Essay date: May 21, 2023

What Carl Hart Missed

Why 'Drug Use for Grown-Ups' Gets a B+

Drug Use for Grown-Ups is one of the most honest books ever about so-called drugs.  The author's only shortcoming is his apparent failure to see the link between the drug war and the psychoactive pill mill.

Author's Preface: May 23, 2023

I'm pretty much the only one I know who has explicitly pointed out that the Drug War censors science. (Credit where credit's due, right?) It's little wonder then that I will be a miserly teacher when it comes to doling out the coveted grade of "A." But that should not obscure the fact that Carl is an American hero in my book, and that he is the Frederick Douglass of our times, a man who not simply stands up for what is right, but does so in an age in which the majority have been browbeaten into denying common sense -- and natural law, for that matter. Carl is a true American, one interested in restoring the Jeffersonian vision of the pursuit of happiness -- upon which the Reagan DEA so ungraciously trampled when it stomped onto Monticello in 1987 to confiscate the founding father's poppy plants -- a truly superstitious and troglodytic abuse of government power.

I continue to recommend the book "Drug Use for Grown-Ups," and I congratulate Dr. Carl L. Hart of Columbia University for coming out of the closet as a responsible drug user and for encouraging others in the Ivory Tower to do the same. That said, however, Carl's "take" on the subject is not without its shortcomings. After reading the book in question, one gets the feeling that he shares the typical Libertarian viewpoint on this subject, namely that drug use is not particularly necessary, or even important in the grand scheme of things, but that people do like to relax and chill out and they should have the right to do so in the way of their choice, and not be limited to using alcohol for this purpose.

That's nice as far as it goes, but the fact is that so-called "drug" use also inspired the philosophy of William James and it inspired the Vedic religion. So outlawing such substances does not simply stop us from chilling out after a tough work day, it also stops us from pursuing knowledge and religious inspiration in general - which is far worse than outlawing any one religion in particular: it is a ban on the religious impulse itself.

Coming from a science background, Carl also seems to share the materialist assumption that modern science has "sorted" depression for most of us, thanks to its reductionist approach to treatment (this despite the fact that the number of depressed in America has soared ever since the introduction of these drugs). Far from fixing depression, however, the search for a reductionist "cure" for the condition has led to the biggest mass drug dependency of all time, thanks to which 1 in 4 American women are dependent upon Big Pharma pills for life. And frankly, I do not think that anyone fully understands the problem of prohibition who fails to recognize this reality. This pill mill exists, after all, only because prohibition has outlawed all psychoactive competition.

In fact, Carl all but tells the depressed amongst his readership to "keep taking your meds." He says, in effect, that the kind of use he describes is only advisable for the healthy of mind and body. He seems unaware of the ability of mind-inspiring and neuron-growing drugs to fight depression and unaware of the fact that Big Pharma antidepressants tranquilize rather than inspire, a truth to which I can attest after 40+ years' worth of experience on the receiving end of these so-called wonder drugs.

But Carl's oversight does explain something for me. I was wondering how he could get away with being so honest about "drugs." Now I suspect that he is tolerated in part because he -- just like other reformers like Rick Doblin and DJ Nutt - are not challenging the role of Big Pharma in "treating" the depressed with a one-size-fits-all treatment based on reductionist principles: i.e., the idea that human beings are interchangeable widgets all amenable to the same psychoactive therapy, one in which drugs (or rather "meds"), and not the human's attitude, do all the heavy lifting.

To be fair, Carl does hint at the greater injustice of the Drug War. He says that we all have a right to the pursuit of happiness and that prohibition is in violation of that principle. He points out, moreover, that our bodies are provided with molecular receptors for drugs like coca and opium, without which we could not profit from them. The implication is therefore clear: namely, that God and/or Nature expected us to use such substances. The Drug War is therefore anti-nature -- though Carl never explicitly makes that point but merely implies it. But the Drug war is also anti-religion and anti-philosophy, and those are two points that Carl does not even imply.

When I read that bit about the chemical receptors in the human body, by the way, I was terrified. It occurred to me that someday (perhaps sooner than later) human beings may indeed have the technical ability to remove such receptors from the human body entirely - and then the Drug Warriors will enforce their anti-nature religion upon all of us by physically removing our ability to benefit from psychoactive substances (all except liquor, of course), thereby not simply outlawing the philosophy of William James but making it physically impossible for human beings to pursue his investigations into the ultimate nature of reality. The very creation of new religions would henceforth be hindered by the human being's politician-altered physiology. This is why we must argue against drug prohibition on principled grounds and not just on the grounds of expediency. The Drug War is wrong root and branch, not just in parts, and we should say so.

Carl takes a step in that direction by pointing out that the Drug War is a violation of our right to the pursuit of happiness. The next step, however, is to argue on religious grounds and on the grounds of scientific and philosophical freedom. We must argue against the Drug War on all these principled fronts if we wish to shut down the Drug Warrior's mad ambitions -- which surely have not been satiated or appeased by the enormous power that we have already ceded to them to criminalize Mother Nature. They will be just as outrageous in the future as we allow them to be -- and as technology permits. If we do not demand the restoration of Natural Law and the re-legalization of Mother Nature on clearly stated philosophical grounds, that is to say on principles (especially on those in America's founding documents), then the Drug Warrior, who is already responsible for endless amounts of unnecessary suffering around the world, still has worse in store for us.

Author's Follow-up: May 21, 2023

Note: Carl's still one of the least bamboozled authors on this topic. In fact, I can't think of any book that would get an "A"-- although Daniel Pinchbeck also gets a B+. Thomas Szasz himself missed these aspects of the Drug War. In fact, as far as I know, I'm the only one who has explicitly tied the Drug War to reductive materialism. That's no doubt why it's uphill climbing to get my views across: they are necessarily philosophical in nature. No wonder materialists would like the Drug War -- it outlaws the substances whose use gives us hints of a non-materialist reality.

Terence McKenna gets a B, for his psychedelic elitism. He associates coca and opium with the misuse of coca and opium -- and with hedonism. These are exactly the associations that Drug Warriors want us to make and they have been censoring academia and the media with that goal in mind for almost a century now, indeed ever since media as we know it has existed.

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

Next essay: Another Cry in the Wilderness
Previous essay: Why Rick Doblin is Ghosting Me

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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. (For proof of that latter charge, check out how the US and UK have criminalized the substances that William James himself told us to study in order to understand reality.) It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions (like the Vedic), Nazifies the English language (referring to folks who emulate drug-loving Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin as "scumbags") and militarizes police forces nationwide (resulting in gestapo SWAT teams breaking into houses of peaceable Americans and shouting "GO GO GO!").

(Speaking of Nazification, L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates thought that drug users should be shot. What a softie! The real hardliners are the William Bennetts of the world who want drug users to be beheaded instead. That will teach them to use time-honored plant medicine of which politicians disapprove! Mary Baker Eddy must be ecstatic in her drug-free heaven, as she looks down and sees this modern inquisition on behalf of the drug-hating principles that she herself maintained. I bet she never dared hope that her religion would become the viciously enforced religion of America, let alone of the entire freakin' world!)

In short, the drug war 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.

PPS 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."

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
  • Bernays, Edward "Propaganda"1928 Public Domain
  • 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
  • Gianluca, Toro "Drugs of the Dreaming: Oneirogens"2007 Simon and Schuster
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Grof, Stanislav "The transpersonal vision: the healing potential of nonordinary states of consciousness"1998 Sounds True
  • Head, Simon "Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans"2012 Basic Books
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Illich, Ivan "Medical nemesis : the expropriation of health"1975 Calder & Boyars
  • 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
  • Lindstrom, Martin "Brandwashed: tricks companies use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy"2011 Crown Business
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Miller, Richard Lawrence "Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State"1966 Bloomsbury Academic
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Nagel, Thomas "Mind and Cosmos: why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false"2012 Oxford University press
  • Newcombe, Russell "Intoxiphobia: discrimination toward people who use drugs"2014
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • Rosenblum, Bruce "Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness"2006 Oxford University Press
  • 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
  • Whitaker, Robert "Mad in America"2002 Perseus Publishing
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at