Essay date: April 15, 2020

In Praise of Drug Dealers

replacing the modern barbaric treatment of so-called addicts with pharmacologically informed shamanism

replacing the modern barbaric and puritanical treatment of so-called addicts with the pharmacologically informed shamanism of the drug dealer

magine a drug dealer: not just any drug dealer, but a drug dealer with a big heart, a thorough knowledge of all psychoactive plants and fungi, and free and unhindered access to every such substance in the world.

How do you think he (or she) would deal with my desire to get off of alcohol, or heroin - or worse yet, one of the modern brand-name anti-depressants, which, as Julie Holland points out, are often more difficult to quit than heroin.

Do you think this drug dealer would send me to a high-rent flophouse and plop me on a couch for three days of cold-turkey hell (in the case of heroin) or of three months of cold-turkey hell (in the case of antidepressants)?

Of course not. He or she would shun this barbaric pseudoscientific protocol and fight fire with fire. How? By prescribing drugs that shout "YOU ARE OK!" just as loudly (or louder) than my withdrawal symptoms will be shouting "YOU ARE DYING." I'm talking about substances which, in the proper setting which our hypothetical dealer will naturally provide, will give me a new appreciation of the world of nature that surrounds me, will give me new insights into my place in the cosmos, and will help me adopt mindsets hitherto unimaginable for me by dint of which I can buck up against the down sides of withdrawal and march on in spite of them.

This dealer might even do the scientifically unthinkable and creatively use his vast natural pharmacopeia to give me an occasional "high" for no reason at all - or rather for the exact same reason that most people drink alcohol these days: namely, to get a break from full-on "reality" and thus a health-inducing vacation from stress in general.

One thing you can be sure of: My "drug withdrawal" would not necessitate the continual retching and puking that our modern puritanical therapists consider to be the addict's due. Nor would it require my self-abasement in front of a crowd of fellow "addicts," where I'm encouraged to speculate-at-will on the hidden forces and motivations behind my fall from grace.

{^The best thing that a modern therapist can tell an addict is that there's light at the end of a tunnel, but our drug dealer knows better: he (or she) knows how to light up the tunnel itself and make one's journey through it both bearable and therapeutic.}{

It's not surprising then that the government has such antipathy toward drug dealers, to the point where Donald Trump even wants to execute them. The drug dealers are the ones who threaten to break modern science's puritanical stranglehold on mental health therapy by revealing that the emperor is wearing no clothes, that the bare-bones ministrations that pass as addiction therapy these days are at once barbaric and ineffective compared to what a pharmacologically savvy empath could provide. That's why the Drug Warrior feels compelled to keep psychoactive substances illegal, not for the benefit of addicts, but rather to ensure that the government and Big Pharma maintain their highly lucrative monopoly when it comes to "treating" them.

Author's Follow-up: August 3, 2022

I knew a "drug dealer" once (almost 40 years ago now) -- and he was a nice guy. At the time, I was already an addict, but I had been addicted, not by a "dealer," but by psychiatry. I was a Valium addict, you see. All perfectly legal, I assure you. I was new to the drug at the time and I figured that, the more Valium, the merrier. And do you know what this dirty evil "drug dealer" told me? He said that he didn't deal in such drugs and would not recommend them. You see, the drugs HE dealt with could be used non-addictively and they could help you "live large." Whereas, Valium, as he well knew, brings neither self-transcendence nor self-insight and it is addictive into the bargain.

What irony! The common sense view of "drugs" was provided for me, not by psychiatry, but by a dirty evil rotten drug dealer!

That's just how ass-backwards America is when it comes to drugs. For the Drug Warriors do not want to keep you off drugs, they want to keep you ON the right drugs, namely those which benefit the healthcare industry. They're interested in their own bottom line, not in the self-actualization of their "patients." Moreover, when I met with that "drug dealer," I was not a patient, I was an actual human being, meeting with him on an equal footing -- unlike my meetings with my "shrink," who sat behind a huge desk covered with vaguely Indian-looking paraphernalia and towered over me as I sat in a chair seemingly designed for grade-schoolers.

Author's Follow-up: August 12, 2022

I sent drug-reform pioneers DJ Nutt and Rick Doblin a copy of my first book a couple of years ago -- in which I describe how Big Pharma had turned me into an eternal patient -- and I never heard back. I wondered why at first, until I realized that both of these otherwise smart individuals (much smarter than myself, I am sure, in everything except philosophy) believe in the lie that psychiatry has found a cure for depression with SSRIs, a fact that I have learned the hard way is absolutely false, through 40-years of addiction to "meds" that turned out to be harder to kick than heroin. This is another of the seemingly endless reasons why the Drug War is so hard to abolish, by the way, because even those who combat it have been sold on the idea that Big Pharma is doing a good job in treating depression.

But I have a lifetime of experience which screams "WRONG!" And if a lifetime of experience counts for nothing (and I'm afraid it does, since, for instance, online psychiatric groups are for psychiatrists only, not for trouble-making "patients" whom they "treat"), then there are the books on this subject by Julie Holland, Irving Kirsch and Richard Whitaker, which tell how antidepressants actually cause the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix. (This incidentally is why they're so hard to "kick," because once one's neuro-chemical baseline is altered, it does not seem to snap back easily to its pre-anti-depressant status quo. This is presumably why the NIMH found that 95% of long-term Effexor users were back on the drug within three years after giving it up.)

It always irritates me when folks like Doblin, in particular, talk about how psychedelic drugs can help people who are "treatment resistant," since the use of this phrasal adjective implies that Big Pharma antidepressants are working just fine, thank you very much, except that some people are resistant to them, in the same way that some lactose-intolerant people cannot handle milk. If I personally created a drink that sickened 30% of Americans, I would be arrested. When the dairy industry does this, the problem is blamed on the drinkers, and their quirky digestive systems -- in the same way that the failure of antidepressants is blamed on the finicky pill popper, not on Big Pharma drugs.

Why am I irritated? Because folks like Doblin ignore the fact that antidepressant use has turned America into the most chemically dependent country of all time, and that Big Pharma (in collaboration with psychiatry) has been empowered to do this by the Drug War (because it gives Big Pharma a monopoly on providing mood medicines). In other words, perhaps the greatest downside of the Drug War is something that they are dogmatically obliged to ignore, under the naive assumption that antidepressants actually "cure" depression. Never mind the arguments made by Holland and company against this false thesis, this notion does not pass muster philosophically. For if you tell me that you have a cure for my depression, I must ask you, "How do you define cure?" If the idea is to keep me from killing myself, then perhaps you have a pill that will keep me satisfied with an unfulfilled existence... but this is YOUR idea of a cure for depression, not mine. My ideal cure is one that will make me live as fully as possible, like the live-wires of whom Jack Kerouac wrote: "The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn burn like fabulous yellow roman candles."

The Effexor I take daily reminds me more of a lobotomy on the installment plan than a roman candle. At any rate, the last kind of cure that I would want for my depression -- had anyone bothered to ask me -- is one that turns me into an eternal patient and a ward of the healthcare state, which is a downside of the modern pill mill that no one but myself seems to have even noticed so far in America, thanks to the fact that Big Pharma money and propaganda has convinced folks who should know better to toe the party line by using Wall Street-friendly phrasal adjectives like "treatment-resistant."

So when it comes to arguing against the Drug War, Doblin and Nutt are hamstrung by their own credulity about Big Pharma meds. Being so, they are powerless to attack the Drug War in its most vulnerable point: namely, the fact that it has been responsible for the establishment of the greatest mass chemical dependency of all time -- a dystopia that has turned the plot of The Stepford Wives into an American reality, proving that the Drug War is not about getting Americans off drugs, but rather it's about getting America on the right drugs, namely those whose use benefits psychiatry and Big Pharma.

Author's Follow-up: February 4, 2023

Drug dealers would also provide adequate pain relief according to how the patient feels -- rather than holding back based on the anti-scientific lie of the drug-warrior that tells us that drugs are bad without regard for how or why they are used.

Author's Follow-up: March 7, 2023

The Drug Dealer would give the necessary pain medicine -- while the legal doctor would give less than necessary, for the selfish reason that the doctor does not want his prescriptions to be "flagged" by the DEA. For the DEA is in charge of deciding how much pain relief we are allowed to have in this life.

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


The search for SSRIs has always been based on a flawed materialist premise that human consciousness is nothing but a mix of brain chemicals and so depression can be treated medically like any other physical condition.
Next essay: The DEA: Poisoning Americans since 1973
Previous essay: The Drug War as a Make-Work Program for Law Enforcement

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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