Essay date: October 19, 2022

Majoring in Drug War Philosophy

an open letter to Professor David Nutt

In response to "Silenced for Following the Facts," on IAI

Dr. Nutt points out the rarely mentioned fact that the media controls our attitudes toward so-called "drugs." This is why the peaceful rave scene of 1990s England disappeared almost overnight, because the media blamed a handful of Ecstasy deaths on the drug itself rather than on the ignorance about the drug that the Drug War itself had encouraged. The long-term answer to this problem of headline-fueled hysteria is for free thinkers to create a philosophy of the Drug War to be taught in universities, in the same way that feminism and African-American studies are taught today. For the Drug War is not simply wrong in certain aspects. It will not succumb to mere tweaking on the part of its critics. Rather, the Drug War represents a snake-like tangle of unexamined assumptions and invalid conclusions that only a philosophical thinker can begin to disentangle. Moreover, the attitudes that it presupposes have subtle but profound ramifications in almost all aspects of society, a fact that only a clear-headed thinker can notice, let alone elucidate, a thinker who has jettisoned all the a priori assumptions of the Drug Warrior, despite having been subject to a lifetime of Drug War propaganda themselves, chiefly in the form of their society's complete silence about the potential benefits of the substances that politicians have demonized as "drugs."

The first class in this new field of study would explain how the word "drugs" itself is a political term in Western society, a pejorative epithet which, like the word "scabs," serves to demonize the things that it denotes. The professor will then explicitly define the term drugs as the Drug Warrior defines it today, namely: "substances for which there are no rational or positive uses: not in any dose, at any time, in any place, for any person, ever. " He or she will then remind the student that, in reality, there are no such substances on planet Earth, that even cyanide and Botox have positive uses, and that to deny this fact a priori is to stifle research and force society to go without medical godsends that the creative minds of humanity might otherwise develop. The students will then be asked to consider how the foregoing definition smacks more of Christian Science ideology than of the scientific method and that the consequences of such a drug-hating outlook naturally lead to the censorship of scientists, if not by prohibition and peer ostracism, then by a self-censorship so insidious that even the scientist performing the censorship is unaware of it. To prove this fact, the professor will point to the endless stream of books in a Drug War society in which an author purports to give us the last word on depression, addiction and violence -- the causes and cures thereof -- without ever even considering the role that nature's vast pharmacy of psychoactive medicines could play in treating these conditions and/or in altering our hitherto gloomy prognoses for them. Finally, the professor will give an example of this self-censorship when it comes to the topic of school shootings, pointing out how authors on this topic never even mention the existence of mother nature's empathogenic medicines, even though there is a prima facie case to be made that drugs like MDMA could help end school shootings by experientially teaching hot-heads how to love their fellow human being.

In short, the Western world has got to start thinking honestly about substances. We have to re-learn the once-obvious fact that ignorance is the villain, not "drugs." Otherwise, our hard-earned progress in drug legalization can be vetoed by any white urban teenager who finds a headline-worthy way to misuse a substance that politicians are intent on demonizing. Which brings us to one more topic for which there should be at least one entire class in my proposed new major in Drug War Philosophy, namely, what I call "the fallacy of protecting junior." This class would point out the largely unrecognized fact that "junior" (and his or her parents) is only ONE of the stakeholders when it comes to the topic of drug use. We may think we're protecting junior by making MDMA illegal, but we are thereby also denying millions (perhaps billions) a godsend medicine that can fight depression and PTSD. We may think we're protecting junior by making the coca leaf illegal, but we are thereby also denying millions (perhaps billions) a substance that brought peace and prosperity to the Peruvian Indians for millennia. We may think we're protecting junior by criminalizing nitrous oxide, but we are thereby also denying millions (perhaps billions) a godsend treatment for depression. I take this personally because by attempting to "protect junior," Western society has forced me to go an entire lifetime now without medical godsends, most of which grow at my very feet. Moreover, those same drug laws with which we are "protecting junior" are killing thousands of "juniors" a year in Mexico and American inner cities, thanks to the violence that necessarily follows prohibition. In other words, when the Drug Warrior says he is protecting junior, he typically means "white young people," not the Black or Mexican "juniors" who have lost parents to our Drug War, not the kids in hospice who are denied morphine because doctors believe that morphine is an evil drug in and of itself, without regard for how it is used.

But it's a big "ask" to get honesty about drugs in a capitalist society, where Big Pharma meds are promoted on prime-time TV, not through the enumeration of incontrovertible facts but through the manipulation of viewer emotions with evermore subtle techniques from Madison Avenue. That's why I hope that some university will have the nerve to create a Department of Drug War Philosophy, in which the veneer of traditionalism can be granted to the pursuit of rational inquiry and the values of free research can be reasserted in a censored world. The mere existence of such a new "major" as Drug War Philosophy would send a message to politicians that the boogieman of "drugs" can no longer be plausibly made the scapegoat for social problems. For there was no Drug War in Ancient Egypt. There was no Drug War in Ancient Greece. There was no Drug War in Ancient Rome. There was no Drug War in the Mongol Empire. There was no Drug War in the Viking Age. The fact that there is a Drug War in modern society tells us more about society than it does about the hypocritically defined category of substances that we call "drugs." It tells us what we should already know, that we need to be educated and honest about all substances and learn how to profit from them as safely as possible, rather than demonizing substances a priori at the self-interested whim of demagogues. Nor should this conclusion seem remarkable, unless the Drug War has so fried our brains as to make us reject the Western legacy of scientific freedom, and religious freedom for that matter, since it is surely a violation of religious liberty to outlaw the kind of substances that inspired the Vedic Hindu religion and gave Plato his views of the afterlife.

Author's Follow-up: March 25, 2023

England and America are now trying to protect junior from nitrous dixoide. How? By outlawing the substance that inspired the philosophy of William James. In other words, by outlawing the investigation of ultimate reality.

Next essay: Why Kevin Sabet is Wrong
Previous essay: Michael Pollan and the Drug War

More Essays Here

essays about

Open Letter to Addiction Specialist Gabriel Maté
Open Letter to Anthony Gottlieb
Open Letter to Congressman Ben Cline, asking him to abolish the criminal DEA
Open Letter to Diane O'Leary
Open Letter to Erowid
Open Letter to Francis Fukuyama
Open Letter to Gabrielle Glaser
Open letter to Kenneth Sewell
Open Letter to Lisa Ling
Open Letter to Nathan at
Open letter to Professor Troy Glover at Waterloo University
Open Letter to Richard Hammersley
Open Letter to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Open Letter to the Virginia Legislature
Open Letter to Variety Critic Owen Glieberman
Open letter to Wolfgang Smith
Open Letter to Vincent Rado
Open Letter to Rick Doblin and Roland Griffiths
Critique of the Philosophy of Happiness
Heroin versus Alcohol
End the Drug War Now
How the Drug War Screws the Depressed
How the Monticello Foundation betrayed Jefferson's Legacy in 1987
How to Unite Drug War Opponents of all Ethnicities
Ignorance is the enemy, not Fentanyl
MDMA for Psychotherapy
Predictive Policing in the Age of the Drug War
Speaking Truth to Big Pharma
Teenagers and Cannabis
Teenagers and Cannabis
Psychedelics and Depression
The Drug War and Armageddon
The Invisible Mass Shootings
The problem with Modern Drug Reform Efforts
The Menace of the Drug War
The Mother of all Western Biases
Top 10 Problems with the Drug War
Why CBS 19 should stop supporting the Drug War
Why DARE should stop telling kids to say no
Why the Drug War is Worse than you can Imagine
Why the Holocaust Museum must denounce the Drug War
The Drug War Cure for Covid

essays about

The Drug War as a Litmus Test for Philosophical Wisdom
The Philosophical Idiocy of the Drug War
The Philosophy of Drug Use
The Philosophy of Getting High
Without Philosophy, Science becomes Scientism
Materialism and the Drug War
Calling All Philosophers
Critique of the Philosophy of Happiness
Heidegger on Drugs
In Praise of Thomas Szasz
Join Philosophers Against the Drug War
Libertarians as Closet Christian Scientists
Rationality Uber Alles
Scientism and America's Drug War hypocrisy
Speaking Truth to Academia
Nietzsche and the Drug War
What if Arthur Schopenhauer Had Used DMT?
How Scientific Materialism Keeps Godsend Medicines from the Depressed
Psychedelics and Depression
Drug Use as Self-Medication
John Locke on Drugs
Puritanical Assumptions about Drug Use in the Entertainment Field
Why Kevin Sabet is Wrong
I asked 100 American philosophers what they thought about the Drug War

end America's disgraceful drug war: visit to learn more

No Drug War Keychains

The key to ending the Drug War is to spread the word about the fact that it is Anti-American, unscientific and anti-minority (for starters)

Monticello Betrayed Thomas Jefferson

By demonizing plant medicine, the Drug War overthrew the Natural Law upon which Jefferson founded America -- and brazenly confiscated the Founding Father's poppy plants in 1987, in a symbolic coup against Jeffersonian freedoms.

This is your Brain on Godsend Plant Medicine

Stop the Drug War from demonizing godsend plant medicines. Psychoactive plant medicines are godsends, not devil spawn.

The Drug War Censors Science

Scientists: It's time to wake up to the fact that you are censored by the drug war. Drive the point home with these bumper stickers.

old time radio playing Drug War comedy sketches

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. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.

It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it 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.

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)
Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at