A Modest Proposal
by Terence McKenna

Put forward in his book Food of the Gods.

A drug policy respectful of democratic values would aim to educate people to make informed choices based on their own needs and ideals. Such a simple prescription is necessary and sadly overdue.

A master plan for seriously seeking to come to terms with America's drug problems might explore a number of options, including the following.

1. A 200 percent federal tax should be imposed on tobacco and alcohol. All government subsidies for tobacco production should be ended. Warnings on packaging should be strengthened. A 20 percent federal sales tax should be levied on sugar and sugar substitutes, and all supports for sugar production should be ended. Sugar packages should also carry warnings, and sugar should be a mandatory topic in school nutrition curricula.

2. All forms of cannabis should be legalized and a 200 percent federal sales tax imposed on cannabis products. Information as to the THC content of the product and current conclusions regarding its impact on health should be printed on the packaging.

3. International Monetary Fund and World Bank lending should be withdrawn from countries that produce hard drugs. Only international inspection and certification that a country is in compliance would restore loan eligibility.

4. Strict gun control must apply to both manufacture and possession. It is the unrestricted availability of firearms that has made violent crime and the drug abuse problem so intertwined.

5. The legality of nature must be recognized, so that all plants are legal to grow and possess.

6. Psychedelic therapy should be made legal and insurance coverage extended to include it.

7. Currency and banking regulations need to be strengthened. Presently bank collusion with criminal cartels allows large-scale money laundering to take place.

8. There is an immediate need for massive support for scientific research into all aspects of substance use and abuse and an equally massive commitment to public education.

9. One year after implementation of the above, all drugs still illegal in the United States should be decriminalized. The middleman is eliminated, the government can sell drugs at cost plus 200 percent, and those monies can be placed in a special fund to pay the social, medical, and educational costs of the legalization program. Money from taxes on alcohol, tobacco, sugar, and cannabis can also be placed in this fund. Also following this one-year period, pardons should be given to all offenders in drug cases that did not involve firearms or felonious assault.

If these proposals seem radical, it is only because we have drifted so far from the ideals that were originally most American. At the foundation of the American theory of social polity is the notion that our inalienable rights include "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." To pretend that the right to the pursuit of happiness does not include the right to experiment with psychoactive plants and substances is to make an argument that is at best narrow and at worst ignorant and primitive. The only religions that are anything more than the traditionally sanctioned moral codes are religions of trance, dance ecstasy, and intoxication by hallucinogens. The living fact of the mystery of being is there, and it is an inalienable religious right to be able to approach it on one's own terms. A civilized society would enshrine that principle in law.

Terence McKenna's "Modest Proposal"
Regarding America's Drug Problems
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