How the US Preventive Services Task Force Drums Up Business for Big Pharma
an open letter to Task Force member David Chelmow MD
ood morning, Dr. Chelmow.
I am a VCU philosophy graduate from 1989.
I just noticed your affiliation with the US Preventive Services Task Force and wanted to share my views with you about Task Force recommendations. With all due respect, I think that the Task Force is reckoning without the Drug War. When the Task Force tells Congress that there is a need to fight anxiety, they fail to point out that we have outlawed almost all the substances that could help with that condition. Seen in this light, the report amounts to little more than a sales pitch for Big Pharma's addictive pills.
The use of MDMA fights anxiety. Coca wine and the chewing of the coca leaf fights anxiety. The use of ayahuasca fights anxiety. So does the intermittent use of laughing gas. Even the use of opium fights anxiety -- although fearmongers have been telling us for 100+ years now that humankind cannot use such drugs wisely.
I realize that the Task Force has to work within the limits of existing law, but that does not mean that you need to pretend that the Drug War does not exist, especially when its prohibitions so drastically limit the suggestions that you can pass on to Congress.
You would be doing a great service to the country and the memory of Thomas Jefferson (who rolled in his grave when the DEA confiscated his poppy plants in 1987) by adding at least a footnote to all your recommendations about mental health, pointing out that prohibition has outlawed (not only in America but now worldwide) almost all the substances that are known to combat the conditions against which you are calling for action.
I shared the above thoughts with the Task Force itself. Below you can read the response that I received from an anonymous "USPSTF Coordinator." As you'll notice, he or she completely ignores the point I made, but sticks by the Task Force's implication that the world is fine, that there is no Drug War, and that we have wonderful treatments for anxiety without the hundreds that we have outlawed. [sigh]
Thank you for your email and interest in the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force). The role of the Task Force is to improve people's health by making evidence-based recommendations about the benefits and harms of specific preventive services.
The Task Force does not make recommendations on how to treat conditions once diagnosed. However, several treatment options were reviewed to help inform whether screening is beneficial. The Task Force found that there are multiple treatment options available that can be effective, including medications, counseling, or desensitization therapies (which combine relaxation techniques with gradual exposure to help someone slowly overcome a phobia). We recommend that adults diagnosed with anxiety disorders decide together with their healthcare professional what treatment is right for them.
Thank you again for your email.
Related tweet: June 22, 2023
Here's my response to the Preventive Services Task Force: "You guys are scared of even mentioning the Drug War, aren't you? This is self-censorship at work."
The outlawing of hundreds of substances that could fight anxiety is HUGELY relevant to your work. The fact that you do not even mention this makes your work political and anti-scientific.
5% of proceeds from the sale of the above product will go toward getting Brian a decent haircut for once. Honestly. 9% will go toward shoes. 50% will go toward miscellaneous. 9% of the remainder will go toward relaxation, which could encompass anything from a spin around town to an outdoor barbecue at Brian's brother's house in Stanardsville (both gas and the ice-cream cake that Brian usually supplies).
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