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.
"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
The book "Plants of the Gods" is full of plants and fungi that could help addicts and alcoholics, sometimes in the plant's existing form, sometimes in combinations, sometimes via extracting alkaloids, etc. But drug warriors need addiction to sell their prohibition ideology.
John Halpern wrote a book about opium, subtitled "the ancient flower that poisoned our world." What nonsense! Bad laws and ignorance poison our world, NOT FLOWERS!
Drug warriors do not seem to see any irony in the fact that their outlawing of opium eventually resulted in an "opioid crisis." The message is clear: people want transcendence. If we don't let them find it safely, they will find it dangerously.
"Judging" psychoactive drugs is hard. Dosage counts. Expectations count. Setting counts. In Harvey Rosenfeld's book about the Spanish-American War, a volunteer wrote of his visit to an "opium den": "I took about four puffs and that was enough. All of us were sick for a week."
In the same century, author Richard Middleton wrote how poets would get together to use opium "in a series of magnificent quarterly carouses."
It's an enigma: If I beat my depression by smoking opium nightly, I am a drug scumbag subject to immediate arrest. But if I do NOT "take my meds" every day of my life, I am a bad patient.
In "Rogue Agent," the bad guy forces one of his victims to quit her antidepressants cold turkey. Had she been on any other daily drug, the take-home message would have been "drug dependence bad!" But the message here is "get her back on those important meds!" What hypocrisy.
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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 AbolishTheDEA.com. 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 abolishTheDEA.com. (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)