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The Drugs Reddit just doesn't get it

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

July 21, 2020

WARNING: The author was banned from both the Drugs and the Drug War Reddits for pointing out the following inconvenient truths about America's unprecedented Drug War. Read these ideas quick, before the US government finally just plain declares these viewpoints illegal -- which might happen any day in a country that claims the right to outlaw mother nature's plants.

Earth to the PC online echo chamber known as the Drugs Reddit:

There is no drug problem in America. Instead, there are the twin related problems of ignorance and substance criminalization. The first leads human beings to make bad choices, the second guarantees that those choices will be bad by outlawing mere research on psychoactive plant substances, preferring to demonize them instead as the root of all social evil. How? First, by falsely claiming that chemical substances somehow fry the brain the moment they are criminalized by politicians, and second, by creating cop shows and drug-war movies in which we never see the responsible use of criminalized substances. In this way, such Drug War entertainment implies that such responsible use is somehow impossible, notwithstanding the fact that many of America's founding fathers themselves used such substances responsibly, including Benjamin Franklin, Aaron Burr, and Thomas Jefferson.

If America's obsession with "drugs" made sense, surely the history of the world would be riddled with "drug problems" from the past. If so, the professors under whom I've studied "never got the memo." Consider the following Great Courses that I've audited over the last two years alone:

(I can hear the Drug Warrior now: "How on earth did these civilizations survive when everyone had free access to all of mother nature's evil plant medicines???")

Conclusion: The fact that there's a huge "drug problem" in America today says far more about modern society than it does about something we call "drugs."

The best that the Drug Warrior can do in citing "drug problems" of the past is to point to the opium wars of the 19th century. But that problem was deliberately caused by government - the British government, to be exact - which strategically sought to glut the Chinese opium market with a particularly addictive form of the drug from India -- and then declared war when the Chinese responded by outlawing the drug altogether.

These damning facts not withstanding, modern Drug Warriors like John Halpern do their best to rewrite history in order to demonize opium itself (instead of the British government) when writing on this subject. Thus Halpern's 2019 book on this topic, "Opium," bears the propagandistic subtitle: "How an ancient flower shaped and poisoned our world."


A far more honest title would have been "Opium: how government monopolies shaped and poisoned our world," but Halpern couldn't miss an opportunity to lash out at the modern all-purpose scapegoat known as "drugs."

Unfortunately, I can't post this essay on the Drugs Reddit because I have already been banished there for life for merely broaching these ideas on a previous occasion. In fact, I've been banned on the DrugWar Reddit as well for the same reason. (I sometimes think that DEA moles have become moderators of such groups in order to make sure that observations like mine never see the light of day.)

What a coup Francis Burton Harrison scored in 1914 when, for the first time in American history, he outlawed a mere plant, the opium poppy. Not only did the anti-Chinese politician thereby violate the natural law upon which America was founded, but he laid the legal groundwork for President Nixon to criminalize thousands of additional psychoactive plants six decades later -- not to protect the health of young people (as Julie Holland mistakenly claims in her 2020 book entitled "Good Chemistry") but to send his opponents to jail and remove them from the voting rolls by charging them with felonies. Because even imaginary problems like "drugs" can be used to good advantage by a savvy politician.

Thus corrupt politicians created a whole new scapegoat for social problems, something that we Americans call "drugs," and in so doing created a Drug War that incarcerates a million minorities a year and causes so much violence that it gave birth to a whole new movie genre about drug trafficking.

If the Drug Reddit really wants to be a force for good, it will stop fetishizing this red herring called "drugs" and break up, like AT&T, into more rationally oriented subreddits, focusing on topics such as "LEGALIZING PLANT MEDICINES," "INVESTING IN EDUCATION," and "USING MOTHER NATURE'S PSYCHOACTIVE BOUNTY TO COMBAT ADDICTION AND HABITUATION."


The Moderators for the Drugs Reddit "just don't get it." Check out the message that one sees when trying to post there (which, good luck if you plan to be honest):

"If your post, or a reply to it would make it easier for someone to get drugs, it's not permitted."

Think of what this statement actually means, given the fact that "drugs" is just another word for "criminalized plant medicine." It means:

"If your post, or a reply to it would make it easier for someone to get forbidden plant medicine, it's not permitted."

The fact that the anonymous Moderators just blandly state this warning, without also roundly denouncing it, shows that they either don't appreciate the injustice at work here or that they gladly accept it as natural.

So then let me get this straight: First we are separated from Mother Nature by the Drug War, and now we are told that we cannot even discuss Mother Nature's plants when we feel that they would be useful to a fellow human being. And so I could be thrown in jail (or worse yet, banned from the Drugs Reddit!) for merely telling a dying grandmother where she can harvest psychedelic plants that will help her make her peace with the inevitable approach of "the gentle hand of Azrael," as Edgar Allan Poe, a beneficiary of psychoactive substances himself, might have called it. "Yes, sorry, Grandma: your health and happiness is important to me, but I cannot violate the tenets of America's most righteous and holy Drug War!"

Again, the Drugs Reddit should be lashing out at this absurd and tyrannous status quo at every chance. Instead, they banish those who so much as mention these inconvenient truths, preferring instead to act as cheerleaders for America's obsession with "drugs," doing everything they can to show that they are willing collaborators in the government's war on mother nature's psychoactive plant medicines.

The difference between someone "using a drug" and his being "addicted" to it is not a matter of fact, but a matter of our moral attitude and political strategy toward him. Indeed, we might, and must, go further than this, and note that the very identification of a substance as a drug or not a drug is not a matter of fact but a matter of moral attitude and political strategy: tobacco, in common parlance, is not considered to be a drug but marijuana is; gin is not but Valium is. Here, now, briefly is how those who wish to wage war on drugcraft use the language of loathing to enlist recruits for their cause. - Ceremonial Chemistry, Thomas Szasz

Author's Follow-up: October 16, 2022

Ah, yes, the language of loathing. This is why the Drug War is all about substance demonization, and the unscientific idea that some substances can be bad without regard for how, when or why they are used -- an attitude which indefinitely delays the cure to such maladies as depression, Alzheimer's and autism, insofar as the drugs we demonize can grow new brain cells and give users a new lease on life.

Next essay: Grandmaster Flash: Drug War Collaborator
Previous essay: Five Ways that the drug war causes the problems that it claims to solve

More Essays Here

Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

In fact, that's what we need when we finally return to legalization: educational documentaries showing how folks manage to safely incorporate today's hated substances into their life and lifestyle.
The American Philosophy Association should make itself useful and release a statement saying that the drug war is based on fallacious reasoning, namely, the idea that substances can be bad in themselves, without regard for why, when, where and/or how they are used.
We're living in a sci-fi dystopia called "Fahrenheit 452", in which the police burn thought-expanding plants instead of thought-expanding books.
If media were truly free in America, you'd see documentaries about people who use drugs safely, something that's completely unimaginable in the age of the drug war.
The Drug War is a religion. The "addict" is a sinner who has to come home to the true faith of Christian Science. In reality, neither physical nor psychological addiction need be a problem if all drugs were legal and we used them creatively to counter problematic use.
The DEA rating system is not wrong just because it ranks drugs incorrectly. It's wrong because it ranks drugs at all. All drugs have positive uses. It's absurd to prohibit using them because one demographic might misuse them.
This, by the way, is why we can't just "follow the science." The "acceptable risk" for psychoactive drugs can only be decided by the user, based on what they prioritize in life. Science just assumes that all users should want to live forever, self-fulfilled or not.
What prohibitionists forget is that every popular but dangerous activity, from horseback riding to drug use, will have its victims. You cannot save everybody, and when you try to do so by law, you kill far more than you save, meanwhile destroying democracy in the process.
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 can think of no greater intrusion than to deny a person autonomy over how they think and feel in life. It is sort of a meta-intrusion, the mother of all anti-democratic intrusions.
More Tweets

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans

You have been reading an article entitled, The Drugs Reddit just doesn't get it published on July 21, 2020 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)