Essay date: April 5, 2020

The Drug War as a Make-Work Program for Law Enforcement

imagine TV without the Drug War-- we would cancel In the Heat of the Night, and have to seek for ways to make TV characters violate REAL laws and commit REAL crimes, rather than the pre-crime of plant possession.

was just watching an old episode of "In the Heat of the Night," in which drug runners feature prominently, of course. It made me wonder, what would TV have been like over the last 40 years without the Drug War? Script writers would have had to get inventive and picture their bad guys performing actual crimes - rather than hunting them down for the pre-crime of possessing politically ostracized substances.

The absurdity of the situation is clear when Chief Gillespie is asked how the officers should confront a newly arrived suspect at a drug dealer's house.

"How do you want to deal with him?" asks Virgil.

"I wanna know what he's got in that backpack," says the Chief.

That says it all about law enforcement during the Drug War: they're not interested in how anyone actually behaves: let the individual be as peaceful as a lamb, that means nothing. The police want to see what they have in the backpack, so that the full force of Drug War sharia may be brought down upon them if they dare to possess plants of which the government disapproves.

If the police go out onto a peaceful street, their job is to MAKE trouble by poking into other's business, rather than leaving well enough alone and letting peaceful citizens go about their peaceful business. And we wonder why guns proliferate and bullets fly.

In a sane world, it would be none of the Chief's damn business what anybody had in a backpack. The question would be how is the suspect behaving? What a waste of resources is thus employed in ruining Americans' lives based on what plant medicines they have chosen to use.

But the Drug Warrior never gets it. Their anti-scientific and draconian laws create a black market that results in crack houses popping up thanks to the profit motive. Then they point to those very crack houses as the reason why the Drug War must continue!!!

It's circular reasoning thanks to which the Drug War can never end - unless uprooted root and branch by folks who point out that it's all a power grab and a violation of natural law to outlaw naturally occurring substances in the first place.

Think of the cost of the Drug War: in terms of deaths and ruined lives and all the powerful psychoactive therapies for which even research is blocked, the soldiers going without powerful medicines for PTSD, the elderly going without powerful medicines for depression, the young minorities wasting away in overcrowded prisons for possessing natural substances that politicians have outlawed. Then ask yourself: would there be anything near this kind of drug-related suffering in the world had America NOT chosen to begin criminalizing plant medicines in 1914?

Obviously not. There was no drug problem prior to 1914. Why? Because back then people were still judged on how they actually behaved every day of their life and not on what natural substances they may or may not have in their digestive system.

But the power-hungry politicians saw an opening in 1914 and they ran through it.

Time to rewind and re-answer the question of how America intends to deal with substances: Let's try education this time instead of law enforcement. And let's not moralize about substance use, let's present the statistical facts on every substance known to humankind, without hypocritically leaving out alcohol and prescription drugs and tobacco, but definitely including every non-addictive psychedelic substance, substances which are now thought to promote the growth of new neurons in the brain - neurons that Drug Warriors could certainly use, judging by the illogical and circular reasoning that they continue to employ to this very day, over 100 years after Francis Burton Harrison succeeded in overturning natural law and criminalizing the use of a mere plant.

PS Not satisfied with arresting the perps, the Sheriff Bill Gillespie in the TV story gleefully confiscates the bad guy's property, under the tyrannical legal fiction that real estate may be held responsible for drug law violations. Of course, the property owner in the TV show is not a nice guy, so it's easy for American viewers to overlook the fact that the legal system is having a tyrannical heyday while cracking down on the mere substances that humans choose to ingest. Yet this passes as entertainment in America: watching law enforcement run roughshod over natural law and common sense, all in the name of combating a drug problem that the law itself has created out of whole cloth.

And then conservatives wring their hands, wondering, "Why do so many people fear, hate, and mistrust the police?" The answer: because the police aren't the police anymore: they are the enforcement arm of the ultra-strict Christian Science Sharia, AKA the war on plants, which tyrant politicians disingenuously refer to as the Drug War.

PPS Even in episodes that are not centered around drug dealing, the show gratuitously portrays cocaine use in the most lurid light possible, something of which only bad guy "trailer trash" partake, whereas Sigmund Freud used the stimulant liberally -- not in order to beat his wife and shortchange his business partners, but rather to goad himself on to a prolific vocational output that led to his self-actualization in life and his worldwide fame (but you will never see Hollywood portray cocaine used in THAT fashion, since that runs counter to their role in cranking out Drug War propaganda to keep the war on plants going strong until the end of time).

Next essay: In Praise of Drug Dealers
Previous essay: How the Drug War Punishes the Elderly

More Essays Here

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

  • 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
  • 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
  • Chesterton, GK "Saint Thomas Acquinas"2014 BookBaby
  • Filan, Kenaz "The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally"2011 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • 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
  • 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
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • Rudgley, Richard "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances"2014 Macmillan Publishers
  • 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
  • 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
  • Szasz, Thomas "Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt"0
  • 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
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at