Essay date: July 12, 2020

There is no drug problem

It is an invention of politicians to take our minds off of real problems

The Drug War represents a superstitious fetishization of psychoactive substances as the root of all evil.

he Drug War represents a superstitious fetishization of psychoactive substances as the root of all evil. When poverty and ignorance combine with the black market to addict the poor inside inner cities, does America focus on the poverty, the ignorance or the black market? Of course not. Each of those approaches would require policy changes and real action. Instead, we bring out the red herring of 'drugs' and start raising a hue and cry, for the criminalization of the same, thereby turning the 'drug dealer' into the scapegoat for all of America's social problems. The drug dealer is thus demonized as a scum bag, worthy of immediate death, even though he or she is just meeting the demands of the black market that we ourselves created by outlawing nature's psychoactive plant medicines in the first place, in violation of the natural law upon which the American republic was founded.

This is why both conservatives and liberals believe in the Drug War, because they both find it convenient to demonize substances as a scapegoat for social problems. In this way, conservatives can avoid having to shell out money for social reform, while still being able to demonize the hated underclasses as mere drug users and delinquents. And so the Drug War is the best of all worlds for conservatives.

Liberals, on the other hand, can medicalize the 'drug' problem (the problem that exists only by default because we have given a free pass to the causal factors of poverty, ignorance, and the black market) and urge the sinner to come home: that is, urge the illegal substance user to submit him or herself to the power and authority of the medical establishment. What medical establishment? The one that has already addicted 1 in 4 American women to Big Pharma antidepressants, an addiction crisis that even the so-called addiction 'expert' Gabor Mate ignores in his best-selling book on the topic, even though many SSRIs and SNRIs are harder to 'kick' than heroin.

Meanwhile, both liberals and conservatives seem ignorant of the fact that our currently illegal substances have ever been used by anyone other than juvenile delinquents. The entire Vedic religion was founded around the worship of the psychoactive powers of a plant medicine. The time-honored Eleusinian mysteries, in which such western luminaries as Plato and Plutarch took part, centered around a ritual that involved the ingestion of a natural psychedelic substance. Meanwhile, these bipartisan Drug Warriors completely ignore the fact that Benjamin Franklin used opium responsibly, that HG Wells and Jules Verne used cocaine responsibly, and that psychedelics helped Francis Crick discover the DNA helix.

There is no drug problem in America just because some people misuse drugs. There is no car problem, either, just because some people drive poorly. That problem is not with cars, it's with those who are not properly trained to drive them.

There was no drug problem in Ancient Egypt. There was no drug problem in the Persian Empire. There was no drug problem in Ancient Greece. There was no drug problem in Ancient Rome. There was no drug problem in the Mongol Empire.

Why not? Because back then, folks still had the sense to judge people by how they actually behaved, without looking into the natural substances of which they chose to partake.

The only drug problem that ever existed was caused by government. That was when the British government purposefully attempted to get the Chinese to misuse an especially addictive brand of opium in order for British trade to prosper. The problem was not really "drugs" even then, however; it was immoral government attempting to get human beings to misuse substances. But Americans distort the lesson learned from that incident. Instead of demonizing corrupt governments, we demonize the substances that the government was attempting to get the Chinese to misuse.

The lesson should have been: keep the government and the profit motive out of the business of selling drugs. The message that the Drug Warriors took home was: we must give government a monopoly on mother nature's psychoactive substances and create a profit motive for selling those plants by instituting prohibition.

This is why John Halpern's book called 'Opium' has a subtitle which reads: "How an ancient flower shaped and poisoned our world." Halpern follows the usual Drug Warrior practice of blaming substances for the evil things that men do with them, as if moral attributes could be reasonably ascribed to mere plants. In so doing, the author gives a free pass to the racist British merchants who bamboozled the Chinese into dangerous practices. Such Drug Warrior tactics of demonizing substances also gives a free pass to conservative stateside politicians, those Christian Science bigots who gladly spend taxpayer money on locking up minorities for making what the politician deems to be bad life choices but who will not spend one taxpayer penny to educate those minorities while they are still young.

And so America ensures by law (and by diplomatic blackmail) that no one in the entire world can even study literally thousands of psychoactive plants, many of which hold the promise of potentially ending cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and depression. Why? Because we'd much rather demonize mother nature's psychoactive substances than understand them and use them to improve both our health and our attitude toward life, let alone expand our consciousness and find a more tolerant way of living, which seems obligatory to some of us, who recognize the fact that nuclear Armageddon is still only an ignition fuse away, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Only psychoactive plant medicines hold the promise of instituting the change of heart that can save other-hating humanity from itself.

I am no radical because I don't believe in the existence of a 'drug problem' (as opposed to a social problem, such as lack of education and so forth). Such a view as mine would have been common sense over the entire course of human history -- until 1914, that is, when the American government (of all governments) first usurped the right of human beings to the medical bounty of Mother Nature with the Harrison Narcotics Act, championed by anti-Chinese racists. Thus the one country that was founded on natural law turned out to be the country that took away one of a human being's most basic rights under such law: their right to the plants and fungi that grow at their very feet.

Unfortunately, the online world is an echo chamber for this Christian Science idiocy. And so folks like myself who argue for the time-honored status quo are instantly banned from the discussion by Reddit moderators, who seem determined to hide the truth. And that's no surprise. There are many beneficiaries of America's unique and deadly attitude about plant medicines, deadly because they cause a Drug War that kills inner-city Americans every day and causes civil war abroad. This overseas violence provides a weekend gladiator show for complacent Americans, who flock to theaters to see Drug War propaganda films, in which intolerant D E A agents travel overseas to torture and murder foreigners. Why? Because they were selling plants that have been used responsibly by non-western cultures for millennia.

Drug war beneficiaries include: Big Pharma (who have a monopoly on 'mood medicine when a Drug War is in force), Psychiatrists (who have a monopoly on dispensing that medicine), Law Enforcement (whose workload and bottom line rise dramatically in a Drug War, with lucrative 'drug property forfeitures'), the Corrections Industry (who profit from the caging of Americans for the crime of possessing mere plants), and Big Liquor (who are given a monopoly on providing human transcendence -- a shabby transcendence indeed compared to the insightful dreams provided by the responsible use of many banned plant medicines). And so truth cries out in the wilderness while America listens to psychiatrists appearing on Oprah under the pay of Big Pharma to remind us all why we must 'take our meds. There is the REAL drug problem in America: that plus the fact that the Drug War has inspired us to deliberately ignore godsend medicines that hold great promise for curing everything that ails us. But no. In Drug War America, scientists cannot be allowed to practice their trade as usual, lest they thereby debunk the superstitions of the Drug Warrior, according to which criminalized plant medicines must be seen as nothing else but evil.


Ever wonder why Americans belief Drug Warrior lies? Thanks to Drug War propaganda, like the following.

1) Academic papers on criminalized "drugs" never, but never speak about how the substances can increase creativity, or focus, or religiosity. Instead, all the academics write about is abuse and abuse and more abuse. In this way, academics are willing collaborators in the Drug War, this despite the fact that they should be protesting the way that the Drug War criminalizes scientific research.

2) Movie and film producers are Drug War collaborators as well. They never, but never publish films showing the wise use of criminalized "drugs." If someone is seen using coca, they're dressed in plaid with a hooker on their lap. If someone is using a psychedelic, they're depicted as a fringe lunatic. And so movie and film producers hide the fact that banned medicines can and have been used for the purposes of increasing creativity, increasing focus and even providing novel insights that have spawned entire religions.

3) Of course Americans are already primed for accepting this Drug War censorship, having been raised from childhood to fear and demonize banned substances rather than to understand them.


The real problem is a LACK of drugs (caused by prohibition):

a lack of drugs to cure addictions, thanks to which so-called treatment centers today are really Christian Science torture chambers, wherein politically defined "addicts" are tossed on a cot and charged $3,000 for the privilege of going cold turkey under doctor supervision (Christian Science being the religion that despises drugs). Thanks to Drug War ideology we never think of the obvious tactic of interesting the user in OTHER less problematic, less addictive or totally non-addictive drugs, rather than simply weaning the user of all drugs in the name of a politically defined "sobriety."

a lack of drugs to cure Alzheimer's disease and autism, each of which could be treated (possibly someday even cured) with the mind-expanding and neuron-growing drugs that America has criminalized.

a lack of drugs to bring about world peace and end school shootings, since when we outlaw entheogens and empathogens, like psilocybin and Ecstasy repsectively, we outlaw the very substances that can make the user feel good about his or her fellow human being.

Next essay: Ten Reasons why the Drug War is Nonsense
Previous essay: 10 Idiots who helped spread drug war propaganda on Listverse

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