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Drugs: the great American scapegoat

for all social ills

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

March 26, 2021

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.

Next essay: How Ecstasy could end mass shootings
Previous essay: America's Juvenile Attitude Toward Drugs

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

In fact, that's what we need when we finally return to legalization: educational documentaries showing how folks manage to safely incorporate today's hated substances into their life and lifestyle.
There are endless drugs that could help with depression. Any drug that inspires and elates is an antidepressant, partly by the effect itself and partly by the mood-elevation caused by anticipation of use (facts which are far too obvious for drug warriors to understand).
Drug Warriors never take responsibility for incentivizing poor kids throughout the west to sell drugs. It's not just in NYC and LA, it's in modest-sized towns in France. Find public housing, you find drug dealing. It's the prohibition, damn it!
The formula is easy: pick a substance that folks are predisposed to hate anyway, then keep hounding the public with stories about tragedies somehow related to that substance. Show it ruining lives in movies and on TV. Don't lie. Just keep showing all the negatives.
Both physical and psychological addiction can be successfully fought when we relegalize the pharmacopoeia and start to fight drugs with drugs. But prohibitionists do not want to end addiction, they want to scare us with it.
If there is an epidemic of "self-harm," prohibitionists never think of outlawing razor blades. They ask: "Why the self-harm?" But if there is an epidemic of drug use which they CLAIM is self-harm, they never ask "Why the self-harm?" They say: "Let's prohibit and punish!"
David Chalmers says almost everything in the world can be reductively explained. Maybe so. But science's mistake is to think that everything can therefore be reductively UNDERSTOOD. That kind of thinking blinds researchers to the positive effects of laughing gas and MDMA, etc.
Addiction thrives BECAUSE of prohibition, which outlaws drug alternatives and discourages education about psychoactive substances and how to use them wisely.
The problem for alcoholics is that alcohol decreases rationality in proportion as it provides the desired self-transcendence. Outlawed drugs can provide self-transcendence with INCREASED rationality and be far more likely to keep the problem drinker off booze than abstinence.
That's another problem with "following the science." Science downplays personal testimony as subjective. But psychoactive experiences are all ABOUT subjectivity. With such drugs, users are not widgets susceptible to the one-size-fits-all pills of reductionism.
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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, Drugs: the great American scapegoat: for all social ills, published on March 26, 2021 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)