Essay date: September 5, 2022

When you say 'Drugs'

hen professors say "drugs" without properly qualifying this monstrously "loaded" term, they are parroting drug-war propaganda, for what does "drugs" mean in modern parlance? It means the following:

Medicine for which there is no potential beneficial use: not now, not ever, not here, not there, not anywhere.

The fact is, of course, that no such substances exist in the real world. All substances have potential beneficial uses, including the deadly Botox itself. What you have above is, in fact, a political definition of "drugs" which is designed to justify America in its criminalization of almost every psychoactive godsend imaginable which a free people might have otherwise gratefully employed for the benefit of humans and humankind. The term "drugs" is no more a scientific term than the word "scabs": both terms not only denote a noun but they pass judgment on that noun in so doing.

It's no wonder that academics share the modern prejudice against such substances, because it helps them make their peace with the fact that many of these substances are off limits to scientific research by order of the federal government. So instead of loudly protesting this government censorship of scientists, the academic world adopts an attitude of sour grapes toward the whole topic of psychoactive medicine, saying in effect; "Oh, those are just 'drugs,' which have no beneficial uses, and so it's no big deal that we're not allowed to study them. To the contrary, we are glad to do our patriotic part in putting these substances beyond the pale of scientific discourse."

As a fan of the Great Courses (aka Wondrium), I have frequently winced when professors on subjects as diverse as logic and language theory uncritically use the word "drugs" in the political acceptation of that term. I won't name names here, but in one philosophy course, a professor was warning against jumping to unsupported conclusions based on the prejudices of the age in which one lives, only to illustrate that concern by parroting some Drug War lie about psychoactive substances, completely failing to realize that he himself was jumping to unsupported conclusions in the name of the Drug War ideology of substance demonization.

By politicizing the word "drugs" the government has blinded science to hundreds of prima facie cures for all sorts of modern issues, like depression, Alzheimer's and autism. For the substances that we demonize today under the pejorative catch-all of "drugs" have inspired entire religions in the past. How could these substances NOT have a strong prima facie potential of working wonders in the lives of troubled users, especially given the fact that some of these substances (the psychedelics in particular) have been shown to promote the growth of new neurons in the brain?

Unfortunately, the use of this term does not simply blind us to the existence of medical godsends, as if that weren't enough of a downside in itself. It also serves to enshrine reductive materialism as the one way of looking at the world, the one way of being in the world, as Heidegger would put it. After all, we have outlawed all medicines whose MO involves consciousness and feeling -- and so now science can placidly go on its way looking for "real" cures for problems like depression -- in other words, cures that involve chemical imbalances and other fantasies concocted by the Big Pharma PR departments.

This is why Forbes magazine could publish an article in 2021 with the absurd title "Can Laughing Gas help people with treatment-resistant depression?"

A depressed person would never be so ignorant as to ask such a question: of course it would help. The only reason that the question becomes problematic is because drug-war science ignores the obvious world of consciousness and feelings and focuses instead on reductionist causes that the sufferer can never directly see. And so the drug-warrior scientist doesn't care how much a depressed person is laughing when using nitrous oxide, nor how much that person's mood is elevated merely by the fact that they are LOOKING FORWARD to such use. Presumably, if the article's author, Dr. Robert Glatter, were to catch me laughing from Nitrous Oxide, he would tell me: "No, Brian, you are not REALLY happy. Stop using N20 until we can determine if it REALLY works."

To which I answer: "This is good enough for me. But by all means, Robert, please carry on with your attempt to count the number of angels that you can locate on a pinhead."

This is the kind of absurd world that one is supporting every time that they uncritically use the term "drugs."

This would be hilarious, could one breathe deeply enough to consider this dystopia from a Godly point of view for just a moment. But the fact is, this demonization of substances has a huge body count, and I'm not just talking about the fact that 797 blacks were killed in Chicago in 2021 alone due to drug-war violence, for even as we speak, entire Mexican cities are now no-go zones, thanks to the fact that America outlawed a substance that the Inca considered to be a God.

Seen in this light, the uncritical use of the word "drugs" is actually offensive, because it suggests that the speaker is a drug-war collaborator, someone who supports the drug-war ideology that is causing mayhem overseas and empowering stateside demagogues who now plan to execute the minorities that the previous generation of Drug Warrior would have been happy merely to incarcerate.

By Brian Quass, author of The Drug War Comic Book

Author's Follow-up: September 24, 2022

When W. Golden Mortimer was researching for her book on Coca (link below), she queried hundreds of academics to get their input on the topic. The vast majority did not reply, of course (since they know better than to stick their hands in the hornet nest of misunderstandings that is today's 'Drug War'), but many of those who did respond were indignant that Carol would dare even investigate this topic. They told her that they were convinced that the substances in question were evil and that it was therefore wrong to even write about them. They had swallowed the Drug War lie hook, line and sinker. For in reality, there are no substances that are bad in and of themselves, without regard for how they are used, or why or when. It's thinking like that which keeps children in hospices from experiencing relief from their pain with morphine, because many countries would prefer to have their kids suffer than to have them use a substance derived from a supposedly evil substance called opium. This is also why we merely "remove life support" for our dying parents, rather than letting them drift easily to sleep with morphine: because the war on drugs teaches us that it is better for our parents and kids to suffer horrendously rather than to give them godsend medicines that have inspired entire religions.

This is why the Drug War is so much worse than even its opponents give it credit for. Then, of course, there are the enormously bamboozled proponents of change who believe that the Drug War is a good idea that doesn't work. Au contraire: it is a horrendous and unscientific idea, which is anti-patient, anti-child, anti-the dying, etc. etc. It has deprived millions of Americans from godsend meds, like the coca leaf and MDMA, which could safely and non-addictively give folks the relief they need without making them wards of the healthcare state, meanwhile killing thousands of blacks each year in inner cities thanks to the violence that prohibition brings. A good idea that hasn't succeeded? Au contraire, it is a horrible idea which IS succeeding -- in propping up the liquor industry, in giving psychiatrists jobs for life, in swelling the coffers of Big Pharma, in stealing elections for conservatives by arresting minorities, and in giving America an excuse to intervene in South America at will. Why? So that we can crack down on a plant that the Peruvians considered divine, until the Spanish arrived, threw the Inca into chains, and tried to eradicate the plant from the face of the earth. (Sound familiar?)

Potter, Carol. "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas." January 01, 2017.

Author's Follow-up: October 4, 2022

Psst! Don't tell anyone but even crack cocaine can be used non-addictively. But that's something that the Drug Warriors do not want you to know, because for them, criminalized substances have to be entirely bad, without one redeeming quality. Instead of teaching "safe use," the Drug War lies about psychoactive substances, telling us (as in the DEA scheduling system) that drugs that have inspired entire religions somehow have no potential therapeutic uses whatsoever. That's impossible and a blatant anti-religious lie. But even if there were plant medicines that had no therapeutic uses, the government has no right under natural law to criminalize them, any more than the government has a right to criminalize water or sunshine or the air that we breathe.

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

Next essay: Hurray for Self-Medicating
Previous essay: Ignorance is the problem, not drugs

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essays about

There are no such things as 'killer drugs'
There are no such things as drugs

essays about

There are no such things as 'killer drugs'
There are no such things as drugs

essays about

There are no such things as 'killer drugs'
There are no such things as drugs


(seemingly useful organizations)

Sana Collective
Group committed to making psychedelic therapy available to all regardless of income.

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