Why are we losing the War On Drugs? Because it is based on hypocrisy, political illusion, and the deification of greed. Consumption advertising panders to the sensual pleasures of sex, food, drugs, and thrills. Our consumer culture uses the means of gratifying these as measures of social status, thus also pandering to the sense of self-pride in stature. Are not these the very things the wise call destructive temptations, and the religious call sins?
"Gotta get it!" cheers the self-indulgent little Granny, clutching her cola cans and foodstamps. "Having a Big Max attack?" the mega-bucks jock-idol tempts the Madonna clone drooling on his bicep. "Gotta cop my Pops," cracks the New Order Boyscout as he suckers little brother out of the last lip-smacking pop. The lesson is clear enough: "Your desire is justification for getting it now, by any means -- and you ought to desire it, because it is so good." That attitude --
rationalized compulsive consumption for sensual gratification
-- is as precise a definition of addiction as I can think of. It is the driving force behind the American economy, and the hallmark of the American way of life, as practiced today. It is glorified in every form it takes, and our heroes are those with the biggest appetites.
"Does this commercial give you a tension headache? Buy prescription- strength Feelgoodol over the counter now!" Licensed pharmaceutical manufacturing corporations -- the drug makers -- produce a wide array of non-curative drugs intended only to make the patient feel good. Called sedatives, relaxants, tranquilizers, anti-depressants, and hypnotics, they are sold to produce essentially the same mild euphoric effect as marijuana, or the same analgesic effect as opium. However, most are inferior in results, and all have dangerous side-effects. Believe me, the fifty million Americans smoking pot are not treating glaucoma or terminal cancer, but are choosing the herb because they are getting exactly what the drug sellers are promising with their pills...relaxation and mood enhancement. Since that fact threatens the drug makers’ strangle-hold on the market, they insist marijuana has no medicinal validity and its users are immorally abusing themselves. "Potheads get high on devilweed; patients receive therapeutic mood amelioration from our miracle-drugs." Frankly, if I were dying of cancer, I would like marijuana for the attitude adjustment, but give me real homegrown opium for pain. Yes, it is addictive, but so what? So is the patentable opium-derivative artificial-molecule junk the insurance companies who own the drug companies will pay the doctors to sell me.
Those who make the rules concerning which addictive products may not be consumed each have vested interests in other consumable commodities. The principal illegal drugs have one thing in common: they may be obtained and used by the consumer without the intervention of financier, manufacturer, packager, advertiser, wholesaler, retailer, prescriber, or government inspector, not to mention the IRS. Those who manufacture the synthetic drugs have made themselves authorities on the value of the natural ones, and the last word on why they must be forbidden. It is not a war on drugs, it is a protectionist assault on free trade, usurping the power of law enforcement to prevent people from using natural home-grown medicinal products in competition with the market for prescribed synthetic drugs.
If we would make war on addiction, then instead of basing our lives on sensual consumption, we should learn to value a lifestyle of frugality, healthful moderation, and prudent restraint. Curiously, this attitude of delight in simple life is most clearly observable in the self-sufficient hippie philosophy of the marijuana-using subculture of the ‘60’s. Mainstream America declares that fondness for humble but euphoric peasant life to be "loss of social motivation" and takes it as evidence of marijuana’s harm. It is considered a weakness of character to lack prideful ambition in America. Where personal success is measured in consumption power, and national success is measured in volume of trade, addiction is the principal measure of patriotism. This is not a war against addiction, but a marketing campaign to exploit addiction.
Now marijuana doesn’t look like the drugs on TV, and it doesn’t promote a lifestyle of status consumption. But there is one drug that makes us obsessively competitive, and it makes us want sensual indulgence, and more, more, more. Cocaine is most attractive to the conditioned middle class precisely because it enhances those qualities of aggression, consumption, and ego-centrism our success-images glorify. The way to beat cocaine is certainly not to make it the blue chip in the hottest, fastest, high-risk, high-thrill, geopolitical guns, lawyers, and big bucks game on the planet. It is defeated by recognizing that all compulsive consumption for sensual gratification is ultimately self-destructive and must be voluntarily overcome, at both the individual and the global scale. This, unfortunately, is an utterly heretical notion in America, even if one to which almost everyone will lend lip service.
It is not a war on drugs, nor even a war on addiction, but simply a war on disobedience, and the crime is not buying drugs, but buying drugs from the wrong dealers. Drugs are not the cause of our country’s problems, but just a symptom of our tragic decay into one more of the world’s great cults of pride and greed, as we consume the biosphere from cloud-top to bedrock in our rush to build a higher pyramid, and to be raised upon it, exhalted by the multitudes, and rewarded with endless stimulation.