Essay date: April 27, 2021

Not Using is Always Safer?

Reddit Christian Scientists defend the drug war mentality

At the risk of getting banned, I would like to respectfully disagree with the final sentence in the r/Drugs Reddit description, which reads: "Not using is always safer."

This is a misleading oversimplification, which only makes sense if we tacitly agree with the hypocritical Drug Warrior definition of the word "drugs," as evil substances that cannot be used for good purposes. But this demonization of amoral substances is an American invention. No one thought this way about "drugs" in the past.

If Ancient Egyptians were told that "not using is always safer," Pharaoh Ramses III would have replied: "Nonsense. When I have a toothache, I'm going to use opium as usual!"

If you had told Freud that not using cocaine was safer, he would have replied: "Safer than what? If I don't use cocaine to help me rise above my depression, I will not achieve self-fulfillment in life. I might then commit suicide. How safe is that, exactly?"

American fighter pilots have been given amphetamines before long missions precisely in order to KEEP them safe by keeping them as alert as possible. Would the pilots have been "safer" in that case if they had "just said no"?

I understand what the author meant when he or she typed "Not using is always safer," and no doubt SOMETHING like that needs to be said on a Reddit named after the politically-confused term called "drugs." I merely suggest that they find a more accurate way to say it. Because it is simply not true that "not using is always safer." That is just one of hundreds of Drug War myths by which Americans have been bamboozled over the last 100+ years of substance demonization.

That statement is not always true in the real world and makes sense only if we adopt the jaundiced religious view of Christian Science with respect to psychoactive substances, for it wasn't our scientists or our philosophers who first told us to say "no" to drugs, it was Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science religion. She believed drugs were not safe, of course, but only because using them imperiled our ability to find salvation the "right" way, namely through the religious figure known as Jesus Christ.

I'd like to add one follow-up:

The Ecstasy-fueled Rave scene was the most peaceful phenomenon in British history, where Blacks, Whites, Indians, etc. came together under one roof to dance. It couldn't have been safer. But Drug Warriors don't care about safety. They judge a person by the contents of their digestive system, not by the way that they actually behave. And so E was demonized and banned. And what was the result? Overnight, the rave scene became the most dangerous phenomenon in British history, full of guns and violence. Why? Because "users" turned to anger-facilitating drugs like alcohol. Rave venues suddenly had to be policed by Special Forces troops. Special Forces troops! So Drug Warriors don't really care about safety, they care about keeping people from obtaining states of mind of which politicians do not approve.

The Drug Warrior will scream that a single solitary dancer had died from E. Yes, but why did Leah Betts die? Because the Drug Warrior had demonized Ecstasy to the point where its scientific study was not even possible and therefore safe guidelines could not be developed to remind such ravers that they needed to keep hydrated while dancing.

The outlawing of cocaine alone has caused more deaths than any other drug law in American history and is even now spreading death, tyranny and destruction in Mexico and the Philippines. No, the Drug War is not about safety. The Drug War is about the American ability to control its people's thoughts, to prop up Big Pharma and Big Liquor, and to interfere in other countries at will, under the pretext of fighting the politically created boogieman called "drugs."
If we really believed that "not using" was always safer, we would all become Christian Scientists and ban alcohol and tobacco and even prosecute the psychiatric profession for addicting 1-in-4 American women to Big Pharma meds. But when we say such things, we aren't being sincere. We simply want to convince people of the patently false idea that substances somehow become unsafe the moment that they are demonized by politicians. That, of course, is just Drug War propaganda.

If Drug Warriors cared about safety, they would prevent future mass shootings by treating hateful people with ecstasy, thereby teaching them how to literally "feel" for their fellow human beings. But such obvious ideas never occur to a Drug War society. And why not? Because Drug Warriors are not interested in actual safety but rather in the ongoing demonization of substances of which politicians do not approve. And so alcohol can kill thousands daily and we don't bat an eyelash. But if "E" brings about mere world peace and only kills those who have not been taught to use it wisely, we declare war on "E" and tell the world that "not using it is always safer."

Is it safer to do without alcohol? A consideration of Mediterranean diets would tell us no. We can't declare substances unsafe simply because they've been demonized by politicians. Safety cannot be judged in the abstract. It must be considered with regard to the context of actual use.

Author's Follow-up: August 30, 2022

Only fancy. I indited that apparently somewhat insightful broadside a whole year and a half ago now. Wow. "Not too shabby," as my editorial assistant would have it. If I regret any thing about that capricious sally, it's the fact that I may have not put my case forcefully enough. For I would go so far as to say that not only is it GOOD to use "drugs" (hear me now and believe me later...) but it's RIGHT, PROPER AND NECESSARY to use drugs if the world is to survive. Why? Because The only way to teach most human beings to love each other is by counseling them for that purpose while simultaneously dosing them with empathogens, i.e., godsend medicines such as MDMA and psilocybin.

Yes, there are medicines called empathogens (a subset of the useful group of entheogens) that can make us literally feel compassion for "the other," an ability which, let's face it, our species could definitely use some help with cultivating. Until we accept that proffered balm of empathogenic medicine, we will continue to have wars and rumors of wars.

With apologies to Thomas More, though, a utopia can be described in just one simple English half sentence: a world in which unthinking hatred is outlawed and punished by a stint of compassion therapy using the best entheogenic medicines available, such as MDMA and psilocybin.

That's why I call for a new world: one in which substances are legal but unreasoning hatred is a crime. In my world, no one's allowed to work at Burger King (let alone have their finger on a nuclear trigger) if they are filled with hate. Having hateful hearts is a luxury that the world cannot afford in the nuclear age. Outlaw hate and give free but informed access to those who seek transcendence with previously demonized substances.

Okay, this may not turn the world into hearts and roses, but it does have a real chance of ending school shootings and making the use of nuclear weapons truly unthinkable in the hearts of humanity.

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


"When two men who have been in an aggressive mood toward each other take part in the ritual, one is able to say to the other, 'Come, let us drink, for there is something between us.' " re: the Mayan use of the balche drink in Encyc of Psych Plants, by Ratsch & Hofmann
Next essay: Why Drug Free Zones are Dangerous and Unconstitutional
Previous essay: Open letter to Professor Troy Glover at Waterloo University

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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