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.
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