Essay date: June 18, 2022

Smart Uses for Opium and Coca

and other psychoactive substances that drug warriors love to hate

and other psychoactive substances that drug warriors love to hate

he Drug War represents the preposterous unscientific notion that if a psychoactive substance can be misused by American young people (and what substance can't?), then it must not be used by anyone, anywhere, ever, for any reason whatsoever.

Do what?

Question: How did Americans ever convince the entire world to adopt this childish but fanatical Christian Science ideology toward amoral substances?

Answer: They did so by demonizing psychoactive medicine in every possible way (in movies, in television shows, in grade school DARE classes) and on the strength of the jaundiced mindset thus produced, they soon encouraged businesses to test American urine for traces of these politically despised substances to be henceforth derided as "drugs" (some of which had inspired entire religions in the past), with the goal of removing drug-war heretics from the American workforce. Mary Baker Eddy herself would be on cloud nine were she alive today, or at least on cloud 5, since she would no doubt be puzzled as to why Americans demonize mind drugs only, rather than eschewing drugs in general and so evincing ideological consistency in their otherwise religiously correct war on medicine.

Drug warriors generally justify their crackdown on heretics by saying: "If we can save one little Johnny Whitebread from dying of 'drugs,' the crackdown will have been worth it."

This attitude would only make sense (or at least be coherent) if substances really could be fairly classified as purely evil, without any potential positive uses whatsoever (as the DEA mendaciously maintains to this day), but that is just a Drug War superstition. Any substance can be used for good or ill. Any substance. Even Botulinum toxin, one of the deadliest neurotoxins on the planet, can work cosmetic and physiological wonders when used advisedly. Likewise, the supposedly evil drugs from which the Drug Warrior is forever rescuing Johnny Whitebread can be used for a wide range of amazing therapies. It's just that Drug Warriors have so successfully taught Americans to demonize psychoactive medicine, that almost no one in America (however otherwise enlightened) can even imagine such uses.

This blindness to godsend therapies is then exacerbated by the fact that the materialist medical mindset is never happy with drugs that simply make us, well, happy. The field of psychiatry has physics envy after all. They can only believe in drugs that work via some reductionist mechanism that can be clearly described and applied to human beings en masse. This is why Dr. Robert Glatter can write an article in Forbes magazine with the following laughable title: "Can Laughing Gas Help People with Treatment-resistant Depression"?

What? Only a materialist could ask such a question. Of course it would help. Common sense psychology tells us so. But materialists like Glatter are always blocking the depressed person's way to such godsend therapies. How? By pretending to doubt the glaringly obvious, namely, that N2O could help the depressed. Of course, what Glatter & Co really mean when they gainsay such a self-evident proposition is that they have yet to find a reductionist neurochemical proof of such therapeutic power, and so that means, from a materialist point of view, that N2O is not "really" helping the depressed - no matter how loudly the patient may laugh during therapy.

What such doctors should remember is that some of us depressed chappies are not materialists. We believe that it's more than enough that a substance like N2O merely works for us. We have no need or desire for it to REALLY work for us, in some way that would satisfy the reductionist onlooker. Indeed, the insistence on "real" reductionist cures for conditions like depression has sparked the greatest chemical dependency of all times, as 1 in 4 American women must take Big Pharma meds every day of their life thanks to the creation of SSRIs that purported to correct a chemical imbalance that they actually create. And so doctors, under the pay of Big Pharma, appear on Oprah Winfrey to remind Americans that they must "keep taking their meds." After all, the pills are made scientifically. They don't just crudely make you happy, like, say, N2O or opium. Anything can make you happy. These drugs REALLY make you happy because they are scientific, don't ya know? Or such was the original claim, although it's been 60 years since these "scientific" cures were first employed in psychiatry, and America is now the most depressed country on the planet - and the most chemically dependent to boot.

Once we remove the twin blinders of drug-hating Christian Science ideology and reductive materialism, the world is our oyster when it comes to mental therapies, not simply when it comes to treating the depressed but when it comes to pedagogy and teaching compassion, experientially, that is, not through mere words. Absent our superstitious aversion to psychoactive drugs, MDMA and psilocybin could be used therapeutically to help "haters" experience love, thereby preventing school shootings. Morphine could be used non-addictively to instil a deep appreciation of mother nature in the hitherto self-satisfied boor. Methamphetamine could be used non-addictively in group therapy in the open air, wherein emotional honesty and creativity could be therapeutically encouraged. The opium poppy could be used non-addictively to inspire creative dreams in struggling authors, followed in a week, perhaps, by a writing session in which said authors compose stories a la HG Wells with the mind-refreshing assistance of the coca plant.

These are just a few of the seemingly endless list of drug-fueled therapies that suggest themselves the moment that we stop demonizing drugs as somehow being bad in and of themselves, without regard for the circumstances of their use.

Of course, the effectiveness of these politically incorrect treatments would depend largely on the ability of the guide (whom I suppose to be a sort of "pharmacologically savvy empath") to establish an emotional and physical set and setting that conduces to the achievement of the therapeutic goals of the drug-aided activity in question. It must be remembered, also, that a significant part of the therapeutic value of such treatments would derive from the mood-elevating anticipation of the upcoming happiness that it engenders in the participant, although materialists generally pay short shrift to such intangible and, as it were, tangential benefits. Of course, it will be objected that we have no proof of the effectiveness of such treatment "modalities," but that's only because the Drug Warrior has done everything in their power to keep us from even IMAGINING such treatments, let alone implementing them.

Besides, we DO have proof of the evil that sober human beings can do to one another when they fail to transcend self (whether with the help of psychoactive medicine or not). Salvador Ramos was apparently sober as a judge when he gunned down 21 in Uvalde, Texas. Adam Lanza appears to have "just said no" in grade school like everybody else, and yet as an adult, he complacently mowed down 26 in Newtown, Massachusetts. Stephen Paddock could have passed a drug test with flying colors on the day when he killed 59 and injured over 500 in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2017.

Surely after such outrages, we have prima facie evidence of the necessity to put all gloomy loners on a solid regime of compassion-enhancing drugs - to say nothing of politicians who have their all-too-human fingers on the nuclear trigger.

But again, the mere thought of such treatment is impossible in a world that has been raised on the Drug Warrior lie, namely, that psychoactive drugs can be bad in and of themselves, without respect for why, how or when they are used.

Related tweet: June 2, 2023

"Everything one does in life, even love, occurs in an express train racing toward death. To smoke opium is to get out of the train while it is still moving. It is to concern oneself with something other than life or death." -Jean Cocteau

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!
Next essay: Open letter to Kenneth Sewell
Previous essay: Have you been brainwashed by the drug war?

More Essays Here

essays about

Corner on Coca!
Drug War Bait and Switch
How Cocaine could have helped me
Open Letter to Vincent Hurley, Lecturer

essays about

Hurray for Self-Medicating
Re-Legalize Opium Now
Doctor Feel Bad
In Praise of Doctor Feelgood
In Praise of Drug Dealers
The Politically Incorrect Cure for the Common Cold
In Praise of Augustus Bedloe
Why I Am Pro Drugs
Drug Use as Self-Medication
El Chapo Crappo
Saying Yes to Drugs
Saying Yes to Drugs
How Cocaine could have helped me
Just Say Yes to Mother Nature's Pharmacy
In praise of doctor hopping
Why Drug Free Zones are Dangerous and Unconstitutional
News Flash: Drug Use Can Be a Good Thing!
Time to Glorify Drug Use
Drugs CAN Be the Answer
A message for unhappy campers

essays about

Drug War Bait and Switch
In Praise of Opium
Re-Legalize Opium Now
10 Idiots who helped spread drug war propaganda on Listverse
Using Opium to Fight Depression
The REAL Lesson of the Opium Wars
Opium for the Masses by Jim Hogshire
Why doctors should prescribe opium for depression
I've got a bone to pick with Jim Hogshire
In Defense of Opium
The Truth About Opium by William H. Brereton

...end the war on drugs. Shop today. And tomorrow.

Monticello Betrayed Thomas Jefferson

In 1987, the Monticello Foundation invited the DEA onto the property to confiscate Thomas Jeffersons poppy plants, in violation of the Natural Law upon which the gardening fan had founded America

The Drug War Censors Science - Bumper Sticker

Drive the point home that the Drug War censors scientists -- by outlawing and otherwise discouraging research into the kinds of drugs that have inspired entire religions.

Protest The Dea Bumper Sticker

Millions have needlessly suffered over the last 50 years because the DEA has lied about psychedelics, claiming that they are addictive and have no therapeutic value. Stop the lies, start the research.

Reincarnation is for Has-Beens

In a former life, I bought this bumper sticker myself. My friends got quite a kick out of it, as I recall!
5% of proceeds from the sale of the above product will go toward getting Brian a decent haircut for once. Honestly. 9% will go toward shoes. 50% will go toward miscellaneous. 9% of the remainder will go toward relaxation, which could encompass anything from a spin around town to an outdoor barbecue at Brian's brother's house in Stanardsville (both gas and the ice-cream cake that Brian usually supplies).

Nature Abhors a Vacuum - drink tile

Actually, Nature likes several of the latest Dyson models, but those are really the exception to the rule.

I Brake for Honeybees

Do your part to fight Colony Collapse Disorder: Show the honey bees your true feelings with this unBEElievable bumper sticker

Thinking of You

Face it, even your friends sometimes tick you off: Show them your true feelings with this novelty gift card -- and don't worry, the inside text reads: PSYCH! Just kidding.

What Would Socrates Do - bumper sticker

What would Socrates do if he drove a BMW? He'd sell it at once to show he wasn't tempted by luxury -- but he'd keep the kewl bumper sticker designed by that came with it.


old time radio playing Drug War comedy sketches

You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.

A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.

The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.

It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)

If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.

Brian Quass
The Drug War Philosopher

PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.

Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)

Selected Bibliography

  • Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
  • Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company
  • Bandow, Doug "From Fighting The Drug War To Protecting The Right To Use Drugs"2018
  • Barrett, Damon "Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People"2011 IDEBATE Press
  • Bilton, Anton "DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule"2021 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
    • Blum, Richard "Society and Drugs" 1970 Jossey-Bass
  • Boullosa , Carmen "A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'"2016 OR Books
  • Brereton, William "The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade"2017 Anna Ruggieri
  • Burns, Eric "1920: The year that made the decade roar"2015 Pegasus Books
  • Carpenter, Ted Galen "The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America"2012 Cato Institute
    • Carroll, Lewis "Alice in Wonderland: The Original 1865 Edition With Complete Illustrations By Sir John Tenniel" 2021 Amazon
  • Chesterton, GK "Saint Thomas Acquinas"2014 BookBaby
    • Cohen, Jay S. "For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health" 2011 Tarcher/Putnam
    • De Quincey, Thomas "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" 1995 Dover
    • Ellsberg, Daniel "The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner " 2018 Bloomsbury Publishing
    • Fadiman, James "The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys " 2011 Park Street Press
  • Filan, Kenaz "The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally"2011 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
    • Fleming, Thomas "A Disease in the Public Mind: Why We Fought the Civil War" 2014 Da Capo Press
    • Friedman, Milton "Wall Street Journal" 1989 WSJ
    • Fukuyama, Francis "Liberalism and Its Discontents" 2022 Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Gianluca, Toro "Drugs of the Dreaming: Oneirogens"2007 Simon and Schuster
    • Gootenberg, Paul "Cocaine: Global Histories" 1999 Routledge
    • Gottleib, Anthony "The Dream of Enlightenment: the Rise of Modern Philosophy" 2016 Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
    • Holland, Julie "Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics" 2020 HarperWave
    • Huxley, Aldous "The Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell" 1970 Penguin Books
  • Irwin-Rogers, Keir "Illicit Drug Markets, Consumer Capitalism and the Rise of Social Media: A Toxic Trap for Young People"2019
  • James, William "The Varieties of Religious Experience"1902 Philosophical Library
    • Jenkins, Philip "Synthetic Panics: The Symbolic Politics of Designer Drugs" 1999 New York University Press
    • Johnson, Paul "The Birth of the Modern" 1991 Harper Collins
    • Leary, Timothy Ralph Metzner "The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead " 1964 University Books
    • Lovecraft, HP "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" 1970 Del Rey Books
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
    • Mate, Gabriel "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction" 2009 Vintage Canada
    • Maupassant, Guy de "Le Horla et autres contes fantastiques - Guy de Maupassant: Les classiques du fantastique " 2019
    • McKenna, Terence "Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution " 1992 Bantam
  • Miller, Richard Lawrence "Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State"1966 Bloomsbury Academic
    • Miller, Richard Louis "Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle " 2017 Park Street Press
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Newcombe, Russell "Intoxiphobia: discrimination toward people who use drugs"2014
    • Noe, Alvin "Out of our Heads" 2010 HiII&Wang,
    • Paley, Dawn "Drug War Capitalism" 2014 AK Press
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
    • Pinchbeck, Daniel "When Plants Dream" 2019 Watkins Publishing
    • Poe, Edgar Allan "The Essential Poe" 2020 Warbler Classics
    • Pollan, Michael "How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence " 2018 Penguin Books
    • Reynolds, David S. "Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville " 1988 Oxford University Press
    • Richards, William "Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences Hardcover" 2015 Columbia University Press
    • Rosenfeld, Harvey "Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898 " 2000 Praeger
  • Rudgley, Richard "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances"2014 Macmillan Publishers
    • Russell, Kirk "Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered" 1967 Arlington House
    • Schlosser, Erich "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety" 2014 Penguin
    • Sewell, Kenneth Clint Richmond "Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. " 2006 Pocket Star
    • Shirer, William "The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler" 2011 RosettaBooks
  • Shulgin, Alexander "PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story"1991 Transform Press
  • Shulgin, Alexander "The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact"2021 Transform Press
    • Slater, Lauren "Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds" 2019 Boston
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief"0
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology"2022
  • St John, Graham "Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT"2021
    • Straussman, Rick "DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences " 2001 Park Street Press
    • Streatfield, Dominic "Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography" 2003 Picador USA
    • Swartzwelder, Scott "Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy" 1998 W.W. Norton
    • Szasz, Thomas "Ceremonial Chemistry: the ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers" 1974 Anchor Press/Doubleday
  • Szasz, Thomas "Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt"0
    • Szasz, Thomas "Our Right to Drugs: The case for a free market" 1992 Praeger
    • Tyler, George R. "Billionaire Democracy: The Hijacking of the American Political System" 2016 Pegasus Books
    • Watts, Alan "The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness" 1965 Vintage
  • Wedel, Janine "Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class"2014 Pegasus Books
  • Weil, Andrew "From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs"2004 Open Road Integrated Media
    • Whitaker, Robert "Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America " 2010 Crown
    • Zinn, Howard "A People's History of the United States: 1492 - present" 2009
    • Zuboff , Shoshana "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power" 2019 Public Affairs
    Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at