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Fentanyl does not kill! Prohibition does!

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

January 10, 2024

o I'm at Quality Inn in Harrisonburg, Virginia, right? I'm recovering from this morning's dental surgery for which I was 'knocked out', no doubt grudgingly by the otherwise drug-hating staff, with a narcotic (after having been lectured like a grade-schooler, of course about the detailed protocol that the recipient of such pharmaceutical magnanimity is expected to follow in the age of the Drug War).

So I'm poking about websites, looking to locate some escapist flick on the streaming platform of my choice, when I stumble across this seven-year-old YouTube video by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation with the highly irritating title, 'How fentanyl kills, a CBC explainer.' What? how fentanyl kills1? I never thought about that. I guess the capsules suddenly sprout arms and legs and come at you with a dagger, screaming:

"I'm going to get you!"

Worse yet, the video has received over 350,000 pairs of brainwashed eyeballs, 3500 likes, and 355 comments, all of which appeared to be positive -- although I dared not read them too closely less they prove too much for my weak post-operative tummy.

"Arggh!" I think to myself. "So much for relaxing."

"I simply HAVE to submit comment number 356 for the film on YouTube, will I or NILL I!"

So thinking, I pecked out the following dissenting opinion.

This is more Drug War propaganda. Drugs do not kill. Bad social policy kills. End the Drug War! Teach safe use. Stop demonizing medicines. Hundreds of hospitals in India have stopped using morphine and other pain meds because of the red tape caused by your fearmongering. Kids go without pain relief so that you can blame "drugs". The Partnership for a Drug Free America told us that drugs fry your brain. That was the biggest lie in the history of public service announcements. Prohibition kills2. It's lasted for 100 years and it's handed elections to fascists by jailing millions of minorities after luring the poor into an incredibly profitable drug trade. It's destroyed the rule of law in Latin America3. It's turned inner-cities into shooting galleries. It's censored academia. It was responsible for the election of Donald Trump4. END PROHIBITION. STOP YOUR ANTI-SCIENTIFIC DEMONIZATION OF SUBSTANCES

There. I hope I've got that out of my system, at least for tonight. Now on to that relaxing movie that I mentioned. looks like it's going to be 'mission, impossible - dead reckoning part one' with you-know-whom. As far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with drugs. I just hope that the producers have resisted the temptation to insert any throwaway lines or subplots designed to conform with the Christian Science mindset of the current inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I'm feeling fine after surgery, or rather I was, until this braindead Canadian flick made me despair about the sorry state of North American newscasters when it comes to common-damn-sense in the age of the hateful war on godsend medicines, aka the war on drugs.

Author's Follow-up: January 11, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

I am not trying to hate on my dentist, by the way. In fact, he was great. I feel surprisingly fine after the apparently gnarly procedure. I say "apparently" because I was "knocked out" at the time, but the mere description of the procedure would turn a stronger stomach than mine. I am only picking on the practice of modern dentistry as one of endless extant examples that illustrate the hypocrisy of the fearmongers who continue to destroy an ever-widening range of democratic principles with their superstitious ideology of substance demonization.

I did, however, have one slightly frightening experience, upon leaving the building after my surgery (I should perhaps say "theoretically frightening experience," because I was in a state wherein things were much more likely to appear curious to me than frightening). I had just awoken from my deep sleep when I was wheeled to the front door by one of the two personable dental assistants. She stopped in the hallway and turned me to face the dentist office parking lot through a transparent glass side door, assuring me in the process that "the truck will be here shortly to pick you up." At least that's what I heard her say.

And I was thinking to myself: "The truck? What truck? Were they so disgusted with my lack of dental hygiene that they decided to bump me off? Or is this some chop shop where they rob the patient blind and then haul them off to the New Jersey Pine Barrens to be done away with by the Mob?"

After about 15 seconds' worth of such bemused speculations, it occurred to me that my brother-in-law had driven me to the dentist that morning in his truck, and that his vehicle was probably even now approaching the side door in order to "collect me" (as the Brits would have it) in such a way as to minimize my need for unnecessary exertions.

That's it. Most of you can probably leave now. But I invite the "philosophy heads" in the audience to stay tuned for some nuanced elaboration on the above essay -- nuance being an unknown concept in the all-too-self-assured "mind" of the modern Drug Warrior.

With regard to drugs like fentanyl and oxy, it will be argued that Sackler and folks played a role in the opiate dystopia that has ensued. But these are what the philosopher would call "accidental" facts. They do not affect the points that I am trying to make. That is to say, we grant that many people will be tempted to take advantage of substance prohibition to make money in a highly questionable manner, but that should not distract us from the fact that prohibition created those opportunities in the first place. That is the overriding lesson here, because if Sackler was not the bad guy, there would be ten others to take his place. So while there is certainly a role for unveiling such details, it is not my job as a philosopher.

Mind you, there's nothing wrong with discussing the roles of such people. The problem is that most of the folks who do so are silent about the policy that enabled them: namely prohibition.

One way they're thrown off the trail is by clueless headlines that refer to fentanyl as a killer5. Such a headline is a big YES vote for more of the same prohibition attitude that has already led to countless deaths in North and South America, to the abandonment of Fourth Amendment protections, to the unnecessary suffering of hospice patients for lack of the proper pain medicine, etc. etc. etc.

Someone has to stand up and remind newscasters of the obvious: that inanimate objects are not killers, Drug War superstition to the contrary. The killers are the prohibitionists who first outlawed mother nature in violation of the natural law upon which America was founded.


1 How Fentanyl Kills: a CBC Explainer, (up)
2 Quass, Brian, Prohibitionists Never Learn, 2023 (up)
3 Paley, Dawn, Drug War Capitalism, AK Press, Chico, California, 2014 (up)
4 Quass, Brian, How the Drug War gave the 2016 election to Donald Trump, 2021 (up)
5 Quass, Brian, Time for News Outlets to stop promoting drug war lies, 2023 (up)

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Every time I see a psychiatrist, I feel like I'm playing a game of make-believe. We're both pretending that hundreds of demonized medicines do not exist and could be of no use whatsoever.
We would never have even heard of Freud except for cocaine. How many geniuses is America stifling even as we speak thanks to the war on mind improving medicines?
If politicians wanted to outlaw coffee, a bunch of Kevin Sabets would come forward and start writing books designed to scare us off the drink by cherry-picking negative facts from scientific studies.
Drugs that sharpen the mind should be thoroughly investigated for their potential to help dementia victims. Instead, we prefer to demonize these drugs as useless. That's anti-scientific and anti-patient.
The DEA conceives of "drugs" as only justifiable in some time-honored ritual format, but since when are bureaucrats experts on religion? I believe, with the Vedic people and William James, in the importance of altered states. To outlaw such states is to outlaw my religion.
Besides, why should I listen to the views of a microbe?
Someday, the First Lady or Man will tell kids to "just say no to prohibition." Kids who refuse will be required to watch hours' worth of films depicting gun violence, banned religions, civil wars, and adults committing suicide for want of medicine that grows at their very feet.
For those who want to understand what's going on with the drug war from a philosophical point of view, I recommend chapter six of "Eugenics and Other Evils" by GK Chesterton.
Alcohol is a drug in liquid form. If drug warriors want to punish people who use drugs, they should start punishing themselves.
"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."
More Tweets

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You have been reading an article entitled, Fentanyl does not kill! Prohibition does! published on January 10, 2024 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)