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How the drug war promotes drug abuse

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher




July 6, 2020

n his Great Courses lectures on "How Ideas Spread," Professor Jonah Berger points out that ad campaigns to combat drug use have been shown to actually increase drug use in the general population. This is not surprising when we consider that such ads encourage the viewer to look upon psychoactive substances in a superstitious way, as powerful entities in and of themselves, capable of wreaking damage without regard for the way that they are used, or by whom, or for what reason, etc. Drug warriors thereby increase our interest in this politically created category called "drugs" by elevating such inherently neutral substances as the poppy and the coca plant to near mythical status, as devilish substances in and of themselves, and then turning this childish attitude toward psychoactive substances into the law of the land by blocking scientific analysis of such plants with draconian drug laws. The Drug War thereby makes all these "devilish substances" deeply interesting and fascinating - they are, after all, the root of all evil in the jaundiced eyes of the Drug Warrior - when, in the absence of Drug War propaganda, such plants are... simply plants: they are neither good nor bad, except with respect to the way that they are actually used by real people in the real world.

If "drugs" are misused, therefore, there is no "drug problem": only a social problem. But the politicians behind the Drug War don't want to hear that because that would force them to deal with real-world problems, including inequitable arrangements for education and business opportunities whereby inner-city minorities have very little chance to make it in the world. And so, instead of facing up to their abnegation of duty on this front, the politicians flip the script and blame the victims of their policies for ingesting and dealing in these "devilish substances." Thus "drugs," as strategically defined by disingenuous politicians, become the universal scapegoat for all social problems, thereby allowing the Drug Warrior to blame the victim of those problems while steering the conversation away from any liberal reforms that might actually improve the lives of all parties concerned.

Fortunately for conservatives, they have duped the left into believing in this thing called "drugs," when all that really exists are plant medicines that can be used for good or ill. Thus Jesse Jackson Sr. talks as if drugs are the root of all evil, not realizing that "drugs" is a fictional term, created and defined by politicians as a way for them to neglect and blame (and ultimately arrest) the very marginalized classes that Jackson Sr. purports to be helping. And so, instead of loudly pushing for equal education for all, the message that Jackson spreads is: harsher penalties for drug dealing - "drug dealing" being the Drug Warrior's way of describing "those who dare to sell plant medicines of which American politicians disapprove." Like most liberals, Jackson has been persuaded by Drug Warriors to take his eye off the prize and to focus on so-called "drug" abuse rather than the social problems (such as lack of education and the outlawing of safer substances) that give rise to misguided substance use in the first place.

Even most opponents of the Drug War are in agreement with the conservative and racist lie that there are these things called "drugs" that we need to combat, substances which can have no legitimate uses and are employed only by irresponsible hedonists. Of course, these are all Drug Warrior lies, that are just plain counterfactual from an historical point of view, but it's no wonder that liberals "fall" for these lies, given the Drug War censorship that keeps Americans from ever seeing any positive use of the plant medicines that politicians have criminalized. When was the last time that you saw a magazine article or movie depict a studious intellectual using cocaine strategically to increase his vocational output (as was the case with Sigmund Freud) or a renaissance man partaking of opium to increase his creativity (as was the case with Benjamin Franklin)? No. All we see are blood-stained dollar bills and handguns sitting next to little baggies full of white powder on a dimly lit card table in a windowless back room. It's little wonder then that the left has been bamboozled by the propaganda of Drug Warriors, since the laws that they enact effectively block any objective scientific analysis of "drugs' while causing us to censor any beneficial use of such substances from the American memory.

So I'll repeat the statement that got me kicked out of the drugs Reddit: namely, there is no such thing as "drugs," as that term is defined by the Drug Warrior. There are only plant medicines, any of which can be used for good or ill depending on the circumstances.

This whole concept of "drugs" as inherently evil substances is an American invention and, unfortunately, now America's number-one philosophical export. It represents a way of looking at the world that would have been utterly foreign to Herodotus or Marco Polo - or Thomas Jefferson, for that matter.

That's why anti-drug ad campaigns lead to more drug use, because they draw attention to a non-problem, the supposed existence of plant substances that are pure evil. By thus turning mere plants into demonic threats to sanity and health, the Drug War drastically increases our interest in these substances. Using a plant medicine, after all, sounds mundane and boring. But when we describe that medicine as a demonic threat to sanity and health, we give it a sort of perverse attraction to inquiring minds, which can't help but ask themselves: "What's all this fuss about? Why are scheming politicians so determined to keep me from using these things they call 'drugs'? These substances must be powerful, indeed! I wonder what these so-called 'demonic threats' could actually do for me!"

Author's Follow-up: September 14, 2022






This was written over two long years ago, when I was still a mere babe in the woods, scarcely even eligible to receive any AARP benefits! Today, being somewhat more savvy with respect to the Drug Warrior MO for misleading America, I would have cut to the chase and simply defined the word "drugs" as used (or rather misused) today: namely, "substances which have no beneficial uses whatsoever: not here, not there, not for you, not for me, not now, not ever, not anywhere."

Then I would have diplomatically pointed out that, pardon me, but no such substances exist in the world. Even the deadly Botox has positive uses, and not just for cosmetic purposes either but in treating real problems such as spastic dysphonia.

But the Drug Warrior pretends to know, a priori, that today's demonized substances not only have no current positive uses, but that the wisdom of humankind can never even come up with a decent use for them, this despite the fact that the type of substances we're talking about here have inspired entire religions!

The fact is, the positive uses of psychoactive substances are absolutely legion, and not just because some of them promote neuronal growth and thus have a prima facie role in treating conditions like Alzheimer's and autism (a role that scientists mostly ignore in fealty to the anti-scientific Drug War ideology of substance demonization).

Take morphine, for instance. The intermittent use of that substance can greatly increase our ability to appreciate nature -- as demonstrated in Poe's short story "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains." Take 'magic mushrooms': it is a commonplace in the drug research field that psychedelic medicines can greatly increase our ability to appreciate music. Take MDMA: this is a drug that brought peace, love and understanding to a multi-ethnic dance floor in the 1990s, until Drug Warrior Brits looked that gift horse in the mouth and cracked down on Ecstasy. Why? Because of a handful of deaths caused by a lack of safe use information about Ecstasy, a lack of knowledge that the Drug War itself was responsible for by discouraging research. Indeed, organizations like Biden's Office of National Drug Policy actually forbid members to discuss positive uses, so it's little wonder that reliable info about safe drug use is never available when and where it's needed.




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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

After over a hundred years of prohibition, America has developed a kind of faux science in which despised substances are completely ignored. This is why Sci Am is making a new argument for shock therapy in 2023, because they ignore all the stuff that OBVIOUSLY cheers one up.
Folks like Sabet accuse folks like myself of ignoring the "facts." No, it is Sabet who is ignoring the facts -- facts about dangerous horses and free climbing. He's also ignoring all the downsides of prohibition, whose laws lead to the election of tyrants.
The Holy Trinity of the Drug War religion is Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and John Belushi. "They died so that you might fear psychoactive substances with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
In "Four Good Days" the pompous white-coated doctor ignores the entire formulary of mother nature and instead throws the young heroin user on a cot for 3 days of cold turkey and a shot of Naltrexone: price tag $3,000.
Only a pathological puritan would say that there's no place in the world for substances that lift your mood, give you endurance, and make you get along with your fellow human being. Drugs may not be everything, but it's masochistic madness to claim that they are nothing at all.
The government causes problems for those who are habituated to certain drugs. Then they claim that these problems are symptoms of an illness. Then folks like Gabriel Mate come forth to find the "hidden pain" in "addicts." It's one big morality play created by drug laws.
If I want to use the kind of drugs that have inspired entire religions, fight depression, or follow up on the research of William James into altered states, I should not have to live in fear of the DEA crashing down my door and shouting: "GO! GO! GO!"
SSRIs are created based on the materialist notion that cures should be found under a microscope. That's why science is so slow in acknowledging the benefit of plant medicines. Anyone who chooses SSRIs over drugs like San Pedro cactus is simply uninformed.
In "The Book of the Damned," Charles Fort writes about the data that science has damned, by which he means "excluded." The fact that drugs can inspire and elate is one such fact, although when Fort wrote his anti-materialist broadside, drug prohibition was in its infancy.
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.
More Tweets


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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 promotes drug abuse published on July 6, 2020 on AbolishTheDEA.com. 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 abolishTheDEA.com. (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)