The War on Drugs is a War on Consciousness: in answer to Julian Brazier

In a recent story – Legal Highs vs Natural Highs, published here – I referred to an intervention my MP, Julian Brazier, made with the Home Secretary on the issue of legal highs. I sent a copy of the story to Mr Brazier who responded with the following letter:

Dear Chris,

Many thanks for your piece which I read with interest. This is a big complicated subject but boils down to the old question of whether to legalise or not. On one point of detail, I am told by sources I respect that cannabis is both a much more potent drug than its namesake of the 60s and 70s and that it is now one of the major causes of schizophrenia – as you know we have a worrying rise in mental illness among young people



Following is my answer to Julian Brazier’s letter:

Dear Julian, the issue isn’t in the slightest bit complicated. When the USA made alcohol illegal during the prohibition era, the supply of alcohol was taken over by the Mafia, which grew immensely as a consequence. It is the same with illegal drugs now. We have given over the supply to gangsters and have provided them with a massive source of income by inflating the prices of what are otherwise abundant products in Nature.

You speak of “sources I respect”. This is the equivalent of me saying that I heard it from a mate of mine down the pub. What sources? Where is your evidence? According to the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, in a paper published by the Lancet in 2010, the most harmful drug by far is alcohol. You can read that here. Cannabis comes in at number 8 on this list, despite it’s wide availability.

If, as you say, the “much more potent” form of cannabis is one of the major causes of schizophrenia amongst young people today, then that may be a reason to control the availability of this form of cannabis, as we do alcohol, by setting a limit on its use. By handing over distribution of the drug to gangsters we abrogate our responsibility for it by giving up legislative control.

In fact the use of all illegal drugs has increased exponentially since the so-called “war on drugs” began in the early 70s.

But this doesn’t explain why all forms of cannabis are illegal, including the ones that, like parsley and mint, I can grow in my own back garden. This is legislation against nature and against the Earth itself. In fact the reason that some forms of cannabis are much more potent than they were in the 60s is that they have been selectively bred to increase the THC content while the proportion of cannabinoids is reduced. Cannabinoids are antipsychotic in their effects. In other words, in its its natural form the drug contains its own cure.

The selective breeding programme is precisely an effect of the illegality of the drug, because producers want to minimise the volume in order to transport it across borders illegally.

But nothing – NOTHING – you say answers the question about psychedelic mushrooms. Take another look at that list. Mushrooms come in at the bottom, and while they may be said to cause small amounts of harm to users – equivalent to the kinds of harm that peanuts or bananas occasionally cause – they cause no harm whatsoever to other people; unlike alcohol which not only harms the user, but harms everyone who comes in contact with the user too.

So what is your justification for the ban on the possession of what is a natural product of these Isles, which grows out of the Earth in abundance at this time of year, and which has been used by seekers and dreamers in their explorations of consciousness for thousands – possibly hundreds of thousands – of years?

Could it be, as Graham Hancock said in a recent edition of the New Statesman, that the so called “war on drugs” is, in reality, a war on consciousness: a war on our ability, as free human beings, to explore the inner landscape of our collective soul?



  1. An admirable reply,Chris.Also there may be other reasons why mental health in the young has increased.Correlation is not causation.Maybe the vastly increased pollution may affect the alteration in family structure,poor care for infants etc


  2. Personally I suspect that it’s just another step towards the commercialisation of our lives by government/industrial forces. Make something with a high demand illegal then offer to create a legally controlled source and hey-presto, you’ve instantly created a new niche market for something that used to be free!

    As for exploring consciousness, you don’t need drugs to do that. Zazen is still free!


    • But some things they won’t allow no matter what the commercial potential. They’ve been suppressing cannabis use for decades now and as for mushrooms…. well the proof is in that chart: an almost completely harmless substance which is made illegal merely because it might open up a few doors in the mind. I’ll have to look up Zazen.


  3. What gripes me is the hypocrisy which allows pharmaceutical companies to MANUFACTURE harmful drugs for legal sale while banning less harmful ‘drugs’ which grow naturally. To take it a step further not only are these companies allowed by law to bring substances onto the market which DO kill people, but we are now seeing cases where use of potentially harmful drugs is being FORCED on people by threat of prosecution.


    • Proof, if ever it was needed, that in fact our society is completely insane. And I don’t mean that metaphorically, I mean it literally. The human race is so far off the rails now that it’s hard to imagine how it will ever get back on again. Would Zazen help?


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