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The Lopsided Focus on the Misuse and Abuse of Drugs

Some thoughts on the Sam Harris podcast interview with Roland Griffiths

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

December 1, 2022

Sam Harris Making Sense Podcast interview with Roland Griffiths

The current scientific system which Roland represents is always worrying about potential abuse. But they are NEVER worrying about the millions who go without godsend medicines thanks to our purblind focus on abuse. Thanks to that Chicken Little mindset, I have now gone my ENTIRE 64-year LIFE without godsend medicines that grow at my feet. And Roland tells me that it could be 4 to 6 more years before the FDA grudgingly lets me use MDMA in a lab setting! (Rick Doblin said five years ago that it would happen last year.) Meanwhile, Roland keeps talking about "drugs of abuse," as if to write off their usefulness entirely. But the drugs he mentions can be used non-addictively for GOOD REASONS. But we have such a purblind focus on "abuse," that we feel justified in keeping such substances from the millions who would use them safely. Moreover, millions have used opium and coca daily for entire long and full lifetimes. Our talk about addicts wreaks of a Christian Science aesthetic judgment.

Besides, if addiction and dependence are such horrible problems, why do these guys say nothing about the fact that 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life on Big Pharma meds? I myself have to take Effexor every day of my life, but nobody's worried on my account. And these addictions are the result of scientific hubris, which supposedly found a chemical imbalance to end human sorrow. Wrong. The meds cause the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix, and if they cure depression, my mind never got the memo.

Please, let's stop this lopsided focus on the needs of potential abusers. What about the needs of the depressed like myself who go without godsends -- even now Chicken Little scientists are finding reasons to keep me (and millions of other depressed) from using laughing gas. They want to save a few hundreds from their own idiocy by letting millions go without desperately needed medicines.
The legalization of all substances would let us treat addictions -- and everything else -- with any and every substance in the world using a shamanic like approach of empathy. Roland sees a few drugs becoming legal and wants to use them to fight addiction -- but that's small potatoes. We need to relegalize all psychoactive substances. Then addiction would all but disappear -- which it should, since in practice addiction is really a pejorative term for habituation. Before 1914, there were opium habitues in America; afterwards, they were "addicts."

The current viewpoint is insane: it's one that says we can shock a depressed person's brain but we cannot give them plant meds to cheer them up. We can euthanize the depressed with chemicals, but we cannot give them chemicals to cheer them up.

Also, the duo seems to think that psychedelic experiences happen in the brain only. Why then did my peyote trip show me imagery of MesoAmerican gods and goddesses? Consciousness appears to be all around us, not just in our brain. Is there no end to the astounding wonders that we will automatically attribute to the supposedly random process of mindless evolution?

Next essay: Open Letter to Rick Doblin and Roland Griffiths
Previous essay: Alexander Shulgin: American Hero

More Essays Here


If I want to use the kind of drugs that have inspired entire religions, fight depression, or follow up on the research of William James into altered states, I should not have to live in fear of the DEA crashing down my door and shouting: "GO! GO! GO!"

Live and learn. I'm told that science is completely unbiased today. I guess I'll have to go back and reassess my beliefs in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
In his book "Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seers," Ross Heaven explains how "salvinorin A" is the strongest hallucinogen in the world and could treat Alzheimer's, AIDS, and various addictions. But America would prefer to demonize and outlaw the drug.
I think there needs to be a law -- or at least an understanding -- that it's always wrong to demonize drugs in the abstract. That's anti-scientific. It begs so many questions and leaves suffering pain patients (and others) high and dry. No substance is bad in and of itself.
When we say so, we knowingly blind ourselves to all sorts of potential benefits to humankind. Morphine can provide a vivid appreciation of mother nature in properly disposed minds. That should be seen as a benefit. Instead, dogma tells us that we must hate morphine for any use.
I might as well say that no one can ever be taught to ride a horse safely. I would argue as follows: "Look at Christopher Reeves. He was a responsible and knowledgeable equestrian. But he couldn't handle horses. The fact is, NO ONE can handle horses!"
That's another problem with "following the science." Science downplays personal testimony as subjective. But psychoactive experiences are all ABOUT subjectivity. With such drugs, users are not widgets susceptible to the one-size-fits-all pills of reductionism.
Imagine the Vedic people shortly after they have discovered soma. Everyone's ecstatic -- except for one oddball. "I'm not sure about these experiences," says he. "I think we need to start dissecting the brains of our departed adherents to see what's REALLY going on in there."
He'd probably then say: "In fact, we'd better outlaw this substance for now until we understand its biochemical mechanisms of action. We should follow the science, after all."
This is the mentality for today's materialist researcher when it comes to "laughing gas." He does not care that it merely cheers folks up. He wants to see what is REALLY going on with the substance, using electrodes and brain scans.
I'd tell him knock yourself out, except that his expensive and purblind research is used by prohibitionists to say: See? There's no scientific proof that laughing gas helps the depressed.
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.

essays about

Open Letter to Rick Doblin and Roland Griffiths
Is Rick Doblin Running with the Devil?
Why Rick Doblin is Ghosting Me
Three Problems With Rick Doblin's MAPS

essays about

The Problem with Following the Science
Doctor Feel Bad
How the Drug War Blinds us to Godsend Medicine
Obama's Unscientific BRAIN Initiative
How Scientific Materialism Keeps Godsend Medicines from the Depressed
Drug War? What Drug War?
Science Set Free... NOT!
How Scientific American reckons without the drug war
Alternative Medicine as a Drug War Creation
A Quantum of Hubris

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You have been reading an article entitled, The Lopsided Focus on the Misuse and Abuse of Drugs: Some thoughts on the Sam Harris podcast interview with Roland Griffiths, published on December 1, 2022 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)