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Kevin Sabet and What-About-Ism

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

November 19, 2022

annabis basher Kevin Sabet likes to taunt his detractors for the supposed crime of "whataboutism," presumably because they keep asking him questions like, "What about the fact that alcohol is responsible for almost 100,000 deaths a year in the US while marijuana is responsible for zero?"

What Kevin doesn't realize, however, is that such protestors are taking it easy on him. They could ask him, "What about the 100,000-plus Mexicans who have been killed by YOUR Drug War since 2006?" Or, "What about the fact that the prohibition that YOU champion has filled American cities with guns and dealers, resulting in thousands of Black deaths every year?" Or, "What about the fact that YOUR prohibition has empowered a self-described Drug War Hitler in the Philippines and encouraged Vietnam in its barbaric practice of killing anyone who dares use mother nature's godsend psychoactive medicines for mental improvement?"

No wonder Kevin is eager to depict such questions as invalid, because merely to pose them points to the cruel hypocrisy of his position on so-called "drugs."

Like all Drug Warriors, he wants to blame the politically created category of "drugs" for all social problems, a practice that makes just as much sense as blaming cars for traffic accidents. In both cases, the scapegoat is full of marvelous potential benefits for humankind, which we jettison the moment we pretend that the drugs and cars are themselves responsible for the problems that result from their misuse.

I am not interested in the nitty-gritty of Sabet's alleged findings about marijuana, simply because government never had the right to outlaw plant medicine in the first place. It's called Natural Law, Kevin, the same Natural Law that the Reagan DEA violated when they stomped onto Monticello in 1987 to confiscate Thomas Jefferson's poppy plants. It is nevertheless the basis upon which the Founding Fathers founded this country, and no stealth Christian Science "drug expert" is going to convince me to abandon it, nor any Stalinist drug-testing campaign run by government collaborators in the business sector, though it threaten to deprive me of work in America if I dare to partake. To put it another way, plants and fungi are under no obligation to meet the safety guidelines of America's FDA.

The irony is, I agree with Kevin Sabet: there is a disproportionate and perhaps even unhealthy focus on marijuana right now as the go-to drug for young people. But why is this so, Kevin? It is so because of YOUR Drug War, which has outlawed all the naturally occurring competition for the plant in question. Take the coca leaf, for instance. The long-lived Peruvian Indians have a time-honored practice of gaining both mental focus and physical power by chewing the leaf daily. If you want an America full of bright-eyed, mentally sharp and long-lived Americans, the answer is obvious: re-legalize the leaf and give Americans that choice -- along with the choice of hundreds of other psychoactive plant medicines of which we know nothing today precisely because the Drug War has criminalized the substances in question and all but forbidden our scientists to study them, and this in the supposedly "scientific" country called America.

Ever since the Drug War first outlawed a plant medicine in 1914 in violation of Natural Law, the Drug Warriors have been doing their best to frighten America about the boogieman called "drugs." The government helped by suborning the media to depict "drugs" only in a bad light while funding only those studies which focused on misuse and abuse. But Americans are slowly starting to awaken from the programming they have received since childhood, when they received their first teddy bear for saying "no" to the kinds of substances whose use had inspired entire religions. Today's Drug Warrior, like an embattled Wizard of Oz, has to scream ever louder to make his subjects cringe.

So Kevin can shout "boo!" as loud as he likes in an effort to make me fear drugs. I, for one, will no longer react as desired. What scares me today are the prohibitionist policies that make drugs dangerous: chiefly, those sponsored by Kevin Sabet, which incarcerate and kill minorities, meanwhile impeding our study of neuron-stimulating medicines that hold prima facie promise in the fight against conditions like Alzheimer's and autism.

What prohibitionists like Kevin fail to understand is that human beings want self-transcendence. You can outlaw drugs, but you cannot outlaw the desire for self-transcendence. When you bring in law enforcement to combat this desire, you create what DEA agents themselves describe as an unwinnable war, in which law enforcement plays "whack-a-mole" in confronting the media-anointed "killer drug" of the moment. Yes, it's a real job creator for law enforcement and fearmongering speakers who travel the globe catering to the prejudices of authoritarians and bigots, but it's an approach that militarizes police forces, causes civil wars overseas, and turns Americans against each other. In doing so, it keeps our eyes off the prize of the social policies that could render drug use safe and effective: namely, the re-legalizing of Mother Nature and the establishment of the Drug EDUCATION Agency, which would teach the world honestly about all psychoactive medicines (the harms and benefits, both objective and subjective), using the billions that are currently spent instead on locking "users" up.

What about that, Kevin?

Author's Follow-up: April 26, 2023

Prohibition also criminalizes human progress. William James' whole philosophy was inspired by his use of psychoactive substances, especially laughing gas, but folks like Kevin would outlaw such substances, thereby censoring science more profoundly than the Church ever censored Galileo.

Related tweet: June 10, 2023

Check out these prohibitionists who whine about the popularity of weed. It's like they outlawed steak and pork and then they complained about the popularity of chicken. I'd be more than happy to diversify my medicine cabinet once these clowns stop outlawing mother nature.

Next essay: The Naive Psychology of the Drug War
Previous essay: Psychoactive Drugs and the Fountain of Youth

More Essays Here


If drug war logic made sense, we would outlaw endless things in addition to drugs. Because the drug war says that it's all worth it if we can save just one life -- which is generally the life of a white suburban young person, btw.
NEW TERM FOR LOGIC CLASSES: "The Oprah Winfrey Fallacy," which is the idea that a statistically insignificant number of cases constitutes a crisis, provided ONLY that the villain of the piece is something that racist politicians have demonized as a "drug."

All drugs have positive uses at some dose, for some reason, at some time -- but prohibitionists have the absurd idea that drugs can be voted up or down. This anti-scientific notion deprives the modern world of countless godsends.
If politicians wanted to outlaw coffee, a bunch of Kevin Sabets would come forward and start writing books designed to scare us off the drink by cherry-picking negative facts from scientific studies.

Today's Washington Post reports that "opioid pills shipped" DROPPED 45% between 2011 and 2019..... while fatal overdoses ROSE TO RECORD LEVELS! Prohibition is PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE.
Prohibitionists having nothing to say about all other dangerous activities: nothing about hunting, free climbing, hang-gliding, sword swallowing, free diving, skateboarding, sky-diving, chug-a-lug competitions, chain-smoking. Their "logic" is incoherent.
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."
If we let "science" decide about drugs, i.e. base freedom on health concerns, then tea can be as easily outlawed as beer. The fact that horses are not illegal shows that prohibition is not about health. It's about the power to outlaw certain "ways of being in the world."
The formula is easy: pick a substance that folks are predisposed to hate anyway, then keep hounding the public with stories about tragedies somehow related to that substance. Show it ruining lives in movies and on TV. Don't lie. Just keep showing all the negatives.
Then folks like Sabet will accuse folks like myself of ignoring the "facts." No, it is Sabet who is ignoring the facts -- facts about dangerous horses and free climbing. He's also ignoring all the downsides of prohibition, whose laws lead to the election of tyrants.
I think there needs to be a law -- or at least an understanding -- that it's always wrong to demonize drugs in the abstract. That's anti-scientific. It begs so many questions and leaves suffering pain patients (and others) high and dry. No substance is bad in and of itself.
When we say so, we knowingly blind ourselves to all sorts of potential benefits to humankind. Morphine can provide a vivid appreciation of mother nature in properly disposed minds. That should be seen as a benefit. Instead, dogma tells us that we must hate morphine for any use.
I might as well say that no one can ever be taught to ride a horse safely. I would argue as follows: "Look at Christopher Reeves. He was a responsible and knowledgeable equestrian. But he couldn't handle horses. The fact is, NO ONE can handle horses!"
That's the problem with prohibition. It is not ultimately a health question but a question about priorities and sensibilities -- and those topics are open to lively debate and should not be the province of science, especially when natural law itself says mother nature is ours.
I personally hate beets and I could make a health argument against their legality. Beets can kill for those allergic to them. Sure, it's a rare condition, but since when has that stopped a prohibitionist from screaming bloody murder?
I can think of no greater intrusion than to deny one autonomy over how they think and feel in life. It is sort of a meta-intrusion, the mother of all anti-democratic intrusions.
Enforced by the blatantly rights-crushing solicitation of urine from the king's subjects, as if to underscore the fact that your very digestive system is controlled by the state.
Until prohibition ends, rehab is all about enforcing a Christian Science attitude toward psychoactive medicines (with the occasional hypocritical exception of Big Pharma meds).
When folks die in horse-related accidents, we need to be asking: who sold the victim the horse? We've got to crack down on folks who peddle this junk -- and ban books like Black Beauty that glamorize horse use.
Democratic societies need to outlaw prohibition for many reasons, the first being the fact that prohibition removes millions of minorities from the voting rolls, thereby handing elections to fascists and insurrectionists.
Prohibition turned habituation into addiction by creating a wide variety of problems for users, including potential arrest, tainted or absent drug supply, and extreme stigmatization.
The goal of drug-law reform should be to outlaw prohibition. Anything short of that, and our basic rights will always be subject to veto by fearmongers. Outlawing prohibition would restore the Natural Law of Jefferson, which the DEA scorned in 1987 with its raid on Monticello.
Philip Jenkins reports that Rophynol had positive uses for treating mental disorders until the media called it the "date rape drug." We thus punished those who were benefitting from the drug, tho' the biggest drug culprit in date rape is alcohol. Oprah spread the fear virally.
This is the "Oprah fallacy," which has led to so much suffering. She told women they were fools if they accepted a drink from a man. That's crazy. If we are terrified by such a statistically improbable event, we should be absolutely horrified by horses and skateboards.
This hysterical reaction to rare negative events actually creates more rare negative events. This is why the DEA publicizes "drug problems," because by making them well known, they make the problems more prevalent and can thereby justify their huge budget.
The Partnership for a Death Free America is launching a campaign to celebrate the 50th year of Richard Nixon's War on Drugs. We need to give credit where credit's due for the mass arrest of minorities, the inner city gun violence and the civil wars that it's generated overseas.
In 1886, coca enthusiast JJ Tschudi referred to prohibitionists as 'kickers.' He wrote: "If we were to listen to these kickers, most of us would die of hunger, for the reason that nearly everything we eat or drink has fallen under their ban."
Drug Warriors never take responsibility for incentivizing poor kids throughout the west to sell drugs. It's not just in NYC and LA, it's in modest-sized towns in France. Find public housing, you find drug dealing. It's the prohibition, damn it!
I don't believe in the materialist paradigm upon which SSRIs were created, according to which humans are interchangeable chemical robots amenable to the same treatment for human sadness. Let me use laughing gas and MDMA and coca and let the materialists use SSRIs.
What prohibitionists forget is that every popular but dangerous activity, from horseback riding to drug use, will have its victims. You cannot save everybody, and when you try to do so by law, you kill far more than you save, meanwhile destroying democracy in the process.
Prohibition is based on two huge lies: 1) that there are no benefits to drug use; and 2) that there are no downsides to prohibition.
The 1932 movie "Scarface" starts with on-screen text calling for a crackdown on armed gangs in America. There is no mention of the fact that a decade's worth of Prohibition had created those gangs in the first place.
The worst form of government is not communism, socialism or even unbridled capitalism. The worst form of government is a Christian Science Theocracy, in which the government controls how much you are allowed to think and feel in life.
The Shipiba have learned to heal human beings physically, psychologically and spiritually with what they call "onanyati," plant allies and guides, such as Bobinsana, which "envelops seekers in a cocoon of love." You know: what the DEA would call "junk."

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You have been reading an article entitled, Kevin Sabet and What-About-Ism published on November 19, 2022 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)