Why The War Against Psychedelics Cannot be Won

One of the key criticisms of the war on drugs is that, despite all the effort, despite all the money, despite all the resources spent on the cause: if an individual wants to find a drug, any drug, they can get it without too much trouble. I have never met some one who has wanted to do a drug and has been stopped by its illegality.

As long as there is demand there will be supply and the demand for psychedelics is impossible to kill because human curiosity is insatiable. Humanity has used psychedelics for thousands of years, when a government criminalises a psychedelic this curiosity is only heightened by the taboo of the forbidden. It seems that no matter what risks people are informed of with regards to any given substance, whether real or exagerated, people will still do what they want.

Rudgley’s ‘The Alchemy of Culture’, is a fascinating book which documents humanity’s long-standing relationship with mind-altering substances. Since humanity has always used drugs, he asserts that the desire to transcend ordinary experience and push consciousness to new and strange ‘places’ is an inalienable aspect of the human condition. Those wishing to control people’s will to explore psychedelics are, essentially, setting themselves an impossible task: the war on drugs simply cannot be won.

Some critics have argues that this is precisely the point. Considering that wars create jobs and bring with them certain financial perks for those at the top, what better war is there than one that cannot be won? In America we can see this all too clearly: an entire industry based on locking people up for doing something that people have always done and will always continue to do. Tens of thousands of jobs: from police officers, to judges, to prison guards and wardens, and then there’s all the administrative duties to regulate this industry. Then there are the political interests: politicians know that they need to look useful, they need the state to have a clear purpose, they need to make people afraid of ‘all the mad drug users’ just as they need to make people afraid of the terrorists who never seemed to show up.

Hericlitus once remarked that “war is the mother of all things”, an we can possit that if the war on drugs will go on forever, it will encourage progress on both sides of that battle. The aforementioned availablility of drugs suggests that, the ‘side’ of the drug suppliers is keeping up with the enemy.

The clandestine manufacture of psychedelics is easy enough where there is a will. The criminalisation of drugs ensures there will always be plenty of money to be made, for many this is incentive enough.

But sside from the profiteers, there are the devotees: those who have used psychedelics like LSD and DMT and, having felt their power and benefits, feel an almost religious duty to share it with the world. They have a sense that psychedelics are too important to be deprived from humanity: they are willing to help share them at any cost, they are even willing to be martyrs for the cause and go to prison for their beliefs and activitees. To them, the war on drugs is a spiritual war, a battle waged by the state, with its obsession with economic progress at any cost, against the primary religious sensibility and the most basic human freedom.

Organisations like Cognitive Liberty UK, NORML, LEAF, SSDP, and CLEAR are waging a war with words and political activism. But if drug prohibition is to be represented as a war, then the true heros of the war are the brave men and women who use their sophisticated intellects to continue to produce psychedelics in the face of massive opposition and oppression. These individuals pit their wits against a vast machine of surveilance and violent control, and they continue to succeed. Personally, I feel a great sense of gratitude and respect to those who put their lives at risk to make and distribute the world’s LSD.

It is worth considering quite far how the state would have to go to actually “win” the war on drugs (whatever that means). How much surveillence and control would need to be imposed in order to stop it completely? Is this just another one of those state-manufactured security issues that’s used to deprive the populus of their civil liberties and extend the tentacles of state control ever deeper into their lives?

All this ignores the greatest drug dealer of them all: nature. Psychedelic mushrooms grow all over the world, the earth itself offers the experiences to the mind’s of its people. With allies like that, psychonauts have nothing to fear in the long-run.

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