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Science's job is not to investigate drugs

It's to prove that drugs are not safe

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

May 26, 2024

n the sane world of the distant future, philosophy professors will hand out psychiatric research papers about drugs written in the age of the Drug War and ask the students to identify the many logical fallacies that the authors employ. Students who flag the most egregious errors will move to the head of the class.

The profs of the future might start by handing out a 1978 paper by Graham Glancy et al. entitled "Abuse of indigenous psilocybin mushrooms: a new fashion and some psychiatric complications,1" a philosophically challenged paper that was unfortunately republished by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2013, no doubt as a part of a coordinated effort to regain the materialistic high ground in the age of the Psychedelic Renaissance.

The title itself begs the question, how exactly do you abuse a drug? Do you stomp on it? Do you tell it that it's a piece of crap? Do you write letters to the editor blaming it for non-existent shortcomings? The author's paper never defines "abuse."

Are we to assume, then, that the use of the mushrooms itself constitutes abuse? This would certainly be the DEA's party line: if it's not prescribed by a doctor, it's abuse. Or is abuse implied by the fact that the drug experience "went south"? Or is abuse established by the patient's mere desire to experience hallucinations during his or her drug use? One gets the feeling that Graham considers it unseemly to desire hallucinogenic experiences. Perhaps the way to avoid being labeled an abuser of psilocybin is to approach the experience like Dr. Spock, assuring all bystanders that you're using the drug in a materialistic search for mental improvement, and not to satisfy any selfish desire to see exotic images, much less to commune with any touchy-feely god or life force or whatever!

In fact, that's my greatest fear about psilocybin's ongoing success in treating issues like depression: Some money-grabbing company is going to do for psilocybin what the MindMed company did for LSD: which is to say neuter it. The MindMed company has created a kind of LSD that gives no visions and provides no ecstasy yet purports to treat anxiety (no doubt providing that the patient uses it daily for a lifetime)!2 In fact, visions and ecstasy are specifically listed as negative side effects for the drug. I'm sure that biotech companies are doing everything they can to make psilocybin acceptable in the same way to the puritanical and materialistic FDA.

Here are a few other scruples I have with Graham's paper.

Graham is really writing about three highly atypical cases of drug MISUSE, but the fact that he does not use that term is instructive. He was writing at a time when the mere use of illegal substances was deemed pathological. If he used the word "misuse," he would be implying that the situation could be improved with education, that there is indeed a proper way to USE the drug, and that's in clear violation of Drug War orthodoxy. Drug warriors refuse on principle to educate anyone about drugs: they consider it their job to scare people away from drugs and to arrest anyone for whom this scare campaign proves to be ineffective. Thus when Graham describes these drug users as "abusers" he is conniving with the know-nothing philosophy of the Drug War, saying in effect: "No need to educate these guys because they should not have been 'doing drugs' in the first place! So there!"

Unfortunately, many drug "experts" continue to confound drug misuse with drug abuse today.

Some readers may object: "What's wrong with telling psychiatrists about a potential condition with which their patients may 'present'?"

Nothing, of course. Except Graham produces no evidence that there is any mass problem with the use of psilocybin mushrooms. He is merely showing us three exceptions to the rule of safe and even positive use in Britain. All of the problematic cases that he cites involve users consuming an unusually large number of shrooms in one sitting, 20 or more, with at least one of the users purposefully going without food and sleep "for mystical effects." But when it comes to drugs, one swallow makes a summer, and so statistical significance is thought to be established by merely adducing one or two cases of apparent misuse. Nor did the hospital staff have to figure out on their own why these patients were appearing at the ER. At least Graham never tells us that they were unable or unwilling to communicate their circumstances upon arrival.

But the real problem with the paper is the title: "Abuse of Indigenous Psilocybin Mushrooms." This is a headline that could only be written by a man with an agenda: namely, to slander psychoactive medicine. If Graham had read his own article, he would have seen that the big story he was telling was not about drug abuse. The big story was the fact that such a readily available and powerful drug as psilocybin was being used safely and without incident by so many thousands of Britons, even though the country refused to teach them anything about safe use. Indeed, Graham cites only three relatively small cases of problematic use nationwide, two of which resolved themselves nicely in 24 hours and all of which could have been avoided if healthcare workers had not been silenced by Drug War ideology. Yet he tells us that a new fashion is afoot? Such a rash conclusion would only occur to a Christian Scientist who is on the qui vive for any unapologetic drug use whatsoever.

Actually, the paper should have been titled:

"Psilocybin use proving to be exceptionally safe."

It's as if the banner headline for VE Day had been:


In fact, the safety statistics for psilocybin are vastly superior to those for most drugs in the UK, including aspirin, which has been blamed for 3,000 deaths per year across the pond3. Let's see now, that's 3,000 deaths per year for aspirin and zero deaths per year for psilocybin....

Well, you do the math.

Author's Follow-up: May 26, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

Here's a thought-provoking and related Tweet: Prohibitionist "science" doesn't really do "research" they perform "studies". There's a huge difference. -Brian Macisaac


1 Glancy, Graham, Abuse of indigenous psilocybin mushrooms: a new fashion and some psychiatric complications, 1978 (up)
2 Quass, Brian, LSD for puritans, 2024 (up)
3 Daily Aspirin Linked To More Than 3,000 Deaths Per Year, Scientists Warn, Huffington Post, (up)

Next essay: Why science is a joke in the age of the drug war
Previous essay: Hating on Drugs?

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Check out the 2021 article in Forbes in which a materialist doctor professes to doubt whether laughing gas could help the depressed. Materialists are committed to seeing the world from the POV of Spock from Star Trek.
They drive to their drug tests in pickup trucks with license plates that read "Don't tread on me." Yeah, right. "Don't tread on me: Just tell me how and how much I'm allowed to think and feel in this life. And please let me know what plants I can access."
Today's war against drug users is like Elizabeth I's war against Catholics. Both are religious crackdowns. For today's oppressors, the true faith (i.e., the moral way to live) is according to the drug-hating religion of Christian Science.
The DEA conceives of "drugs" as only justifiable in some time-honored ritual format, but since when are bureaucrats experts on religion? I believe, with the Vedic people and William James, in the importance of altered states. To outlaw such states is to outlaw my religion.
America's "health" system was always screaming at me about the threat of addiction from drugs. Then what did it do? It put me on the most dependence-causing meds of all time: SSRIs and SNRIs.
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.
I'd like to become a guinea pig for researchers to test the ability of psychoactive drugs to make aging as psychologically healthy as possible. If such drugs cannot completely ward off decrepitude, they can surely make it more palatable. The catch? Researchers have to be free.
Don't the Oregon prohibitionists realize that all the thousands of deaths from opiates is so much blood on their hands? Prohibitionists, j'accuse!
There are endless drugs that could help with depression. Any drug that inspires and elates is an antidepressant, partly by the effect itself and partly by the mood-elevation caused by anticipation of use (facts which are far too obvious for drug warriors to understand).
Prohibition turned habituation into addiction by creating a wide variety of problems for users, including potential arrest, tainted or absent drug supply, and extreme stigmatization.
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You have been reading an article entitled, Science's job is not to investigate drugs: It's to prove that drugs are not safe, published on May 26, 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)