bird icon for twitter

In Defense of Opium

Open letter to Marco Margaritoff

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

July 12, 2023

The following comment is in response to "A Disturbing Look Inside The Victorian Opium Dens That Launched The First Modern War On Drugs" by Marco Margaritoff on All's That Interesting, October 17, 2021. The article was disturbing for me, but not for the reason that Marco believed it would be.

The DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated Thomas Jefferson's poppy plants in violation of the natural law upon which he founded America. As John Locke states in his Two Treatises on Government, the bounty of nature is the heritage of the human race. It does not belong to government to parcel out or withhold, let alone to make us urinate to prove that we have had nothing to do with mother nature. But racist fearmongers outlawed opium in 1914, which set the precedent for government to use drug laws to attack minorities. It's a huge billion-dollar scam that provides the DEA with jobs for life and makes the depressed and anxious go without godsends -- this in a nation in which 1 in 4 women are dependent on mind-numbing big pharma meds for life. The Drug War has infantilized Americans about drugs, giving them teddy bears in grade school for dissing them, even though "drugs" like soma have inspired entire religions, coca was divine to the Inca, and opium was loved by Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The government never had a right to outlaw nature -- and look at the whirlwind we have reaped by doing so. We have destroyed the rule of law in Latin America and created entire no-go zones in inner-city neighborhoods. Instead of talking about safe use, we have fomented fear and an unsafe drug supply, leading to the invention of drugs that are thousands of times more risky than opium. It's called the iron law of prohibition: crackdowns lead to more lethal drugs. 35,000 people die each year in car accidents, but we don't need a war on cars. A fraction of that amount die from "drugs," but we don't need a war on drugs. To the contrary, almost all drug deaths are a result of prohibition and the fact that it corrupts drug supply and encourages fear and ignorance over knowledge about safe use.

The real den of iniquity was Congress in 1914.

Next essay: Open Letter to Margo Margaritoff
Previous essay: Doping Arizona

More Essays Here


John Halpern wrote a book about opium, subtitled "the ancient flower that poisoned our world." What nonsense! Bad laws and ignorance poison our world, NOT FLOWERS!
Drug warriors do not seem to see any irony in the fact that their outlawing of opium eventually resulted in an "opioid crisis." The message is clear: people want transcendence. If we don't let them find it safely, they will find it dangerously.
"Judging" psychoactive drugs is hard. Dosage counts. Expectations count. Setting counts. In Harvey Rosenfeld's book about the Spanish-American War, a volunteer wrote of his visit to an "opium den": "I took about four puffs and that was enough. All of us were sick for a week."
In the same century, author Richard Middleton wrote how poets would get together to use opium "in a series of magnificent quarterly carouses."
It's an enigma: If I beat my depression by smoking opium nightly, I am a drug scumbag subject to immediate arrest. But if I do NOT "take my meds" every day of my life, I am a bad patient.
In "Rogue Agent," the bad guy forces one of his victims to quit her antidepressants cold turkey. Had she been on any other daily drug, the take-home message would have been "drug dependence bad!" But the message here is "get her back on those important meds!" What hypocrisy.

essays about

Drug War Bait and Switch
In Praise of Opium
Re-Legalize Opium Now
10 Idiots who helped spread drug war propaganda on Listverse
Using Opium to Fight Depression
Smart Uses for Opium and Coca
The REAL Lesson of the Opium Wars
Opium for the Masses by Jim Hogshire
Why doctors should prescribe opium for depression
I've got a bone to pick with Jim Hogshire
The Truth About Opium by William H. Brereton
John Halpern's 'Opium': a pre-review
What Andrew Weil Got Wrong

essays about

The REAL Lesson of the Opium Wars
Using Opium to Fight Depression
The Politically Incorrect Cure for the Common Cold
In Praise of Opium

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

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

You have been reading an article entitled, In Defense of Opium: Open letter to Marco Margaritoff, published on July 12, 2023 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)