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How the Drug War Blinds us to Godsend Medicine

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

May 16, 2021

n the story "Tale of the Ragged Mountains," Edgar Allan Poe describes the astonishingly deep appreciation with which a morphine "habitue" named Augustus Bedloe was enabled to see the world around him during his morning walks in the forested mountains around Charlottesville, Virginia. We're told that the external world of this politically incorrect anti-hero was endowed "with an intensity of interest"...

"In the quivering of a leaf—in the hue of a blade of grass—in the shape of a trefoil—in the humming of a bee—in the gleaming of a dew-drop—in the breathing of the wind—in the faint odors that came from the forest—there came a whole universe of suggestion—a gay and motley train of rhapsodical and immethodical thought.

Americans have been taught to shake their heads upon reading such a story and denounce Augustus Bedloe with the morally tinged epithet of "addict." But this is by no means the only sane reaction to the story. Personally, the story makes me envy Augustus Bedloe. I don't want to live my life seeing the natural world around me with bleary eyes: I want to appreciate it and understand it to the extent possible. I'm not saying that I would therefore choose to use morphine. In the absence of the Drug War, there would no doubt be plenty of less habit-forming alternatives that could be chosen to achieve the appreciation that I covet.

But I refuse to adopt the usual Drug Warrior reaction to this story, which turns it into a morality tale about addiction. The real bombshell for me is the story's revelation that there is at least one drug out there that can awaken such an enthusiasm for the natural world around us. Yet this is a lesson from the story that Americans cannot see, primed as they are by Drug War propaganda (both of omission and commission) to feel a Christian Science contempt for characters like Bedloe who avail themselves of psychoactive medicine -- especially when they do so without the blessing, or at least the reluctant toleration, of the medical industry.

As for Bedloe's habituation to morphine (what we would describe today moralistically as addiction), America has no leg to stand on in denouncing it. 1 in 4 American women are addicted to Big Pharma meds, yet this medical dystopia is completely ignored by Drug Warriors, proving that we simply do not consider addiction to be a problem per se. But if addiction is not a problem, then the real question becomes: is the substance upon which we're dependent something that is WORTH being dependent upon? As a 30-year veteran of the Big Pharma pill mill, I can tell you that the tranquilizing antidepressants of Big Pharma are most definitely not worth the lifelong dependency that they cause. And that even if they were, I would drop them in a heartbeat to accept an alternative that helped me to see Mother Nature through the eyes of Augustus Bedloe, an addiction that would be no more problematic than an addiction to SSRIs were the Drug War not in force to run interference between myself and a safe supply of my poison of choice.

In a sane America where we do not politically demonize substances, we would be excited about morphine's ability to stimulate an interest in the world around us. After learning of this godsend property, we would start asking questions that would power new research projects, such as: What other substances are out there, especially in the natural world, that can help us appreciate the world around us, and what are the safest protocols for using them. We would, of course, warn the world about the addictive potential of drugs like morphine (something that psychiatry failed to do when they introduced what turned out to be their extremely addictive SSRIs), but in a sane world, we would not limit our reaction to morphine to merely demonizing it. The fact that we do so is another indication that Americans live in a Christian Science theocracy where we're obliged to consider all criminalized substances as worthless, in spite of the contrary evidence that we see around us every day -- and of which we're reminded in stories written before that fatal day when American racists first started demonizing substances in order to remove minorities from the voting rolls.

Why do I care?

Because the Drug War has turned me into an eternal patient. By outlawing all the less-addictive psychoactive plant medicines of mother nature (including marijuana, the coca plant, the poppy, mushrooms, and a whole rainforest full of psychoactive medicine), the Drug Warrior has left a chronic depressive like myself with nothing but highly addictive Big Pharma meds to alter mood, and these medicines are expensive and have to be taken every day of my life. Worse yet, they are extremely demoralizing, since I have to travel 45 miles every three months of my life to visit a doctor who is, at most, only half my age in order to get his or her approval to keep taking an SNRI "medication" that the NMIH has determined to be harder to quit than heroin. They might as well give me a placard to wear which reads "eternal patients." Worse yet, these drugs neither inspire me, nor increase creativity, nor prod me toward self-fulfillment in life, as can the "drugs" described by Edgar Allan Poe. Instead, they numb me to disappointments and keep me feeling tranquilized.

Author's Follow-up: April 19, 2023

Of course, there is a pedantic difference between addiction and dependency, but the power of these words to conjure bugbears is based on aesthetic judgements. We recoil from seeing an addict "craving" a drug -- but we have no problem with a chemically dependent person who merely feels like hell because their supply has been interrupted. Let them suffer in silence, it's no skin off our backs. Addicts, on the other hand, are a bother to us. They are eyesores. They may even try to rob us. But the chemically dependent user keeps their hell to themselves. We wouldn't know one if we saw one. Besides, if they're chemically dependent on Big Pharma meds, the powers-that-be are more than happy to furnish the goods that the user requires, for a price, of course, of time, money, and the user's own self-esteem and sense of empowerment in life. For who wants to be turned into an eternal patient of psychiatry? That's why we seldom see a "ragged out" Big Pharma patient -- because their medicines are eternally forthcoming from the doctor's office and CVS Pharmacy.

In fact, the very idea of an addict is a Drug War creation -- or at least a creation of a parochial view of drugs. If we truly welcomed mother nature's pharmacy and were allowed -- and even encouraged -- to find the best medicines for ourselves, there would be no addiction. There would be conditions that a puritan outsider would be eager to call "addiction," but the user would be able to employ a wide variety of drugs to obfuscate the negative effects of such a pharmacological situation and to thereby move on -- if he of she so desired, of course, for addiction is objectively wrong only to the extent that one's poison of choice is no longer, in fact, one's poison of choice. In our world, that catastrophe is treated with Naloxone and cold turkey. In a truly free world, one in which nature is considered a benefactor rather than a kingpin, we would be constantly working to give the supposed 'addict' new ways to switch courses with the help of a vast pharmacopoeia of psychoactive substances (some "natural," some not), without the gnashing of teeth that we require in today's materialist and Christian Science "addiction protocols."

The Links Police

Do you know why I stopped you? That's right, because the Drug War gives me carte blanche to be a noxious busybody. That, and I wanted to tip you off to the other essays on this topic, to wit:

Forbes Magazine's Laughable Article about Nitrous Oxide
Saying Yes to Drugs
Electroshock Therapy and the Drug War

Next essay: Open Letter to Variety Critic Owen Glieberman
Previous essay: Scientism and America's Drug War hypocrisy

More Essays Here


Live and learn. I'm told that science is completely unbiased today. I guess I'll have to go back and reassess my beliefs in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
In his book "Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seers," Ross Heaven explains how "salvinorin A" is the strongest hallucinogen in the world and could treat Alzheimer's, AIDS, and various addictions. But America would prefer to demonize and outlaw the drug.
I think there needs to be a law -- or at least an understanding -- that it's always wrong to demonize drugs in the abstract. That's anti-scientific. It begs so many questions and leaves suffering pain patients (and others) high and dry. No substance is bad in and of itself.
When we say so, we knowingly blind ourselves to all sorts of potential benefits to humankind. Morphine can provide a vivid appreciation of mother nature in properly disposed minds. That should be seen as a benefit. Instead, dogma tells us that we must hate morphine for any use.
I might as well say that no one can ever be taught to ride a horse safely. I would argue as follows: "Look at Christopher Reeves. He was a responsible and knowledgeable equestrian. But he couldn't handle horses. The fact is, NO ONE can handle horses!"
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.
Imagine the Vedic people shortly after they have discovered soma. Everyone's ecstatic -- except for one oddball. "I'm not sure about these experiences," says he. "I think we need to start dissecting the brains of our departed adherents to see what's REALLY going on in there."
He'd probably then say: "In fact, we'd better outlaw this substance for now until we understand its biochemical mechanisms of action. We should follow the science, after all."
This is the mentality for today's materialist researcher when it comes to "laughing gas." He does not care that it merely cheers folks up. He wants to see what is REALLY going on with the substance, using electrodes and brain scans.
I'd tell him knock yourself out, except that his expensive and purblind research is used by prohibitionists to say: See? There's no scientific proof that laughing gas helps the depressed.
This, by the way, is why we can't just "follow the science." The "acceptable risk" for psychoactive drugs can only be decided by the user, based on what they prioritize in life. Science just assumes that all users should want to live forever, self-fulfilled or not.

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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, How the Drug War Blinds us to Godsend Medicine published on May 16, 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)