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Top 10 Problems with the Drug War

and how we respond to it -- an open letter to Professor Nathan Nobis

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

April 12, 2022

ood morning, Professor Nobis.

I am a 64-year-old philosopher and the founder of, where I post a wide variety of philosophical arguments against America's Drug War.

I just wanted to share with you a few ideas I have on the subject, if you have a moment. I'll try not to presume too much on your time, however, because if you have any real interest, you can always browse my writings on the topic at

Here then are ten points that I believe receive "short shrift" by current opponents of the Drug War:

1. The Drug War is a violation of the natural law upon which Jefferson founded America, because it involves the government telling us which plants we can have access to -- whereas John Locke himself wrote in his second treatise on government that human beings have a right to the use of the land "and all that lies therein." (Surely Jefferson was rolling in his grave when the DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated his poppy plants.)

2. The Drug War represents a wrong way of looking at the world. To understand this, we merely need to replace the political term "drugs" with the term "godsend plant medicine." In short, the Drug War makes sense only if we take a jaundiced Christian Science view of the medical bounty of Mother Nature (which is really an anti-Christian outlook since the Christian God himself said that his creation was good).

3. Which brings me to point 3: the Drug War can be seen as the enforcement of the Christian Science religion with respect to psychoactive medicine. The government requires us to believe that drugs are morally bad in this latter case.

4. Drug testing is wrong because it punishes people, not for impairment, but for the mere use (however dated and fleeting) of a proscribed substance. In this sense, it is an extrajudicial "fishing expedition" by corporations acting on behalf of the federal government. Moreover, the punishment is cruel and unusual, insofar as it involves the removal of the "guilty" party from the American workforce without trial, a punishment not even inflicted on paroled murderers.

5. Many opponents of the Drug War (especially libertarians) start on "the back foot," since they effectively agree with the prohibitionist notion that there is no reasonable use for "drugs." This standpoint ignores the fact that the Vedic religion was inspired by the psychoactive impact of botanicals, that Plato's view of the afterlife was inspired by the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian mysteries, that Benjamin Franklin, Marcus Aurelius and many poets and authors have profited from opium use, and that coca has been used for centuries by South American cultures and inspired the writings of such authors as HG Wells, Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas, and Henrik Ibsen.

6. In light of point 5 above, the Drug War may be seen not simply as the outlawing of a religion, but rather as the outlawing of the very fountainhead of the religious impulse.

7. The Drug War has government dictating what can be studied by scientists in the same way that the Church once dictated terms to Galileo, with the exception being that Galileo recognized that he was being censored, while modern scientists almost never acknowledge this censorship, so used have they become (through lifelong indoctrination) to considering Drug War prohibitions to be a natural baseline for modern research, thereby drastically limiting their conception of what drug-aided wonders might be possible with respect to improving human happiness, learning potential, ability to overcome addiction and depression, and even bringing about world peace (considering how Ecstasy brought peace, love and understanding to a multiethnic dance floor -- before being shut down by prohibitionists who couldn't get their minds around the fact that this utopia was brought about by a "drug"). Even the fight against Alzheimer's and autism is stymied by our outlawing of medications that show great prima facie potential for ameliorating if not curing these conditions (as, for instance, psychedelics can generate new neurons and new neuronal connections).

8. Almost no drug-war critic holds the Drug War responsible for the fact that 1 in 4 American women must take a Big Pharma med every day of their life (far more than were ever "habitues" of opium prior to 1914), and that the meds in question can be harder to kick than heroin thanks to the way that they change brain chemistry, without yet "fixing" the depression at which they were targeted (source: Julie Holland).

9. In light of point 8 above, we can see how the term "addict" is a political term in a Drug War society. Before prohibition, opium users were "habitues." Only after 1914 were they demonized as "addicts." Likewise, a lifetime heroin user is deemed an "addict" (with all the judgmental baggage that implies) while the lifelong user of a modern antidepressant is not only NOT an addict, but is someone whom we actually tell to "keep taking their meds."

10. Drug war propaganda is spread in very subtle ways. Academic papers about "drugs" almost always focus on misuse, abuse and addiction, thereby giving the impression to those who merely browse such collections that outlawed substances do absolutely nothing other than pose a threat to human health. The articles may all be 100% accurate and yet the collective effect of these articles is misleading because it is ahistorical and ignores a world of therapeutic possibilities that we have dogmatically decided to ignore on an a priori basis.

As said, I do not want to presume on your time. Suffice it to say that my drug-war focus and belief is the following: that the Drug War is far more insidious and wrong than almost any Drug War critic has yet realized, and that the Drug War can be shown to cause all of the problems that it purports to fix, and then some.

My goal is to share ideas like these that I do not think have been adequately considered by drug-war opponents, and I hope you find these ideas interesting and useful in fighting the war on the war on drugs.

Best Wishes!

Brian Quass

PS I personally feel that the modern attempt to roll back the Drug War is unnecessarily defensive, often starting on the assumption that "drugs" really are bad and unnecessary. I would advocate an offensive approach, wherein we push for the legal prosecution of the DEA for crimes, such as lying about plant medicine for the last half century and poisoning Americans with a weed killer that causes Parkinson's Disease (and which was known to be deadly to human beings even at the time that it was first employed by Reagan's Jefferson-busting DEA).

November 10, 2022
Brian failed to point out, bless him, that Professor Nobis is a bioethics philosopher at Morehouse College. Nor has our author made it entirely clear why he contacted Nathan in the first place. This is a trifle puzzling, given his worship's usual rigor on such points. Fortunately, the admittedly interesting observations enumerated above can stand on their own. Still, one can't help speculating about the nature of the no-doubt fascinating article and/or opinion piece that prompted them.

Author's Follow-up: November 10, 2022

Professor Nobis has not yet quite seen his way clear to respond to me. But it's early days. Watch this space for developments.

Next essay: 'Intoxiphobia' by Russell Newcombe
Previous essay: How the Drug War Killed Amy Winehouse

More Essays Here

Prohibition Tweets

Democratic societies need to outlaw prohibition for many reasons, the first being the fact that prohibition removes millions of minorities from the voting rolls, thereby handing elections to fascists and insurrectionists.
When folks die in horse-related accidents, we need to be asking: who sold the victim the horse? We've got to crack down on folks who peddle this junk -- and ban books like Black Beauty that glamorize horse use.
Today's Washington Post reports that "opioid pills shipped" DROPPED 45% between 2011 and 2019..... while fatal overdoses ROSE TO RECORD LEVELS! Prohibition is PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE.
The goal of drug-law reform should be to outlaw prohibition. Anything short of that, and our basic rights will always be subject to veto by fearmongers. Outlawing prohibition would restore the Natural Law of Jefferson, which the DEA scorned in 1987 with its raid on Monticello.
Drugs like opium and psychedelics should come with the following warning: "Outlawing of this product may result in inner-city gunfire, civil wars overseas, and rigged elections in which drug warriors win office by throwing minorities in jail."
Prohibition turned habituation into addiction by creating a wide variety of problems for users, including potential arrest, tainted or absent drug supply, and extreme stigmatization.
If we let "science" decide about drugs, i.e. base freedom on health concerns, then tea can be as easily outlawed as beer. The fact that horses are not illegal shows that prohibition is not about health. It's about the power to outlaw certain "ways of being in the world."
The formula is easy: pick a substance that folks are predisposed to hate anyway, then keep hounding the public with stories about tragedies somehow related to that substance. Show it ruining lives in movies and on TV. Don't lie. Just keep showing all the negatives.
Then folks like Sabet will accuse folks like myself of ignoring the "facts." No, it is Sabet who is ignoring the facts -- facts about dangerous horses and free climbing. He's also ignoring all the downsides of prohibition, whose laws lead to the election of tyrants.
That's the problem with prohibition. It is not ultimately a health question but a question about priorities and sensibilities -- and those topics are open to lively debate and should not be the province of science, especially when natural law itself says mother nature is ours.
I personally hate beets and I could make a health argument against their legality. Beets can kill for those allergic to them. Sure, it's a rare condition, but since when has that stopped a prohibitionist from screaming bloody murder?
I can think of no greater intrusion than to deny one autonomy over how they think and feel in life. It is sort of a meta-intrusion, the mother of all anti-democratic intrusions.
Enforced by the blatantly rights-crushing solicitation of urine from the king's subjects, as if to underscore the fact that your very digestive system is controlled by the state.
Until prohibition ends, rehab is all about enforcing a Christian Science attitude toward psychoactive medicines (with the occasional hypocritical exception of Big Pharma meds).
Philip Jenkins reports that Rophynol had positive uses for treating mental disorders until the media called it the "date rape drug." We thus punished those who were benefitting from the drug, tho' the biggest drug culprit in date rape is alcohol. Oprah spread the fear virally.
This is the "Oprah fallacy," which has led to so much suffering. She told women they were fools if they accepted a drink from a man. That's crazy. If we are terrified by such a statistically improbable event, we should be absolutely horrified by horses and skateboards.
This hysterical reaction to rare negative events actually creates more rare negative events. This is why the DEA publicizes "drug problems," because by making them well known, they make the problems more prevalent and can thereby justify their huge budget.
The Partnership for a Death Free America is launching a campaign to celebrate the 50th year of Richard Nixon's War on Drugs. We need to give credit where credit's due for the mass arrest of minorities, the inner city gun violence and the civil wars that it's generated overseas.
In 1886, coca enthusiast JJ Tschudi referred to prohibitionists as 'kickers.' He wrote: "If we were to listen to these kickers, most of us would die of hunger, for the reason that nearly everything we eat or drink has fallen under their ban."
Drug Warriors never take responsibility for incentivizing poor kids throughout the west to sell drugs. It's not just in NYC and LA, it's in modest-sized towns in France. Find public housing, you find drug dealing. It's the prohibition, damn it!
I don't believe in the materialist paradigm upon which SSRIs were created, according to which humans are interchangeable chemical robots amenable to the same treatment for human sadness. Let me use laughing gas and MDMA and coca and let the materialists use SSRIs.
What prohibitionists forget is that every popular but dangerous activity, from horseback riding to drug use, will have its victims. You cannot save everybody, and when you try to do so by law, you kill far more than you save, meanwhile destroying democracy in the process.
Prohibition is based on two huge lies: 1) that there are no benefits to drug use; and 2) that there are no downsides to prohibition.
The 1932 movie "Scarface" starts with on-screen text calling for a crackdown on armed gangs in America. There is no mention of the fact that a decade's worth of Prohibition had created those gangs in the first place.
The worst form of government is not communism, socialism or even unbridled capitalism. The worst form of government is a Christian Science Theocracy, in which the government controls how much you are allowed to think and feel in life.
The Shipiba have learned to heal human beings physically, psychologically and spiritually with what they call "onanyati," plant allies and guides, such as Bobinsana, which "envelops seekers in a cocoon of love." You know: what the DEA would call "junk."
And where did politicians get the idea that irresponsible white American young people are the only stakeholders when it comes to the question of re-legalizing drugs??? There are hundreds of millions of other stakeholders: philosophers, pain patients, the depressed.
Yes, BUT when they say "drugs plus therapy," they don't mean drugs in general. They mean a small selection of drugs that pass muster with pharmacologically clueless politicians.
I agree that Big Pharma drugs have wrought disaster when used in psychotherapy -- but it is common sense that non-Big Pharma drugs that elate could be used to prevent suicide and obviate the need for ECT.
There are a potentially vast number of non-addictive drugs that could be used strategically in therapy. They elate and "free the tongue" to help talk therapy really work. Even "addictive" drugs can be used non-addictively, prohibitionist propaganda notwithstanding.
We need to start thinking of drug-related deaths like we do about car accidents: They're terrible, and yet they should move us to make driving safer, not to outlaw driving. To think otherwise is to swallow the drug war lie that "drugs" can have no positive uses.
The DEA outlawed MDMA in 1985, thereby depriving soldiers of a godsend treatment for PTSD. Apparently, the DEA staff slept well at night in the early 2000s as American soldiers were having their lives destroyed by IEDs.
Imagine someone starting their book about antibiotics by saying that he's not trying to suggest that we actually use them. We should not have to apologize for being honest about drugs. If prohibitionists think that honesty is wrong, that's their problem.
I, for one, am actually TRYING to recommend drugs like MDMA and psilocybin as substitutes for shock therapy. In fact, I would recommend almost ANY pick-me-up drug as an alternative to knowingly damaging the human brain. That's more than the hateful DEA can say.
A pharmacologically savvy drug dealer would have no problem getting someone off one drug because they would use the common sense practice of fighting drugs with drugs. But materialist doctors would rather that the patient suffer than to use such psychologically obvious methods.
If there's any doubt about this, check out the 2021 article in Forbes in which a materialist doctor professes to doubt whether laughing gas could help the depressed. Materialists are committed to seeing the world from the POV of Spock from Star Trek.
If the depressed patient laughs, that means nothing. Materialists have to see results under a microscopic or they will never sign off on a therapy.
Oregon's drug policy is incoherent and cruel. The rich and healthy spend $4,000 a week on psilocybin. The poor and chemically dependent are thrown in jail, unless they're on SSRIs, in which case they're congratulated for "taking their meds."
Prohibitionists have blood on their hands. People do not naturally die in the tens of thousands from opioid use, notwithstanding the lies of 19th-century missionaries in China. It takes bad drug policy to accomplish that.

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Open Letter to Congressman Ben Cline, asking him to abolish the criminal DEA
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Open Letter to Francis Fukuyama
Open Letter to Gabrielle Glaser
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Open letter to Professor Troy Glover at Waterloo University
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Open Letter to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Open Letter to the Virginia Legislature
Open Letter to Variety Critic Owen Glieberman
Open letter to Wolfgang Smith
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Critique of the Philosophy of Happiness
Heroin versus Alcohol
End the Drug War Now
How the Drug War Screws the Depressed
How the Monticello Foundation betrayed Jefferson's Legacy in 1987
How to Unite Drug War Opponents of all Ethnicities
Ignorance is the enemy, not Fentanyl
Majoring in Drug War Philosophy
MDMA for Psychotherapy
Predictive Policing in the Age of the Drug War
Speaking Truth to Big Pharma
Teenagers and Cannabis
Teenagers and Cannabis
Psychedelics and Depression
The Drug War and Armageddon
The Invisible Mass Shootings
The problem with Modern Drug Reform Efforts
The Menace of the Drug War
The Mother of all Western Biases
Why CBS 19 should stop supporting the Drug War
Why DARE should stop telling kids to say no
Why the Drug War is Worse than you can Imagine
Why the Holocaust Museum must denounce the Drug War
The Drug War Cure for Covid
Another Cry in the Wilderness
Open Letter to Vincent Hurley, Lecturer
Canadian Drug Warrior, I said Get Away
Open Letter to Margo Margaritoff
Open Letter to Roy Benaroch MD
How Bernardo Kastrup reckons without the drug war
The Pseudoscience of Mental Health Treatment

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans

You have been reading an article entitled, Top 10 Problems with the Drug War: and how we respond to it -- an open letter to Professor Nathan Nobis, published on April 12, 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)