Essay date: September 11, 2020

How Logic-Challenged Journalists Support the Drug War

Drug war propaganda and ideology superstitiously blame substances for deaths when substances are amoral.  Drug War policy kills, not drugs.

hen Leah Betts died after ingesting a single Ecstasy tablet in 1995, the media trumpeted the triumphant news (from a Drug Warrior perspective at least) that an actual death had finally been attributed to E. At last! You could almost hear a sigh of relief from Drug Warriors around the world: now they could finally plausibly call for a crack down on a drug that so far had caused nothing but peace, love and understanding on the rave dance floor. The fact that aspirin causes 3,000 deaths a year in the UK was never mentioned, of course. Nor the fact that safe guidelines for Ecstasy use were discouraged because of prohibition which limited researchers' ability to even develop such guidelines. But that's no problem for the modern Drug Warrior. During a Drug War, it only takes one death to torpedo a drug's reputation thanks to the childish logic employed by the Drug Warrior and Drug Warriors were never going to let the world forget this one glaring exception to the rule when it came to Ecstasy use.

But to say that E killed Leah was like saying that a bicycle killed the victim of a bike accident. It misses the point entirely. It turns the drug ecstasy into a scapegoat and boogieman, thereby allowing logic-challenged Drug Warriors to ignore the real cause of Leah's death: namely, the above-mentioned fact that proper safe use guidelines could not be developed for the drug thanks to the Drug War itself.

How does the media get away with this biased drug-related coverage, with this failure to put deaths like Leah's into some kind of sane perspective, pharmacologically speaking? They get away with it because their drug-related articles are informed by the drug-warrior belief that illegal psychoactive substances can only be used for getting "high" in the most frivolous and irresponsible sense of that word, that there is no sensible reason for using such substances. "Drugs like E have no sane use," they believe, "therefore even one death from using them is one too many."

But their premise is false, both psychologically and historically speaking. Historically speaking, entheogenic drugs like E have been the inspiration for founding entire religions (as the Vedic religion was inspired by soma). From a psychological viewpoint, such substances, at a bare minimum, give the user a break from reality, which is precisely the therapeutic benefit that the punter seeks in hitting up the local pub. Meanwhile, the use of Ecstasy by a group conduces to harmonious crowds full of dancers who actually care for each other in spite of racial and ethnic differences, whereas the collective guzzling of beer often leads to violent brawls and the surfacing of vestigial racism in the inebriates.

No sane use for E? Um, hello? It brings about peace, love and understanding. Isn't that good enough for you?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Drug warriors are not interested in peace, love and understanding any more than they are interested in allowing the kind of research that could have resulted in guidelines that would have prevented Leah's death in the first place. The Drug Warrior is all about demonizing substances in a way that no cultures have ever done before (before the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 first effectively outlawed a plant in violation of the natural law upon which Jefferson founded America), and if they have to ignore reality to do that, so be it.

It is my hope that essays like this will encourage logic-savvy journalists to fight back against this ideological demonization of amoral substances by putting "drug-related deaths" in perspective in their media coverage, by refusing to adopt the Drug Warrior prejudices mentioned above, especially the absurd notion that psychoactive substances can cause only evil once they have been criminalized by scheming politicians.

Perhaps the greatest change in this regard is needed in the obit section, for the Drug Warrior has a ghoulish love for autopsies of famous people, especially of those who die an early death. Drug warriors are always rooting for the coroner to discover some outlawed drug in the system of such celebrities. Why? Because if an outlawed drug is found, they know that the mere reporting of that fact in the media will read (in a Drug War society like our own) as an implicit argument in favor of the Drug War and the need for a still greater crackdown on illicit substances. No need to definitively link the drug to the death. The autopsy need only associate a proscribed substance with a death and the public (already well primed by Drug Warrior lies and propaganda) will draw the "right" (albeit illogical) conclusion: namely, that drugs are horrible in and of themselves, once they've been outlawed by politicians.

Drug Warriors therefore want to parlay each premature celebrity death into first-class Drug War propaganda, and the media typically abets them in doing this by implicitly accepting the chop logic mentioned above, failing to mention in their outraged articles (with Drug War-friendly headlines such as "E Kills Leah Betts!") that the two main dangers of illegal drug use are both results of the Drug War itself: first, the lack of available safety information about the drugs in question (caused by a drug-war crackdown on research of those substances), and second, the inability to access a safe and unadulterated product (caused by the drug-war prohibition which puts drug sales in the hands of profit-driven criminals, whose financial interest lies in diluting their product with god-knows-what look-alike replacements for the desired product).

Before journalists write one more logically challenged article about the evil of drugs, they may wish to reflect on the following inconvenient historical truths viz today's Drug War ideology:

There was no Drug War in Ancient Egypt. There was no Drug War in Ancient Mesopotamia. There was no Drug War in Ancient Greece. There was no Drug War in Ancient Persia. There was no Drug War in Ancient Rome. There was no Drug War in the Mongol Empire. There was no Drug War in the Viking Age.

Why not? Because until the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, people were judged by the way that they actually behaved and not by what substances they had in their digestive systems. Likewise, before 1914, there was no such thing as a bad substance - only substances that could be bad or good depending on the precise circumstances of their use, for the intelligent of all literate ages have understood that even salt could be deadly at high doses. In other words, substances never kill anyone: all substance-related deaths are caused by people, whether by dealers providing tainted product or by Drug Warriors failing to provide users with objective education about the pros and cons of all psychoactive substances - all substances, including Big Pharma meds, tobacco and alcohol -- whether those substances have been previously demonized by racist politicians or not.

The Links Police

Pull over to the side of the web page: topic-related links coming through viz. the media and the way they misunderstand the Drug War:

COPS: TV Show for Racist Drug Warriors
America's Obsession with Fascist Drug War Movies
How Logic-Challenged Journalists Support the Drug War
Why CBS 19 should stop supporting the Drug War

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


I guess the motto for their owner, Hubbard Broadcasting, is PANEM ET CIRCENSES, i.e., bread and circuses.
Breaking news : "McDonald's will stay open after petition gathered enough signatures!" If only WTOP would give such front-page coverage to petitions to end the drug war.
Over 45% of traumatic brain injuries are caused by horseback riding (ABC News). Tell your representatives to outlaw horseback riding and make it a federal offence to teach a child how to ride! Brought to you by the Partnership for a Death Free America.
Next essay: How The Drug War Killed Andy Gibb
Previous essay: Why the Holocaust Museum must denounce the Drug War

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(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