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The Christian Presuppositions of the Drug War and Why They're Important

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

January 18, 2024

There are people who want to make men's lives more difficult for no other reason than afterwards to offer them their prescriptions for making life easier -- their Christianity, for example. -- Nietzsche1

I keep getting Tweets along the lines of: "Well, that's all well and good, but the Drug War is REALLY about A, B, or C..."

I'm told by one that it's all about militarization, by another that it's all about money, by still another that it's all about racism. If you ask me, it is all about materialism as well (a connection that I appear to be the only one to have noticed so far, however, which has turned me into the Ignaz Semmelweis of the Drug War2).

Of course, they're all correct. The Drug War is "about" a lot of things. But the real question, philosophically speaking, is how a program that is dramatically failing even on its own supposed terms, that of saving lives, can be not only tolerated by Americans of all political stripes, but actually promoted by them. (The Washington Post recently reported that the shipment of opioid pills dropped 45% between 2011 and 2019 thanks to law enforcement crackdowns. During the same time, the deaths by overdose skyrocketed!3)

This stubborn illogical embrace of drug-war ideology cannot be explained by militarization, greed or racism. It has something to do with the very psyche of westerners, which, as Nietzsche warned us, has maintained the puritan notions of Christianity while discarding the religion4. It has something to do with our historical disdain for the tribal people that we have conquered and their belief in drug cures. It has something to do with our puritanical distrust of laughter and unfettered self-expression. It has something to do with America's ongoing need for sin, redemption, and the existence of a devil. It has something to do with America's concoction of a faux morality whereby we can resurrect a world where there is a clear good and bad: drug dealers bad, prohibitionists good. The sinner is the "user" who comes home to a 12-step group and recognizes a thinly disguised Christian god known as a "higher power." These 12-step groups, of course, teach the "addicts" that they are powerless5. (Of course, the reason they are powerless is because the drug law has made them so, just as a flu victim might be powerless to overcome the flu were we to outlaw all antibiotics.)

Otherwise the Drug War would be inexplicable. For it is not common sense to hate drugs. That is something one must learn. And even in order to learn that, you must be predisposed to that belief by the history of your people. Certainly such anti-drug attitudes never occurred to tribal peoples, all of whom used drugs for various psychosocial purposes, as ethnobotanist Richard Schultes reports6. The Drug War, in fact, can be seen as the west's final step in destroying these aboriginal peoples: we first destroyed them physically, and now we are bent on destroying their nature-friendly view of life, their metaphysic about what life is all about, and replacing their shamans with our materialist doctors, doctors who are so obsessed with looking down their microscopes that they cannot acknowledge that drugs like laughing gas and MDMA could help the depressed.

Those who ignore this background story cut the ground out from under the legalization movement (or rather the RE-legalization movement). For the strongest argument that can (and should) be made against the Drug War is the fact that it is the unconstitutional enforcement of a religion: namely, the religion of Christian Science, which tells us that using drugs is morally wrong, that the moral state of mind is the "drug free" state of mind7.

With this argument, we can (and should) make a strong and undeniable case that the Drug War must end NOW, declaring that it is SELF-EVIDENTLY wrong to tell people how and how much they are allowed to think and feel in life, and that is exactly what we do when we outlaw psychoactive medicines. This is government overreach of unprecedented proportions, and it is supported by hypocrisy of equally unprecedented proportions, insofar as the most rabid Drug Warriors fiercely defend their right to guns, which kill 50,000 a year in America alone8.

They'll say, of course, that guns do not kill people - but then turn around and tell us that drugs do indeed kill people. It's such enormous hypocrisy that such gun worshipers should be photographed and placed in the Webster's Illustrated Dictionary under the term "hypocrite."

Author's Follow-up: January 18, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

As you philosopher types should already know, nothing that I've written above need be construed as Christianity bashing, or even Christian Science bashing. If you believe that drugs are bad, then more power to you. All I ask is that you keep that belief to yourself and do not insist that the rest of the world live by your theology. For I personally believe that life is all about becoming all you can be and that psychoactive medicine has been provided to human beings for a reason. Again, if you're a materialist, you will disagree. But again, all I ask is that you keep that belief to yourself and not insist that the rest of the world live by your faith in reductive materialism as the sole method whereby truth may be known.


1 Friedrich, Nietzsche, Dangerous Helpfulness, (up)
2 Quass, Brian, The Semmelweis Effect in the War on Drugs, 2023 (up)
3 Rich, Steven, Overdoses soared even as prescription pain pills plunged, 2023 (up)
4 Quass, Brian, Nietzsche and the Drug War, 2021 (up)
5 Quass, Brian, Modern Addiction Treatment as Puritan Indoctrination, 2022 (up)
6 Quass, Brian, The Drug War Imperialism of Richard Evans Schultes, 2023 (up)
7 Quass, Brian, The Drug War as Religion, 2019 (up)
8 Firearm Deaths in the US: Statistics and Trends, (up)

Next essay: Illusions with Professor Arthur Shapiro
Previous essay: Top Ten Drug War Essays

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Many in the psychedelic renaissance fail to recognize that prohibition is the problem. They praise psychedelics but want to demonize others substances. That's ignorant however. No substance is bad in itself. All substances have some use at some dose for some reason.
The government causes problems for those who are habituated to certain drugs. Then they claim that these problems are symptoms of an illness. Then folks like Gabriel Mate come forth to find the "hidden pain" in "addicts." It's one big morality play created by drug laws.
The MindMed company (makers of LSD Lite) tell us that euphoria and visions are "adverse effects": that's not science, that's an arid materialist philosophy that does not believe in spiritual transcendence.
Chesterton might as well have been speaking about the word 'addiction' when he wrote the following: "It is useless to have exact figures if they are exact figures about an inexact phrase."
Well, today's Oregon vote scuttles any ideas I might have entertained about retiring in Oregon.
Science knows nothing of the human spirit and of the hopes and dreams of humankind. Science cannot tell us whether a given drug risk is worthwhile given the human need for creativity and passion in their life. Science has no expertise in making such philosophical judgements.
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.
The Drug War is based on two HUGE lies: 1) that prohibition has no downsides, & 2) that drug use has no upsides.
There are hundreds of things that we should outlaw before drugs (like horseback riding) if, as claimed, we are targeting dangerous activities. Besides, drugs are only dangerous BECAUSE of prohibition, which compromises product purity and refuses to teach safe use.
If psychoactive drugs had never been criminalized, science would never have had any reason or excuse for creating SSRIs that muck about unpredictably with brain chemistry. Chewing the coca leaf daily would be one of many readily available "miracle treatments" for depression.
More Tweets

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You have been reading an article entitled, The Christian Presuppositions of the Drug War and Why They're Important published on January 18, 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)