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Re-Legalize Opium Now

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

August 21, 2022

he title of this essay is so controversial in the age of the Drug War that I despair of defending it in the traditional way, by reasoned argument. The metaphorical hooting and jeering of the average reader would drown me out long before I came to my otherwise ineluctable conclusion, namely that outlawing mother nature's medicines creates infinitely more problems than treating them for what they are: to wit, a botanical fact of life with which we are naturally surrounded as denizens of planet Earth.

So instead of even trying to advance my own arguments for the re-legalization of what after all is mere plant medicine, let us consider what the Drug War has "accomplished" by outlawing opium in 1914 -- and subsequently outlawing coca, marijuana, and finally virtually every potentially helpful psychoactive substance in the world (to the astonished approbation of the burgeoning health-care industry in the early 1900s, which suddenly had a monopoly, not simply on treating physical ills, but on treating psychological ills as well).

Drug War "Accomplishments"

  1. It has created a psychiatric pill mill upon which 1 in 4 American women are chemically dependent for life, the largest chemical dependency in human history.

  2. It has denied godsend pain medicine to dying children under the theory that drugs like morphine are somehow evil without regard to why they are used.

  3. It has forced us to allow our elderly parents to die miserably, by "withholding life support" rather than allowing them to drift off painlessly to sleep with the help of an opium derivative such as morphine.

  4. It has REQUIRED the use of brain-damaging electroshock therapy in severe cases of depression that might otherwise have been treated with no-brainer godsends like MDMA, psilocybin and laughing gas.

  5. It has turned inner cities into shooting galleries, thanks to Drug War prohibition which created armed gangs out of whole cloth.

  6. It has imprisoned millions of minorities, thereby removing them (either officially or effectively) from the voting rolls, thereby facilitating the election of drug-warrior demagogues.

  7. It has created civil wars overseas, which the US can leverage as an excuse to intervene in foreign countries.

  8. It has forced US soldiers to go for four decades now without the use of MDMA to fight PTSD, thanks to the self-serving DEA which ignored the advice of its own council in 1985 in order to maintain its workload when it comes to cracking down on "Ecstasy."

  9. It has outlawed plant medicines that have inspired entire religions in the past, thereby outlawing the very fountainhead of the religious impulse in humankind
  10. .

  11. It has censored scientists by barring them from effectively investigating criminalized plant medicines, censorship made all the more insidious by the fact that most scientists do not even recognize that it exists.

But in perhaps the greatest irony of all, the criminalization of opium in particular has led to... wait for it, folks... an opioid epidemic!

When will the Drug Warriors learn: you can outlaw substances but you cannot outlaw the human desire for self-transcendence?

The answer is obvious. We must make it as safe as possible for folks to pursue self-transcendence, through education and a safe drug supply.

The Drug Warrior, on the other hand, reminds us of the governess in 'The Turn of the Screw' by Henry James. Mrs. Grose is so myopically determined to protect Miles and Flora from the perceived dangers of an illusory phantom (the ghostly former valet known as Peter Quint) that she ends up causing Miles' death and estranging herself from Flora forever: just the sort of Pyrrhic victory that the Drug War has achieved by myopically outlawing naturally occurring medicines like opium.

Next essay: Open Letter to Diane O'Leary
Previous essay: Open letter to Wolfgang Smith

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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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front cover of Drug War Comic Book

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You have been reading an article entitled, Re-Legalize Opium Now published on August 21, 2022 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)