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There is nothing to debate: the drug war is wrong, root and branch

an open letter to Nathan of

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

October 9, 2023

The following is a comment I sent to Nathan, the founder of, complaining about his attempts to treat the DEA as a reasonable American institution. He suggests that there can be reasonable people on either side of the drug debate. This is absolutely false for the reasons I adduce below. Moreover, this is only a starting list. A large book could be quickly filled with the downsides of prohibition; but then some of us have day jobs. What follows could no doubt be said far more diplomatically, but not by myself, and not just because I work for a living either. The Drug War has outlawed my religion and my philosophy and turned me into a ward of the healthcare state. That's why I take great exception to websites like which seek to portray the DEA in a reasonable light. That's why what follows might seem a trifle "raw." For in my book, the DEA needs to be put on trial for crimes against humanity, not held up as an agency that has any place in a free and scientific country.

Dear Nathan:

Bureaucrats need to butt out of the drug business. There are not two sides to this issue: Outlawing substances has censored science in America and militarized police forces and led to the election of Donald Trump, who never would have won in 2016 without the jailing of millions of his opponents via drug laws designed to do just that.

The DEA thrives on drug misuse like all the other anti-drug organizations in the government. they only get paid if there is a drug problem. NIDA, for its part, only prints articles about abuse and misuse. They ignore the fact that soma inspired the Vedic religion, that the Peruvian Indians used coca daily for millennia, and that Ben Franklin loved opium, etc. The Nixon White House worked with Hollywood to place anti-drug messages in primetime TV shows like "Hawaii Five-O" and "Room 222." The Clinton White House did the same thing in the '90s. Meanwhile, organizations like DARE and the mendacious Partnership for a Drug Free America indoctrinate grade schoolers in the drug-hating religion of Christian Science, giving them teddy bears if they will "just say no" to godsend substances of the sort that have inspired entire religions.

Drug warriors think that they only need to find one negative report about a "drug" and it can be criminalized. This is childish. First, it assumes that impressionable juveniles are the only stakeholders in the legalization debate. To the contrary, MILLIONS if not BILLIONS go without godsend meds when you outlaw substances that improve mood and resilience. The Drug War is anti-scientific: it votes substances "up" or "down". When we outlaw drugs in order to protect young Johnny Whitebread (whom we refuse to educate about safe use), researchers are prevented from using the drug to find treatments for Alzheimer's and autism, etc. The fact is, all drugs have positive uses at some dose, in some circumstance, for some reason. Even cyanide has beneficial uses. But the anti-scientific Drug War forces scientists to pretend that demonized substances have no positive uses whatsoever. That's why there are so few academic papers about positive uses for drugs, despite obvious evidence thereof. NIDA will generally only fund papers that speak of abuse and misuse. This ideological prejudice is built into its very name: the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In a free and scientific country, the organization would be called the National Institute on Drug Use.

Thanks to this anti-historical and anti-scientific outlook on the politically created boogieman called "drugs," I have gone my whole lifetime now without the meds that grow at my feet, and been shunted off onto Big Pharma meds which have made me chemically dependent and a ward of the healthcare state.

You talk about a civil debate: there is nothing to debate. The Drug War is a conspiracy against the natural law upon which Jefferson founded America. That's why Jefferson rolled over in his grave when the DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated his poppy plants -- a raid that the cowardly Thomas Jefferson Foundation refuses to acknowledge ever happened!

You outlaw time-honored plant medicines and then are surprised that there are problems? The DEA wants there to be overdoses and homelessness: they get billions of dollars when drugs are a problem. They get help from shows like 48 Hours to demonize substances: "The new face of Ice, the new face of PCP, the new face of Crack" -- in other words "Hey, WHITE AMERICA, this could happen to you!" Meanwhile, skinflint politicians can scapegoat "drugs" for all social problems, so that they can spend their money on prisons and law enforcement rather than healthcare and quality education for everyone regardless of income level and minority status.

What a racist farce. All tribal people have used psychoactive substances for healing. America kills off these tribal people and then criminalizes their way of life, their use of mother nature's godsends, turning the survivors into alcoholics. It's an outrage, not something that two reasonable people can differ about, especially if you live in one of the many inner cities which prohibition has turned into a shooting gallery, or in Latin America, where your Drug War has entirely destroyed the rule of law! It's as if you outlawed free speech and then wanted to discuss it peaceably. And anyone who seeks to emulate the religious substance use of tribal people is told they are not allowed to do so, and so the DEA outlaws entire religions. The Hindu religion would not exist today had the DEA been around in the Indus Valley in 1500 BC to crack down on the use of soma. Surely, a reasonable person does not believe that a self-interested government bureaucrat should be in charge of deciding whether a religion is real!

The DEA has been lying about drugs since its founding. Its leaders need to be put on trial for denying godsend drugs to billions, for willfully poisoning Americans with paraquat in the 1980s, and for outrageously outlawing religions.

The Drug War represents the enforcement of Christian Science Sharia, Christian Science being the drug-hating religion of Mary Baker-Eddy.

Moreover, prohibition just does not work (nor should it): The Washington Post recently reported that the shipment of opioid pills dropped 45% between 2011 and 2019 thanks to law enforcement crackdowns. During this same time period, fatal overdoses rose to record levels! And guess who else paid the price? Young kids in hospice care who could not get adequate pain relief because the doctor was afraid of being arrested. There were no streets full of "users" when opium was legal. One could smoke safely at home. The opioid crisis arose after we outlawed a naturally occurring substance called opium. But the Drug Warrior never gets it. It's a vicious circle: they keep justifying prohibition by pointing to the problems that are CAUSED by prohibition. We can only conclude that Drug Warriors are either immensely stupid or completely disingenuous.

People want self-transcendence, and they do not want to use your shabby drug of alcohol.

Meanwhile, America uses drug tests, not to find impairment, but simply to find traces of substances of which politicians disapprove. In this way, an American can be removed from the workforce without trial, indeed without even being charged with a crime. We do not even punish axe murderers that way. We complain about terrorists slipping through the cracks: no wonder when the police are busy harassing minorities for the mere possession of substances of which racist politicians disapprove. Meanwhile, police departments confiscate entire estates after finding a single "joint" on the premises, even if the drug did not belong to the property owner. Thus the Drug War runs roughshod over the fourth and fifth amendments of the US Constitution.

If you really believe in prohibition, then let's put the names of all drinkers in the newspapers, confiscate their property, remove them from the workforce, jail them and remove them from the voting rolls. Then Drug Warriors will finally get a taste of their own medicine.

This is why your facts and figures about MDMA, etc., do not interest me. You leave out the most important facts - not only the history of responsible and important drug use (see above) but why people use drugs in the first place: "It's the self-transcendence, stupid!" The opium-loving Avicenna said he wanted to live a "wide" life, not a "long" one. But prohibitionists know nothing of a user's values in life. They can say nothing about whether the use of a given drug by a given person would pass a cost/benefit analysis, since they know nothing about the hopes and dreams of the user. Without knowing this, they cannot tell whether the use would be worth the risk. Besides, if we were really worried about risks, we would outlaw horseback riding, which injures 100,000 a year and kills thousands around the globe. It is also the leading cause of Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States. The fact that we do not outlaw horseback riding shows that drug laws are not about our health, but rather about punishing a certain kind of person whom the intolerant American puritan dislikes, which (surprise, surprise) turns out to be mainly minorities. In fact, that's how drug prohibition got started: by outlawing a substance (opium) that racist politicians associated with the Chinese.

Moreover, we are on the brink of annihilation as a people. Yet your "facts" about MDMA ignore how such drugs can help bring the world together in peace. The US has nearly been irradiated by thermonuclear weapons at least twice during the last 70 years, including once in Arkansas and once in North Carolina (not by the Soviet Union but by our own butterfingers Air Force). Yet we completely ignore the power of drugs that could help the world to come together in peace - and end school shootings - eventually removing the perceived need for such outrageous weapons.

But Americans know that their job and earning potential will be in jeopardy if they decry Drug War orthodoxy. That's yet another reason why a civil debate is impossible on this topic. Most opponents for Drug War ideology are in the closet, and understandably so, since to speak up will put their jobs at risk.

For these, and MANY more reasons, the DEA is the American Gestapo, enforcing a policy that outlaws philosophy and religion and tells me how and how much I am allowed to feel in this life.

Please stop trying to treat them as a rational all-American organization.

Brian Quass

PS "You" (as used above) means the average Drug Warrior. I trust you do not belong to that group, but your web page shows that you share some of their characteristics, like the idea that a freedom-loving person can be on either side of this issue. That's absolutely wrong. Outlawing mother nature (and drugs derived therefrom) is nothing short of tyranny and the biggest government power grab in human history. And your use of the "skull" image is clear proof that you believe in the Drug War strategy of substance demonization. Yes, drugs can be dangerous; just as horseback riding and driving can be dangerous. But we tolerate them and try to make them as safe as possible. In the case of the Drug War, we do the opposite: we make sure that the drug supply is as dangerous as possible and then we refuse to teach safe use - meanwhile we ignore the many religious and socio-psychological reasons why people might use drugs and ascribe all use to hedonism. So we crack down in the name of intolerant puritanism on cultures and ways of life that we refuse to understand. One can only conclude that the Drug War is a war on a certain mindset, a certain way of thinking about the world, one of which beer-swilling white Christians disapprove.

In Fahrenheit 451, the government burns books to control what the people could think.

Today, in Fahrenheit 452, the government burns plants to control how and how much a person can think.

When such unnatural dystopias arise in an ostensibly free society, they do not need to be debated, they need to be opposed root and branch.

October 9, 2023 Brian (bless him) disses alcohol in this post only in order to make a point about hypocrisy. Between you and me, he has been known to crook the elbow for an odd tipple: a Blue Hawaii here, a Rum Runner there. Why, just the other night, I walked into the editing suite and the old boy was nursing a Jungle Bird! "Well, hello, hello," says I, "aren't WE the cosmopolitan!"

Next essay: When Drug Warriors cry 'Censorship!'
Previous essay: How AI turned William James into a Drug Warrior

More Essays Here

Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Addiction thrives BECAUSE of prohibition, which outlaws drug alternatives and discourages education about psychoactive substances and how to use them wisely.
What are drug dealers doing, after all? Only selling substances that people want and have always had a right to, until racist politicians came along and decided government had the right to ration out pain relief and mystical experience.
So he writes about the mindset of the deeply depressed, reifying the condition as if it were some great "type" inevitably to be encountered in humanity. No. It's the "type" to be found in a post-Christian society that has turned up its scientific nose at psychoactive medicine.
Prohibitionists have nothing to say about all other dangerous activities: nothing about hunting, free climbing, hang-gliding, sword swallowing, free diving, skateboarding, sky-diving, chug-a-lug competitions, chain-smoking. Their "logic" is incoherent.
The Drug War is one big entrapment scheme for poor minorities. Prohibition creates an economy that hugely incentivizes drug dealing, and when the poor fall for the bait, the prohibitionists rush in to arrest them and remove them from the voting rolls.
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'd like to become a guinea pig for researchers to test the ability of psychoactive drugs to make aging as psychologically healthy as possible. If such drugs cannot completely ward off decrepitude, they can surely make it more palatable. The catch? Researchers have to be free.
Had we really wanted to "help" users, we would have used the endless godsends of Mother Nature and related synthetics to provide spirit-lifting alternatives to problem use. But no one wanted to treat users as normal humans. They wanted to pathologize and moralize their use.
The DEA conceives of "drugs" as only justifiable in some time-honored ritual format, but since when are bureaucrats experts on religion? I believe, with the Vedic people and William James, in the importance of altered states. To outlaw such states is to outlaw my religion.
The confusion arises because materialists insist that every psychological problem is actually a physical problem, hence the disease-mongering of the DSM. This is antithetical to the shamanic approach, which sees people holistically, as people, not patients.
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front cover of Drug War Comic Book

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You have been reading an article entitled, There is nothing to debate: the drug war is wrong, root and branch: an open letter to Nathan of, published on October 9, 2023 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)