Essay date: May 25, 2019

Too White to Use Mushrooms

A US court rules in 1975 that you have to be the correct color in order to join a religion

n 1975, a U.S. court ruled that the Church of the Awakening could not use "magic mushrooms" in its rituals because (get this...) the congregants were white and hence came from a people that had no history of using entheogens in religious ceremonies.

First, that premise is wrong (besides being blatantly racist, of course). The Eleusinian Mysteries were celebrated in the West on a yearly basis for almost 2,000 years, and this longevity (along with the many mystical accounts of the rite) only makes sense under the supposition that a powerful entheogen was involved. You don't continue a tradition 2,000 years, non-stop, if it's just another convivial fad.

Second: based on this rationale, I could never convert to Islam because "my people" had no experience with that religion. Nor need we grant civil rights to African-Americans under this theory since they often came from non-democratic countries that had no history of such protections.

{^In 1975, a U.S. court ruled that the Church of the Awakening could not use "magic mushrooms" in its rituals because (get this...) the congregants were white. More proof that Americans will lie, cheat, and steal in order to keep the Drug War in place, and if it means blatantly enshrining bigotry into judicial case law, so be it.}{

In other words, the 1975 ruling reveals the fundamental tyranny of the Drug War: not only does it deny Americans the pursuit of happiness (by outlawing the substances that can facilitate that happiness) but any exceptions to the rule are based on racist and anti-democratic rationales.

What could be less American than telling me that I cannot attend a given church due to the color my skin?

Yet this is the type of injustice to which a war on plants naturally leads. Being itself a violation of a basic human right, namely our access to the plants and fungi that grow unbidden around us, it should come as no surprise that government should not stint at protecting this anti-democratic status quo by any means necessary, including in this case an implicit repudiation of everything that America purports to stand for, especially freedom of religion and the right to be judged by the content of one's character as opposed to the color of one's skin.

Author's Follow-up: August 23, 2022

Of course, this exception for Native American use is odd, considering that we make no exception for Mexican natives to use coca, even though they are the descendants of Incas and other peoples who considered coca to be a God. Nor do we except Indian natives from our bans on psychedelic medicine, even though the Vedic-Hindu religion was inspired by a psychedelic plant. That's not to say that I'm plumping for such race-based exceptions, but you'd think that Drug Warrior judges would at least be consistent in their racist rulings. Naturally speaking, all human beings have a birthright to the produce of Mother Nature, but once that supreme point is rendered problematic, once America discards natural law, then judges are free to slather their infamous rulings with a veneer of chop-logic: the goal being merely to echo the manufactured consensus on these topics by any means necessary: the consensus being that drugs (as hypocritically defined by the Drug Warrior) are bad. For that reason, even history-based judicial concessions to those who think otherwise must be made piecemeal and grudgingly, lest everyone start looking back into the past only to discover the so-far unacknowledged truth that even in the west, folks have sought medicinally aided self-transcendence since prehistoric days. For starters, Plato got his views of the afterlife from the psychedelic fueled Eleusinian mysteries, which wowed the heroes of the ancient world (including Cicero, Aristotle, and Plutarch) for 2,000 consecutive years -- until 392 A.D., that is, when the rituals were most tellingly banned by Emperor Theodosius I as a threat to Christianity.

Author's Follow-up: August 25, 2022

So the government thinks that only the Native American race has the ability to use peyote wisely, while the rest of us are presumed to be hedonists with respect to the cacti in question. Fine. Still, there is such a thing as education, is there not? So if bizarre drug laws like these are to maintain any veneer of constitutionality, a "white" like myself should be able to receive some form of accredited training in order to acquire the skills that I am deemed to lack by dint of my race when it comes to peyote. Once having demonstrated such abilities to the satisfaction of the government-privileged race in this case, that is to say the Native Americans, I should then be able to receive a "pass" from the government attesting to that training and debarring law enforcement from caging me for using the drug.

But then race-based drug laws like those cited above are beyond both logic and parody, as is the evil Drug War itself, whose government-enforced demonization of substances has blinded us to medical godsends and created a world in which we knowingly -- knowingly, mind -- let kids in hospice suffer horribly rather than providing them with morphine, in which we knowingly let the severely depressed be brain-damaged through ECT rather than providing them with laughing gas and naturally occurring meds from mother nature, in which we knowingly "remove life support" to kill our loved ones, rather than providing them with the aforesaid morphine so that they can meet their end peacefully.

I will say, however, again in the spirit of black humor, that if we're to take the racist drug laws seriously, then we should have to criminalize the use of alcohol by Native Americans, for the majority of those tribes had no history of alcohol use prior to the arrival of European colonizers. Ironically, we would have been doing the Native Americans a great favor had we struck this attitude at the time of conquest (tho' prohibition, even race-based, would not have been the answer then as it is not now). But then our drug policy has never been about public health -- instead it's about an anti-scientific campaign to politicize medicine for the purpose of marginalizing minorities, a tactic so successful that it was directly responsible for the election of Donald Trump in 2016 -- for that election campaign WAS, indeed, rigged, as Donald Trump has claimed: except that it was actually rigged in favor of Donald Trump.

Thank God that with even that huge head start (the head start provided by having millions of potential left-wing voters moldering away in America's overcrowded prisons), the would-be Drug War tyrant still lost in the subsequent presidential election. Mind you, that outcome was of limited help in ending the Drug War, since the winner, notwithstanding his left-wing bona fides, turned out to be the prototype of neoliberal Drug Warriors, one Joe Biden by name, the last person in America who still considers marijuana to be a gateway drug and the alarmist politician who sponsored the law which punished Black cocaine users 10 times more harshly than their white drug-taking counterparts.

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No Drug War Keychains

The key to ending the Drug War is to spread the word about the fact that it is Anti-American, unscientific and anti-minority (for starters)

Monticello Betrayed Thomas Jefferson

By demonizing plant medicine, the Drug War overthrew the Natural Law upon which Jefferson founded America -- and brazenly confiscated the Founding Father's poppy plants in 1987, in a symbolic coup against Jeffersonian freedoms.

This is your Brain on Godsend Plant Medicine

Stop the Drug War from demonizing godsend plant medicines. Psychoactive plant medicines are godsends, not devil spawn.

The Drug War Censors Science

Scientists: It's time to wake up to the fact that you are censored by the drug war. Drive the point home with these bumper stickers.

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.

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