Open letter to Sean McAllister, drug policy reform lawyer
Dear 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.
Let us know what you think. Send your comments to me, Brian Quass, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks! Please be sure to mention the title of the essay to which you are responding.
The Drug War is a bipartisan effort, hence its staying power, but if the Republicans have their way, we will have an insurrection to install a president who wants to carry out "the final solution" for the drug war, by executing those who dare to traffic in botanical godsends of which racist politicians disapprove. Yes, Joe Biden himself is part of the problem with his belief in prioritizing fear over facts and incarceration over education. Moreover, he just doesn't "get" the simple fact that prohibition causes violence, it's as simple as that. But the openly traitorous republicans, with the help of Fox News, want to take the drug war to "a whole new level" -- while turning America into a Banana Republic, by getting rid of free elections and installing demagogues by force. Surely the least we can ask of American corporations is that they do not attempt to profit from the peddling of the lies that support this ongoing effort at insurrection. Sign the petition today to tell American businesses that they will be held responsible for supporting networks that openly support insurrection.
*"Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist." -- Heather Ann Thompson, The Atlantic, 2014.
The above numbers may represent undercounts since some of these totals were compiled in late 2021.
The news media just doesn't get it -- or doesn't want to get it. Most stories about the deaths of blacks in inner cities never mention the drug war, as if the fact that prohibition led to armed gangs had nothing to do with the skyrocketing gun deaths that they're reporting on today. For a case in point, check out the article by Micaela A Watts in CommercialAppeal with the headline: "Following 346 homicides in Memphis in 2021, officials consider what's driving the violence."
Yes, that's a real poser, Micaela. The city fathers must really be scratching their heads!
The author notes three major theories for the violence, all of which have nothing to do with the drug war: "Lack of conflict resolution skills," a lack of "fair wages," and (get this) poor mental health.
Looks like the city officials failed to ask themselves why city residents were armed to the teeth in the first place. Hello? That was due to the drugs warriors' substance prohibition which incentivized the poor and poorly educated young people to get into the fantastically profitable business of selling drugs!!!
Substance prohibition created drug gangs and cartels just as surely as liquor prohibition created the Mafia.
Yes, drug warrior, YOU are responsible for these deaths. You! It's a natural result of your ban on medical godsends, some of which have inspired entire religions and have the potential for treating (if not curing) such diverse conditions as Alzheimer's, autism, and depression.
Drug War Victim of the Day
killed in Prince Georges County, Maryland on August 15, 2022
Southeast Washington DC remains a no-go zone, even for UPS drivers, as this latest shooting incident points out, which is 1 in 6 shootings that have taken place in the last week, two of them fatal. If this were happening in Hollywood, California, it would be a scandal. But movie stars are people, and victims of the drug war, especially when poor and black, are what Noam Chomsky calls 'unpeople.'
Yes, even the director of "Bamboozled" is bamboozled about drugs. He agrees with the drug warrior lie that there are psychoactive substances in nature that have no positive uses whatsoever, in any place, any time, any context. This superstitious way of thinking has forced me to go without godsend medicine my entire life. Thanks, Spike. Why do you want people to become drug-hating Christian Scientists, exactly? These things that you call "drugs" have inspired entire religions. The conservatives are laughing as they rush to the polls to elect fascists, because they have bamboozled Spike Lee himself to sign off on the drug war which brings death and incarceration to inner city blacks. Throw away that "just say no" teddy bear with which you were bribed in childhood, Spike, and open your eyes.
Mangual is the author of 'Cities got deadlier in 2020: What's behind the spike in homicides?' in which he never once mentioned the drug war!
Here's my letter to his website:
Hi, Rafael. Just wanted to suggest that you start holding the drug war responsible for inner-city violence -- since substance prohibition incentivized 'dealing' in poor neighborhoods and the guns soon followed. Because no one mentions this 64,000-pound Gorilla, Trump is able to blame the deaths on Democrats, so that, rather than ending the violence-causing drug war, he can begin executing the blacks that drug warriors were previously happy with merely incarcerating.
The Secret World: A History of Intelligence.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019.
All warfare is based on deception, said Sun Tzu. Yes, but what is all deception based on? A mistrust of one's fellows. And how do you combat that, Chris? With empathogens like MDMA and psilocybin.
London: East India Publishing Company, 2021.
Pious drug warriors have usually thought of Marcus Aurelius as the perfect replacement for bad evil drugs -- but Marcus had his cake and ate it too. He philosophized under the influence of opium (but don't tell the kids!)
Alice in Wonderland: The Original 1865 Edition With Complete Illustrations By Sir John Tenniel.
New York: Amazon, 2021.
Alice's shroom-powered adventures are a standing reproach to glum-faced drug warriors, who closely resemble the Queen of Hearts, shouting: "Off with their heads, for using godsend medicines of which I disapprove!"
De Quincey, Thomas.
Confessions of an English Opium Eater.
New York: Dover, 1995.
During De Quincey's informed opium use, he "partook" only weekly in order to better enjoy the opera, making his weekday life happier as well, however, thanks to anticipation of use, a benefit of which materialist science takes no account.
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner .
New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
A stark reminder that the world is living under a nuclear sword of Damocles. And why? Because it demonizes all the godsend medicines (like MDMA and shrooms) that could bring humanity together in universal harmony.
The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys .
New York: Park Street Press, 2011.
First-hand accounts of psychological breakthroughs achieved with the guided use of entheogens, suggesting that one-time givens like "character" and "human nature" are far more susceptible to improvement than we thought.
A Disease in the Public Mind: Why We Fought the Civil War.
New York: Da Capo Press, 2014.
The late historian Fleming cites the popular mob-led public "diseases" of Witch-Hunting, Liquor Prohibition, and Communism -- yet says nothing about the Drug War, which was the great disease in the public mind of his own time!!!
Liberalism and Its Discontents.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022.
Great bipartisan insights, BUT... Francis reckons without the drug war, so, like a good drug warrior, he blames all the ills caused by prohibition on the politically created boogieman called "drugs."
The Dream of Enlightenment: the Rise of Modern Philosophy.
New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2016.
The author seems unaware of the increasingly clear ability of empathogens like MDMA and shrooms to improve the very human nature which grumps like Hobbes portray as being so irrevocably fixed.
Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics.
New York: HarperWave, 2020.
Julie claims that Nixon criminalized psychedelics for health reasons. What? That's not the Nixon I know. He said himself that Leary was enemy #1. He was removing "users" from the voting rolls, not protecting them.
The Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell.
New York: Penguin Books, 1970.
Huxley's speculations about perception jibe with modern science, which finds that human beings see what is presumably useful to them, not necessarily what is "really there" in the sensory-rich physical world.
The Birth of the Modern.
New York: Harper Collins, 1991.
Johnson says that opium caused Samuel Taylor Coleridge's problems. Nonsense. Lack of education and irresponsibility causes problems. As Johnson himself says, most Brits used opium as needed without trouble.
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead .
New York: University Books, 1964.
Americans have been primed by the drug-war zeitgeist to consider everything Leary writes as nonsense. But he was the first one to announce loudly and clearly that what's really nonsensical is to outlaw plant medicine.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
New York: Del Rey Books, 1970.
Lovecraft's work is full of opiate imagery that drug warriors want to render impossible for artists to feel: "I would often drift in opiate peace through the valley and the shadowy groves..." (Ex-Oblivione)
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.
Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2009.
Gabriel moralizes "addiction." Addiction, however, is a political term. One can use psychoactive Big Pharma meds every day and be a good patient -- use heroin every day, however, and you're just escaping "inner pain." What?
Maupassant, Guy de.
Le Horla et autres contes fantastiques - Guy de Maupassant: Les classiques du fantastique .
Paris: , 2019.
In "La Horla," Maupassant anticipates Huxley by speculating that our perceptual habits blind us to a world of wonders. Many of today's demonized drugs, it appears, can at least partially open our eyes to that world.
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution .
New York: Bantam, 1992.
This was the book that reminded me of what I already vaguely knew: that it is tyrannical insanity for a government to outlaw plants. McKenna's philosophical speculations on why we criminalize inspired me to create abolishthedea.com.
Miller, Richard Louis.
Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle .
New York: Park Street Press, 2017.
Informative interviews with movers-and-shakers in the field, including Rick Doblin, Stanislav Grof, James Fadiman, David Nichols and Robert Whitaker. Packed with eye-opening one-liners about godsend meds.
Out of our Heads.
New York: HiII&Wang,, 2010.
Noe reveals how patients with "locked-in" syndrome have reported being supremely aware of their surroundings during their supposedly brain-dead coma, a fact that puts in question our materialist assumptions about consciousness.
When Plants Dream.
New York: Watkins Publishing, 2019.
I find philosophical problems with most of the books that I read on the subject of psychoactive medicine, but Daniel Pinchbeck is one of the few authors who could teach me a few things on this topic.
Poe, Edgar Allan.
The Essential Poe.
New York: Warbler Classics, 2020.
Because drug warriors never mention the good side of "drugs," we must turn to Poe to learn, for instance, that morphine can bring a surreal appreciation of Mother Nature (see "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains").
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence .
New York: Penguin Books, 2018.
Pollan has yet to realize that the very term "drugs" is just a modern pejorative epithet for "plant medicine of which botanically clueless politicians disapprove. "
Reynolds, David S..
Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville .
New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Exhaustively researched account of the 19th-century zeitgeist, and yet the word "drugs" (as defined, or rather derided, by today's drug warrior) is never even used. Last century's boogieman was liquor, it seems, not "drugs."
Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences Hardcover.
New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
The psychedelic experience was once characterized as pharmacologically induced madness. Richards shows how the properly guided experience can lead to sanity instead -- and a way of life that is not self-destructive.
Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898 .
Connecticut: Praeger, 2000.
The war took place 16 years before anti-Chinese Drug Warriors criminalized the poppy plant, and yet opium is only mentioned with regard to a group of unimaginative volunteers who smoked some and "couldn't see the point."
Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered.
New York: Arlington House, 1967.
Burke was a conservative in a sense, but he would not recognize America's Republican party of today. He would surely have seen that prohibition causes all the problems we ascribe to "drugs," and then some.
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.
New York: Penguin, 2014.
In 1980, the Air Force nearly blew up Arkansas and irradiated half the country. When Reagan took office the next year, what was his priority? Outlawing plant medicine that could make our species less warlike.
Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. .
New York: Pocket Star, 2006.
On March 7, 1968, a rogue Soviet submarine nearly blew up Pearl Harbor with a thermonuclear bomb. Instead of launching a war on nukes, then-President Nixon launched a war on medicines that could inspire peace, love and understanding.
The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler.
New York: RosettaBooks, 2011.
Paraphrase from book: "No one who has not lived for years in a DRUG WAR SOCIETY can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda."
Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds.
Back Bay Books: Boston, 2019.
Despite griping about the weight she's put on from taking her daily 'meds,' Slater gives Big Pharma a big fat mulligan for consigning 1 in 4 American women like herself to a lifetime of chemical dependency on SSRI antidepressants.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences .
New York: Park Street Press, 2001.
Rick doubts DMT's therapeutic usefulness, but common sense psychology suggests that any break from full-on introspection would be a treat, notwithstanding materialists who aren't even sure that laughing gas could help the depressed!!!
Ceremonial Chemistry: the ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers.
New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1974.
Filled with inconvenient truths that critics ignore rather than refute, including how politicized science tells us a la God: "Eat of the fruit and you shall die," ignoring the fact that education tells us how to eat of that fruit safely.
Our Right to Drugs: The case for a free market.
New York: Praeger, 1992.
Chock-a-block with all-too-rare common sense: "Doctors, lawyers and politicians started the War on Drugs and continue to wage it, and they are its real beneficiaries -- the drug war's ostensible beneficiaries... are its victims."
Tyler, George R..
Billionaire Democracy: The Hijacking of the American Political System.
Michigan: Pegasus Books, 2016.
Doesn't mention drugs, but illustrates how drug reform can be stymied by just 3% of the public: namely, those holding stock in Big Pharma, etc., especially when these elites can bribe politicians to retain the status quo.
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America .
New York: Crown, 2010.
Prohibition has facilitated the creation of a psychiatric pill mill upon which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life. Moreover, these pills cause the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix.
Zuboff , Shoshana.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.
New York: Public Affairs, 2019.
Surveillance capitalists and drug warriors share the same goal: to keep human beings predictable: one by rendering us more robot-like and the other by denying us the mind-improving blessings of psychoactive medicine
There are an absolute LEGION of online articles and newspaper stories that get it wrong about so-called drugs. Even those in favor of drug law reform have been subject to drug war propaganda from childhood (and they probably have a DARE teddy bear to prove it!) so speak truth to nonsense and comment on the articles that get it wrong.
Bloody disgusting fact: The Drug War brought almost 800 deaths to Chicago in 2021 by incentivizing the hugely profitable sale of psychoactive medicine in poor communities. And now Trump and his fellow fascist drug warriors want to use that violence as an excuse to KILL drug dealers via execution! Any community leaders supporting the drug war are complicit in this genocide. For as Heather Ann Thompson wrote in The Atlantic in 2014: "Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist."
How America can end inner-city homicides overnight in three easy steps:
Re-legalize Mother Nature's plant medicines
Treat substance abuse as a health problem
Buy back inner-city guns at double their purchase price (even triple the price would be a huge bargain in the long run)
This will, of course, be a huge sacrifice for everyday Americans, who do love their drug war, bless them.