featuring the dangerously misinformed viewpoints of the Atlantic's Graeme Wood
The following is my response to an article in the July 2019 Atlantic magazine entitled The Life-Changing Magic of Tripping by Graeme Wood. Wood's article is written as a kind of homage to drug policy analyst Mark Kleiman, who recently died from complications of a kidney transplant. But don't let the title of the article fool you: It turns out that both Kleiman and Wood argue so feebly in favor of drug law liberalization that a supporter of that goal would almost wish they would keep quiet, rather than yielding so much ground to the Drug Warrior with their implicit but mistaken assumptions about the origins and solutions of that problem.
Graeme Wood's article is instructive, however, because it clearly shows how liberal Americans have been completely bamboozled by the half-baked logic of America's Drug War. One doesn't know where to start in disabusing Graeme and Kleiman of their pious Drug War verities, but here goes:
1) Graeme says that, "Kleiman thought certain hallucinogens should be legalized, ever so carefully."
Ever so carefully? We're talking about naturally growing substances that appear unbidden at our very feet, substances that had been legal as a matter of course until 1914, substances that were criminalized because of racist ideas about the populations that used them -- and in Nixon's case to punish his enemies (by making them felons, thereby removing them from the voting rolls).
Yet we need to regain these freedoms "ever so carefully"?
Why do we concede the right of government to criminalize naturally occurring substances in the first place? They have no such right, particularly in a country that grants its citizens "the right to pursue happiness," happiness which psychoactive plant medicines have been shown to provide or at least to facilitate.
If the government criminalized freedom of the press, our task would be simply to overturn that despotic law. We would be under no obligation to prove that freedom of the press could be allowed again without causing problems. If any problems occur when restoring our freedoms, it is the fault of the despots who wrote the corruptly-motivated laws in the first place.
It's called Natural Law, Graeme. Jefferson founded our country upon it. That's why his ghost was rolling in his grave when the jackbooted DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated Thomas Jefferson's poppy plants. If government can tell us which plants we can access, then common law has triumphed over natural law and the America that Jefferson founded is lost.
2) If Graeme's sensibilities were applied to driving, most of us would have to remain at home. Graeme would no sooner see an automobile accident involving teenagers than he would rush home and pen a "compassionate" article for Americans to stop driving. If Graeme does not accept this analogy as relevant to illegal drugs, then he is not "up" on the latest findings in psychedelic therapy, according to which psychedelics like ayahuasca and psilocybin can provide a user with mental resilience and grow new neurons in the brain. But in the Drug Warrior's playbook, all these benefits are to be ignored simply because a minority of teenagers might find a way to abuse the substances in question.
3) Graeme focuses on minor and debatable anecdotal "problems" with psychedelics, while ignoring the real drug problem in America, the fact that 1 in 10 Americans are addicted to the drugs of Big Pharma (and 1 in 4 women!!!) for the treatment of depression and other mood disorders, conditions for which psychedelics are proving a powerful and non-addictive replacement. These Big Pharma nostrums (SSRIs, SNRIs, etc.) were never even studied for long-term use and yet now are being dispensed like candy in the psychiatric pill mill. I myself have been told by psychiatrists that I have to take my anti-depressant for life. Why? Because a new NIH study shows it's impossible to get off Effexor. Yet the moralizing drug-war mentality blinds Graeme to this REAL drug problem. Instead he harps on the need to withhold naturally occurring and non-addictive medications from the public based merely on his parochial fears about the potential misuse by delinquents. Better millions of depressed go without treatment than 10 delinquents misuse a drug of which Graeme does not approve, or so Graeme seems to think.
Graeme is so eager to protect a few American young people that he'll gladly let drug law continue to cause as many deadly civil wars overseas as it may take to achieve that domestic goal -- and he'll gladly let the depressed and lonely go without godsend consciousness medicines that have been used therapeutically by societies for millennia. Has Graeme never heard about the Eleusinian Mysteries? Does he not understand that the Vedic religion was founded to worship the psychedelic insights provided by a plant medicine? Does he not know that Francis Crick was enabled to envision the DNA helix with the help of liberal doses of psychedelics?
Ever so carefully, my aspirin!
The fact that Effexor is more chemically addicting than heroin does not even register for the liberal Drug Warrior.
4) He also seems to think that only kooks would be particularly interested in psychedelics anyway, so we may as well make them legal, since oddballs will be oddballs. This merely demonstrates, once again, Graeme's ignorance of the therapeutic findings of the psychedelic revolution, which shows that psychedelics are the psychotherapeutic drugs par excellence. They're the perfect adjunct to "talk therapy" because they open the users' minds to new possibilities and permit them to identify and challenge their own nonproductive assumptions about themselves and about life in general.
One word for you, Graeme, or rather one website: MAPS.ORG.
5) In dismissing psychedelic users as eccentrics, Graeme also shows his ignorance of Western history: namely, the fact that the Eleusinian Mysteries existed on a yearly basis for almost 2,000 years (until the rituals were tellingly abolished by a Christian emperor), providing psychedelically enhanced visions to a who's who of ancient Greeks and Romans, providing them what most participants later described as the most important experience of their life. Plato's views of the afterlife were inspired by the psychedelic kykeon.
6) Graeme doffs his hat to freedom of religion but fails to realize that America's Drug War is itself the establishment of a religion: namely, the religion of Christian Science as applied to mental health. According to this religion, one "should not" use nature's freely offered bounty to improve one's mental health. That's a religious tenet, Graeme, not a fact. To insist that Americans abide by this belief is tyranny, for it is the establishment of a kind of Christian Science as state religion.
7) While myopically focusing on the potential fate of juvenile delinquents in a free society, Graeme completely ignores the actual hyper violence created by the Drug War itself, which is such an enormous problem that it has spawned its own movie genre: the drug-war genre. Nixon almost single-handedly created this genre when he criminalized Mother Nature's plants, a genre in which mainly Russian and South American "scumbags" are confronted by heavily armed and no-nonsense cops from America who openly laugh at the whole idea of due process and the other high-falutin legal protections that have been historically afforded to American citizens via the U.S. Constitution. Movies in this "drug-war genre" include: American Gangster, Asian Connection, Bobby Z, Clockers, Cocaine Cowboys, Empire, L.A. Wars, Marked for Death, Scarface, Rush, etc. etc. - just add the "bullet-riddled" movie of your choice.
Yet liberals like Graeme happily attend these films, hypocritically thrilled by the violence that the Drug War creates, only to go home afterwards and write cautionary articles about the dangers of putting psychoactive plants and fungi in the hands of supposedly free American citizens.
Graeme seems indifferent to the fact that idiot America punishes scientists for even studying these kinds of plants. Wake up, Graeme. Or not. Just enjoy the many drug tests you'll be faced with in life and patriotically urinate on command so the government can ensure that you are not using plant medicines of which our politicians disapprove.
Did Graeme ever study natural law in school and why it makes (or made) America special? Can he not see that the Drug Law is just the extrajudicial enforcement of the Christian Science religion? WAKE UP, TABLOIDS. YOU HAVE BEEN HOODWINKED BY DRUG WAR PROPAGANDA INTO RENOUNCING EVERYTHING FOR WHICH AMERICA WAS SPECIAL: BASED ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND THE RULE OF NATURAL LAW OVER COMMON DESPOTIC LAW CHURNED UP BY ALARMIST DEMAGOGUES.
There was no drug problem in the world until 1914, Graeme (except for when government-supported British capitalists intentionally attempted to addict the Chinese to an opium strain with which they were not familiar). Until then, all intelligent people knew that substances were never a problem in and of themselves. If someone falls off a bike, it is not a problem with bicycles but the failure of the parent or society to educate the rider about using a bike. Salt can kill in high doses. Should we outlaw it? Of course not, Graeme. We should educate folks to use it safely. AMERICAN MEDIA, WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stop supporting the Drug War with these uninformed articles that help the Drug Warrior demonize plant medicines in furtherance of the American State Religion known as Christian Science.
APRIL 29, 2022 If I may be permitted, I would simply add that Brian himself values old-school liberalism. He is here attacking the liberal understanding (or rather misunderstanding) of the Drug War for a reason: namely, that the Drug War could not exist if its natural opponents, ideologically speaking (that is liberals) understood how it was based on chop-logic and a poor understanding of psycho-social history. Instead, we hear feeble protestations from the left that the Drug War isn't working. To which the truly savvy drug-war opponent cries, "Working? It never had a right to succeed in the first place!"
Finally, to those who might object that there is a dash too much vinegar in the above word salad, first, let's remember that Brian was quite a young person at the time that he composed this, in fact he was not a day over 62! And then let's be honest too: When the feminists started angrily denouncing patriarchy in the seventies, they held no punches whatsoever. They evinced their perturbation in no uncertain terms. Indeed, I would argue that the problem at present is the LACK of indignant protest against the Drug War. Young people in particular like to say "whatever" when the topic is raised -- just before they go off to take a urine test to determine if they're morally suited for a $12-an-hour job at Burger King, after which they go home to console themselves with a nice movie like "Running with the Devil" in which the DEA agent shoots unarmed "drug" suspects at point-blank range (while she herself is smoking tobacco, the most deadly drug on the planet).
Let us know what you think. Send your comments to me, Brian Quass, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks! Please be sure to mention the title of the essay to which you are responding.
The Drug War is a bipartisan effort, hence its staying power, but if the Republicans have their way, we will have an insurrection to install a president who wants to carry out "the final solution" for the drug war, by executing those who dare to traffic in botanical godsends of which racist politicians disapprove. Yes, Joe Biden himself is part of the problem with his belief in prioritizing fear over facts and incarceration over education. Moreover, he just doesn't "get" the simple fact that prohibition causes violence, it's as simple as that. But the openly traitorous republicans, with the help of Fox News, want to take the drug war to "a whole new level" -- while turning America into a Banana Republic, by getting rid of free elections and installing demagogues by force. Surely the least we can ask of American corporations is that they do not attempt to profit from the peddling of the lies that support this ongoing effort at insurrection. Sign the petition today to tell American businesses that they will be held responsible for supporting networks that openly support insurrection.
*"Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist." -- Heather Ann Thompson, The Atlantic, 2014.
The above numbers may represent undercounts since some of these totals were compiled in late 2021.
The news media just doesn't get it -- or doesn't want to get it. Most stories about the deaths of blacks in inner cities never mention the drug war, as if the fact that prohibition led to armed gangs had nothing to do with the skyrocketing gun deaths that they're reporting on today. For a case in point, check out the article by Micaela A Watts in CommercialAppeal with the headline: "Following 346 homicides in Memphis in 2021, officials consider what's driving the violence."
Yes, that's a real poser, Micaela. The city fathers must really be scratching their heads!
The author notes three major theories for the violence, all of which have nothing to do with the drug war: "Lack of conflict resolution skills," a lack of "fair wages," and (get this) poor mental health.
Looks like the city officials failed to ask themselves why city residents were armed to the teeth in the first place. Hello? That was due to the drugs warriors' substance prohibition which incentivized the poor and poorly educated young people to get into the fantastically profitable business of selling drugs!!!
Substance prohibition created drug gangs and cartels just as surely as liquor prohibition created the Mafia.
Yes, drug warrior, YOU are responsible for these deaths. You! It's a natural result of your ban on medical godsends, some of which have inspired entire religions and have the potential for treating (if not curing) such diverse conditions as Alzheimer's, autism, and depression.
Drug War Victim of the Day
killed in Prince Georges County, Maryland on August 15, 2022
Southeast Washington DC remains a no-go zone, even for UPS drivers, as this latest shooting incident points out, which is 1 in 6 shootings that have taken place in the last week, two of them fatal. If this were happening in Hollywood, California, it would be a scandal. But movie stars are people, and victims of the drug war, especially when poor and black, are what Noam Chomsky calls 'unpeople.'
Yes, even the director of "Bamboozled" is bamboozled about drugs. He agrees with the drug warrior lie that there are psychoactive substances in nature that have no positive uses whatsoever, in any place, any time, any context. This superstitious way of thinking has forced me to go without godsend medicine my entire life. Thanks, Spike. Why do you want people to become drug-hating Christian Scientists, exactly? These things that you call "drugs" have inspired entire religions. The conservatives are laughing as they rush to the polls to elect fascists, because they have bamboozled Spike Lee himself to sign off on the drug war which brings death and incarceration to inner city blacks. Throw away that "just say no" teddy bear with which you were bribed in childhood, Spike, and open your eyes.
Mangual is the author of 'Cities got deadlier in 2020: What's behind the spike in homicides?' in which he never once mentioned the drug war!
Here's my letter to his website:
Hi, Rafael. Just wanted to suggest that you start holding the drug war responsible for inner-city violence -- since substance prohibition incentivized 'dealing' in poor neighborhoods and the guns soon followed. Because no one mentions this 64,000-pound Gorilla, Trump is able to blame the deaths on Democrats, so that, rather than ending the violence-causing drug war, he can begin executing the blacks that drug warriors were previously happy with merely incarcerating.
The Secret World: A History of Intelligence.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019.
All warfare is based on deception, said Sun Tzu. Yes, but what is all deception based on? A mistrust of one's fellows. And how do you combat that, Chris? With empathogens like MDMA and psilocybin.
London: East India Publishing Company, 2021.
Pious drug warriors have usually thought of Marcus Aurelius as the perfect replacement for bad evil drugs -- but Marcus had his cake and ate it too. He philosophized under the influence of opium (but don't tell the kids!)
Alice in Wonderland: The Original 1865 Edition With Complete Illustrations By Sir John Tenniel.
New York: Amazon, 2021.
Alice's shroom-powered adventures are a standing reproach to glum-faced drug warriors, who closely resemble the Queen of Hearts, shouting: "Off with their heads, for using godsend medicines of which I disapprove!"
De Quincey, Thomas.
Confessions of an English Opium Eater.
New York: Dover, 1995.
During De Quincey's informed opium use, he "partook" only weekly in order to better enjoy the opera, making his weekday life happier as well, however, thanks to anticipation of use, a benefit of which materialist science takes no account.
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner .
New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
A stark reminder that the world is living under a nuclear sword of Damocles. And why? Because it demonizes all the godsend medicines (like MDMA and shrooms) that could bring humanity together in universal harmony.
The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys .
New York: Park Street Press, 2011.
First-hand accounts of psychological breakthroughs achieved with the guided use of entheogens, suggesting that one-time givens like "character" and "human nature" are far more susceptible to improvement than we thought.
A Disease in the Public Mind: Why We Fought the Civil War.
New York: Da Capo Press, 2014.
The late historian Fleming cites the popular mob-led public "diseases" of Witch-Hunting, Liquor Prohibition, and Communism -- yet says nothing about the Drug War, which was the great disease in the public mind of his own time!!!
Liberalism and Its Discontents.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022.
Great bipartisan insights, BUT... Francis reckons without the drug war, so, like a good drug warrior, he blames all the ills caused by prohibition on the politically created boogieman called "drugs."
The Dream of Enlightenment: the Rise of Modern Philosophy.
New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2016.
The author seems unaware of the increasingly clear ability of empathogens like MDMA and shrooms to improve the very human nature which grumps like Hobbes portray as being so irrevocably fixed.
Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics.
New York: HarperWave, 2020.
Julie claims that Nixon criminalized psychedelics for health reasons. What? That's not the Nixon I know. He said himself that Leary was enemy #1. He was removing "users" from the voting rolls, not protecting them.
The Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell.
New York: Penguin Books, 1970.
Huxley's speculations about perception jibe with modern science, which finds that human beings see what is presumably useful to them, not necessarily what is "really there" in the sensory-rich physical world.
The Birth of the Modern.
New York: Harper Collins, 1991.
Johnson says that opium caused Samuel Taylor Coleridge's problems. Nonsense. Lack of education and irresponsibility causes problems. As Johnson himself says, most Brits used opium as needed without trouble.
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead .
New York: University Books, 1964.
Americans have been primed by the drug-war zeitgeist to consider everything Leary writes as nonsense. But he was the first one to announce loudly and clearly that what's really nonsensical is to outlaw plant medicine.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
New York: Del Rey Books, 1970.
Lovecraft's work is full of opiate imagery that drug warriors want to render impossible for artists to feel: "I would often drift in opiate peace through the valley and the shadowy groves..." (Ex-Oblivione)
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.
Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2009.
Gabriel moralizes "addiction." Addiction, however, is a political term. One can use psychoactive Big Pharma meds every day and be a good patient -- use heroin every day, however, and you're just escaping "inner pain." What?
Maupassant, Guy de.
Le Horla et autres contes fantastiques - Guy de Maupassant: Les classiques du fantastique .
Paris: , 2019.
In "La Horla," Maupassant anticipates Huxley by speculating that our perceptual habits blind us to a world of wonders. Many of today's demonized drugs, it appears, can at least partially open our eyes to that world.
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution .
New York: Bantam, 1992.
This was the book that reminded me of what I already vaguely knew: that it is tyrannical insanity for a government to outlaw plants. McKenna's philosophical speculations on why we criminalize inspired me to create abolishthedea.com.
Miller, Richard Louis.
Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle .
New York: Park Street Press, 2017.
Informative interviews with movers-and-shakers in the field, including Rick Doblin, Stanislav Grof, James Fadiman, David Nichols and Robert Whitaker. Packed with eye-opening one-liners about godsend meds.
Out of our Heads.
New York: HiII&Wang,, 2010.
Noe reveals how patients with "locked-in" syndrome have reported being supremely aware of their surroundings during their supposedly brain-dead coma, a fact that puts in question our materialist assumptions about consciousness.
When Plants Dream.
New York: Watkins Publishing, 2019.
I find philosophical problems with most of the books that I read on the subject of psychoactive medicine, but Daniel Pinchbeck is one of the few authors who could teach me a few things on this topic.
Poe, Edgar Allan.
The Essential Poe.
New York: Warbler Classics, 2020.
Because drug warriors never mention the good side of "drugs," we must turn to Poe to learn, for instance, that morphine can bring a surreal appreciation of Mother Nature (see "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains").
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence .
New York: Penguin Books, 2018.
Pollan has yet to realize that the very term "drugs" is just a modern pejorative epithet for "plant medicine of which botanically clueless politicians disapprove. "
Reynolds, David S..
Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville .
New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Exhaustively researched account of the 19th-century zeitgeist, and yet the word "drugs" (as defined, or rather derided, by today's drug warrior) is never even used. Last century's boogieman was liquor, it seems, not "drugs."
Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences Hardcover.
New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
The psychedelic experience was once characterized as pharmacologically induced madness. Richards shows how the properly guided experience can lead to sanity instead -- and a way of life that is not self-destructive.
Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898 .
Connecticut: Praeger, 2000.
The war took place 16 years before anti-Chinese Drug Warriors criminalized the poppy plant, and yet opium is only mentioned with regard to a group of unimaginative volunteers who smoked some and "couldn't see the point."
Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered.
New York: Arlington House, 1967.
Burke was a conservative in a sense, but he would not recognize America's Republican party of today. He would surely have seen that prohibition causes all the problems we ascribe to "drugs," and then some.
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.
New York: Penguin, 2014.
In 1980, the Air Force nearly blew up Arkansas and irradiated half the country. When Reagan took office the next year, what was his priority? Outlawing plant medicine that could make our species less warlike.
Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. .
New York: Pocket Star, 2006.
On March 7, 1968, a rogue Soviet submarine nearly blew up Pearl Harbor with a thermonuclear bomb. Instead of launching a war on nukes, then-President Nixon launched a war on medicines that could inspire peace, love and understanding.
The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler.
New York: RosettaBooks, 2011.
Paraphrase from book: "No one who has not lived for years in a DRUG WAR SOCIETY can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda."
Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds.
Back Bay Books: Boston, 2019.
Despite griping about the weight she's put on from taking her daily 'meds,' Slater gives Big Pharma a big fat mulligan for consigning 1 in 4 American women like herself to a lifetime of chemical dependency on SSRI antidepressants.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences .
New York: Park Street Press, 2001.
Rick doubts DMT's therapeutic usefulness, but common sense psychology suggests that any break from full-on introspection would be a treat, notwithstanding materialists who aren't even sure that laughing gas could help the depressed!!!
Ceremonial Chemistry: the ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers.
New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1974.
Filled with inconvenient truths that critics ignore rather than refute, including how politicized science tells us a la God: "Eat of the fruit and you shall die," ignoring the fact that education tells us how to eat of that fruit safely.
Our Right to Drugs: The case for a free market.
New York: Praeger, 1992.
Chock-a-block with all-too-rare common sense: "Doctors, lawyers and politicians started the War on Drugs and continue to wage it, and they are its real beneficiaries -- the drug war's ostensible beneficiaries... are its victims."
Tyler, George R..
Billionaire Democracy: The Hijacking of the American Political System.
Michigan: Pegasus Books, 2016.
Doesn't mention drugs, but illustrates how drug reform can be stymied by just 3% of the public: namely, those holding stock in Big Pharma, etc., especially when these elites can bribe politicians to retain the status quo.
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America .
New York: Crown, 2010.
Prohibition has facilitated the creation of a psychiatric pill mill upon which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life. Moreover, these pills cause the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix.
Zuboff , Shoshana.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.
New York: Public Affairs, 2019.
Surveillance capitalists and drug warriors share the same goal: to keep human beings predictable: one by rendering us more robot-like and the other by denying us the mind-improving blessings of psychoactive medicine
There are an absolute LEGION of online articles and newspaper stories that get it wrong about so-called drugs. Even those in favor of drug law reform have been subject to drug war propaganda from childhood (and they probably have a DARE teddy bear to prove it!) so speak truth to nonsense and comment on the articles that get it wrong.
Bloody disgusting fact: The Drug War brought almost 800 deaths to Chicago in 2021 by incentivizing the hugely profitable sale of psychoactive medicine in poor communities. And now Trump and his fellow fascist drug warriors want to use that violence as an excuse to KILL drug dealers via execution! Any community leaders supporting the drug war are complicit in this genocide. For as Heather Ann Thompson wrote in The Atlantic in 2014: "Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist."
How America can end inner-city homicides overnight in three easy steps:
Re-legalize Mother Nature's plant medicines
Treat substance abuse as a health problem
Buy back inner-city guns at double their purchase price (even triple the price would be a huge bargain in the long run)
This will, of course, be a huge sacrifice for everyday Americans, who do love their drug war, bless them.