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Keep Laughing Gas Legal

educate users, don't arrest them

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

January 26, 2023

Open letter to Niamh Eastwood (Executive Director of Release) and Dr. David Nicholl (NHS neurologist), in response to their recent interview about laughing gas on Channel 5, UK

As a 64-year-old chronic depressive, I am bothered by the fact that discussion about controversial psychoactive substances never takes into account people like myself. Everyone is so concerned about the safety of a relatively small number of young people, whom we fail to educate about drugs, yet no one ever worries about the MILLIONS of folks like myself who are living what Thoreau called "lives of quiet desperation." Laughing gas, for obvious reasons, could be a blessing in my life when used wisely and at appropriate times, at appropriate intervals, in appropriate doses, etc. Even if it doesn't work according to materialist reductionist standards, it would work for me by merely giving me something to look forward to.

But folks like myself are never considered to be stakeholders when the topic turns to potential substance criminalization.

The newscasters who spoke to you were all but saying that NO2 should be outlawed, that all the evidence points that way. But that's nonsense. The only reason that "all the evidence points that way" is because they are ignoring all stakeholders except ignorant juveniles. In America, it's more specific than that: we outlaw coca to protect not just juveniles, but AMERICAN juveniles, for we do not care how many MEXICAN juveniles lose parents to the Drug War down south, given the fact that the prohibition we champion naturally creates violence.

When evaluating drugs, we must stop thinking about merely those who misuse the substance. If that's the only standard, then no drugs would be legal, least of all alcohol and cigarettes.

We have to think about those who will be killed by the violence caused by drug prohibition, we have to think of those who may commit suicide because we have outlawed godsend treatments, we have to think about how scientists will be censored because they will have trouble researching the drugs that we demonize and criminalize.

The Drug War and prohibition only make sense to people because they ignore all these considerations.

(By the way, the idea that most use is recreational ignores the fact that some users may be self-medicating -- which is understandable in a world where the default legal treatment for depression and anxiety is a lifetime regimen of addictive tranquilizing drugs.)

It's all well and good to "attack the suppliers," but what about the depressed who thereby go without a godsend medicine?

This is why we have to push for education and stop prosecuting substance users. The money that we're currently spending on law enforcement should go to teams of healthcare workers instead, who will visit affected communities with kiosks and concerts and block parties, etc., and spread the news about how to use popular substances as safely as possible. Unfortunately, this goes against the grain of Drug War ideology, which tells us to fear drugs rather than to understand them.

Nor should we simply fight suppliers. We need suppliers. But we need regulation for a clean drug supply -- and regulation to make sure that all the info is out there to teach safe use.

Otherwise the safety that everyone talks about is purchased by the misery of folks like myself.

It's the same MO every time a drug gets misused: "Oh, we must outlaw it to save our children!"

Great, but then we throw millions of sufferers under the bus by denying them what, for them, is godsend medicine.

It's like the crackdown on MDMA in Britain, one of the safest drugs on the planet.. The drug brought unprecedented peace to the dance floor, and yet it was demonized because it was associated with a single solitary death -- A DEATH WHICH WAS CAUSED BY THE DRUG WAR ITSELF WHICH CAUSED USERS TO FEAR SUBSTANCES RATHER THAN TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE THEM CORRECTLY. The 100-pound Leah Betts, in short, should have remained hydrated while dancing and using Ecstasy, something she would have known had we decided to teach users instead of punishing them.

(By the way, If we're really concerned about safety, we would actually ENCOURAGE the use of MDMA, at least for hotheads, so that they would feel enough love in their heart that they could no longer bring themselves to shoot up grade schools. The use of MDMA could also help the world avoid nuclear Armageddon by bringing people together in love -- talk about SAFETY! But the Drug Warrior is, of course, blind to all positive uses of so-called "drugs.")

And what did the crack down on Ecstasy accomplish? After Ecstasy was removed from rave concerts, the dance floor became so violent that special forces troops had to police the venues. Special forces! (See the documentary "One Nation" by concert promoter Terry "Turbo" Smith.) But the Drug Warriors who scream about safety concerns never worry about such things. Despite their alleged concern for the safety of our youth, they're absolutely blind to the violence generated by their own prohibition policies.

And so Ecstasy is pilloried for a handful of well-publicized deaths, while alcohol kills 90,000 people a year in the States and nobody bats an eyelash.

The Drug War is all about scaring kids about drugs rather than educating them ("drugs" being Drug War Newspeak for "substances of which pharmacologically clueless politicians disapprove"). Biden's Office on Drug Control Policy actually had a charter that forbade it from considering positive uses for "drugs," for fear of sending the wrong message. In other words, the ONDCP is a propaganda arm of the US government. Its goal is to inspire fear, not knowledge about safe use.

Drug warriors may save a few lives of juveniles with prohibition, but only by throwing victims of the Drug War, including the millions of depressed people around the world, under the bus.

Other ignored stakeholders include: victims of drive-by shootings, victims of a tainted and unpredictable drug supply, those who lose their livelihoods due to unconstitutional "drug tests" -- and the biggest victim of all: democracy itself, which disappears as we militarize police forces, censor our scientists, outlaw religions, and Nazify the English language, calling our fellow citizens "scumbags" and "filth," should they dare to sell mother nature's plant medicines to their fellow human being.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, laughing gas has other uses than just "recreation": it can evoke spiritual states. Indeed, the use of laughing gas inspired the whole philosophy of William James, teaching him that "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy." And so to outlaw substances like laughing gas is to outlaw philosophy and human progress itself. This fact alone should prevent us from continuing down the well-worn dead-end path of prohibition, littered as it is with hundreds of thousands of deaths in Mexico alone over the last ten years.

To repeat: the money that we are throwing away on law enforcement should be turned over to health workers who will launch real education campaigns, teaching how to use all psychoactive substances as safely as possible -- rather than teaching potential users to "just say no" and thereby proselytizing them on behalf of the drug-hating religion known as Christian Science.

Most of all, we need to acknowledge ALL the stakeholders (including folks like myself) when we discuss potential drug criminalization, not just the young whom we ourselves have failed to educate because we're too busy punishing them instead.

January 26, 2023
The headlines in the UK claim that the laughing gas ban is being considered to "combat bad behavior," but in the interview, Dr. Nicholl spoke only of safety concerns.

Next essay: William James rolls over in his grave as England bans Laughing Gas
Previous essay: Conservative Lies about Drugs

More Essays Here

Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Alcohol makes me sleepy. But NOT coca wine. The wine gives you an upbeat feeling of controlled energy, without the jitters of coffee and without the fury of steroids. It increases rather than dulls mental focus.
Had we really wanted to "help" users, we would have used the endless godsends of Mother Nature and related synthetics to provide spirit-lifting alternatives to problem use. But no one wanted to treat users as normal humans. They wanted to pathologize and moralize their use.
There are endless drugs that could help with depression. Any drug that inspires and elates is an antidepressant, partly by the effect itself and partly by the mood-elevation caused by anticipation of use (facts which are far too obvious for drug warriors to understand).
That's another problem with "following the science." Science downplays personal testimony as subjective. But psychoactive experiences are all ABOUT subjectivity. With such drugs, users are not widgets susceptible to the one-size-fits-all pills of reductionism.
When scientists refuse to report positive uses for drugs, they are not motivated by power lust, they are motivated by philosophical (non-empirical) notions about what counts as "the good life." This is why it's wrong to say that the drug war is JUST about power.
It's no wonder that folks blame drugs. Carl Hart is the first American scientist to openly say in a published book that even the so-called "hard" drugs can be used wisely. That's info that the drug warriors have always tried to keep from us.
The government causes problems for those who are habituated to certain drugs. Then they claim that these problems are symptoms of an illness. Then folks like Gabriel Mate come forth to find the "hidden pain" in "addicts." It's one big morality play created by drug laws.
"Users" can be kept out of the workforce by the extrajudicial process of drug testing; they can have their baby taken from them, their house, their property -- all because they do not share the intoxiphobic attitude of America.
Drug warriors are too selfish and short-sighted to fight real problems, so they blame everything on drugs.
"In consciousness dwells the wondrous, with it man attains the realm beyond the material, and the peyote tells us where to find it." --Antonin Arnaud
More Tweets

essays about

Listening to Laughing Gas
Forbes Magazine's Laughable Article about Nitrous Oxide
William James rolls over in his grave as England bans Laughing Gas
The Criminalization of Nitrous Oxide is No Laughing Matter
Speaking Truth to Academia
How the Drug War is Threatening Intellectual Freedom in England
Why the FDA should not schedule Laughing Gas
How AI turned William James into a Drug Warrior

essays about

Drug War Agitprop
How AI turned William James into a Drug Warrior
William James rolls over in his grave as England bans Laughing Gas
Why the FDA should not schedule Laughing Gas
How the Drug War is Threatening Intellectual Freedom in England
The Criminalization of Nitrous Oxide is No Laughing Matter
Listening to Laughing Gas

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, Keep Laughing Gas Legal: educate users, don't arrest them, published on January 26, 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)