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What Obama got wrong about drugs

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

August 20, 2020

lthough President Obama's views on drug law were a great improvement over those of his Stalinist predecessors (Reagan and the two Bushes who shamefully called on kids to "turn in" their parents for using substances of which politicians disapprove) his desire to be "scientific" about drugs raises at least three major problems of its own.

1) Why need we turn to science to justify the legalization of plant medicines that were unconstitutionally criminalized in the first place? Surely, a country founded on natural law cannot justifiably deny its citizens the right to access the plants and fungi that grow at their very feet. To turn the discussion to science is to yield unnecessary ground to the Drug Warrior, saying in effect: "Yes, of course, citizens cannot be trusted with free access to all of Mother Nature's bounty, but let's decide which plants can be legal on a scientific basis." That's as much as to say, "Yes, Drug Warrior, we agree on one thing: that common law must now triumph over natural law, given the prevalence of all these nasty drugs out there in Mother Nature."

2) Natural law aside, the subject of drugs is not merely a scientific issue. It is also an aesthetic, spiritual and political one. This is because illegal substances can endow the user with a whole new view of life, especially viewpoints that are thought to be left-leaning, including a love for nature and a feeling of unity with all of humankind. It is therefore tyrannical and partisan to render such new outlooks criminal. It is an attempt on the part of government to discourage certain ways of thinking about the world. It is thus the ultimate form of governmental mind control. And that is not a tyranny that science is going to solve for us: it is a question of fundamental freedom in a modern democracy: either we have the freedom to entertain new outlooks that these substances can facilitate or we don't.

Consider how the eccentric character Augustus Bedloe saw the natural world around him with the help of morphine in the Edgar Allan Poe story entitled "Tale of the Ragged Mountains":

"In the meantime the morphine had its customary effect- that of enduing all the external world with an intensity of interest. In the quivering of a leaf- in the hue of a blade of grass- in the shape of a trefoil- in the humming of a bee- in the gleaming of a dew-drop- in the breathing of the wind- in the faint odors that came from the forest- there came a whole universe of suggestion- a gay and motley train of rhapsodical and immethodical thought."

I don't know about you, but I want that kind of wide-awake life, rather than to drowsily trudge through God's scenery with dull eyes and shuffling step, and science's view on my desires is irrelevant. Science may play an advisory role in telling me the downsides of morphine use as a means to living such a lifestyle (no doubt there are safer means through, say, the guided use of certain psychedelics), but their advice will be laughably hypocritical to me until the day when they are free to tell me both the subjective good sides and the objective bad sides of ALL psychoactive substances, including Big Pharma pills and alcohol. Instead, most "drug information" focuses on the negative properties of illegal substances alone, thereby reinforcing Drug War propaganda which says that substances can only bring about evil once they have been criminalized by American politicians.

Which brings up the final problem with the "scientific" approach to drugs:

3) Even science is political when it focuses only on specific aspects of a supposed problem. That's why science today has zero street cred in lecturing me on drug misuse. This is because it completely ignores the fact that 1 in 8 American men and 1 in 4 American women are addicted to Big Pharma meds. If 1 in 4 American women were addicted to morphine, conservative politicians would be screaming for martial law to be put in place, allowing the government to do constitutionally shady things to quash the scourge of drug abuse. The last thing they want is a drug being popularized which gives the user a "touchy-feely" outlook on life: it might cause them to vote for Democrats, after all.

But what is the difference between me being addicted to the daily use of morphine and me being addicted to the daily use of Big Pharma meds? There's no doubt which I would personally choose if I had to be addicted to SOMETHING. It's really a no-brainer: do I want morphine to facilitate deep insights into the world around me, or do I want my emotional life to be "tamped down" by Big Pharma meds? Um, I'll take the morphine, please, hold the moralizing. Why? Because addiction itself is not necessarily a problem if a safe supply of one's chosen poison is reliably available to the user: the problem is being addicted to a substance that keeps you from attaining self-actualization in life.

Relax, Drug Warriors: I'm not advocating morphine use: rather I'm advocating free but informed decision making regarding all substance use, which is nothing more radical than the status quo that existed in the American Republic until 1914, when racist politician Francis Burton Harrison first outlawed a plant in violation of the natural law upon which America was founded.

Inconvenient Truths

Dr. William Stewart Halsted, co-founder of Johns Hopkins medical school, was a lifelong morphine addict. Sound shocking? Well, check your hypocritical astonishment at the door, because thousands of famous and worthy men today are addicted to Big Pharma meds and use them every single day of their life. As Thomas Szasz reports in "Ceremonial Chemistry," Halsted was able to adjust his dosage so that he appeared eminently sober while yet having the increased energy and focus that the drug facilitated in him. Interviewed late in life, his colleagues professed astonishment that he could have done so much IN SPITE OF his morphine use, never stopping to think that he may have done so much BECAUSE OF his morphine use. If Americans thought rationally about drugs, they would reserve their astonishment for folks who achieve a great deal in life while yet taking modern-day anti-depressants, since those latter drugs have been shown to conduce to emotional flat-lining in long-term users.

Author's Follow-up: July 21, 2022

I feel compelled to add that the ideal pharmacological world for me would be a non-addictive one. Such a stand, however, does not rule out the use of morphine or opium, because Drug War propaganda aside, a potentially addictive substance can be used non-addictively. You'd know that if the government spent its time and money teaching folks how to be safe rather than demonizing substances like so many Christian Science cavepersons. Moreover, even if I did err on the addictive side, the world is still my pharmacological oyster when all psychoactive medicines are legal and I have a pharmacologically savvy empath for a friend. I look forward to the day when pharmacologically savvy empaths will have the green light to leverage psychoactive substances of all kinds in order to provide a seeker, as opposed to a "patient," with insight, guidance and focus for the human mind. Indeed, I see such interventions as getting rid of the whole concept of "patients" when it comes to mental conditions, since we only think of them as patients because the healthcare business wants to claim mood and mind as their bailiwick, for obvious financial reasons.

Of course, this will be hard to understand for many brainwashed readers -- those of you who received teddy bears as kids for just saying no to mother nature's godsend meds -- especially since you then went on to watch TV shows in which coca and opium users were only ever depicted as fiends -- and in which even scientists only ever focused on the downsides of substance use. And then you discover that drugs are so evil that you'll be removed from the American workforce if you use even a trace of the government's official list of despised substances (notwithstanding that some of them have inspired the creation of entire religions). Moreover, the US Office of National Drug Control Policy has actually been forbidding its employees for decades now to even consider possible safe uses of "drugs" -- in other words, they are all about spreading propaganda and fearmongering. So it's amazing that anyone sees through the mist of Drug War lies considering how politicians have run a full-court press against the truth for the past century, starting with their Sinophobic demonizing of the poppy plant.

That's why I maintain that the Drug War is a cult. Indeed, I believe it meets the 8 conditions for being a cult as defined by psychiatrist and author Robert Jay Lifton. But that's a subject for another essay.

Author's Follow-up: December 3, 2022

Obama launched his so-called BRAIN Initiative in 2013, at the same time that he was supporting a Drug War which outlawed all the substances that reveal the power of said brain. Psychedelics reveal whole new worlds in the mind. Opium allows one to metaphorically parse their negative experiences (including physical pain) so that one is not bothered by them. The problems do not go away: rather they are seen as separate from one's true self. Such drugs imply all sorts of wonderful things about the role of the brain and of consciousness itself, yet the BRAIN Initiative will not investigate these angles, since it will be censored from doing so by Drug War superstition, which says that such substances are without any value whatsoever. And so the "scientific" BRAIN Initiative is completely unscientific. The fix is in. By outlawing the study of such experiential wonders, Obama invites consciousness-scorning materialists to declare premature victory in the field of neuroscience.

Next essay: Heroin versus Alcohol
Previous essay: How the Drug War turned me into an eternal patient

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

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.
Every time I see a psychiatrist, I feel like I'm playing a game of make-believe. We're both pretending that hundreds of demonized medicines do not exist and could be of no use whatsoever.
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.
In the Atomic Age Declassified, they tell us that we needed hundreds of thermonuclear tests so that scientists could understand the effects. That's science gone mad. Just like today's scientists who need more tests before they can say that laughing gas will help the depressed. Science today is all about ignoring the obvious. And THAT's why scientists are drug war collaborators, because they're not about to sign off on the use of substances until they've studied them "up the wazoo." Using grants from an agency whose very name indicates their anti-drug bias: namely, the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
As such, "we" are important. The sun is just a chaos of particles that "we" have selected out of the rest of the raw data and declared "This we shall call the sun!" "We" make this universe. Consciousness is fundamental.
America created a whole negative morality around "drugs" starting in 1914. "Users" became fiends and were as helpless as a Christian sinner -- in need of grace from a higher power. Before prohibition, these "fiends" were habitues, no worse than Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson.
Alcohol makes me sleepy. But NOT coca wine. The wine gives you an upbeat feeling of controlled energy, without the jitters of coffee and without the fury of steroids. It increases rather than dulls mental focus.
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."
The FDA says that MindMed's LSD drug works. But this is the agency that has not been able to decide for decades now if coca "works," or if laughing gas "works." It's not just science going on at the FDA, it's materialist presuppositions about what constitutes evidence.
What bothers me about AI is that everyone's so excited to see what computers can do, while no one's excited to see what the human mind can do, since we refuse to improve it with mind-enhancing drugs.
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You have been reading an article entitled, What Obama got wrong about drugs published on August 20, 2020 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)