July 22, 2019
There's nothing complicated about it -- legalize Mother Nature's plants now!by Ballard Quass
I belong to a Google group called Metaphysical Speculation, hosted by author Bernardo Kastrup. This morning, one member started a thread concerning Michael Pollan's fears that it's too dangerous to legalize psychedelic plants - and the posting member (Robert) agreed, concluding that the whole subject of drug legalization is "complicated."
I begged to differ vehemently, and I did so in the following response to Robert, Michael Pollan, and all the other Chicken Littles out there who fear that the sky will fall in if we legalize the plants and fungi of Mother Nature.
The "it's complicated" argument has Richard Nixon smiling in his grave. He outlawed drugs in order to get his political opponents off of the voting rolls. Now Nixon finds, half a century later, that even his political opponents have convinced themselves that it's too dangerous to restore the liberties that he took from us. Meanwhile, it's quite all right for American presidents to engage in the Stalinist practice of asking children to report their parents for using the plants of Mother Nature. Those turncoat kids even get a photo op with Nancy Reagan. Nixon's ghost must be ecstatic. His anti-minority drug war tapped into a deep vein of Big Brotherism and paranoia in the mind of the American public, both on the left and on the right.
It's complicated to get our freedoms back? No it's not.
If the government had taken away the freedom of the press and then launched a 50-year campaign to point out the dangers of unbridled speech, we might now be terrified of restoring the freedom of the press. But that does not change the fact that the freedom of the press must be restored - and ASAP. Nor does it mean that the defenders of this freedom are under an obligation to explain how this restoration can be accomplished without causing unrest or even violence. If the restoration of those freedoms brings its own set of problems, so be it. If anyone is responsible for that violence, it is the fascists who outlawed those freedoms in the first place.
Folks like Robert are worried about potential victims of decriminalization - meanwhile they ignore the actual fate of the millions of depressed and anxious that they walk by every day, law-abiding citizens who have been forced to use inadequate - AND ADDICTIVE - medicines because America is so focused on keeping NON-ADDICTIVE substances like psychedelics out of the hands of the minority who might (somehow) abuse them (even though psychedelics are hardly the "go-to" drugs for young people seeking a quick and guaranteed high).
With respect, the government DOES define our rights - in the U.S. Constitution - and among those rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
How can the U.S. government grant us the pursuit of happiness and then deny us the means to attain that happiness - by denying us the naturally growing medications that can increase our mental acumen and appreciation for life?
I'm sure Robert would be angry if the government tried to tell him what to think - how much angrier he should be if the government told him HOW and HOW MUCH he can think, but that's what government does when it denies us the mind-improving therapeutic power of plants and fungi.
Robert frets about those who became addicted to opium. However the morally charged term "addiction" was created by the Drug Warrior to bring shame on opium users (especially the minorities with whom Caucasian prohibitionists associated opium use in the early 20th century). While opium was legal in the U.S., the term used was "habituation," and many doctors didn't even consider it to be a problem - until the drug war interrupted supply. Benjamin Franklin was a regular opium user, and there were no Nancy Reagans calling him out as a "wretch" in need of imprisonment and therapy. Moreover, although daily users could become habituated, the occasional use of opium did not cause habituation, nor did the user require ever greater doses to achieve comparable effects.
I'd much rather see opium legal than see the DEA stomp onto Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and confiscate all his poppy plants, as they did in 1987. Why is this outrage not patently obvious to freedom-loving people??? The DEA stomps onto Jefferson's estate to confiscate PLANTS??? PLANTS!!! Sounds like a Ray Bradbury sci-fi about a future tyrannous government, not a story from our present-day America, at least as I'd like to think of it.
Folks like Robert and Michael Pollan are purblind: they vividly imagine addicts in the street the second that government (in its generosity) decides that we can use the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet. But they are blind to the millions of addicts that pass them on the street every day THANKS to America's drug war. At least one in 10 Americans are currently addicted to antidepressant SSRIs, which became the go-to legal treatment for depression after psychedelics were outlawed. The APA ignores this VAST addiction, of course, or insists pedantically that we call it a "chemical dependency," but from a user's point of view, there is very little difference between chemical dependence and addiction. They are both demoralizing and expensive.
I have been STUCK on Effexor for 25 years. Six months ago, I got sick of being an eternal patient and told my psychiatrist that I wanted to get off of Effexor. He told me that there was no point in trying. He said there had been a recent NIH study that showed that 95% of those who attempted to get off of Effexor were back on it within three years. In other words, Effexor is far, far worse than opium and cocaine in causing addiction - yet Chicken Littles like Michael Pollan have absolutely no criticism for this state of affairs - probably because this American addiction is oiling the wheels of capitalism by giving pharmaceutical companies enormous riches and paying huge dividends for fat cats in the 1%, meanwhile giving psychiatrists overpaid jobs as glorified pill pushers, who disdain to have psychological discussions with their biochemically interchangeable patients. Also, Americans seem to have this Puritan streak in them: that's the only way I can explain their preference for Effexor over Opium. "At least," they reason, "the folks using Effexor aren't doing so to enjoy the opera, like Thomas De Quincey - or to have inspiring dreams, like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, thank God!"
Regarding the following question:
Why not just expect that use of psychedelics in a desacralized setting will be disruptive and should be?
That question is beside the point because it's an attempt to reassure drug warriors that drug legalization will work. But as I've tried to show above, the freedom fighter is under no obligation to prove that the restoration of freedom can come without causing any problems.
That said, if we want the use of psychedelics to be sacred, then the best way forward is through legalization, which would undoubtedly result in the creation of churches (even some Christian churches) that use entheogens as a sacrament. If we take the wimpy path of legalizing psychedelics but keeping them in the hands of "professional clinicians," then we can be sure that every vestige of the "sacred" will be removed from the psychedelic experience. After all, clinicians are materialists (or at least work in an emphatically materialist environment) and so they will naturally want to turn the use of psychedelics into another pill-popping routine, sterilized and routinized to the point that healthcare companies and Big Pharma can establish predictable price points upon which to base psychedelic services.
To sum up, the drug war will never disappear as long as its opponents claim that ending it is "complicated."
It is not complicated to demand the restoration of a right.
As Thomas Paine wrote:
"If the present generation or any other are disposed to be slaves, it does not lessen the right of the succeeding generation to be free. Wrongs cannot have a legal descent."
Those who fear such change just do not adequately realize how much damage the drug war has done and is doing even as we speak.
Richard Nixon's drug war has created so much violence that it has generated a whole new movie genre, in which good Americans (who generally disdain the niceties of the U.S. Constitution) beat-up on evil drug dealers who are simply filling the needs of the black market that we ourselves created for them. We might call this new movie category the "scumbag genre," featuring classics like American Gangster, Asian Connection, Bobby Z, Clockers, Cocaine Cowboys, Empire, L.A. Wars, Marked for Death, Scarface, Rush - all of which owe their existence to the fact that Richard Nixon (with help from Francis Burton Harrison back in 1914) outlawed the plants and fungi of Mother Nature.
Ending the drug war is not complicated. It's an imperative for a freedom-loving people.
If Michael Pollan wants to worry about something, let him worry about the hospital patients who, even as we speak, are undergoing unnecessary ECT procedures, potentially injuring the brain - all because our drug war has denied them non-addictive psychedelic medicines that show such promise in brightening their minds - all WITHOUT DAMAGING THE BRAIN.
Let him worry about the minorities that are being arrested every single day for the possession of naturally occurring substances, after which they are thrown into inhumanly overcrowded prisons.
Let him worry about the millions of Americans who are currently addicted for life to psychiatric drugs thanks to the outlawing of natural non-addictive plants and fungi.
Let him worry about the violence in the inner cities caused by gunfire among drug gangs - gangs that would not exist were the plants of Mother Nature merely as legal as they were 100 years ago.
Let him worry about the fact that drug testing is an extrajudicial way to punish a misdemeanor with starvation.
(Amazing. Minimum-wage employees have their urine tested to make sure they are being good Christian Scientists when it comes to mental health - then they go out to see a movie in which good Americans kill people who are violating that Christian Science sensibility about the use of natural medications - meanwhile their corporate CEO is in the Bahamas doing LSD and marijuana with rock stars on his multi-million-dollar yacht.)
I don't know which is worse, law-and-order conservatives who want to prevent people from improving their minds with psychoactive substances, or "compassionate" leftists who want to protect Americans from themselves. Do these liberals really believe that the drug-related body count would be anything close to what it is today if America hadn't started down the road of criminalizing Mother Nature's plants with the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914? The Drug War itself is the problem, folks!
Let him worry about the fact that millions of elderly Americans are moldering away in group homes, shorn of hope, when we know through recent research that guided use of entheogens could expand their lives, help them cope with mortality, put an end to their constant profitless fretting, and even grow more neurons for them thereby increasing their mental resilience - and all of these benefits are kept from the elderly by our anti-patient drug war.
Let him worry about... I could literally go on and on mentioning the many downsides of the Drug War that seem to be invisible to the modern Chicken Littles of the world.
In short, let Pollan stop worrying about merely potential victims of freedom and start worrying about the real victims of this fascist state of affairs where, though we're not told what to think, we're told HOW and HOW MUCH to think.
Finally, if the "it's complicated" argument were extended to driving, Americans would have never hit the road. The first car accident would have resulted in hand-wringing and condemnation of the automobile as evil incarnate. But even Michael Pollan recognizes driving as a right - and no doubt drives by plenty of car accidents, like the rest of us, without feeling any moral imperative to go home and write a new book about the need to outlaw driving in America.
How sad it is that Americans who insist on the right to drive a car do not insist on the right to improve their own minds with the naturally occurring plants and fungi of Mother Nature.
I can see God now:
GOD: Blimey, I put those plants there to give them inspiration and to help them sense the unity of all life! Now they've bloody outlawed the things. Can you imagine, Gabriel, the hubristic idiots have outlawed my PLANTS!!!
GABRIEL: Well, sir, they do say it's "complicated."
GOD: Complicated? It's a plant! I've said it before and I'll say it again, Gabriel: Human beings really do seem to have the power to muck up anything, absolutely anything at all!