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Psychedelic Cults and Outlaw Churches: LSD, Cannabis, and Spiritual Sacraments in Underground America

a philosophical review of Mike Marinacci's new book

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

February 29, 2024


I have decided to comment on this book in installments, since the stories of religious suppression that it tells are so irritating to me that I cannot wait until the final page to start speaking out. I can say, however, that the first 29 pages have convinced me that author Mike Marinacci's heart is in the right place: he has transcended prohibition propaganda and grasped the real problem of the Drug War, namely that it represents a war against religion. As Mike writes:

"The idea that the War on Drugs is as much a religious war as it is a campaign of criminal law and public-health concerns, is a compelling one."

I am already a trifle bothered, however, by one thing in particular.

Mike mentions the racial nature of laws against peyote use, without even acknowledging the fact that such laws seem to violate everything that America stands for in the way of how we are judged as people. For according to the law, Native Americans may use peyote, whereas Caucasians cannot, and I would have hoped that such a race-based policy should be prima facie tyrannical to any American familiar with the Declaration of Independence and the natural law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. But Mike does not so much as cast a nod toward such considerations as he reports the details of peyote law in America. Maybe he is just reporting the facts without commenting on them, but after reading his account of such anti-American realities, I was expecting to encounter some pushback along the lines of: "Of course, this is patently anti-American, but what can you do?" So his silence on this topic makes me wonder if I haven't missed something, if I haven't become a Rip Van Winkle when it comes to political science. Maybe 21st-century Americans no longer believe in the existence of inalienable rights and natural law, which denies government the power to outlaw something so basic as mother nature. For if our right to mother nature is no longer deemed self-evident, then there is simply no right whatsoever that is inalienable any longer in 21st century America.

These "racial laws" about drug use make a mockery of inalienable rights, and force us to sue government (one ethnic group at a time) for the privilege of leaning over and gathering the plant medicine that grows at our very feet.

I don't know about Mike, but I claim a birthright to mother nature and hold any government to be a tyrant which would deny me that right.

It makes me wonder if the government is not using racial drug policy as a divide-and-conquer strategy in the war on drugs. They bring Native Americans into alignment with oppressive drug policy by magnanimously granting them the "privilege" to use peyote as a sort of payback for past wrongs, knowing that Caucasian Americans, for their part, have a bad conscience and so will be ashamed to protest their own denial of religious freedom viz. peyote. But the fact is that neither Native Americans nor Caucasians -- nor anybody else -- should need the government's OK to access mother nature. That is the root injustice of the Drug War, one which goes against the very idea of inalienable rights. You can be sure that Thomas Jefferson was rolling in his grave when the DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated his poppy plants -- which was just the case of government blowing a giant raspberry at the very idea of Jeffersonian freedoms.

Americans do not really agree with such policy. They are ashamed of the raid whenever they hear about it -- which is almost never, however, thanks to the fact that the media refuses to talk about it. The Jefferson Foundation itself refuses to tell its visitors about such raids and how they have sold out the legacy of Thomas Jefferson by fully cooperating with the DEA's efforts to eradicate hemp and poppies on the Jefferson estate. They know that they are schmucks for so doing -- that's why they say nothing about it. But if truth be told, they need to remove the signs around the estate reading "hallowed ground," for the ground has long since been desecrated by the anti-American fascists of the Drug War, coming on the property not to arrest terrorists, not to nab murderers, not to confiscate a weapon of mass destruction... but rather to confiscate plants. Your tax dollars at work, folks. Don't you feel safe knowing that the government is handling tough jobs like this? It's only fair to serial killers who deserve at least a sporting chance to get away with their crimes!

But stay tuned. Mike may flesh out his reportage with the missing pushback as the book progresses. It just surprised me - and frightened me a little - that Mike reported on this race-based drug policy so uncritically (at least initially). It gave me the impression that Americans have already pawned their birthright and so are more than happy to accept race-based drugs policy, that their only concern now is that the right drugs be made available for the right ethnic groups and that no one even disputes the government's right to dole out mother nature's bounty in the first place - something that is outrageous in itself, but even more so when the distribution and/or withholding is done on a racial basis.

Another thing that pissed me off was a quote from a politician who wanted to outlaw the peyote-based religion based on the fear that Blacks in New Orleans might demand a cocaine-based religion. Such fearmongering is par for the Drug War course, full of unspoken assumptions, many of them racist. It's like saying, we need to outlaw horseback-riding because before you know it, folks will be riding wild broncos. The fact is that a sort of coca-based religion - nay, a coca-based lifestyle - has existed for millennia in South America and resulted in nothing but group cohesion and endurance, both physical and mental. The idea that the government has an overriding interest in outlawing such things is nonsense - for no one thinks that government has an overriding interest to outlaw horseback riding. Why not? Because we acknowledge there are benefits to riding as well as downsides. Despite the endless lies and mischaracterizations of the Drug Warrior, there is endless evidence of the benefits of all sorts of drugs and the idea that ANY drug can have no value whatsoever is absolute anti-logical nonsense.


Next essay: How the Drug War limits our understanding of Immanuel Kant
Previous essay: Finally, a drug war opponent who checks all my boxes

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

In fact, that's what we need when we finally return to legalization: educational documentaries showing how folks manage to safely incorporate today's hated substances into their life and lifestyle.
Even the worst forms of "abuse" can be combatted with a wise use of a wide range of psychoactive drugs, to combat both physical and psychological cravings. But drug warriors NEED addiction to be a HUGE problem. That's their golden goose.
SSRIs are created based on the materialist notion that cures should be found under a microscope. That's why science is so slow in acknowledging the benefit of plant medicines. Anyone who chooses SSRIs over drugs like San Pedro cactus is simply uninformed.
Well, today's Oregon vote scuttles any ideas I might have entertained about retiring in Oregon.
I can't believe people. Somebody's telling me that "drugs" is not used problematically. It is CONSTANTLY used with a sneer in the voice when politicians want to diss somebody, as in, "Oh, they're in favor of DRUGS!!!" It's a political term as used today!
"Now, now, Sherlock, that coca preparation is not helping you a jot. Why can't you get 'high on sunshine,' like good old Watson here?" To which Sherlock replies: "But my good fellow, then I would no longer BE Sherlock Holmes."
In "The Book of the Damned," Charles Fort shows how science damns (i.e. excludes) facts that it cannot assimilate into a system of knowledge. Fort could never have guessed, however, how thoroughly science would eventually "damn" all positive facts about "drugs."
Folks like Sabet accuse folks like myself of ignoring the "facts." No, it is Sabet who is ignoring the facts -- facts about dangerous horses and free climbing. He's also ignoring all the downsides of prohibition, whose laws lead to the election of tyrants.
The 1932 movie "Scarface" starts with on-screen text calling for a crackdown on armed gangs in America. There is no mention of the fact that a decade's worth of Prohibition had created those gangs in the first place.
Materialists are always trying to outdo each other in describing the insignificance of humankind. Crick at least said we were "a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules." Musk downsizes us to one single microbe. He wins!
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Finally, a drug war opponent who checks all my boxes

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

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

You have been reading an article entitled, Psychedelic Cults and Outlaw Churches: LSD, Cannabis, and Spiritual Sacraments in Underground America: a philosophical review of Mike Marinacci's new book, published on February 29, 2024 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)