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The Politically Incorrect Cure for the Common Cold

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

August 9, 2019

ne thing is clear in reviewing newspaper references to opium in late 19th-century America. Almost no one -- except perhaps for the odd patent medicine huckster -- seems to have paid any attention to the drug's ability to foster creativity and increased joie de vivre in the judicious user. The focus was all on drug "fiends" and addicts and there was a clear attempt to demonize the drug, mainly by associating it with the sort of people and ideas of which the drug critic did not approve.

[This is a strategic trick of the Drug Warrior: never acknowledge any positive benefits about the plants that you've chosen to malign. It only confuses your otherwise gullible public and causes them to ask inconvenient questions, thus straying from the party line of 'plants bad, Big Pharma pills good.']

Meanwhile, if anyone had bothered to ask responsible users, they would have heard tales of opium curing the common cold.

Opium, curing the common cold?

There's nothing mysterious about that. The drug helps the depressed feel positive -- if only in anticipation of use -- and it's well-acknowledged today, even by many arch materialists, that positive thinking can help one fend off disease. That goes double, no doubt, for creative thinking. Opium gives one the power to metaphorically separate oneself from one's pains and obstacles, as, for instance, opium users may report that their throbbing toothache pain has morphed into the pounding of the sea, and so bothers them no longer. This jibes with Hogshire's description of opium's method of action in "Opium for the Masses":

As a deadening agent, opium has almost no effect. If measured purely for its ability to alleviate the sensation of pain, morphine, opium, or any of the others would score no better than aspirin. It is the perception of pain that opium alters, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Yet modern psychology never connects the dots. Rather, they adopt the superstitious drug-war position that drugs like opium are bad in and of themselves, with no therapeutic value whatsoever -- and so, rather than launching a public education campaign to promote responsible use, they criminalize a mere plant, thereby bringing about the quiet suffering of millions, after which they begin proselytizing Americans with the blatant lie that "responsible use" of opium is somehow an oxymoron, which is clearly a political conviction rather than a scientific fact. Just ask Benjamin Franklin, just ask Thomas Jefferson, just ask Marcus Aurelius, just ask Samuel Johnson.

These are not mere abstract considerations on my part, for, to quote from Edgar Allan Poe, "I am not more sure that I breathe than that" the use of a small amount of opium could, at this very moment, bring some profound psychological relief to my elderly mother, who sits across the hallway from me now, suffering from her vague eternal fears... but, alas, such family members must remain the unacknowledged victims of America's politically motivated Drug War. For while the newspapers tell us about the obvious harm that hated substances (supposedly) do, they are silent about the invisible benefits, to the point that they'll ignore a cure for the common cold if necessary to toe the party line on the subject. According to their fascistic ideology, the masses must think of illegal plant substances as evil incarnate, not as God-given cures and the birth right of every denizen of Planet Earth.

FOLLOW-UP NOTE: This is another unacknowledged cost of the Drug War. It biases science so thoroughly that we do not even notice it. Science purports to evaluate the physical world objectively, but it fails to do so in the case of natural substances once they have been rendered illegal. At that moment, science disappears from the lab and political superstitions about the substances in question are tacitly accepted as scientific gospel.

^Opium is supposed to be pure evil -- even though it's been used responsibly for millennia overseas. Besides, it's a threat to Big Liquor so we have to burn it, whether the locals mind or not. That said, opium is on record as having effectively cured the common cold and all sorts of other irritations. So the next time someone asks, "Why isn't there a cure for the common cold?" You tell them, "There is, but anti-scientific Drug Warriors won't let us use it."

October 22, 2022

The DEA declares that opium has no therapeutic uses, thereby earning them a golden dunce cap. Such lies should earn them golden handcuffs. They apparently haven't read "The Birth of the Modern," in which historian Paul Johnson tells us how laudanum was to be found in the medicine cabinet of most British families in the 19th century to treat everything from sleeplessness to toothache, from depression to the common cold.

Author's Follow-up: May 1, 2023

Everything Americans THINK they know about opium comes from protestant missionaries and the Anti-Opium Society, Britain's 19th-century answer to America's Anti-Saloon League. Deprogram yourself. Read: The Truth about Opium. Much of what Brereton says about the league's membership (most of whom have never been to China) can be said about Drug Warriors of our time.

Author's Follow-up: November 1, 2023

Jean Cocteau says of opium:

"an addict who inhales twelve pipes a day all his life will not only be fortified against influenza, colds and sore throats, but will also be far less in danger than a man who drinks a glass of brandy or who smokes four cigars."

Well said. I ask, however, why do we refer to the regular user of opium as an addict while referring to the regular user of SSRIs as a responsible patient?

I'm racking my brains, thinking of objections. Okay, let's see. Yes, some immoderate users may experience depression as the opium experience abates, but even that can be combatted quite easily. We think of it as a problem, once again, only because of prohibition -- which makes the answer unthinkable: namely to use drugs to combat the downsides of drugs. Charles Wininger suggests such prophylactic strategy for combatting the fatigue that some people report after the use of Ecstasy. In that case, he recommends, as I recall, a sort of biochemical supplement.

Next essay: Just Say Yes to Mother Nature's Pharmacy
Previous essay: Drug Laws as the Punishment of 'Pre-Crime'

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