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Hurray for Self-Medicating

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

September 6, 2022

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.

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

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