about drugs, neither are the elderly, folks in hospice, soldiers with PTSD, etc. I take this personally because this is the reason that I have had to go a lifetime without godsends that grow at my feet: all because we limit our considerations about drugs to the effects they might have (in our most lurid puritan imaginations) on reckless young people -- and reckless white young people at that. We never think of the young people who are killed and who lose parents to the vicious Drug War in Central and South America that is forever waged on our behalf, or the black kids who are killed in drive-bys in the inner-city "no go zones" that we have created with our prohibition, thanks to the financial incentives that this policy creates for gun violence.
This purblind focus on young people is doubly absurd: not only does it keep godsends from millions, it also puts the young people in danger by persuading us to criminalize rather than teach. We thereby perpetuate a prohibition which causes all of the problems that we dread. How? By subjecting our uninformed youth to an unregulated drug supply. Until we stop fearmongering about drugs and start teaching about safe use, this madness will continue in a vicious cycle, in which we keep blaming drugs for all of the negative consequences that we ourselves are causing with drug prohibition.
Author's Follow-up: May 22, 2023
The Drug Warriors have always known this, of course. Here's what Nixon staffer John Ehrlichman told CNN about the Drug War: "We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities."
Author's Follow-up: May 29, 2023
When Americans tell us that "drugs are not the answer," we should just shake our heads sadly and tell ourselves: "Poor brainwashed wretches. They've been indoctrinated since childhood in the cult of the Drug War, according to which there are exactly ZERO positive uses for so-called 'drugs'. How could they have any other thought except that big bad evil 'drugs' are not the answer. They have been taught their entire lives -- including in med school -- to hate psychoactive medicine. As Ali would tell us, we should 'pity the fool!' -- and then send them off to a deprogramming camp!"
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