The Harms of Drugs Versus the Harms of the War on Drugs

William Blake once stated, “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.”

Interpreted and manifested by Aldous Huxley in 1954, Blake’s words became the vanguard for the psychedelic drug culture to come. Unfortunately our societies have sought to condemn these substances and place them parallel to our most atrocious sins. Psychedelic drugs represent three millennia of usage flowing through ancient shamans, multiple advanced civilizations, and some of the most inspirational minds of our contemporary culture. Stemming from the mid-20th century, a perpetual war has been initiated to combat what many perceive as a regression in society: drug usage.

This war on drugs is built on hypocrisy and disinformation. Our communities are keen on enforcing policies that restrict us from consuming nearly every drug available, especially psychedelics. However, we are reluctant in limiting the usage and distribution of more hazardous substances such as nicotine and alcohol, which clearly deteriorate the body physically and psychologically.

According to our very own Big Brother of the drug culture, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that alcohol tops the list when it comes to intoxication. N.I.D.A. also reports that nicotine scores the highest in terms of addiction based on a chemical spectrum. By allowing the two most dangerous’ drugs, which resulted in 21.6% of all American deaths in 2000, to remain relatively legal and criminalizing nearly every aspect of most other substances, there needs to be an increase in awareness as the entire foundation for the anti-drug movement has become subject to skepticism.

The primary dent in this foundation is evident in how our societies portray and view substances infinitely less harmful than the substances we are allowing to be sold in stores. Serotonergic psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline, are all non-toxic substances which induce dream-like states of consciousness and enhanced perception, while still having lower intoxication levels than alcohol. Apart from LSD, these natural psychedelics have very long histories of human consumption dating back to times immemorial.

There have been no deaths directly caused by any of them as there are no physical adverse effects. Deaths associated with serotonergic psychedelics are attributed by dangerous behaviour while under the influence of the chemicals which can easily be prevented during a state of sobriety. Eating a few caps of psychedelic mushrooms prior to operating a motor vehicle is clearly reckless and unfortunately difficult to combat.

However, therein lays the hypocrisy as the same can be said for alcohol which also impairs the mind and body. The Office of National Drug Control estimates that $12.7 billion will be spent in 2007 in order to combat illegal drugs while the alcohol and tobacco profiteers are wiping their asses with cash.

I believe we need to be more open to alternative solutions towards drug use rather than spending billions of taxpayer dollars and imprisoning responsible drug users. Down-scaling this war and showing leniency towards drug use (different from drug abuse) would obviously minimize criminal activity and governmental expenditures. It would also allow us to freely interact with our own bodies in a way that was previously prohibited.

These mystical substances have been the keys for opening doors deeply intertwined in our minds and have induced states of spirituality and meditation. It would be at the very least disrespectful to restrict people from using substances with a long history of therapeutic successes both biologically and psychologically while allowing others to legally consume highly toxic substances based on the interests of corporations.

This is a war on the people and individual rights; a war that has turned us against each other and bred a culture of suspicion. The ramifications of ending this perpetual war are difficult to speculate unless progressive action is taken. Down-scale prohibition now. End the deception.