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DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library | The Drug Legalization Debate


by Thomas L. Wayburn, Ph.D.


Prohibition is Immoral

It is easy to prove that the laws against drugs are unconstitutional. The Declaration of Independence states that the rights to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" are "unalienable" rights, i.e., rights that are incapable of being sold or transferred. The preamble to the Constitution states that one of the purposes of the Constitution is to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity". The Ninth Amendment states, "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Clearly, the rights to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness, specifically mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, are retained by the people. Many people take drugs to pursue happiness. Thus, any law that denies them the liberty to take drugs is unconstitutional. Q.E.D.

Some people pursue and attain happiness in no other way than by taking drugs; they work all day so that they can pay for and enjoy drugs after work and on weekends. The Constitution, which views people not as statistical averages but as individuals, should protect each drug user until such time as he or she actually harms another person. Of course, as we all know, the Supreme Court does not base its decisions on logic, therefore it would be very difficult to have the laws against drugs declared unconstitutional even though an irrefutable case can be made in ten seconds.

It might be argued that the need to "promote the general welfare" overrides the need to "secure the blessings of liberty", but that argument is specious. The prohibition of alcohol caused social chaos; and, although reliable statistics are difficult to obtain because of the illegality, it is probably safe to say that prohibition resulted in more people drinking than ever before, including many children and many who were poisoned by bad booze. Also, prohibition consolidated the position of organized crime in America. The prohibition of drugs is having a similar, and worse, effect. This is only natural. Not much good can result from legislation that is inherently immoral. (As Brent [1] points out, one possible "good" result of prohibition is that, after some members of the Afro-American race or the Hispanic races consolidate their positions as drug bosses, they can ally themselves with the establishment and become part of the ruling class, start legitimate businesses, send their children to the "best" schools, etc., as did some members of other undervalued races before them, e.g., the Kennedys.)

Many Americans may be willing to repeal (drug) prohibition because it is impractical; but, some of them may be offended when they are told that they must repeal prohibition because it is immoral. Moreover, it is bound to be difficult to get the average American to recognize that the drug problem is merely a symptom of a corrupt and inefficient social and economic system. Nevertheless, I must reveal the whole truth as I perceive it no matter how unpopular it may be. I cannot imagine that anything positive will be achieved by discussing only what is "politically acceptable" and inoffensive.

Even if every single American were in favor of a law that would violate the Constitution, it would be improper to enact such a law so long as we wished to retain the semblance of a civilization. What we have in America today is not a war on drugs, but a war against people, based on our need for scapegoats. Indeed, many people take drugs because of the misery in their lives, but drugs are not the fundamental cause of the misery. The majority of the people, frustrated by our many social problems, have been whipped into a state of mass hysteria by the media and by politicians who wish to divert attention from the true causes of the problems. This is reminiscent of the McCarthy era and the Massachusetts witch hunts, which, presumably, were conducted by people who thought they were doing the right thing. "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

In order to provide a perspective different from my own and to corroborate some of my points, I have included the preface to the book Ceremonial Chemistry [2], by permission of its author, Thomas Szasz, the well-known social observer and professor of psychiatry. This clear, concise, and insightful analysis of the "drug problem", written over sixteen years ago, appears in its entirety in Appendix A.

The Fundamental Axiom. [Note (3-24-92): In my philosophical system, three moral axioms and a number of other fundamental assumptions are based on aesthetics, reasonableness, and utility. The first moral axiom is the fundamental axiom stated below except it is stated without reference to rights. Rights, then, are based on morals. Also, the terms materialism and dematerialism have been dropped in favor of competitionism and decompetitionism and the word decompetitionism is no more than a writer's convenience. Basically, we don't like Isms! My basic theorem is that the abandonment of competition for wealth (or money), power, and fame is a necessary and sufficient condition for sustainable human happiness. I mean the sustainable happiness of all of humanity.]

Nearly everyone agrees that our right to personal liberty does not extend beyond the point where it begins to interfere with the personal liberty of others. The personal choice of individuals to take drugs in the privacy of their own homes or in other places set aside for that purpose does not, in and of itself, interfere with the personal liberty of anyone. Certainly, there are many cases where the use of drugs leads to excesses and social disorder including pain and misery for the families of the user, accidents in the workplace, and serious crimes that affect innocent people. This social disorder is what sincere proponents of tough laws against drugs wish to prevent, but it is not an inevitable result of taking drugs and the noninevitability is crucial. Thus, it is improper and immoral to condemn all users of drugs and to deprive them of their civil rights because of the action of a few (or even of many). This is precisely the punishment of an individual for a crime that he or she has not committed. Moreover, it is not difficult to see that the laws against drugs cause more social disorder than they prevent.

The Fundamental Axiom of this paper is that adult American citizens living in the United States have a right to do whatever they please provided they do not interfere with the rights of others. Probably this principle can be extended to a larger class of people, which might include children under certain circumstances, but, for this paper, the above statement is sufficient.

Morals, Ethics, and Laws

Inevitably, this essay must concern itself with what is moral. I choose to distinguish two categories of morals. The first category consists of personal or arbitrary morals the violation of which does not interfere with the rights or freedoms of any other person. Examples from this category are the requirement to do no work on the Sabbath, the proscription of eating meat on Friday (no longer in fashion), the prohibition of certain sexual acts, and, most important for this discussion, the taking or nontaking of drugs. Some of these lower morals are similar to the taboos of primitive tribes. The second category consists of higher morals the violation of which does interfere with the rights of others. Examples from this category are "Thou shalt not kill", "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor", and thou shalt not impose thy religious beliefs on others. By definition, it is a violation of a higher moral to interfere with the rights or freedom of others.

We would like to have a system of absolute morals, morals that are independent of culture or point of view. Of course, some religious people believe that we already have a system of absolute morals given, for example, by the Bible, but most of these people are not aware of the epistemological difficulties that would have to be overcome to establish such a system. Probably absolute morals are impossible and, eventually, it might be discovered that some sort of uncertainty principle or undecidability principle prevents the establishment of a system of absolute morals.

We do not need a system of morals that can be applied to the entire world though. We need a system of morals that can be applied to the United States and is consistent with our Constitution. A system of morals may fall short of the absolute and still be good enough to gain universal acceptance within a nation whose members are finite in number. Suffice it to say that the Fundamental Axiom of this paper should be the cornerstone of such a system of morals.

Whether a self-consistent and complete system of morals can be constructed or not, a subset of a system of morals or a superstructure built upon it has been chosen to be the law of the land, or at least that part of the law that deals with human and institutional behavior, as opposed to governmental procedures. I submit that the law should be congruent with our system of morals and easily derivable from it. We are far from that advanced state where legislators would be almost unnecessary inasmuch as anyone with an inference engine (computer and appropriate computer program) could test automatically whether a given proposition was a "law" (or not) by deriving it (or its contradiction) from fundamental axioms or first principles. The American legal system is in such shambles that we can hardly be considered a society governed by laws at all. Although this begs the question, prohibition would not even be considered if laws were derived from first principles rather than willy-nilly to consolidate the power of the ruling class and to appease the superstitions of the people.

Simply stated, we are probably going to have laws into the foreseeable future. The laws should be derived from and congruent with a system of morals with which we can all agree, but the Fundamental Axiom of this paper is nonnegotiable. In any case, there is no possibility of a nation living in America in peace under a constitution unless we can agree to embrace higher morals and to recognize that some morals are a matter of personal preference. Since the religious right has given the word "morals" a bad name, I will use the word "ethics" to refer to higher morals, even though I do not believe the religious right should have a monopoly on the word "morals".

It is a corollary of the Fundamental Axiom, then, that no one has a right to impose an arbitrary system of morals on others. The correctness of this position is corroborated by the failure of every attempt by church or state to enforce an arbitrary system of morals. Prohibition, which, by the way, required a constitutional amendment, was a dismal failure and had to be repealed. The repression of drugs and the persecution of drug users and dealers still continues, but the effects are catastrophic and the drug trade thrives. (One arbitrary aspect of the current laws against drugs is the illegality of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin and the legality of nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, all of which can be just as dangerous depending, of course, on the dosage.)

Materialism and Dematerialism

[Note (7-19-93): I now employ the terms competitionism and decompetitionism.] For the purposes of the discussion that follows I must say what I mean by materialism and dematerialism. Materialism can be defined as the use of material wealth as a measure of success, a reward for achievement or effort, or as an inducement to behave in a certain way. Materialism leads to unequal distribution of wealth, which, in turn, results in economic and social strife. Only a (usually undeserving) minority, whose particular talents and inclinations correspond to making (or preserving) money, can depend on enjoying a comfortable old age. In order to have a flexible supply of human resources, in order to cope with the business cycles, inevitable in a quasi-laissez-faire economy, and to keep the price of human resources low, according to the laws of supply and demand, it is necessary that there be a pool of unemployed persons. These people are susceptible to both sides of the drug market, because of boredom and despair on the one side and because of the lack of any other opportunity on the other. Of course, many people who are not reduced to such circumstances elect to deal drugs, partly, at least, because materialism teaches that only those who acquire large amounts of wealth are "winners".

Many people are upset (and frustrated) because materialism, as it manifests itself in a quasi-laissez-faire, free-enterprise, capitalistic society, has created a large number of social ills, many attributable to poverty itself, one of the least desirable consequences of materialism. They see reduced standards of living, senseless crime, bizarre behavior (and dress), dishonesty in business and government, the decay of family values, hopelessness, and cynicism marked by a new hedonism among the youth as signs of the decay of everything they value. These people are easy prey to mass hysteria and crowd madness. They are looking for scapegoats.

An alternative to materialism is dematerialism. By dematerialism, I mean libertarian wealth-sharing, not the socialism of Russia or China. Dematerialism requires the equal distribution of wealth, modified slightly to account for differences in needs, and the production of wealth in a cooperative setting according to the abilities of the individual, allowing for the need for abundant leisure. An education that is consistent with the aims of dematerialism provides people with the ability to enhance the material wealth and prosperity of society, viewed as a collection of private individuals; but, more important, it teaches people how to enjoy leisure in a manner consistent with their development as human beings, through the arts and sciences, sports, and other recreation, which might include the use of drugs.

Materialism feeds on itself and leads to a large authoritarian government to control a society that is essentially unstable because of large differences in wealth. A properly-constituted, democratic, privatized, libertarian, wealth-sharing society, such as might exist under our Constitution, would require only a small government because a nonmaterialistic society is essentially stable. The successes or failures of experiments in Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, and all of their "practical" implementations notwithstanding, the truth of the above assertions can be proved in the context of an appropriate system of ethics, modulo undecidability; that is, the above statements can be proved at least as rigorously as social propositions are ever proved. That is the subject of another paper. For now, the above statements must be regarded as the author's point of view, a point of view that is entitled to as much respect as any other. Although the postulate that materialism is unethical is not needed to advance the thesis of this paper, namely, that drugs should be legal, it is useful to recognize that materialism may be the root cause of most of the drug problem including the laws against drugs themselves.

The Drug Problem

Most of us agree that too many people are taking excessive doses of too many drugs on too many occasions. The drug problem can be defined as these excesses coupled with the misery and social disorder surrounding the illegal drug trade. But, it is materialism and the laws against drugs, not the drugs themselves, that are the cause of the problem. There is a growing number of people, in addition to the dealers, who profit from the multibillion-dollar drug industry created by the laws against drugs. The drug problem is not likely to disappear until the profit motive is removed.

The Solution

The reasonable solution, in a free society, is complete legalization and decontrol accompanied by unbiased education. By "decontrol" I mean decontrol of the purchase and consumption of drugs. Prescriptions should continue to be used, but they would not be required for the purchase of pharmaceuticals. Manufacturers should continue to be regulated, but the government should not control which drugs are produced or in what quantity.

Employers have a right, sometimes a duty, to demand sobriety on the job, but people should be allowed to do as they please elsewhere, provided they do not interfere with the rights of others. Taking drugs, in and of itself, does not interfere with the rights of anyone. The legalization of drugs will remove the thrill of breaking the law and the incentive to get people "hooked"; it will end the suffering caused by unmetered doses, impurities, substitutes, and substandard paraphernalia; legalization will move a huge segment of the underground and extralegal economy into the legitimate economy, taking money away from criminals, eliminating crime and violence, and restoring many talented people to useful endeavor.

Outline of This Paper

The purpose of this paper is to show that legalization and decontrol is a practical solution to the drug problem and that it is the ethical solution that should be advocated by all right-thinking people of good will. A number of additional points that are made in this paper can be listed here: 1) it is not the proper role of government to decide what is good for the people or what is not; 2) the war against drugs is essentially an attack on freedom of religion; 3) "drug addiction" may not be a disease that requires treatment; 4) many people who advocate prohibition do not have respectable motives; 5) the laws against drugs lead to numerous catastrophes and absurdities; 6) much of the misery experienced by many consumers of drugs is caused by the laws against drugs; 7) the social, political, and economic disorder on the supply side of drugs is caused by the enforcement of the laws against drugs; 8) in many cases the use of drugs is natural, proper, necessary, or otherwise justified; 9) the aggressors in the unwinnable war against drugs are guilty of the oppression of innocent people; moreover, the oppressors themselves are victims of crowd madness. No matter which aspect of the case one considers, no matter what line of reasoning one pursues, rigorous logic always leads to the same conclusion, namely, that the laws against the manufacture, sale, possession, and consumption of drugs must be repealed.

I begin by pointing out the failure of methods currently being employed to end the drug problem and mention some of the absurdities and tragedies that are caused by these methods. The next section contains a short discussion of the important topics of addiction and treatment. There is some confusion as to what people are talking about when they use the term "drug addiction". It is not at all clear that drug addiction is a disease; moreover, the question of whether there is such a thing as an efficacious treatment for drug addiction is still open.

Next I give twelve reasons for legalizing drugs and I repeat a very important point that is usually ignored, namely, that the laws against drugs are essentially unconstitutional. I have pointed out that the taking of drugs in and of itself does not interfere with the rights of anyone. One wonders then, with so many good reasons for legalizing drugs, why many people still oppose the idea. In the next section, I attempt to answer that question, at least partially.

Antidrug propaganda rarely has anything good to say about drugs, particularly recreational drugs, i.e., drugs taken for the fun of it. In the next part of this paper, I list a few uses of drugs that are not abuses. I include here some of the responses I have obtained in discussions with drug users who demand repeal. Next, a few of the anticipated bad effects of legalization are addressed and, finally, after summing up what the government should do, I suggest some possibilities for action by individuals.

Failure of the Current Approach

Disaster, Absurdity, and Irony

Nearly every day the newspapers carry an account of a disaster, the threat of disaster, or an absurdity created by our government's "war on drugs". A U.S. agent is murdered; criminals seize control of a city, perhaps an entire nation; the government prepares to employ the military in a manner contrary to law. Suspects are beaten; their civil rights are violated; the Constitution is trampled as law-enforcement agents spy on American citizens. Millions, perhaps billions, of taxpayers' money is squandered by a government that has already spent far beyond its means in a cause that is absolutely guaranteed to fail. People who are reasonable in ordinary matters advocate cruel and inhumane policies. Police officers fall to the temptation of huge profits; entire squads of narcotics agents conspire with drug dealers; confiscated drugs return to the "free" market.

Recently, in our town, two crack houses were destroyed by bulldozers. The houses were punished for the behavior of the people who occupied them! More recently still laws against attempting to buy drugs have been enacted. Can you imagine someone being arrested for saying, "Gee, I'm so tired; I wish I had something to pep me up for a few hours"! The Kiplinger Newsletter warns that imports from Central America will be delayed by exhaustive searches; so, now, the war on drugs interferes with business itself, in an ironic twist of fate.

The Beneficiaries

Dealers, money launderers, law-enforcement agents, social workers, psychiatrists, physicians, lawyers, bureaucrats, drug testers, and dealers in drug-free urine are in on the action. Recently I saw a sign by the side of the road advertising cut-rate prices on beepers. (Beepers are widely used by drug dealers, even to summon children in school.) Convenience store operators place items used to prepare and smoke crack in prominent places in the store. Only the dealers and the money launderers are on the illegal side of the law and the money launderers just barely. The others will fight legalization roughly in proportion to the loss in income they will experience if drugs are legalized. This is an important point. It is clear that, in a market economy, the current approach to solving the drug problem is not likely to succeed for this reason if for no other, namely, that there are too many people who have too much to lose if the problem goes away.

Thomas Szasz, the well-known social observer and professor of psychiatry, points out that the biggest gainers in the war on drugs are the politicians themselves [3]. When things are going badly, there is nothing like a popular war to divert the attention of the people.


After the politicians themselves, physicians probably have the most to lose since many physicians earn their living by writing prescriptions for people who have already decided on their own course of treatment including which drugs are indicated. In addition, an informed population will recognize that the non-use, use, and abuse of drugs and the withdrawal from drugs is not the province of the medical profession alone. Most physicians know about prescription drugs only what they read in the Physicians' Desk Reference and in manufacturers' brochures and they know about drugs not in the pharmacopoeia such as heroin and hashish next to nothing unless they or their patients are using them. (Probably most patients are not discussing their use of illegal drugs with their physicians.) Thus, physicians are not entitled to a monopoly on the distribution of drugs and the treatment of drug abuse.

The Rehabilitation and Prevention Rackets

Quacks and do-gooders are setting up clinics and earning their living practicing half-baked and unproven techniques to stop, from using drugs, people who, for all we know, have been enjoying drugs and are trying to stop only because of outside coercion. (The insects who prey on human weakness are coming out of the woodwork.) Educators lie to their students and "public-service" groups buy television time to lie to the public or to get well-known ex-addicts to lie to the public either because they (the ex-addicts) have been brainwashed or because they are afraid of what will happen to them if they don't cooperate. "Drugs are all bad," they tell us. But, most people, including the children, know that that can't be quite true and so they reject the entire message even though some of it may have merit.

For example, The Partnership for a Drug-Free America sponsors a television ad contrasting "brain waves" from a fourteen-year-old before and after taking marijuana. First of all, the ad implies that the significance of the signals is well-known, which is false. Epileptics sometimes exhibit quiescent brain waves, but epileptic seizures are often preceded by moments of extreme mental clarity. The punch line is that, if you are using pot, you are not using your brain. Now, that is patently false. Anyone who has experimented with pot knows that, far from the absence of cerebral activity, there are often valid insights, the obvious again becomes obvious (perhaps a little slowing down of the brain is useful, assuming, for the moment, that the quiescent brain waves do in fact reflect less mental activity; a lot of mental garbage is cleared out), and the beauty of music becomes more apparent (unfortunately, the listener may be hearing music with little merit, but, at least, he's hearing all of it). Moreover, the liars behind The Partnership don't have the guts to reveal who they are; no address or phone number is given in the ad. [Note in proof: Lately I have heard that the ad is faked, which certainly makes sense. Where would they get a fourteen-year-old boy on "pot" without breaking the law themselves?]

People wonder why American students do so poorly. Part of the reason is, of course, TV. But, how can students develop self-reliance when their educators don't respect them sufficiently to tell them the truth about drugs! Students descend to the expectations people have of them. Also, young people must be confused, at best, when they try to reconcile the standard party line on the American economic and social system with what they can actually observe at home and in the streets, but that, perhaps, is another matter.


No discussion of drugs would be complete without some mention of drugs in sports. We find here that rigorous logic leads to surprising conclusions. The drugs used by athletes are of two types: (i) the usual recreational drugs (drugs that are taken for the fun of it) and (ii) steroids and other substances taken to increase muscle bulk or strength or in some other way to enhance performance. The banning or suspension of athletes who are caught using illegal recreational drugs could lead to the following absurdity: Some year, perhaps decades from now, a given National Basketball Association team wins the national championship, after which it receives a formal challenge from a team formed from among professional basketball players who have been banned from the league for using drugs. To make it really interesting the members of the outcast team could be allowed to use any substances they choose administered by the most skillful sports doctors or "dopers". In one case, the national champions are defeated decisively in a challenge they are honor-bound to accept. In another case, they decline the challenge or are forbidden to accept it. In either case, do they have a right to consider themselves national champions? The very existence of a class of people who might be able to form a team and defeat them compromises their championship. Farfetched? Not according to rigorous logic.

The situation with steroids is more disturbing still. The policing of athletes is nearly impossible as substances that mask the use of other substances already exist. World records that are broken by athletes using banned substances are compromised if not invalidated. Athlete A holds the world record for the 100 meter race, but everyone, including A himself, knows that athlete B actually ran the race faster, not with a machine but with his own body. It appears, then, that the banning of steroids is as hopeless as the banning of other drugs.

But, competitions that encourage or require participants, if they want to be the world's best, to risk their health and their lives are unethical. It is even worse to force someone to take something he really doesn't want to take than it is to forbid someone to take something he wants to take. So, the realities of professional sports and world-class amateur sports are even more unfair than the laws against drugs. Thus, the olympic games, professional and college football, even high-school football, and many other activities that have grown to be national and international institutions should not be encouraged. (I do not favor the passing of even more laws; boycotts and nonparticipation by governments should be sufficient.) There is no doubt that the seriousness with which athletes and the general public treat athletic competition has reached the point where all types of absurdities are commonplace. One wonders whether friendly competition of a local nature, the results of which are not reported by the media, might someday supplant the current madness.

On the subject of sports, what about the "runner's high"? Suppose the chemical substance that gives the runner his high could be isolated and synthesized. Then people could enjoy it without going to the trouble (and danger) of running. Naturally it would be banned. People would have to be tested for it just as they are tested for other illegal drugs, in which case runners would test positive. When one starts with an absurdity like drug prohibition, it is easy to derive another absurdity.

The Enforcers

On the day following the completion of the previous version of this paper a news story broke that illustrates dramatically the failure of the government's current approach to the drug problem. It appears that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been staging phony drug busts that are reported by the media as real. Also, the DEA has been furnishing drug chemists with equipment and chemicals to make drugs. The DEA claims that the staged arrests are designed to gain the confidence of big-time dealers abroad, at least one of whom has been arrested subsequently. The agency claims that assisting drug chemists makes it easier to keep tabs on them, that it is not entrapment, and that the drugs never reach the public. The Justice Department investigated the staged drug arrests and the concomitant deception of the media and, in turn, the people. In a matter of two or three days, it found no evidence of wrongdoing and closed the case.

First of all, why would a dealer have confidence in a smuggler who loses the goods? In the second place, how does the DEA arrest a subject of a foreign power if the subject does not enter the United States? By what right does it have jurisdiction? It would appear, at least to this observer, that the DEA is attempting to bolster its image and to manufacture some success in the "war against drugs". But wait! There's more. One of the people involved in the smuggling operation claims that seventeen duffle bags of cocaine were seized, whereas the DEA can account for only fifteen. Could it be that someone in the DEA is involved in drug trafficking and that the missing cocaine will find its way back to the market? For that matter, when was the last time you saw with your own eyes the destruction of confiscated cocaine? We have seen marijuana burned from time to time, but cocaine destroyed?

Concerning the DEA-supplied drug labs, one of the chemists alleged that DEA-sponsored chemists have given the DEA the slip and DEA-sponsored drugs have indeed been sold to the public. Also, it is not clear that this is not entrapment. Also, the drug chemist claims that, at one point, it was so obvious that he was making drugs that he asked his supplier if he knew of a better procedure to produce the drug. The DEA agent supplied the procedure for $2000. Are we supposed to believe that the $2000 ended up in the U.S. Treasury?

You will draw your own conclusions about these events or withhold judgment, but it is clear to me that there is something rotten in the DEA. Also, I suspect the Justice Department of a cover-up. Sadly, if I am asked to choose to trust the word of a drug-smuggler/drug-chemist or the word of a DEA agent, I'll take the smuggler/chemist every time.

Attacking the Constitution

Lately, the United States has asked for the extradition of "known" drug kingpins from Colombia. Does not the Constitution guarantee a fair trial by a jury of peers? How are these people, who played no role in the passage of the laws they are accused of breaking, ever going to get a fair trial in the United States? Are we going to import Colombians for jurors!

In addition, the United States government has begun seizing the assets of suspected traffickers without due process, possibly depriving them of the resources they will need to defend themselves in a legal battle against a powerful enemy. Also, the United States, while interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, is aiding and abetting the seizure of assets without due process, which would be unconstitutional if it happened here.

Addiction and Treatment


Most people are against drug addiction and so is this author, if drug addiction, indeed, exists, and, for the sake of argument, I am willing to agree that it does. But, I am also against all the other forms of addiction that plague society. While we are eliminating addiction to drugs, let us eliminate addiction to TV, which is lowering the IQ of a nation and filling its collective mind with nonsense. Is there an addiction to popular music, some of which is not really music at all? Some children and even some adults cannot leave it behind for a minute. They wear earphones everywhere, even while driving a car, "studying", or attending a lecture. That sounds more like an addiction than a form of recreation or culture. Some women seem to be addicted to cosmetics. Some people are addicted to getting something for nothing! They easily fall prey to state lotteries, the coupon industry, sweepstakes, rebates on automobiles, and the numerous forms of gambling. Incidentally, how can states prohibit the use of drugs, on one hand, and encourage, by expensive and insidious advertising, gambling, on the other! Recently I read about the addiction of some people to, of all things, surgery! How are these addictions, all of which can be traced to materialism, going to be treated?

The Meaning of the Term "Drug Addiction"

With respect to the existence or nonexistence of drug addiction it should be noted that at least five different phenomena are referred to as "drug addiction". In one class of cases the "addict" is attempting to treat him- or herself for chronic depression. A drug has worked at least once and the victim hopes that it will work again and sometimes it does. In a second and completely different set of circumstances the use of a drug has caused, usually as a side effect, a symptom that can be relieved only by taking more of the drug. After a good night's sleep the craving is gone. I believe this is the case with the ordinary use of cocaine and, for some people, with alcohol. It could be referred to as short-term addiction. In other cases the victims experience acute withdrawal symptoms that last several days or longer. This third class of cases could be referred to as long-term addiction. Apparently, this is what heroin addicts and caffeine addicts experience. (I am aware of the fact that some alcoholics seem to experience both short-term and long-term addiction.)

It is this third meaning of the word that lays the best claim to the term "addiction". However, many people are addicted to drugs in this "true" sense of the word if and only if they believe they are addicted. (Perhaps the headaches I experience when I try to give up coffee occur only because I expect them.) Perhaps all such addictions are psychosomatic.

A fourth behavior pattern that is often called addiction occurs when the user derives a great deal of pleasure from using drugs and therefore repeats the experience as often as possible with or without consideration of the long-range consequences. (After all, if you tell a twenty-year-old man that drugs will kill him in forty years, he is not likely to be too concerned, especially if he's having a good time.) And finally, many people take drugs repeatedly in order to perform a specific task that cannot be performed as well or at all without drugs.

It has occurred to me lately as I reread Ceremonial Chemistry by Thomas Szasz, who views the war against drugs as the persecution of drugs, drug addicts, and drug pushers, that many people relish the idea of being persecuted. After all, Jesus himself in the Sermon on the Mount suggested that it might be a blessing to be persecuted under certain circumstances. I believe that many people believe that living the drug life satisfies the conditions alluded to by Jesus, namely, a pursuit of spiritual things rather than material things.

The Treatment of Drug Addiction

I am very suspicious of counselors, psychoanalysts, ministers, priests, lecturers, gurus and other "professionals" who make their living by treating the spiritual problems of man. It is easy for a charlatan to pose as a spiritual healer. I don't believe anyone knows enough about the human mind and the spiritual nature of man to be certain he is not doing more harm than good. In particular, it is not clear that drug users should be subjected to professional treatment at all. Normalization of drug use, i.e., legalization, decontrol, and public tolerance, should make most problems disappear; but, when a problem persists even in a normalized society, undoubtedly the best way to treat it is with ordinary human kindness and compassion. Friends or family members are the ones who can help the most.

In a normalized society, drug users who cannot cope and have no family or friends who can provide sufficient help fall into a special class, as do drug users who require restraint. Probably the state will have to intervene, but it should do so in as nonauthoritarian and nonpatronizing a manner as possible. Of course, prisons will continue to exist as long as materialism exists, but not many drug users belong in prison. The state should supply help, i.e., food, clothing, shelter, information (not propaganda), job training (if needed), and considerate people (who might be fellow sufferers) to talk to, rather than treatment. In any case, treatment must be voluntary, particularly if the patient's freedom is to be surrendered. (Probably most treatments diminish the humanity of the patient by the use of tranquilizers, by brainwashing, or by tactics similar to those employed by cults.) Remember, the term "mental illness" is a metaphor! But, if "professionals" insist on treating "drug addiction", they damn well better know what it is they are treating!

Practical, Humanitarian, and Ethical Benefits of Legalization


The following is a list of the main practical and humanitarian benefits that will result from the legalization of drugs. The proof of each of these points is taken to be obvious. If it should happen that reasonable doubts arise as to the truth of these assertions, it will be necessary to provide more detailed arguments. I have avoided purposely the recitation of statistics of indeterminate accuracy. I believe it is sufficient to accept the fact that, for example, some people have died because they bought impure drugs; it should not be necessary to know the exact statistics. Perhaps a more ambitious author is willing to make the effort to supply the numbers.

Practical and Humanitarian Benefits

1) Legalization would remove the economic incentive to get people "hooked" and, as discussed below, prevent some people from changing from nonaddictive or mildly addictive drugs to more addictive drugs. (Some people believe that drug addiction is a myth manufactured by society and caused by mass delusion and hysteria. People become addicted to drugs because they believe in drug addiction.)

2) Legalization would make it unnecessary for "addicts" to steal. Of course, some people were thieves first and addicts second. Whether or not they will continue to be thieves is another matter. Others have gotten into the habit of stealing and the habit of stealing may be more difficult to break than the habit of taking drugs. But, in any case, there will be fewer people stealing to pay for drugs and they won't have to steal as much as they do now unless the government levies heavy taxes. A punitive tax on drugs would be unfair and unwise since, under heavy taxation, only the rich could afford legal drugs and the black market would return.

3) Drug legalization would eliminate the violence surrounding the drug business. This is a very important point.

4) It would move a huge segment of the underground economy into the legitimate economy, taking profits away from criminals, keeping drug money, unless it were spent on other imports, in the country, allowing reasonable, but not punitive, taxation of the legal trade, providing alternate crops for tobacco growers, etc. As everyone now knows, some dealers are becoming so rich that they can take control of sovereign states. The laws against drugs are the source of their wealth.

The above four points are the ones usually made by people who favor legalization on practical grounds alone. Many writers and speakers have discussed these points and I shall not elaborate on them further. The next eight items have received less attention.

5) Legalization would remove the thrill of breaking the law. This is especially important if children are going to forget about taking drugs. On the other hand, if enemas were made illegal, some children somewhere would dedicate themselves to taking enemas. Naturally, it would be preferable if children could be taught respect for the law, but there are two important reasons why this cannot be done in general. The first is that children see that many important people break the law without losing the respect of society. In fact, in many important cases, the prestige of the criminal is enhanced. At the very least the criminal becomes famous and children are encouraged by the media to believe that only famous people count. The second reason is that children know that many laws are unjust and are designed either to enhance the wealth, power, and privileges of the ruling class or to satisfy the biases and superstitions of the masses. (Yes! Many children know this.) It is crucial, then, that children, acting on their own, stop taking drugs because drugs no longer interest them, not because drugs are forbidden by their parents or the rest of society.

6) Legalization would end the suffering and death caused by unmetered doses, impurities, dirty paraphernalia, substitutes, and substances that have only a short history of use, e.g., designer drugs. In particular, it would end the deaths caused by AIDS for which the laws against drug paraphernalia, and the sponsors of such laws, are directly responsible. Those who oppose legalization seem to be singularly lacking in compassion. It is not unreasonable to assign responsibility for a great deal of the misery surrounding the use of drugs to the people who advocate and enforce the laws against drugs and drug paraphernalia. Opponents of drugs like to say, "Drugs kill." Yes, sometimes they do, but most of the deaths can be traced to unmetered doses, poorly prepared drugs (impurities), and "drugs" that turn out to be something other than drugs (poison) sold by unscrupulous or incompetent dealers. It makes sense to license dealers and manufacturers, but to require users to register is, again, an infringement of personal liberty and it won't work. Content and strength of all drugs, including coffee, should be labeled clearly.

7) Many users of "hard" drugs began by using "soft" drugs; but, due to the laws against drugs, there came a time when their drug of choice was not available. This is what led them from marijuana, say, to heroin. There are many similar instances of harm resulting from the unavailability of the drug user's favorite and familiar drug. Conversely, many troubled people choose to drink, and have problems associated with drinking, mainly because alcohol is legal and readily available. These people might have been able to select a drug from a larger menu, marijuana say, that would provide the same relief with fewer problems or no problems at all. (Sometimes I find it difficult to believe that there has not been a conspiracy to suppress the use of marijuana, amphetamines, and heroin so that the cocaine business could flourish.)

8) Legalization of all drugs would eliminate the "drug life", the endless cycle of getting money, "copping", getting high, etc. that constitutes a career for many. Indeed, many addicts are among those who have most to lose from legalization. They would have to give up their entire "lifestyle" with its many positive aspects including good friendships, camaraderie, etc.

9) Legalization would restore many to useful endeavor, even some who continue to use drugs. It would decriminalize an even greater number of people who use drugs properly as discussed below.

10) Legalization and decontrol would allow people to exercise their right to be their own physicians. Many people could do this without deterioration in the quality of medical care they receive. The legitimate medical uses of drugs prohibit punitive taxes such as those levied against cigarets. Moreover, the legalization and decontrol of all drugs is a step toward controlling medical costs, which we all know are spiraling out of control, to some extent because of the greed of physicians.

11) Drug legalization would eliminate the need for controversial and perhaps unconstitutional intrusion into the activities and physical bodies of suspected drug users, although the need to have sober airline pilots, etc. will probably prolong the debate on just how this is to be accomplished for some time, even after legalization.

12) Recently, subsequent to the original draft of this paper, new drug legislation has been enacted by Congress that includes cruel and unusual punishment. Wayne Saums writes in a letter to the Houston Post as follows:

The current drug hysteria is the closest thing to McCarthyism America has seen in 40 years. Draconian penalties, in a drug bill that just passed Congress, include $10,000 fines for a single marijuana cigarette!

The biggest mistake any American could make, in the face of such insanity, is to assume he is safe if only he does not smoke marijuana.

This drug is cheap and plentiful. An angry neighbor, a political opponent, anyone at all, would have only to toss a "joint" onto your property, into your home, or your car. A police officer could stick it right in your shirt, or your trash can!

No, the truth is that, once police state tactics get to this advanced stage, no one is safe.


Legalization would eliminate the possibility that some diabolical adversary could put us through the nightmare of being falsely accused, or even punished, by a Pharmacological Inquisition.

Ethical Benefits

Thus, there are many practical and humanitarian benefits to be derived from legalization, but, in addition, there are many ethical benefits beginning with respect for the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution. The Ninth Amendment states that "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." A fundamental right, recognized at least abstractly by most Americans, is the right and freedom to do anything one pleases so long as it doesn't interfere with the rights and freedom of others. This right is not explicitly stated in the Constitution, but it is retained by the people in accordance with the Ninth Amendment. Whether or not the majority of Americans believe that the right to take drugs is reserved under the Ninth Amendment, any interference with that right is unacceptable to a large group of Americans and they will struggle to protect it. Thus, widespread disobedience of antidrug laws can be interpreted as political struggle. Apparently, Americans recognized that the right to take drugs falls under the Ninth Amendment when they required a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol. This corroborates my position that the laws against drugs are essentially unconstitutional; i.e., such laws cannot be enacted by Congress without a constitutional amendment. It required a constitutional amendment then; why should it not require a constitutional amendment now!

Legalization would end the hypocrisy of banning most drugs while not banning others, namely, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. The legality of alcohol is probably related to its role in the Christian faith. Thus, the banning of hashish, for example, and not alcohol could be construed as a violation of the doctrine of separation of church and state. We all know why caffeine is legal. Most of the working people of the nation, at least those who work in offices, are addicted to caffeine, but that's what gives them the strength, or the will, to work long hours for the benefit of their employers, some of whom have a lot to say about what the law of the land will be. In the case of caffeine, many people who try to stop using it will experience violent headaches; so, at least in this sense, caffeine is truly addictive.

People Who Oppose Legalization

Hypocrites and Prudes

Some members of society, particularly the religious right, would like to impose their sexual and religious "morals" on others. The word "morals" is enclosed in quotation marks to distinguish these personal and arbitrary "morals" from higher morals about which nearly everyone can agree. As discussed in the introduction, a reasonable test of these higher morals, as exemplified by the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, is that their violation does indeed interfere with the rights of others. Some opponents of legalization are genuinely concerned about the welfare of others, but many of them are simply too mean-spirited to approve of pleasure. At least they do not approve of intense pleasure, and drugs do, on occasion, provide some people with intense pleasure, a plain fact that deserves more discussion.

Control Addicts

There is another group of people in the opposition (to legalization) who simply like to control others. These are the control addicts. It is ironic that in their war against addiction they succumb to one of the most insidious of all addictions, namely, the addiction to power. Of course, most of these people have an appetite for power that can never be satisfied other than in the authority they exercise over people in their own family. They are perfect candidates to be parents of children who escape into the world of drugs. Many control addicts might benefit from taking drugs themselves, since one of the most desirable effects of some drugs is to shock people out of rigid modes of thought. Taking drugs might be a form of therapy for control addicts.


The congressman from my district wants to apply lethal force to stop the flow of drugs, but he doesn't have the slightest idea how to stop people from wanting drugs. As long as people want them, someone will find a way to deliver them, although the prices (and the profits) will be high. Addicts will have to steal even more than they do now; criminals will have even greater incentive to murder other criminals who muscle in on their territory; and the problem will get worse. What the congressman doesn't realize is that his policies are part of the reason that many people take drugs in the first place. He is part of the problem, not part of the solution. (Subsequent to the first draft of this paper a new and tougher drug law has been passed by Congress. As we watch the situation worsen in the wake of this law, we should gain confidence in the essential correctness of my position. For example, dealers will have even less to lose by killing other dealers inasmuch as the law puts their life at even greater risk. Of course, in many cases, this risk is what motivates them.)

Uses and Users of Drugs

The Right to Use Drugs

In the beginning of this paper I made the claim that taking drugs does not interfere necessarily with the rights of anyone. The reader can prove this by performing a thought experiment in which someone takes drugs and no one's rights are violated. (For example, a man with no family lives alone; food and drugs are delivered to him daily by a disinterested party; the fruits of his solitary labors, proofs of mathematical theorems, say, are picked up by the letter carrier. There is no impact on society other than the benefits to be derived from his proofs, which are assumed to be correct.) The reader should realize that this one example of what many may feel is an abnormal case is sufficient to prove the premise. I maintain that thousands of "normal" cases occur daily, but it is not necessary to enumerate them. Nevertheless, I will offer some additional evidence to support this important claim and to show, further, that taking drugs is not always bad.

Drugs for Celebration

Most of the discussion about legalizing drugs neglects the traditional and proper use of drugs in ritual and celebration. Some opponents of legalization believe that the so-called recreational drugs have no valid use, but those same people probably would be disappointed if they could not have a drink or two on New Year's Eve, Christmas, or their birthdays. Many Americans don't consider Saturday night a success unless they become at least somewhat intoxicated. Is it really so bad to want to experience the exhilaration, release from tension, and just plain joy of getting a little "high" with good friends? Most people consider complete abstinence a little weird if not downright antisocial. People who never loosen up with a drink or the drug of their choice could be thought of as deficient, a judgment that is undoubtedly too harsh. (Wayne Saums points out how much people enjoy that first cup of coffee in the morning with its "pure chemical high".)

Drugs in Ritual and Religion

Throughout recorded history intoxication has played a large role in human ritual. Whereas the Catholic mass cannot be celebrated without wine, the religious rituals of some native-American Indians are incomplete without peyote. Government control or taxation is inconsistent with freedom of religion. True religious freedom is not limited to a few established religions, moreover vows of poverty preclude payment of taxes on substances that can be cultivated on the homestead without participation in the mainstream of the economy. The book, Ceremonial Chemistry [2] by Thomas Szasz, elaborates on the role of drugs in ritual and, in addition, explains why many people are so anxious to persecute people who use drugs other than the ones of which they approve. Every person who participates in this debate should read this book. In fact, I will go further and say that anyone who advocates the regulation of drugs by government and has not read this book should be disqualified from the drug debate. For the edification, and convenience, of the reader, the preface to Ceremonial Chemistry appears in Appendix A of this paper by permission of Dr. Szasz.

Drugs to Kill Pain

Another legitimate use of drugs is to eliminate pain. What could be more absurd and inhumane than limiting the dosage of painkillers taken by terminally-ill people because they might become addicted! The place of the medical profession is to advise not control. The final decision on the dosage of pain-killing (or any other) drugs must rest with the patient. For that matter, drugs must be made available to those who wish to end their lives.

Many people in American society rely on drugs to assuage the pain inflicted upon them by a callous, materialistic society and by their own mistakes or bad luck. Apparently, society is not yet ready to make the commitment to remove the circumstances that cause this pain and suffering nor is society willing to pay the price to relieve human misery. Now, society wants to take away the drugs that provide the only relief, however fleeting, that these people will ever enjoy. Ironically, it may be drug use and only drug use that is preventing a violent revolution in America.

Drugs to Enhance Ability

Drugs can be used to enhance the ability of people to perform certain tasks. Many jazz musicians in the 40s and 50s used drugs. I do not believe there was a single exception among, at least, my fifty favorite jazz musicians. It was common to hear people opposed to drugs say that musicians played well despite the use of drugs, but does it make sense that all of them played well in spite of taking drugs! Maybe taking drugs helped them just a little. In any case, the connection between intoxication and the muse dictates that the music could not have been the same without the drugs. Actually, many "drug addicts" do very well in society. Many famous entertainers, athletes, artists, and, yes, even scientists take or have taken drugs.

I just found out from Jim Bouton's book, Ball Four [4], that more than half of all major-league baseball players in the 60s and 70s took amphetamines. This doesn't prove that it made them play better, but it was said on one occasion when a famous ballplayer narrowly missed a fly ball that with five more milligrams he would have made the play. So, in any case, there was a widespread belief among major-leaguers that amphetamine helped them. It's interesting, though, that people do apply a different set of standards to major-league baseball players from those they apply to the average drug user, just as racists accept black people provided they are celebrities. After all, the cult of fame and the cult of money are the core of our national religion.

"Very Unimportant People"

As long as I have brought up the cult of fame I might just as well say a few additional words on that subject here. In the minds of many Americans wealth, power, and fame are subsumed under the general concept of Importance. Many people take drugs because society is telling them that they are not important or even significant. Many people are selling drugs because being a dealer makes them feel important. Television and other media seem to be telling us every day of our lives that, if we are not important, our lives are meaningless. A comicstrip child after seeing her grandfather on television says, "Gee Gramps, you are a real person." This phenomenon goes a little way toward explaining some of the so-called senseless crimes reported in the media practically daily. Because it is controlled by commerce, television is one of the most pernicious influences in society.

Special Uses of Drugs

It is easy to construct hypothetical scenarios wherein the use of drugs makes possible an important human activity. For example, suppose that it is necessary to stay awake and alert for several days in order to perform an important scientific experiment. The use of artificial stimulants is justified in this exceptional case. The use of a sedative is indicated if a person is required to remain motionless for a long period in order to participate in a test.


No one advocates the use of drugs all of the time by everyone. The infiltration of drugs into the lives of our children is deplorable as are many other aspects of drug abuse. Some people should never touch certain drugs and they know who they are. Perhaps no one should use drugs every day except for the treatment of a pathology. On the other hand, there is practically no one who would not benefit from the occasional use of one or another drug as an alternative to complete abstinence from all drugs. For nearly everyone there is a drug that can be used safely on special occasions to improve the quality of his or her life. I find it interesting that practically every discussion of drugs jumps from abstinence to abuse as though there were nothing in between.

Drugs as a Spiritual or Intellectual Adventure

Needless to say, the mere taking of drugs does not automatically elevate people to an elite class of individuals capable of discerning right from wrong and able to see through all the illusions and myths perpetuated by society. Many drug users are just as narrow-minded with respect to drugs that happen to differ from their own particular favorites as are those who oppose the use of all drugs. But, of two hypothetical people who exhibit the same moral and ethical behavior in all respects other than the taking or not taking of drugs, I would have to rank higher, in the traits that distinguish us from the beasts, the person who takes a risk in order to discover and experience something new, even if the discovery and experience is catastrophic. In fact, it could be argued that the taking of drugs, under many circumstances, indicates an intelligence higher than the intelligence of the abstainer even though the latter may excel in prudence. Therefore, it is conceivable that the average intelligence of the drug-taking population, which, of course, includes those who exercise moderation, exceeds that of the abstainers. Also, it should be pointed out that many drug users claim that drugs have helped them see through the myths and illusions perpetuated by society.

"Good Guys" and "Bad Guys"

Moreover, the taking of drugs, particularly in excess, cannot help but teach a lesson in compassion learned by virtue of experiencing one's own vulnerability. Further, drug users are rarely involved in the struggle for money and power that is destroying our civilization. On the other hand, many people who are waging the war on drugs employ devious and underhanded tactics, not the least dishonorable of which is arranging a highly-contrived purchase of drugs near the White House and then implying, for rhetorical purposes, that the purchase was routine. Thus, it is not at all clear that those who are trying to prevent people from taking drugs are the "good guys" and those who are using drugs are the "bad guys" as the establishment would have us believe. It seems that just the opposite is true.

Fear of Death

Also, it is interesting to note that the following statement, attributed to Jesus, could be construed as approval of drug users: "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Of course, it is not clear that everyone who uses drugs will die from taking drugs, nor is it clear that everyone who destroys his life with drugs is moved by a divine purpose. Nevertheless, one wonders about all those people who want to go to heaven but are afraid to die.

Some Words from Victims of the War On Drugs

I have talked with many users of drugs. Some of them support the laws against drugs. Some users imagine that the laws against drugs are the only thing standing between themselves and lethal doses. If so, they would have to adopt the techniques employed by alcoholics to save themselves in a world where alcohol is legal, cheap, and advertised on TV. But, many users of drugs are outraged at the attempts of society to deprive them of their personal liberty. Many believe, as I do, that it is not the function of the government, however well-meaning, to protect us from ourselves. The authors of the following ideas shall remain anonymous. I do not recall their exact words, thus the responsibility for the wording rests with me although I shall employ quotation marks, which are to be interpreted loosely.

One well-known speaker on drugs sets the tone by saying, "I do not permit anyone to tell me what to put into my own body." A woman, who contracted AIDS from her husband, who was an intravenous drug user and has since died from AIDS, says, "I blame every legislator, bureaucrat, and medical lobbyist who is responsible for the restrictions against the purchase of new disposable syringes. I blame the law-enforcement agents too." A man who is dying of cancer and is forced to endure unspeakable agonies because he is a drug addict and "cannot" be given the indicated dosage of painkillers asks, "Is it legal to do this to me?"

A middle-aged man who has health insurance but still objects to the outrageous fees charged by physicians answers, "Certainly I'd like to boycott doctors. They make far too much money and most of them don't place their patients' interests far enough above money to spend enough of their time to do a good job. Of course, they're generous enough with your time. If I couldn't live without doctors, well ... no one ever got out of this life without dying. I would never be operated on nor would I ever submit to chemotherapy or other radical treatment; but, I should have access to the drugs I know about or could find out about to treat my medical complaints; I should be allowed to have whatever drugs I needed to kill pain if I were in great pain; and I should be allowed to end my life if I were seriously ill and it became impossible to kill the pain. Instead I am forced to pay the doctor a ridiculous fee to write a prescription. Of course, I could petition the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] to permit me to prescribe for myself and sue them if they refused, but I don't have the time, money, and energy. And, as we all know, I would lose." I agree with this man. We have a right to repair our own car or be our own gardener. Even more valid is our right to heal ourselves and to avoid doing business with people who are extracting excessive profits from society.

A young mathematician tells his story: "My physician started me on a psychic energizer when I began to get ulcers from drinking too much coffee. Now, he won't write prescriptions for it because it has been classified as a dangerous drug and is monitored by the state, which requires a prescription in triplicate. I can't do math without it and I am about ready to turn to the black market. Is it fair for the state to interfere with my career in this way? If this drug is a dangerous narcotic, why wasn't it classified as such before I became dependent upon it? It seems that the classification of a drug is a political decision."

I have talked to numerous musicians who play classical, jazz, and rock music and who are dependent on drugs. I've heard some musicians say, "I can play music without drugs, but I don't enjoy it." Others say, "Drugs put me in a state of mind wherein I am receptive to musical inspiration", "Drugs open up a part of my mind that is unavailable without drugs", "I couldn't begin to play inspired music without drugs." Other similar statements are commonly heard. One musician complains, "Music is the only thing in life that matters to me and, for me, drugs and music go together. How dare the state try to deprive me of life as I want to live it."

A famous jazz musician is supposed to have said, "The three greatest things in the world are music, drugs, and sex, in that order." Notice, he chooses drugs before sex. Now, taking drugs for the pleasure it gives is similar to having sex for the pleasure it gives. There are people in this world who don't want anyone to have sex for pleasure. How would the average prohibitionist like it if sex for pleasure were made illegal?

Another famous jazz musician, now deceased after a reasonably long life of approximately 60 years, said to me, "I haven't had sex in two years and, if I never have it again, it will be too soon." Now, this man not only preferred drugs to sex but rejected sex entirely, although it may have been deficiencies in society or the drugs themselves that caused him to abandon sex altogether. One can argue that the world would be better off if a significant number of people substituted abstinence from sex for abstinence from drugs. As bad as it is, our drug problem doesn't come close to our population problem. The main point, though, is that, for this man, prohibiting drugs was like prohibiting sex for the average man. If the government can stop people from taking drugs with today's technology, it might be able to stop people from having sex with the technology of tomorrow.

In Defense of Liberty

It seems clear then that very many people, perhaps millions, believe that they have a right to manufacture, sell, buy, possess, and consume whatever drugs they please. They consider a system irrational and unfair that punishes a drug dealer who sells a chemical to someone who wants to ingest it, but rewards a person who dumps, into the air or water, poisons that everyone must ingest whether they want to or not. These pro-choice people are bound to regard those who are attempting to repress drugs as tyrannical and evil. Normally, the criminal justice system of the United States is directed against people who acknowledge that they have done something wrong; and, needless to say, not everyone involved with drugs is completely innocent of wrongdoing. But, there is a large group of people who use drugs and, yes, sell drugs who know that they have done nothing wrong. Those who persecute them will be fighting an enemy who knows he is on the right side. As for the ones who feel guilty about their involvement with drugs, enlightenment will reveal that they are not the guilty ones. As for you, William J. Bennett, you are fighting on the side of evil.

The other day I saw a large piece of graffiti that said, in English and in Spanish, "The war against drugs is a war against people!" It is a crime to conduct such a war. If Czar William (Bennett) wants to behead people, has he not committed murder in his heart already; is he not a man of violence; are not his enemies entitled to retaliate violently, however ill-advised that may be! If the American people want to wage a declared war on drugs, they should expect "drugs" to fight back. For example, drug enforcement agents not in uniform could be shot as spies. Prisoners of war on both sides should be treated according to the Geneva conference, provided, of course, that they are "in uniform".

Dealing with the Negative Aspects of Legalization

The Abuser as a Bad Example

Naturally, there is bound to be some negative impact from legalization. Some individuals are bound to increase their intake of drugs and some will exhibit bizarre or antisocial behavior, but there is a positive side even to that. If some drug users make horrible examples of themselves, it will be a deterrent to others, particularly children. Perhaps some people will try drugs who would not have been willing to break the law, but these must constitute a very small class of Americans. As taking drugs begins to assume its natural role in society, free from the denormalizing effects of criminalization, most negative activity will die out. But, we should not expect to recover from decades of wrong thinking and bad public policies without some pain. Drug legalization could be compared to balancing the budget, another pill that will have to be swallowed eventually.

Physicians Who Are Addicts

A recent letter to Time Magazine warns that the increase in drug use would not be trivial. It cites the high use by physicians, who have easy access to drugs but should know better. While it is true that many physicians use drugs, the health care system in the United States is not exactly in a state of collapse. At least the physicians and surgeons, whether they take drugs or not, have managed to look after their own interests quite well, and the number of doctors on skid row is not excessive. If society at large does no worse with free access to drugs than the physicians have done, we will be able to withstand the shock of legalization.

The Dissemination of Information

Of course, many nonphysicians will not "know better". It is up to the government, which caused this mess in the first place, to do a first-rate job of informing the public about the risks of taking drugs without neglecting to mention the positive aspects of drug use. There is no use in denying that many people may enjoy the occasional use of recreational drugs without incurring appreciable harm, particularly if drugs are free of harmful impurities and are labeled properly. The dissemination of information is cheap compared to the alternatives.

Establishment Drug Firms

One possible infelicitous aspect of drug legalization is that drugs would be manufactured and sold by establishment chemists, engineers, and businessmen. I still have faith in most chemists and engineers, be they establishment or not, but my experience with American and foreign businessmen has been most disappointing. It is possible that they might be more unethical than the drug traffickers they would replace. Just look at what they have done with cigarets, alcohol, and patent medicines. The solution, I fear, in a capitalist society, is strict government regulation of manufacturers. Of course, this would not be necessary in a dematerialist society because there would be nothing to be gained by being unethical. Spending of excessive profits would be noticed and prevented by social pressure.

Despite the tolerable track record of established drug firms, strict standards of purity, labeling, documentation, and pricing should be enforced. Also, the government must ensure that the public is getting correct, complete, and up-to-date information on all drugs. Any drug whatsoever may be manufactured, but the effects of new drugs must be understood sufficiently well that a well-informed public can have expectations concerning the new drugs that are reasonably likely to be fulfilled. A well-informed person, then, can begin using a new drug at any time during the testing cycle, completely aware of the risks involved. This could benefit many people suffering from AIDS, for example, or other "incurable" diseases.

The Social System

Many people believe that a share of the blame for excessive use of drugs must be placed on the many unnatural aspects of our economic and social system. The abuse of drugs is a symptom of a deeper problem, the solution to which is a gradual movement toward dematerialism preceded by the teaching of the necessity of dematerialism, along with an open discussion of how the difficulties of implementing dematerialism might be overcome. Suffice it to say that the prohibition of the free use of drugs is part of the problem, not part of the solution. In any case, we have no choice as to whether or not we will endure whatever negative impact accompanies drug legalization. We can only hope to hold the damage to a minimum by making the necessary changes gradually and by providing help for people who request it.


The Correct Solution

Legalization and decontrol is the correct solution because it will eliminate most of the evil surrounding the drug trade; it will have many desirable consequences and very few bad side effects, all of which can be overcome; and, finally, it is the ethical and prudent thing to do in a nation of free people who will not tolerate being told how to live their lives, particularly by people whose actions are not even based on decent motives or good will. Legalization and decontrol could be gradual in order to absorb the shock of a sudden change in policy, but I hesitate to say this because no matter how rapidly legalization is implemented it is nearly certain to take place too slowly rather than too rapidly. Education of the public, especially children, should continue, but educators should tell the truth about drugs or lose credibility. Employers should continue to demand sobriety on the job, so the testers probably will not be put out of business immediately. The tests, however, must determine sobriety at the time of the test, not last Saturday night. A man can be drunk on Saturday night and fly an airplane as safely as it can be flown on Monday.


Laws should be passed to make it illegal to discriminate against drug users in employment, housing, etc. Of course, the performance and behavior of drug users should be evaluated by the standards that apply to everyone else.


Some of the money saved by abandoning the war against drugs should be devoted to research to develop better drugs, e.g., drugs that induce euphoria but have no unpleasant side effects or withdrawal symptoms. Research could be done to develop drugs that do not require larger and larger doses to achieve similar effects or at least reach the saturation dose earlier. Perhaps we should stop trying to prevent people from taking drugs (they will always take drugs) but give them better drugs. However, we must be careful not to let the government create a "brave new world" by means of some future class of drugs. It is unlikely, though, that any drug will ever be as great a threat to freedom of thought as television and religion are.

Dematerialism as a Solution

Naturally I believe that an important step toward ending the drug problem (and the problems of crime, poverty, forced labor, unhappiness, injustice, inequality, and undemocratic government) is the teaching of the virtues of dematerialism in the schools. The adoption of dematerialism by society will be extremely gradual. For those of you who think they know why dematerialism won't work, let's hear your solution. For the rest, let's begin to think of ways to make dematerialism work in the United States, to overcome its difficulties (and it does have difficulties), and to convince others that we must make a change. Most (in my opinion, all) social problems have been solved theoretically. The difficulty is convincing a brainwashed people to adopt the theoretical solutions and to make them practical. The failures of others to do this are not really relevant (unless you can prove that people will never learn).

Letters to Congress

The drug problem persists because the government and other institutions continue to pursue incorrect solutions based on poor reasoning and hysteria. We, the people, should demand an end to this folly through letters and telegrams to our elected representatives. One letter is probably worth a thousand votes since congressmen know that fewer than one in a thousand writes.

An Appeal to Reason

The comments by Szasz in an address he gave at an anti-prohibition conference in Brussels last year [3] are so incisive that I must repeat them.

Sadly, the war on drugs has offered, and continues to offer, modern man much of what he seems to crave: fake compassion and genuine coercion; pseudo-science and real paternalism; make-believe disease and metaphorical treatment; opportunistic politics and unctuous hypocrisy. It is hard for me to see how anyone who knows anything about history, about pharmacology, and about the fundamental human struggle for self-discipline and the seemingly equally intense human need to reject it and replace it with submission to a coercively paternalistic authority - how any such person could avoid coming to the conclusion that the war on drugs is simply another chapter in the natural history of human stupidity.

I believe that just as we regard freedom of speech and religion as fundamental rights, so should we also regard freedom of self-medication as a fundamental right; and that, instead of mendaciously opposing or mindlessly promoting illicit drugs, we should, paraphrasing Voltaire, make this maxim our rule: "I disapprove of what you take, but I will defend to the death your right to take it!"

In closing, it is important to emphasize that the war on drugs is the longest, most protracted formally declared war of this turbulent century: It has already lasted longer than the First and Second World Wars and the wars in Korea and Vietnam combined - and its end is nowhere in sight. Indeed, because this war is a war on human desire, it cannot be won in any meaningful sense of that term. Finally, since its principal beneficiaries are the politicians who wage it, we must, against all odds, try to enlist some honest and humane [and courageous] politicians in our quest to lay before the people the case that peace, after all, is better than war - even if the 'enemy' is stupidly called "drugs".

Other Methods of Effecting Social Change

Although I don't claim to know much about effecting social change (hopefully the reader will know more), it seems to me that legalization could be achieved by strong advocacy, education, demonstrations, and organized lobbying. Prolegalization groups exist and are growing in number and size. Despite the negative aspects of lobbying and other types of concerted effort, participation in prolegalization organizations probably is essential in American society as it (American society) is presently constituted. One such group is the Drug Policy Foundation, 4801 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20016. This group sponsors periodic meetings on issues pertaining to drug policy. These meetings are attended by many resourceful people who support legalization and who could have an influence on government.

Also, the first edition of The International Journal on Drug Policy, 10 Maryland St., Liverpool L1 9BX, England, was published on July 1st, 1989. This bi-monthly publication will concern itself with "the legal, social, medical, and educational issues [surrounding] the use of psychoactive substances". While the emergence of this journal should be viewed with cautious optimism, there is a danger that the people who contribute to it (and to the meetings of the Drug Policy Foundation) will become a permanent part of the drug "industry" and thus become one more group of people who have a vested interest in the drug problem never being solved.

Remedies at Law

There is one additional approach that I would like to see tried, perhaps by a sympathetic attorney in his or her spare time, although I have no idea if one person could manage this alone. I would like to see someone file suit to get the laws against drugs declared unconstitutional. The amount of resources required to carry this out would depend on whether the intent was to win the case or not. The probability of winning is low because the decisions of the Supreme Court are not based entirely on logic, but the action itself, if publicized properly, would help to educate the public and, if handled masterfully, would discredit authoritarians. Also, a class-action suit to recover damages for all those who have been injured by the laws against drugs might have a similar "consciousness-raising" effect.


So as not to disturb the organization of the September 25, 1989 version of the paper, some new material is collected in Appendix B.

Thomas L. Wayburn

Houston, Texas

September 25, 1989


1. Brent, Joseph L., "How Drug Entrepreneurs Pursue the American Dream", Drug Policy Newsletter, 1, No. 2, (1989).

2. Szasz, Thomas, Ceremonial Chemistry, Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y. (1975). (Now available from Laissez-Faire Books, New York.)

3. Szasz, Thomas, "A Plea for the Cessation of the Longest War of the Twentieth Century: The War on Drugs", paper presented at The International Anti-Prohibition Forum, Brussels, Sept.28-Oct.1, 1988.

4. Bouton, Jim, Ball Four and Ball Five, Edited by Leonard Shecter, Stein and Day, New York (1981).

Appendix A: The Preface to the Book Ceremonial Chemistry

There is probably one thing, and one thing only, on which the leaders of all modern states agree; on which Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Mohammedans, and atheists agree; on which Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, Communists, Liberals, and Conservatives agree; on which medical and scientific authorities throughout the world agree; and on which the views, as expressed through opinion polls and voting records, of the large majority of individuals in all civilized countries agree. That thing is the "scientific fact" that certain substances which people like to ingest or inject are "dangerous" both to those who use them and to others; and that the use of such substances constitutes "drug abuse" or "drug addiction" - a disease whose control and eradication are the duty of the combined forces of the medical profession and the state. However, there is little agreement - from people to people, country to country, even decade to decade - on which substances are acceptable and their use therefore considered a popular pastime, and which substances are unacceptable and their use therefore considered "drug abuse" and "drug addiction."

My aim in this book is at once simple and sweeping. First, I wish to identify the actual occurrences that constitute our so-called drug problem. I shall show that these phenomena in fact consist of the passionate promotion and panicky prohibition of various substances; the habitual use and the dreaded avoidance of certain drugs; and, most generally, the regulation - by language, law, custom, religion, and every other conceivable means of social and symbolic control - of certain kinds of ceremonial and sumptuary behaviors.

Second, I wish to identify the conceptual realm and logical class into which these phenomena belong. I shall show that they belong in the realm of religion and politics; that "dangerous drugs," addicts, and pushers are the scapegoats of our modern, secular, therapeutically imbued societies; and that 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.

And third, I wish to identify the moral and legal implications of the view that using and avoiding drugs are not matters of health and disease but matters of good and evil; that, in other words, drug abuse is not a regrettable medical disease but a repudiated religious observance. Accordingly, our options with respect to the "problem" of drugs are the same as our options with respect to the "problem" of religions: that is, we can practice various degrees of tolerance and intolerance toward those whose religions - whether theocratic or therapeutic - differ from our own.

For the past half-century the American people have engaged in one of the most ruthless wars - fought under the colors of drugs and doctors, diseases and treatments - that the world has ever seen. If a hundred years ago the American government had tried to regulate what substances its citizens could or could not ingest, the effort would have been ridiculed as absurd and rejected as unconstitutional. If fifty years ago the American government had tried to regulate what crops farmers in foreign countries could or could not cultivate, the effort would have been criticized as meddling and rejected as colonialism. Yet now the American government is deeply committed to imposing precisely such regulations - on its own citizens by means of criminal and mental health laws, and on those of other countries by means of economic threats and incentives; and these regulations - called "drug controls" or "narcotic controls" - are hailed and supported by countless individuals and institutions, both at home and abroad.

We have thus managed to replace racial, religious, and military coercions and colonialisms, which now seem to us dishonorable, with medical and therapeutic coercions and colonialisms, which now seem to us honorable. Because these latter controls are ostensibly based on Science and aim to secure only Health, and because those who are so coerced and colonized often worship the idols of medical and therapeutic scientism as ardently as do the coercers and colonizers, the victims cannot even articulate their predicament and are therefore quite powerless to resist their victimizers. Perhaps such preying of people upon people - such symbolic cannibalism, providing meaning for one life by depriving another of meaning - is an inexorable part of the human condition and is therefore inevitable. But it is surely not inevitable for any one person to deceive himself or herself into believing that the ritual persecutions of scapegoats - in Crusades, Inquisitions, Final Solutions, or Wars on Drug Abuse - actually propitiate deities or prevent diseases.

Thomas Szasz

Syracuse, New York

September 1, 1973

Appendix B: Addendum

The following are a number of afterthoughts that were not included in the September 25, 1989 version of the paper.

1) There are drugs that improve one's interest in things. Why not encourage our apathetic students to take these drugs provided the risk were acceptably low?

2) Probably, without drugs to aid our imaginations, we cannot emerge from the social abyss into which we have descended. When the world is a better place, with fewer mind-deadening institutions, we will not need drugs as much.

3) Another circumstance often mistaken for addiction: Drugs anesthetize one from the pain of awareness of the world. The more sensitive one is, the greater the likelihood of using drugs, all else being equal (and it never is). Some people would take drugs habitually whether chemical dependence existed or not; they simply cannot stand the world. Some of these people are recognized geniuses. Vahn Lewis, a professor at U. of T., Austin, asked me if there was a correlation between talent and drug-taking among jazz musicians in the 50s and 60s. I thought for a minute and then replied, "Yes, the better they were, the more drugs they took." Perhaps, they were too good for this world. (Undoubtedly some people take drugs because they are not "good" enough.)

4) Some of the points made in my paper can be clarified by the ideas of Andrew Weil [5]. He supplied a general principle to account for a number of phenomena that I accounted for separately. The principle was lurking in my "subconscious" (unarticulated or preverbal thoughts), but Weil put it in words beautifully. The general idea is that it may not be drugs at all that get you "high".

5) Corroboration of Weil's theories: Sometimes the less you take the higher you get. Some people who have no faith in drugs are not affected even by a large dose.

6) Frequently the spiritual rewards of taking drugs far outweigh the harm and risk.

7) On the constitutional point again: Drugs are legal. I wish someone would offer a constitutional defense. The DPF should offer to pay for such a defense for people like those middle-class farmers who grew pot out of economic necessity.

8) I have not emphasized sufficiently that we will never accept laws against drugs or sex or food or guns or anything that is our personal business. Even the seat-belt laws are wrong, though seat-belts are essential. Some people prefer drugs to sex. How would you like it if sex were prohibited! This war can end up in terrorist attacks or all-out civil war. Although I personally am against violence, it wouldn't be hard to convince some people that violence is the only answer. Eventually the religionists must be defeated, so there is no possibility of peace any time soon.

9) The following paragraph is from my paper "Introduction to Dematerialism" [6]:

The point of my paper "Toward Axiomatic Morality" [7] is that it might be possible to get nearly everyone to agree to a few basic morals (or moral axioms) from which all other morals [and laws] could be derived. By basic morals, I do not mean religious superstition or sexual and pharmacological prudery. I am referring to respect for the freedom of others (and their posterity), respect for the environment, and respect for truth. The fundamental principle of morality, which allows one to be free to do anything one pleases so long as the freedom of others is not abridged, is the prehistoric basis for society, giving everyone his or her own share and space. I believe that respect for the freedom of others implies equal distribution of material wealth, since excess wealth can be used to abridge the freedom of the other, in one case by purchasing excess political power, in another by bidding up the price of land and acquiring unfair exclusive access to part of the earth's surface, in another by holding a stronger negotiating position in an economic transaction, which might be the employment of one person by another, a practice that is revolting to many thoughtful people. The violation of these morals causes all of our troubles and creates all of our logical conflicts and inconsistencies.

10) The following statement might be able to be understood by most intellectuals: "The notion of controlling the possession of a substance is absurd. One may possess plutonium if one desires. The conflict arises out of the unreasonableness of society not out of the unreasonableness of possessing plutonium." These final statements may sound silly to all but the most astute philosophers: "Everyone has forbidden substances inside his or her body with a nonzero probability due to quantum effects." "Substance is a variation in the geometry of space, therefore the notion of possession of a substance is absurd."

11) A woman suffering from arthritis complained, in a letter to a Houston newspaper, that, due to anti-drug hysteria, she has difficulty obtaining prescriptions for Tylenol 3, which contains codeine, a drug the research for which was supported by her tax dollars.

12) The proponents of prohibition indulge in a number of fallacies and one way to undo their mischief might be to point out their fallacies. Bennett, lately, has been indulging in ad hominem arguments. Also, when he refers always to the use of drugs as abuse, he is indulging in the fallacy of the excluded middle. Almost all prohibitionists indulge in Bentham's dyslogistic and eulogistic fallacies, which consist in applying a term of either denigration or praise to an item that is logically neutral. An example is calling drugs "poison" or "horrible mind-bending chemicals" [Carl Rowan]. Clearly drugs are good if they are used to remedy an unpleasant condition or cure a disease; but, for the sake of argument, they could be considered neutral, i.e., their goodness or badness depends on how they are used. Referring to drugs as poison is a clear case of the dyslogistic fallacy.

Another use of the dyslogistic fallacy is reference to the spread of drugs as an epidemic, whereas taking drugs is not even a disease. Also, users of drugs are referred to as slaves even though they act more independently than the average employee of the average American corporation. Actually, the average Christian, who accepts Christian dogma without reservation is more of a slave than is the most hooked addict, i.e., the religionist's soul is entirely subjugated whereas the body only of the addict is under the control of the addicting drug, as evidenced by the fact that his will remains free to wish to be free of the addiction. Even this analysis is granting too much to the use of the word slave. How can one become the slave of an inanimate substance, which has no will! An example of the eulogistic fallacy is the praise of the narcs as the good guys, when in fact they are no better and no worse than anyone else including the dealers. This ignores the fundamental facts of man's existence.

13) I recently heard an ex-addict make the following statements more or less (I do not remember his exact words): "I used drugs for about 30 years so I know what I'm talking about when I talk about drugs. Some of these guys who are making these outrageous attacks on drugs ought to try drugs before they shoot off their mouths. Anyway, I quit taking drugs about 10 years ago. Why? I guess they didn't fit into my plans anymore. I changed careers and the new career didn't require the use of drugs. To be fair, I should say that the new career really didn't tolerate drugs either. Maybe I just outgrew drugs. I know a lot of people to whom that happened. One day drugs no longer interested them. They put up with all kinds of drug treatments and it didn't mean a thing, then one day they just stopped. It happens all the time, especially to older folks. So you can forget that hooked-for-life nonsense.

"On the other hand, although I do not wish to argue that I am not better off now that I have stopped taking drugs or that the next older person who stops taking drugs won't be better off, it's worth considering that, if you stop taking drugs, you may lose the ability to take drugs! That's true. You may wish to take drugs again to get high, but your body may lose the ability to tolerate them after a certain age. This could lead to serious regrets. At least, it's worth thinking about. People are accustomed to thinking that the decision to take drugs is irrevocable, but they do not consider the possibility that the decision to stop taking drugs might be irrevocable.

"But, I want to make a couple of additional comments about taking drugs: First, the laws against drugs caused me to take more drugs and to take them more often and for a very understandable reason. I took as much as I could because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get any more. Even if I didn't feel like getting high and I had the opportunity to get high, I got high because I was afraid it might be my last chance. The law was always there with the threat of interrupting the supply. One had to make hay while the sun shone.

"Also, I want you to know that I was never harmed by drugs, but I was harmed a number of times by the laws against drugs. Once because I used an infected needle, which I would not have used had needles been available in the drugstore. A number of times I took bad drugs. If they were legal, I would have used desoxyn or isotonic solution of methamphetamine hydrochloride for a stimulant, dilaudid (or pharmaceutical heroin) for a narcotic, hashish (orally, in cookies) for a hypnotic (trance inducer or meditation enhancer), and valium for a tranquilizer and/or a soporific. By the way, it was a dark day for America when the ampules of isotonic solution of methamphetamine hydrochloride were removed from the market. The effect of that stuff, when injected, was like turning on the lights in a room that had been darkened with a dimmer switch. Perhaps it did a little harm, but the damage must have been negligible compared to the benefits. Also, American civilization (such as it is) took a giant step backward when heroin was removed from the pharmacopoeia.

"I know I can't sue the law enforcement community and Congress, but those people owe me plenty. Sometimes I hope there really will be a judgment day so that those guys will get the punishment they deserve. But, what the hell, they are just ignorant slobs like the rest of us. No one is perfect. If they were in the john when the brains were being passed out, is it their fault!

"Finally, I want to say a word about drugs and sex. I enjoyed sex before I took drugs, but after I started having sex while I was high I wondered why I thought it was so great when I was not high. I mean it was a thousand times better. So, go ahead. Abstain from drugs. (Probably you should nowadays. Maybe it's no longer safe. If so, too bad.) Maybe you'll live longer. Maybe you'll never go to jail. Maybe you'll be a big success in business. So what! You'll miss out on one of the two or three greatest things on this earth. Maybe I wouldn't think that were true if society hadn't destroyed most of the natural pleasures of life by perverting the way we live, but I can't imagine a life that wouldn't be enhanced by drugs. Some people think Jesus lived a perfect life and he took drugs. Put that in your pipe and smoke it."

14) The most important hidden assumption in the thinking of Bennett and other prohibitionists is that the individual serves some higher purpose than himself, usually the needs of the economy. In a paper, "Drug Abuse in the Workplace", by Walsh and Gust of the NIDA [8], this tacit assumption stands behind every conclusion. It is interesting that they viewed as an intolerable circumstance surrounding drug use the discovered fact that "marijuana and cocaine users `skipped work' two to three times as often as nonusers, simply because they 'didn't want to be there'. [Shuster C.R., Testimony Before the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, May 7, 1986.] Walsh and Gust were unable to recognize that drugs might have helped users realize their true feelings and that the difficulty might lie with the workplace rather than with drugs.

15) Someone said, "I broke my toe and the doctor gave me some nasty little codeine substitute. I needed a pill for pain, but not a pill that makes me wish I hadn't taken it. Heroin would be fine. What's that you say? Heroin is too strong? Fine, I'll take less. Also, I could use a Sabbatical from this nasty little world we live in. I could have killed two birds with one stone, killed the pain and had a holiday, for the price of the same harm to my body, if there would have been any harm. But this codeine substitute feels so much worse than heroin that nobody will ever be able to convince me that it doesn't do more harm as well. My body isn't stupid you know!"

16) "If I were a young man, I would go to any lengths to avoid living in a drug-free society. I would find an island refuge and grow and manufacture my own drugs or I would live on the high seas as a pirate. Forcing a person to go without drugs is intolerable repression. Some of the greatest moments of my life, physically and spiritually, have occurred while I was high on legal and illegal drugs. Unfortunately, I am too old to do what I would have to do to re-create those moments."

17) The choice between taking drugs and not taking drugs is a little like the choice between a planned economy and a laissez-faire economy. Actually it is like a religious choice if not precisely a religious choice. Most Americans think that planned economies have been discredited, but that is not the case. It is easier to argue that laissez-faire economies have created the more undesirable circumstances. In any case, to regulate one's own body chemistry or not is clearly a personal decision. Nearly everyone chooses to regulate to some extent.

18) In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley depicts a nation enslaved with the aid of drugs, free sex, and freedom from religion. It appears that Huxley has the situation reversed. Nowadays one sees that the forces of repression favor drug prohibition, restrained sex, and the spread of religious dogma.

19) Banning of all drugs, even for children, might be compared to banning masturbation. While masturbation is admittedly a poor succedaneum for true erotic sex, our public school system has not sufficiently prepared many thirteen-year-old children for responsible, meaningful sexual relations. For the time being, then, masturbation is the inevitable alternative. When society is sufficiently advanced that no one feels the need for the artificiality of drugs, coercion will no longer be required to discourage the use of drugs. Until that time, no amount of coercion will suffice. Thus, it appears that, as usual, we have the cart before the horse. The problem isn't drugs at all; it is a badly organized society.


5. Weil, Andrew, "The Only Solution to The Drug Problem", The Truth Seeker, 1, No.5 (1989).

6. Wayburn, T. L., "Introduction to Dematerialism", Preprint available from author (1990).

7. Wayburn, T. L., "Toward Axiomatic Morality", Preprint available from author (1990).

8. Walsh, J. Michael and Steven W. Gust, "Drug Abuse in the Workplace", Seminars in Occupational Medicine, 1, No.4 (1986).

Thomas L. Wayburn

Houston, Texas

April 2, 1990


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