1) You conclude the article by rightly pointing out that the very term "drugs" is problematic. That's all too true. I think this is the main reason why discussions on this topic give off more heat than light, because the term "drugs" is an assumption-laden term and as such has no place in a rational discourse. The term has passed its expiration date and should be replaced with a judgment-free term like "psychoactive substances." (I like to use the term "godsend substances" for it points out that there is another way of looking at mother nature's pharmacy than through the jaundiced eyes of the Drug Warrior.) For "drugs" is not only a hypocritical term (in that it does not refer to tobacco and alcohol, for instance), but it is an anti-scientific one, for the term "drugs": means the following: "substances for which there are no positive uses, whatsoever, for anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances." But the fact is that there are no substances of this kind in the world. Even the deadly Botox can be used rationally in the right doses for the right person in the right circumstance. And so merely to use the term "drugs" is to tacitly sign off on Drug Warrior lies and, indeed, a whole anti-scientific way of looking at the world. For the term "drugs" as used today is like the term "scab": it not only connotes a thing but it passes judgment on that thing in so doing. For this reason, I think that the term "drugs" should be deconstructed at the beginning of all articles about addiction, at least when they are addressed to the heavily indoctrinated layperson in western society.
2) Speaking of which, we may just as well refer to "drugs" as godsend medicines. They are not a scourge. Nothing that nature grows is a scourge. If substances are misused, surely it is an education problem, not a drug problem.
3) You come close to saying that an ideal world would be one without drugs, but this is a Christian Science preference, not a logical truth. If one were to grow up in a hypothetical rain forest surrounded by psychoactive medicines, I do not think it would ever occur to one that they had a moral duty to renounce the use of the substances that surround them. Rather, you would consider it your duty to learn how to use them safely for good purposes. I wish that the Uvalde shooter Salvador Ramos HAD actually used drugs -- namely ecstasy -- for he would then have been far less likely to have found the stomach to kill grade schoolers.
4) As always, it's depressing to read articles like yours because even the good news it reports is usually bad. For instance, the 2000 Runciman report sounds positive because it suggests punishing cannabis-related offenses less harshly than those involving buprenorphine -- however, the report authors apparently still assumed that the only way to deal with "use" is to punish it -- not to educate users as to how to avoid addiction, say, or how to find better drugs to achieve the transcendence that the users were seeking.
5) Speaking of transcendence: Human beings have sought self-transcendence since caveman days. Much of the use that we decry today as hedonism can be equally well understood as a search for self-transcendence, an escape from the psychological limits that have been placed upon one by nature and nurture. Even if we feel that hedonism should be outlawed (a problematic view in itself) it sounds tyrannical to deny human beings the right to self-transcendence, especially considering that the kinds of substances we demonize today have inspired entire religions, as coca was an Incan god, mushrooms inspired religious cults in South America, and the Vedic religion was inspired by the psychoactive effects of soma. Is not then the Drug War an attack on religion -- nay, an attack on the religious impulse itself?
6 I would argue that "addiction" is a political term. Consider America before 1914. Perhaps as many as 10% of the population were opium habitues (compared to the 1 in 4 American women who are chemically dependent on Big Pharma drugs for a lifetime as a direct result of the Drug War giving psychiatry a monopoly on mood medicine). These pre-1914 opium users were habitues, not addicts. Opium-loving Benjamin Franklin was certainly not considered an addict. Then the Harrison Narcotics act was passed and, hey presto, America was suddenly full of addicts. Gee, how did THAT happen?
7 This leads naturally to item 7, the fact that the Drug War causes all of the problems that it purports to solve. In 1915, America suddenly had an "addiction" problem, perhaps, but it was "addiction by fiat," since the government had effectively made Americans addicts -- by forcing them to go cold turkey and/or to seek illicit supplies of their drug of choice. (We would have a new addiction problem today if we outlawed coffee -- or alcohol, or tobacco, or antidepressants.)
8 Ecstasy is one of the safest drugs on the planet. Yet while liquor kills 95,000 a year in America, beer-swilling politicians eagerly seek out anecdotal stories of a handful of deaths caused by ecstasy -- like the death of British raver Leah Betts, which was clearly caused by a lack of safe-use info which was a product of the UK's focus on punishment over education. The UK's crackdown on Ecstasy turned the once-peaceful dance floor into the Wild West, where concert organizers suddenly had to hire special forces troops to keep the peace.
9. The term "drugs" is a scapegoat for all social problems, giving politicians the free pass they need to avoid spending money on real education of the young and fixing up inner cities. Politicians are not skinflints, mind: they just want to spend their money on prisons and policing, not on educating folks and therefore possibly giving them ideas of their own about what constitutes the good life. The people's "good life" may not involve consumerism, after all.
10. The Drug War steals elections for conservative politicians. There is no way that Trump would have been elected had not the Drug War removed hundreds of thousands of black felons from the voting rolls. Millions of others were effectively removed since many US prisons do not allow inmates to vote.
11. In a world with mass shootings, in which we're living under a nuclear sword of Damocles, someone should be arguing that we NEED drugs like Ecstasy, to remedy the fatal flaw of Homo sapiens, namely their ability to demonize and hate "the other," a term which nowadays includes "drug dealers," whom we feel free to address with terms that were once reserved for the Jews in Nazi Germany: "scumbags" and "filth."
12. Speaking of which, rather than worrying about drugs, we should be worrying about the Drug War movies in which vigilante justice is glorified, as in "Running from the Devil," in which the cigarette-smoking DEA agent hangs one "drug suspect" from a meat hook and shoots another in cold blood at pointblank range. Trump's election is small surprise when one considers the popularity of such films. The problem is, Americans think they can have democracy and the Drug War too, but that's not going to happen. Indeed, if Trump wins another turn, he's going to start executing the disfranchised blacks that previous Drug Warriors had been content merely to marginalize.
These notes aren't all about addiction, of course, but this is all interrelated.
Hope my thoughts on this subject were of interest to you, and thanks for your time!
The Links Police
Do you know why I stopped you? That's right, because the Drug War gives me carte blanche to be a noxious busybody. Oh, and I also wanted to give you a heads up about addiction. Yeah, it seems this Brian fellow has written other essays on this subject, namely:
The Drug War is a bipartisan effort, hence its staying power, but if the Republicans have their way, we will have an insurrection to install a president who wants to carry out "the final solution" for the drug war, by executing those who dare to traffic in botanical godsends of which racist politicians disapprove. Yes, Joe Biden himself is part of the problem with his belief in prioritizing fear over facts and incarceration over education. Moreover, he just doesn't "get" the simple fact that prohibition causes violence, it's as simple as that. But the openly traitorous republicans, with the help of Fox News, want to take the drug war to "a whole new level" -- while turning America into a Banana Republic, by getting rid of free elections and installing demagogues by force. Surely the least we can ask of American corporations is that they do not attempt to profit from the peddling of the lies that support this ongoing effort at insurrection. Sign the petition today to tell American businesses that they will be held responsible for supporting networks that openly support insurrection.
*"Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist." -- Heather Ann Thompson, The Atlantic, 2014.
The above numbers may represent undercounts since some of these totals were compiled in late 2021.
The news media just doesn't get it -- or doesn't want to get it. Most stories about the deaths of blacks in inner cities never mention the drug war, as if the fact that prohibition led to armed gangs had nothing to do with the skyrocketing gun deaths that they're reporting on today. For a case in point, check out the article by Micaela A Watts in CommercialAppeal with the headline: "Following 346 homicides in Memphis in 2021, officials consider what's driving the violence."
Yes, that's a real poser, Micaela. The city fathers must really be scratching their heads!
The author notes three major theories for the violence, all of which have nothing to do with the drug war: "Lack of conflict resolution skills," a lack of "fair wages," and (get this) poor mental health.
Looks like the city officials failed to ask themselves why city residents were armed to the teeth in the first place. Hello? That was due to the drugs warriors' substance prohibition which incentivized the poor and poorly educated young people to get into the fantastically profitable business of selling drugs!!!
Substance prohibition created drug gangs and cartels just as surely as liquor prohibition created the Mafia.
Yes, drug warrior, YOU are responsible for these deaths. You! It's a natural result of your ban on medical godsends, some of which have inspired entire religions and have the potential for treating (if not curing) such diverse conditions as Alzheimer's, autism, and depression.
Drug War Victim of the Day
killed in Prince Georges County, Maryland on August 15, 2022
Southeast Washington DC remains a no-go zone, even for UPS drivers, as this latest shooting incident points out, which is 1 in 6 shootings that have taken place in the last week, two of them fatal. If this were happening in Hollywood, California, it would be a scandal. But movie stars are people, and victims of the drug war, especially when poor and black, are what Noam Chomsky calls 'unpeople.'
Yes, even the director of "Bamboozled" is bamboozled about drugs. He agrees with the drug warrior lie that there are psychoactive substances in nature that have no positive uses whatsoever, in any place, any time, any context. This superstitious way of thinking has forced me to go without godsend medicine my entire life. Thanks, Spike. Why do you want people to become drug-hating Christian Scientists, exactly? These things that you call "drugs" have inspired entire religions. The conservatives are laughing as they rush to the polls to elect fascists, because they have bamboozled Spike Lee himself to sign off on the drug war which brings death and incarceration to inner city blacks. Throw away that "just say no" teddy bear with which you were bribed in childhood, Spike, and open your eyes.
Mangual is the author of 'Cities got deadlier in 2020: What's behind the spike in homicides?' in which he never once mentioned the drug war!
Here's my letter to his website:
Hi, Rafael. Just wanted to suggest that you start holding the drug war responsible for inner-city violence -- since substance prohibition incentivized 'dealing' in poor neighborhoods and the guns soon followed. Because no one mentions this 64,000-pound Gorilla, Trump is able to blame the deaths on Democrats, so that, rather than ending the violence-causing drug war, he can begin executing the blacks that drug warriors were previously happy with merely incarcerating.
The Secret World: A History of Intelligence.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019.
All warfare is based on deception, said Sun Tzu. Yes, but what is all deception based on? A mistrust of one's fellows. And how do you combat that, Chris? With empathogens like MDMA and psilocybin.
London: East India Publishing Company, 2021.
Pious drug warriors have usually thought of Marcus Aurelius as the perfect replacement for bad evil drugs -- but Marcus had his cake and ate it too. He philosophized under the influence of opium (but don't tell the kids!)
Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People.
: IDEBATE Press, 2011.
In which we learn how over 150 countries withhold godsend pain medicine from dying kids in the name of the drug war ideology of substance demonization.
DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule.
Vermonth: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, 2021.
America spends millions on SETI and billions on NASA looking for alien beings -- and yet we ignore the world of world of inner visions with which naturally occurring substances seem determined to put us in touch
Boullosa , Carmen.
A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'.
New York: OR Books, 2016.
How the US Drug War and Its Mexican Collaborators caused the so-called Mexican Drug that has killed over a hundred thousand
The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade.
India: Anna Ruggieri, 2017.
Carpenter, Ted Galen.
The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America.
Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2012.
Alice in Wonderland: The Original 1865 Edition With Complete Illustrations By Sir John Tenniel.
New York: Amazon, 2021.
Alice's shroom-powered adventures are a standing reproach to glum-faced drug warriors, who closely resemble the Queen of Hearts, shouting: "Off with their heads, for using godsend medicines of which I disapprove!"
Science is censored in a Drug War. They cover only the downsides of psychoactive medicine. That's why we need to learn the upsides of use from unconventional sources, like Lovecraft, Poe and Aleister Crowley.
De Quincey, Thomas.
Confessions of an English Opium Eater.
New York: Dover, 1995.
During De Quincey's informed opium use, he "partook" only weekly in order to better enjoy the opera, making his weekday life happier as well, however, thanks to anticipation of use, a benefit of which materialist science takes no account.
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner .
New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
A stark reminder that the world is living under a nuclear sword of Damocles. And why? Because it demonizes all the godsend medicines (like MDMA and shrooms) that could bring humanity together in universal harmony.
The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys .
New York: Park Street Press, 2011.
First-hand accounts of psychological breakthroughs achieved with the guided use of entheogens, suggesting that one-time givens like "character" and "human nature" are far more susceptible to improvement than we thought.
The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally.
Rochester, Vermoont: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, 2011.
Psst! Don't tell anyone. This book actually talks about beneficial uses of the plant medicine that used to be in almost every medicine cabinet in England. That situation couldn't last long under unfettered capitalism.
A Disease in the Public Mind: Why We Fought the Civil War.
New York: Da Capo Press, 2014.
The late historian Fleming cites the popular mob-led public "diseases" of Witch-Hunting, Liquor Prohibition, and Communism -- yet says nothing about the Drug War, which was the great disease in the public mind of his own time!!!
Liberalism and Its Discontents.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022.
Great bipartisan insights, BUT... Francis reckons without the drug war, so, like a good drug warrior, he blames all the ills caused by prohibition on the politically created boogieman called "drugs."
The Dream of Enlightenment: the Rise of Modern Philosophy.
New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2016.
The author seems unaware of the increasingly clear ability of empathogens like MDMA and shrooms to improve the very human nature which grumps like Hobbes portray as being so irrevocably fixed.
Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms.
Annapolis: William Griffiths, 2021.
Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics.
New York: HarperWave, 2020.
Julie claims that Nixon criminalized psychedelics for health reasons. What? That's not the Nixon I know. He said himself that Leary was enemy #1. He was removing "users" from the voting rolls, not protecting them.
The Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell.
New York: Penguin Books, 1970.
Huxley's speculations about perception jibe with modern science, which finds that human beings see what is presumably useful to them, not necessarily what is "really there" in the sensory-rich physical world.
The Birth of the Modern.
New York: Harper Collins, 1991.
Johnson says that opium caused Samuel Taylor Coleridge's problems. Nonsense. Lack of education and irresponsibility causes problems. As Johnson himself says, most Brits used opium as needed without trouble.
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead .
New York: University Books, 1964.
Americans have been primed by the drug-war zeitgeist to consider everything Leary writes as nonsense. But he was the first one to announce loudly and clearly that what's really nonsensical is to outlaw plant medicine.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
New York: Del Rey Books, 1970.
Lovecraft's work is full of opiate imagery that drug warriors want to render impossible for artists to feel: "I would often drift in opiate peace through the valley and the shadowy groves..." (Ex-Oblivione)
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.
Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2009.
Gabriel moralizes "addiction." Addiction, however, is a political term. One can use psychoactive Big Pharma meds every day and be a good patient -- use heroin every day, however, and you're just escaping "inner pain." What?
Maupassant, Guy de.
Le Horla et autres contes fantastiques - Guy de Maupassant: Les classiques du fantastique .
Paris: , 2019.
In "La Horla," Maupassant anticipates Huxley by speculating that our perceptual habits blind us to a world of wonders. Many of today's demonized drugs, it appears, can at least partially open our eyes to that world.
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution .
New York: Bantam, 1992.
This was the book that reminded me of what I already vaguely knew: that it is tyrannical insanity for a government to outlaw plants. McKenna's philosophical speculations on why we criminalize inspired me to create abolishthedea.com.
Miller, Richard Louis.
Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle .
New York: Park Street Press, 2017.
Informative interviews with movers-and-shakers in the field, including Rick Doblin, Stanislav Grof, James Fadiman, David Nichols and Robert Whitaker. Packed with eye-opening one-liners about godsend meds.
Mortimer MD, W. Golden.
Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas.
Berkeley, California: Ronin Publishing, 2017.
Mortimer reveals how Coca leaf chewing was to the long-lived Peruvian Indians what coffee drinking is to modern society. It provided them with endurance and social cohesion, just as coffee provides us with ambition and competitiveness.
Out of our Heads.
New York: HiII&Wang,, 2010.
Noe reveals how patients with "locked-in" syndrome have reported being supremely aware of their surroundings during their supposedly brain-dead coma, a fact that puts in question our materialist assumptions about consciousness.
Drug War Capitalism.
Chico, California: AK Press, 2014.
Substance prohibition causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some. Nowhere is this more true than in Latin America, as Dawn Paley describes in painstaking detail.
Alistair Crowley on Drugs.
unknown: uploaded by Misael Hernandez, 2021.
Because of drug war self-censorship, we have to turn to renegades like Alistair Crowley to learn the positive sides of so-called 'drug' use.
When Plants Dream.
New York: Watkins Publishing, 2019.
I find philosophical problems with most of the books that I read on the subject of psychoactive medicine, but Daniel Pinchbeck is one of the few authors who could teach me a few things on this topic.
Poe, Edgar Allan.
The Essential Poe.
New York: Warbler Classics, 2020.
Because drug warriors never mention the good side of "drugs," we must turn to Poe to learn, for instance, that morphine can bring a surreal appreciation of Mother Nature (see "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains").
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence .
New York: Penguin Books, 2018.
Pollan has yet to realize that the very term "drugs" is just a modern pejorative epithet for "plant medicine of which botanically clueless politicians disapprove. "
Reynolds, David S..
Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville .
New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Exhaustively researched account of the 19th-century zeitgeist, and yet the word "drugs" (as defined, or rather derided, by today's drug warrior) is never even used. Last century's boogieman was liquor, it seems, not "drugs."
Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences Hardcover.
New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
The psychedelic experience was once characterized as pharmacologically induced madness. Richards shows how the properly guided experience can lead to sanity instead -- and a way of life that is not self-destructive.
Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898 .
Connecticut: Praeger, 2000.
The war took place 16 years before anti-Chinese Drug Warriors criminalized the poppy plant, and yet opium is only mentioned with regard to a group of unimaginative volunteers who smoked some and "couldn't see the point."
The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances.
New York: Macmillan Publishers, 2014.
Hurray to Rudgley for failing to dance to the Drug Warrior's tune and name his book "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs." Instead, he refers to "drugs" as substances, removing all the value judgments with which prohibitionists seek to demonize the sub
Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered.
New York: Arlington House, 1967.
Burke was a conservative in a sense, but he would not recognize America's Republican party of today. He would surely have seen that prohibition causes all the problems we ascribe to "drugs," and then some.
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.
New York: Penguin, 2014.
In 1980, the Air Force nearly blew up Arkansas and irradiated half the country. When Reagan took office the next year, what was his priority? Outlawing plant medicine that could make our species less warlike.
Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. .
New York: Pocket Star, 2006.
On March 7, 1968, a rogue Soviet submarine nearly blew up Pearl Harbor with a thermonuclear bomb. Instead of launching a war on nukes, then-President Nixon launched a war on medicines that could inspire peace, love and understanding.
The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler.
New York: RosettaBooks, 2011.
Paraphrase from book: "No one who has not lived for years in a DRUG WAR SOCIETY can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda."
Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds.
Back Bay Books: Boston, 2019.
Despite griping about the weight she's put on from taking her daily 'meds,' Slater gives Big Pharma a big fat mulligan for consigning 1 in 4 American women like herself to a lifetime of chemical dependency on SSRI antidepressants.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences .
New York: Park Street Press, 2001.
Rick doubts DMT's therapeutic usefulness, but common sense psychology suggests that any break from full-on introspection would be a treat, notwithstanding materialists who aren't even sure that laughing gas could help the depressed!!!
Ceremonial Chemistry: the ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers.
New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1974.
Filled with inconvenient truths that critics ignore rather than refute, including how politicized science tells us a la God: "Eat of the fruit and you shall die," ignoring the fact that education tells us how to eat of that fruit safely.
Our Right to Drugs: The case for a free market.
New York: Praeger, 1992.
Chock-a-block with all-too-rare common sense: "Doctors, lawyers and politicians started the War on Drugs and continue to wage it, and they are its real beneficiaries -- the drug war's ostensible beneficiaries... are its victims."
Tyler, George R..
Billionaire Democracy: The Hijacking of the American Political System.
Michigan: Pegasus Books, 2016.
Doesn't mention drugs, but illustrates how drug reform can be stymied by just 3% of the public: namely, those holding stock in Big Pharma, etc., especially when these elites can bribe politicians to retain the status quo.
Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class.
: Pegasus Books, 2014.
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America .
New York: Crown, 2010.
Prohibition has facilitated the creation of a psychiatric pill mill upon which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life. Moreover, these pills cause the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix.
Zuboff , Shoshana.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.
New York: Public Affairs, 2019.
Surveillance capitalists and drug warriors share the same goal: to keep human beings predictable: one by rendering us more robot-like and the other by denying us the mind-improving blessings of psychoactive medicine
There are an absolute LEGION of online articles and newspaper stories that get it wrong about so-called drugs. Even those in favor of drug law reform have been subject to drug war propaganda from childhood (and they probably have a DARE teddy bear to prove it!) so speak truth to nonsense and comment on the articles that get it wrong.
Bloody disgusting fact: The Drug War brought almost 800 deaths to Chicago in 2021 by incentivizing the hugely profitable sale of psychoactive medicine in poor communities. And now Trump and his fellow fascist drug warriors want to use that violence as an excuse to KILL drug dealers via execution! Any community leaders supporting the drug war are complicit in this genocide. For as Heather Ann Thompson wrote in The Atlantic in 2014: "Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist."
How America can end inner-city homicides overnight in three easy steps:
Re-legalize Mother Nature's plant medicines
Treat substance abuse as a health problem
Buy back inner-city guns at double their purchase price (even triple the price would be a huge bargain in the long run)
This will, of course, be a huge sacrifice for everyday Americans, who do love their drug war, bless them.
Here are two additional steps for good measure:
Replace pill-pushing psychiatrists with pharmacologically savvy empaths
Replace the Drug Enforcement Agency with the Drug EDUCATION Agency