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Step Aside, Entheogens

Why Almost Any Psychoactive Drug Can Be Used for Religious Purposes

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

January 20, 2024

here is a simplistic notion, even on the part of reformers, that only officially "entheogenic1" medicines can be used religiously. To say this is to ignore the obvious, something that modern psychology, alas, has found all too easy to do in the age of the Drug War.

Take the following instance:

For at least 48 hours after I was sedated for dental surgery, I felt an unusual sense of being 'favorably disposed' toward the world. I was thinking of ways to be more generous to folks around me and was, in general, taking my problems a little less seriously. this state of mind was apparently induced by the effects of the anesthesia. and yet the substance(s) used would surely not classify as an entheogen, or even as an empathogen, as the terms are currently defined. yet common sense tells us that such a drug can help us achieve religious goals, such as being more loving toward our fellow human being. Unfortunately common sense has been banned from the laboratory in the age of the Drug War. That's why modern materialists can't figure out whether drugs like laughing gas and MDMA could help the depressed.2.

One could imagine, in fact, a church at which one is given, once a week, say on Sunday, a dose of such anesthetic to help favorably dispose one toward the world during the upcoming week. But Drug Warriors have raised such a big stink about "addiction" that this is literally all that Americans can think of when one writes of such a scheme. They've been given the message since grade school: drugs=addiction. This is about as scientific and unbiased as saying "horse riding equals brain trauma." Now, horse riding is, in fact, the leading cause of brain trauma in the United States, but to say that horse riding can only result in brain trauma is clearly a political statement designed to inspire hatred toward equestrian activities3.

There are endless ways that we could tackle potential habituation issues were we to adopt the proper and scientific mindset toward drugs4, especially if we spent billions on the problem rather than billions on arresting users. We need to start seeing drugs as the amoral inanimate substances that they are: substances that can and should be harnessed for the benefit of humankind. I have already written extensively on this topic so I will not go into detail here. Moreover, when all psychoactive drugs are legal again, we can start fighting drugs with drugs, for the biggest problem with "kicking" most drugs is psychological in nature, and these psychological misgivings can be easily negated and obfuscated when we use other drugs to make the user forget (and perhaps even wish "good riddance" to) the drug with which he or she seems to be having problems. As for physical addiction, there are already sleep cures for opiate addiction - and these can be perfected and then made permanent once we attack the psychological issues as stated above.

Finally, there are worse things than addiction, such as suicide, self-harm, and living a life of what one considers to be absolute meaninglessness. Moreover, "addiction" is really a political term, since we refer to the daily use of Big Pharma drugs as "maintenance therapy" - and there is no logical reason why it's okay to be dependent on Big Pharma but wrong to be dependent on naturally occurring substances.

But for now, my point is simply that almost any drug can be used religiously, given the proper mindset toward use. It depends on the goal of the religion too. If the goal is to encounter godhead, then drugs like coca and anesthetics may not work as directly as some might like -- and yet one is more likely to "encounter godhead" when living a fulfilled life, and non-entheogenic drugs can help that happen.

Even coca could be used religiously, for those who believe in the power of the human mind and reject the idea that it's somehow wrong to improve it with coca -- while yet being somehow right to jangle the brain with caffeine. Coca was considered divine by the long-lived Inca, who chewed the leaf daily for inspiration and endurance5.

In fact, a church in a free world could use a wide variety of drugs to induce states to help achieve various goals; but such an idea is so far ahead of our barbarous drug-demonizing times that I almost do not bother to mention it.


I mentioned that the anesthetic left me feeling more friendly and outgoing than usual. Here's one concrete example of that.

My dentist happens to be the founder of a new line of healthy soft drinks, some of which I purchased at the local store after surgery. For the first 48 hours after surgery, I was thinking of writing a letter to him commending his soda and giving him some marketing ideas based on my past sales efforts as part of a start-up. Now, this is just not "like me." I would normally not be so other-minded and indeed the feeling has faded now to the point that I probably will not write such a letter after all.

But what strikes me is that no one ever includes such benefits when they discuss drugs, the benefits of turning the user into a better person. The typical "scientific" approach assumes that drug use is unnecessary and wrong and can have no positive sides. This is sheer propaganda and a Big Lie. Yet it is clearly accepted as gospel truth by the pharmacological powers that be. Otherwise we would be rushing to make laughing gas and MDMA available for the severely depressed. But we have been brainwashed so thoroughly that we would rather Americans kill themselves than use substances of which politicians disapprove.

Author's Follow-up: March 13, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

Both physical and psychological addiction can be "beaten" by using drugs to fight drugs (see my many essays on this topic: search the word 'addiction' here), but Drug Warriors do not want to end addiction; they want to use the threat of addiction as an excuse to outlaw the substances that they hate. Moreover, Americans are intensely hypocritical when they tell us that drug dependence is horrible. The fact is that more than 25% of American women are dependent on Big Pharma drugs6. Why is that a good thing, while dependence on other substances is a bad thing? The reason is not scientific, the reason is political.


1 Entheogen defined, Erowid, (up)
2 Can Laughing Gas Help People with Treatment Resistant Depression?, Forbes Magazine, 2021 (up)
3 Horses Kill, The Partnership for a Death Free America, (up)
4 When I speak favorably of the scientific mindset, I am referring to the scientist's (qua scientist) lack of politically and religiously inspired bias. But there are severe limits to what science can tell us about psychoactive drugs. To learn more, please see my essay entitled "The Problem with Following the Science." (up)
5 Mortimer MD, W. Golden, Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas, Ronin Publishing, Berkeley, California, 2017 (up)
6 Miller, Richard Louis, Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle , Park Street Press, New York, 2017 (up)

Next essay: Coca Wine
Previous essay: Illusions with Professor Arthur Shapiro

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

That's my real problem with SSRIs: If daily drug use and dependency are okay, then there's no logical or truly scientific reason why I can't smoke a nightly opium pipe.
I personally hate beets and I could make a health argument against their legality. Beets can kill for those allergic to them. Sure, it's a rare condition, but since when has that stopped a prohibitionist from screaming bloody murder?
We need a few brave folk to "act up" by shouting "It's the drug war!" whenever folks are discussing Mexican violence or inner city shootings. The media treat both topics as if the violence is inexplicable! We can't learn from mistakes if we're in denial.
I looked up the company: it's all about the damn stock market and money. The FDA outlaws LSD until we remove all the euphoria and the visions. That's ideology, not science. Just relegalize drugs and stop telling me how much ecstasy and insight I can have in my life!!
The drug war bans human progress by deciding that hundreds of drugs are trash without even trying to find positive uses for them. Yet scientists continue to research and write as if prohibition does not exist, that's how cowed they are by drug laws.
We've created a faux psychology to support such science: that psychology says that anything that really WORKS is just a "crutch" -- as if there is, or there even should be, a "CURE" for sadness.
Unfortunately, the prohibitionist motto is: "Billions for arrest, not one cent for education." To the contrary, drug warriors are ideologically committed to withholding the truth about drugs from users.
Someone tweeted that fears about a Christian Science theocracy are "baseless." Tell that to my uncle who was lobotomized because they outlawed meds that could cheer him up -- tell that to myself, a chronic depressive who could be cheered up in an instant with outlawed meds.
The drug war has created a whole film genre with the same tired plots: drug-dealing scumbags and their dupes being put in their place by the white Anglo-Saxon establishment, which has nothing but contempt for altered states.
Besides, why should I listen to the views of a microbe?
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You have been reading an article entitled, Step Aside, Entheogens: Why Almost Any Psychoactive Drug Can Be Used for Religious Purposes, published on January 20, 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)