June 15, 2022

The Good Side of Methamphetamines

I've just been watching a drug-war movie in which agents are cracking down on a drug smuggling operation at sea. The local police had been ignoring the maritime smuggling of cigarettes for years (a drug which only kills half a million Americans a year, after all), but when they learned that someone was smuggling "methamphetamine," by golly, they got religion and started issuing warrants right and left.

Finally a Drug War that all right-thinking Americans can get behind, right?

Wrong. Even methamphetamine is only bad when it is used irresponsibly. As a lifelong depressive, I can tell you right now that it would be a godsend to me if I could use such a drug say once a week, in group therapy -- or even once a month on a walk in the park with like-minded friends. It would give me a soul-restoring vacation from full-on introspection and be valuable not just in using the drug but in anticipating said use. But that's the kind of use that never occurs to a Drug Warrior. Why not? Because the Drug War party line says that once a drug has been criminalized, it is wrong to talk about potential positive uses of that drug. The Drug War has a party line to put forth, and that is that criminalized drugs are pure evil (so wrong that Biden's Office of Drug Control Policy explicitly forbids the consideration of facts that might conduce to the legalization of controlled substances). So they take two steps to ensure that demonization: they refuse to tolerate talk about benefits of the drug in question, and they keep spouting the pernicious party line that human beings are babies when it comes to psychoactive medicine, that there's no point in educating them about drug use because they're just so helpless in the face of these demon drugs.

Funny that Americans were far less "helpless" about such things before the Drug War came along, and even then, the major addiction was to alcohol, not the boogie man of drugs. Even the number of opium habitues in America (like Benjamin Franklin) prior to the racially motivated Harrison Narcotics act of 1914 was three times less than the number who are now addicted to Big Pharma meds in the age of the Drug War, proving that you can outlaw substances but you cannot outlaw the desire for happiness.

Drug warriors love "meth" because they feel this is a drug that they can plausibly demonize as the devil incarnate. But even here they are wrong.

Notice that the Drug Warrior response to the potential misuse of such substances is not to educate users -- in fact, Americans have never been honest about drugs, and never can be honest about drugs because of the capitalist system which makes it impossible to demonize commercial medicines (just ask the doctor in the pay of Big Pharma who's telling us to "keep taking our meds" on the Oprah Winfrey show)-- and which gives liquor a big fat Mulligan to ruin lives at will.

Strange, too, that the one actual use of meth in the movie was by a young man who was fiercely loved, precisely because he was so rebellious and not bound by rules. His meth experience was the rollicking highlight of the film. Sure, his girlfriend was surprised by his having "partaken," but it was clear that she wouldn't want him any other way.

Now, if we're worried about the young man, let's educate him, not arrest him, not create a prohibition that directly results in the deaths of almost 800 blacks in Chicago every year thanks to the drug dealing that said prohibition incentivizes in poor and poorly educated communities.

For those brainwashed Drug Warriors who have yet to pick their jaws up off the floor, don't worry. If plant medicine was legal again, trust me, I would probably forswear methamphetamines entirely and hit myself up with some weekly opium use a la Benjamin Franklin.

You're shocked? Well, that's only because you've been brainwashed by the Drug War (and Joe Biden, its propaganda master) to think that psychoactive substances can only be evil once they are demonized by pharmacologically clueless politicians.

Rather sickening how the cops in these Drug War movies primp themselves on "doing good." They're not doing good. They're participating in an anti-scientific Drug War that censors scientists, kills thousands of minorities a year, creates civil wars out of whole cloth, denies folks like me godsend medicines for a lifetime, and ruins users' lives. Why? Because they were using the kinds of medicines that have inspired entire religions in the past, before America, of all countries, had the hubris to outlaw plants, not just in America itself, mind, but throughout the entire world, a colonialist outrage that has yet to be grokked by a Left that is otherwise ultrasensitive on such topics.

If these enforcer cops really want to do some good, they would resign at once and spend their time comforting the thousands of minority mothers who have lost a son or daughter to the gun violence created by the Drug War, aka America's war on godsend medicines, that war in which we demonize medicines politically rather than understand them rationally.

June 15, 2022

Question: "We are repelled by the opium habit not because it is harmful, but the other way around: we regard it as harmful in order to maintain our justification for prohibiting it."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 15, 2022

Governor Youngkin, Child Killer

Open Letter to Gov Youngkin, as posted on his comments page, after the author heard that the nimwit was planning to crack down still further on possession of the god-given plant called marijuana.

Stop the hateful Drug War, governor. You are violating the Natural Law under which Jefferson founded America when you criminalize PLANTS!!! That is tyranny! Thomas Jefferson rolled over in his grave when the corrupt DEA confiscated his poppy plants -- the same DEA that poisoned Americans with paraquat in the 1980s, a weed killer that causes Parkinson's Disease -- the same DEA that has forced soldiers with PTSD to go without godsend medicine for almost FOUR DECADES NOW so that those STORMTROOPERS could keep their jobs. TEACH -- DON'T DEMONIZE. FACTS NOT FEAR. You -- YOU Governor -- are causing civil wars in Mexico and empowering a Drug War Hitler in the Philippines. YOU -- YOU GOVERNOR -- are responsible for EVERY SINGLE INNOCENT URBAN CHILD KILLED IN A DRIVE BY -- YOU AND YOUR HATEFUL WAR ON SUBSTANCES. TEACH, DO NOT DEMONIZE, FACTS NOT FEAR. IF YOU'RE really so worried about plant medicine, then outlaw the GRAPE and TOBACCO, which kill HALF A MILLION AMERICANS A YEAR!!!!!!!!!!! WHILE MARIJUANA KILLS FLIPPIN' NOBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If this sounds a little hardcore, then consider it to be a counterbalance to the roaring silence that rules the airwaves and publishing world every single day in America when it comes to the devastation wrought by the Drug War. Sensational journalists will be sure to tell us in great detail (and with "film at 11:00") whenever a criminally uneducated white teenager finds a way to misuse a prohibited substance, but they'll never bother to give us a daily update of the inner city deaths caused by the black market that the Drug War created. You'll have to search in the crime stats to see that the little black kid got shot in the hood. They soothe their consciences, these journalists, by pretending that such gun violence has nothing whatsoever to do with the Drug War -- when in reality the violence is a direct result of substance prohibition and the massive financial incentives it creates.

Take ketamine: it sells for 10 bucks on the street and costs at least $600 to get legally. Such facts make me half think that I am a cringing moron for not getting a bit of THAT action myself. If I did, I wouldn't be the real villain of this piece: the real villain are the racist legislators who created such ginormous incentives in the first place by criminalizing desired substances. They were, in fact, just creating traps for poor people.

Speaking of journalists, Lisa Ling is the poster child for reporters who completely ignore the Drug War and its consequences. She did a whole show about the history of Black people and violence in Chicago IN WHICH SHE NEVER EVEN MENTIONED THE DRUG WAR!!!! NEVER EVEN MENTIONED IT! But she has plenty of company, and not just in the news business. The academic world is also in denial about the fact that we live in a Drug War society. And so the vast majority of researchers who write about Alzheimer's and depression and PTSD never mention the fact that we have outlawed all sorts of psychoactive botanicals that might help us treat these conditions. They're being censored by government edict and they don't even know it. At least Galileo KNEW when HE was censored.

In other words, Americans have become so bamboozled by Drug War ideology that they think we live in a normal world, that we're starting from a natural baseline, that it actually makes sense to criminalize plants and fungi.

This is why one needs to shout-- to get the attention of a society that has fallen asleep at the wheel when it comes to the ship of state, swallowing Drug War lies about the supposed evil of substances, when real evil is caused by ignorance -- the ignorance that the Drug War fosters by promoting fear instead of understanding.

Earth to Drug Warriors (including the millions, like Lisa Ling, who have been so indoctrinated since childhood with drug-war propaganda that they can't see drug-war-caused injustices when they are staring them in the face):

1) people desire self-transcendence


2) prohibition of desired substances causes violence

We need to educate, not incarcerate.

If Brian is shouting (at the Governor Youngkins of the world), it's only because their actions (like doubling down on penalties for possession of plant medicine) show that they are deaf on this subject!

April 15, 2022

Question: LSD is a powerful therapeutic tool.
Answer: Dr. C.G. Costello, Psychologist, Regina General Hospital, in "Truth About LSD," The Leader-Post, February 5, 1963
February 22, 2021

Mario Cuomo: Drug War Man!

Those of us who are aware of the great therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs cannot help but be frustrated by Governor Mario Cuomo's insistence on perpetrating a Drug War that demonizes psychoactive plant medicines (meanwhile locking up minorities in record numbers while creating civil wars out of whole cloth overseas). I did my part to protest the Governor's policies by submitting the following feedback in Cuomo's online comment form yesterday afternoon. I reproduce that message below in the hopes that it will inspire others to do the same.

Dear Governor, with all due respect, no country has ever demonized "drugs" like the hypocritical US, in which 1 in 4 American women are addicted to Big Pharma antidepressants. The output of Mother Nature is ours via Natural Law. If substances are being abused, it is because your state has enacted bad laws (like prohibition for starters) and fails to educate its people so that they can make wise decisions.

Ben Franklin and Marcus Aurelius enjoyed opium. So did Marco Polo. Sigmund Freud thought cocaine was a Godsend for depression. Francis Crick envisioned the DNA helix with the liberal use of psychedelics. Plato himself was influenced by the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian mysteries. The Vedic religion was founded to worship the psychedelic insights provided by a plant or fungus. So please stop demonizing plant medicine. If you believe that New Yorkers are making the wrong choices, that's your fault: that's because you failed to educate them properly in your poorly funded school system, meanwhile depriving them of hundreds of other choices from Mother Nature's pharmacopoeia whose use might have been less problematic in your view.

The Drug War is a hateful anomaly that is wrong root and branch. It is absurd that a so-called modern country would find it necessary to tell its citizens what plants they are allowed to access. That's a clear violation of Natural Law and, in fact, the enforcement of Christian Science as a state religion (Christian Science: the religion that claims that it's morally wrong for human beings to use medicine to treat what ails them). That's why Jefferson was rolling in his grave when the DEA stomped onto Monticello and confiscated the garden-loving president's poppy plants. The nation he founded would never place the availability of Mother Nature's godsends in the hands of bigoted politicians.
Stand up for Natural Law. Stand up for unfettered science. Stand up for Thomas Jefferson. Reject the Drug War that was launched by bigots in 1914 to disempower minorities by removing them from the voting rolls using laws specifically designed for that purpose... bigots like Harry J. Anslinger, who made it his life mission to hound Billie Holiday to her death, using drug law as an excuse to punish the black singer for the political messages in her songs.

Did you know that American scientists still can't study certain plants because the DEA is lying about those plants, Governor, placing them on Schedule I in order to maintain the workload at the DEA? And yet we claim to be a scientific country. To the contrary, we have a superstitious dread of this politically created boogieman called "drugs" and we do not allow scientists to prove that we're wrong. We're just like those ancient Greeks who thought that thunder issued from the angry bolts of Zeus and would silence anyone who tried to say otherwise. Speaking of the DEA, this is the agency that laced marijuana plants with paraquat in the 1980s, a weed killer which causes Parkinson's Disease. That's the Drug War for you, Governor. It's not about health. It's about political control of upstart minorities and dissenters of every kind.

It is absurd for a nation that calls itself scientific to outlaw plants. A modern nation based on Natural Law would not criminalize plants -- but would rather educate its citizens to make good choices -- and not blame "drugs" for the political failure to do so. I'm so disappointed in you for leading this latter-day campaign against plant medicine. The problem is not plant medicine, Governor. The problem is a lack of proper education, combined with the desire of politicians to marginalize minorities by crafting drug laws for that very purpose, thereby creating a make-work program for Law Enforcement and filling the world with endless TV cop shows in which police feel morally justified in treating minorities like dirt.

February 22, 2021

Question: Opium... is simple and unpretentious: the dried juice of the poppy. No chemist, no pharmaceutical industry, no physician is needed to produce it or to administer it. This, I submit, is one of the important reasons why modern medicine has so ungratefully turned its back on the poppy, just as it had, earlier, on the wisewoman: each reminds the arrogant "doctor" -- aspiring to control rather than to cure his patient -- of his lowly origins.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
September 7, 2020

The Great Philosophical Problem of Our Time

The following letter was sent on September 8 2020 to 100 American philosophers at Duke, Princeton, Harvard, USC, and NYU.

My name is Ballard Quass, and I am a 61-year-old philosophy major and a lifelong victim of America's drug war. I am writing to you today because I believe that the drug war is the great philosophical problem of our time, and that if philosophy wishes to demonstrate its continued relevance to the Stephen Hawkings of the world, it cannot do better than to identify and rebut the mendacious and otherwise misleading premises upon which the drug war is being waged. I therefore wish to solicit your help as a fellow philosopher in showing America how it has been bamboozled by drug war propaganda: bamboozled into thinking of Mother Nature as a drug kingpin rather than a healing goddess, bamboozled into thinking that common law must trump natural law when it comes to our access to psychoactive substances, bamboozled into adopting a Christian Science outlook toward drugs, bamboozled into thinking of psychoactive substances as scapegoats and boogiemen, as inherently evil, when substances are actually only good and bad with respect to the precise details of their use.

If, after reading this letter, you agree with me that the drug war is, indeed, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, I urge you to link to my one-year-old website at, where I combat the drug war by uploading my weekly essays, designed to identify and pillory the absurd but hidden premises upon which that war is being waged. Your link to my site from "an institution of higher learning" will give my site some street cred on the worldwide web (at least in the "minds" of search engine algorithms), where I currently get (wait for it...) literally zero hits per day (that's right: zero hits per day) thanks to my refusal to "pay to play" and to feature ads on my site.

My site is totally non-profit, designed simply to bring the world's attention to the many unnoticed philosophical problems posed by America's drug war. I am not out for self-aggrandizement or money: I am out to make a difference: or at least to encourage philosophically savvy Americans to start pushing back against the absurd hidden premises and outright lies fostered by America's state religion: the drug war: aka, Christian Science Sharia. This task is crucial, especially now that we have a president who wants to start executing Americans for selling plant medicines of which politicians disapprove.

So thank you in advance for any links that you may be persuaded to supply in order to give me at least some voice in changing American attitudes for the better.

The remainder of this letter consists of my attempt to bring at least some of the above-mentioned philosophical problems to your attention, either for the first time or else to remind you of the way that muddle-headed drug-war "logic" is ruining our republic, by militarizing our police forces, turning inner cities into shooting galleries, causing civil wars abroad, and keeping Mother Nature's godsend plant medicines out of the hands of people who should have free access to them merely by virtue of having been born on Planet Earth.


I say I am a victim of the drug war because since my teenage years, I have been shunted off onto highly addictive and ineffective Big Pharma meds, simply because the DEA has outlawed virtually all effective mood medicines that grow unbidden around me. I spent a full decade working to get off of the Valium that I was prescribed for my supposed anxiety. Then I was "turned on" to Effexor, for my supposed depression, an SNRI which turns out to be so addictive for long-term users that my own psychiatrist recently told me not to bother trying to get off it. A recent NIH study shows the drug to be every bit as addictive as heroin. Indeed, Julie Holland notes that modern Big Pharma pills are often MORE addictive than heroin since they muck about with brain chemistry that takes far longer than a few days of "cold turkey" in order to return to a biochemical baseline. (Please see the books of Robert Whitaker for an explanation about how Big Pharma "wonder drugs" may actually CAUSE the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix. )

Of course, psychiatry will object that Big Pharma meds cause chemical dependence rather than addiction, but this "difference" (or at least its alleged importance) does not stand up to philosophical scrutiny, as I show in my essay entitled "In the Realm of Hungry Drug Warriors" at my website (see the section headed "On the disingenuous distinction between addiction and chemical dependency"). "Addiction" is a political term, since we only apply it to the use of illegal medicines, whereas those who use Big Pharma antidepressants are somehow not addicted but merely taking "maintenance meds." Of course, the heroin addict is taking maintenance meds as well, yet he or she is demonized for that practice.

I believe that if Americans were sufficiently aware of this injustice - how the drug war results in a world where 1 in 4 women are addicted to Big Pharma "meds" (source: Julie Holland) - there would be a wave of protest by the depressed and anxious who would demand that the DEA and Congress re-legalize the thousands of psychoactive plant medicines that they started outlawing in 1914, all of which medicines are far less addictive in their natural state than the pills doled out daily by the psychiatric pill mill that the drug war is facilitating. Folks like myself would descend on Congress in indignant hordes to protest a psychiatric system that turns them into eternal patients, with all the stigma, expense, and waste of valuable time that such a system entails.

But Americans have become so bamboozled (not simply by drug war propaganda but by talking heads under the pay of Big Pharma who appear on talk shows like "Oprah") that these millions of "eternal patients" do not even see themselves as victims of the drug war (this despite the fact that America remains the most depressed country on Earth). Meanwhile, if a Big Pharma med causes horrible side effects, it is not a cause for outrage: instead, it is a market opportunity for yet more brand name drugs to be created that will "tamp down" the side effects of the offending substance. Advertisers for such "adjuncts" claim they are just helping the patient to continue "taking their meds," not - perish the thought - criticizing the original drug for having devastating side effects in the first place. Of course if the same devastating side effects were associated with a plant medicine, drug warriors would have a field day demonizing the plant in question, even calling for its burning - or its lacing with paraquat, the weed killer that DEA Chief John Lawn used to poison pot smokers in the 1980s, a weed killer that has subsequently been shown to cause Parkinson's Disease. (No one cares, though. The DEA still fetes John Lawn to this day as a distinguished alumnus. Apparently one can use chemical warfare against one's own people, provided that the cause is the American Drug War.)


But the situation is even worse than this. The DEA effectively outlaws even mere research of plant medicines that could challenge the Big Pharma monopoly on creating psychoactive substances (or could infringe on Big Liquor's monopoly on drugs that provide transcendence - or, in liquor's case, at least a shabby form of self-forgetfulness). Any research that does take place is ridiculously underfunded, because of the drug-war-created stigma attached to the boogieman known as "drugs." The DEA, in fact, treats this boogieman like enriched uranium, forcing researchers to observe security protocols that would seem like overkill at Fort Knox. (Check out the expensive and over-the-top precautions that MAPS founder Rick Doblin was required to take to safeguard a small amount of MDMA that he was using for research purposes in the 1980s, after the DEA criminalized Ecstasy against the advice of its own legal counsel - in "Psychedelic Medicine" by Dr. Richard Louis Miller.) Why all these precautions? Because the DEA safeguards its own jobs by turning "drugs" into a dangerous boogieman that require government oversite merely to look at and touch. This is the superstitious drug-war tactic: to turn this thing called "drugs" into the universal cause of evil, to blame an amoral substance for drug misuse, in the same way that one might blame bikes for bike accidents, cars for car accidents, and gravity for falling out of a tree.


When Rustichello da Pisa wrote of the journeys of the opium-using Marco Polo, he mentioned drugs multiple times, but in so doing he was never describing substances that were somehow pure evil. That, however, is the uniquely modern and anti-scientific way of looking at psychoactive substances in the age of the drug war, as substances that are evil in and of themselves. That's the nature-hating viewpoint introduced to the world by racist politicians in 1914 (and reinforced by Nixon in the early '70s) in an effort, not to protect American health, but rather to marginalize and arrest minorities and remove them from the voting rolls, thus ensuring the election of more racist drug warriors in the future. That's why Nixon's crack down on drugs did not bother to educate drug users: education wasn't even on Nixon's radar: he sought rather to charge these custom-created "drug abusers" with felonies, thereby withdrawing their right to vote.


Of course, "drug education" itself is political and therefore problematic. Take the current legal situation in Portugal, for instance. Yes, "drugs" are decriminalized in Portugal, but you can still be forced to attend "counseling" should you be caught using, say, psilocybin mushrooms to expand your mind and get a new outlook on life. And such counseling is "re-education" in the worst (i.e., Stalinist) sense of that word. Why? Because its goal is nothing less tyrannical than to get the "drug abuser" to adopt the Christian Scientist's jaundiced view of mother nature's psychoactive pharmacy, while yet remaining open to the use of Big Pharma meds, no matter how addictive and mind-numbing they may prove to be. This is government, oddly enough, teaching the "drug abuser" that the "answer" to mental health issues is addiction (addiction to Big Pharma "meds").


I am viscerally opposed to this kind of anti-nature "logic," because I hold it responsible for the fact that my 92-year-old mother is suffering from anxiety, depression and fear in a nursing home. Why? Because such thinking deprives my mother of all naturally occurring substances that (in a sane society) could be used responsibly, with the help of a pharmacologically savvy shaman (for want of a better term), to treat dementia victims in helping them see beyond their fears, all without leading to addiction. Sure, we could insist that some doctor give my mother "something for her anxiety," (some drug of which politicians approve) but the drugs so provided are sure to be addictive and eventually cause huge mood swings as she is weaned off of them after lengthy use or else begins to receive them intermittently and unreliably. Moreover, unlike psychedelics and related plant medicines, the Big Pharma drugs for anxiety cloud the mind and provide the user with zero insight about themselves and the world around them, insight that mother nature's mood medicines have been repeatedly shown to provide under appropriate circumstances.

But drug warriors are not just sadistic in denying plant medicine to myself and my mother. They are masochistic too, because their very own "logic" leads them to pooh-pooh natural medicines that could bring about world peace and end Alzheimer's Disease, as in the case of Ecstasy and psychedelics respectively.


England had several Summers of Love in the 1980s thanks to the use of the drug "E" (Ecstasy, or MDMA) on the rave dance floor. Check out the testimony of these DJs given in Terry Stone's documentary "One Nation":

"It was the first time that black-and-white people had integrated on a level... and everybody was one." DJ Ray Keith.

"It was black and white, Asian, Chinese, all up in one building," -- MC GQ.

"Everyone's loving each other, man, they're not hating." - DJ Mampi Swift.

Unfortunately, the British government not only took this "peace, love and understanding" for granted, but they actively sought to bring it to an end with a so-called Criminal Justice Bill, drafted for that very purpose. Why? Because Parliament had the drug warrior habit of judging people, not by how they actually behaved, but rather by what substances they had in their digestive system. And since "E" was illegal (thanks to American influence), the Parliament could easily do without all that "peace, love and understanding." The goal of "fighting drugs" took precedence over such trifles as "peace, love and understanding."

And so "E" disappeared from the rave dance floor, to be replaced with crack and fentanyl, thanks to which the dance floors turned into shooting galleries. Score one for the drug war!

But another drug war fallacy helped speed up the disappearance of E from the dance floor: that is the absurd drug war notion that an illegal medicine can and must be demonized the moment that it results in (or is merely associated with) one single solitary fatality (never minding the daily death toll that the drug war racks up in inner cities and in countries torn by civil wars that the drug war itself brought about through its creation of a black market for a highly coveted product).

So when teenager Leah Betts died in 1995 from hydration-related issues after taking a single "E" tablet, the mere fact of this death was taken as slam-dunk evidence that "E" was a devil drug and needed to be criminalized at once (or rather that the existing laws against it now needed to be harshly enforced). And so billboards sprang up around England, featuring the giant word "Sorted," alongside a black-and-white photograph of Leah as a smiling youngster, above a tiny caption reading: "Just one Ecstasy tablet took Leah Betts."

But that conclusion is absurd, of course, philosophically speaking. By that logic, we can picture a billboard featuring the young victim of a biking accident with the caption: "Just one bicycle took John Doe."

As philosophers should have been pointing out at the time, Ecstasy was merely the efficient (or proximate) cause of Leah's death. The final cause (that for the sake of which something happened) was the lack of understanding of the drug Ecstasy. And who was responsible for that? The drug warrior, who actively impedes impartial research about psychoactive substances in order to bolster the superstitious argument that illegal drugs are bad in and of themselves, without respect for the way that they are used.

In short, the drug war itself killed Leah Betts, by preventing the acquisition and dissemination of safe guidelines for the use of "E."


You'd think that the fight against Alzheimer's Disease would be one area in which Americans would gladly put the drug war on the back burner if necessary to obtain results. But you'd be wrong. Researcher Amanda Feilding has shown how psychedelics such as ayahuasca give birth to new brain cells (see Psychedelic Medicine by Dr. Richard Louis Miller - "Birthing Brain Cells with Ayahuasca," on page 36 of the paperback edition) and yet ayahuasca remains a schedule 1 drug in America, which the DEA stubbornly and mendaciously insists has no potential therapeutic uses. This makes it very difficult to study ayahuasca in America or even to raise money for that purpose.

The research of Feilding (along with that of Charles Grob, Dennis McKenna, Rick Doblin, Roland Griffiths, and many others) demonstrates clearly that psychedelic plant medicines could reverse Alzheimer's and possibly even cure it. But despite even Obama's official prioritization of brain research, America would rather wage a drug war against psychoactive plants than to learn from them. And so the mendacious DEA stubbornly maintains the fiction that thousands of godsend plants have no therapeutic value, thus keeping America in the dark ages with respect to cures for Alzheimer's, in the exact same way that the Church strove to keep Galileo and his contemporaries in the dark about the true nature of the universe.


But there is yet another reason why philosophers must speak out against the illogical mindset of the drug war. That is because drug warriors play dirty. Consider the infamous "frying pan" ad by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, a so-called "public service announcement" which claims that "drugs" somehow fry the brain the moment that they are criminalized by politicians, an ad that both laypeople and academics seem to have taken as gospel truth, thus giving the drug war new talons with which it has grasped the American psyche ever since. That ad is not only misleading, but it is almost the opposite of the actual truth. Cocaine helped Sigmund Freud to focus on his work. Opium increased Benjamin Franklin's creativity. Francis Crick envisioned the DNA helix with the help of liberal doses of psychedelics. Meanwhile, amphetamines are so far from frying the brain that the Air Force once required pilots to use them before taking their multi-million-dollar jets on crucial missions.

It's bad enough when drug warriors are misguided by faulty reasoning, but when politically motivated leaders purposefully encourage such misunderstanding, it is incumbent upon philosophers to speak up and "call them" on it. Unfortunately, philosophers have largely failed to do so so far, even though they alone possess the training that should make them experts in first recognizing and then "outing" such mendacious propaganda. But then they know that the drug war is an intolerant religion against which one speaks at their own vocational and economic peril. The irony is that, should they speak up, they'll probably be looked at with suspicion for "making such a big thing" about drugs (what are they, a DRUG user?!) when the whole problem with the drug war is that it does precisely that: it makes a huge thing about drugs: it turns them into universal scapegoats for all social injustices. Until the Drug War came along, a substance-related death was always the result of poor education: in the superstitious present, such a death is the result of an evil substance known as a "drug."


Here I am, halfway through my letter, and I haven't come close to even mentioning all of the evil and hypocrisy that the drug war brings about. I hope I am convincing you that it's time for philosophers to speak up and denounce the manifold and manifest inanity of our drug-centric way of thinking about the world. There was, after all, no drug problem in Ancient Egypt. There was no drug problem in Ancient Mesopotamia. There was no drug problem in Ancient Greece. There was no drug problem in the Persian Empire. There was no drug problem in Ancient Rome. There was no drug problem in the Mongol Empire. There was no drug problem in the Viking Age.

Why not? First, because these cultures still judged people by how they behaved, not by the substances that they had in their digestive systems. Second, because they knew that any substance - salt included - could be useful or deadly, and that no substance was bad in and of itself.


But how is drug war propaganda so effective: so effective that we now consider the DEA to be the good guys in movies where they torture "drug suspects" and shoot them at point-blank range - as in the 2019 movie "Running with the Devil"? so effective that we speak of drug suspects in dehumanized language not heard since the Nazi era, where drug suspects are "scumbags" and "vermin"? so effective that we shrug when the DEA stomps onto Monticello and confiscates Thomas Jefferson's poppy plants, which, besides being daylight robbery, was an ungrateful coup against the natural law upon which Jefferson founded this country? so effective that we would follow our presidents' instructions and turn in our own parents for using substances of which our politicians disapprove, believing in the patriotic necessity of so acting? so effective, in short, that we would gladly give up our right to the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet?

Drug war propaganda is so effective because we see it every day of our lives on the TV screen and in movies. It is the propaganda of omission, whereby the viewer never ever sees the rational and productive use of a substance that has been criminalized by politicians. Thus, instead of the prim and proper Freud using cocaine to increase his work output, we see a dumpy-looking scumbag noisily "snorting a line" in a windowless room lit by a single undecorated overhead lightbulb, on a table covered with blood-stained money haphazardly piled up beside a razor blade. Indeed, the whole cop show TV genre could scarcely exist without the drug war, because script writers would have to limit their bad guys to actually doing bad things rather than simply having commerce with natural substances of which politicians disapprove.

Nor do we see visionaries such as Poe and Lovecraft imagining whole new worlds of aesthetic beauty and grandeur under the creative influence of maligned substances. Meanwhile biographies ignore Freud's use of cocaine, Benjamin Franklin's use of opium, and JFK's use of amphetamines (this latter use at a time when mere mortal Americans would have been arrested and sent for "counseling" - i.e. Christian Science re-education -- should they have dared to partake).

The only seemingly nonjudgmental view of drug use that we see in movies is during comedies, as when Neil Patrick Harris snorts cocaine off of the eagerly proffered "tush" of a pole dancer in "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle." Of course, the drug warrior can tolerate such depictions since they serve to associate drug use with irresponsibility. What the drug warrior never wants to see is a TV show or movie which depicts the rational and helpful use of a substance that politicians have gone to great trouble to demonize as a "drug." The drug warrior can relax in this connection, however, since such positive depictions of illegal drug use just don't happen on TV, and only very, very rarely in movies.


There's yet another philosophical problem with the drug war of which one seldom if ever speaks: the fact that the drug war represents a crack down on a certain kind of thought, namely the generally left-leaning viewpoint often encouraged by the ingestion of psychoactive plant medicines, under whose influence the user sees the world as a unity in which it is incumbent upon people to get along and to feel for each other and to take a deep protective interest in the world around them. This, I maintain, is why many politicians fear psychoactive plant medicines, because their use conduces to the propagation of a world view to which they are opposed or of which they are afraid, or both. Seen in this light, the drug war represents a tyrannical and politically motivated limitation on the way that people are allowed to think about the world.

Indeed, if the drug war had been in effect 4,000 years ago, the Vedic religion would have been outlawed, inspired as it was by the insights furnished by a psychoactive plant medicine known as soma.

Consider the use of morphine as described below by Edgar Allan Poe in the educationally suppressed story entitled "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains." The "user" in Poe's fantasy (a morphine habitué by the name of Augustus Bedloe) does not use morphine in order to consort with pole dancers. Rather, he uses it (horror of horrors!) in order to better see and appreciate the wonders of mother nature on his daily morning rambles through the hilly forests west of Charlottesville.

"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."

The drug warrior, of course, would hypocritically point to Bedloe's habituation (which they would derisively refer to as an addiction) as being a horrible non-starter, failing to realize that drug-war ideology is responsible for the greatest addiction crisis in American history, namely the above-mentioned addiction to Big Pharma meds that has resulted from the DEA's mindless criminalization of thousands of nature's therapeutic godsends. I don't mind saying that if I had my life to live over again, I would have definitely chosen an addiction to morphine in preference to the emotion-numbing addiction to Effexor (an addiction that psychiatry refuses to even recognize, let alone to apologize for). Effexor has never "fixed" my depression or conduced to the least bit of self-actualization: it merely keeps me from feeling emotions fully, in the same way that the Prozac-testing reporter (of whom Dr. Richard Louis Miller writes) was shocked to find that he was no longer moved to cry at family funerals when under the influence of that "miracle drug." In retrospect, the muting effect that Effexor has upon one's emotions is unsurprising given that psychiatry has a long history of coming out with "miracle cures" that achieve that status, not by helping patients, but rather by rendering them more docile and cooperative for the staff and family that have to deal with them. That's why the lobotomy procedure was praised to the skies and earned Walter Rudolph Hess a Nobel prize, not because it helped the severely depressed lead a fulfilling life, but because it made their behavior less objectionable to care givers.

When Sigmund Freud needed a cure for depression, he didn't put his faith in theoretical cures, not even in his own psychotherapeutic methods in which he otherwise professed so much unshakable faith. He went right for the real politik of cocaine, which he subsequently praised as a therapeutic godsend, providing him as it did with energy and a laser-like focus on the work at hand. Unfortunately, however, mere mortals like myself are forced to forgo this godsend in deference to merely theoretical cures, including talk therapy and the use of Big Pharma drugs that claim (falsely as it turns out) to correct a chemical imbalance that "causes" depression. (The mere search for a single cause for such a diversely expressed and experienced "illness" makes the search for a philosopher's stone seem like a realistic project by comparison. But psychiatry had to claim that such a reductionist "cure" existed in order to justify its pretensions for being a "hard science." Unfortunately, 1 in 8 American men and 1 in 4 American women had to be sacrificed on the altar of materialism by becoming Big Pharma addicts in order to make this happen.)


Another problem that philosophers might wish to point out: We have no more right to burn coca and poppy plants overseas (or to spray marijuana plants with weed killer) than those countries have to come stateside and burn our breweries and vineyards.

I have left the drug war's record of mass incarceration of minorities (its fomenting of violence and its militarization of police forces) for last, since these issues are already on the radar of most drug war critics, unlike many of the points that I have raised above. Finally, I should mention the problem of corporate drug testing, which I hope that a reader of this entire letter can now view clearly as the extrajudicial enforcement of Christian Science sharia. I should also add (sorry, but the litany of drug war evil seems endless...) that it's bizarre and tyrannical in the highest degree for the president to call for the execution of Americans merely because they deigned to sell those plant medicines of which politicians disapprove (especially as they had no right under natural law to outlaw those plant medicines in the first place).

Thanks for your patience. I hope I have persuaded you that my online essays on this topic need to be seen by all Americans who value freedom and a fair shot at self-actualization in life. If so, I urge you to link to one or more of my essays at, in order to persuade the search engine algorithms to make those essays visible at long last. I dream that one day my site will pop up on page one of a search for the DEA, where an anti-DEA site such as mine would make a bold political statement merely by appearing as a link. In the meantime, I'd be happy for any help you can give me in simply acquiring any readership whatsoever, so that I can begin educating open-minded Americans about "the great philosophical problem of our time," namely, America's devastatingly misguided war on plant medicine.

Sincerely Yours,
Ballard Quass

PS To further illustrate the above ideas and to end this letter on a positive note, the following are the steps that I believe America (and indeed the world) need to take with respect to these substances to which we have attached the political and emotionally charged label of "drugs."

1) Stop scapegoating "drugs." Instead, blame all so-called "drug problems" on the social forces that brought them about, especially a lack of education about substances in specific and about personal responsibility in general. The current war on drugs is like a war on dangerous skateboarding: it places all sorts of dangerous but cool skateboarding ideas in the minds of the public and then says: "Whatever you do, don't do this!", thereby actually promoting unsafe skateboarding behavior by putting ideas in the heads of the immature and curious members of their target audience. Instead of thus highlighting drugs and making them front-and-center in the American mind, we should respond to drug abuse, not by demonizing substances, but by increasing education, such that Americans are empowered to make smart decisions based on their goals in life. (This, I believe, is one of the many reasons why conservatives love the drug war: it scapegoats drugs for problems caused by social ills, thereby quashing any talk about fixing real societal problems, such as the notorious lack of a decent education in inner-city schools. This lack of a decent education leaves students vulnerable to the temptations of dangerous substance use, especially in a neighborhood wherein drug war prohibition has facilitated the creation of heavily armed gangs, gangs composed of other poorly educated youths who have a financial incentive to hook their unsuspecting neighbors on the most addictive substances possible.)

2) Turn the DEA into the Drug Education Agency, whose job will be the non-partisan and honest reporting on drug effects: both the perceived good ones, like increased mental focus and creativity, and the reported bad ones, such as addictiveness and the steps that can be taken to break a habit, not just through cold turkey - as is the current barbarous practice necessitated by our pharmacy-limiting drug war - but by using other less addictive drugs with the help of a pharmacologically savvy shaman. Such an agency must be apolitical and without corporate influence. As such, it must report not simply on currently illegal drugs, but also on addictive pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco, and even coffee and sugar. Is coffee addictive? This new "DEA" will say so. Are modern anti-depressants extremely addictive? This new "DEA" will say so.

3) Replace psychiatrists with pharmacologically savvy shamans, highly empathic chemists who will work with clients to help them achieve self-actualization in life with the help of natural psychoactive substances. Shamanism plus modern pharmacology could be a powerful team, especially when the shaman in question is given carte blanche to use any plant medicine that Mother Nature has seen fit to grow for our benefit. Such a healing paradigm would free us from the psychiatric scientism that has addicted 1 in 4 American women to Big Pharma pills. This approach would take the best from the East and the West when it comes to providing mental health and self-actualization to human beings - human beings, mind, not patients, since in this post-drug war therapy, we will no longer be medicalizing and pathologizing the universal search for meaning and purpose in life.

4) Re-legalize plants and fungi, thereby restoring natural law in America (which, as John Locke himself says in his Second Treatise on Government, grants human beings the right to "the use of the land and all that lies therein"). Then have the DEA return poppies to Monticello (and apologize for having taken them in the first place, in violation of natural law), and stop medicalizing, pathologizing, and punishing the use of naturally occurring substances.

5) Instruct law enforcement to crack down on bad behavior only, not on the pre-crimes of ingesting or possessing politically maligned substances.

6) Legalize the non-profit sale of substances, but outlaw all profit motive from such sales lest the purveyors of substances should follow the lead of Big Pharma and seek to addict their clientele to highly addictive product. The Opium Wars were not caused by an evil drug called "poppies": they were caused by the for-profit sale of that drug by a government that strategically sought to addict its clients, the Chinese people, through the exclusive sale of a potent Indian form of opium with which the Chinese were not familiar. By scapegoating "drugs" in that case, we let the British off the hook for the outrages perpetuated on behalf of their corrupt 19th-century trade practices. (This tendency to scapegoat substances for socially created disasters can be seen in the subtitle of John Halpern's 2019 book entitled: "Opium: How an ancient flower shaped and poisoned our world." In reality, it was the British who poisoned the world, not the opium itself, but Halpern toes the drug warrior line by blaming the substance involved rather than the immoral trade policy that led to its misuse.)

SUMMATION: There is no drug problem. There never has been. To the extent that folks actually have a problem with substances (and do not merely upset corrupt politicians by using them), that problem is the result of a lack of education, combined with the drug war's creation of a black market which limits those seeking self-transcendence to a handful of the addictive psychoactive concoctions that gangs find it most profitable to peddle. To blame drugs for these problems is superstition: the superstition of endowing amoral substances with the moral qualities of good and bad, without regard for the specific context in which they are used: at what dose, by whom, how often, for what reason, etc. etc.?

By thus fixating superstitiously on drugs as a problem, we subject society to the Leah Betts Effect: that is the social habit of considering one single drug-related death (a death ultimately caused by the drug war itself - see above) as a "slam-dunk" justification for waging the war on drugs, utterly failing to consider the thousands who suffer and/or die daily thanks to that very drug war:

1) those who die in civil wars created by the drug war itself
2) the kids who die in inner-city gunfire between drug gangs
3) the medical victims of the drug war: the millions who go without godsend medicines for depression, PTSD, and Alzheimer's Disease, thanks to the drug war's outlawing of practically every naturally occurring psychoactive plant medicine on earth.

Meanwhile, in our purblind indignation on behalf of Leah, we forget the corruption that the prohibition of desired substances naturally creates in governments around the world, as well as the pall of self-censorship that the drug war casts over science and authorship in general. (How many "self-help" authors over the last 50 years have dared to suggest that some of nature's drugs seem custom-made to facilitate the positive attitudes about which they write? what music professor has ever dared to mention that certain drugs seem custom-made to encourage the love for music that the reading of whole tomes on the subject could never inspire? how many otherwise scientific books about human consciousness ignore the tantalizing hints provided on this topic by the ingestion of naturally occurring substances, including DMT, which is found not just in plants, but in the human body itself?)

Please help me spread these philosophical truths that no one else seems to be mentioning online. Please do me the favor of linking to my

If, however, you need one more reason for doing so, consider what that police officer said to the bystanders during the murder of George Floyd: "Just say no to drugs, folks!"

What a world of disdain for justice lies in that taunt. Yet the quip should come as no surprise: the drug war was created by racist politicians. Little wonder that it has empowered the racist elements of America's police forces to give full rein to their bigotry. I mention the Floyd case to remind the reader that this pushback that I am advocating against the drug war is not some "white bread" initiative designed to give rich Caucasians the right to experiment with interesting substances. It is a call to exorcise bigotry, superstition, and demagoguery from the body politic, while restoring the natural law upon which America was founded: that natural law for which the ghost of Thomas Jefferson was surely mourning when the DEA stomped onto Monticello in jackboots and confiscated his poppy plants.

September 7, 2020

Question: In B.C. [British Columbia]... LSD has produced 70 percent "cures" among 60 alcoholics at Hollywood Hosptical within the past nine months, according to medical director Dr. J. Ross MacLean.
Answer: The Vancouver Sun, August 11, 1959
June 18, 2020

Cannabis Causes Birth Defects?

The following comment was posted in response to the Reddit Post entitled Cannabis use in pregnancy: Researchers discover that continued use of cannabis at 15 weeks of pregnancy was associated with significantly lower birthweight, head circumference, birth length, and gestational age at birth, as well as with more frequent severe neonatal morbidity or death

The problem with these findings is that Drug War America cannot be trusted to provide unbiased facts about psychoactive substances. The DEA ignored reams of positive evidence about MDMA when it criminalized it in 1985 as a therapy for PTSD in soldiers. Instead they relied on the research of one dissenting scientist who made a specialty out of providing the sorts of negative results that the DEA wanted to hear, even when no one else could duplicate those negative results. Meanwhile, drug war propagandists have lied for decades about Mother Nature's plant medicines, telling us that they "fry the brain," when the exact opposite is the case. Sigmund Freud used cocaine to sharpen his mind. Benjamin Franklin used opium to increase his creativity. Francis Crick used psychedelics to "think outside the box," a strategy that led him to the discovery of the DNA helix. One scientist falsely claimed a half century ago that LSD caused genetic defects, and that one lie has hung on in the popular imagination to this present day, despite having been conclusively discredited decades ago.

Meanwhile, drug war America gives antidepressants a free pass to cause as many problems as they can: sexual dysfunction, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, emotional flat-lining, weight gain. When SSRIs cause such problems, no one's outraged: instead we see a proliferation of new prescription "adjuncts" come into the market: pills that claim to alleviate these negative symptoms so that "you can keep taking your important meds." If marijuana caused all these problems, drug warriors would have a field day on Reddit deriding the substance, but when the same problems are caused by a Fortune 500 profit maker, we are all too hypnotized by the full-court press of Big Pharma propaganda to speak up. We may at first be leery, but not to worry: Big Pharma has suborned many talking heads in the psychiatric industry to come on shows like Oprah and remind us of our duty to "keep taking our meds." Oh, and did I mention that 1 in 4 American women are addicted to those anti-depressants (source: Julie Holland): but not to worry, right? Big Pharma antidepressants are medicine, after all, not "drugs."

In a drug warrior society such as ours, a rational person has to be leery of any reports claiming that psychoactive plant medicines cause problems, not just because Americans have freely lied about such plants in the past, but because psychoactive plant medicines pose a threat to the major drug-war stakeholders (Big Pharma, Psychiatry, Big Liquor, Law Enforcement, the Corrections Industry, etc.). The lucrative business model of these stakeholders is put in jeopardy when Americans are given free access to Mother Nature, so such industries will be quick to highlight any study that casts doubt on plant efficacy. Meanwhile, we have to wonder how many similarly negative scientific studies about SSRIs and SNRIs have been quashed, downplayed, or not even undertaken thanks to Big Pharma pressure on drug researchers to "stick with the script," according to which pharmaceuticals are blessed medicines while psychoactive plants are cursed drugs.

Even if the study findings are true, a drug-war society is sure to draw the wrong conclusions from them, taking them as yet another reason to do what drug warriors do best: demonize marijuana and psychoactive plant medicines in general. But this would be hypocritical, to put it mildly, since even Big Pharma antidepressants are contraindicated during pregnancy. In fact, aspirin itself comes with the same warning, yet no one's demonizing that drug and suggesting that it should be criminalized.

This illustrates the whole problem with the drug war: it has "cried wolf" so often in its attempts to slander plant medicines that studies like this, if true, are likely to be ignored. Americans have heard so many lies before, both from drug warriors and their paid proxies, that the question naturally arises: why should we trust them now to be giving us the full and unvarnished truth?

June 18, 2020

Question: "With LSD as an aid," the report said, "it has been possible to reach and work with patients who are otherwise unresponsive to psychotherapy."
Answer: Kingsport News, March 4, 1960
February 20, 2020

Blowing Up Arkansas

In reading Ellsberg's new book about command and control ("The Doomsday Machine") , I'm amazed to learn how the military considers Japanese aversion to nuclear weapons to be some kind of virus. If such aversion is a virus, it's one that America had better contract soon in its own self-interest. You can be sure that America would have already done so had the Damascus Incident led to the nuclear explosion that it almost brought about in Arkansas -- or if the nuclear bomb that was accidentally dropped on Goldsboro, North Carolina, had detonated, as it very nearly did.

It's time for America to adopt the policies toward rapid world disarmament that surely would have come about via the democratic process following any accidental nuclear explosions stateside. Instead, through the official downplaying of such incidents, America is refusing to learn any lessons from this scandalous past, determined to keep following the highly risky status quo to which the military industrial complex is addicted out of self-interest -- suggesting sadly that only an actual accidental nuclear explosion stateside would ever shake the stubborn establishment sufficiently to change America's suicidal course when it comes to nuclear weapons.

February 20, 2020

Question: "People should have the fundamental human right to change their consciousness."
Answer: Rick Doblin, April 8, 2020, Reason podcast
November 16, 2019

Modern Science as a symptom of insipient madness

Picture an idealized Amazonian tribe that's at peace with the world and the concept of death thanks to the visions provided to them by ritualistic use of various psychoactive plants. They feel a part of the world around them and understand, albeit in a non-linguistic way, that they are part of a grand scheme.

One day, a western materialist wanders into the tribe talking about the epiphenomenon of consciousness and the "fact" that there is no such thing as morality, only various utilitarian ideas about social controls.

Wouldn't this westerner be promptly locked up as a madman or given his walking papers and told to return to the asylum from which he obviously must have escaped?

November 16, 2019

Question: LSD is a powerful therapeutic tool.
Answer: Dr. C.G. Costello, Psychologist, Regina General Hospital, in "Truth About LSD," The Leader-Post, February 5, 1963
November 13, 2019

The Singularity is Still Coming!

It's easy for a non-programmer to pooh-pooh Kurtzweil's prophecies of the approaching singularity (probably with a disdainful pinkie raised on a fluted wine glass, at least that's been my experience while canvassing the local cocktail circuit on this point), but as one who has created his own (ahem) shall we say somewhat elaborate code over the years, I fancy that it truly is just a matter of time before computers take over. How? Why, how else? By sheer dint of the conceptual genius wherewith we coders have deigned to program them.

Take me for instance. The year was 1985. (I think. It was definitely in the middle '80s. Or at very most the VERY early '90s.) I had just completed a BASIC computer program with OVER 1,000 LINES OF CODE (that's right: a 1 followed by THREE zeroes) -- in order to simulate the activity of an actual baseball game. Hah! I well remember the response when I showed it to my brother and cousin. I demonstrated how the mere pressing of one single keyboard button generated a pitch, a swing, and a base hit, all cleverly illustrated by a string of ascii icons that went flashing about the screen to signify the appropriate athletic activity. But wait, there was more: my scoreboard at the top of the screen then dutifully registered said activity by toting up the run that happened to have been "driven in" by this event.

You may be asking how a program could possibly represent such a complicated activity in a few lines of code. The explanation is far beyond the scope of this post, but suffice it to say that it involved a cunning invocation of the BASIC language's RANDOM function.

I don’t want to make the merely subjective statement that my brother and cousin’s jaws dropped – but it is only factual to report that they had absolutely nothing to say at all upon seeing my demonstration, nothing whatsoever. It seems that my accomplishment had literally left them speechless. I well remember the placid look of their gaping faces as they stood there (holding their trademark coffee mugs, as I recall) staring blankly at the screen. Nor did the passage of time erode this apparently dumbfounded reticence. In fact, less than a minute after the big reveal, the both of them silently lumbered out of the room, as if in a daze, apparently chewing over the ramifications of my accomplishment as it related to Kurtzweilian prophecy and the inevitable doom of humankind.

And that was just ME! I mean, I am hardly a Stanford graduate. So if folks like myself, who simply piddle with code on the weekends, can so dumbfound their nearest and dearest as to leave them totally speechless – in fact, these two coffee lovers have yet to comment on this incident to this very day, over three decades later – just imagine what a Bill Gates could accomplish.

You may say that it does not therefore follow that a singularity is at hand since (in the dour words of such killjoys as yourself) “quantitative complication does not entail qualitative complexity.”

But I for one am taking no chances. I have already erased the above-mentioned baseball program from my hard drive, lest somewhere in those tens of hundreds of obscure programming lines, the kernel of consciousness should be inadvertently cracked open by some as yet unknown process of digital transformation.

Then those who mock the digital Chicken Little will be knocking on his door, saying “What now, fella? Tell me, he who knows.”

To which the Kurzweilian faithful like myself will have the greatest of all possible temptations of replying as follows: “Hah! And where were YOU when I was prophesying the fall of humankind?! Huh? You weren’t attending any West Coast seminar on the singularity, that’s for sure!”

November 13, 2019

Question: Here, then, in microcosm-- in a tiny Laotian village-- we see the American anti-narcotic crusade writ large. Like Christians burning mosques and temples to spread the word of Jesus, modern drug-abuseologists burn crops to spread the use of alcohol.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
November 10, 2019

How Google Highlights the Unfairness of American Education

In the 2013 movie The Internship, actors Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson marvel at a Googleplex full of efficient young geniuses getting the most out of their apparently expensive educations by working at Google. The motivational and financial head start that these kids had in life is clear, as they eat their free breakfasts, subsidized by the millions of saps who lost their shirts on the byzantine advertising scheme known as Google Ads. One young genius, wearing a beanie-copter, is on the phone reassuring his parents that he is going to try hard, suggesting that his childhood, for one, was full of high expectations and science fairs and trips to Smithsonian museums.

What's not to like, right? Young geniuses getting rewarded for hard work in life?

The problem is that the tech age's sheer flaunting of "geniuses" makes it painfully clear to the poorly educated among us that they have been left behind by a fundamental inequity in American society: the fact that the thoroughness of one's childhood education is so obviously linked to one's social status: where one was raised, how rich their parents were, how well educated those parents were themselves, etc. So while I don't begrudge the geniuses their moment in Google's digital sun, I can't help but be a little resentful of them, especially when some of the less mature among them put on airs as if they reached the top percentile of smarts by their own merit -- ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Americans were simply disqualified for that ranking by an educational system that neither expected nor demanded anything of them.

In the film, the head of the Google internship program tells the interns:

"I would wish you luck, but it's not luck that you need," implying, of course, that it's smarts and motivation that will help them advance.

But, of course, the vast majority of the interns wouldn't be there in the first place without luck, having had the good fortune to grow up in an education-friendly social environment in a district where they actually spent money on local schools.



The funniest line in the movie is when Google trainer Chetty tells his starry-eyed (if unpaid) charges: "The next challenge is manning the Google Helpline."

That one had me rolling in the aisles. I was like, "WHAT Helpline?" The only time I've ever gotten through to a living breathing Google employee is when the employee in question was helping me waste as much money as possible on the money pit known as Google Ads.

I'm like, "Does Google REALLY have a helpline?" The answer is obviously no, unless perhaps you're already paying them through the nose for any particular service of theirs.

While researching this issue, I had to laugh (or cry) at the way the tech-drunk public always gives Google the benefit of the doubt. Why is there no helpline? The consensus on the Google forum is that Google has just too many customers to offer actual help of that kind.

That's interesting.

Bank of America has millions of customers, but they have never used that as an excuse to be inaccessible to their public.

Sure, Google has far more customers, but surely customer service is simply a cost of doing business, no matter how large a company grows.

But no, Google got where they are today by getting content for free, so they're averse to making the necessary outlay to become customer-friendly. Besides, there's no point in that for a company that's choking on a trillion dollars. Since when do monopolies have to be customer-friendly?

Since never, that's since when.

November 10, 2019

Question: By means of this drug[LSD], people can view themselves objectively and can then accept themselves which is a great step forward in the care of mental illness.
Answer: Dr. Kahan, Executive Director Mental Health Saskatchewan, The Leader-Post, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, July 20, 1961
October 14, 2019

Addicted to Christianity

People tell me that opium, heroin and cocaine are bad for me. Why? Because they cause dependence. But this is sheer hypocrisy. I've been on Effexor for 25+ years, and my shrink tells me I can never get off it because it's far too addictive. Meanwhile, it's frying my brain and keeping me from trying new psychedelic therapies - and not even coming close to lifting my daily depression. Yet no one's screaming bloody murder about my plight. No, no. In my case, I have to be a good little boy and keep taking "my meds" for a lifetime.

But if dependence is not wrong, as psychiatry now insists (in action, if not in word), then I should have been free to "choose my OWN addictive poison" 40+ years ago when I began subsidizing Big Pharma fat-cats with my monthly prescription purchases. I would have opted for opium at that time, to give me peace of mind and an occasional rest from reality and perhaps even a little artistic inspiration of the kind obtained from the drug by Poe and Lovecraft, rather than flattening out my emotional responses with SSRIs to turn me into a socially acceptable Babbitt. While it's possible that I might have become addicted to opium, by using it more frequently than directed, at least my opium addiction could have been kicked in theory. Besides, psychiatry has no leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing an opium addiction, considering that it makes no scruples about addicting the world to SSRIs.

Really, it's a no-brainer: do I want to be addicted to a substance that fogs my brain - or do I want to use a natural substance once grown by Thomas Jefferson and used by Benjamin Franklin, a substance which, for all its shortcomings, occasionally gives me great visions?

As for me in my house, I would have used opium.

I end with this paraphrase of a Christian song title because the only possible rationale that I can see for preferring SSRIs to opium is the fact that opium occasionally provides what the Puritan would consider a "high," and that is a no-no in the puritan world. This is why the war on drugs is a war on religion - because the drug warrior's goal is to keep the rest of the world from accessing spiritual states that the warrior believes to be at odds with Christianity.

Indeed, this is how the whole drug war started in 392 C.E., when the first drug warrior, Emperor Theodosius, outlawed the Eleusinian Mysteries because he saw them as a threat to Christianity. The psychedelic kykeon was helping folks like Plato and Plutarch to see the light - and this was blasphemy for religious imperialists who believed that the only true light was Christianity itself.

October 14, 2019

Question: Here, then, in microcosm-- in a tiny Laotian village-- we see the American anti-narcotic crusade writ large. Like Christians burning mosques and temples to spread the word of Jesus, modern drug-abuseologists burn crops to spread the use of alcohol.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
October 13, 2019

It's the Psychedelics, Stupid!

Welcome to the DEA Lounge!


How many of you have read Consciousness Medicine, by Francoise Bourzat? Let's see a show of hands.

Stay seated, everyone, I still haven't counted the folks in the back. Raise those hands up, high.

OK, let me see, now. 25, carry the one... It looks like... zero people have read that book.

Well, in fairness, it is pretty new.

It's all about the way that psychedelic medicines can heal psychological conditions.

Or rather, that's what it SHOULD be about. Unfortunately, Francoise keeps hawking the benefits of deep breathing and drum therapy, et cetera. Which I find a little off-putting, frankly.

Just like Stanislav Grof, when he came out with that breathing therapy. I'd rather these folks stay focused on the value of psychedelic therapy rather than to start promoting second-best cures that simply don't work for the vast majority of cases.

Hey, listen, folks, been there done that, with every manner of self-help approach you can imagine. How many unfulfilled lifetimes do I have to live before self-help mavens get the message: "It's the drugs, stupid!"

You know what I'm saying? Time for some real politik in treating what ails me.

I mean, Freud did not turn to psychotherapy (let alone to self-help fads) to help him get through life successfully. Like it or not, he turned to cocaine and theory be damned. Freud was not going to sacrifice his own self-fulfillment by becoming a guinea pig to psychology's unproven "cures." And as long as modern psychology does not even acknowledge, let alone come to terms with, Freud's therapeutic use of cocaine, we are never, for all our scientific pretensions, going to understand human motivation. Instead, we'll live in a fairy land where the effects of drugs are established for psychologists, not by proof, but by strong political prejudices that insist, via law, on what the truth SHOULD BE, that fairy land in which we pretend that substance use is ALWAYS substance abuse. (The DEA lives by this absurdity, for when they say that a drug is subject to abuse, they mean simply that it might be obtained without a prescription -- which is a tautological definition if there ever was one, since an illegal drug CAN'T be obtained with a prescription. But it helps work the drug warriors up into a frenzy to tell them that drug X is subject to abuse, so they need not know the philosophically shabby way in which that definition was derived.)

But, Francoise, bless her, writes as if psychedelic therapy is just one of many helpful strategies in life. The unfortunate corollary of this opinion is that the outlawing of such therapy is no big deal -- since cures for depression and related psychological problems are a dime a dozen, to be easily found in the self-help section of any bookstore or library.

But as a veteran depressive, I would have zero interest in the psychedelic renaissance if it held no greater transformative promise than that of breath work or yoga. I mean, how many unfulfilled lifetimes do I have to live in order to prove to the fad peddlers that their nostrums don't work in the long run? And why not? Because they presuppose the incentive and follow-through and self-insight that a successful depression therapy should generate rather than take for granted.

Psychedelics alone among drug therapies offers the possibility of true change based on self-insight.

Am I right or am I right?

My name is Ballard Quass and I'll be here lambasting the drug war until the government thinks up a way to outlaw free speech.

Which can't be far off, by the way, given that they've already had the chutzpah to criminalize the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet! I mean, how anti-scientific, fascistic, and downright childish is that? What? I'm just sayin'!

October 13, 2019

Question: Casting a ballot is an important act, emblematic of our role as citizens. But eating and drinking are much more important acts.
Answer: 'Our Right to Drugs', Thomas Szasz
October 6, 2019

So, you're thinking about starting on an SSRI...

The following post is my response to 'How did SSRIs help you?' in the "depression regimen" group on Reddit.

Look into Ketamine therapy.

Unlike SSRIs, ketamine is non-addictive (when used as directed) and has few or no side effects. I made the mistake of starting on SSRIs/SNRIs decades ago, and I am now told that I can NEVER get off them, as the SNRI that I’m taking, Effexor, has a worse recidivism rate for withdrawal than heroin. (According to the NIH, 95% of those who quit Effexor are back on it within three years.) Yes, modern antidepressants made my life bearable: they helped me survive, but they stopped me from thriving, since they inhibit creativity and, in the long run, bring about what’s called anhedonia, an inability to feel both highs and lows.

Remember, too, that we live in a world where all the good cures for depression are illegal, a world in which we’ve outlawed Mother Nature. The natural world around us is full of psychoactive plants that can bring peace of mind and personal understanding, substances like ayahuasca, and ibogaine, and psilocybin. Since these are outlawed, however, the depressed have nothing but a handful of addictive remedies from Big Pharma from which they can choose. Not only will you be paying for these meds for the rest of your life, but you’ll become an eternal patient, having to travel to your psychiatrist every few months to be asked about your personal life, as the doctor dutifully writes out yet ANOTHER prescription for the same-old-same-old. I find that both depressing and disempowering. And I speak from 40 years of experience.

That’s why I recommend ketamine. Although it is not a natural substance, it has some of the psychoactive properties of the natural substances that America has foolishly banned, and to repeat, it is not addictive when used in the recommended doses and at the recommended frequency. Above all, for some unknown reason, it is actually legal in the United States right now. (Someone at the DEA must have dropped the ball, since that organization is doing everything they can to block all non-addictive treatments for depression.)

I believe that U.S. medical care is slowly moving in the direction of treating depression with psychedelic substances from Mother Nature. You might be able to sign up as a participant in one of the ongoing clinical trials being held around the world, perhaps one that is studying psilocybin. If you become addicted to SSRIs, however, you will never be able to participate in this new health-care paradigm. This is because most modern anti-depressants cause serotonin toxicity syndrome if used in conjunction with psychedelic plants.

This is ironic because the “new” psychedelic therapies of which I speak (which really have a long but “hushed-up” history in Western culture, viz. the Eleusinian Mysteries) show great promise in treating opioid addiction and alcoholism. However these therapies cannot be used to treat the great addiction of our time: the addiction to SSRIs, to which over 1 in 10 Americans have fallen victim.

Finally, please remember: it’s an American myth that SSRI antidepressants fix a chemical imbalance. As Roger Whittaker shows in “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” these drugs have been found to CAUSE the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix.

PS: Some psychiatrists may tell you that SSRIs are not addictive, that they only cause chemical dependency. But trust me, from the user perspective, there is no difference.

October 6, 2019

Question: The center for the international operations of the Medical Inquisition is located in Switzerland, mainly in Geneva, in the offices of the various anti-addiction and anti-drug abuse bureaucracies of the United Nations. Needless to say, these agencies are not concerned with drug habits such as drinking, smoking, or "methadone maintenance," but are concerned only with those habits that are induced and maintained by people unsupervised by doctors and involving substances which the United Nations classifies as "illicit drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
October 2, 2019

Response to: 95% of Americans Favor Legalizing Drugs

The focus should be on legalizing the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet. We call ourselves a free and scientific country, but neither boast makes sense as long as we're criminalizing Mother Nature. We wring our hands about the past, when researchers had to worry about Church oversight. But scientists today are under DEA oversight whenever they attempt to so much as research natural plant cures that can reverse depression and alcoholism.

Today's drug situation sounds like a sci-fi book by Ray Bradbury, like Fahrenheit 451, in which a tyrannical government of the future burns books in order to control what we think. Today's situation is even more despotic, for our government burns plants in order to dictate how -- and how much -- we can think.

Just as the DEA stomped onto Monticello in jackboots in 1987 to confiscate Thomas Jefferson's poppy plants.

The government will tell us that they're trying to protect us by making psychedelics illegal. This is a flat-out lie -- given the fact that America is more addicted than ever today to LEGAL DRUGS -- and that this addiction is caused by SSRI anti-depressants. The anti-depressant Effexor, for instance, has been found to have a 95% recidivism rate for those who try to get off it.

1/6 to 1/10th of the American public addicted to SSRIS -- and yet we're told that non-addictive psychedelic plants that grow at our very feet cannot even be STUDIED?

The government has no problem with screwing up America's health, as is seen in the fact that it is in denial about the statistics of anti-depressant addiction. They just want to make sure that the government, the shrinks, and Big Pharma get their cut when it comes to the drugs that we use.

We don't need to legalize everything -- we need to RE-legalize plants -- for every reason imaginable: to stop the DEA's abuse of power, to return property rights to property owners, to allow Earthlings their natural birthright to the healing plants of Mother Nature that grow all around them.

Liberals are as bad as conservatives in blocking this outcome. They fret that legalization will cause more problems. But I contend that no government has the ethical right to outlaw natural plants in the first place.

So we have no need to prove how re-legalization of plants can be accomplished without problems. If the freedom of the press were outlawed 50 years ago, those who advocated that freedom today would be under no obligation to say how that freedom can be re-instituted without trouble. That freedom simply needs to be returned to the people -- and if the change itself causes problems, they are to be blamed on those who took away America's freedom in the first place.

If we really want to start a movement to accomplish something, we need to talk about re-legalizing Mother Nature, not synthetic drugs to which our rights are far less clear -- though no doubt glaringly obvious to some dyed-in-the-wool libertarians.

My prescription: RE-legalize plants and then have the police get tough -- NOT on drug possession, but on bad behavior. By all means, let's have severe punishment for bad behavior that can be tied to drug MISUSE, since such misuse threatens the usage rights of the responsible majority by inflaming opinion. Crack down on misbehavior, not on plants.

October 2, 2019

Question: The center for the international operations of the Medical Inquisition is located in Switzerland, mainly in Geneva, in the offices of the various anti-addiction and anti-drug abuse bureaucracies of the United Nations. Needless to say, these agencies are not concerned with drug habits such as drinking, smoking, or "methadone maintenance," but are concerned only with those habits that are induced and maintained by people unsupervised by doctors and involving substances which the United Nations classifies as "illicit drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
September 29, 2019

Thought Crimes Blotter

More thought crimes reported in the tri-state area. Police in Rattleboro arrested 23 residents at the Deer Run condominium complex, charging them with attempting to "think outside the box." Department spokesman Gail McLean says that the suspects had enough psilocybin mushroom "to empower them to see whole new worlds." Said Donald Vant, the lead officer in the case: "We caught them just in time. They were getting ready to embark on entirely new lives, with much less need for the outputs of the modern industrial society."

Meanwhile, three members of a depression discussion group in South Belltown were brought in for questioning after an informant reported that they were getting ready to treat their depression with non-addictive psychedelic plants. McLean says that Sheriff Baumgartner put the fear of God into the trio, warning them that bypassing the addictive legal remedies of the modern health-care system was not an option.

Belltown has been busy lately when it comes to Thought Crimes. Just last week, police raided an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting after an enrolled informer reported that some members were planning to use psychedelic plants to kick their habit. "The only thing that's gonna get kicked in this case is butt," quipped arresting officer Joe Slaterday. "Listen, alcoholism was a dead-end in my daddy's generation, and I for one intend to respect that legacy and keep it alive for the foreseeable future."

September 29, 2019

Question: In southern Mexico, the jail and prison officials experience great difficulty in trying to prevent the smuggling into their institutions of the seductive mariguana (sic). This is a kind of "loco" weed more powerful than opium.
Answer: The Iola Daily Record, Iola, Kansas, Jan 1, 1900
September 24, 2019

Stand Up for Mother Nature

Welcome to the DEA Lounge!

Gee, I wonder why my agent booked me here. He does realize that I'm going to be riffing on the folly of criminalizing Mother Nature, right?

Oh, well, better he book me here than he book me in San Quentin, right?

Do you guys know that the DEA marched on to Monticello in 1987 and took away Jefferson's poppy plants?

I kid you not. Talk about rolling over in one's grave, Jefferson would have been pissed big time.

He's like, "what the f...!"


"I wasn't half right about the need for frequent revolutions!"

But seriously, isn't that screwed up?

Earth to America: they're plants, dude! What are we thinking?

Boo is right! I mean, it reminds me of Fahrenheit 451, in which a tyrannous government destroys books.

Mind you, I'd rather live under that tyranny. They just tell me WHAT to think, whereas modern-day drug laws tell me HOW and HOW MUCH I can think...

...because they destroy the mind-expanding drugs that actually help me think outside the box and grow new neurons, even!

Darn right, boo. Boo to the max, dawg. As in ruff!

What kills me is that in John Halpern's book "Opium," he paints the bland picture of the DEA reluctantly taking the plants away at the insistence of the Monticello Board of Directors. Whereas the way I hear it, the DEA stormed onto the place like so many...

Well, if the jackboot fits, wear it, right?

My name is Ballard Quass and I'll be here lambasting the drug war until the government thinks up a way to outlaw free speech.

Hey, if a government can criminalize plants, all bets are off, right?


September 24, 2019

Question: The position (on drug abuse and addiction) of organized American medicine and of organized American politics contradicts every principle and practice on which the United States was founded; whereas that of the Black Muslims is in the best American tradition.
Answer: Thomas Szasz, Ceremonial Chemistry
September 22, 2019

In response to a lame review of the book

Here is my indignant response to the Kirkus Book Review of John Halpern's "Opium", whose uncritical critique ends with the typical wishy-washy drug warrior conclusion that "the drug problem" is insoluble.

Insoluble problem?

What did you drug warriors expect when you outlawed natural plants, the birth right of everyone born on the planet? In your effort to protect and punish, you created drug mafias in every major city on earth. You created a whole new genre of violent movie: the drug-war genre. You loaded the world with guns as drug gangs armed themselves to the hilt. Well done!

And now we're surprised that cartels are peddling synthetic forms of the plants that are infinitely worse than the original. What hypocrisy.

Then we create anti-drug organizations whose motto is: never say anything good about illegal drugs.

The result: No one knows how to use them wisely because anti-drug propaganda insists that they CAN'T be used wisely. Little wonder then that people get addicted.

Meanwhile, millions of depression sufferers worldwide are suffering needlessly because effective psychoactive medicines cannot even be researched thanks to the lying DEA, which lies about drugs to keep themselves in business. They say that psychedelics have no therapeutic value, when a who's who of Greeks and Romans used them annually for 2,000 consecutive years in the Eleusinian mysteries, folks like Plato and Plutarch, most of whom reported it was the greatest experience of their life.

Yet this so-called “scientific” nation of ours superstitiously burns plants, like the tyrannous government in “Fahrenheit 451” burned books. We may not tell Americans what to think, but we tell them HOW and HOW MUCH.

And you’re still scratching your head what to do about it?

Earth to Kirkus Review: How about re-legalizing the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet – and then start telling the cold hard truths about psychoactive plants: not just their downsides, but their benefits as well? While we’re being honest, we might want to point out that Americans today are far more addicted than ever – not to illegal drugs but to LEGAL ones – SSRIs that were never intended for long term use – until psychiatrists noticed they were highly addictive and therefore started telling patients that they had to take “their meds” for life.

Until the drug warrior at least acknowledges this problem, I can only laugh at their pretended befuddlement about the status quo. Hello? More than 1 out of 10 Americans are addicted to modern antidepressants. Why are the John Halperns of the world not screaming bloody murder about that fact, threatening to expose the doctors who pushed for this state of affairs? Possibly because they are psychiatrists, and many of them collaborated with Big Pharma to bring this state of addiction about, by going on the circuit, and “bigging up” pill-popping on Oprah Winfrey et al.

Insoluble? Hello? You outlawed bloody plants. Did you really not expect a little pushback – including the subsequent black-marketing of drugs that are infinitely worse than the products of Mother Nature that you banned?

September 22, 2019

Question: Not until we distinguish more clearly than we now do between the chemical and ceremonial uses and effects of drugs shall we be able to begin a sensible description and a reasonable discussion of so-called problems of drug abuse and drug addiction.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry, Thomas Szasz.
September 21, 2019

One Long Argument for legalizing drugs

Charles Darwin described his case for evolution as “one long argument,” presumably because there was no one single proof for the theory but rather reams of disparate evidence that all conduced, or so he felt, to establishing the same point: namely that evolution as Darwin understood it was a reality. Therefore Darwin had to make one point after another, trusting that the totality of his observations would ultimately convince the reader of the plausibility (if not the undeniability) of the theory of evolution. I find myself in a similar situation when attempting to prove the necessity of re-legalizing the pharmacy of Mother Nature. Since the drug war is premised on so many invalid but hidden assumptions, a drug law reformer like myself has to address seemingly countless objections, as if I’m trying to convince some muddle-headed Hydra of the urgent need for legislative change.

Muddle-headed Hydras

Unlike Darwin, however, I think I do have one conclusive point that, in a sane world, would convince all reasonable human beings of the correctness of my theory. And this is the notion that it was folly to outlaw mere plants and fungi in the first place. Not only does such a step naturally create a violent black market, but it denies human beings their medicinal and property rights with regard to the flora that grows at their very feet. In addition, it interferes with the role of scientists, who are forced to accept government-supplied judgments about the therapeutic potential of certain drugs (such as psychoactive mushrooms), and must even seek permission from the DEA to study them objectively and without fear of arrest.

The current state of affairs sounds like the plot of a science-fiction story by Ray Bradbury. Remember Ray? He wrote the novel “Fahrenheit 451,” in which a tyrannous government tries to control thought by burning books.

But imagine a sequel in which the government burns plants – not just to control thoughts, but to control how, and how much, we can think. That’s the state of affairs in today’s world in which we criminalize Mother Nature’s plants.

Psychotherapeutic Goldmines

We know better than ever now, based on recent research, that many of these plants expand the mind, give us new ways of seeing the world and help us get past our psychological roadblocks. Psychedelics have even been shown to grow new neurons! In short, some of these plants are psychotherapeutic goldmines if viewed rationally. By banning these plants, our government is forcing us to limit our thoughts to the mainstream, not to think outside the box, and thus, ultimately, not to question authority, or at least not to ask the sort of incisive questions that would justifiably put that authority on the defensive. This situation serves corrupt politicians well because it makes Mother Nature’s plants the scapegoats for societal shortcomings, so the tyrant is never under pressure to truly do anything about real societal ills, since they go unrecognized as such by a drug-obsessed society.

Eloquent Chicken Littles

But our war on Mother Nature has other equally disastrous consequences. By banning these plants, we bring about so much violence that we create a whole new movie genre based on that carnage: the drug-war film, in which armed gunmen from around the globe battle themselves and the feds in order to supply the sorts of plants that the government has banned – but often in corrupted and synthetic forms that are far more dangerous to the user than would have been the simple plants or fungi from which they were derived. Meanwhile eloquent Chicken Littles like Michael Pollan fret about making psychedelic plants legal to humanity (even though they have been legal for all but the last 60 years of human history). Visions of young irresponsible users dance in his head. “We simply can’t let users make up their own minds about how to use substances,” according to folks like Pollan, “that would be horrible!” (Pollan is practicing elitism here: he is personally able to get away with using psychedelics, but he’s in no hurry to extend that privilege to his readers, the mere hoi polloi, who must get by with existing addictive and mind-dulling anti-depressants if they want to change THEIR minds.) But where is Pollan’s concern for the children killed in the crossfire of drug dealer shootouts in the inner cities? Where is his concern for the prevalence of guns in America created by this government-produced black market?

Ice-cold Universe

And while Pollan is wringing his hands over the merely potential downsides of legalization, where is his concern for the millions of depressives that he’s forcing to live without hope, thanks to the drug laws that his worries help to reinforce? Where is his concern for the potential suicide for whom psilocybin could mean a new lease on life? Where is his concern for the depressed geriatric, whose days are all one bleary repetition of seemingly pointless activities – waking, eating a few scraps for breakfast, and then half-watching some mindless television, etc. There’s solid evidence that psychoactive drugs could give this sadsack a whole new reason for living. But no, Pollan’s worries about juvenile delinquents must have the last say and grandpa must die in what to him seems like a pointless and ice-cold universe. (Gee, thanks, Michael!)

In short, Michael Pollan has no compassion for the would-be rational “drug user,” partly because he fails to appreciate the huge therapeutic potential of these medicines (notwithstanding the psychologically superficial book that he wrote in tepid favor of LSD therapy), and partly because (like all drug warriors) he focuses dogmatically on punishing or protecting drug abusers, totally ignoring the rights and needs of the masses of patients who could benefit (often enormously) from the wise use of the substances in question.

American Pagans

Such an outlook only makes sense if we dogmatically assume that illegal drugs have no rational uses – and this is a government lie, not a scientific fact (a lie created and maintained to this very day by the self-serving DEA, in order to ensure that they’ll be ruining the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens for decades to come, locking them up for the crime of daring to so much as possess a simple plant that grows at their very feet). If we’re to be a truly scientific nation, however, we must know that almost no substance is bad “in and of itself,” but becomes bad only when it is used at or above a certain dosage in a certain context. To think otherwise is to superstitiously treat drugs as evil incarnate, as evil spirits, a literally pagan viewpoint that’s completely at odds with America’s pretensions to being a modern scientific society (let alone THE scientific society par excellence).

All of these observations are part of my “one long argument” in favor of the need for re-legalizing the therapeutic medicines of Mother Nature. But all of the concerns that they address are trumped by the mere common sense consideration that it should be unconstitutional in the first place to outlaw the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet. This therapeutic bounty is surely the birth right of every human being merely by virtue of their having been born on planet Earth.

Ideological Hegemony

Of course, after over a century of viewing Mother Nature as a drug kingpin (starting with the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914), Americans have convinced themselves that mere mortals are incapable of using her bounty wisely (and have gone on to convince the rest of the world, alas, which is ironic, given that world’s often bitter and ongoing complaints about the ideological hegemony that America is supposedly foisting upon said world). Thus folks like Pollan ask folks like me: “But how can you re-legalize plants and fungi without causing problems??!” But that question is beside the point. The drug-law reformer is under no obligation to say how drug legalization would work, although I’ve addressed Pollan’s concerns above for the record, so to speak, pointing out that his “concern” for the well-being of a minority of potential drug abusers is really just a callous disregard for the well-being of a majority of rational users.

But if they had criminalized free speech 100 years ago, the opponents of that move would be under no obligation today to explain how that right could be restored without causing problems. The right simply must be restored: end of story. Likewise, when it comes to the re-legalization of plants and fungi, it is not the reformer’s duty to say how this can be accomplished without a problem. Moreover, if a problem is indeed created by such a change, then the responsibility for that trouble lies squarely on the shoulders of the bigoted politicians who chose to outlaw Mother Nature’s bounty in the first place.

The War on Mother Nature

This is why my site is so different from the average site about reforming drug laws. Most sites are on the defensive, often amassing reams of statistical evidence to explain how drug legalization (or rather re-legalization) will not bring about Armageddon. This starting point of argumentation concedes the crucial and highly debatable point that government had the right to criminalize Mother Nature’s plants and fungi in the first place. They had no such right, particularly in a country like America, where we are specifically granted “the pursuit of happiness,” a right that is hollow when we deny Americans one of the essential therapeutic routes to attain that happiness. Then there are the hundreds of sites that attempt to point out (again, often by reams of evidence) that the drug war is a failure. But this starting point concedes yet another highly debatable point, namely that a drug war had the right to succeed in the first place. Is it right to prevent the citizens of a country from using plants therapeutically, to expand their minds, to help them think outside the box? No. Even if it were feasible, it would not be right. So the point is not that the drug war cannot succeed, but that it SHOULD not succeed.

The real question, then, is not whether the drug war makes sense – it doesn’t in a rational society – but whether a war on Mother Nature makes sense, for that’s what the drug war amounts to, the superstitious notion that nature is purposefully tempting us with substances that are inherently evil – rather than miraculously presenting us with powerful and highly improbable medicines whose considered use can bring about personal transformation.

September 21, 2019

Question: The plain historical facts are that before 1914, there was no "drug problem" in the United States; nor did we have a name for it.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry, Thomas Szasz.
September 17, 2019

Pity the Time Traveler

Both liberal and conservative drug warriors have it wrong. They both insist that we have to ensure the safety of all potential substance users before we legalize the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet.

But this is like saying that we have to ensure the safety of all readers before we can allow them to walk into a library, lest their reading gives them crazy ideas that cause them to injure themselves or others.

In reality, the safety of humanity has nothing to do with the issues involved here. As an ostensibly free society, we think of free speech as a fundamental right, a precondition of liberty, and therefore a right that cannot be trumped by other considerations. This is why "Fahrenheit 451" is (so far, at least) good science-fiction and not a description of reality, for we in Western society still see the folly of burning books.

We value a free press because we value freedom of thought.

How strange then that we accept the notion of burning precisely those plants that can expand our thought and help us to think more clearly, beyond the paradigms that our contemporaneous society naturally foists upon us by its sheer situational proximity.

CONCLUSION: Although we don’t want government telling us WHAT to think, we have no problem with them telling us HOW or HOW MUCH to think.

Pity the time traveler who arrives from the 1600s, bristling with a new idea for a science-fiction story:

Time-Traveler: "Hey, I've got this cool idea for a story in which some future despotic government goes out and burns plants to keep the populace from using those substances to improve their minds! I'm gonna call it 'Fahrenheit 452!'"

Me: "Sorry, dude, but that's not science-fiction."

Time-Traveler: "What? Maybe you don't hear so good. I said it's a story about government going out and getting rid of therapeutic plants!"

Me: "Right, and that's exactly what our government does today!"

Time-Traveler: "You're kidding me? I thought I traveled forward in this time machine, not backwards."

Me: "Hey, where are you going?"

Time-Traveler: "Back to my ship -- I'm gonna visit the Earth 200 years from now and see if they've finally got it right."

September 17, 2019

Question: The center for the international operations of the Medical Inquisition is located in Switzerland, mainly in Geneva, in the offices of the various anti-addiction and anti-drug abuse bureaucracies of the United Nations. Needless to say, these agencies are not concerned with drug habits such as drinking, smoking, or "methadone maintenance," but are concerned only with those habits that are induced and maintained by people unsupervised by doctors and involving substances which the United Nations classifies as "illicit drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
September 8, 2019

Materialism's War on Drug Addicts and Alcoholics

The materialist focus on treating the supposed “real” physical cause of addiction makes modern psychology blind to the once obvious fact that merely making a patient “feel good” can have long-term benefits. This bias against directly producing happiness, combined with our pharmacopeia-limiting drug law, the protestant ethic bias against unrestrained pleasure (as well as the litigious nature of American society that discourages new paradigms), virtually ensures that the modern addict has few options but to turn his or her withdrawal into a morality tale, one to be generated and parsed with the help of a twelve-step group.

We can clearly see this bias against promoting happiness in the common drug-war assumption that recreational drug use stands in sharp contrast to medicinal drug use, when the two often overlap, even if the self-styled recreational user is unaware of that fact. This is because, one, the mere existence and availability of the illegal drug provides the user with the anticipation of some upcoming relief from the daily strains of life (as opium did for De Quincey), and two, as the latter benefit decreases the user’s overall anxiety, his or her physical health may benefit accordingly, as even materialist science recognizes that undo stress has a negative effect on physical health. Three, a person thus rendered happy is more likely to exercise, more likely to write, more likely to read: in short, more likely to pursue tasks that lead toward self-fulfillment, thereby indirectly improving his or her physical health still further.

It’s these sorts of indirect benefits of recreational drug use that modern psychology refuses to recognize, sold as they are on the long-debunked notion that every depressed person in the world can be treated by their handful of drugs, based on the fiction that said drugs target some chemical imbalance, something that the materialist can, at least in theory, touch and feel, and therefore something that is far more real to them than the mere subjective feelings of a patient.

Yes, some of these substances must be used wisely to avoid addiction. But opium users, for instance, can do this merely by using the drug intermittently, as Jim Hogshire reports. But drug warriors don’t want to hear that. It is an article of faith with them that illegal substances cannot be used safely. That’s why psychiatrist John Halpern (in his 2019 book “Opium”) writes as if every Chinese user of opium in the 1900s was an addict, which is a dubious supposition and even a little racist, given the fact that opium users such as Marco Polo and Benjamin Franklin are seldom characterized as addicts. By painting Chinese opium users in these bleakest of colors, Halpern comes close to “signing off” on Lin Zexu’s butchery, Lin Zexu, the pioneer drug warrior, whose methods included beheading users and burning their homes to the ground. (Halpern never entertains the possibility that the Manchu dynasty cracked down on opium use out of dictatorial self-interest, because it lessened their ability to control their own citizens, giving them thoughts that they were not supposed to be thinking in a tightly controlled society.)

It’s always a little funny to hear psychiatrists like Halpern lecture against addiction, by the way, given the fact that modern antidepressants such as Effexor are the most addictive substances on the planet, substances that even the NIH now says cannot be “kicked,” Effexor having a recidivism rate for withdrawal of 95% after three years. (If “pushed” on this point, psychiatrists mince words, claiming that SSRIs cause chemical dependency, not addiction, as if there was any meaningful difference between the two from the patient’s point of view.)

But despite America’s commitment to the “no pain, no gain” school of drug withdrawal, in which every addiction becomes a morality tale, there are other ways to approach the treatment of addiction, ways that have, to my knowledge, never been so much as broached in the popular literature on the subject. This new protocol involves treating drug addiction with more drugs, just as Google fights hate speech with more speech.

Thus, when a patient complains of anxiety, depression and fear during the withdrawal process, a chemist-shaman would treat him or her with various naturally occurring psychoactive substances that induce a feeling of well-being, carefully selecting said stimulants with regard to their methods of operation and varying the formula as necessary to ensure that the treatment does not result in any new addictions. In other words, this new treatment that I advocate (or rather whose study and serious consideration I advocate) involves the strategy of neuropharmacological obfuscation. It starts from the presumption that withdrawal symptoms are really just the body “screaming bloody murder” about a sudden change in its biochemical makeup. It proposes to counter this bodily hysteria by screaming back at the brain with rebuttal messages such as “all is well,” “the world is good,” etc.

Note that I do not have a disdain for “12-step groups” as such and the need for self-reflection. It’s rather that I find them an impotent substitute for the real politik of the sort of drug therapy that I’ve outlined above. (Even Freud didn’t treat himself with psychotherapy: he used cocaine instead.) The suggested course of treatment could involve serious self-reflection if desired, through the use of psychedelic plants as considered appropriate by the chemist-shaman. But mere un-aided self-reflection of suffering individuals should not be the last word that psychology has on the treatment of the addict. We shouldn’t give the addict such a dim prognosis until we’ve freed our scientific minds to consider the psychoactive powers of every plant in the natural world, not merely with regard for their ability to fix some hypothetical chemical imbalance, but for their power to make us feel good and develop better self-understanding. In short, we need more than a psychiatrist with a pre-filled prescription for SSRIs, we need an empathic shaman with a profound knowledge of the psychoactive benefits of natural plants – acting in a world in which mother nature’s produce is all legal, thereby denying us the ability to turn these substances into scapegoats for societal problems.

September 8, 2019

Question: "The Church... declares, in the fourteenth century, that if a woman dare cure without having studied [scripture], she is a witch and must die.... In the same way, in the twentieth century, Medicine declares that if a man, woman, or child dares to dispense drugs without having a medical license... he or she is a 'pusher' and must be severely punished."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
September 1, 2019

John Halpern's 'Opium': a pre-review

I’m nervously preparing to read “Opium” by psychiatrist John Halpern. I say “nervously” because almost every author who writes on such subjects has unconsciously signed off on a number of false drug-war assumptions that skew their proposed remedies in favour of policies that do more harm than good.

The first of these assumptions is the pernicious idea that the rights of a majority of would-be sensible substance users can be ignored when we perform cost-benefit analyses on drug legalization. Thus it takes only one well-publicized story of flagrant drug abuse by minors to have worrywarts clamouring for prohibition of the substance in question, without so much as one thought for the rights of the millions who may be using said drug responsibly and for good reasons.

Thus, for instance, we see much hand-wringing in early 20th century newspapers about immigrants using opium in excess (at least in the opinion of the writers), but never so much as one story on the millions of productive citizens who, like Benjamin Franklin, used opium without problems and found that it actually stimulated the artistic side of their personality. Sane and sensible substance users are simply never given a seat at the table of public dialogue about so-called “drugs.”

This leads us naturally to drug-war assumption number two, the idea that there is no such thing as a sensible use of illegal drugs, that all such use is necessarily recreational and therefore devoid of therapeutic value.

Yet the latest research on psychedelic therapy proves this assumption to be wrong. LSD, psilocybin and ayahuasca (among others) have been shown to foster personal growth in the user. Even opium, when responsibly used, can increase one’s interest in the world and one’s artistic delectation, as De Quincey reported, prior to his irresponsible daily use of the substance to combat physical pain. Then there’s the obvious fact that even “recreational” drug use can be therapeutic, as for instance when it decreases the user’s anxiety and gives them something to look forward to in life, thus lifting their overall spirit. (We can label Freud’s use of cocaine as “recreational,” of course, but only by ignoring the tremendous fact that the drug helped him to crank out a voluminous workload that resulted in nothing less than his personal sense of self-fulfillment in life. How’s THAT for therapeutic? And to think, all this was accomplished without correcting some supposed “chemical imbalance” in Freud’s brain!)

But I’m not going to hold my breath, waiting for Halpern to take into account the positive effects of opium and the lives of the Americans who used it responsibly.

But before I throw caution to the wind and turn to page one… let’s examine the biggest of all false assumptions of the drug war – one which, as far as I know -- no one but myself and Terence McKenna have ever sufficiently held up for the high level of scorn that it deserves:

namely, the false assumption that any government has the right to deprive its citizens of their access to Mother Nature’s medicinal pharmacopeia.

This, I believe, is the original sin of the drug war, this fascist gambit, this theft of personal property rights in the name of saving us from ourselves. This is the sin that has empowered the Pablo Escobars of the world, ruined the lives of thousands of otherwise law-abiding Americans, and eroded democracy to the point where presidents like Reagan and Bush can stand before the American public and, Stalin like, call on children to “turn their parents in,” in this case for daring to use the plants and fungi that grow at their very feet.

September 1, 2019

Question: The majority defines what the scapegoated minority is like, and imposes that definition on him. Americans thus defamed not only the Chinese but opium as well. Significantly, while no educated person still believes the ugly nonsense heaped on the Chinese for decades by leading American authorities, most educated persons still believe the ugly nonsense heaped on opium.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
August 30, 2019

How the Drug War Tramples on the Rights of the Depressed


To show why I’m furious with the drug war, I have to be autobiographical. Only then does my outrage make sense. But when reading the following, don’t just think of me, but of the millions of others like me who are in similar situations thanks to America’s drug war: i.e., America’s anti-scientific attempt to criminalize Mother Nature and to turn chemically active plants and fungi into boogie-men, thus making them scapegoats for societal failings.


The majority of my waking life, I am deeply immersed in my freelance work, which supports me, albeit without providing me with the full measure of self-fulfillment that I seek out of life. But this immersion does frequently produce in me a kind of partial Zen state in which I’m open to new ideas and opportunities. So while I’m slaving away for my daily bread, I tend to come up with great ideas to pursue, which I duly note on a to-do list, either on sticky notes or in a Gmail addressed to myself.

Today, for instance, I realized that I could easily create a popular e-book by collecting and publishing a variety of short, to-the-point cooking tips, with a preface explaining that I’m not a great cook myself but rather a diligent apprentice who is creating the book as much for his own needs as for the needs of the reader. The book would write itself, because its creation would be motivated by my own culinary needs and desires. The creation of such a book seems a no-brainer, so much so that I want to stop what I’m doing and begin researching the topic at once, if only my freelancing schedule would allow me to do so. I am convinced that the book would be a joy to create.

There’s just one problem: that feeling of confidence in this book project disappears utterly when I am outside of that Zen experience foisted upon me by freelance work. I may sit down at my computer to begin the book, but the feeling at such times is always “Why should I even bother?” So many of these Zen-inspired “bright ideas” of mine have come to nothing in the past, so that I have no confidence in my ability to follow through. What seemed like such an obvious plan in that previous Zen state is now just another pipe dream that I know I can never accomplish. So I sit around gloomily, vainly attempting to come up with some other worthwhile project that I might somehow be able to follow through on.

My point?

I know for a fact that there are naturally occurring plants in the world whose ingestion would immediately snap me out of the above-mentioned moping and set me on the path to accomplishing the goal in question. (Freud himself knew this and used cocaine accordingly.)

The problem?

America has outlawed all such plants. Not only that, but they’ve replaced Nature’s cornucopia of cures with just a handful of inadequate and addictive “one size fits all” drugs, namely SSRI and SNRI antidepressants. And such medications are obviously not up to the task of breaking this cycle of failure. The proof, as they say, is extant, since I myself have been taking the highest possible dose of one of the most potent of such drugs, Effexor, for 25 years now, and it is precisely during this time that I’ve experienced this inability to “follow through” on my most important goals.

That’s why I’m furious at the drug war. At its heart, it is anti-patient. Its concern is so focused on punishing drug abusers (as the Republicans want to do) or protecting them (as the Democrats prefer), that it runs roughshod over the rights of law-abiding citizens who want to use the substances in question in a responsible way and for the most important reason of all, psychologically speaking: namely, to achieve self-fulfillment in life.


But what about meditation?

I’m sure some meditation buffs are reading this thinking, “Why doesn’t Ballard just take up a course of meditation?”

One could write a whole book dissecting the psychological naivete that is betrayed by such a question (if one could force their depressed self to actually write the book, that is). Suffice it to say for now that I am no more likely to follow through with this meditation idea than I was to follow through with writing that book about food. I’m even less motivated (if possible) to take up meditation, since the idea is coming from someone other than myself. The fact is I’ve tried meditation sporadically over the decades – just as I’ve tried to write books sporadically – and failed to keep with it. Had meditation been the silver bullet, granting me at least some measure of self-fulfillment, then I would not be writing this essay. It’s fine to insist that meditation should work for people like myself – the fact is that it doesn’t. My whole life constitutes the proof of that assertion. Perhaps I didn’t give it a good try – but that’s the whole point: I can’t give it a good try, since the very problem that we’re dealing with here is an absence of motivation.

But the problem with the average meditation proponent is not just that he or she fails to recognize the above-mentioned Catch-22; they also tend to take a jaundiced view of plant-inspired mental health, as if there was something wrong with using Mother Nature to achieve in minutes what the Zen master can only accomplish in hours or days, namely, that state of sharp focus and mental freedom whereby one can actually accomplish things in the real world.

I reject that view, for I consider it to be nothing but a puritan-inspired Christian Science with respect to mental health, and I reject Christian Science for mental health for the same reason that I reject it when it comes to physical health: for to refuse natural medicinal cures a priori is anti-scientific and thus superstitious, in my view.

The important thing is not how quickly one achieves satori, but rather the attitude with which one approaches the experience. I see nothing inherently evil in the consumption of natural substances created by Mother Nature, whether to achieve satori or to alleviate a headache. To think otherwise is to accept the superstitious drug warrior notion that psychoactive substances are boogie-men, that they are bad in and of themselves, without regard to the way that they are actually used in the real world. And this is the very anti-scientific position that I chided above, for the results of this way of thinking have been to deny responsible folks like myself our connection with the natural world around us, thereby forcing us to forego self-fulfillment.

And why? So that drug war zealots can indignantly punish and/or protect a minority of potential substance abusers, meanwhile turning a blind eye to the psychological welfare of the responsible majority.

August 30, 2019

Question: LSD-25, a drug capable of bringing back childhood memories with the sharpness of a 3-D movie, is helping fight mental illness in persons formerly considered hopeless, two psychiatrists said today.
Answer: "Hopeless Mental Cases Given Aid By Drug Discovery," The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pennsylvania, March 24, 1960,
August 17, 2019

Thanks for Nothing, Alan Schatzberg

In response to Alan Schatzberg's comments in Is Ketamine an Opioid? on the Pain News Network, August 17, 2019.

Schatzberg's concerns about ketamine are based on two logical fallacies that are typical of today's drug warrior.

1) If a substance can be misused by a minority of irresponsible users, then it must be made off-limits to a majority of responsible users.

This is the same logic that kept depressed patients from using demonstrably valuable psychedelic therapy for the last 50 years, under the theory that psychedelics might be misused by a minority of so-called delinquents. (Of course, the term delinquent is subjective. In Nixon's case, a delinquent was merely any American who was not planning to vote for Richard M. Nixon.) But such so-called concern for the health of a minority of delinquents is really just a callous disregard for the health of the masses of suffering Americans.

2) In weighing the potential danger of new anti-depressants, we completely ignore the problems caused by the status quo.

Thus Schatzberg completely ignores the fact that over 1 in 10 Americans are currently addicted to modern anti-depressants, drugs that were never created for lifelong use but from which withdrawal has proven to be almost impossible. A recent NIH study finds that 95% of those who quit Effexor, for instance, are back on it within three years. Where is Schatzberg's concern for that demographic, or for the patients who are now complaining of anhedonia from the long-term use of SSRIs that were only intended for short-term use?

Far from recognizing their errors, the American Psychiatric Association is now developing new rationales to use these "wonder drugs" on children, callously moving forward with addictive therapies for grade-schoolers (now even including toddlers!) when we know that Mother Nature has non-addictive alternatives that our drug-war logic will not even let us research, let alone use to help the long-suffering depressed, alcoholics and victims of PTSD.

I myself am a victim of the "concern" of people like Schatzberg, whose hypocritical worries have forced me to go without non-addictive depression therapy now for 50 long years. So, thanks for nothing, Alan. Given the above-mentioned agenda of your APA, the last thing I need is for a psychiatrist to lecture me on acceptable risks.

Speaking of which, I don't question Alan's sincerity, but I do think that, as a rule, all psychiatrists should be required to come clean about their financial stakes (if any) in Big Pharma before they dash the hopes of depressed Americans regarding a new treatment -- especially if that "dashing" completely ignores the glaring drawbacks of the pharmaceutical companies' existing remedies.

August 17, 2019

Question: "To understand holy water, we must of course examine priests and parishioners, not water; and to understand abused and addictive drugs, we must examine doctors and addicts, politicians and populations, not drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
August 8, 2019

Is the psychedelic renaissance doomed?

Posted in response to the question "Is the psychedelic renaissance doomed?" on the Metaphysical Speculations blog on Google Groups. Author Bernardo Kastrup poses the question in response to a new attempt by pharmacologists to remove the hallucinatory properties of psychedelics, to make them operate more like modern antidepressants.

The problem is modern psychiatry and its "physics envy." Its primary goal is NOT to make people happy or even productive; psychiatry's primary goal is to scientifically "cure" people with "mental issues," which today is broadly defined (conveniently enough for the APA-pharmaceuticals alliance) to mean almost everyone, grade-schoolers included) -- and that means finding (or at least purporting to find) the right chemicals to adjust in the brain: in other words, treating human beings as interchangeable units for therapeutic purposes (this from a profession that supposedly adopted the biochemical model to treat patients more "humanely" -- see Anne Harrington's "Mind Fixers").

I believe that a true psychedelic renaissance requires another sea change for psychiatry: just as they went from Freudian treatment to a biochemical focus in the 20th century, they need to go from a biochemical focus to a shamanic focus in the 21st. To accomplish this, however, we'll also need a sea change in drug policy, by which today we outlaw the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet (something that I trust will be wholeheartedly laughed at by the TRULY scientific societies of the future). This law change is necessary because to be effective, shamans must not only be empaths, but they must have unlimited access to all the psychoactive plants of Mother Nature. The shaman is an artist, not a scientist (or at least not JUST a scientist). Instead of choosing among the top 3 blockbuster drugs for depression, the shaman will work with the patient to design therapy using a smorgasbord of therapeutic options from Mother Nature, including psychedelic drugs whose proper use can create a willingness to change in the "patient" thus treated.

Until we allow for the freedom of a healer to choose, artist-like, among the available therapeutic options growing at our very feet, we have no business opining definitively on depression, anxiety and their supposed intransigence or cause. To say that we, even now, possess definitive treatments is folly when we have ruled out, on purely political grounds, a slew of naturally growing plants and fungi that could help improve lives dramatically.

Again, for those who fret about giving therapists (let alone ostensibly free Americans) unhindered access to Mother Nature's bounty, please don't compile a list of potential problems that may thus ensue. Even if you don't consider Mother Nature's bounty to be a natural right of human beings everywhere, it is your drug-war criminalization of Mother Nature that has created the problems: so much violence, in fact, that it has spawned an entire new movie genre where good-guy Americans beat up on bad guy drug dealers.

The recent shooting in El Paso may not have been directly related to drugs, but it is our drug policy that first caused underground America (and the world) to take up arms in a big way, to peddle the naturally-occurring substances that American prohibitionists decided to outlaw.

August 8, 2019

Question: The center for the international operations of the Medical Inquisition is located in Switzerland, mainly in Geneva, in the offices of the various anti-addiction and anti-drug abuse bureaucracies of the United Nations. Needless to say, these agencies are not concerned with drug habits such as drinking, smoking, or "methadone maintenance," but are concerned only with those habits that are induced and maintained by people unsupervised by doctors and involving substances which the United Nations classifies as "illicit drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
August 1, 2019

How the Atlantic Monthly Supports the Drug War

Dear Editors of the Atlantic Monthly:

If you are in any way sympathetic with correspondent Graeme Wood’s misleading musings on the drug war (in his July 2019 homage to Mark Kleiman), then I plead with you to read the following, and read it with an open mind. I write this because I’m an enemy of America’s drug war, and I’m convinced that its “staying power” is due far more to liberal confusion on this topic than to conservative recalcitrance. As you must know, the drug war was commenced by Richard Nixon as a means of silencing his critics by turning them into felons and removing them from the voting rolls. It was not set up with America’s health in mind. Yet Nixon’s drug war remains entrenched in the American zeitgeist today. Why? Because even those who oppose it put forward weak and contingent arguments that unnecessarily yield ground to the drug warrior’s bogus concerns and justifications.

To make my points as clearly as possible, I will proceed by citing a variety of well-meaning liberal assumptions about the drug war, followed by my explanation of why they are misleading. Let me assure you in advance that this is not an exercise in liberal bashing, since I consider myself a liberal as well, albeit one in the stamp of GK Chesterton.

1) Liberals generally share the conservative viewpoint that human beings should not use mother nature’s bounty in order to improve their mental health. Such a viewpoint, however, is nothing less than the theology of Christian Science as applied to mental health. As such, it is a religious tenet, not a view based on scientific facts.

2) Liberals tend to talk about the misuse of drugs in isolation. Thus, if they see teenagers misusing drug A, they write movingly of the problem, considering that they are advancing an implicit knock-down argument for the criminalization of drug A. This kind of argument completely ignores the needs of millions (perhaps even billions) of human beings who could benefit from the responsible use of drug A. Furthermore, it ignores the millions of innocents who will be made homeless or killed on behalf of making drug A illegal, victims on both the domestic and foreign front, caught up in violence so prevalent that it has spawned an entire new genre of movies: the drug war genre. This genre includes films like Clockers, American Gangster, Empire, Cocaine Cowboys, L.A. Wars, etc., films in which self-righteous Americans gleefully violate the U.S. Constitution to “take down” Russian and South American “scumbags” (our custom-made bad guys created by the drug war out of whole cloth).

3) Liberals tend to take the criminalization of Mother Nature’s bounty as common sense. What they fail to realize is that this criminalization is a modern invention, established by corrupt and bigoted politicians, politicians who don’t so much object to drugs as to the folks who use them. Many, including myself, would make the argument that government had no right to outlaw the God-given medicinal bounty of Mother Nature that grows at our very feet – especially in a country where we’re granted the right to pursue happiness. America is a country built on natural law, and natural law has always supposed an Earthling's right to the plants and fungi that grow at his or her very feet. In the Jefferson America envisioned in the Declaration of Independence, there is no legitimate way for government to infringe upon our access and use of the plants of Mother Nature, a viewpoint clearly stated by John Locke, Jefferson's political inspiration, in Two Treatises on Government.

4) Liberals have rolled over and played dead when it comes to drug testing, to which no one seems to object today. In short, it is a total victory for Nixon’s know-nothing drug war. For what is drug-testing? It is the extrajudicial enforcement of Christian Science as applied to mental health. It is the punishment of a misdemeanor offense* with starvation, because anyone who dares use the medical bounty of Mother Nature is deprived of a job – in the absence of proof that said drug use would have impeded their job performance.

*Actually, it's the punishment of a non-offense, since the law does not generally punish the mere presence of illegal substances in the bloodstream.

5) Liberals tend to associate psychedelic plant medicines with hippies. They are thereby ignoring almost 2,000 years of western history, in which a who’s who of Ancient Greeks and Romans (Plato, Cicero, Plutarch, Aristophanes…) attended the yearly Eleusian mysteries, where they “communed with the goddess” with the help of a psychedelic substance, a secretive ritual which many participants later described as the most important event of their life. The ceremony was held yearly until it was tellingly shut down by a Christian emperor as a threat to religion. Just so we banish psychedelics today as a threat to the modern state religion of Christian Science as applied to mental health.

6) Liberals like Kleiman believe that we should legalize only SOME plants, and then do so “ever so carefully.” It’s as if the freedom of speech had been taken away from us by corrupt politicians and now liberals are advocating that we restore those rights “ever so carefully.” Why “ever so carefully”? Does Kleiman not realize that this is a matter of principle, a wrong that is demanding immediate redress? Kleiman can only draw such meek conclusions because he holds many of the false ideas outlined above. For starters, he bases drug policy on the potential and theoretical ills that it might bring, totally ignoring the enormous ills that the drug war is already bringing each and every day by ruining lives, overcrowding our prisons, killing inner-city residents, and justifying U.S. intervention in foreign countries.

There is much more to say, but I stop here because, quite frankly, I do not believe that you are going to read this, much less give it an objective hearing. These ideas of mine might have rung a bell with liberals 40 years ago, but it really seems like the drug-war mentality has triumphed in America. That said, I’ll assume the best and end by telling you why I feel so strongly on this matter.

As a depressed American, I have spent the last 45 years on the receiving end of psychiatry’s addictive nostrums. Like more than 1 in 10 Americans, I have to take an SSRI/SNRI for life, not because I want to but because I have grown to be chemically dependent on the substance. But why did I start on these addictive pills in the first place? Because Nixon’s drug war outlawed the non-addictive psychotherapies that had shown such promise in treating depression in the 1950s. And so I’m forced to remain on these mind-fogging meds for a lifetime thanks to the drug war. Moreover, I am banned from enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the psychedelic renaissance since most psychedelics are contraindicated for patients taking modern antidepressants.

Psychiatry has thus addicted me (first with Valium, later with antidepressants) BECAUSE of the drug war. Where is the liberal concern for myself and the millions like me, the casualties of Kleiman’s “slow and cautious” approach on legalizing psychedelics? And yet liberals like Graeme feel free to flippantly dismiss the value of psychedelics and wholeheartedly accept the fascist notion that plants and fungi can justifiably be criminalized.

Plants and fungi: criminalized! It sounds like a Ray Bradbury science-fiction story to me: a future tyrannical government outlaws plants! And yet this is the “enlightened” public policy that America is following in the 21st century? Unfortunately, humans tend to have myopic vision when it comes to recognizing the blatant injustices of their own time. So I’m not sure you catch the irony here.

But here’s hoping that you do! Here’s hoping that the Atlantic Monthly will think twice in the future before running stories that only serve to philosophically strengthen the drug war zeitgeist.

If I’ve convinced you that the default liberal position is blind to certain truths, feel free to forward me an advance copy of your next article in which one of your authors speculates on drug legalization.

I’ll be happy to highlight any mistaken philosophical assumptions on which the author is unwittingly basing his or her argument. Because, to repeat, the drug war remains in place, not because of conservative arguments in favor of it but because of the liberal critic’s inability to rebut those arguments clearly and with philosophical rigor.

August 1, 2019

Question: "We treat spiritual leaders as if they were public health administrators. We thus pay homage, and huge salaries as well, to psychiatrists and other mental health workers to combat the 'plague' of drug addiction, as if they were bona fide physicians-- when actually they are priests clothed in the mantle of medicine, the raiment appropriate for the priesthood of the scientific age."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
August 1, 2019

Open letter to Ethan Watters, author of

Hey Ethan,

In your book "Crazy Like Us," you mention how difficult it is to escape one's cultural assumptions. I'm afraid in your case, this has blinded you to the existence of America's drug war and its impact upon the subject at hand -- since without the drug war, the very need for SSRIs might not have arisen, given the promising therapeutic use of psychedelics in the '50s -- all nipped in the bud by Richard Nixon.

When an author takes the drug war as a given, not worth even mentioning, he will write the following kind of sentence:

1) "ECT was necessary because all other drug therapies had failed."

But this is a lie. What the author really means is:

2) "ECT was necessary because the government had outlawed all non-damaging cures that seemed promising."

There is a huge difference between the two statements. I think the drug war persists today because it is left out of discussions like this, thus never properly taken to task for destroying lives (or, in this case, permanently damaging brains).

Perhaps someday you’ll write a book about how the drug war has deprived depressed Americans of powerful psychedelic medicines for 50 years now, barring us from psychedelics that can grow new neurons in the brain, while shunting us off onto SSRIs and SNRIs, many of which end up addicting the patient for life – and then making them ineligible for psychedelic therapy for fear of Serotonin Toxicity Syndrome.

So that’s my one complaint with your book: You write as if the drug war does not exist and therefore has no effect on the state of affairs – when in a sense Nixon’s know-nothing drug war gave rise single-handedly to the epidemic of addictive SSRIs, by outlawing the non-addictive therapy that would have existed in its stead.

From a person whose life has been in some ways ruined by this fact, it is disappointing that you do not even mention it.

To do you justice, though, almost no author these days bothers to hold the drug war properly accountable, so you're in good company.

Still, a great book - otherwise.

August 1, 2019

Question: In the course of this war against an exceptionally hard-working and law-abiding people, their characteristic habit-- smoking opium-- became the leading symbol of their "dangerousness." After all, Americans could not admit that they hated and feared the Chinese because the Chinese worked harder...
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
July 21, 2019

Replacing 12-Step Programs with Shamanic Healing

Americans consider addiction a good opportunity to convert a drug user into a Christian, or at least a Deist. That’s why we see so many 12-step programs. That’s why so many books on addiction read like a Pilgrim's Progress of the addict’s soul, as we see addicts not simply get off a given substance but also confront their demons, their inner child, their family conflicts, their innermost fears, etc.

This approach may be heartwarming to a Protestant minister or a dogmatic Freudian, but it is not in the interest of the patient, whom it obliges to undergo immense physical and mental suffering, while being pestered for intimate biographical details from well-meaning but therapeutically impotent counselors.

Why do we think that this form of addiction “therapy” makes sense, especially considering the high recidivism rate of its adherents – who, even if they recover, are encouraged to live life “one day at a time” and to delight in small victories, essentially renouncing any big dreams that they might have otherwise possessed for their life?

Why? Because we are living in a country that has outlawed almost all of the powerful drugs of Mother Nature that could help with the withdrawal process. Having shot ourselves in the foot like that, therapeutically speaking, we are left with no other option than to morbidly analyze the soul of the addict and to hope that he or she can somehow “snap out of it” through confession and self-abasement. But that does not mean that our therapeutic approach makes sense, only that we’re forced to use it because of our jaundiced outlook on drugs.

The answer is to change drug policy. Only then can we treat addiction sensibly, in a way that does not require the recovering addict to feel like hell.

How would we treat addicts sensibly?

We would hook them up with a new breed of shamanic-healer, a so-called “empath” who is highly skilled in interpersonal relations but also vastly knowledgeable about the subtle pharmacological virtues of Mother Nature’s psychoactive plants. These healers would be given carte blanche to use any and every plant medicine to aid the withdrawal process, not just the two or three synthetic medicines that Big Pharma salesmen have vigorously marketed for that purpose.

The healer would especially use those entheogenic plants and fungi that have been shown, when ritually used, to give the user insight into their condition on planet Earth, their place in the world – entheogens that increase one’s ability to relate to others lovingly and honestly, while actually growing neurons in the user’s brain, thus increasing the patient’s ability to creatively confront the withdrawal process and their new addiction-free life.

Meanwhile, the shamanic-healer would distract the addict’s mind from psychological withdrawal side effects (like sleeplessness and anxiety) by providing them with natural medications that bring the sufferer peace and allow him or her to see beyond the withdrawal issues that are being faced. These medicines would be chosen and applied so as not to cause any new addiction, but rather to make the withdrawal process tolerable to the patient (at times even enjoyable!) and to free his or her mind to discuss all related issues in an honest and insightful way with his or her designated shaman.

In other words, this approach does not get rid of talk therapy, but rather makes it realistic, by getting the patient in a state that he or she can talk freely about anything and everything with this designated shamanic “empath.”

Of course, this takes all the fun out of addiction from America’s point of view: Not only does it get rid of the hand-wringing 12-step programs, but it knocks Big Pharma out of the process too because the shamans would no longer restrict themselves to employing the handful of pill brands that they’ve had marketed to them by the pharmaceutical companies.

Unfortunately, the patient will only come first like this when America stops treating Mother Nature as a drug kingpin and instead considers her to be a supplier of a vast array of powerful medicines – medicines that are the birthright of the denizens of Planet Earth and which do not have to be processed and packaged by Big Pharma in order to be used advisedly by shamanic healers.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Let's remember that the word "addiction" itself is a moralizing replacement for the more neutral word "habituation." In early 20th century America, when opium was legal, some people became habituated to it by over-frequent use, but this habituation was not considered a moral shortcoming -- until 1914, when drug prohibitionists came along and wanted to denigrate opium use among mistrusted minorities. Suddenly habituation became an "addiction," a politically and morally charged term designed to justify repressive legislation by a new breed of "drug warrior" who believed we should outlaw Mother Nature's pharmacy to protect Americans from themselves.

AUTHOR'S LATER NOTE: Say what you will about drug dealers, but in some ways they have the right idea. You don't go to them to bear your soul, you go to them for answers. Of course, this is usually dangerous, because there is usually a severe limit to what they know and what they can sell. But picture a pharmacologically savvy dealer with access to Mother Nature's entire pharmacopeia. What a boon that kind of shaman would be to the alcoholic or the heroin addict. As much as the drug warrior wants to paint such people as evil incarnate, they would do a far better job than a 12-step group, giving the addict self-insight with non-addictive psychedelics and the highly selective use of other natural psychoactive plants, such that the addict would come out of treatment free of addiction and knowing more about themselves -- and NOT -- as in today's real world -- suddenly addicted to Big Pharma's ridiculously teensy pharmacy of addictive poisons, based on shabby science backed by false philosophical claims about fictional chemical imbalances -- or rather chemical imbalances that WERE fictional until the BIG PHARMA meds themselves created those imbalances!

This is just another way of saying that if psychotherapists wish to remain relevant in a world without ridiculous and anti-scientific drug laws, they must become empathic pharmacological shamans. The only reason that folks still go to shrinks today is because government, luckily for them, has outlawed all competition from the plants of Mother Nature. If freedom is to survive, this anti-Constitutional status quo must change -- and when it does, psychiatrists will finally have to make an honest living, one no longer subsidized (directly or indirectly) by Big Pharma.

AUTHOR’S STILL LATER NOTE: How ironic yet telling it is that Freud did not submit himself to intensive psychotherapy but used cocaine instead to keep up with his workload. Freud was like: “Theory is all well and good when it comes to my patients, but important people like myself require the real thing!” The field of psychology plays dumb, however, and refuses to draw the obvious lesson from this irony: namely, that politically ostracized drugs have a real place in therapy – “even though heaven and earth cry out against them.” Freud using cocaine reminds me of liberals who send their kids to a private school. In both cases, the theorizer demands real results in their own life and that of their family but insists that other people live according to dictates of mere theory (whether about the powers of psychotherapy or about the importance of public schools).

July 21, 2019

Question: By means of this drug[LSD], people can view themselves objectively and can then accept themselves which is a great step forward in the care of mental illness.
Answer: Dr. Kahan, Executive Director Mental Health Saskatchewan, The Leader-Post, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, July 20, 1961
July 19, 2019

Cup of Urine, Pissed By Me

Cup of urine, pissed by me
Got me work at Dollar Tree
Though they didn’t have the right
I gave forth without a fight
Bet the owner of these stores
Keeps his d--- inside his drawers

July 19, 2019

Question: For many, [LSD] seems to lead to self-help -- long overdue.
Answer: Dr. Keith Ditman, Semi-Weekly Spokesmen-Review (Spokane, Washington), Nov. 8, 1959
July 16, 2019

Some Tough Love for Drug Addicts

in response to comments posted on for the article entitled Trial using MDMA

It amazes me that Brits want to continue the disastrous Drug War of Richard Nixon who only started it to punish his enemies. Kudos to reformed addicts, but please do not tell us to outlaw drugs to help save your lives: you’re not the only ones in the universe. Because we set drug policy based on the actions of irresponsible and uninformed drug takers like yourself, we deny powerful medicines to millions of depressed people around the world and foment violence overseas fighting a drug war that can never be won, because people will never give up their God-given right to self-medicate, especially when using the plants of Mother Nature, which are our birthright as denizens of Planet Earth. (What's more, they never SHOULD give up that right -- thus the drug war not only cannot succeed -- but it SHOULD NOT, at least for those of us who value freedom and democracy.)

July 16, 2019

Question: Iran has maintained itself as a nation for more than two thousands years, with its people using opium in moderation, mainly to help them endure their harsh and barren lives. Why, then, did it have to enact Opium Prohibition all of a sudden in 1955? 'Prohibition was motivated,' writes Kamm, 'largely by prestige reasons.... It did not fit with the image of an awakening, Westernizing Iran that the Shah was creating.'"
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
July 8, 2019

Why Clinton Was Wrong about Drugs

Bill Clinton once quipped that if Mother Nature’s plants were not outlawed, then his brother Roger would be dead. This claim is worth analyzing because it embodies all the reasons that the Left has joined the law-and-order bandwagon of the Right in denying valuable medicines to American citizens.

1) With all due respect to Roger Clinton, the actions of an irresponsible drug user should not dictate the availability of drugs to those who desperately need them and are determined to use them wisely.

2) The freely provided plants and fungi of Mother Nature are the birthright of every Earthling and cannot be justly denied to him or her, even if the free use of those substances causes harm to the irresponsible and the uninformed.

3) The legalization of Mother Nature’s substances could – and should – be accompanied by a public education campaign, one free of Drug War moralizing, which simply reveals addiction and harm statistics – including those associated with brand-name synthesized drugs, lest we imply that only plants of Mother Nature have the power to do harm. The info thus provided must make it clear that controversial "drugs" like opium and cocaine have been used by highly successful people (Thomas Edison, Richard Feynman, Benjamin Franklin, Sigmund Freud, Plato, etc.) rather than insisting that Janis Joplin and John Belushi be the poster child for every substance that is banned by Christian Science America.

4) Government money should no longer support “Just say no” campaigns, since such initiatives are predicated on the religious philosophy of Christian Science as applied to psychoactive medications: namely, that human beings “should” live their lives without the psychological assistance of Mother Nature’s plants. Given the well-documented mind-improving attributes of psychedelic medicines, this priggish outlook on psychoactive drugs is no longer scientifically tenable. When the government finances a "Just Say No" campaign it is supporting the religion of Christian Science. It is proselytizing a highly debatable creed that plants should not be used to improve mental health -- except perhaps when they are synthesized by Big Pharma and turned into addictive substances from which the industry can reap windfall profits.

5) The Left and Right share the neo-Hobbesian fear that society will fall into anarchy if Americans regain their right to freely access the plants and fungi of Mother Nature. Even if this dubious theory proved to be true, why not reply to the resulting chaos with a crackdown on misbehavior, rather than the usual attack on drug users, which is really just the enforcement of pre-crime law in any case, in which we arrest based on the highly flawed assumption that illegal drug use will inevitably lead to crime. Wrong. So save those resources. If you must bust heads, bust the heads of those who misuse drugs (such as Roger Clinton). Give THEM the long prison terms – and more power to you, since those are the ones who have been depriving the rest of us the freedom to use Mother Nature’s plants wisely!

6) Let's grant that Roger Clinton is better off when we fight a war on natural plants -- but what about the residents of inner cities worldwide who get caught in the crossfire of drug gangs which naturally arise in a capitalist system that outlaws plants? Should we kill hundreds, thousands, even millions -- all in order to protect the Roger Clintons of the world from themselves? If anyone doubts how much violence the drug war creates, just remember that it has spawned a whole new movie genre focused on drug war-related gun violence. A whole new movie genre of violence -- all so Roger Clinton won't make a bad decision -- never mind the fact that when Roger made his previous bad decisions, it was during a time when drug laws were fully in force. Columbine, Vegas and Newtown shootouts didn't arise out of whole cloth. They arose because Americans armed themselves to the teeth to push the drugs that government banned. That's the result of drug laws that banned natural substances. So we are hypocritical now in wringing our hands about gun violence. Mass shootings in America may not be directly drug-related, but they're rendered likely when a country like America is armed to the teeth -- and that is a direct and predictable result of the banning of natural substances, for which there will always be a market in a capitalist country.

July 8, 2019

Question: From the movie VWF (2019), about a vicious opioid gang (man speaking on talk show): "The cops can't do any more. There's not enough of them."
Answer: Law enforcement has done too much already. By outlawing plant medicines (many of them non-addictive or far less addictive than synthetics), they have created the very crisis that we're now asking them to fix! Meanwhile, their drug-war propaganda, full of half-truths and lacking crucial caveats, has served to obscure the true dangers of highly addictive synthetic drugs. But the caller to this talk show wants the police to make things worse by locking up as many people as possible.
July 5, 2019

To Pee or Not to Pee

Ever wonder what Shakespeare might have written had there been drug testing in his time? Well, apparently someone did ask for the bard's piss at some point, given the tenor of this hastily indited rejoinder that William seems to have fired off in response. It's frankly pretty bad poetry, but that only proves how much the wordsmith was rattled by this outrageous demand.

It reads a little bit like the distracted poesy of the Muhammad Ali look-alike in “Police Squad”: “Roses are red, violets are blue – I’m gonna break your face!”

To pee or not to pee, that is the question:

Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The blatantly unreasonable search of outrageous fascists –

Or to take up arms against the servile status quo

And tell my corporate bosses where to shove it.


To protest, perchance to starve: ay, there’s the rub;

For in that valiant stand against drug testing what hunger may come

When we have shuffled off the corporate coil

Must give us pause – there’s the respect

That makes calamity of fighting back;


And thus the native hue of just indignation

Is sicklied oer with the pale cast of cowardice

And those who ache to throw their bottle of piss

Right in the face of the Constitution-challenged bastards who are testing them

With this regard their currents turn awry

and lose the name of action. (mumble mumble mumble...) ...

EDITOR'S NOTE : I think Shakespeare has a point. I mean, if demanding a urine test is not "unreasonable search" (especially in the absence of any reasonable suspicion), then what is? Where do these corporate inquisitors (suborned by the U.S. government) draw the line? Perhaps they still balk at requiring candidates for minimum-wage jobs to submit to anal probes for drugs? Forgive the crassness, but one really doesn't know what else to suppose given the anti-American nature of it all.

First the government outlaws the plants of Mother Nature -- then, not satisfied with that usurpation of power, they suborn corporate America to take the very piss of the lower-class work force, to ensure that Americans are kept in their place, banned from improving their minds and seeing past the injustice of it all.

I think if billionaire companies are going to take part in this humiliation and demoralization of the lower-class workforce, then the billionaire CEOs should be forced to publicly provide their own urine samples on live TV -- just to show that the CEO is not above humiliating him or herself as well -- all for the high American motive of criminalizing Mother Nature, bigging up the police force, and denying the depressed and lonely any hope of overcoming -- except through addictive drugs from Big Pharma.

Question: The difference between someone "using a drug" and his being "addicted" to it is not a matter of fact, but a matter of our moral attitude and political strategy toward him. Indeed, we might, and must, go further than this, and note that the very identification of a substance as a drug or not a drug is not a matter of fact but a matter of moral attitude and political strategy.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
July 2, 2019

Arrest Warrant for DEA Commissioner John C. Lawn


1980s Commissioner John C Lawn

For enforcing drug law by poisoning American citizens with Paraquat

Warning: Lawn is armed with unscientific ideas about Mother Nature's plants and should be concerned a threat to American democracy.

July 2, 2019

Question: "To understand holy water, we must of course examine priests and parishioners, not water; and to understand abused and addictive drugs, we must examine doctors and addicts, politicians and populations, not drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
June 28, 2019

Illegal Drugs and the Imp of the Perverse

- You strive to be free of thinking too much about what you're doing. -- David Gray

- To indulge, for a moment, in any attempt at thought, is to be inevitably lost. - Edgar Allan Poe

In illegal drugs, we have found an all-powerful boogeyman that we can safely moralize about and condemn regardless of context.

Did Elton John use “illegal drugs”? Then it follows for us in this simplistic psychological view that his success was always IN SPITE of those horrible substances, and that his musical output would have been so much better had he only said “no.”

This is mere wishful thinking on the part of a society that has been deluded by the unscientific moralizing of the drug warrior.

True, John may have had a far safer life by “saying no” to drugs (or rather saying no “to non-doctor-administered mental health treatment”) but it is mere speculation on our part to say that he would have produced as much and been as popular without the aid of his poison of choice.

To think otherwise is to ignore the psychological phenomenon of “the imp of the perverse,” which Edgar Allan Poe explained 150 years ago today, though modern psychiatry continues to pretend that this phenomenon does not exist. “The imp of the perverse” is that voice in the ear of the public singer that whispers: “Oooh, what if my voice came out weak and my throat became constricted: wouldn’t that be horrible???” As Poe wrote, merely to think such thoughts is to be lost: for to fearfully imagine such hideous acts of masochism is to bring them about. Is it any wonder then that insecure performance artists will occasionally avail themselves of illegal mood enhancing substances to silence that self-doubting masochistic voice?

Answer: It’s no wonder at all – yet we still shake our heads in clueless disbelief whenever we hear of a public performer using “drugs.” “Tsk-tsk! Why would they do something so senseless?” we say, thereby displaying our ignorance of what Poe called “the prima mobilia of the human soul,” the aforementioned “imp of the perverse,” that ineradicable inner voice whose one and only goal is to keep its victim from reaching the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of self-fulfillment.

Despite all the de rigueur hand-wringing over Elton John’s drug use, what we’re really upset about as a society is the fact that he had the nerve to medically control and improve his mood without the assistance of established psychotherapy (in other words without getting on a program of chemically addictive SSRI antidepressants for life!)

But Americans insist on viewing illegal drug use as mere inexcusable hedonism; to think otherwise would force them to confront the fact that the drug war is being fought on behalf of modern medicine; its goal: to disempower Americans by forcing them to rely on others when it comes to controlling one’s own mood and mental acumen.

June 28, 2019

Question: Opium... is simple and unpretentious: the dried juice of the poppy. No chemist, no pharmaceutical industry, no physician is needed to produce it or to administer it. This, I submit, is one of the important reasons why modern medicine has so ungratefully turned its back on the poppy, just as it had, earlier, on the wisewoman: each reminds the arrogant "doctor" -- aspiring to control rather than to cure his patient -- of his lowly origins.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
June 27, 2019

The Psychedelic Secret of Self-Help Books

Have you ever noticed that most psychological self-help books merely describe, over and over again, a way to look at the world that can be engendered naturally with the guided use of entheogens? "Be calm, be focused, be imaginative," they say, "and above all, feel yourself to be part of the great creative forces of the universe that flow around you! See the world in a grain of sand! Dissolve into nature and become a new creative being! Yada yada yada!!!"

Sounds great, but how do we accomplish this feat, exactly? The authors never say. The implication is that we should "just do it," as if their readers were able to control their emotions in the same way that they control their arms and legs. Earth to self-help authors: this does not work.

If the Seth Godins of the world know what's good for them, they should be fighting tooth and nail against the legalization of psychedelics, because the properly guided use of substances like psilocybin, peyote, ayahuasca and even LSD will finally allow the psychologically challenged human being to BE the sort of person that self-help authors only want such people to READ about.

*NOTE: Credit where credit's due: I'm the first one to point out how the self-help movement supports the war on drugs, philosophically speaking. It does so because self-help authors imply that the human being is endlessly malleable, psychologically speaking, to the point where they can accomplish any goal if they only put their minds to it.


But note that if anyone truly believes this demonstrably false proposition, this American mythology, then it follows that one has no need of psychological medicines -- least of all those naturally growing medicines that the government has told us to forget about under penalty of law.

That's why I wish mindfulness writers would put up their pens -- until such time as they have the guts to point out in their books that the best way to mindfulness, for many people, would be through the guided use of psychoactive plants, were they only made legal. By failing to note this inconvenient truth, these self-help authors are tacitly advancing a sort of Christian Science view of psychedelics, according to which we are only entitled to as much higher consciousness as we can achieve WITHOUT the help of Mother Nature.

Meanwhile the drug warriors are delighted with this muddled reasoning: “See, they say," pointing to these endless shelves of self-help books from which the subject of psychoactive drugs has been expunged by the author's self-censorship: "You can do anything you want WITHOUT the help of Mother Nature. All the more reason to arrest you if you use psychoactive plants!"

June 27, 2019

Question: By means of this drug[LSD], people can view themselves objectively and can then accept themselves which is a great step forward in the care of mental illness.
Answer: Dr. Kahan, Executive Director Mental Health Saskatchewan, The Leader-Post, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, July 20, 1961
June 26, 2019

My Letter to Dennis McKenna

Hi, Dennis.

I hope this message reaches you. I’ve found that when a person like yourself has reached a certain level of celebrity, they become quite difficult to reach online, and even if the message gets through, they may not welcome the imposition on their busy schedule, as I learned to my cost in attempting to contact Rick Strassman last year.

My goal in this message is to advocate a new shamanic therapy to replace psychotherapy as we know it in the United States. I hope you’ll find time to read on…


My name is ... and I am the 60-year-old founder of a website called, which I describe as a series of essays constituting “one long argument” against America’s drug war.

That’s just by way of introduction, mind. I’m not writing to plug my website but rather to pick your brain on a novel idea that I have about the shamanic use of psychedelics in such a way as to help millions of depressed Americans. I am thinking specifically of the millions of Americans who are currently unable to profit from the new psychedelic renaissance in medicine for the reason that the SSRIs that they are taking are contraindicated in most psychedelic therapy. So, for instance, these Americans cannot profit from LSD, psilocybin, or ayahuasca therapy for fear that using these substances will result in so-called Serotonin Toxicity Syndrome.

I have a personal interest in the matter.

Like tens of millions of my fellow Americans, I have been forced onto Big Pharma’s addictive (or dependence-causing) SSRI antidepressants thanks to the drug warriors’ criminalization of the non-addictive bounty of Mother Nature. In my case, I am dependent on Effexor, which appears to be the most chemically addictive substance in history. I say this in light of a recent NIH study which shows that over 95% of those who wean themselves off of Effexor are back on it within three years. My psychiatrist claims that this recidivism rate is proof that Effexor works, but by the same logic, we could say that heroin works for depression, since depression will inevitably return when an addict quits that drug. At least in the case of heroin, the user would have been warned in advance of the addictive nature of frequent heroin use, whereas no such warning was ever given me about the use of SSRIs (though psychiatrists may quibble that SSRIs are not addictive but merely cause chemical dependence, as if this made a difference from the entrapped user’s point of view).


To sum up the problem: a large number of depression sufferers in America (perhaps even a majority) are ineligible to benefit from the new psychedelic renaissance. They cannot participate in trials, nor can they travel to South America to take part in ayahuasca rituals and the like: all because of their chemical dependence on SSRIs, which are contraindicated in most psychedelic therapy.


I believe there is a solution for this problem, but it requires a whole new mindset for how we treat addiction and chemical dependency. Rather than relying on modern doctors (with their small arsenal of commercial drugs that have been pitched to them by corporate sales forces) we should rely on empathic shamans, whose pharmacy is the rain forest and the plants and fungi of Mother Nature in general.

We must also question the assumption of “no pain, no gain” when it comes to treating addiction and/or chemical dependency. Certainly, the “patient” in these cases must approach such treatment seriously and with good intentions, but the notion that addicts must join 12-step groups and don sackcloth and ashes must be reexamined. I contend that this approach is based on a puritanical mindset, one which is particularly manifested in our refusal to consider the use of medicines that provide on-the-fly mood elevation and entheogenic insight to the addicted or chemically dependent person “in real-time,” so to speak.

Materialism is also the foe of the sort of shamanic addiction therapy that I am advocating here. Materialists insist on treating specific physical “causes” of depression. This is the reductionist focus which gave rise to the fallacious sales pitch that SSRIs were targeting specific chemical imbalances in the brain which cause depression, whereas Richard Whitaker has subsequently shown that Big Pharma’s SSRIs actually CAUSE the chemical imbalances that they purport to correct.

Thus both Puritanism and Materialism impede progress in the treatment of the addict. They each have their own reason for distrusting the symptomatic treatment of discomfiture, that discomfiture which is so often the death knell of the addict’s attempts at withdrawal from a given substance.

They both also ignore the therapeutic quality of anticipation. As De Quincey wrote, until his back injury, he had no desire to take opium on a daily basis. Why? Because his mood was lifted merely by the foreknowledge that he was going to “use” opium on the weekend in order to better appreciate an opera. In short, he got a mood boost by merely looking forward to his opera experience. Likewise, if the SSRI addict knew that he or she was going to be provided with a mood-elevating psychoactive plant on a regular basis during the withdrawal process, they would have incentive to “keep the course.” Again, amazingly, our modern focus on “no pain, no gain” seems to blind us to the symptomatic use of drugs for keeping the addict on track. We want him or her to “struggle through the pain” (and even talk about that pain in front of their fellow addicts) rather than to be lifted by natural substances over the deepest, most painful stages of the withdrawal process.

Materialists cannot be big supporters of entheogens, in any case, since they consider spiritualism itself to just be so much “touchy-feely” nonsense.

I almost despair of making myself understood on this topic because my ideas on this subject are so far from the status quo. Even the most progressive books on addiction these days seem determined to turn a person’s depression into a big psychological melodrama focusing on archetypes and childhood memories. Meanwhile, medicines that would “cut straight to the therapeutic chase” are growing at the author’s very feet.

For a clearer idea of what I’m driving at, I invite you to read my essay entitled “What Psychotherapists Can Learn From Drug Dealers” on The essay title really says it all. For all the moral shortcomings of many “drug dealers,” (meaning those who deal in medicines of which the government does not approve) they deal with the real world when it comes to making their clients feel better. Our society’s current therapeutic approach, to the contrary, is firmly based on wishful thinking. We tell the addict to “grin and bear it,” as if we have no need to deal with their real-time discomfiture, as if the huge pharmacopeia of Mother Nature does not exist or is somehow off-limits in the symptomatic treatment of withdrawal symptoms. We’ve convinced ourselves that this psychologically naïve approach to withdrawal symptoms is somehow pious (to the puritanical mindset) and medically correct (from the materialist’s point of view).


I have searched in vain for programs that help people get off of Effexor. And I’m sure that this is a problem for SSRI users in general. This is depressing to me because I find that I am ineligible for all the self-insight and mental relief and clarification that could be provided by entheogens, at least to a person who approaches the plants reverently, so to speak, and in good faith.

This absence of withdrawal therapy is a huge problem. I recently attended an online MAPS session about ayahuasca. And the most common question, according to the hosts, had to do with the interaction of SSRIs with ayahuasca. This is not surprising since, by some estimates, 1 in 6 Americans is taking an SSRI antidepressant. And so, thanks to the contraindication mentioned above, the most chronically depressed patients in America are precisely the ones that cannot now benefit from the psychedelic renaissance.

The answer, in my opinion, is the creation of a new world of shamanic therapy, one that avails itself of the vast pharmacopeia of Mother Nature, rather than just those few synthetic drugs whose sales benefit Fortune 500 companies.

In specific, I envision a treatment center at which the SSRI user tapers off of their Big Pharma antidepressant while receiving increasingly higher doses of entheogens. On week one, for instance, I might start using 225 mg of Effexor (given that my current daily dosage is 250 mg) and then given psilocybin or ayahuasca (etc.) at a very small dose. On the following week, I might start using 200 mg of Effexor and be given an entheogen at a slightly higher dosage, and so forth.

Meanwhile, the discomfiture that I experience as withdrawal side effects would be treated by other psychoactive plant and fungi substances of which the shaman is aware, in order to prevent relapsing. Note that the occasional use of euphoriants would be strongly indicated at such times. (I can hear the puritans gasping now – followed shortly by the “tsk-tsks” of the materialists.)

For once we put aside the objections of puritanism and materialism, we can realize (as even many “drug dealers” do) that it is the ANTICIPATION of “guaranteed upcoming joy” that makes life livable under tough conditions. As I know from decades of depression, it is never the depressed feeling itself that is intolerable – but rather the firm conviction on the part of the depressed that “this feeling will never end.” It is this fatalistic conclusion that leads to suicide, the conviction that the bad feelings will never end. But with the skillful employment of psychoactive plants, we can change the sufferers’ mindset by showing them that psychological relief is always “just around the corner,” which understanding, paradoxically, provides the addict with immediate psychological relief.


Having read several books by your brother Terence, I think I have reason to believe that my ideas might make some kind of sense to you, Dennis. If so, I’d appreciate your feedback.

I only wish that I could offer myself to science as a guinea pig, to be a recipient of the kind of shamanic depression treatment that I’ve attempted to outline above. My goal is to finish my life completely freed from Effexor, after which I hope to occupy my remaining time on earth as a psychonaut, following the Socratic admonition to know myself. But there are currently no realistic options to do this.

Psychiatry itself says that I shouldn’t even bother trying to get off of Effexor. Psychiatry has thus made me an “eternal patient,” an effective ward of the state, and I find myself rebelling against that fate, so far to no avail. It’s not just that I wish to explore entheogens (from which the use of SSRIs debars me) but also the fact that Effexor use increasingly muddles my mind and leads to anhedonia and a loss of the creative spirit that I had prior to beginning my decades-long reliance on SSRIs.

I believe that I could be successfully guided off of Effexor with the help of plant and fungi medicines as used in shamanic-guided healing rituals – until such time as my psychological needs could be met entirely by the intermittent use of entheogens, and even marijuana. (Note: It’s my experience that Effexor mutes the effects of marijuana and quashes the longer-term feelings of peace that the drug used to provide me in my pre-Effexor days.)

Something needs to be done. There are thousands of depressed Americans like myself who are chafing at the bit of their SSRI addictions – and almost no one is doing anything about it.

Psychiatry as a profession refuses to even discuss the matter, insisting to this day that SSRIs are some kind of materialist wonder cure. Rather than addressing the issue of chemical dependency, they flip the script and tell patients that SSRIs (initially prescribed as short-term therapy) need to be taken for life, thus freeing themselves of the necessity of telling patients how to get “off” of these “wonder drugs.”

I hope you agree with me that, to be truly effective, the new psychedelic renaissance requires a new treatment approach, one that empowers empathic shamans to treat the psychologically suffering patient (addict or otherwise) by choosing advisedly from among the full panoply of psychoactive substances provided to humankind by Mother Nature.

June 26, 2019

Question: "Surely it is difficult to evade the conclusion that the use of alcohol and the use of tobacco have become deeply ingrained habits in Christian and English-speaking countries, and that we therefore consider these substances good; and that, because the use of marijuana (hashish) and the use of opium are pagan and foreign habits, we consider those substances bad."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
June 24, 2019

Dr. Houston, We Have a Problem

...with your "go slow" approach to ketamine, that is.

My response to the article by Dr Muiris Houston entitled "Is use of ketamine for treating depression a step too far?" in the Irish Times of June 24, 2019.

Psychiatry does not have a leg to stand on when it argues that ketamine may cause addiction. The treatment with SSRIs -- which were initially introduced for short-term use -- causes such severe chemical dependency in the user that psychiatrists finally made a virtue of necessity and insisted that the pills were intended to be taken for a lifetime.

I recently wanted to get off of Effexor -- to try some of the new depression treatments that you're no doubt worried about -- and my psychiatrist basically told me that it was IMPOSSIBLE. He cited a recent NIH study that showed that over 95% of those who weaned themselves off of Effexor were back on it within three years.

So please stop trying to keep me from using ketamine based on the idea that I might become addicted. Even if I did become addicted, at least ketamine is a drug that I could theoretically get off of again if I tried, unlike Effexor which turns one into an effective drug addict.

If you really want to steer me away from ketamine, then start fighting to give me access to a powerful potential alternative such as psilocybin and LSD. Our Nixon-inspired "go slow" approach (or rather "go nowhere" approach) on psychoactive drugs has set back depression therapy for 50 years already. Let's not set it back another 50 years by invoking a standard for safety that psychiatry itself has never met when it comes to SSRIs.

June 24, 2019

Question: "We treat spiritual leaders as if they were public health administrators. We thus pay homage, and huge salaries as well, to psychiatrists and other mental health workers to combat the 'plague' of drug addiction, as if they were bona fide physicians-- when actually they are priests clothed in the mantle of medicine, the raiment appropriate for the priesthood of the scientific age."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
June 18, 2019

Looking for Magic in All the Wrong Places

Check out this line from “The Librarians,” spoken by a self-satisfied “magic hunter” who claims to understand M-Theory.

“Once I notice something, I can’t ignore it anymore. I have to find out everything about it.”

Really? Then why are you looking for magic in a Victorian frat house? Why not just walk outside and gather the psychoactive mushrooms that grow at your very feet? They are surely the ally “par excellence” in our search for magic in the world around us.

Instead, this know-it-all has censored her own search for magic, obediently looking for it only in those places that her government will allow her to look, in other words, in those places where she’s sure not to find it. The conclusion? This magic hunter can and does ignore things – so thoroughly, in fact, that she does not even realize that she is ignoring them! This self-induced amnesia is, in turn, a testament to the drug war’s insidious effect on free thinking.

She’s just as bamboozled by the drug war mindset as the fuddy-duddy professor in the same episode, the one who vehemently denies the very existence of magic. He’s correct, of course, but not for the reasons that he supposes: Magic really does not exist – but only because our government has criminalized the very plants and fungi that can open our eyes to it.

June 18, 2019

Question: In the course of this war against an exceptionally hard-working and law-abiding people, their characteristic habit-- smoking opium-- became the leading symbol of their "dangerousness." After all, Americans could not admit that they hated and feared the Chinese because the Chinese worked harder...
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
June 15, 2019

Richard Nixon Gets the Last Laugh on Baby Boomers

I can’t help but think of all the depressed Baby Boomers who are starting to molder away in nursing homes, thinking to themselves, “Well, at least we gave Richard Nixon the boot during the Watergate crisis!”

Really? Don’t they realize that Richard Nixon has had the last laugh on them after all with his anti-patient drug war? By denying the elderly access to their medicinal birthright, namely the therapeutic bounty of Mother Nature (magic mushrooms, ayahuasca, peyote, etc.), Nixon has single-handedly ensured that depression and fear of death will unnecessarily affect millions (perhaps even billions) as they approach what might otherwise have truly been their “golden years” of life.

To illustrate this sad reality, consider the following typical scene that is taking place, even as we speak, at a nursing home near you:


MARY: Life is shit.

NURSE: Now, Mary, be nice. You’ve got a nice bingo game to look forward to this afternoon.

MARY: Just let me die.

NURSE: Now, stop that, gloomy puss, or I’ll report you to Dr. Pillman, and you know what that means.

MARY: More brain-fogging drugs: I know, I know.

NURSE: That’s right.

MARY: You call this life? I can’t even walk by myself…

NURSE: I’ve been trying to get you to attend rehabilitation exercises ever since you moved in here.

MARY: Not much point in walking when the only destination round here is the gloomy group meeting room.

NURSE: Oh, snap out of it. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s a lovely day outside.

MARY: Oh, just let me sleep.

NURSE: You’ve been sleeping all night: now, get up and get dressed. You can’t play Bingo in your night gown.

MARY (softly): You know what you can do with your Bingo.

NURSE: I heard that, Mary!

Now fast-forward 50 years, to a day when the medicinal output of Mother Nature is actually legal to access (can you imagine that – a day when our government trusts us mere private citizens with the responsibility of legally accessing naturally growing plants! How considerate of them!):


MARY: Awesome!

NURSE: What’s that, Mary?

MARY: What are those tall spiky purple flowers growing outside the window there?

NURSE: Uh… that would be anise hyssop, if I’m not mistaken.

MARY: Do you know, I’m seeing flowers for the first time since last night’s psilocybin session?

NURSE: Be that as it may, you’d better get dressed if you’re going to attend today’s Bingo playoff.

MARY: What’s that line: “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower”?

NURSE: Oh, yes. Dylan Thomas, I think.

MARY: Do you know, I actually feel that force today, both inside and outside of me.

NURSE: Well, fine, you can tell the Bingo club all about it, but do get going now!

MARY: Bingo? What a silly game.

NURSE: Now, now.

MARY: But you know what, Ellie? I actually think that I can DO silly now, after last night’s session, I mean.

NURSE: Good for you, Mary.

MARY: Yeah, it’s funny, but I think I can actually DO silly now!

NURSE: Whatever you say, Mary, but chop-chop, double time!

Granted, that latter sketch represents a best-case scenario in which the proverbially stubborn mind of old age is made to yield to persuasive and targeted psychedelic therapy. That said, there is every reason to believe that psychedelic therapy can work wonders in a large proportion of cases when facilitated by a modern-day Shaman (i.e. an empathic caregiver with a thorough knowledge of the psychoactive power of plants). We know, after all, that such substances have the power to override the “default mode network” of thought. They can also grow new neural pathways. In other words, these plants are godsends that can facilitate a whole new era of empathic psychiatric practice. Unfortunately, modern psychiatry is doing its best to ignore this fact, as it stubbornly clings to its status quo practice of pushing addictive and dependence-causing pills on the public on behalf of Big Pharma.


The Baby Boomers may have successfully removed Nixon from office, but they also “fell” for Nixon’s superstitious and bigoted rhetoric about “drugs.” They cheered on the drug war, gladly offered to urinate for drug tests, and eagerly went to see the latest shoot-em-up movies about good patriotic Americans cracking heads in Colombia. The Baby Boomers thought: “Sure, why not? Let’s make Mother Nature illegal: it does not affect me, after all. To the contrary, it gives me some exciting movies to watch!"

But the Baby Boomers were wrong, as they are now learning to their cost. It turns out that the same drug war that cracked heads in Colombia for the last 50 years has stifled drug research in America for that same amount of time. The result: the elderly baby boomers are now forced to endure old age without the therapeutic godsends that would otherwise have accrued to them had the psychedelic renaissance of the 1950s and 60s been allowed to continue.

These depressed baby boomers believed in the “drug war.” Now they themselves must pay the price for that belief.

June 15, 2019

Question: Local medical research has so far indicated that these drugs [LSD], when properly used by trained personnel in a psychiatric setting, bring about the release of long-repressed thoughts and emotions, intensify early memory, and generally enhance perception in ways that promote self-understanding and personality growth in persons with mental and emotional problems.
Answer: Hawaii Medical Association, as reported in The Honolulu Advertiser, September 12, 1960
June 9, 2019

Addiction Therapy in the Year 2100

(a philosophical satire written to encourage a complete rethinking of our modern attitudes toward addiction and its treatment)

SCENE: 12 adults seated in a circle.

JOHN SMITH: My name is John Smith and I’m a miserable wretch.


SMITH: What? What’s so funny?


LEADER: You’ll have to forgive us, Johnny boy, but you must not get around much these days.

SMITH: What do you mean? I thought the whole point of addiction therapy was for me to find the protestant God of the Bible.

LEADER: Oh, yeah?

SMITH: Or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof.


SMITH: That’s why I started out with the customary self-abasement and grovelling.

LEADER: That is so 21st century of you, dawg. The point of modern therapy is simply to SHOW YOU GOD – or “at least a reasonable facsimile thereof,” as you put it.

SMITH: What?

LEADER: Everything else follows from that point, bruh: self-respect, respect for others, temperance, you name it.

SMITH: And just how do you intend to show me God?!

LEADER: Earth to Smith: Americans stopped criminalizing Mother Nature over fifty years ago!!!

SMITH: Meaning?

LEADER: Meaning we have amassed a whole pharmacy worth of psychoactive plants and fungi with which we can now ceremonially lead you on a voyage of inner discovery…

SMITH: Yeah?

LEADER: …after which you’ll see the folly of addiction – always assuming, of course, that you enter our program in good faith, committed to learning from Mother Nature.


LEADER: Get it?

SMITH (reluctantly): Well… I guess…


SMITH: All I can say is that the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous is probably rolling over in his grave right now.

LEADER: To the contrary, the legendary Bill W. was a big fan of treating addiction with LSD therapy…

SMITH: Really?

LEADER: Until a corrupt politician by the name of Richard Nixon criminalized the substance in his effort to crack down on hippies.


LEADER: That’s right: “Alcoholics be damned,” said Nixon, “as long as I can get my own back against Timothy Leary!”

SMITH: Fair enough, I guess, but…


SMITH: I still don’t get how you’re gonna make me see God.

LEADER: As far as the specifics of the process, I’d better turn you over to our team pharmacologist, Terence McKenna VIII. Terence?

TERENCE: Well, jefe, the precise combination of plants that we use is a trade secret, of course, kind of like the 11 herbs and spices still used to this very day by KFC.

LEADER: True dat. (Love me some KFC.)

TERENCE: But I can give you a random list of some of the big-hitters in our line-up of therapeutic plants.

LEADER: Proceed when ready.

TERENCE: We’ve got Acorus calamus, Amanita muscaria, Anadenantherea peregrina, Ariocarpus retusus Scheidw, Atropa belladonna, banisteriopsis caapi, Boletus manicus Heim—

LEADER: Enough, dawg. We don’t want to provide a shopping list for our competitors in the therapy biz.

TERENCE: Not to worry, bruh: these substances are useless (yea, even deadly) when used in the wrong doses…

LEADER: I heard that.

TERENCE: …or in the wrong set and setting.

JOHN: But then why are we sitting around in a circle?

LEADER: So you guys can get acquainted before we start our plant-guided rituals next week.


LEADER: Speaking of which, why don’t you introduce yourself again?


LEADER: But this time, go easy on the self-abasement, would ya?

JOHN: Will do.

LEADER: I think we can take it as a given that we all have much to learn from our plant friends. No need to dwell morbidly on that fact during this introductory session.

June 9, 2019

Question: If, nevertheless, textbooks of pharmacology legitimately contain a chapter on drug abuse and drug addiction, then, by the same token, textbooks of gynecology and urology should contain a chapter on prostitution.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry, Thomas Szasz
June 7, 2019

The Hypocrisy of the Gun-Owning Drug Warrior

It’s amazing how many American gun owners fiercely defend their right to firearms while gladly relinquishing their right to the plants and fungi that grow at their very feet. Talk about misplaced priorities! Any government that claims the right to criminalize naturally growing plants will not refrain from outlawing man-made firearms should the winds of political expediency happen to blow in that direction. Yet these gun owners gladly (and even proudly) support the Drug War’s efforts to keep naturally-occurring plant remedies out of the hands of those who need them most: the depressed, the lonely, the anxious, and the victims of chronic pain – all because our government (conveniently assisted by tabloid journalism and a self-interested medical establishment) has launched a propaganda campaign to paint all such users of these substances as irresponsible outlaws and hooligans.

Gun owners like to style themselves as defenders of liberty, insisting proudly with Clint Eastwood that:

“They can have my gun when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.”

But if these gun fanatics were truly interested in individual rights (and not just in the fetishization of this man-made object known as a “gun”), then they would transform their defiant mantra as follows:

“They can have my psilocybin mushroom when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.”

June 7, 2019

Question: People who make liquor are businessmen, not the "members of an international ring of alcohol refiners"; people who sell liquor are retail merchants, not "pushers"; and people who buy liquor are citizens, not "dope fiends."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
June 6, 2019

Alan Schatzberg's One-Sided Views on Ketamine

The following is my reply to Mandy Erickson's article entitled 5 Questions: Alan Schatzberg urges cautious approach to ketamine use, posted on the Stanford Medicine News Center website on June 5, 2019.

1) While recreational addiction to ketamine should be taken into account, Schatzberg should distinguish between the daily use of ketamine at high abusive doses and the intermittent use of ketamine at lower therapeutic doses. To fail to do so is to ignore the basic fact of pharmacology: that any substance that is good at one level (whether it’s salt or ketamine) can be fatal at a higher level. Alan’s un-nuanced thoughts on this subject pander (albeit unwittingly) to the anti-patient mindset of the Drug Warrior, which says that if a substance can be misused by a subset of young adults, that substance must therefore be withheld from all responsible patients who are in need of that substance’s therapeutic benefits. It is dogmatic thinking like this that has withheld non-addictive antidepressant medicines from the public now for the last half-century, forcing us instead to become chemically dependent on the few remaining legal antidepressants that Schatzberg appears to champion.

2) Like most materialist scientists, Schatzberg has nothing but scorn for the dissociative state induced by ketamine, referring to it as "wigging out." There is, however, reason to believe that the dissociative state is a crucial factor in the ability of psychedelics to override the "mental default mode," thereby allowing the depressed patient to think more creatively about their condition and the world around them. For evidence of this claim, I would point Schatzberg to the detailed accounts of researchers such as Roland Griffiths and Amanda Feilding in "Psychedelic Medicine," 2017, Park Street Press, compiled by Richard Louis Miller.

3) Schatzberg speculates that esketamine may induce “a sort of dependence” because clinical studies have shown that depression returns in some folks who are taken off of the J&J spray in clinical trials. But this is just a case of putting a negative spin on a positive outcome. For if esketamine really works in a uniquely powerful way to break through the mental fog of depression, what could be more natural than that depression would return for those who stop using esketamine? If the returned depression now seems worse, it’s only because the patient is now comparing their dreary lifelong status quo to a new higher level of reality that he or she had not even known existed prior to using the spray.

4) Schatzberg seems to fear that such an efficacious but temporarily acting drug would need to be taken for a lifetime, but surely psychiatrists cannot complain about that. They routinely prescribe SSRIs ”for life” (although most of them were never originally intended as long-term cures) and some of these mass-produced anti-depressants are so chemically habituating that the patient could not cease to use them prematurely even if they wanted to. Effexor, for instance, is arguably the most chemically addicting substance on the planet. According to a recent study by the NIH, over 90% of long-term users were back on Effexor within three years after weaning themselves off of the drug.

In short, if modern psychiatrists want to argue convincingly against using ketamine to fight depression, they’ll have to do better than merely suggesting that it could cause “a sort of dependence.”

June 6, 2019

Question: "We are repelled by the opium habit not because it is harmful, but the other way around: we regard it as harmful in order to maintain our justification for prohibiting it."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
June 2, 2019

Ketamine Bashing at

I submitted the following complaint/comment to after reading their ketamine-bashing article by Thenappan Chandrasekar (see hyperlink below).

Good morning.

I am writing to express my concern about an article entitled AUA 2019: Urological Association of Asia Lecture: Ketamine Uropathy: A Decade On by Thenappan Chandrasekar.

The article discusses urinary problems associated with ketamine abuse but says nothing about the effects of ketamine when used at rational doses, nor does the article even mention the fact that ketamine is being used successfully today to treat depression. I know your site is about urology, but your writers should not ignore the rest of the world. By doing so, they give the impression that ketamine is a terrible drug, when in reality it is a life saver for depressed patients.

As a depressed patient myself who is interested in undergoing ketamine therapy, I wanted to double-check your article’s implicit claim that ketamine was bad for everyone. So I spoke by phone to Dr. Gerald Grass, founder of the Ketamine Institute and former director of the Yale Pain Medicine Fellowship Program. He told me that he has never encountered bladder problems in patients who have used ketamine at prescribed levels. You should clarify this in your articles. (He also pointed out that many ketamine abusers are known to abuse other drugs as well, meaning that the bladder problems being reported may be exacerbated or even caused by chemical agents other than ketamine.)

Regarding Dr. Chu, the featured scientist in your article: She claims that her biggest accomplishment was making harsher penalties for ketamine use in Hong Kong. She apparently felt that these penalties were necessary because ketamine could cause bladder problems at high doses. But under the same rationale, she should be pushing to ban Tylenol in Hong Kong, too, since it can cause liver problems at high doses.

In short, her conclusions about ketamine are illogical and unscientific. Scientists and philosophers have known from the time of the Ancient Greeks that substances are neither good nor bad in the abstract: they are good or bad depending on the doses at which they are used. There’s no reason to ban salt, for instance, merely because it would kill you if you ate two pounds of it at one sitting.

Dr. Chu's illogical crusade against ketamine demonstrates what's wrong with Drug Warriors: they always want to create laws to target drug abusers; what they forget is that those same laws that they create are going to have a huge negative impact on those who wish to use the drugs in question in a responsible way and for good reasons.

I find it highly improbable that Dr. Chu’s efforts to further criminalize ketamine have wiped out ketamine abuse in Hong Kong, as she claims. But even if that were so, she has no reason to pat herself on the back. For those same efforts of hers have also ensured that thousands of depressed and suicidal residents of Hong Kong will have to wait many years, perhaps many decades, to receive those reasonable and therapeutic doses of ketamine that might have even saved their lives.

June 2, 2019

Question: People who make liquor are businessmen, not the "members of an international ring of alcohol refiners"; people who sell liquor are retail merchants, not "pushers"; and people who buy liquor are citizens, not "dope fiends."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
May 30, 2019

What Psychotherapists Can Learn from Drug Dealers

So, you’re hooked on the antidepressant Effexor, which you find to be increasingly ineffective and mind-numbing. You’d like to switch to the therapeutic use of psychedelics (presumably available somewhere in South America) to truly lift you above the fog of depression.

Let’s first imagine what psychotherapy can do for you, and then let’s see what a savvy drug dealer has to offer.


DOC: So, Ballard, you want to get off of Effexor in order to try new psychedelic treatments?

BALLARD: Bingo, Doc. You got it in one.

DOC: Because psychedelics can't be used by folks taking most SSRIs.

BALLARD: That's right.

DOC: Well, I'm sorry, my man, but the latest NIH study shows that getting off of Effexor is essentially impossible.


DOC: Yes. They found there’s a 96% relapse rate within three years for those who have weaned off of it.

BALLARD: That’s horrible.

DOC: To the contrary, that shows that Effexor works!


DOC: It must work, since you get so damn depressed after giving it up!

BALLARD: Huh? It works??? [mumbling] Apparently my emotions never got the memo!

DOC: What’s that, Ballard?

BALLARD: Never mind.


DEALER: So, Ballard, you want to get off of Effexor in order to try new psychedelic treatments?

BALLARD: Bingo, dawg. You got it in one.

DEALER: No problemo.


DEALER: We’ll decrease your Effexor intake by 25mgs per week…

BALLARD: Yes, yes?

DEALER: …while occasionally giving you some unidentified “happy pills” to help you through the negative symptoms and to give you incentive for achieving your goal.

BALLARD: Cool beans.

DEALER: In other words, no matter how bad it gets on a given day, you’ll always know that you’re less than a few days away from a sweeeeet-feeling break from your withdrawal symptoms!

BALLARD: Fair enough.

DEALER: And that will keep you going, get it?

BALLARD: I got it.

DEALER: It’s just plain common psychological sense after all.

BALLARD: But what if I get addicted to the happy pills?

DEALER: Not to worry, dawg. Unlike modern-day psychiatry, I have a large enough pharmacopeia available to me that I can give you a variety of feel-good drugs, each of which works by different mechanisms, hence you will not become addicted…


DEALER: …certainly not as addicted as those bastards made you to Effexor, which they now say that you can NEVER get off of!

BALLARD: Now, now, be nice.

DEALER: Then, once I’ve got you off that Big Pharma junk and kept you from freaking out…

BALLARD: Yes, yes.

DEALER: …we can switch you to that non-addictive psychedelic therapy that you hanker after.

BALLARD: You rock, dawg.

DEALER: Hey, I’m only doing my job.

BALLARD: Yeah. Now if psychiatry would only do THEIR job and actually start making people feel good – rather than serving as a mere distribution arm for Big freakin’ Pharma.

Disclaimer: Relax, I’m not suggesting that anyone visit a drug dealer to beat depression; I’m just satirically pointing out some inconvenient truths about the sorry state of psychotherapy in America, where the “pharmacopeia” for fighting depression consists of a mere handful of synthetic drugs that foster chemical dependence – and which debar the user from trying any of the new potent therapeutic psychedelics that are showing such promise in recently revived clinical trials.

May 30, 2019

Question: [Dr. Watt declares] that the moderate use of opium is not more injurious than the moderate use of alcohol and even that its abusive use is less destructive to its victims than intemperance.
Answer: The Freeman's Journal, Dublin, Ireland, October 31, 1891
May 29, 2019

Drugging Our Kids on Behalf of Eli Lilly

Posted in response to When anxiety happens as early as preschool, treatments can help by Sujata Gupta in Science News magazine, April 21, 2019.

Isn't Big Pharma happy enough having 1 in 6 adult Americans on SSRIs? Now they have to go after the preschool market? This is irresponsible in the extreme (see Richard Whitaker's "Anatomy of an Epidemic" for many of the obvious reasons why this is immoral). What about the demoralizing effect of placing a child on a substance that could make them a pill popper for life? and the anhedonia that eventually results from such a regimen? Why should we trust psychiatry to treat our child when their "go to" pharmacopeia consists of a mere handful of chemically addicting drugs -- while hundreds of powerful non-addictive psychoactive medicines are growing at our very feet but are outlawed by our anti-patient drug wars? Let's not fog the kids' minds to make them manageable in the short run, only to make them chemically dependent in the long run.

May 29, 2019

Question: "It is impressive testimony to our powers of self-deception that we believe we can expand our civil liberties by opposing threats to it from politicians, while at the same time inviting and embracing threats to it from physicians and psychiatrists."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
May 27, 2019

How Huston Smith was Bamboozled by the Drug War

The late Huston Smith ended his preface to the second edition of “The Road to Eleusis” by posing the following question:

“Can a way be found to legitimize, as the Greeks did, the creative, constructive use of entheogenic heaven and hell without aggravating our serious drug problem?”

The very wording of this question suggests that Huston was writing under the influence of Richard Nixon’s muddle-headed drug policy. Can psychedelic medicines be used without aggravating the drug problem? The question is beside the point.

The real question is:

Did government have the right to outlaw access to the freely given bounty of Mother Nature in the first place?

For those of us who insist that the answer is a loud “no,” it is superfluous to worry about any hypothetical misuse of the substances in question: psychoactive plants and fungi are both freely bestowed gifts of Mother Nature: get over it. If a minority of citizens are hellbent on misusing plants and fungi, that does not imply that our birthright to Mother Nature’s bounty should be withdrawn from everyone, any more than we should renounce jury trials, property ownership, or free speech, merely because some people are determined to abuse those rights.

When we fail to acknowledge Mother Nature’s bounty as a birthright, we fall prey to the childish Drug War assumption that any scandalous newspaper story about drug abuse presents, in and of itself, a knock-down argument in favor of drug prohibition. The hypocrisy of this assumption becomes clear when we consider that the folks who hold such a view would never want to fight drunk driving by banning liquor, even after reading a news article about the death of a dozen or more young children in a horrible drink-related accident.

Whence the double standard? It results from the fact that the Drug War propagandists have taught us to see all illegal drug use as hedonistic, as lacking any therapeutic or cognitive benefits, and thus we feel free to hold such use to a standard of safety that can never be met – since there will always be some “drug-related” scandal somewhere that’s vying for space in the local tabloid.

That’s why the DEA continues to lie to this day by denying the therapeutic value of psychoactive plants in its self-serving and anti-patient drug scheduling system; for if they actually told the truth, Americans would see that the DEA’s chief “success” over the past 50 years has been withholding valuable psychoactive cures from suffering soldiers and the millions of other victims of depression and PTSD.

Can psychedelic medicines be used without aggravating the drug problem?

One is tempted to “play ball” with Huston and answer his question by pointing out that psychedelics WERE indeed used in a safe and effective manner before the arrival of Richard Nixon’s drug war, as therapy for alcoholics and the chronically depressed. But by thus answering Huston’s question prosaically and with a straight face, the respondent “signs off” on Huston’s problematic assumption that government had a right to take naturally growing entheogens from Americans in the first place.

They didn’t – and those of us who promote the spiritual use of entheogens should go on the offensive to point that fact out loudly and clearly, that the government has stolen our God-given birthright. There is no need whatsoever to go on the defensive, as Huston’s question implies, to assure our materialist opponents that these psychoactive substances will never be misused after they regain their time-honored legal status. That would be like arguing for freedom of speech in a totalitarian country by assuring one’s fascist opponents that this particular freedom will never be abused. Not only is it impossible to give such a guarantee, but we’re under no obligation to provide it given the fundamental nature of the right that we are demanding.

May 27, 2019

Question: Not until we distinguish more clearly than we now do between the chemical and ceremonial uses and effects of drugs shall we be able to begin a sensible description and a reasonable discussion of so-called problems of drug abuse and drug addiction.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry, Thomas Szasz.
May 24, 2019

Second Thoughts About Ketamine

Until today, I had found all of the nay-saying about ketamine to be unconvincing, as it all seemed to be premised on prejudicial Nixonian superstitions about psychoactive medicines. Today, however, I found the first potentially substantive complaint about ketamine in the otherwise favourable articles that had been forwarded to me on the subject of this drug by Google alerts: There appears to be an association between long-term ketamine use and bladder damage. For more on this subject:

1) Access Does Ketamine Have a Future as a Mainstream Antidepressant 2) Search the Web for “ketamine” and “incontinence”

It’s not yet clear to me how large of a risk this poses for folks using ketamine on a therapeutic basis, especially since there is yet no agreed-upon protocol for such administration. It could be that the bladder issue does not arise when ketamine is taken in sane and plausible doses. After all, Tylenol will cause liver damage if taken excessively, yet Tylenol is still a safe and popular pain medicine when used rationally.

However, I am cancelling my plans to visit a ketamine clinic until further notice, at least until further study convinces me that the risk of bladder damage from ketamine is no greater than the risk of liver damage from Tylenol.

It would be a shame if this potential issue with ketamine gives psychedelics a bad name in the medical community (or rather if it reinforces the bad name that psychedelics already have there). There are other still more promising psychoactive medications out there (LSD, psilocybin, ibogaine, peyote, etc.) that have no such potential side effects despite reams of anecdotal usage statistics dating back over half a century in the United States alone.

May 24, 2019

Question: LSD is a powerful therapeutic tool.
Answer: Dr. C.G. Costello, Psychologist, Regina General Hospital, in "Truth About LSD," The Leader-Post, February 5, 1963
May 19, 2019

My Cure for Addiction

I’m watching another one of those movies wherein the antihero is struggling with opioid addiction and is constantly tempted to relapse. Movies like this are always depressing because Hollywood (like western society itself) considers such serious addictions to be largely unbeatable. The viewer just knows that the on-screen addict is going to eventually relapse – and for the rest of the movie, the addict is behaving so damn anxiously that the viewer almost wishes they WOULD relapse at long last and get it over with! At least they’d be happy for a few more moments in their otherwise miserable lives!

But, Earth to Hollywood: there is an answer to this problem of opioid addiction, even though it’s one that our puritanical and materialist mindset has so far refused to even imagine, let alone to thoughtfully consider.


You set these nervous nellies up on a monthly (or even bi-monthly) schedule to visit a psychiatrist’s office, where an empathic spiritual guide administers psychedelics (anything from vision-making LSD to the pseudo-psychedelic ketamine) to a group of addicts in a set and setting that’s designed to give them peace and to facilitate self-understanding. You then proceed to wean them off of the opioids on a slow-but-steady basis.

That’s it. Cure accomplished.

Why would this work, you ask?

The simple psychological fact (always ignored by materialist psychiatry) is that an addict can easily put up with the downtimes in their life PROVIDED THAT they can see a ray of light at the end of the anxiety-spawning tunnel that they appear to inhabit. They don’t need to take the traditional addictive meds such as Valium or Xanax every day of their life to cope with their emotional downtimes, they simply need to know – for certain – that help is on the way. The reason that an addict stares so wistfully at that remaining supply of fentanyl that they’ve hidden in their dresser drawer is because they have no other relief to look forward to, no guarantee of ever regaining the peace of mind that they seek except through the use of that one particular substance to which they’ve become addicted.

But by instituting the psychedelic therapy suggested above, the addict suddenly DOES have the realistic hope of achieving peace and understanding WITHOUT the use of terribly addictive substances. And so these monthly psychedelic sessions are valuable in two separate senses: first, they foster self-insight through the psychoactive properties of the psychedelic drugs themselves; and second, they make life psychologically bearable for the addict, since he or she knows that they are never more than one month away from experiencing at least a modicum of peace and understanding that these psychedelic sessions provide, hence they have the incentive and patience to withstand the siren call of the opiates. Again, this is because the opiates no longer have a monopoly when it comes to making them feel “okay with their world.”

Why is this obvious cure for addiction never even considered by western society, let alone made available to the psychologically suffering on an ASAP basis? It’s because of our anti-patient drug laws that are created and supported by the unholy trinity of puritanism, materialism, and law-and-order conservatism. Puritans mistrust ecstasy, materialists dislike emotions, and law-and-order conservatives assume that those who use psychedelics are mere hedonists – and worse yet, they are hedonists that can be counted on to vote for the other candidate in every election (which is little wonder, really, considering the conservative’s brainless determination to rid the world of powerful non-addictive treatments for depression and addiction).

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this article is merely to advance a philosophical rationale for treating addiction with psychedelics. Any specific therapy of this kind would, of course, require the involvement of a qualified physician to determine the relevant kinds and doses of psychedelics to achieve the desired effect given the patient’s history and the precise details of their addiction.

May 19, 2019

Question: "To understand holy water, we must of course examine priests and parishioners, not water; and to understand abused and addictive drugs, we must examine doctors and addicts, politicians and populations, not drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
May 14, 2019

Vietnam Rewards Ketamine Marketeers with Death Penalty

Vietnam is the poster child for Richard Nixon’s irrational drug war. Instead of viewing ketamine as a wonder drug that prevents suicide, the country is viciously hunting down and killing anyone who dares to traffic in the commodity. (Tricky Dick would be so proud!) You’d think that the West would be pushing back against this draconian penchant on the part of the Communist country, diplomatically reminding them that most of the drugs that Nixon hated are now proving to be therapeutic godsends for the depressed and anxious. Instead, at least one western institution is doing all it can to exacerbate the situation by writing uncritical and misleading news articles about the drug crackdowns in question.

Agence France-Presse, j’accuse!

Consider the AFP story entitled “Vietnam seizes half tonne of ketamine in crackdown on synthetic drugs,” posted May 13th on various websites, including Yahoo! News. It is riddled with misleading statements that seem to justify the Vietnamese intolerance for ketamine.

Vietnamese police have seized half a tonne of ketamine worth $21 million in Ho Chi Minh City, a key transit hub that has seen record busts of synthetic drugs in recent weeks as narcotics gangs use its ports and air links to shuttle drugs across the region.

This opening sentence gives the impression that ketamine is a “narcotic” in the pejorative sense of that word, thereby implying that it is poisonous and addictive. Far from being a black-hat narcotic, however, ketamine is actually being used in the west to COMBAT narcotic addiction.

Synthetic drug use is on the rise in Vietnam, especially among hard-partying youth increasingly turning to meth, ecstasy and ketamine.

On the rise? According to whom? The Vietnamese military? The author doesn't say. In any case, the anonymous author indiscriminately links ketamine with methamphetamines, thereby wrongly implying that they’re basically the same as far as the public danger that they pose.

Seven people died at a music festival in Hanoi last year of suspected overdoses, which sent shockwaves through the conservative communist capital.

Here the author implies that seven deaths at a music festival were caused by ketamine, which is highly unlikely given the cocktail of far more dangerous drugs that are generally available at such venues.

Western news agencies should stop kowtowing to Vietnamese authorities by writing misleading articles like this about the communist country’s inhumane drug policy. The first step is to rethink the drug-war premise according to which a psychoactive substance becomes evil incarnate once it is rendered illegal. It is thanks to this superstition that the press feels free to lump ketamine in with methamphetamines, as if these two wildly different substances were somehow interchangeable boogie-men. (Both substances are illegal, so they must both be horrible, right?) Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, and we have to acknowledge this fact before we can write meaningfully about these substances.

Until the West comes to its senses, however, it is complicit in the drug-war oppression practiced by the Vietnamese military, as when it executes peddlers for merely marketing a therapeutic godsend that the government has otherwise denied its citizens. It was the West that started the anti-patient Drug War, after all (with the help of a couple of 20th-century bigots: namely, Francis Burton Harrison and Richard Nixon), and until we recognize the folly of the paramilitary atrocities that we have thereby spawned in the world (the SWAT-ocracies that we have thereby fostered and condoned), we can’t recognize our own mistakes in this regard, let alone plausibly lecture others about the desperate need for radical drug-law reform.

What is all this bloodshed for? Tough love for abusers? If so, it gives precious little thought to the millions who thereby go without effective medicine thanks to drug laws that are written without patients in mind.

No. It's all on behalf of making Christian Science a world religion (at least in the realm of psychological healing) while giving Big Liquor a monopoly on providing relaxation and transcendence -- a shabby drug for that purpose, especially when compared to the divine efficacy of its demonized competition which have been used responsibly by non-Western societies for millennia. Of course, beyond its affinity with Christian Science boozers, the Drug War is just what the authoritarian ordered when it comes to controlling a population and rendering them fearfully obedient.

What more control can a government have than to control and limit their people's moods and to hobble their people's ability to transcend the dour realities of the state-controlled zeitgeist?

May 14, 2019

Question: If, nevertheless, textbooks of pharmacology legitimately contain a chapter on drug abuse and drug addiction, then, by the same token, textbooks of gynecology and urology should contain a chapter on prostitution.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry, Thomas Szasz
May 11, 2019

And don't get me started on antidepressants!

In response to Natalie Grover's article about Spravato on Endpoint News, May 10, 2019: UPDATED: ICER chastises J&J for overpricing depression drug esketamine ‘where there is such need for treatment’

I have no doubt that J&J is overpricing Spravato: they've certainly overpriced it for me. It would be nice if the multibillion-dollar conglomerate would "take one for the team" (i.e., for "team humanity") and offer the spray at a realistic price for the average uninsured patient, if only with an eye toward the good faith that this action would generate in the public with respect to the J&J brand name.

Pricing aside, though, Natalie Grover's article raises another concern. The author implies that ICER is worried about the lack of comparison trials between esketamine and current depression treatments. But some of the current treatments are so obviously inferior that it would be a violation of ethics even to run such comparisons.

Imagine a blind trial in which you tell a patient: "You will either get a dose of Spravato or we will subject you to electro-convulsive therapy. " A doctor who ran such a trial would essentially be playing God, deciding who should be given a prima facie harmless treatment and who should potentially have his or her brain damaged instead.

And don't get me started on antidepressants.

But then it's too late: my psychiatrist got me started on the usual SSRI antidepressants 40 years ago and now I am chemically dependent on them (a dependency that psychiatry now acknowledges but of which I was never informed until I became chemically "hooked" some 20 years ago, in my case by Effexor). And, of course, I wouldn't be writing this comment had SSRIs turned out to be the chemical-targeting wonder cures that Big Pharma initially claimed them to be.

Yes, we've got to proceed judiciously when approving new drug therapies, but that does not mean we should discount the damage already being done by the status quo, especially when the FDA has already preemptively diminished the usefulness of Spravato by insisting that it be administered only in a clinic; whereas patients like myself are free to pop their anti-depressant pills like candy in the privacy of their own home. (The fear is that America's patients cannot be trusted to administer Spravato responsibly, that they might become psychologically addicted to it. But clearly this can only happen if the physician prescriber drops the ball by over-prescribing, and depressed patients like myself should not be drastically inconvenienced merely because the US government is unable to effectively police American physicians.)

May 11, 2019

Question: "We are repelled by the opium habit not because it is harmful, but the other way around: we regard it as harmful in order to maintain our justification for prohibiting it."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 29, 2019

Taking the Hypocritical Go-Slow Approach on Ketamine

Hi, Alicia.

I am writing in regard to your 2017 article on MedExpress entitled US Ketamine Clinics Continue to Mushroom With No Regulation. I'm writing to you only because medical sites like Medical Express do not want to hear from people who are most affected by medical-related decisions, namely the patients. They only accept comments from "professionals," and so my 40 years as a psychiatry patient gives me absolutely zero standing in their community. Incidentally, this would make a fascinating article in itself: Why do sites like MedScape and the Psychiatric Times ignore the input of patients? Do physicians really think they have nothing to learn from patients? This seems almost sinister to me at a time when doctors are routinely plying their patients with anti-depressants that create fierce chemical dependence. (My doctor, for instance, frankly admits that I have almost no chance of ever "getting off" of my Effexor.) It would seem that Thomas Szasz was right when he wrote about the infantilization of Americans viz. the modern healthcare system. Patients have become so dis-empowered that the doctors do not even want to hear from them anymore. Our job, apparently, is to shut up and take our “meds.”

Anyway, my article-related comment is this:

I am very impatient with the status quo drug-war because, between the criminalization and professionalization of psychoactive medicine, the cost of otherwise dirt-cheap natural remedies has gone through the roof. Personally, I think the big mistake was made when Americans allowed politicians (like Francis Burton Harrison and Richard M. Nixon) to criminalize the pharmacy of Mother Nature in the first place. In my view, that was unconstitutional, first because the bounty of Mother Nature is a birthright of every free citizen, and second because the U.S. government specifically guarantees "the pursuit of happiness" in the Constitution -- only to turn around and outlaw the very substances that could make happiness possible for the depressed and confused.

In short, every time I hear about "going slow," I think about the 50 years that folks like myself have already been deprived valuable psychoactive medicines thanks to the lies and political strategy of politicians. The DEA has lied about psychoactive drugs since its very formation in 1973, and continues today to claim in its scheduling system that psychoactive drugs have no therapeutic value. That's an outrageous, blatant lie, which politicians sit by and calmly accept while Americans are committing suicide in droves thanks to being denied natural and non-addictive medicines. Moreover, the DEA has a huge conflict of interest when it creates a scheduling system, since the DEA's existence depends on drugs being illegal. Another problem with the status quo: the APA is naturally going to fight against ketamine since its status (both financial and professional) is based on turning psychiatry offices into PILL MILLS for SSRIs.

Yet many of the psychiatrists fretting about relatively harmless ketamine are the same psychiatrists who are prescribing SSRIs like candy -- despite the many problems with this regimen as pointed out by Richard Whitaker in "Anatomy of an Epidemic." Some of these drugs cause fierce chemical dependence and lead to anhedonia in long-term use – a use for which SSRIs were never properly evaluated. Yet Kaiser doctors purport to be worried about the long-term effects of Ketamine??? Moreover, SSRIs are sold based on a lie, namely that they cure depression by fixing a chemical imbalance. As Whitaker shows, it’s the other way around: these substances actually create the very chemical imbalance that they purport to fix.

For these reasons and many more, I am disheartened whenever I read about folks wanting to “go slow” with drugs like ketamine. We’ve been going slow – in fact, at zero miles an hour – for 50 years when it comes to psychoactive drugs. We’ve got to move ahead. Yes, we must think about harm we may create, but we must not lose sight of the harm that we’ve already created for 50 years by doing nothing.

For these reasons and more, I run the website entitled Abolish the DEA (, since I believe that the drug-war mentality is not just a threat to patients, but a threat to democracy and freedom as well.

Thanks for your time,

Yours Truly,

Ballard Quass

April 29, 2019

Question: "The Church... declares, in the fourteenth century, that if a woman dare cure without having studied [scripture], she is a witch and must die.... In the same way, in the twentieth century, Medicine declares that if a man, woman, or child dares to dispense drugs without having a medical license... he or she is a 'pusher' and must be severely punished."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 28, 2019

The Partnership for Misleading Kids about Drugs

Comment left by author on Partnership for Drug Free Kids Facebook/Center for Addiction Face page:

Why are you lying to kids about ketamine on the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids website? It is one of the least addictive substances on the planet. Meanwhile LEGAL antidepressants like Effexor cause such a strong chemical dependence that users end up having to take them for a lifetime! But you are silent about that. Sure, kids should not use illegal drugs. Why? Because they're illegal. But you only breed mistrust in kids when they find out you're lying about drugs. Ketamine is now proving to be a miracle drug that, when used properly, prevents suicide! That does not mean that kids should use it, of course, but when you lie about ketamine, you are making such usage more likely because you're destroying your organization's credibility. Kids will eventually find out you've been lying about ketamine and will afterwards reject all your advice.

April 28, 2019

Question: "The Church... declares, in the fourteenth century, that if a woman dare cure without having studied [scripture], she is a witch and must die.... In the same way, in the twentieth century, Medicine declares that if a man, woman, or child dares to dispense drugs without having a medical license... he or she is a 'pusher' and must be severely punished."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 27, 2019

The Hypocrisy of Bhutan's Gross National Happiness

Response to the article entitled 'The Laws and Drugs' on the Kuensel website:

The country of Bhutan claims to measure success by the statistic of Gross National Happiness rather than Gross National Product. This is ironic, because Bhutan also outlaws the very medicines that can help its citizens achieve that happiness. In this way, Bhutan is just like the United States, where the government guarantees the pursuit of happiness while outlawing the medicinal means to attain it. Even as I type this sentence, thousands of Americans are on the brink of suicide, yet the administration of a non-addictive substance known as ketamine or psilocybin could almost instantly give them the mental resources to carry on and even thrive in life. But governments like Bhutan continue to follow the lead of corrupt president Richard Nixon in denying these lifesaving medications to the desperate and even jailing those who dare to acquire them.

Gross national happiness, indeed. The only people made happy by Bhutan’s drug war are law enforcement officials, who see their workload increase every year as their government cracks down on their citizens’ right to freely access the medicinal output of Mother Nature.

April 27, 2019

Question: It is only fitting that as formerly the most faithful Christians favored the most un-Christian ferocity against witches, so now the most faithful capitalists recommend the most anti-capitalist ferocity against the entrepreneurs who trade in "dangerous drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 25, 2019

Bad Guy to the Rescue in the Opioid Crisis

Last night’s NewsHour featured a handsome and well-groomed DEA official gravely announcing a new crackdown on opioid distributors to pharmacies. This was a little hard to stomach because it gave the impression that the DEA was on the side of the angels in the opioid crisis, when in reality they did everything they could to cause it.

They did so by using the drug scheduling system to outlaw all natural and non-addictive means of achieving personal transcendence through the help of Mother Nature’s pharmacy. They then turn around and act indignant that entrepreneurs have rushed in to attempt to satisfy this outlawed market in a quasi-legal fashion. But not to worry, the DEA is prepared to play "whack-a-mole" with those shady entrepreneurs until the end of time. We should be grateful, right? Your tax dollars at work, right?


The DEA is like a despot who has outlawed all soft drinks and then announced that he has confiscated a batch of poisonous contraband soda that would have killed those who drank it. The despot expects to receive kudos for this action; after all, he prevented deaths, didn't he? But the more logical response would be to blame the despot for having outlawed soda in the first place, thereby creating a black market in which soda quality cannot be ensured.

April 25, 2019

Question: The fact that a contemporary American's, and especially physician's, advocacy of tolerance with respect to drugs is generally viewed as an endorsement or support of undisciplined licentiousness in the use of "dangerous drugs" signifies that we are now at the height of an "anti-narcotic" inquisition.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 24, 2019

The FDA's Hypocritical Concern about Addiction

The FDA recently approved a nasal-spray form of Ketamine under the condition that it be used only in clinics. The supposed reason: there is a small possibility that a user could become addicted to the spray.

This, however, is sheer hypocrisy on the part of the FDA. As I type this, tens of millions of Americans are addicted to SSRIs, which the FDA allows them to take at home like they were so much candy. Of course, one could quibble and say that the SSRIs cause "chemical dependency" rather than addiction but the result for the end user is the same: the daily need for the drug in question. Far from despising chemical dependency, however, the FDA actually requires it for those who wish to use Spravato. Those of us who are not long-term users of SSRIs are not even allowed to use the nasal spray.

This begs the question: what is the FDA's REAL motive in refusing to allow for the home use of Spravato? Why will they allow us to almost OD on SSRIs at home yet take not so much as a sniff of Spravato while there? If there is any substantive reason for this hypocrisy (apart from the financial interests of Big Pharma), it can only be that the FDA has a puritan dislike for patients experiencing true relief at home. In other words, they share the Drug Warriors aversion to folks getting “high” (which, according to the dour theology of the Drug Warrior, is the pejorative term par excellence) and so they want to “scientize” this unseemly process to the extent possible by surrounding it by lab coats and white walls – thereby requiring “patients” to “get happy” in an environment totally unsuited for that purpose: namely, a cheerless mental health clinic, under the watchful but superfluous eye of a materialist psychiatrist.

April 24, 2019

Question: Here, then, in microcosm-- in a tiny Laotian village-- we see the American anti-narcotic crusade writ large. Like Christians burning mosques and temples to spread the word of Jesus, modern drug-abuseologists burn crops to spread the use of alcohol.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 23, 2019

Hurray for Ketamine!

At the end of an informative but brief article about ketamine, Gabrielle Healy asks:

How do we treat an illness [i.e. depression] that affects millions of Americans?

Here's my answer:

We start by remembering that the term “illness” is a metaphor when it comes to psychological conditions.

The concept of depression as a “chemical imbalance in the brain” was originally created by Big Pharma PR to justify a purely materialistic approach to psychotherapy. This “sales pitch cum theory” was subsequently embraced by psychiatrists out of “physics envy” (the desire for psychiatry to be a “hard science”) but it has been factually refuted by Richard Whitaker in 2010 in “Anatomy of an Epidemic.” In fact, Whitaker shows that SSRIs actually CAUSE the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix.

This should not surprise us. After all, if SSRI antidepressants were really fixing some chemical imbalance that causes depression, there should no longer be an epidemic of depression in America, where 1 in 6 Americans are now taking these so-called wonder drugs. Meanwhile, the outcomes for depression treatment in Third World countries, where SSRI use is less frequent and less prolonged, are far more positive than here in the West, where many patients are now told by their psychiatrist that they must take SSRIs for life.

My conclusion: Hurray for ketamine, a treatment that gives the depressed a new mental flexibility without causing chemical dependence. It may not be the sort of targeted chemical cure that would flatter materialistic psychiatry and enrich Big Pharma, but depressed "patients" like myself are content with the humble fact that it actually works for us.

*Special K: Ketamine, From Party Drug To Depression Medication," Gabrille Healy, April 22, 2019, WAMU.ORG.

April 23, 2019

Question: It is only fitting that as formerly the most faithful Christians favored the most un-Christian ferocity against witches, so now the most faithful capitalists recommend the most anti-capitalist ferocity against the entrepreneurs who trade in "dangerous drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 16, 2019


A sceptic reading this site may ask: why is this guy so upset about modern drug law? What follows is the answer:

The drug warrior feels justified only because he or she assumes that the use of illegal substances is motivated by irresponsible hedonism. This conscience sop, however, is rapidly disappearing as we learn that many currently illegal substances are turning out to be godsends from a psychologically therapeutic point of view. LSD and psilocybin help users think outside the deadly box of pessimism and negative learned response. Ketamine reawakens a hopeless mind to the possibilities that life offers. Ibogaine helps one rethink their supposed need for alcohol and other addictive drugs.

Yet the hypocritically pious drug warrior stands in the way of all these treatments, by superstitiously asserting that the drugs in question are somehow bad in and of themselves, simply because they have been labelled that way by corrupt politicians, especially Richard Nixon.

This is why the drug war is insidious. It is not a war on irresponsible hedonism, it is a war on humanity’s freedom and ability to control the very way that they LOOK at life, since they deny us the right to improve and expand our minds.

Freedom-loving peoples claim to hate being told what to think by their government; how much angrier they should be when government tells us HOW – and how much – we may think.

This is why I’m righteously P.O.’d and doing my best to rouse the rest of the free world to the same all-too-justified fury.

This is, after all, the greatest tyranny possible in a supposedly free country, to tell me how much I can think -- especially in America, where I have been constitutionally guaranteed the pursuit of happiness, only to have the means to that happiness withdrawn by politically motivated laws.

April 16, 2019

Question: Who is responsible for the 24/7 moaning of millions of elderly Americans in nursing homes?
Answer: The DEA and the Drug War, based on the mind set that outlawed opium in 1914, so that now only outlaws have opium. The depressed elderly must make do with psychiatry's highly addictive and less helpful drug alternatives. Scientific materialists are terrified lest they give the elderly good dreams for a change. (Humph! How very unscientific. Let them suffer instead!)
April 14, 2019

Test, Not Arrest

The following is my response to the London Times article entitled "Police drugs policy of ‘test, not arrest’ condemned as back-door legalisation".

As an American, I am disappointed that England continues to follow the drug policies of Richard Nixon, who first criminalized psychoactive substances, not for health reasons, but because he despised the people who used them. If Nixon had been truly interested in America’s health back in the early ‘70s, he would have banned cigarettes and alcohol, not LSD, a drug that had been uncontroversial in the ‘50s as a therapeutic treatment for alcoholism and other psychiatric disorders.

Many psychoactive substances have since turned out to be beneficial in psychiatry, especially ketamine, which now looks like a psychiatric wonder drug, since it successfully combats depression without causing chemical dependence (as do the vast majority of legal substances that are currently taken for depression). Indeed, ketamine actually seems to grow new neurons according to recent findings, connections that may be responsible for making the depressed more creatively adaptive to their life situations.

Seen in this light, the “test, not arrest” policy of British police is to be commended as one small refreshing step toward adopting a rational and caring stance toward substance use. Yes, ideally, government would solve such problems, but until they do so, we need small innovative steps like these to swing the pendulum back in favor of sanity.

Meanwhile, we need to renounce the Western world’s modern-day superstition according to which certain substances become evil incarnate once we criminalize them and call them “drugs.” Shakespeare himself knew better than this over 400 years ago, when he put the following far more nuanced view of the medicinal world into his soliloquy for Friar Lawrence:

Oh, mickle is the powerful grace that lies

In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities.

For naught so vile that on the earth doth live

But to the earth some special good doth give.

Yet here we are, centuries later, the drug-warrior West, dutifully slandering Mother Nature’s pharmacy at the behest of corrupt politician Richard M. Nixon.

April 14, 2019

Question: Who is responsible for the 24/7 moaning of millions of elderly Americans in nursing homes?
Answer: The DEA and the Drug War, based on the mind set that outlawed opium in 1914, so that now only outlaws have opium. The depressed elderly must make do with psychiatry's highly addictive and less helpful drug alternatives. Scientific materialists are terrified lest they give the elderly good dreams for a change. (Humph! How very unscientific. Let them suffer instead!)
March 29, 2019

Prescription for Cruelty

During that dreary decade when psychiatry had me stumbling around the world on Valium, I was regularly infuriated by my psychiatrist’s refusal to help me with prescription problems during a weekend. I would repeatedly arrive at the pharmacy on Friday night or Saturday morning, only to be told by the pharmacist that there was some problem with my prescription and that I would have to contact my doctor. Of course, when I attempted to do so, I was greeted by a recording admonishing me that neither the doctor nor his minions could possibly have anything to do with me until Monday morning at 9:00 a.m.

I was infuriated and in disbelief every time this happened, the more so in that my prescription had inevitably just “run out” at such times. Was I really supposed to go “cold turkey” until the doctor got off the golf course, got his beauty sleep, and then arrived at his expensive office in his BMW at 9 a.m. sharp some 48 hours from now? Did the Hippocratic oath only apply on weekdays?

This illustrates a downside of America’s drug status quo that has gone unnoticed by the vast majority of Americans: namely, the arrogance that doctors have assumed toward their patients ever since physicians were handed the golden goose of the prescription pad in the early 1950s. Armed with this priceless monopoly to dispense addictive medications, doctors have assertively turned a deaf ear toward the needs of their patients on weekends.

Of course, these physicians often make it clear that they can’t be bothered on the weekend by posting signs to that effect, but what they never explicitly tell you is that they will gladly let you suffer “cold turkey” rather than move a finger to help you after hours. This is the default punishment for the patient who fails to “refill early,” not a monetary fine but rather the psychological punishment of medication withdrawal.

This practice continues today: the practice of forcing a patient to go “cold turkey” on a medication that they have failed to renew in a timely manner. It first happened to me 40 years ago when I was “on” Valium, and it last happened to me just two years ago when I was “on” Effexor. In the latter case, the answering service was so determined NOT to help me, that I finally had to lie by implying that I was considering suicide. Only then was I transferred to a medical supervisor who agreed to instantly refill my prescription, after getting my assurance that my suicidal references were merely a strategic ploy to gain the assistance to which I felt that I was entitled.

Of course, in some cases, the pharmacist will offer to supply the patient with a few pills to “take them through” the weekend, but this happens rarely, in my experience, and is of little use to a patient who lives many miles from the pharmacy.

Psychiatrists might argue that it’s too expensive to deal with prescriptions on the weekends, but if this is truly so, then the psychiatrist should never have gotten in the business of prescribing medications in the first place. Patients, after all, have to live their lives 24 hours a day, not just 9 to 5 on weekdays, and if psychiatrists aren’t prepared to deal with after-hour problems, then they have no business dispensing addictive medications.

But when it comes to dispensing medications, psychiatrists want to enjoy the rights of a monopoly without assuming the responsibilities.

The solution: end the physician’s monopoly on dispensing mood-altering drugs, since the faith that we have thus placed in them has been so clearly abused (disregarding here the once-obvious fact that it is a violation of natural law to criminal plant medicine in the first place). Decriminalize the vast panoply of mood-altering drugs and let patients decide for themselves what they need (from the vast pharmacopeia of Mother Nature, not just from the tiny subset of addictive medications whose sales benefit Big Pharma).

The first step in achieving this goal? Re-empower patients by granting them the same rights that they possessed before the passage of the Durham-Humphrey Amendment of 1952.

March 29, 2019

Question: Here, then, in microcosm-- in a tiny Laotian village-- we see the American anti-narcotic crusade writ large. Like Christians burning mosques and temples to spread the word of Jesus, modern drug-abuseologists burn crops to spread the use of alcohol.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
March 10, 2019

The Good News and Bad News about Ketamine

The good news about ketamine is obvious: finally there is a street drug with some real potency that (miracle of miracles!) the prudish American zeitgeist has found a way to make legally available to average human beings who need it, and outside of laboratory research settings as well. Depressed patients now finally have a powerful alternative to highly addictive* SSRI antidepressants, whose long-term use conduces to anhedonia. Making the good news even better, ketamine treatment has been shown to be non-addictive and to help depressed patients for months, even years, at a time, without the need for constant re-dosing. Depressed patients now have a real alternative to their daily dosing with addictive meds, in the form of chronologically well-separated infusions of ketamine.

The bad news is that our society’s liberal attitude toward ketamine only extends so far. The powers that be are still going to insist that the ketamine user jump through a series of expensive and time-consuming health-care hoops before they can legally partake of this wonder drug. Thus a ketamine dose that could be picked up on the street for $50 will cost the legal user a minimum of $300, and will generally only be available as part of an outpatient treatment protocol calling for six infusions, thus setting the ketamine patient back $1,500 minimum for initial treatments (though in practice the initial treatment costs are usually closer to $3,000 or more). Nor is that cost going to be covered by most insurance plans. Thus the depressed patient will be effectively punished by society (with the loss of a substantial amount of time and money) for not purchasing their relief on the black market

Nor is that the only down side to the limited form of ketamine availability that the cynical and paternalistic zeitgeist has seen fit to allow. In order to clothe the administration of this street drug in the garb of modern science, depressed patients will often be required to confess the most sensitive details of their life to their ketamine provider by rating themselves 1 to 4 (with 4 being “very true”) on 344 intimate statements presented on the Personality Assessment Inventory. Statements like:

Sometimes I am afraid for no reason.

It bothers me when things are out of place.

I’ve done some things that weren’t exactly legal.

I’m waiting for the day when the Personality Inventory Assessment will include the following statement:

I think that Assessment inventories like these are a waste of time and are prying into things that are none of anybody’s business. Just give me the damn drug, already!

I would rate that one a 4, as being very true, indeed.

Some of us have been depressed for decades now. We really don’t need a complete stranger in a lab coat to tell us that based on a deeply intrusive assessment test.

Let’s focus on the positive, however. It’s little short of a miracle, after all, that ketamine is now legally available to depression sufferers, so strong is America’s puritan and patriarchal bias against drugs like these that have been historically used in party contexts. So if the powers that be insist that I fill out a silly and highly presumptuous personality test in order to be deemed “officially depressed,” then so be it.

Let’s just hope that someday, America will renounce its insistence on medicalizing my emotional needs and will trust me to deal with my own emotions as I see fit, drawing freely from Mother Nature’s pharmacopeia to do so and no longer turning a deaf ear to my own instincts, no longer relying on a stranger to tell me how I “really” feel and what I “really” need by way of treatment.

Note (March 12, 2019): I am not denying the value and importance of psychological counseling, especially for the young; I am merely rebelling against the notion that every "patient" must go to a doctor to learn how he "really" feels and, therefore, what he "really" needs. I don't go to a doctor to see if I "really" need coffee or alcohol. Why should I go to a doctor to see if I "really" need ketamine? I feel depressed; I've read that ketamine can help. I therefore want to use ketamine. Tell me what I need to do in order to use ketamine safely, but don't subject me to a condescending barrage of test questions designed to second-guess my own impressions and thereby determine what I "really" need.

*addictive: It is claimed that SSRIs are not addictive, but that they only cause "dependence," and thus pharmacology and psychiatry can supposedly refute the idea that they are getting patients "hooked." But what is the definition of addiction? According to Webster's, it is the compulsive and uncontrolled use of a substance. Well, I assure you that I am compelled (as in psychologically motivated) to take Effexor if I stop using it suddenly, and the use that then ensues is not "controlled" by the medical establishment, but merely by my subjective feelings about the amount of medication that I need to regain the chemical balance to which my system has become habituated by the drug. This hair-splitting rejection of the term "addictive" by psychiatrists is a convenient ploy from a legal standpoint. Many SSRI users were never informed of the drug's addictive qualities, and now legalistic psychiatry can turn around and say, "Our drugs are not addictive, they just cause dependence, so there." As if those of us consigned to eternal use of the drug can rest easy now that we know we are somehow not technically "addicted."

Note that addiction and chemical dependence have the same practical result. Note therefore the hypocrisy of modern psychiatry that claims to despise addiction and yet actively promotes chemical dependence in one person out of six by prescribing dependence-causing SSRIs.

This hypocrisy can be clearly seen in the FDA's laws for Spravato, a nasally-administered form of ketamine. The FDA requires that the drug be administered in clinics (not at home) thanks to the fact that it has a small chance of becoming addictive -- and yet the FDA long ago signed off on the use of SSRIs, which themselves create dependency, not in rare cases but for virtually every long-term user.

Conclusion: The FDA doe not mind addicting patients; the FDA only worries about cases in which that dependency is not managed by board-certified psychiatrists. FDA's message to patients: We're not going to let you cut out the middle man.

"What your son needs is lots of tender loving medication."
-South Park, episode 1504

March 10, 2019

Question: If, nevertheless, textbooks of pharmacology legitimately contain a chapter on drug abuse and drug addiction, then, by the same token, textbooks of gynecology and urology should contain a chapter on prostitution.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry, Thomas Szasz
February 25, 2019

Bashing Ketamine in Richmond, Virginia

Ever wonder why the wonder-drug ketamine is so expensive and hard to get for treating depression? It's at least partly because seemingly authoritative medical institutions feel free to lie about such drugs, as part of their over-the-top efforts to scare children away from drug abuse. These lies in turn lower the reputation of the drugs in question and make it more difficult for them to gain approval as promising new therapies for millions of suffering patients.

Take the “Healthy Kids” section of a website for six hospitals in Richmond, Virginia. Their page on ketamine tells teens the following:

“People who use ketamine can become psychologically dependent on it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress.”

Fair enough. Negative ketamine side effects are rare, of course, but they should be mentioned. The problem is that this website article starts and stops with side effects, thereby ignoring the 64,000-pound therapeutic gorilla in the room: namely, the fact that ketamine may well be one of the greatest drugs ever created for treating depression.

As Thomas Insel, the Director of the National Institutes of Mental Health, puts it:

“Recent data suggest that ketamine, given intravenously, might be the most important breakthrough in antidepressant treatment in decades.”

Do website authors really have to lie by omission like this in order to scare kids off drugs, making sure that they only hear one side of the story when it comes to currently illicit substances? That approach certainly never worked for me as a kid. I recall always having the feeling back in grade school that adults were “pouring it on thick” whenever they talked to me about drugs, and so their hyperbole on that subject, far from scaring me straight, made me doubt anything that they had to tell me on the matter.

I’m not asking websites to glorify drug use for kids: merely to respect kids’ intelligence (and their innate gift for detecting adult BS) and tell them the whole truth, so that they can learn to trust what you tell them on this topic rather than to discount everything you say as an adult on the grounds that you’re known to exaggerate for propagandistic purposes.

Nor should we cite side effects out of context, as the HCVA website does above. After warning that ketamine could be psychologically addictive, for instance, we might inform the children that legally prescribed SSRIs such as Effexor can be far more addictive than ketamine, and not only psychologically so but physiologically as well, to the point that even psychiatrists will tell the patient that they have to take said SSRI for a lifetime. By providing such context, we can let kids in on the important secret that it’s not merely the illegality of a substance that renders it potentially dangerous, but that common, everyday treatments can have major side effects as well.

It’s not just the kids that will thank you for your honesty in the long run, but also folks like myself who could benefit from novel therapies such as ketamine for depression. For when we paint substances as evil incarnate for the purposes of childhood pedagogy, our lies do more than confuse children: they also help create a climate in which the FDA and government in general can put the concerns of millions of suffering Americans on the back burner in the interest of seeming “tough” on those particular drugs which, like ketamine, we have hypocritically singled out for vilification.

February 25, 2019

Question: "The Church... declares, in the fourteenth century, that if a woman dare cure without having studied [scripture], she is a witch and must die.... In the same way, in the twentieth century, Medicine declares that if a man, woman, or child dares to dispense drugs without having a medical license... he or she is a 'pusher' and must be severely punished."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
February 24, 2019

Fascist Drug Story Coverage in Parsipanny, New Jersey

Great. Now the police are not only making drug arrests, but they're reporting on them in the "local" newspapers, thereby taking the place of at least theoretically impartial reporters.

Case in point: the faux-local site TapInto.Net has run a story (dated February 23, 2019) entitled Drug Bust Leaving Red Roof Inn in which the byline is given to... get this... the PARSIPPANY POLICE of New Jersey, where the action supposedly went down.

I took exception by sending the following letter to


It's a little eerie that your news outlet prints stories written by the police, especially on the controversial subject of drug arrests. Your article entitled "Drug Bust Leaving Red Roof Inn" involves the arrest of individuals for manufacturing a drug (Ketamine) that is increasingly considered a godsend for depressed patients. And yet you (or rather your police informants) cover the story as if it concerns the arrest of a common criminal.

The arrestees' real crime was cutting out the middle man -- modern psychiatry -- and running afoul of Richard Nixon's anti-scientific drug war. But these issues are scarcely ever raised by newspaper coverage -- and they never will be if you continue to cover such stories on the cheap by letting the police write the articles about them. Not only is this a complete abnegation of your journalistic responsibility, but it sounds like a step toward fascism to me when our police are not only making the arrests but then writing the official news stories about them for the local press.

February 24, 2019

Question: LSD-25, a drug capable of bringing back childhood memories with the sharpness of a 3-D movie, is helping fight mental illness in persons formerly considered hopeless, two psychiatrists said today.
Answer: "Hopeless Mental Cases Given Aid By Drug Discovery," The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pennsylvania, March 24, 1960,
February 23, 2019

Why the Psychiatric Times is not fair and balanced

*Open letter to the Psychiatric Times, sent to the UBM staff on February 23, 2019

Dear Sir or Madam:

On the “editorial info” page of the Psychiatric Times website, you make the following statement:

*“We provide fair, balanced and insightful content to our audiences.”

With all due respect, I do not believe that this is true. This is because, on the same page, you make it clear that your site does not welcome comments from patients, who are, after all, the biggest stakeholder in the entire psychiatric project.

While I can understand your contention that the Times is “not an appropriate place for patients to ask for healthcare advice,” it does not follow that patients have no valuable information whatsoever to provide on the topics with which you deal. To the contrary, who better to say exactly how psychiatric treatments affect patients in real life as opposed to theory and trials? Who better to say what psychiatry should be doing to become more patient friendly and effective, which existing treatments it should improve, which it should scuttle, and which it should begin to pursue?

Psychiatry is not just about medicine and neurology, after all, it is about philosophy and ethics – and I believe that patients must be allowed to comment on these issues if your website is truly to be considered fair and balanced.

Take me, for instance. I have been a depressed psychiatric patient for 40 years. As such, I consider myself an expert on the subject of depression and the shortcomings of the standard psychiatric treatments, the more so in that I majored in philosophy and keep current on the latest psychiatric trends. I’m not a medical expert, of course, but I’m experienced by definition thanks to my 40 years on the receiving end of psychiatry’s various nostrums. Yet your journal makes it clear that it does not want to hear from me, that my 40 years of experience counts for nothing with you. I hope you can see how this attitude might strike a patient like myself as extremely condescending and elitist, not to mention intellectually wrong-headed since it cuts your professional readership off from potentially useful input that could come from no other quarter.

The Psychiatric Times should ask itself: does it want to be a self-congratulatory chorus of professionals, insulated from the real world, or does it want to listen to real criticism from real patients, in the hopes that it may learn from them?

Psychiatric patients are not guinea pigs for scientists to treat as they deem fit; we are at the heart of the psychiatric endeavor and deserve a role in critiquing and shaping the treatments that we undergo.

I urge you, therefore, to renounce your condescending assumption that patients have nothing important to tell the psychiatric professional and to open your website articles to relevant patient feedback. Only then will the Psychiatric Times truly provide “fair and balanced” content.

PS In fact, the Psychedelic Times should consider hiring a patient ombudsman, to ensure that your professional readership is no longer “reckoning without its host.”

February 23, 2019

Question: "With LSD as an aid," the report said, "it has been possible to reach and work with patients who are otherwise unresponsive to psychotherapy."
Answer: Kingsport News, March 4, 1960
February 3, 2019

Open Letter to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (aka

*The following comments were sent to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (now via their comment form:

When is the Partnership For a Drug-Free America going to stop lying about drugs? That scientifically flawed “fried egg ad” (which you still continue to feature proudly on your home page!) has caused untold suffering over the last three decades because it has scared researchers away from creating powerful new psychoactive medicines for depressed Americans. Most illegal drugs, whatever their other shortcomings, do not fry the brain. LSD, for example, actually increases brain activity by opening up neural communication between the thalamus and the cortex. This is not just my opinion, it is the conclusion of the National Academy of Sciences (see link below).

If any drug fries the brain, it is the modern antidepressant. Studies have shown that long-term users of SSRIS frequently complain of emotional flatlining and “foggy” thinking.

So please take down that fried egg image on your home page -- and apologize for making depressed Americans like myself suffer needlessly for the last three decades! Open your mind to facts instead of propaganda and let science move forward, unfettered by your uninformed libel against promising new psychoactive medicines. The drugs that you love to hate – MMDA, ketamine, psilocybin mushrooms, and LSD – are now showing great promise as psychiatric adjuncts for treating depression, soldier PTSD, grief, etc. In the name of suffering humanity, I ask you to stop standing in the way of this progress with your superstitious fear-mongering about substances that you clearly do not understand – or else do not wish to understand.

February 3, 2019

Question: "To understand holy water, we must of course examine priests and parishioners, not water; and to understand abused and addictive drugs, we must examine doctors and addicts, politicians and populations, not drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
January 29, 2019

Busted for Drug Possession? Declare Yourself a Political Prisoner

If I ever get busted for the possession of a natural psychoactive substance (such as mushrooms, marijuana, peyote, etc.), I am going to declare myself a political prisoner, using a form that reads something like the following:

I, ______, believe that the medicinal gifts of Mother Nature are the birth right of every citizen and that no government can deprive me of them justly.

I also believe that Mother Nature’s medicines can improve my mental life, by granting me more patience, optimism, tolerance, creativity, and expanding my mind. I therefore conclude that the U.S. government is depriving me of the pursuit of happiness when it forbids me to access Mother Nature’s medicinal bounty.

For these reasons, I hereby protest my arrest for possessing and using the bounty of Mother Nature and I wish it to be understood that I consider myself a political prisoner of the U.S. justice system, since it is seeking to deny me access to the medicinal cures that Mother Nature has provided to all humanity as a birth right.

I believe that Mother Nature never made any criminal plants and no government has the right to insist otherwise.


_____, Political Prisoner of the U.S. Justice System

Why bother doing this?

Think what would happen if everyone busted for drug possession (at least of natural products such as marijuana, ayahuasca, peyote, etc.) were to demand status as a political prisoner under the exact same terms as above: namely, that government cannot justly criminalize the bounty of Mother Nature and that to do so denies its citizens “the pursuit of happiness.” Suddenly, we’d have an effective PR pushback campaign against the know-nothing “lock-‘em-up” mindset of the Drug Warriors.

DISCLAIMER You have to choose your own battles, of course. I can honestly make the above declaration because I'm a 60-year-old fogey and I consider it unlikely that I will ever be nabbed for illegal drug use since I am cowardly waiting for laws to change before I reclaim my birthright to Mother Nature's bounty. However if I were arrested, it would be such a devastating U-turn in my life that I'd definitely want to go out swinging, telling the world at every turn what an injustice had been done me (and, by extension, the millions who were being persecuted like me). This would give at least some meaning to what would otherwise be an absurd ending to my life.

Young people, however -- unless you're the Mahatma Gandhi of drug policy -- may wish to wait until someone has the forethought to set up a legally-vetted nationwide program whereby every newly nabbed "drug offender" can advisedly appeal to the above-mentioned objections at the same time, so that it won't be literally "you against the world" when you stand before a judge making your claims regarding political oppression. Instead, it will be a national movement. That's what I envision and hope for. No suicide missions, just coordinated national change.

*Note: As we all know, quibbling is an art form on Reddit. Case in point: One Professional Quibbler insisted that the term "political prisoner" is not defined in the way that I imply above. My response: In the English language, words are defined by how we use them, not by a board of academics (or of quibblers, for that matter). When I use the term "political prisoner," I mean simply that the drug offender is a prisoner merely because they do not share the politics of the government, which currently holds that Mother Nature is off-limits to individuals for the purposes of healing. Surely this is a palpable connotation. It's not how we normally use the term, but that does not mean it's Wrong with a capital W -- except perhaps in the minds of critics who, finding themselves unable to address an author's actual argument, decide to nitpick instead in an attempt to discredit him.

January 29, 2019

Question: "Surely it is difficult to evade the conclusion that the use of alcohol and the use of tobacco have become deeply ingrained habits in Christian and English-speaking countries, and that we therefore consider these substances good; and that, because the use of marijuana (hashish) and the use of opium are pagan and foreign habits, we consider those substances bad."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
January 28, 2019

How American Drug Laws Violate the U.S. Constitution

There are three unalienable rights in the U.S. Constitution. They are: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When the U.S. Congress outlaws natural plants, they are denying me the third of these rights, namely the pursuit of happiness.

After all, what is happiness? It is not cars, it is not boats, it is not houses, it is not money.

Happiness, rather, is that positive attitude whereby human beings are able to enjoy all those things and more – true happiness, it is said, can even help us do without any of those things.

Therefore, the pursuit of happiness necessarily involves attaining that positive attitude, and since Mother Nature provides natural substances that can help us achieve this end, it is literally unconstitutional for Congress to deny Americans such medicine. We have life and liberty, perhaps, but we are only able to pursue happiness to the extent and in the way that Congress wants us to.

So, for instance, if I have a pessimistic attitude, I am expected to become a ward of the medical state by visiting a doctor who will catechize me about my symptoms and prescribe me an addictive, expensive and government-approved antidepressant that I will be told to take for the rest of my life.

But I must never think of reaching out and grasping the therapeutic bounty that Mother Nature can place right in front of me, because Congress says that I can only pursue happiness in the narrow way that they have defined that term.

In practice then, Americans have no right to pursue happiness today, and we will not reclaim that right until our society renounces its puritanical efforts to fight vice by criminalizing Mother Nature's bounty.

We might start with a law stating what should be obvious in a democracy: that it is unlawful to criminalize a plant or fungus, since they are the handiwork of Mother Nature and as such are the botanical birth right of every human being on the planet.

But then the status quo is earning riches for psychiatry, the DEA and Big Pharma. Who cares about the personal self-fulfillment of the average American?

AUTHOR'S LATER NOTE: The liberal chicken little always stops me at this point and says: But what about those who are going to misuse Mother Nature's bounty? My answer is always the same: if someone takes away my right to free speech, I am under no obligation to tell you how that right can be restored to me without causing problems. So, as you had no right to deprive me of my birth right to the produce of Mother Nature, I am under no obligation to tell you how to restore that right without problems. Sure, we should do all we can to fight substance misuse and more power to you -- but that is a totally different question from the one at hand. The two are completely unrelated, in the same way that a kidnapper can't justify his holding you on the grounds that the world of freedom is too dangerous for you. That statement may be 100% true, but it has nothing to do with the fact that you've been illegally kidnapped and must be released at once. Sure, there's nothing wrong with trying to make your freedom less dangerous, but it is wrong to withhold your freedom from you based on someone else's fear of that danger.

January 28, 2019

Question: FROM VFW (2019) movie: "I'd say they're drug addicts, for sure. There's a whole shitload of them, too."
Answer: This is how the drug war dehumanizes substance users. It's the drug-war-created black market that creates addicts in the first place, with the help of drug warriors who obscure the truth about drugs by implying that all illegal substances have no reasonable uses, despite hushed-up facts to the contrary, including Ben Franklin's use of opium, Feynman's use of so-called "speed," Freud's use of cocaine, plus millennia worth of responsible and religious psychoactive substance use overseas, which America uses as a pretext to run around the world burning plants in order to ensure the monopoly of the liquor industry.
January 26, 2019

Taking Back America's Right to Drugs One State at a Time

Obama’s former drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet deplores the legalization of drugs via ballot box initiative, claiming that drug legalization should be based on hard science and not on public plebiscite.

He forgets that Americans’ right to drugs was not taken away from them by hard science but rather by what Thomas Szasz called “chemical statism” fostered by puritans and fans of Big Government, both of whom insisted that private citizens could not rationally choose for themselves when it came to medications for what ailed them. In fact, the very inventor of the Drug War, Richard Nixon, was interested in punishing his hippy enemies with Draconian drug laws, not in improving the health of his fellow Americans based on drug-related facts.

Conclusion: Our right to drugs was taken from us by politicians, to achieve political goals, not by scientists to improve America's health; it is therefore fitting that we should use political means, such as ballot box initiatives, to reclaim those usurped rights.

Hello, Kevin? The "drugs" in question were STOLEN from Americans in the first place!

Author Afterthoughts: May 12, 2012: "Drug legalization should be based on hard science," says Kevin??? Not when the "drugs" in question were stolen from the public in the first place! The government never had the right to criminalize Mother Nature. They cannot justly turn Mother Nature into a Drug Kingpin and declare it off-limits. That is fundamentally wrong in a free society. It is the denial of a birthright.

January 26, 2019

Question: "People should have the fundamental human right to change their consciousness."
Answer: Rick Doblin, April 8, 2020, Reason podcast
January 25, 2019

Drug War Tyranny

I have no doubt that the occasional use of opium and psychedelics would improve my life, make me a better person, help me enjoy nature and art, and encourage me to help others. It would also entirely obviate my need to become an eternal patient, to visit a psychiatrist every three months, and I would no longer need to use their expensive and addictive drugs for my entire lifetime, as they now insist.

But if I act on this knowledge, guess what happens? The U.S. government claims the right to lock me in prison, throw away the key, and even confiscate all my personal property. In other words, I’d be better off murdering someone than to ingest the substances of my choice.

Before you start thinking “Serves you right,” guess what, my friend? You yourself could have YOUR house confiscated too if, unbeknownst to you, I happened to carry some of my “illegal substances” into YOUR house. According to the fascist drug war legal theory, your house is now a criminal. That’s the way the drug war works: It “gets tough” on Americans and the Constitution be damned.

This is outright tyranny. It’s a tyranny that will remain in force until Americans take back their right to consume the natural substances of their choice, a right that they had until the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914. It's a tyranny that will remain until freedom-loving people claw back their right to the freely offered medical bounty of Mother Nature -- for the pharmacopeia of Mother Nature is my birthright as a citizen of planet Earth and cannot be justly taken from me by any government -- least of all one whose very constitution gives me the right to the pursuit of happiness.

What You Can Do:

Write your representatives and demand:

1) An end to the Drug War
2) The abolition of the DEA
3) The decriminalization of all drugs
4) The trial of top-ranking DEA officials who have impeded drug therapy for 40+ years now by lying about drug effects in their politically motivated “scheduling” system
5) The end of “drug schedules,” especially those that are created by an agency like the DEA, which has a vested interest in maintaining Draconian drug laws
6) Boycott Hollywood movies and TV dramas that glorify the trampling of the U.S. Constitution in the name of the Drug War

January 25, 2019

Question: FROM VFW (2019) movie: "I'd say they're drug addicts, for sure. There's a whole shitload of them, too."
Answer: This is how the drug war dehumanizes substance users. It's the drug-war-created black market that creates addicts in the first place, with the help of drug warriors who obscure the truth about drugs by implying that all illegal substances have no reasonable uses, despite hushed-up facts to the contrary, including Ben Franklin's use of opium, Feynman's use of so-called "speed," Freud's use of cocaine, plus millennia worth of responsible and religious psychoactive substance use overseas, which America uses as a pretext to run around the world burning plants in order to ensure the monopoly of the liquor industry.
January 19, 2019

Fabricate at Will: editors give journalists free rein to lie about psychedelics

If you’ve ever wondered why Americans are so biased against psychedelic medicine, you have only to read the latest mini-article by Jennifer Velez in entitled “A$AP Rocky:Hip-Hop is Oversaturated with Overdose.” Although the author makes no explicit claims about the dangers of LSD, the poorly worded artist close-up falsely implies that LSD is both addictive and causes overdoses.

In fact, Velez comes out covertly swinging against the drug in the short article’s very first sentence:

The rapper, who has been open about doing LSD in his music, says he has been sober since the New Year.

“Sober?” This statement implies that Rocky was at one time addicted to LSD, in the same way that one might be addicted to amphetamines. This would be surprising, indeed, given the fact that psychedelics simply do not cause physiological addiction. Moreover, the excessive “recreational” use of LSD would be a vain endeavor in any case since irresponsible users develop a short-term tolerance for the drug that would increasingly minimize the psychedelic effects that they could glean from the substance.

Having thus libeled LSD as addictive, Velez goes on to suggest that it causes overdoses as well:

The topic [LSD] came up after he spoke about the late rapper A$AP Yam, who died of an overdose in 2015.

Although she never specifically says that she’s referring to an LSD overdose, the reporter clearly gives that impression since LSD is the only illegal drug that she mentions in this lazily worded hatchet job. Of course, the New York Medical Examiner concluded that Yam died of an overdose of a wide variety of substances, including opiates and benzodiazepines, but apparently the names of all illegally acquired drugs may be used synonymously according to the pro-Drug War writing guidelines of


I used to think that editors required their reporters to research the topics on which they wrote, but this is clearly not the case when it comes to psychedelics and drugs in general. On that topic, most reporters feel free to impute any evil that they can imagine to a substance provided that the substance in question is illegal. The resulting sensationalism sells papers after all.

But all the knee-jerk hyperbole and lies about these substances has a real-world effect: it scares away research money for psychedelic therapy and slows the already glacial bureaucratic process of getting government permission to investigate psychedelic substances. The end result of this sloppy journalism is to increase human suffering by denying desperately needed new medicines to a wide range of patients: including alcoholics, victims of PTSD, and the terminally ill.

And so I end with an appeal to the editor of please consider the welfare of the latter group before publishing any more assumption-laden articles by a pharmacologically challenged reporter. Of course, if a vocal artist ever DOES achieve the nearly impossible task of OD’ing on LSD, by all means, let us know. But until then, please stop falsely implying that psychedelics are the root of all evil.

January 19, 2019

Question: Who barged on to Jefferson's Monticello and destroyed Thomas Jefferson's poppy plants? 1) The Mob 2) Juvenile delinquents 3) Terrorists 4) The DEA
Answer: The DEA
January 9, 2019

The Racist and Political War on Drugs

President Obama said the war on drugs was a failure -- but he doesn't go far enough. The fact is that the war on drugs never had a RIGHT to succeed because the drug laws in the United States have always been motivated by racist and political hysteria, disguised by a thin veneer of concern about the "welfare" of the American people. Thus marijuana was criminalized by stoking fears about Mexicans, opium was criminalized by stoking fears about Asians, and crack cocaine was demonized by stoking fears about African-Americans.

But let's be honest: if the U.S. government had been truly worried about the health of the American people, it never would have launched a war on drugs in the first place: it would have launched a war on guns instead. But, of course, that would never happen. Why? Because the bigoted, hypocritical and scientifically ignorant politicians behind America's fascist drug war have a fetish about gun ownership, whereby they scream bloody murder if they can't anonymously buy all the machine-guns they want at 7-Eleven 24 hours a day.

And so the violence of the Drug War is a brutal American-generated game of good guys and bad guys, with the politicians corruptly determining who gets to wear the white hat on the basis of ignorance and sheer bigotry.

Worst of all, Americans have bought this lie hook, line and sinker.

Not only have we signed off completely on blatantly unconstitutional drug testing of anyone and everyone who wants a job, but we dutifully line up to watch butt-kicking movies about DEA agents in South America kicking down doors and shooting suspects at will. But not to worry: we can just call the bad guys "scumbags" and thus ease our consciences about mowing them down unconstitutionally.

Of course, such movies are usually set in South America since we Americans still don't like to think of law enforcement acting like Nazi storm troopers here in the States (even though we know that they do). Let them kick butt in Colombia, where we can still plausibly think of the Drug War's custom-created bad guys as less than human.

And finally, even when it's not blatantly bigoted, the Drug War is all about the anti-scientific notion that Americans have no right to control their own minds and their own pain by using natural plants. This is as fascistic as you can possibly get. It's bad enough when the government tells you what you can think, but it's even worse when the government tells you HOW you can think and HOW MUCH. And this is what the government does when it forbids your access to pain-treating and mind-expanding plants.

And why? Because in the puritanically perverse mind of America's Drug Warriors Mother Nature is a Drug Kingpin par excellence, not a bestower of natural medical wonders for the many ailments of humankind. If we want medicines, we dare not harvest it from Mother Nature herself (that's a crime!): we're required instead to get our medicines in a diluted and typically addictive formulation from Big Pharma, thus boosting the profits of pharmaceutical stocks owned by the Drug Warriors themselves.

My fear is that the Drug War is succeeding -- because that means that Americans have agreed to give up their rights to Mother Nature's bounty -- and to stop caring about the rights of minorities and foreigners, whom we now feel free to demonize as scumbags for violating bigoted and anti-scientific drug laws that never should have been written in the first place.

January 9, 2019

Question: Dr. T.C. Marks, a physician of experience and standing, has added another to the long list of things that can be profitably produced in the glorious climate of southern California. The particular substance this time is opium.
Answer: Los Angeles Herald, August 9, 1891
January 7, 2019

Fallon of the DEA

January 7, 2019

Question: "We are repelled by the opium habit not because it is harmful, but the other way around: we regard it as harmful in order to maintain our justification for prohibiting it."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
January 3, 2019

Why Ballot Box Initiatives Make Perfect Sense Given America's War on Drugs

In an article on the Oregon Public Broadcasting website (Psychedelic Mushroom Supporters Push For Oregon Legalization — With Caveats), Obama’s former drug policy director says that psilocybin should not be made legal via the ballot box.

“Medicine is not up for a popular vote,” says Kevin Sabet, “it should be subject to the rigors of science.”

In a perfect world, Sabet might be right, but America’s current drug laws are about as far from perfect as they can be. Under the influence of Richard Nixon, the DEA has brazenly lied about psychedelics now for almost 50 years, placing them under the uber-restrictive schedule I category based on the false and unscientific claims that such medicines are addictive and have no therapeutic potential. Given this outrageous state of affairs – in which millions have been denied therapy thanks to lies – it makes perfect democratic sense that citizens would fight back. Sabet should be proud, not disappointed, that this fight is taking place at the ballot box, because if Americans fully grasped the extent of the injustice here, this fight might well be taking place in the streets.

If Kevin Sabet really wanted drugs evaluated according to “the rigors of science,” he would not be fretting over ballot box initiatives which attempt to remedy this vast injustice by the only means that seems to work; instead, he would be using his political clout to abolish the DEA, which has been “scheduling” drugs for half a century now based totally on political calculations rather than on scientific ones (thereby giving the door-kicking agency a full fascistic workload for decades to come). As part of this crack down on the DEA, Sabet would call for the public trial of those DEA officials who have knowingly promoted these lies over the years and thus contributed to the suffering of untold numbers of Americans, all of whom have been denied valuable medications on the basis of anti-scientific lies.

January 3, 2019

Question: LSD-25, a drug capable of bringing back childhood memories with the sharpness of a 3-D movie, is helping fight mental illness in persons formerly considered hopeless, two psychiatrists said today.
Answer: "Hopeless Mental Cases Given Aid By Drug Discovery," The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pennsylvania, March 24, 1960,
December 31, 2018

Thoughts on Bernardo Kastrup's 'Why Materialism is Baloney'

In his thought-provoking book "Why Materialism is Baloney," Kastrup speculates about why past civilizations have so often embraced a non-materialist outlook on life. Specifically, he suggests (as I understand him) that harsh conditions might have affected their brains in such a way as to impair local awareness, thereby giving them, by default, a greater access to the universal mind, or rather non-local consciousness.

While this may have been so, I'd like to propose another reason why past civilizations might have embraced a non-materialist outlook as a matter of course, and that is the fact that, to them, there were presumably no such things as "illegal plants," psychoactive or otherwise. They simply used those plants (and perhaps fungi) that were found to "cure their ills."

In the Western world, to the contrary (at least since opium was made illegal in the states in 1914) our governments have sought to prevent citizens from using plants that might give rise to greater awareness, plants that might otherwise link us with the vast unitary unconsciousness (or at least give us the intuition that such a realm exists).

Yet when these "primitive" peoples were surrounded by the great pharmacopoeia of Mother Nature, they freely made use of ALL efficacious substances, without first deciding that some were off-limits because they tended to produce transcendence in the user. To the contrary, transcendence was generally seen as a great gift from the gods and part and parcel of why a given substance was efficacious in the first place. If substances were placed off-limits, it was because they were so holy in their transcendent effect that they had to be administered only by priests or priestesses (as in the Eleusinian Mysteries).

Thus everyday medicinal plant use exposed the people to transcendence without fanfare -- in a way that modern Western governments no longer allow.

To sum up (and elaborate) by rewording the initial question a little bit:

Q: Why don't Western civilizations observe the transcendent realm that was so obvious to most "primitive" civilizations?

A: Because law-and-order politicians have outlawed transcendence by outlawing the natural substances that unequivocally provide it.

It must be noted that the politicians have succeeded in doing this partly by appealing to the mindset of scientific materialism. After all, if scientific materialism is right, then there's no such thing as transcendence anyway, hence the so-called "medicinal" use of natural psychoactive substances does nothing but produce crazy hallucinations. So the drug war makes strange bedfellows: both materialists and right-wingers disparage those medicines whose mechanism of operation involves inducing transcendence in the user. Of course, their first step in disparaging these medicines is to saddle them with the pejorative label of "drugs."

December 31, 2018

Question: "The Church... declares, in the fourteenth century, that if a woman dare cure without having studied [scripture], she is a witch and must die.... In the same way, in the twentieth century, Medicine declares that if a man, woman, or child dares to dispense drugs without having a medical license... he or she is a 'pusher' and must be severely punished."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
December 29, 2018

Abolish the DEA

The drug scheduling system is a scam. It rates drugs by their political danger to the establishment, not by their danger to users. If we need to schedule drugs at all, it should be done by impartial scientists, not by the DEA, which has a conflict of interest in making such determinations. The DEA exists to punish drug offenses. Their jobs depend on keeping drugs illegal. What interest do they have in making drugs easier to obtain? They've had almost 50 years now to "lighten up" on psychedelics and have refused to do so.

The DEA should be abolished. Its top officials should be hauled into court for knowingly scheduling psychedelics and other substances on the basis of lies and thereby denying therapeutic medications to millions for the last half century. It should be part of a class action lawsuit, brought by the endless list of Americans who have led lives of quiet despair over the years unnecessarily thanks to Richard Nixon's creation of this jackbooted agency that blocks valid drug research and foments drug violence around the world.

December 29, 2018

Question: LSD-25, a drug capable of bringing back childhood memories with the sharpness of a 3-D movie, is helping fight mental illness in persons formerly considered hopeless, two psychiatrists said today.
Answer: "Hopeless Mental Cases Given Aid By Drug Discovery," The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pennsylvania, March 24, 1960,
December 29, 2018

Drug Testing Fascism

Drug testing was brought to us by the same folks who started the anti-democratic Drug War in the first place. It was a fascist attempt to silence liberal dissent about drug policy by ruining the economic lives of any Americans who dared to use nature's bounty to improve their own outlook on life.

The conservatives basically said this: "Fine, you want to disagree with us about drug policy, then we'll take away your ability to earn a living."

Before drug testing, the penalty for marijuana use in a given state might have been community service at most.

With drug testing, the penalty for marijuana use suddenly became economic ruin! Now the drug user could no longer get a job!

Talk about cruel and unusual punishment! We don't have such harsh penalties even for murderers who are out on parole.

Drug testing also relies on crazed premises.

There is no scientific case for concluding that a person is impaired merely because there is a trace of a given substance in their urine. (To the contrary, the US Air Force has insisted that its pilots actually be "on speed" during certain long-range missions.) And yet the discovery of the least trace of cocaine, opium, or marijuana in one's urine is taken to be positive proof that a worker is unable to perform a given job. (To grasp the insanity of this conclusion, imagine if we denied gainful employment to anyone who drank a beer in the last seven days, regardless of whether they were actually "inebriated" at the work place.)

When drug testing is used on commercial airline pilots, it may be about passenger safety; but when it's used on a teenage employees at the local super mart, it's about a nosy government attempting to enforce controversial laws by turning American businesses into Grand Inquisitors.

Finally, if submitting one's urine to complete strangers is not an invasion of privacy, then what is?

During the height of the Drug War, the Bush and Reagan administrations even urged Americans to "turn in" their own parents, should they be found using natural substances that had been outlawed by the government. The fact that such supposedly freedom-loving presidents would advocate such a Stalinist anti-family practice speaks volumes about the corrupting influence of America's superstitious Drug War, that war in which political agitprop is used to turn mere natural substances into the boogie-men responsible for all social ills.











December 29, 2018

Question: The ritual persecution of these pharmacological and human agents must be seen against the historical backdrop of the ritual persecution of other scapegoats, such as witches, Jews, and madmen.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry: The ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers. Thomas Szasz.
December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas from the DEA

It’s been another exciting year of kicking down America’s front doors and growing the nation’s prison population with a whole new batch of freshly minted scumbags. Of course, we couldn’t do it without you. So let’s make a New Year’s resolution in 2019 to report any signs that you may see of Americans attempting to treat their own pain and neuroses with the help of Schedule I plants and fungi such as poppies, mushrooms and other psychedelics. With your help, we’ll be able to ruin these junkies' lives forever while teaching them a lesson about bypassing the capitalist healthcare system. (Humph! The very idea, securing drugs in such a way as to cut out the psychiatric middle man!)

Because remember: There’s no hope in dope, friends – unless, of course, the addictive substance in question has been prescribed by a board-certified psychiatrist!

Oh, and happy drug-free Hanukah, as well, yes? (and Kwanzaa, too!)


Your Modern DEA: proudly quashing therapeutic drug research since 1973

December 24, 2018

Question: The constraints on the power of the federal government, as laid down in the constitution, have been eroded by a monopolistic medical profession administering a system of prescription laws that have, in effect, removed most of the drugs people want from the free market.
Answer: 'Our Right to Drugs', Thomas Szasz
December 19, 2018

The DEA: causing untold suffering since 1973

Richard Nixon's War on Drugs has ruined more lives than anyone has yet recognized. Besides the millions of prisoners languishing behind bars, there are the millions of depressed elderly who are denied happiness thanks to the fact that politics, not science, determines what drugs we can use. The drugs prescribed today for anxiety are far more habit-forming than opium. Moreover, opium use does not require dosage increases over time -- and it becomes addictive only when used on a daily basis. Yet the fascist bureaucrats of the DEA are determined to keep pain control out of the hands of mere citizens, so they ignore the science and crack down on those who dare to treat their own suffering. In short, they keep drugs like opium on schedule I to keep us coming back to the board-certified doctors for our addictive meds that enrich the bottom line of faceless corporations.

December 19, 2018

Question: The difference between someone "using a drug" and his being "addicted" to it is not a matter of fact, but a matter of our moral attitude and political strategy toward him. Indeed, we might, and must, go further than this, and note that the very identification of a substance as a drug or not a drug is not a matter of fact but a matter of moral attitude and political strategy.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
December 16, 2018

Partnership for a Brain-Free Virginia

Reasons that I get infuriated when I think about “drug-free” proselytizers such as “Drug Free Virginia”:

1) Members of these groups drink alcohol and/or coffee. To be consistent, they should be denouncing both substances as addictive.

2) They exaggerate the addictive potential of illegal drugs while totally ignoring (or even denying) the addictive potential of legal drugs, especially SSRIs and benzodiazepines.

3) They champion laws that empower a police state in America and narcotics syndicates overseas.

4) The policies they support have forced me “on” to addictive drugs (namely SSRIs) as the only available psychiatric treatments for depression, while denying me the strategic use of less addictive and far more effective substances such as opium (which, despite the drug-war bluster, is a far less addictive substance than Effexor).

5) They keep me from living a fulfilled life by piously insisting against all evidence that people don’t need drugs – which, of course, they don’t even MEAN in light of the caveats stated above. What they mean is: people don’t need substances whose purchase doesn’t enrich corporate America.

6) Their anti-drug propaganda creates the mindset that allows for highly invasive drug-testing for jobs like burger slingers and cashiers, which, besides being an affront to the U.S. Constitution, is a fascist ploy to keep down dissent. Why? Because it threatens those who don’t toe the party line about drugs with the wildly disproportionate punishment of joblessness.

7) The outlook of these drug warriors is based on a tacit philosophical-religious assumption, namely that there exists a moral reason why human beings who suffer should not freely reach out to Mother Nature and its plants and fungi in order to find cures for their ailments. I do not hold that assumption and it is religious intolerance in action when I am forced to live in suffering thanks to the highly debatable moral tenets of others.

8) They have no understanding of the power and potential of human consciousness and therefore feel free to stand in the way of its perfection in others. In this way, they are like a misguided Mr. Magoo who prevents his offspring from visiting the eye doctor on the grounds that: “If God had wanted us to have better vision, we would have been born with glasses!”

December 16, 2018

Question: In southern Mexico, the jail and prison officials experience great difficulty in trying to prevent the smuggling into their institutions of the seductive mariguana (sic). This is a kind of "loco" weed more powerful than opium.
Answer: The Iola Daily Record, Iola, Kansas, Jan 1, 1900
December 15, 2018

DEA listed as Schedule I agency

The DEA has just been listed as a Schedule I agency. This rating means that the organization has no valid reason for existing and that it has the potential for causing harm to individuals who come into contact with it. The ranking is based on the DEA’s promotion of a police state in North America and its work in fomenting war in South America through its Quixotic plan to render plants illegal. Side effects of tolerating the DEA include government interference in medicinal research. The DEA has also been found to limit your ability to know yourself through the mind-expanding power of shamanic medicines. In some cases, these side effects may even include lengthy prison sentences, as this agency has been known to lock you up for years merely because you attempted to find a non-addictive medicinal alternative to the mind-numbing addictive drugs of modern psychiatry. Long-term support for the DEA has been shown to lead to senselessly ruined lives and overcrowded prisons, resulting in a vast waste of human potential. Continued acceptance of this agency can even render Democratic populations complacent to creeping fascism.

This Schedule I listing will remain in effect until the DEA is discarded, along with the paranoid and ignorant mind set of its fascist founder: Richard M. Nixon.

December 15, 2018

Question: LSD is a powerful therapeutic tool.
Answer: Dr. C.G. Costello, Psychologist, Regina General Hospital, in "Truth About LSD," The Leader-Post, February 5, 1963
December 15, 2018

Initiative 12 isn't premature; it's 50 years too late

The Corvallis Gazette-Times recently published an editorial stating that the Initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in Oregon was “premature.” This came as shocking news to those of us who have already been waiting FIFTY YEARS for the privilege of using this sort of medicine to treat our depression, especially since that waiting period wasn’t put in effect by a board of impartial scientists but rather by his royal highness, Richard M. Nixon, in his attempt to crack down on dissent during the Vietnam War.

So I submitted the following “letter to the editor” to the Gazette-Times, hoping to reassure its editorial staff that their fear is misplaced.

Regarding Initiative 12: it is 50 years too LATE. In your calculus of worry, be sure to include the fact that the Drug War has deprived wounded soldiers, alcoholics and depressed patients of powerful medicine for half a century, and on the basis of a lie, namely that psychedelics are addictive (wrong) and that they have no therapeutic value (wrong again). When evaluating potential harm, please consider the vicious anti-democratic drug cartels that the war on these drugs has empowered. Look at the overall picture, and you will see that the legal suppression of psychiatric medicines is causing a bloodbath even as we speak. Remember that psychedelics were a valuable legal medicine in the 1950s, acclaimed for curing alcoholics and reaching otherwise unreachable psychiatric patients. It was only thanks to Richard Nixon's war on hippies that we came to see these substances as evil. Whatever the Initiative’s negative impact, it can only be far below the abject desolation caused by Richard Nixon’s Drug War, which has turned America into a prison camp and fostered torture and chaos in South America. If you want to worry about something, worry about the collateral damage that the Drug War has been wreaking now for half a century by rendering therapeutic medicines illegal. It’s about time that Americans worried about that.

December 15, 2018

Question: The difference between someone "using a drug" and his being "addicted" to it is not a matter of fact, but a matter of our moral attitude and political strategy toward him. Indeed, we might, and must, go further than this, and note that the very identification of a substance as a drug or not a drug is not a matter of fact but a matter of moral attitude and political strategy.
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
December 14, 2018

My Drug War Alternative

Given that it's long since time to end Richard Nixon's bigoted and ignorant war on drugs, here is an easy four-step process for replacing it with a sane and humane alternative.

1) Make possession of all illegal drugs a misdemeanor. As Portugal did successfully over 15 years ago

2) Make most currently illegal drugs available via prescription. Opium, psychedelics, MDMA, etc.

3) Change the psychiatric project from "curing" so-called mental illness to treating its symptoms. (see below)

4) Rewrite the pros and cons of illegal drugs -- from a scientific rather than a political point of view.

The rationale for point number three is philosophical in nature and follows below for those who are interested.

The current psychiatric goal is to find a silver bullet for mental illness. This has led psychiatry racing toward a disastrous dead end, for their patients and for psychiatry as a profession. Psychiatry is literally running out of ideas.

Take me, for instance. As a chronically depressed patient for the last 25 years, psychiatry now has literally nothing to offer me except inadequate and ultimately mind-muddling SSRIs, and specifically the highly addictive Effexor. Out of the vast pharmacopeia on Planet Earth, this is all that psychiatry can offer me: one drug: Effexor.

Why? Because in its attempt to appear "scientific," psychiatry has insisted for the last 50+ years on curing a supposed illness rather than making a patient feel better. Meanwhile they've launched a full-court PR press with Big Pharma money to claim, falsely, that SSRIs correct a chemical imbalance in the brains of depressed patients. Although author Robert Whitaker has demonstrated this claim to be false, we have to ask ourselves: even if this WERE true, how come folks like myself are more depressed now than they were 25 years ago when they first began their SSRI use?

Meanwhile, why is psychiatry so dismissive of drugs like opium and MDMA? These substances, after all, have a clear track record of making users feel better when used wisely. In the past, I would have said that psychiatry does not want me to get addicted to such drugs and is therefore refraining to use them in a therapeutic setting, but this is clearly not the case, since Effexor is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet, notwithstanding psychiatry's condescending newspeak in which they talk about "maintenance therapy" instead of "addiction" when it comes to SSRIs. If psychiatry has no scruples about addicting me to Effexor, why are they so squeamish about the mere possibility of addicting me to opium?

Of course, the psychiatrist would say that such drugs only make me feel good by treating symptoms. But so what? It is precisely by thus feeling good that I thrive and find meaning in my life-- which in turn IS treating my depression in real-time.

But again, psychiatry's goal is NOT to make me feel good. (We might well guess this fact in light of the irrational knee-jerk revulsion that psychiatrists express for the so-called "Dr. Feelgoods" of the world.) Psychiatry cum science is dedicated instead to treating depressed human beings as chemical agglomerations in need of some rationally derivable chemical fix. So while I'm moaning in a corner, they're looking in their microscopes muttering:

"No, Ballard, SSRIs are the logical way to cure you. If you still feel poorly after taking these scientific nostrums of ours, then, how can I put this: your emotions are simply making a mistake -- don't ask me how."

But once we've convinced psychiatry to see the patient as a person again, we still need to clarify our muddle-headed thinking about illegal drugs. We have been bamboozled by 50 years of politically-inspired trash talk about the various chemical substances in question here.

Mention the word "opium," for instance, and we think of drug dens and suspicious-looking Asians. But when looked at unemotionally, without the baggage of the drug war mentality, we discover that opium is LESS addictive than most SSRIs -- and that addiction can be avoided entirely merely by avoiding daily usage of opium for more than a few days at a time. (Who knew? We were too busy feeling the obligatory disgust for opium that we never bothered to check!) Nor is there evidence of long-term physiological damage from the continued use of opium. Even should addiction intervene, for all its horrors, it can be overcome far more quickly than an addiction to SSRIs (days versus months or years).

Yet the drug war mentality says: "OPIUM??? AWFUL!!!" It's simply a non-starter in a therapeutic setting.

Of course, in a sane world, the psychiatrist would be able to prescribe opium to his or her depressed patient. But to repeat: psychiatry today is not about making the patient feel good: it's about correcting supposed chemical imbalances, since only by pursuing such an approach can the psychiatrist feel themselves to be as "scientific" (read "materialistic") as their big brother sciences such as Physics and Chemistry.

Result: depressed patients like myself remain depressed in order to feed the ego and the pocket book of the psychiatrist.

RECAP of My Drug War Alternative

1) Make possession of all illegal drugs a misdemeanor.

2) Make most currently illegal drugs available via prescription.

3) Change the psychiatric project from "curing" so-called mental illness to treating its symptoms.

4) Rewrite the pros and cons of illegal drugs -- from a scientific rather than a political point of view.

*for more politically incorrect information about opium, see Jim Hogshire's courageous book entitled "Opium for the Masses"

December 14, 2018

Question: FROM VFW (2019) movie: "I'd say they're drug addicts, for sure. There's a whole shitload of them, too."
Answer: This is how the drug war dehumanizes substance users. It's the drug-war-created black market that creates addicts in the first place, with the help of drug warriors who obscure the truth about drugs by implying that all illegal substances have no reasonable uses, despite hushed-up facts to the contrary, including Ben Franklin's use of opium, Feynman's use of so-called "speed," Freud's use of cocaine, plus millennia worth of responsible and religious psychoactive substance use overseas, which America uses as a pretext to run around the world burning plants in order to ensure the monopoly of the liquor industry.
November 14, 2018

Notice of Scam

You may have heard discussion of a so-called DEA, or Drug Enforcement Agency, that was purportedly created to keep America safe from harmful drugs. Be warned: This agency is a scam. It claims to protect society while it is actually blocking research on valuable health therapies based on fear-mongering and lies.

This agency has been fighting tooth and nail to keep psychedelics on their so-called list of Schedule I drugs for almost 50 years now, meaning that those drugs cannot even be investigated for therapeutic potential, unless a researcher jumps through a circus full of hoops and risks the loss of their reputation in the scientific community, so great is the stigma that this agency has cultivated with respect to these potential therapeutic godsends.

Make no mistake: This "DEA" is a liar. It justifies its prohibition of psychedelics on the grounds that they are subject to abuse and have no probable therapeutic benefit, both of which claims are abject lies. Moreover, the very fact that the DEA "schedules" drugs is a clear conflict of interest, given the fact that the agency's job is to enforce drug laws, a workload that would decrease significantly were drugs to be scheduled rationally and without hysteria and lies.

If you come into contact with employees of this organization, do not attempt to confront them. They are armed to the teeth and will gladly ruin your life rather than renounce their anti-scientific plan to deprive you of powerful medicines. (Remember: their main job is to fill up U.S. prisons to the bursting point.) But if they challenge you, be sure to "lawyer up." This organization was created by Richard M. Nixon, after all, and as such is not going to be particularly interested in any rational arguments on your part.

And don't bother waxing philosophical with them about your right to control your own consciousness. Their response could very well be: "Hands on your head!" as they rough you up and stick the muzzle of an M4 carbine in the small of your back. Yes, this sounds like sheer fantasy in a free and open society, but have no illusions: this is actually how this so-called DEA works. Don't let the otherwise progressive trappings of modern Western society fool you! This DEA racket will gladly ruin your life one way or another: either by depriving you of crucial medications via bogus scheduling protocols or by imprisoning you for life should you seek to obtain such substances on your own.

November 14, 2018

Question: "It is impressive testimony to our powers of self-deception that we believe we can expand our civil liberties by opposing threats to it from politicians, while at the same time inviting and embracing threats to it from physicians and psychiatrists."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 28, 200

Church of the Most Holy and Righteous Drug War

Good morning, all!

I'd especially like to welcome all visitors today to the First Church of the Most Righteous and Holy Drug War. As always, we thank you all for submitting your latest urine samples to the ushers this morning upon your arrival. Deacon Primsley will be analyzing those samples in the Church Substance Lab during today's sermon so that this church can proudly declare to the world that we as an ecclesiastical body have entirely forsworn our erstwhile rights to all of those devilish natural substances that our Christian Science government has seen fit to criminalize on behalf of the God-fearing West.

Today's Hymns

His Eye is on the Scumbag 444

Onward, Christian Swat Team 222

Let the Poppy Plants be Burning 138

That reminds me of a line of Scripture in the good book: The Gospel According to the Drug War, chapter 3, Book II: The Book of Conquest:

"And Christopher Columbus did go unto the heathen tribes of the Taino, saying, 'Use not the plants of the forest to gain spiritual wisdom. Rather shalt thou toil to thy death on behalf of Queen Castille of Spain, whilst drinking naught but the debilitating liquor of thy Christian betters, for fear thou mightst otherwise find revolutionary solace in the psychoactive plants which surround ye.'"

May the God of Prohibition add his blessing to today's Bible reading.

Well, come on, everybody, let me hear some AMENs up in this joint!


Now then, let us pray.

Oh, God, thank you for keeping us away from evil plant medicine such as those entheogens used by those non-scientific cultures that we have conquered and forced to adopt our western ways. Keep us from desiring to improve our creativity through the use of God-given substances but keep us happy with our mediocrity and help us reinforce it with frequent unconstitutional drug testing. Teach our young people to urinate upon demand for all their billionaire employers, and keep us from substances that grant us enlightenment, but lead us instead to emotion-blocking Big Pharma drugs, for thine is the dullness, the sameness, and the same old same old forever. Amen.

Let's turn to announcements now. Billy Magillicutty has passed his first of many drug tests this past Thursday to earn the position of cashier trainee first-class at the Arby's restaurant on Beaufort Road. Let's praise Billy for his sheepish abandonment of his rights under Natural Law. Well, done you, Billy. Or should I say, well done EWE, as in e-w-e EWE!

Just kidding. Remember, kids. If you want to be a good Christian, you must urinate upon demand for all employers and government agencies.

In fact, while we're on this subject, let's go ahead and get the Children's Sermon out of the way, shall we? Not that it's a nuisance, exactly, but it does get a little noisy and a certain dowager has complained. And no, I don't mean the Widow Bishop. Look at you guys, turning in your pews to scope out Widow Bishop in the balcony like that. For shame. As if she's the only dowager in the house. For all you know, it was the Widow Hemlock that I'm talking about, or Widow Parsley. Oh, great, and now you're eyeballing them as well. Forget I even said anything, sheesh.

And now where was I? Oh, yes: Red Rover, Red Rover, for children under the age of 15 to come over!

Oh, now, Jimmy Magillicutty, you know better than to run down the aisle like that. But I suppose we should place a charitable construction upon your haste and assume that you are in a righteous hurry to receive moral instruction at the foot of a pro. What can I say?

Okay, gather round, folks. Don't push! Don't push! That's it, now take a seat here in a semicircle around the altar, all 21 of you. What's that, Sally? You count only 20? Well, back at ya, Sally, 'cause guess what? Taney Pierce is at home watching via Facebook. So there. Keep Taney in your prayers, folks, he has a discombobulated shoulder from skateboarding. What kind of name is Taney, anyway, folks. There's nothing wrong with it, of course. I'm just saying... Taney? Really? Just kidding, Taney: get well with sugar on top! (Look at Mrs. Magilllicutty, looking daggers at me from pew 27 or so near the nave. Or is that the apse. I always get those two confused. Just kidding, Mary. Taney's a wonderful name! It's original, at all events, I'll give you that. But I think I'm just digging myself in deeper here, folks. Moving right along...)

Now then, I guess you're wondering why I have a bicycle up here by the altar, right, kids? No, Sammy, you're not going to win the bike if you give a correct answer. But I do have a moral message to convey.

Everyone, ready? Okay, here goes. Now, suppose you were out on this bike and you had an accident and fell. Wouldn't that be terrible. Just think of that, kids.

Now, who can tell me how the community should respond to that accident? Yes, Katie?

Kate: Someone should fix the booboo?

Well, yes, obviously, Katie, let's assume that we're not going to let the accident victim bleed to death. (For goodness' sake!) But my point is, how should the community overall respond to the accident to make sure it never happens again? Yes, Joey.

Joey: The community should educate children about riding bikes safely.

Wrong! You guys have got to start thinking like a Drug Warrior.

Look, here's the proper answer: When someone falls off a bike, it becomes incumbent upon us as a community to immediately ban bicycles of any kind!

And just to be safe, we will also want to penalize anyone who ever uses a bike in the future, and remove them from the work force through frequent bike-testing -- to make sure that they are not somehow hiding a bike on their person (don't ask me how)?

Get it, kids? So I ask you all again: if a person is injured on a bike, what does a good Drug Warrior do?

Kids: WE BAN BIKES!!!!

Good for you, and God Bless You! Now, scoot, because REAL church is about to begin and certain widow dowagers can't stand the racket that you guys make, OK? And I don't necessarily mean the Widow Bishop, either!

OK, time to warm you guys up for today's sermon with another reading from the Holy Scripture. This reading comes from the Gospel According to the DEA, chapter 1 through 5.

And Joseph traveled forth to the Arby's roast beef restaurant in Ruckersville (not the one on Beaufort Road, but the one nearest to the intersection of Route 29 and Route 33) hoping to secure a part-time job in order to be eligible for a recently received credit card offer that would allow him to purchase a 2005 Jeep Cherokee that he had his eyes on, one of those souped-up versions with a 3.7-liter V-6 replacing the previous inline-six-cylinder engine. But the manager, being a man of God, addressed him in admonitory accents, saying, "Verily, I must needs examine your urine in order to guarantee that you are righteous and holy and are not in the habit of thinking thoughts of which the god-fearing politician disapproves." Hearing which, young Joseph, being unused to the righteous thought processes of the modern Drug Warrior, declared: "What the fuck!!!!?

Here endeth the reading of our holy scripture. Incidentally, you can see why I told the children to beat it a little while ago. I'm reading from the unexpurgated version of the gospels today. Even some of you adults are blushing now, even as I speak. Look at Goody Tomkins, turning red as a beet out there in the nave -- or the apse or whatever.

All right, now we get to the good stuff, today's sermon. Oh, but first I've just received a note from Deacon Primsley saying that he has not yet received a urine sample of Frances Goodikins. Frances, please explain yourself, young lady.

FRANCES: Well, personally I think it's a violation of natural law for this church to prevent me from using the plant medicine of Mother Nature as I see fit.

Oh, for shame, Frances.

FRANCES: Take cocaine, for instance. Sigmund Freud thought it was a godsend for his depression and MesoAmerican tribes have used it responsibly for ages.

But don't you see, Frances? If America does not demonize such substances, we won't be able to invade other countries at will in order to dethrone narco-terrorists.

FRANCES: What, you mean evil people who actually sell Mother Nature's Plant Medicine of which racist politicians disapprove?

Where is Nurse Ratchet when you need her? Guards, take her out of here -- Er, I mean, ushers, of course. Parents, cover your kids' ears while Frances is spouting her blasphemies. Mother Babkins, can you talk some sense into your daughter?

MOTHER: Frances, you give the good deacon a urine sample right this instant.

Well, not RIGHT this instance, Mother Babkins.

MOTHER: Oh, you know what I mean, Frances. Head to the bathroom near the apse and do your patriotic duty, both for this church and for America!

Excuse me, Mother Babkins, but don't you mean the bathroom near the NAVE?

Oh, never mind. The Guards -- I mean, the ushers have things under control.

Let that be a lesson for you, kids. The Drug War is the Holy Law of America and will be treated as such. The very idea, failing to urinate upon demand for authorities like myself. Where does she think she lives, a free country under Natural Law. Oh, no, my dear, you live in the Most Righteous and Holy Christian Science Republic of America, videlicit Drug War USA.

Incidentally, pay no attention to the screams coming from the bathroom near the nave or the apse or whatever. The female ushers are simply helping Frances urinate like any other god-fearing Christian. It's called tough love.

In fact, you know what? Let's stop and pray for Frances here, shall we? Are you guys game? OK, and we're off...

Dear Lord, please forgive Frances Bapkins for raising a hew and cry about her, ahem, supposed "rights" under, ahem ahem, "natural law." Remind her that Americans have precisely the rights to Mother Nature's bounty that God-fearing politicians tell them they have: no more and no less, notwithstanding the somewhat more liberal policy dictated by your Eminence in the Original Book of Genesis. Remind her that you've recently seen fit to update that edition under the title of The New Holy Bible According to the Most Righteous Drug War, which you've published, or so I'm told, in collaboration with Penguin Press, and which is available now for just $9.99 wherever fine books are sold.

Meanwhile, thanks for those most holy drugs that we call liquor and nicotine. Surely we are ungrateful to wish for anything more when it comes to psychoactive substances, notwithstanding the fact that entire religions were inspired by the cosmic insights incited by the digestion of the same. For, just between you and us, God, we all know perfectly well that the folks who gained those supposed cosmic insights were but savages compared to us scientific types what run the Drug War worldwide. Besides, how are we going to fight wars if we're all using substances like psilocybin that conduce to peace, love and understanding? I mean, seriously, God: what kind of world would that be, after all? Nothing but peace and happiness, ad infinitum.

Please keep us smug in our Drug War pieties and deny thou employment to anyone who has so much as a trace of a trace of a demonized substance in their system, for thy faithful Drug Wariors have improved upon the color-blind doctrine of Martin Luther King Jr. when we say that we judge people, not by the color of their skin but by the contents of their digestive system.

We pray in the name of the most holy and righteous Christian Science Drug War, amen and amen.

Ooh, that was a good prayer, if I do say so myself. I hope someone was inspired to write it down in real-time.

Uh-oh, Widow Nicely thinks I'm dawdling, don't you, Widow? Not to worry, the sermon is on its way. But first let's turn to hymn no 222, "Onward, Christian SWAT Team, Marching As to War..." The Drug War that is. Sing it like you mean it, folks. I want to hear zero tolerance of Mother Nature's godsend plants in all your voices! And a-one and a-two...

Onward, Christian SWAT Team

Onward, Christian SWAT Team
Marching as to War
Demonizing godsends
That we must abhor

Throwing blacks in jail
Cause they're on the street
Selling godsend medicines
That grow at our feet

Onward, Christian SWAT Team
Marching as to War
Demonizing godsends
That we must abhor

Onward, Christian SWAT Team
Pissing on Demand
With a cup of urine
Proudly in our hand

Peeing for our country
Just to get a job
Founding Father's Freedoms
Filched by brainless mob

Onward, Christian SWAT Team
Pissing on Demand
With a cup of urine
Proudly in our hand

Onward, Christian SWAT team
Demonizing meds
Leaving sad and lonely
Cureless in their beds

Psilocybin mushrooms
Which could make them glad
Thanks to racist politicians
Are considered bad

Onward, Christian SWAT team
Demonizing meds
Leaving sad and lonely
Cureless in their beds

Onward, Christian SWAT Team
Marching as to War
Demonizing godsends
That we must abhor

Christian Science nonsense
Written Into law
Violating Constitution
Sticks in Freedom's craw

Onward, Christian SWAT Team
Marching as to War
Demonizing godsends
That we must abhor

Amen, you may all be seated.

By the way, was it just me, or were some of those lyrics counter-revolutionary? I think the ushers have been inadvertently stocking the pews with hymnals that date back before 1914, during that horrible era in history when anybody and their brother could just reach down to the ground, as free as you please, and pick up any plant medicine that grew at their very feet. You know, that terrible history that began, oh, at the dawn of humankind and only ended in 1914? Can you imagine, folks? Such freedom gives me the shivers. You know, back in the days when those suspicious Chinese, Indians and Persians were still allowed to use their evil opium and all those tribes in South America could still use their evil coca, as free as you please, before we right-thinking scientific Christian Capitalist Americans started knocking them upside their silly heads whenever they chose to partake.

Indeed, Iran would still be using opium today if the holy and righteous Christian Science Republic of America hadn't instructed their puppet regime to criminalize the substance in 1969. One wonders how the world survived until Holy America came along and started criminalizing plants.

FRANCES: The whole Vedic religion was founded to worship the psychedelic properties of a plant, you Imperialist idiot!

Oh, dear, is Frances still knocking about? In the old days, I know ushers that would have given her the holy heave-ho. We're just too nice these days, we Drug Warriors, that's all there is to it. Here's a lady who wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up, too Hah! Well, I've got news for her, folks: she's not going to even get a job at Taco Bell if she doesn't start sharing the god-fearing prejudices of us Christians, who have been demonizing plant medicine since we were old enough to lisp the Christian Science mantras of our most holy kindergarten teachers: "Just say no! Just say no!" That's it, guys: join with me. Don't you just love saying that? Just say no! Just say no!

Why should I say no to spiritual medicine? That's the establishment of the Christian Science religion, preacher, and in a country that was founded on Natural Law at that

Oh, fie, fie, take her way. Since when do Drug Warriors like ourselves have to listen to reason? Mark my words, someday we'll be outlawing opinions like hers. I mean, I'm all for freedom of speech and everything, but when folks start actually PRAISING the psychoactive properties of plants --

You sound just like Duterte, the self-avowed Drug War Hitler of the Philippines.

Good, she's finally out the door. I'll tell you what, everybody stand up where you are and shake your body about so you can remove all of the politically incorrect vibes that she's been scattering about the narthex -- or the nave or whatever. That's it, shake like a wet dog so that we can leave all those minority viewpoints behind us and return to our god-fearing status quo of demonizing psychoactive meds and censoring historical facts that might otherwise call that demonization into question. Let's rejoice in the fact that, botanically clueless as we might be, we are in the majority and so we have the Christian responsibility to keep arresting our enemies and causing wars overseas to turn our demonization into the law not only of the land but of the entire world.

And now let's pause for a moment of silent prayer -- the better to get that heretic claptrap out of our minds.

Scratch that: This will be a vocal prayer. I just thought of some real zingers to send skyward. Now, let me see, uh... Oh, yes, here we go...

Dear God, please talk some sense into Frances, make her adopt the prejudices of the majority. God, we are indeed even shocked to hear a young person speak out against a Drug War that we have created specifically to intimidate and to marginalize dissent. What would happen to that holy war if everyone felt as free as Frances to chime in with their negative opinions about America's unprecedented scapegoating of substances? Why, the Drug War might disappear overnight and then we would lose our scapegoat, drugs, and have to start fixing REAL problems, such as poverty, ignorance and a blackmarket that incentivizes the sale of synthetic addictive garbage.

There are even those who talk of removing all substance laws and actually studying and learning about substances instead of allowing politicians to demonize them a priori. How crazy is that, God?! Where I come from we Christians demonize first and ask questions later, if ever. Imagine having to learn about the various objective properties of substances and teach people about the same. Surely that's too much work, God. Besides, our gut instincts have always served us well. We saw the Chinese using opium back in 1900 and we knew we had to do something. And since the poll tax was going out of favor in the courts, the only Christian thing to do was to turn our prejudices (about substances and ethnic groups) into law by criminalizing poppies. Say what you will about the morality, but it did disfranchise enough of those... ahem... people from China, ahem, ahem. It sent them up the river, along with any traitor American who dared emulate their -- ahem -- heathen lifestyle. There, I said it! Heathen lifestyle! Ha ha! (Don't you feel that way as a Drug Warrior, sometimes, folks? Don't you sometimes just wanna say: "Yes, I'm in this to advance Christianity no matter HOW many prisons I have to fill up with dreaded foreigners -- and those who might be influenced by the same!!!") What can I say, sometimes we Drug Warriors just have to speak the simple truth. It's kind of cathartic!

Of course, I'm usually only this honest about my Drug War predilections after I've had a few at the local pub.

That said, I love everybody, of course. Hey, listen, if you just say no to the list of medicines that I hate based on my gut feelings, then we'll get along famously, even if you're from weird places like China, or India, or South America, notwithstanding their evil embrace of substances of which I disapprove in the most godly manner possible.

Sorry if this prayer is "wandering" a little bit, God, but that free-thinking Frances has rattled my chain. Plus, it was a little surprising. I'd say 99% of professionals are terrified of speaking ill of the Drug War lest they be fired or looked upon askance by their holier counterparts. That's as it should be, of course, but when Frances started piping up, as if we actually wanted to hear someone's ACTUAL opinion, I was suddenly worried that the world had turned upside down and that people were actually thinking rationally rather than religiously about substances and such.

All right, all right, this prayer isn't going to win any Pulitzer prize, but you know what I mean, God? Right? For we pray in the name of the most holy and righteous war on psychoactive substances of any kind -- with the obvious exception of capitalist-approved liquor, of course -- Amen.

Now, then Widow Nicely will be pleased to know that it's time for today's Sermon, the title of which has been irritating passing drivers on our brand-new incredibly bright LED screen out front for the last six days. I know, I know: the Maintenance Committee approved the new sign 5-4 against my better judgment, but if you ask me, the Church now looks more like a Las Vegas casino than a righteous oasis in a world of sin. And do we really need to be flashing the sermon title in rapid succession in the three different primary colors on a stark background of black? The Church could be held liable for any attacks of epilepsy that we inflict on passers-by with our new in-your-face signage.

Oh, I call Scripture Verse, everybody. Scripture Verse!!!!! Listen and perpend.

This is from the Book of Mark -- no, scratch that: This is from the Book of Narc: chapter 12, beginning at verse 41.

"And Judas sat down opposite the treasury and saw the many rich substance users stashing their godsend plant medicines wherever they could hide them, as 'twere higgledy-piggledy, for fear that the notoriously priggish J-man would upbraid them for their use of substances of which Herod did not approve. But then a poor widow came forth and placed a heaping handful of highly smokable marijuana plants right out in the open, smack-dab in front of Judas' indignant baby blue eyes, with no concern whatsoever for concealment, as careless as you please, as if the old crone imagined that she lived in a free republic rather than in the Drug War Capital of the Ancient Middle East, aka Narconia. "Behold," cried Judas, this widow is in felonious possession of godsend plant medicines of which Herod disapproves. Leave us take her to the stoning ground that she may be duly punished for her Christian Science heresy."

May the Drug War God add his blessings to today's holy reading.

So what's the message that God is trying to tell us here in the book of Narc? Well, it's a simple one, really. He's telling us that it doesn't matter how pathetic you are, or poor, or old. Everyone has a duty to renounce Mother Nature's psychoactive plant medicines -- and little old widows are no exception.

Look at Widow Nicely, squirming in her seat. Something to hide, Lady Nicely? Hmm? No? Well, then I'm sure you won't mind if our ushers search your handbags -- and our junior ushers ransack your car? What's that? You do mind? Why could you possibly mind... unless of course you had something to hide.

Yes, you see, the widow thought that she might catch a break because she was old -- but the Drug War is not a respecter of persons, folks. Mind you, it does help to be white, but you won't catch any meaningful breaks that way either unless you're well-connected and rich.

So, I say to all old crones out there: Just say no to plant medicines that in any way improve your psychological life. If God wanted us to have happier and expanded minds, he would have told us that his creation was Good.

What's that? He did? In the book of Genesis, no less?

Well, see that's why we've adopted the new Bible of the Drug War -- because even God can make the odd mistake. The true God's like: "Did I say that the flora and fauna was good? Well, I clearly didn't mean psychoactive flora, which is only the property of government to demonize as it sees fit."

May the Lord add his --

Catch Widow Nicely, she's running away. That's proof that she has something to hide! Tackle her in the narthex, guys -- or in the apex or whatever they call it! Just stop her!!!!

April 28, 200

Question: The center for the international operations of the Medical Inquisition is located in Switzerland, mainly in Geneva, in the offices of the various anti-addiction and anti-drug abuse bureaucracies of the United Nations. Needless to say, these agencies are not concerned with drug habits such as drinking, smoking, or "methadone maintenance," but are concerned only with those habits that are induced and maintained by people unsupervised by doctors and involving substances which the United Nations classifies as "illicit drugs."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 0, 200

How the Drug War is the Establishment of Christian Science as the State Religion

The religion of Christian Science says that we should be able to cure ourselves without medicines. Alcoholics Anonymous says the exact same thing, at least when that program is run in a country that has criminalized all of Mother Nature's most effective mood medicines.

This is why the Drug War itself is the establishment of Christian Science as a state religion, since it insists that all mood medicine is illegal, except when it comes from the highly addictive pharmacopoeia of Big Pharma and the psychiatric pill mill.

April 0, 200

Question: "The Church... declares, in the fourteenth century, that if a woman dare cure without having studied [scripture], she is a witch and must die.... In the same way, in the twentieth century, Medicine declares that if a man, woman, or child dares to dispense drugs without having a medical license... he or she is a 'pusher' and must be severely punished."
Answer: Ceremonial Chemistry - Thomas Szasz
April 0, 200

It's not just about harm prevention

Seeing nature -- bedloe
Appreciating music
Bringing peace
Sharing dreams as in short story

April 0, 200

Question: The position (on drug abuse and addiction) of organized American medicine and of organized American politics contradicts every principle and practice on which the United States was founded; whereas that of the Black Muslims is in the best American tradition.
Answer: Thomas Szasz, Ceremonial Chemistry