Essay date: November 26, 2022

Open Letter to Vincent Rado

agreeing to disagree?

November 29, 2022
The author cordially invites you to keep following Vincent Rado. Nothing he is tweeting is 'wrong,' as far as Brian can see. However, Vincent does emphasize elements of the truth that Brian considers a little off-point at this moment in history, given the Drug Warrior's insistence on demonizing substances. For instance, when we attack the claims made for demonized drugs, Brian thinks that we should ideally do so in a nuanced way that does not give fuel to the Drug Warrior, who is liable to say: "See? Even opponents of the Drug War say that the claims for psychoactive medicines are nonsense!"

In Brian's view, psychedelics have a well-established history of working miracles, and that fact should not be obscured simply because the news media, as always, likes to err in the direction of hyperbole by suggesting that what works for some will work for everybody. For psychedelics, as we know, are not like physical medicines. You cannot just "take them" and wait for something to happen. To promote a successful experience, you need the right set and setting, ideally with the help of an empathic guide who knows something about the psychedelic experience. That said, some people are ready for the experience without even knowing it. In the documentary "Fantastic Fungi," Paul Stamets describes how the whimsical consumption of a few mushrooms in his youth brought about the end of his childhood stuttering, by separating himself FROM himself for just long enough so that Paul could see what he was doing to himself, as it were, and to determine once and for all to stop it.

Er, but now onto the essay proper!

I am tempted to part ways with Vincent Rado on Twitter. That could be a mistake on my part. It could be that I'm just misunderstanding where he's coming from. After all, he lists himself as a founder of the DC Psychedelic Society, so I would think he would be on the same page as myself.

But his latest post seems to be saying that psychedelics do not have any particular potential when it comes to healing, and that's a position that seems strange to me for someone with such a bio. What's more, that stance does not accord with history. As I mentioned in response, we know that Plato got his philosophy of the afterlife from the psychedelic ritual at Eleusis and that the Vedic-Hindu religion was inspired by a psychedelic plant med or fungus.

Yet, Vincent mocks me for these allusions, asking me if I am a Hindu and if I was in attendance when Plato partook of a psychedelic. Vincent wants to know why I keep harping on these cases.

The reason I bring these things up is because no one else does, Vincent. That's the problem with the Drug War. No one discusses anything but the down sides of psychoactive medicine. That's why I take issue with Vincent's posts which seem to downplay the potential of psychedelics.

They have one benefit right out of the starting gate, in that they are not addictive -- in stark contrast to the Big Pharma meds on which 1 in 4 American women are addicted for life.

I know there are hucksters in the world and that they're going to try to profit from any newly offered medicine or therapy, but let's be cynical about the hucksters, not the medicines, unless we have reason to believe that they really do not work as promised. I also realize that there are no panaceas -- and yet we can't conclude that psychedelics will not be useful for the depressed simply because modern users do not always see their depression lifted. Modern use is typically uninformed use, where folks take psychedelic like a magic pill and want to sit back and have something happen to them. That's not how the magic comes about. That's how bad trips happen.

I have personal experience with psychedelics that also makes me reject the cynicism that Vincent seems to have on this topic. I was delighted by the insights I received as a teenager from a psychedelic substance and it expanded my expectations about the amazing growth potential that psychoactive drugs in general could have under the right situations -- an incredibly greater value than the mind-numbing tricyclics I was taking at the time. That's why it bothers me to see claims about psychedelics being denounced -- even tho, again, I agree that hucksters will always exaggerate. Just because a flatterer says that I am 6 feet tall does not mean that I should not still insist that I am 5'6". I am under no obligation to tell folks that I'm 5'4" just because someone else exaggerates.

I think psychedelics are extraordinary for another reason. My experience with peyote presented my mind with a slide show of Mesoamerican imagery. From a philosophical viewpoint, that tells me something about reality and consciousness, that life is far more interwoven than we may think. It tells me something about ontology, the true fundamental reality in which we dwell. That's extraordinary to me, and so, again, I recoil from attempts to claim that psychedelics are nothing special.

Maybe Vincent wasn't trying to say that -- but that's just the message that I get from reading his posts. The reason that bothers me is because it plays right into the Drug Warriors' hands, who have been censoring all positive mention of such substances for over 100 years. That's why I will play the Hotspur to Vincent's Worcester and keep saying Plato, Plato, Plato, chiefly because I'm the only one who dares mention the fact that psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian mysteries lasted 2,000 consecutive years and inspired a who's who of the western philosophy and history. That's something that needs to be said when Drug Warriors are telling ourselves and our kids that such substances are "junk" and "dope."

Author's Follow-up: November 27, 2022

Victor is probably right: my responses did not directly address the Tweet that he had posted about Time magazine flaunting the wonders of psychedelics in fighting depression. Had I been a little less headstrong, I might have fashioned a more diplomatic response. But the Tweet in question suggested that the power of psychedelics to overcome depression was "BS," and I think it's far too early to draw such conclusions -- just as it may be far too early for Time to announce a psychedelic victory over depression.

But my support for the power of psychedelics in this regard must be seen in light of the new paradigm that I am calling for in treating mental conditions, one wherein a pharmacologically savvy empath combines talk therapy with the use of any and all substances, in combination or not, at various doses, to elicit change according to 1) what is likely to work best for a given client and 2) what the client's goals are in undergoing shamanic treatment, again using any substance or substances available on God's green earth or Humanity's white lab rooms.

In other words, I picture a world full of Alexander Shulgins, the famous pharmacologist who tested over 200 psychoactive medicines in order to determine efficacy in improving the mental status of the user. There's a man who knew what the problem was with "drugs" -- it wasn't "drugs" themselves but "the overpower of curiosity with greed," in other words the instinct to turn a buck off of such medicines.

Because of Shulgin's pharmacological genius, the DEA let him be for the most part, but when folks began sending him drugs to taste for safety, the DEA swooped in and fined him $25,000, as if the last thing the DEA wants is for someone to use such drugs safely.

Related tweet: November 29, 2022

Hey, Vincent. Maybe it's a difference in emphasis. I don't expect any drug to do the job, but my emphasis is on the fact that psychedelics have worked miracles that Big Pharma could never boast.

Author's Follow-up: December 1, 2022

Speaking of psychedelic benefits, check out the work of Alexander Shulgin.

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

Next essay: Psychedelics and Depression
Previous essay: Public Service Announcements for the Post-Drug War Era

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(seemingly useful organizations)

Sana Collective
Group committed to making psychedelic therapy available to all regardless of income.

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