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Opium for the Masses by Jim Hogshire

A philosophical review

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

May 4, 2023

he poppy was the first plant that America effectively outlawed in its unprecedented war against Mother Nature's medicines. The crackdown came in the early 1900s and grew out of a racist contempt for the Chinese, not out of a concern for their health, which opium was never shown conclusively to injure in any case. It was an aesthetic racism, so to speak. Americans of the time hated everything about the Chinese lifestyle, and opium was just the whipping boy for our xenophobic hang-ups. Of course, no one noticed at the time that the criminalization of a plant was a violation of the Natural Law upon which America was founded, for as John Locke himself wrote in his Second Treatise on Government: "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being."

Ronald Reagan essentially acknowledged this coup against Natural Law when he ordered the DEA to raid Thomas Jefferson's estate in 1987 and confiscate the founding father's poppy plants, thereby giving the finger to the hard-earned and hitherto inviolable freedoms on which the republic was founded. Even conservatives should have blanched at this coup, since a government that can stomp onto your property to confiscate plants can pretty much do anything that it wants to do, provided only that it first works the public up into a lather with the help of fearmongering from unprincipled demagogues. Conservatives at least should have worried about the implication of this raid for property rights, even if they saw no need to calm and focus their busybody minds with a time-honored drug which, as Hogshire points out, has been considered divine by many of the world's most famous physicians, including Avicenna, Paracelsus and Galen.

It is against this backdrop of Machiavellian substance demonization that I welcome those few books on this topic that do not seek to paint the poppy as pure evil: books like "The Truth about Opium" by William Brereton and "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" by Thomas De Quincey (in which latter book, by the way, the term "confessions" was not meant to connote wrongdoing on the author's part, as Drug Warriors like to assume). Hogshire's book is a welcome addition to this small but hopefully growing category of books that view drugs absent the blinders of the drug-hating theology of Mary Baker Eddy, upon which the Drug War is philosophically based.

It represents a long-overdue departure from the usual fearmongering literature of the Drug War: books like "The Opium Habit" by Horace B. Day, which features a bottle labeled "heroin" on its deceptive cover page; "Drugging a Nation" by Samuel Merwin, in whose subtitle opium is declared to be "a curse"; and John Halpern's "Opium," featuring the equally absurd subtitle: "How a flower shaped and poisoned the world," as if evil could be ascribed to a flower. The sentiment in question is not merely Christian heresy (for God claimed that his creation was good after all), but it is anti-scientific, insofar as any scientist knows (or at least used to know) that no substances are good or bad in and of themselves. Goodness and badness reside only in human beings and their actions. Failure to recognize this fact has empowered a prohibition that has blinded us to godsend uses for a vast array of psychoactive medicines, including not just opium, but coca, MDMA and psychedelics, to say nothing of the many non-addictive but elating synthetic creations of American chemist Alexander Shulgin.

Opium for the Masses: Harvesting Nature's Best Pain Medication by Jim Hogshire will be availabe on Scribd beginning on May 28, 2023.

Related tweet: June 2, 2023

"Everything one does in life, even love, occurs in an express train racing toward death. To smoke opium is to get out of the train while it is still moving. It is to concern oneself with something other than life or death." -Jean Cocteau

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

The worst form of government is not communism, socialism or even unbridled capitalism. The worst form of government is a Christian Science Theocracy, in which the government controls how much you are allowed to think and feel in life.
That's the problem with prohibition. It is not ultimately a health question but a question about priorities and sensibilities -- and those topics are open to lively debate and should not be the province of science, especially when natural law itself says mother nature is ours.
In 1886, coca enthusiast JJ Tschudi referred to prohibitionists as 'kickers.' He wrote: "If we were to listen to these kickers, most of us would die of hunger, for the reason that nearly everything we eat or drink has fallen under their ban."
We would never have even heard of Freud except for cocaine. How many geniuses is America stifling even as we speak thanks to the war on mind improving medicines?
Oregon's drug policy is incoherent and cruel. The rich and healthy spend $4,000 a week on psilocybin. The poor and chemically dependent are thrown in jail, unless they're on SSRIs, in which case they're congratulated for "taking their meds."
Imagine someone starting their book about antibiotics by saying that he's not trying to suggest that we actually use them. We should not have to apologize for being honest about drugs. If prohibitionists think that honesty is wrong, that's their problem.
When scientists refuse to report positive uses for drugs, they are not motivated by power lust, they are motivated by philosophical (non-empirical) notions about what counts as "the good life." This is why it's wrong to say that the drug war is JUST about power.
Alexander Shulgin is a typical westerner when he speaks about cocaine. He moralizes about the drug, telling us that it does not give him "real" power. But so what? Does coffee give him "real" power? Coke helps some, others not. Stop holding it to this weird metaphysical standard.
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.
Alcohol makes me sleepy. But NOT coca wine. The wine gives you an upbeat feeling of controlled energy, without the jitters of coffee and without the fury of steroids. It increases rather than dulls mental focus.
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You have been reading an article entitled, Opium for the Masses by Jim Hogshire: A philosophical review, published on May 4, 2023 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)