Essay date: March 26, 2021

Drugs: the great American scapegoat

for all social ills

  There is no drug problem in America. However there is a HUGE problem with how America deals with drugs.

here is no drug problem in America. There never has been. However there is a HUGE problem with how America deals with drugs. Instead of learning about them and teaching Americans how to use them wisely and for good purposes -- such as religious inspiration, creativity and increased mental focus, the way that "drugs" have been used since caveman days -- we demonize such substances and blame every possible social problem on them. Why? Because if we were to acknowledge that drugs aren't a real problem, we'd have to look at the real causes of our problems with drugs: namely, modern cynicism, unfettered capitalism, and America's scientistic expectation that all "drugs" should act like aspirin, that we should simply take them and wait placidly for some specific effect, with no effort on our part to make ourselves open to the drug-aided inspiration and epiphany that we're expecting. And of course when this naive attitude inevitably leads to "bad trips," we blame the substance rather than our inability to use it wisely.

And so American politicians blame "drugs" for all of America's problems, thereby shooting the messenger that's trying to tell us that Americans are immature and improperly educated. Other nations have been deeply awed by psychoactive substances to the point of creating entire religions around them and the hints of cosmic truth that their ingestion provides. But Americans titter like grade-schoolers at such substances and imagine ways of harnessing them to achieve carnal self-fulfillment. At least that's the image that the Drug Warriors seek to perpetuate, desperate as they are to hide the fact that so-called "drugs" have ever been used for anything but evil. And so we see nothing but horrifying depictions of hedonist "drug use" on television, drug "fiends" shooting up with dirty needles and scumbag thugs "snorting blow" as loudly as they possibly can.

Check out the unintentionally hilarious scene in the drug-war propaganda film called "Crisis" from 2021, wherein Jake, the self-righteous undercover DEA agent, is shuttling a nefarious "drug dealer" (is there any other kind?) across town in an unmarked police car as the latter horrible "druggie" snorts like a disgruntled water buffalo, frequently swiping his forefinger under his nose, just in case the audio clues are insufficient to convince the viewer that the bad guy in question has been "doing" that evil drug par excellence called cocaine. (Oh, the shameless hussy!) The producers do everything but insert a lower-third graphic reading "rotten evil druggie" with an arrow pointing upward at the offender's constantly wriggling proboscis. One thinks for a moment that the indignant Christian Science good guy in the driver's seat is going to lose his cool, come out from undercover and shout, "Oh, hell no," as he slams on the brakes and begins to pummel his passenger for daring to flaunt his terrible evil drug use in such a noisy and plebeian fashion, like an open invitation for SWAT teams to start raiding his home at once and start kicking his grandmother in the face. ("And here's another kick for raising that scumbag son of yours!")

Meanwhile we censor our history books to expunge the fact that folks like Marco Polo, Benjamin Franklin, and Marcus Aurelius used opium; that MesoAmericans employed coca and psychedelics in their religious rituals, and above all the fact that Sigmund Freud himself considered cocaine to be a godsend cure for his depression.

America is in such deep denial about its childish inability to handle "drugs" that it has forced the entire world to adopt its own jaundiced attitude about the plant medicine that grows unbidden around us. Desperate to ignore the fact that there's a problem with our own attitudes toward psychoactive substances, we not only demonize such substances but we insist that the entire world do the same, on penalty of our Army marching into their countries unbidden to burn the plants and fungi that we have turned into scapegoats for our own social problems. Nor do corrupt politicians have the least incentive to change this status quo, since they know that drug laws can be used like poll taxes to suppress voting by minorities simply by targeting them with "drug-related" felonies in order to remove them from the voting rolls -- plus, we can invade countries at will, merely by associating its leadership in any way with the sale of non-western medicine. Just the excuse that an imperialist government needs to carry on business as usual despite today's ostensible anti-colonial sentiment.

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


If drug war logic made sense, we would outlaw endless things in addition to drugs. Because the drug war says that it's all worth it if we can save just one life -- which is generally the life of a white suburban young person, btw.
Next essay: How Ecstasy could end mass shootings
Previous essay: America's Juvenile Attitude Toward Drugs

More Essays Here

A Misguided Tour of Jefferson's Monticello

Calling Doctor Scumbag

A Dope Conversation about Drugs

COPS presents the top 10 traffic stops of 2023

PSA about Deadly Aspirin

PSA about Deadly Roller Coasters

PSA about the Deadly Grand Canyon

PSA about Deadly Horses

essays about

Kevin Sabet can Kiss My Effexor Prescription
The Infuriating Philosophical Idiocy of Kevin Sabet
The Infuriating Philosophical Idiocy of Kevin Sabet
Kevin Sabet and What-About-Ism
The Pseudoscience of Mental Health Treatment
Ignorance is the enemy, not Fentanyl
How the drug war promotes drug abuse
America's Blind Spot


(seemingly useful organizations)

Sana Collective
Group committed to making psychedelic therapy available to all regardless of income.

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. (For proof of that latter charge, check out how the US and UK have criminalized the substances that William James himself told us to study in order to understand reality.) It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions (like the Vedic), Nazifies the English language (referring to folks who emulate drug-loving Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin as "scumbags") and militarizes police forces nationwide (resulting in gestapo SWAT teams breaking into houses of peaceable Americans and shouting "GO GO GO!").

(Speaking of Nazification, L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates thought that drug users should be shot. What a softie! The real hardliners are the William Bennetts of the world who want drug users to be beheaded instead. That will teach them to use time-honored plant medicine of which politicians disapprove! Mary Baker Eddy must be ecstatic in her drug-free heaven, as she looks down and sees this modern inquisition on behalf of the drug-hating principles that she herself maintained. I bet she never dared hope that her religion would become the viciously enforced religion of America, let alone of the entire freakin' world!)

In short, the drug war 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.

PPS Drugs like opium and psychedelics should come with the following warning: "Outlawing of this product may result in inner-city gunfire, civil wars overseas, and rigged elections in which drug warriors win office by throwing minorities in jail."

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
  • Bernays, Edward "Propaganda"1928 Public Domain
  • 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
  • Gianluca, Toro "Drugs of the Dreaming: Oneirogens"2007 Simon and Schuster
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Grof, Stanislav "The transpersonal vision: the healing potential of nonordinary states of consciousness"1998 Sounds True
  • Head, Simon "Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans"2012 Basic Books
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Illich, Ivan "Medical nemesis : the expropriation of health"1975 Calder & Boyars
  • 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
  • Lindstrom, Martin "Brandwashed: tricks companies use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy"2011 Crown Business
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Miller, Richard Lawrence "Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State"1966 Bloomsbury Academic
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Nagel, Thomas "Mind and Cosmos: why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false"2012 Oxford University press
  • Newcombe, Russell "Intoxiphobia: discrimination toward people who use drugs"2014
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • Rosenblum, Bruce "Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness"2006 Oxford University Press
  • 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
  • Whitaker, Robert "Mad in America"2002 Perseus Publishing
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at