y 94-year-old mother is in a memory care facility, where she often complains to me of having "knots" in her stomach, which is her way of saying that she is anxious as hell. This complaint always depresses me because I know that in a Drug War society, there is absolutely nothing that medical science can (or rather WILL) do for her. Why not? Because the Drug War has outlawed all the psychoactive medicine that might be of help to her in a non-addictive fashion. But it's really worse than that, because the Drug War ideology of substance demonization keeps us from even considering the ways that such medicines might help.
Like all good Americans, the stateside doctors have been indoctrinated since childhood to despise mother nature's psychoactive pharmacy. They probably even got a teddy bear from the state police during grade school as their reward for saying no to mother nature's godsend medicines. As for Big Pharma, they make their money off of addictive and dependence-causing medications, so they're of no help. To the contrary, the Drug War shunts thousands of women off onto such addictive meds because that's the only legal road that Drug War prohibition leaves open for the relief of such anxiety. That's why the Betty Fords of the world become hooked on Valium, not because drugs are bad per se (as Americans like to think) but because the Drug War has outlawed all but the intentionally addictive kinds of drugs, those for which dependency is not a "bug" but a feature.
In a world in which scientists were free to work with any medicine that held prima facie promise in ameliorating my mother's anxiety, there would be all sorts of anti-anxiety therapies and trials underway in America, first and foremost using drugs like MDMA and psychedelics, in all sorts of regimens, doses, settings, and overall approaches. At the risk of giving drug-hating Americans a stroke, the approaches could even include the non-addictive use of coca and opium. For drug-war propaganda notwithstanding, drugs like coca and opium can be used non-addictively. That surely comes as such a shock to brainwashed Drug Warriors that I'd better repeat that sentence in order to let it sink in: drugs like coca and opium can be used non-addictively.
Such therapy sounds impossible to westerners who are used to playing a passive role in their recovery from illness. If they have condition "A," they expect to take pill "B" for a cure and then sit back and let pharmacology do all the heavy lifting. But if we get out of the materialist habit of referring dysphoric emotional states to "illness," then we can begin imagining anxiety and depression cures of a shamanic nature in which a pharmacologically savvy "empath" works with a specific individual to craft a drug-using plan that alleviates anxiety without addicting the "patient" to the various nostrums thus employed.
The only way that we can do this and begin helping folks like my mother is to abandon the anti-scientific Drug War notion that psychoactive substances can be judged a priori as being good or evil, without regard for precisely how they are used: in what doses, what settings, for what reasons, for which people, etc. etc. To put it another way: pharmacologically clueless politicians like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan should no longer have the last word in deciding what medicines are available for giving my mother peace of mind.
I know this is "a big ask," because helping my mom (and future anxious mothers like her) requires not simply the re-legalization of Mother Nature's bounty, it also requires our abandonment of the illness paradigm in which "patients" are considered to be interchangeable units, each theoretically amenable to the exact same addictive Big Pharma treatment, a treatment in which the patient's one and only job is to swallow pills (and don't get me started on the absurd amount of ineffective pills that Big Pharma has my mother swallowing on a daily basis). Only a shamanic approach (or more precisely, an approach informed by shamanistic holism) can lead us to the individualized therapies that can successfully leverage the vast relegalized pharmacy of Mother Nature for the benefit of the anxious (as well as the depressed, the lonely, etc.).
Until then, we may as well live in the Dark Ages when it comes to treating anxiety in the elderly (or in anyone else for that matter). The Drug War simply forbids us to treat such conditions effectively, the same way that it reduces our treatment for addiction to cold turkey and Narcan. Such shabby and stinting "non-treatments" give the lie to America's claimed status as a scientific and forward-looking country.
How do Americans live with themselves, knowing that the Drug War that they endorse is allowing for so much unnecessary emotional suffering in the world, if not for themselves, then for their friends and loved ones? I suspect that it has something to do with our Puritan heritage which tells us that there is a moral value in suffering, and so at some fundamental religious level, we would rather see our loved ones suffer than to see them achieving peace of mind using the kinds of medicines that our forebears have always associated with witchcraft and "savages." But that's a subject for another essay.
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