How to Unite Drug War Opponents of all Ethnicities
Open letter to Sean McAllister, drug policy reform lawyer
ear Sean Mcallister,
I just watched your presentation on the MAPS Webinar and enjoyed it greatly. When you have a moment, I have some ideas for you about the strategy of drug decriminalization.
You say that it's difficult to find a single unifying motive around which a variety of folks can come together to fight in favor of psychedelic decriminalization. I think there are two main reasons why that problem exists.
1) Drug-law reformers fail to understand (and therefore to adequately publicize) the enormous shortcomings of the current pill-mill approach to modern psychiatry. Those who really understand these shortcomings (especially those, like myself, who have been victims of them) consider psychedelic legalization to be a moral imperative! What shortcomings? Well, one in eight male Americans are addicted to anti-depressant SSRIs and one in four females - an addiction problem that the hypocritical drug warrior ignores, as do most psychiatrists. And, as Julie Holland reports, many of these antidepressants are harder to kick than heroin. These Big Pharma meds turn the individual user into a lifelong patient who has to take these pills every day of their life, which is expensive and demoralizing - but results in just so many annuities for uber-rich Big Pharma. What's more, Robert Whitaker has shown that these drugs actually cause the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix! And now they're being marketed to toddlers!!!
The failure of decrim advocates to point these things out makes me fear that they're afraid to criticize Big Pharma and the American Psychiatric Association. But if these things were known and publicized - along with the psychotherapeutic promise of psychedelics and the fact that they're non-addictive - then there should be a vast community of interested parties lined up to push through psychedelic legalization in order to unhook America and empower folks who are otherwise being turned into "eternal patients." But first someone's got to speak up to the American public and tell them that the psychiatric emperor is wearing no clothes - despite the fact that many doctors have appeared on shows like Oprah over the years (under the pay of Big Pharma) to suggest otherwise. But if we pretend that psychiatry as it exists now is just fine, then few people are going to get excited about legalizing exotic-sounding drugs that can replace the status quo.
2) There is another reason why the psychedelic decriminalization project does not attract more benefactors. That is because this approach ignores the root problem behind ALL drug laws, both in regard to psychedelics, cocaine and opium, etc. The original sin of the drug war is that, beginning in 1914, it began criminalizing Mother Nature's plants. I believe that this can and must be construed as a violation of the natural law upon which this nation was founded. Surely, Thomas Jefferson never for a moment thought that government had the right to give or withhold access to specific plants based on political considerations. I can think of no more obvious fundamental right than our right to what John Locke referred to as "the use of the earth and all that lies therein." By failing to make this point, and arguing for piecemeal legalization of certain plants instead, we are basically conceding that government does have the right to interfere with our access to Mother Nature's plants in the first place. We just want to carve out a few exceptions to that rule. But if we wish to unite all reformers with a common goal, we need to argue for the re-legalization of Mother Nature's plants, period, full stop - for which I've even created a bumper sticker on my website, AbolishTheDEA.com: "END DRUG WAR SHARIA - RE-LEGALIZE PLANTS."
Besides violating natural law, the drug war is a violation of the separation of church and state. Why? Because laws that prohibit the use of plant medicines represent the enforcement of Christian Science with respect to emotional healing. Again, this line of argument is one that can be advanced in regard to both psychedelics and cocaine, etc., and thus it is an approach that could bring together the otherwise culturally separated parties. Once we recognize the common denominator in all drug-war problems - the original sin of criminalizing plants - we reformers can all come together under one banner to denounce the DEA with one synchronized voice.
A comment about peyote and justice. I am sympathetic with those Native Americans who fear for the peyote supply. That said, as I understand it, their interest is in peyote that comes from specific traditional locations, such as southern Texas - and I do not believe that they would be materially injured if peyote were grown elsewhere and then used by non-Native Americans. In any case, I trust and hope that there is a way to respect all parties without using the icky expedient of embracing the intolerant and racist drug law itself. That's kind of like "finding some good" in the "three-fifths law" and embracing it for specific cases. In my opinion, we should be ending drug laws (which are really "plant laws"), rather than seeing how we can accommodate them to our own purposes, whatever our end goals might be.
In ending, I would like to share with you my number-one strategy for deconstructing the propaganda of the drug warrior: simply take drug war statements and replace the word "drugs" with "plants." For instance, when Trump says that he wants to execute drug dealers (a statement that sadly seems to resonate with many Americans) re-write the sentence as: "Trump wants to execute those who deal in Mother Nature's plants." That sounds a lot less reasonable, yet that's what the drug war really is: it's a war on plants (complete with philosophical links to the burning of plant-using witches and the Conquistadors' disdain for plant-centric religion). But the drug warrior knows that sounds silly. That's why they always replace the word "plants" with the pejorative and baggage-laden term "drugs."
Meanwhile, I invite you to visit my website, abolishthedea.com, and spread the word about its existence, if you believe in what I'm doing. I have about zero visitors per day because I neither advertise nor accept advertisements! But I am hoping to publish a book with my content later this year!
Best wishes, thanks, and stay well....
PS I believe the drug war in the west dates back to Emperor Theodosius in 392 CE when he abolished the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian Mysteries (after almost 2,000 consecutive years of overawing participants such as Plato, Cicero and Plutarch). Why? Because the Emperor (quite tellingly) considered the obviously compelling ritual to be a threat to Christianity. I believe that the modern drug war is waged for the same philosophical reason, to protect Christianity from a perceived metaphysical threat - and also for financial reasons: to support the Corrections Industry, Big Pharma, psychiatry, Big Liquor, and law enforcement - and finally to win elections for conservatives by removing leftists from the voting rolls (after arresting them for felony drug charges). Incidentally, that's another grievance on which all drug reformers can unite: the recognition that the drug war strategically steals elections for drug warriors by removing thousands of drug war opponents from the voting rolls.
PPS Better yet, put the Drug Warriors on the defensive for once. Demand that the DEA not simply be abolished, but call for a trial to prosecute those who have knowingly lied about medical godsends for 40+ years, along with DEA Chiefs like John C. Lawn, who have knowingly poisoned marijuana users with Paraquat, a weed killer that has been found to cause Parkinson's Disease. If the drug war is an actual war, then John C. Lawn is a war criminal, who knowingly poisoned Americans, knowingly endangering their lives and ultimately punishing a misdemeanor with the potential infliction of a catastrophic illness.
NOTE: Another way to interest a wider audience in psychedelics: Highlight their ability to facilitate the growth of neurons and then perform intense clinical trials with them on Alzheimer's patients. Impoverished ethnicities may think of psychedelic "trips" as a luxury, but surely they don't feel that way about preserving and restoring the memory capacity of their elderly parents.
NOTE 2: When Americans encounter unjust laws, they never do the right thing: seek to change the law in question. Instead, they seek to amend the law in order to help out certain interest groups. That's why the tax system in the US is such a mess. No one has the guts or energy to change the worse-than-byzantine nightmare that it's become. And so homeowners demand changes that will help them, investors request changes that will help them, corporations request changes that will help them -- and so the system becomes more byzantine every year.
This is why we hear talk of inequity in the fight against the drug war. One group wants to focus on this drug, the other on that. But just like in the tax example, both sides ignore the one unifying approach that the situation cries out for. Only by rejecting the drug war itself on first principles, as a violation of natural law, can we bring about a strategy that will unite all the stakeholders: including that often overlooked and totally "unleveraged" demographic: those who go without adequate medical treatment thanks to the DEA's lies about Mother Nature's medicines.
So the anti-drug war movement shoots itself in the foot. Its lack unity is all down to the fact that they are not focusing on the principal evil of the drug war, namely the fact that it unjustly criminalizes mother nature's plants and is thus a violation of natural law. Once you rule out fighting back on this the principal ground of complaint, you're left with only piecemeal protests that attack facets of the drug war based on parochial interests. This go-slow, selfish approach to fighting injustice is a recipe for overall failure. Until all parties recognize that the drug war is flawed root and branch, they will remain divided and achieve only partial victories.
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