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Science is not free in the age of the drug war

an open letter to The American Council on Science and Health

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

January 23, 2024

The American Council on Science and Health, ACSH, says it has been "promoting science and debunking junk since 1978." Here is a letter that I wrote to them after reading an article on their website by Josh Bloom, Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science at the University of Virginia.

Dear Sir or Madam:

I would like to suggest to you that science is censored in the age of the Drug War and that we live in a kind of Dark Ages thanks to this fact. We are willfully forgoing all sorts of potential treatments for illnesses, mental and physical, because of our anti-scientific belief that psychoactive substances can be judged "good" or "bad" without regard for context. Meanwhile, the materialist paradigm helps researchers make a virtue out of prohibition by allowing them to ignore common sense in favor of what they see in a microscope. (Who needs drugs that "merely" make one feel good?) And so we see articles with naive headlines like the following in Forbes magazine by Dr. Robert Glatter asking: "Can laughing gas help those with treatment-resistant depression?"

What?! He has to ask? As a lifelong chronic depressive, I feel like shouting: "Let me use laughing gas while you continue to search for what will REALLY make me happy." And yet the US and UK are attempting to criminalize laughing gas even as we speak, the substance that inspired the philosophy of William James, creating the kinds of mental states which he told us it was our duty as philosophers to study!

If we were not in the Dark Ages scientifically, then every suicidal person would have a laughing gas kit at their side, just as we give an epi pen to the allergic. If we were not in the Dark Ages, then we would be actively searching for ways to help Alzheimer's patients with the many psychoactive substances that stimulate new thoughts and even new neurons. But we have a "prior commitment" to substance demonization, which is the above-mentioned idea that a psychoactive drug must be judged by misuse and abuse only, without regard to context -- and with no concern for its benefits, nor for the violence that will be created by the prohibition of that drug.

For more evidence that we are in a Dark Ages scientifically, consider the following:

We STILL shock the brains of the depressed rather than allowing them to use drugs that could cheer them up on the double and even give them psychological insights in the process -- like the hundreds of non-addictive godsends created by Alexander Shulgin.

We allow the depressed and elderly to use drugs to kill themselves (we call it euthanasia), but we will not let them use drugs that might make them want to live.

The Drug War has upset all our priorities and censored science. That's why I've gone without godsend meds for my depression for 65 years. The government is all about spreading the word that psychoactive medicines are evil. That's why we have a National Institute on Drug Abuse rather than a National Institute on Drug Use. That's why we judge psychoactive drugs by a safety standard that no one applies to anything else in the world.

Take Josh Bloom's article about licking hallucinogenic frogs. The article is tongue-in-cheek, and yet it represents the usual Drug War biases. Josh candidly tells us that the chances of being killed by such an activity are vanishingly rare, like those of being killed by a falling coconut. Yet in the same article, he says the licking of frogs is a "disturbing trend." What? Who's disturbed by it? Drug warriors, apparently -- the same Drug Warriors who will scream bloody murder if you even suggest that guns are dangerous.

If you want a writer on such topics, please let me know. Maybe I could write a sort of "dissenters" column... to balance out the scientific triumphalism that reckons without the Drug War.

My essays on this topic are many and growing. Two of them are listed below:

How Scientific Materialism Keeps Godsend Medicines from the Depressed

Stigmatize This: More Drug War Agitprop from The Atlantic

Next essay: Identity Politics and the War on Drugs
Previous essay: Coca Wine

More Essays Here

Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

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!
I think many scientists are so used to ignoring "drugs" that they don't even realize they're doing it. Yet almost all books about consciousness and depression (etc.) are nonsense these days because they ignore what drugs could tell us about those topics.
At best, antidepressants make depression bearable. We need not settle for such drugs, especially when they are notorious for causing dependence. There are many drugs that elate and inspire. It is both cruel and criminal to outlaw them.
Prohibitionists are also responsible for the 100,000-plus killed in the US-inspired Mexican drug war
Today's Washington Post reports that "opioid pills shipped" DROPPED 45% between 2011 and 2019..... while fatal overdoses ROSE TO RECORD LEVELS! Prohibition is PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE.
Laughing gas is the substance that gave William James his philosophy of reality. He concluded from its use that what we perceive is just a fraction of reality writ large. Yet his alma mater (Harvard) does not even MENTION laughing gas in their bio of the man.
Cop and detective shows are loaded with subtle drug war propaganda, including lines like, "She had a history of drug use, so..." The implication being that anyone who uses substances that politicians hate cannot be trusted.
Jim Hogshire described sleep cures that make physical withdrawal from opium close to pain-free. As for "psychological addiction," there are hundreds of elating drugs that could be used to keep the ex-user's mind from morbidly focusing on a drug whose use has become problematic for them.
Q: Where can you find almost-verbatim copies of the descriptions of religious experiences described by William James? A: In descriptions of user reports of "trips" on drugs ranging from coca to opium, from MDMA to laughing gas.
They still don't seem to get it. The drug war is a whole wrong way of looking at the world. It tells us that substances can be judged "up" or "down," which is anti-scientific and blinds us to endless beneficial uses.
More Tweets

essays about

Coca Wine
Running with the DEA -- er, I mean the Devil

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, Science is not free in the age of the drug war: an open letter to The American Council on Science and Health, published on January 23, 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)