Outlawing drugs in order to solve drug problems is much like outlawing sex in order to win the war against AIDS. We recognize that people will continue to have sex for nonreproductive reasons despite the laws and mores. Therefore, we try to make sexual practices as safe as possible in order to minimize the spread of the AIDS viruses. In a similar way, we continually try to make our drinking water, foods, and even our pharmaceutical medicines safer. The ubiquity of chemical intoxicants in our lives is undeniable evidence of the continuing universal need for safer medicines with such applications. While use may not always be for an approved medical purpose, or prudent, or even legal, it is fulfilling the relentless drive we all have to change the way we feel, to alter our behavior and consciousness, and, yes, to intoxicate ourselves. We must recognize that intoxicants are medicines, treatments for the human condition. Then we must make them as safe and risk free and as healthy as possible. Dream with me for a moment. What would be wrong if we had perfectly safe intoxicants? I mean drugs that delivered the same effects as our most popular ones but never caused dependency, disease, dysfunction, or death. Imagine an alcohol-type substance that never caused addiction, liver disease, hangovers, impaired driving, or workplace problems. Would you care to inhale a perfumed mist that is as enjoyable as marijuana or tobacco but as harmless as clean air? How would you like a pain-killer as effective as morphine but safer than aspirin, a mood enhancer that dissolves on your tongue and is more appealing than cocaine and less harmful than caffeine, a tranquilizer less addicting than Valium and more relaxing than a martini, or a safe sleeping pill that allows you to choose to dream or not? Perhaps you would like to munch on a user friendly hallucinogen that is as brief and benign as a good movie? This is not science fiction. As described in the following pages, there are such intoxicants available right now that are far safer than the ones we currently use. If smokers can switch from tobacco cigarettes to nicotine gum, why can’t crack users chew a cocaine gum that has already been tested on animals and found to be relatively safe? Even safer substances may be just around the corner. But we must begin by recognizing that there is a legitimate place in our society for intoxication. Then we must join together in building new, perfectly safe intoxicants for a world that will be ready to discard the old ones like the junk they really are. This book is your guide to that future. It is a field guide to that silent spring of intoxicants and all the animals and peoples who have sipped its waters. We can no more stop the flow than we can prevent ourselves from drinking. But, by cleaning up the waters we can leave the morass that has been the endless war on drugs and step onto the shores of a healthy tomorrow. Use this book to find the way.
Ronald K. Siegel (Intoxication: The Universal Drive for Mind-Altering Substances)