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Marijuana Critics Just Don't Get It

It's the criminalization, stupid!

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

August 12, 2020

've started to run across online articles that fret over the excessive use of marijuana by young people. (See, for instance, "America's Invisible Pot Addicts" by Annie Lowrey in*)

Fair enough. The argument can be made that some young people overuse marijuana - although even this concern is often based on unconscious assumptions about what constitutes the good life. The average capitalist American is constantly on the go, and so they're naturally shocked by a lifestyle that does not involve intense ambition and a constant desire to amass more material goods than one's neighbors.

Nevertheless, fair play. The overuse of marijuana is something that can be rationally discussed in a country that values rational analysis of social problems.

The problem is that as I read these articles, I can just hear the knee-jerk mental process of the average western reader saying, "Oh, dear: If this is so, we really must criminalize marijuana after all!"

And that is the whole problem of the Drug War: it gives us this knee-jerk reaction to all so-called "drug problems": that is, criminalization.

No one thought about psychoactive substances like this in the past. The knee-jerk reaction of yore following a so-called "drug death" was to denounce the way that the substance in question was used - that is, to denounce a lack of educated and informed use -- not to denounce the substance itself as somehow "bad" in and of itself without regard for the circumstances in which it was employed. That is a blatantly anti-scientific way of thinking about the world, to denounce a substance rather than the circumstances of its use. And so when it comes to the modern boogieman of "drugs," western thinking today is far more superstitious than it was in the past. It is superstitious because it attributes to amoral substances (aka "drugs") the goodness and badness that actually resides only in the way in which such substances are used.

Take the drug MDMA. That drug basically brought about "peace, love and understanding" on British dance floors during the 1980s, during the rave scene, until it was criminalized after one - count 'em - ONE well-publicized death in 1995. One!

That response was about as counterproductive and unscientific as can be, especially from a country that purports to value a rational approach to problem solving. First, it ignored the glaring fact that the death in question was caused by a lack of honest information and research about drugs: not by drugs themselves. (Had Leah Betts been made aware of the proper hydration requirements for using E in a high-stress environment, she would be alive today.) Second, by banning Ecstasy, the Drug Warrior ushered in a wave of crack and fentanyl use that quickly turned the British rave venues into shooting galleries that required the intervention of ex-special soldier forces to keep the peace.

Plants are under no requirement to meet FDA safety standards.

-Brian Quass, the Drug War Philosopher.

Result: the knee-jerk mindset of the Drug Warrior ushered in far more death and violence than ever, all in response to a self-created problem involving one of the safest drugs in the world.

This highlights the unspoken truth about the Drug War: it causes all of the problems that it claims to fix. It caused the death of Leah Betts by E, since it suppressed research of such substances and criminalized them, making them available only from doubtful sources. It brought about the end of a peaceful dance scene, from which British society (and even the world) could have learned much, and ushered in the violence and death that the Drug Warrior claims to be fighting.

The Drug War is even responsible for the overuse of marijuana, to the extent that we agree this is a real problem. The Drug War criminalizes thousands of plants that can help bring about a sense of peace of mind and transcendence, including cocaine, opium, and hundreds of psychedelic plants that have been shown to conduce to personal insight and self-understanding when used advisedly (i.e., by educated people in a free country). Why are we surprised when this lopsided legalization of one solitary psychoactive plant results in excessive use of that one particular plant? (especially in a world where superstitious Drug Warriors keep shouting "drugs, drugs, drugs" at the top of their hypocritical lungs, thus bringing the use of psychoactive substances front-and-center in the minds of young people who might have otherwise ignored the topic entirely).

If the world were to criminalize all but one sports car, car lovers would flock to car dealerships in order to buy that one particular model of sports car. If we as a society find this problematic, the answer is to open the car market to all models, not to fret over the problems caused by this one model that we have grudgingly allowed out on the sales floor.

So, let's be honest, not just about marijuana, but about all drugs. Let's be honest enough to say that a drug like "E" can help bring about peace and harmony, even if it is politically incorrect to say so (even if the British government prefers gun violence to such honesty). Let's be honest enough to say that cocaine and opium can be used responsibly if education is available for that purpose. (Sigmund Freud and Benjamin Franklin could have told us as much). Let's be honest enough to say that properly guided psychedelic use can help us fight addiction and get a new and better outlook on life. (The anecdotal evidence of this fact dates back to prehistory and the Vedic religion.)

Until the Drug Warrior is open to this kind of real-world honesty, I'm going to be suspicious of their criticism of marijuana, thinking to myself, "Great, now they're out to take away the one bit of mental freedom that they've grudgingly provided me, when the real question is: why are they limiting my choice of freedom to this one single solitary substance in the first place? If that substance is problematic, give me some alternatives: don't yield to the Drug Warrior's knee-jerk temptation to criminalize the market entirely."

Check out the irony of the title of Annie Lowrey's piece mentioned above: "America's Invisible Pot Addicts": this from a reporter whose articles ignore the great addiction of our time: the fact that 1 in 4 American women are addicted to Big Pharma meds (source: Julie Holland). Given this huge blind spot on Annie's part, the reader can't help but assume that her article on pot addicts has been written to further some political or social ideology about drugs rather than to spread the unvarnished truth about what's actually happening viz. addiction in the real world.

Related tweet: October 19, 2022

Response to Kevin Sabet's tweet regarding Obama's original plan to make marijuana a schedule I drug:

It's a violation of natural law for government to affirm marijuana as illegal. It's like saying that the sun or the rain is illegal. Plants are under no requirement to meet FDA safety standards.

October 19, 2022

Here's a comment that Brian sent to Kevin after responding to his tweet (see above)

The government has no right to "affirm" that a plant is illegal. That's a violation of natural law. (See John Locke regarding our right to the use of the land "and all that lies therein.") Yes, we need to tell the truth about marijuana, but we need to tell the truth about ALL DRUGS -- including the mind-numbing anti-depressants upon which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who is going to write a book about that dystopia, a real-life Stepford Wives? Not the Drug Warriors!!!!!!!!!!!!

I invite you to read my views on these matters:

Brian Quass
The Drug War Philosopher

PS If you want to be more helpful, teach how marijuana can be used as wisely as possible; don't aid and abet the Drug Warriors by falling into their game of demonizing substances: teach wise use!!!!!!!!!! The Drug War is a demonization campaign and the enforcement of Christian Science with respect to psychoactive medicine. There are no such things as drugs as defined by the Drug Warrior, since there are no substances that have no good uses, ever, for anyone. Even Botox and cyanide have reasonable uses. Moreover, psychoactive meds have inspired entire religions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

October 19, 2022

Brian couldn't help himself, he launched a second barrage five minutes later. (This is why I tell Brian not to read tweets at the end of a busy day.)

The DEA made marijuana deadly in the '80s by spraying it with paraquat, a weed killer that causes Parkinson's Disease.

Your work gives great solace to those who are Nazifying the language over drugs, causing civil wars overseas, killing thousands of inner-city blacks each year, denying morphine to kids in hospice. censoring scientists who cannot study drugs that might cure Alzheimer's. Your book stokes the fire of substance demonization that has turned the world into a police state and eggs on the DEA who raided Monticello in 1987 in violation of natural law. PLEASE!!! Stop demonizing, start teaching. Your Drug War has created a psychiatric pill mill to which 1 in 4 women are addicted and upon which I've been a "junkie" my entire life. I've yet to see any author wring their hands about MY fate. No, I'm paying lifetime annuities to Big Pharma stockholders.

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.

The Links Police

Pull over to the side of the Web page. I caught you back there scrolling past some related links!

Kevin Sabet and Drug War 2.0
Why Kevin Sabet is Wrong
How the Atlantic Supports the Drug War
What Obama got wrong about drugs

Next essay: How Cocaine could have helped me
Previous essay: MDMA for Psychotherapy

More Essays Here

Addiction Tweets

ME: "What are you gonna give me for my depression, doc? MDMA? Laughing gas? Occasional opium smoking? Chewing of the coca leaf?" DOC: "No, I thought we'd fry your brain with shock therapy instead."
Until we get rid of all these obstacles to safe and informed use, it's presumptuous to explain problematic drug use with theories about addiction. Drug warriors are rigging the deck in favor of problematic use. They refuse to even TEACH non-problematic use.
Until we legalize ALL psychoactive drugs, there will be no such thing as an addiction expert. In the meantime, it's insulting to be told by neuroscience that I'm an addictive type. It's pathologizing my just indignation at psychiatry's niggardly pharmacopoeia.
We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
Chesterton might as well have been speaking about the word 'addiction' when he wrote the following: "It is useless to have exact figures if they are exact figures about an inexact phrase."
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.
Chesterton wrote that, once you begin outlawing things on grounds of health, you open a Pandora's box. This is because health is not a quality, it's a balance. To decide legality based on 'health' grounds thus opens a Pandora's box of different points of view.
Using the billions now spent on caging users, we could end the whole phenomena of both physical and psychological addiction by using "drugs to fight drugs." But drug warriors do not want to end addiction, they want to keep using it as an excuse to ban drugs.
Jim Hogshire described sleep cures that make physical withdrawal from opium close to pain-free. As for "psychological addiction," there are hundreds of elating drugs that could be used to keep the ex-user's mind from morbidly focusing on a drug whose use has become problematic.
And this is before we even start spending those billions on research that are currently going toward arresting minorities.
When doctors try to treat addiction without using any godsend medicines, they are at best Christian Scientists and at worst quacks. They are like the doctors in Moliere's "M
As Moliere demonstrated in the hilarious finale, anyone can be THAT kind of doctor by mastering a little Latin and walking around pompously in the proper uniform.
Like the pompous white-coated doctor in the movie "Four Good Days" who ignores the entire formulary of mother nature and instead throws the young heroin user on a cot for 3 days of cold turkey and a shot of Naltrexone: price tag $3,000.

essays about

More Weed Bashing at the Washington Post
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Kevin Sabet and What-About-Ism
Why Kevin Sabet's approach to drugs is racist, anti-scientific and counterproductive
Weed Bashing at WTOP.COM
Breaking News: Scientists Realize That Marijuana may not be Evil Incarnate After All!

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, Marijuana Critics Just Don't Get It: It's the criminalization, stupid!, published on August 12, 2020 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)