Mind-Altering Substances

By: Punkerslut

Introduction

The United States government is launching a massive campaign against mind-altering substances, the infamous War Against Drugs. On the grounds that the government is protecting its citizens from their own will and desire, it continues this crusade, with an almost holy intention about it. But to those of us who use drugs, or those who are the least bit suspicious about the government's attempt to "protect us," there are some questions we raise, some doubts we express, some skepticism that remains unsupressed. Within this paper, I will release these inquiries....

The Right to Our Body

Of all the greatest defenses of the right to use drugs, the most popular is the idea that we have rights, and these rights end only insomuch that they limit the freedom of another. By shooting a gun randomly in the street, for example, we are imposing on the right to life of other people. But by injecting, snorting, smoking, or swallow a substance, how are we interferring with the rights of others? We are not. In New Orleans, one Heroin addict repeated an ancient wisdom to me, "To each his own. Let every person do the drugs that they want, or no drugs at all. It is your own, personal decision." And I agree with him wholeheartedly.

In this world and under this government, we have a right to walk on any sidewalk, to apply for any job, to enjoy any hobby that catches our interest -- to love the emotional nature of the romantic writers, to let our souls be carried by the music of our heart, to live everyday as though it was our first and last -- freedom and liberty are the components of civilization. Without them, civilization becomes a toil, simply a technologically advanced society, devoid of happiness or creativity, making primitive lifestyles almost desirable. The freedom to speak what you want, to believe in any religion or political theory (or conspiracy theory) that you wish, to know that your body is the instrument to your heart's desires, to know that it is no crime to pick up any book off the shelf and read it -- freedom of the heart and mind, these are the greatest of all things one could wish for in this life. They are but intrinsic to true development, to learning, to understanding this Universe and its inhabitants. To let anyone do as they will, so long as they harm none: this is what I believe, and I will never condemn someone for a personal preference. That a person can listen to any music they desire or read any book they want. This is freedom, and it is what I believe.

Naturally, it will take little imagination to understand how disgusted I am with the current drug laws in the United States. Our leaders will speak of our liberty, and what our founding fathers had fought to create, but they will not mention how their laws will force you into a prison for a personal decision -- how we have never lived in freedom, that immigrants have been under attack in the United States two hundred years before the rise of Nazism in Germany, that America had kept African slaves for longer than any other civilized nation, and that it only revived this slavery in a system of wages. They will speak, our politicians, and they have nothing to lose, because they are simply trying to gain our loyalty. Once in office, they will become the epitome of corruption. Interested in nothing but keeping things in the status quo, they will enforce legislation to empower corporations and disempower citizens' power. The right to speak or think or act as one pleases, these rights will hold little meaning in their life. For them, it is about power, not liberty -- profit, not people.

Of these great rights which have been fought hard for, one still remains in suppression: the right to use mind-altering substances, or recreational drugs. If a person can think what they want, or read any book they want, or say whatever their opinion is, then why is it that they have no right to take those chemicals which alter their mood? The government already failed to enforce prohibition against alcohol, and it is failing just as much in prohibiting street drugs. The reason why I believe any person has the right to do any drug that they want is simple: because I believe in freedom. With a drug, depending on which one it is, a person can go through so many learning experiences, they can discover things which they had never seen before, they can relive old memories, they can -- in a very fantastic sense -- even fly. To relive old memories, there is nothing comparable; to be able to go back to that old spot, where you confessed you loved that beautiful face, where you discovered that a friend betrayed you, where you survived a traumatic event; to be able to do this, and relive these old times, it can put to rest those daemons that have haunted your psyche -- it can give your mind a greater leverage in dealing with those issues that have plagued your struggling mentality. Of course, this would be only with psychodelic drugs. Most drugs work as relaxants, in that they simply relax the user -- though the relaxation is so powerful and strong that users would find the word "relax" to be unfitting. When we use chemicals to improve our lives, emotionally, recreationally, we are making leaps and bounds ahead in our personal development. The idea that any drug is a poison is outdated, and even the public is losing faith in the "War on Drugs" idea.

Whether it is Marijuana, LSD, Peyote, Opium, mushrooms, Ketamine, or MDMA, a drug retains its nature in the elements which make up its chemical compound. A drug is simply this collection of elements, linked up in a certain way. When it enters our blood stream, it alters our mind or body. There can honestly be few arguments against drug use. It is a freedom. A liberty. Or, at least, it ought to be. It can be obvious that the politicians of our time enjoy their own liberties. After a grueling six months of work, president George Bush decided to take a 30 day vacation -- something that few other jobs offer. During this time, he enjoyed golf, pattio picnics, or whatever it is laid back oil mongers do in their time off. There are now laws against golf. No regulations exist on picnics. Why hasn't the president made a brutal assault on these liberties? The reason is obvious: because he enjoys them himself, much like the others in "respectable society" (if there is anything to respect). Just because golf isn't smoked and picnics aren't injected, it doesn't mean that they are less of an evil than drugs. It doesn't mean that they should be allowed, while drugs shouldn't. A liberty is a liberty, and if a person desires to golf, I will not stop them. Similarly, if a person desires to inject themselves with a drug, I will not stop them, and I do not think that anyone else should. If they were going to inject someone else with it, then I would find a problem with this, but they are not: all that they are doing is targeted towards themselves. It is on the grounds that I believe people should be free that I believe in the right to use drugs.

"It is unnatural!" This may be one of the first arguments against drug use. Of course, within drug culture, I have seen Marijuana smokers complain to DXM users, that "DXM is a chemical, while weed is natural, and that's why I only smoke weed." The claim that "weed is natural" is based on the fact that it grows from out of the ground, whereas Dextromethorphan (DXM) is made in a laboratory. Regardless, as I have stated before so many times in so many essays, I could not care if it was natural or unnatural. What is natural or unnatural does not determine what is right or wrong.

Furthermore, if it was unnatural to save a person from death, if it was natural to allow a person to be raped, then I would attend to my duty as a humane person and be as unnatural as I could be. Whether or not natural or unnatural, drugs can make life better for the users. It can provide that small, weekly vacation that makes a life of devotion to a cause manageable. It can provide a simple buzz, making the day more interesting and intriguing. It can open up passageways in the brain that would have remained closed for decades. Drugs can be a catalyst to reworking the brain, in that traumatic memories seem to fade away, that everyday seems to be brighter than the previous, that sensitivity to pain is decreased and sensitivity to pleasure is increased, that aggression tendencies dwindle while sentiments of love spread -- when a drug can make a person's mind more suited to life, then it is hardly fair in banning it, even with the question of freedom left out. Still, though, it must be understood that not all drugs will do this, and not every drug effects every person the same: some drugs can provide a much-needed life-changing experience, while others provide just a simple high.

With an elemetary understanding of the carbon-based life form, the homeostatic systems which keep our bodies alive, we understand that the circulatory system is responsible for providing nutrients to the parts of the body that need them. Such things as Carbohydrates and a plethora of vitamins and minerals are distributed through the blood vessels as needed. When a drug is used, it enters into the body through the same method. The chemical enters the body through whatever means the user takes. If smoked, then the drug is vaporized and enters the lungs, where it then enters directly into the blood stream, the same way oxygen would. If snorted, then the drug is absorbed through the mucus membranes. If chewed (like chewing tobacco), then it is directly absorbed through the mouth wall. If swallowed, then it will either be absorbed through the stomach wall into the blood stream (like alcohol), or it will be absorbed through the large intestine or the small intestine. If injected intravenus (in the vein), then it directly enters the blood stream. If injected into the muscle or fat, then it is slowly absorbed into the blood stream. There are many different ways to take a drug, and not all methods work for all drugs. However, there is an important observation to be made. If it is not illegal for a person to consume vegetables, bread, and fruits, the essentials to a good diet, and if it is not illegal for them to get the vitamins and minerals into their blood stream that aid in their life, then why should it be illegal to make it illegal for a person to take a drug into their blood stream, when the drug is taking willingly and produces a desired effect? Minerals and vitamins are important, in that they sustain life. When certain drugs enter the blood stream, they help sustain life, by making it more bareable in some situations, by making it more interesting in others, and by making it simply more relaxed in situations. They are, in a way, not at all different than ingesting food. Sugar: it is regarded as a food product, but it is no secret that it alters the mentality by making the user hyper. Everyone knows that it alters the mind, but it is not labelled as a drug -- instead, it is used as a basic ingredient in most food products. How is it different than other drugs? It's really just a matter of the body absorbing natural ingredients of this earth, and then putting those ingredients into the blood stream. If we can allow our bodies to take in chemicals which provide nourishment to our body, then why not allow it to take in chemicals which provide nourishment to our mind?

The previous paragraph would be necessary for any just defense of mind-altering substances. By bringing drugs into light, and explaining how they work, it becomes quite clear that they are nothing to be feared. The way a drug works is not at all unlike the way a food works, and it is very similar to the definition of the word "natural." The government has so villified the idea of drugs, that whenever it comes up, people immediately think of an evil substance, which wrecks lives and destroys minds. Kept in perpetual ignorance of how drugs work, what a drug actually is, the public eventually develop a mentality that drugs are simply bad just because. And this attitude is not molded by any experience with drugs, by any research into drugs, but rather, it is formed by the government constantly reitterating that drugs are bad, that drugs destroy lives, that no good can come from drugs -- we are told this, day in and day out, and we are never told why. The idea that drugs are bad seems so majestic to the ruling class, that there is no need to justify it, no evidence required to prove it, and anyone who opposes it is immediately portrayed as an addict, a junkie, with "no real life," with "no moral purpose," with "no meaning." But by understanding drugs, by bringing them out of the dark and into the light, people can understand that drugs are amazingly far little different than actual food, in the way they are taken in and their effects. By seeing that drugs and mind-altering substances are not something foreign, so intrinsically evil, we find it incredibly difficult to find a reason to oppose them. The government's perpetration onto truth simply fades away as little more than a cultural superstition. In fact, upon trying making relaxant drugs, I remembered the anti-drug commercial by the government, where it displays a woman holding an egg and saying, "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs," and then she used a frying pan to smash the egg. While trying these relaxant drugs, I remember being disappointed, since the experience wasn't at all what the commercial advertised, and I would have desired the moments of inebriation to have been much more dramatic. Instead, a simple buzz -- though enjoyable -- was what I received. I said to my friend, "I wanted what that girl was talking about on the drug commercial." Regardless of whatever anecdote I can provide, understanding drugs and their effects is helpful to passing judgment on to them. Now that a basic understanding of drugs is reached, it can be seen that illegalizing drugs is just as ridiculous as illegalizing food.

One topic I have not touched upon yet is how medical drugs are often sold, sometimes simply over the counter, and yet they are not thought of as "drugs" -- at least, not in the sense that the DARE program and the DEA refer to them. Yet, aspirin is just as much a drug as marijuana, ibuprofen is no less a drug than cocaine, and, if you wish to get technical about it, sugar is no less a drug than LSD. They all alter your body in a specific way. Morphine will be offered to patients undergoing great pain. People will take aspirin when they have a headache. Patients suffering from depression may be offered Xanax or Prozac to help them deal with the pain. If a person cannot sleep, they can take a sleeping pill. In all of these situations, drugs are used in a productive manner, to help alleviate suffering and provide a way for people to enjoy themselves a bit better. Even those against legalizing Marijuana and psychodelics will agree that these drugs are a positive aspect of chemistry. If this is true, though -- if medical drugs can improve our lives -- then what is to say that other mind-altering substances ought to be illegal? There is no justification for this. A person is just as likely to see a poster by the government saying, "Just Say No To Aspirin" as they are likely to see a poster by the government saying, "To Each His Own: Let Everyone Do The Drugs They Want." The fact is this: those drugs that are now purchasable from every "drug store" (provocative name) are in no way much different than those drugs labelled "illegal drugs." What can be said of a law that disallows a person from taking psychodelic drugs, when the occasional use of them can prevent depression? The same that can be said of a law that disallows a person from taking aspirin for a headache. It is unjust, it imposes upon our liberty, and it is counterproductive towards civilization.

Street drugs, unfortunately, are not always of high grade quality. I have seen individuals trying to sell Marijuana, and to try and make it look like they're selling more, they add in a small, almost unnoticable amount of tobacco. In the Raver scene, MDMA ("Ecstacy") is sold in incredible impure amounts, often times mixed with cocaine and Dextromethorphan, among other drugs. The situation was the same during the Prohibition Era, where the only source of alcohol was the man on the sidewalk, who used his own home-made method of purification when it came to making rubbing alcohol safe -- and sometimes, the method was inaccurate. This would lead to someone's unfortunate demise. Yet this was not wholly the fault of the user and the seller, but rather it was the government's rules and regulations which made it quite almost impossible for a safe purification or safe intoxication. It is much like that today. You can buy variously colored pills from a person on the sidewalk, and they can tell you what they are, but there is no way of going back to this person if something goes wrong. If drugs were legalized, they would be available in stores. Since they were being produced by companies that were accountable for their actions, and a person could buy MDMA without also buying drugs mixed with it, and other drugs would be much more safer. Street heroin is notorious for being impure. If Opiates were sold and manufactured in safe conditions, the prices would be improved dramatically, and the purchaser would know what they were getting.

Sometimes, those who oppose drug legalization will claim that the reason why we should oppose drugs is that it is productive of crime. This has not been proven. A person who is under the influence of drugs will not be less likely to be compassionate towards their fellow man. Drugs, especially psychodelic drugs, are often aids in helping sociopathic tendencies dwindle, in that they show things in a new light. Alcohol is in use today by those who commit crimes and those who do not commit crimes -- how can anyone argue that it is productive of criminal activity? Aspirin has been used the world over. The same can be said of Acetimophen (pain-killer) and Ibuprofen. Does this mean that crime rates in our world will be exceedingly higher than those in pre-modern medicine times? Certainly not. I must state one thing, however. There is some truth to this argument that drugs create crime. Most drugs, however, do not create crime. But there is a small percentage of drugs that may cause some people to become criminals, feeding upon the fortunes of another's labor (which, indeed, by the time they receive their paychecks, they already have been robbed greatly by the government and corporations). Crack cocaine, for example, is a drug where I have personally seen it turn people into criminals, where they would do anything, provided that the end result was another hit of crack. But this is not for all people. For those people who are effected by this drug in this manner, I must say that I find it objectionable for them to take it. It is tantamount to pointing a trigger towards someone and pulling the trigger. There is nothing wrong with shooting a gun, but there is something wrong with killing a person who does not want to die. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with taking a drug, but there is something wrong with robbing your friends and lovers so you can get another hit of the drug. In both cases, the actions prior to the actual immorality are definite to leading up to that immorality. Things which are absolutely instrumental to creating suffering, I will oppose. I cannot believe in the freedom of a person to take a drug that turns them into a criminal, just as I cannot believe in the freedom of a person to randomly shoot a gun into a crowd of people. It is not really a question of liberty, as doing what these people does imposes on the freedom of others. But it must be understood that every drug affects every person differently, and what drugs are illegal for different people will vary.

Often, when one is being infused with anti-drug propaganda, they will most likely hear that drugs are destructive towards one's health. Whether or not this is true, it is entirely irrelevant to the debate. Cigarettes, meat, dairy products, "reckless lifestyles" may be damaging to one's physical health -- but have they been outlawed? Should they be outlawed? Certainly not. The question goes back to the inquiry on our rights as individuals. We have a right to do what we will, as long as we are not impeding the freedom of others. By smoking cigarettes, who are we harming? None. We are damaging our own bodies, not the bodies of others. (But as far as eating meat, we are damaging the bodies of others, in that we are consuming others.) If an action harms none, except the user who knowingly takes the risks, then why should we outlaw it? It would be an invasion into our rights as individuals, and I can only oppose it so much as I love justice and fairness. To the idea, though, that drugs are unhealthy because they damage the body -- there is a particular problem with this attitude. What exactly is healthy and unhealthy? When someone is in good health, it often means that they suffer from no disease or sickness, and their body is fit. When someone is in bad health, it often means that they are diseased or sickly, and their body is unfit. This idea of health, as far as the condition of the body, is antiquated, and it must be thrown to the past, dropped like a vestige, no different than the idea that the world is the center of the Universe. Doctors will examine a man, and if they find no physical problems, they will call him healthy, regardless if he suffers from depression, nightmares of past humiliation, and goes through every day like it is another battle to retain sanity. They will call him healthy! Yet the same doctors will examine another man who suffers from a stomach virus, a cold, and perhaps overworked kidneys, as well as an infection in some limbs, and they will call him unhealthy, regardless of the fact that to this man everyday is a fortune, every person just an estranged friend, and every night full of pleasant memories ef life. They will call him unhealthy! There is something deranged with this part of Western medicine. The soundness of ones' mentality, their happiness or unhappiness, is the most important part of their life. Whether they are fit, unfit, sick, or uninfected, it is important only so much as it affects the mental health of the patient. I once wrote in a memo...

How can they honestly tell me that a recreational drug habit is unhealthy? I believe it is healthy to engage in recreational drugs, whilst they do not. The reason for this is not difficult to decipher. They measure health in blood pressure and weight. I measure health in happiness and in how good I feel. ["Recreational Drug Use," Wednesday, November 6, 2002, 12:04 A.M..]

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