Essay date: September 6, 2022

Hurray for Self-Medicating

 We need a Drug Education Agency, not a Drug Enforcement Agency.  We need to teach the world how to use drugs safely. We need to stop infantilizing Americans by convincing them through one-sided propaganda and horror stories that they will never be smart

ost people believe that the Drug War started in the early '70s when Richard Nixon first created the Drug Enforcement Agency in order to crack down on dissent, above all on hippies, and especially those who would dare follow the likes of Timothy Leary, whom Nixon deemed "the most dangerous man in America." But the prototype outrage of the Drug War was perpetrated in 1914, when Congress violated natural law by criminalizing a naturally occurring medicine that Paracelsus had called "the stone of immortality," namely opium. With that one step, born of an unholy alliance of convenience between Sinophobe demagogues and Christian alarmists, the modern healthcare state was born, since the one drug that had historically been available, "time out of mind," to treat almost every imaginable malady and indisposition was suddenly missing from the home pharmacopoeia. The result? Westerners were infantilized overnight with respect to personal health and now had to seek out professionals in order to essentially "sue for" the right to feel good.

We have only to ask "cui bono" to see that this was an enormous power grab both by the healthcare state and by law enforcement, with the former doling out stinting and scientistic treatments for previously easily treated maladies while the latter stood by ready to persecute and prosecute anyone who tried to bypass the system by freely availing themselves of the godsend medical bounty of Mother Nature.

This is frankly a very difficult subject for me to study because merely reading the relevant history books (by Martin Booth and John Halpern, for instance) subjects me to moralizing authors who seemingly have never heard of the concept of education. Instead, they cherry pick cases of opium addiction, leaving the impression that the only possible answer to such problems are laws that run interference between plant medicine and the denizens of Planet Earth.

Wrong. When discussing ways to combat opium addiction, the topic of outlawing opium should never have even "been on the table," since it is a clear violation of natural law for government to tell us which plant medicines we may use. These medicines are the bounty of Mother Nature and are thus ours merely by dint of having been born on planet Earth. John Locke himself wrote in his Second Treatise on Government that we have a right to the use of the land and all that lies therein. So a republic founded on natural law, like America, can never outlaw plant medicine except by completely renouncing the very principles upon which the nation was created. And that's what America has done. (Reagan made that all too clear in 1987 when he ordered the DEA to descend on Monticello and confiscate Thomas Jefferson's poppy plants.) And it is a slippery slope. After renouncing natural law in the name of a Drug War, we worked ourselves up into such a lather about the politically created boogieman called "drugs" (with the help of law-and-order demagogues) that we have now renounced our right to due process and must permit employers to scrutinize our bloodstreams to make sure that we have in fact truly renounced our right to the botanical medicine that grows at our very feet.

As mentioned, the criminalization itself was wrong, in principle.

But for those who are happy to jettison America's heritage of natural law, let's consider what substance prohibition has accomplished since 1914:

  1. We now live in the most chemically dependent nation in history, with 1 in 4 women hooked for life on Big Pharma meds.

  2. We have created civil wars overseas.

  3. We have turned inner-cities into shooting galleries.

  4. We have denied godsend medicine to dying children in hospices.

  5. We have "taken our loved ones off of life support" rather than allowing them to die peacefully on morphine.

  6. We have forbidden scientists from even investigating a host of potential psychoactive treatments for Alzheimer's, autism, depression, etc.

  7. Most ironically, we have created an opioid crisis because we fail to realize that we can outlaw substances but we cannot outlaw the desire for self-improvement and self-transcendence in life.

The answer is education. We need a Drug Education Agency, not a Drug Enforcement Agency. We need to teach the world how to use drugs safely. We need to stop infantilizing Americans by convincing them through one-sided propaganda and horror stories that they will never be smart enough to use psychoactive substances advisedly.

Above all, we have to combat the drug-warrior lie that there are such things as drugs in the first place. For the word "drugs" today means "substances that cannot be used wisely by anyone, anywhere, for any reason whatsoever." And the fact is there are no such substances on planet Earth.

Until we stop thinking about substances in this political and superstitious way, our Drug War will continue killing and disfranchising minorities, thus ensuring that despot Drug Warriors win elections, after which they'll soon be invoking the "final solution" to the government-manufactured "drug crisis," which will entail the execution of minorities that America had previously been happy hitherto merely to incarcerate.

Author's Follow-up: October 2, 2022

If America re-legalized the coca leaf, we could end depression in America overnight while ending the civil war in Mexico -- which America started by launching a war against the plant medicine that the Inca considered to be divine. For the answer to immoderate cocaine use is not to criminalize that alkaloid but rather to legalize the far less habit-forming coca leaf, which the Peruvian Indians used for millennia in the same way as we use coffee, as their drug of choice. Such solutions are far too obvious for substance demonizing Drug Warriors to comprehend, partly because the leaders of South American countries are all too willing to play ball with America's superstitious Drug War, either for financial reasons or because they actually believe the lie that plant medicines may be called "bad" without regard for when, how or where they are used. Take Venezuela for instance. They primp themselves for kicking the DEA out of the country in 2005, but then they go on to brag that they have cracked down harder on godsend medicinal plants than the DEA ever managed to do. But then the leaders of those countries typically endorse the unspoken Christian Science metaphysic of the west, according to which mental improvement via Mother Nature's medicine is somehow morally wrong (don't ask them how). This is going to become a harder and harder position for Drug Warriors to maintain as companies begin looking for the sharpest employees to hire, with little or no concern about whether that sharpness is honed by the use of substances of which botanically clueless politicians disapprove.

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans

Next essay: Listening to Laughing Gas
Previous essay: When you say 'Drugs'

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(seemingly useful organizations)

Sana Collective
Group committed to making psychedelic therapy available to all regardless of income.

You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at 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. (For proof of that latter charge, check out how the US and UK have criminalized the substances that William James himself told us to study in order to understand reality.) It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions (like the Vedic), Nazifies the English language (referring to folks who emulate drug-loving Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin as "scumbags") and militarizes police forces nationwide (resulting in gestapo SWAT teams breaking into houses of peaceable Americans and shouting "GO GO GO!").

(Speaking of Nazification, L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates thought that drug users should be shot. What a softie! The real hardliners are the William Bennetts of the world who want drug users to be beheaded instead. That will teach them to use time-honored plant medicine of which politicians disapprove! Mary Baker Eddy must be ecstatic in her drug-free heaven, as she looks down and sees this modern inquisition on behalf of the drug-hating principles that she herself maintained. I bet she never dared hope that her religion would become the viciously enforced religion of America, let alone of the entire freakin' world!)

In short, the drug war 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.

Brian Quass
The Drug War Philosopher

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.

PPS Drugs like opium and psychedelics should come with the following warning: "Outlawing of this product may result in inner-city gunfire, civil wars overseas, and rigged elections in which drug warriors win office by throwing minorities in jail."

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)

Selected Bibliography

  • Bandow, Doug "From Fighting The Drug War To Protecting The Right To Use Drugs"2018
  • Barrett, Damon "Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People"2011 IDEBATE Press
  • Bernays, Edward "Propaganda"1928 Public Domain
  • Bilton, Anton "DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule"2021 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Boullosa , Carmen "A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'"2016 OR Books
  • Brereton, William "The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade"2017 Anna Ruggieri
  • Burns, Eric "1920: The year that made the decade roar"2015 Pegasus Books
  • Carpenter, Ted Galen "The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America"2012 Cato Institute
  • Chesterton, GK "Saint Thomas Acquinas"2014 BookBaby
  • Filan, Kenaz "The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally"2011 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Gianluca, Toro "Drugs of the Dreaming: Oneirogens"2007 Simon and Schuster
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Grof, Stanislav "The transpersonal vision: the healing potential of nonordinary states of consciousness"1998 Sounds True
  • Head, Simon "Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans"2012 Basic Books
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Illich, Ivan "Medical nemesis : the expropriation of health"1975 Calder & Boyars
  • Irwin-Rogers, Keir "Illicit Drug Markets, Consumer Capitalism and the Rise of Social Media: A Toxic Trap for Young People"2019
  • James, William "The Varieties of Religious Experience"1902 Philosophical Library
  • Lindstrom, Martin "Brandwashed: tricks companies use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy"2011 Crown Business
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Miller, Richard Lawrence "Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State"1966 Bloomsbury Academic
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Nagel, Thomas "Mind and Cosmos: why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false"2012 Oxford University press
  • Newcombe, Russell "Intoxiphobia: discrimination toward people who use drugs"2014
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • Rosenblum, Bruce "Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness"2006 Oxford University Press
  • Rudgley, Richard "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances"2014 Macmillan Publishers
  • Shulgin, Alexander "PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story"1991 Transform Press
  • Shulgin, Alexander "The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact"2021 Transform Press
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief"0
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology"2022
  • St John, Graham "Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT"2021
  • Szasz, Thomas "Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt"0
  • Wedel, Janine "Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class"2014 Pegasus Books
  • Weil, Andrew "From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs"2004 Open Road Integrated Media
  • Whitaker, Robert "Mad in America"2002 Perseus Publishing
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at