Depressed? Here’s why you can’t get the medicines that you need

Brian Quass
4 min readDec 21, 2022


An open letter to Roland Griffiths, Professor in the Neuropsychopharmacology of Consciousness at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Dear Professor Griffiths:

As a 64-year-old depressive who could benefit from MDMA use, I am frustrated by the FDA’s hypocritical and unscientific standard for approving psychoactive drugs. They seem to think that one study that cites potential long-term negative effects can block approval, as if the only stakeholders in the approval game were juvenile delinquents who might misuse the drug. What about the millions of Americans living lives of what Thoreau called “quiet despair”? What about the thousands of American soldiers who have gone for the last four decades without a godsend therapy for PTSD? What about the thousands of kids in South America who have lost parents to our Drug War or the kids killed in our inner cities due to the violence that Prohibition creates out of whole cloth? Why are the only stakeholders considered to be white American sons and daughters who have to be saved from their own ignorance, an ignorance that we support by teaching them to fear psychoactive substances rather than to understand them?

In fact, the use of MDMA has been MORE than safe, historically speaking; it has been BENEFICIAL too. Yes, beneficial. It has resulted in a literally unprecedented world in which everybody got along. As one British rave-scene DJ said: “It was black and white, Asian, Chinese, all up in one building.” But, of course, that’s of no concern to the FDA. They never consider the “up” sides of psychoactive drugs because Drug War ideology tells them that there can be no “up” sides to “drug use.” The Drug War is far more important than mere peace, love and understanding, apparently. Meanwhile, questions like these are never asked in the FDA drug approval process: “How many suicides might the use of this drug prevent? How many cases of road rage? How many school shootings? How many users might cut back on cigarettes and alcohol, or else never start using them in the first place?”

Okay, let’s grant that the long-term and excessive use of MDMA may be problematic, though folks like Rick Doblin and Charles Wininger disagree: why not publicize that fact rather than using it as an excuse to block use by anyone, ever, at any time, for any reason? But let’s not be hypocritical. If overuse of alcohol and anti-depressants results in downsides, then let’s be sure to trumpet those as well, if only to keep young people from cynically rejecting all government warnings based on the FDA’s obvious hypocrisy in singling out MDMA for such criticism.

This go-slow approach to drug approval (more accurately called a “go-glacial approach”) has now kept me from accessing plant medicine for my entire life. Moreover, it is glaringly political in nature. Although it has been used safely for generations now, MDMA is criminalized based on a mere thread of potentially negative evidence; meanwhile 1 in 4 American women are chemically dependent upon Big Pharma meds for life, most of which were never intended for long-term use, and the FDA has no problem with that whatsoever. In fact, thousands of these “patients for life” are screaming bloody murder on the Internet about the downsides of SSRI withdrawal, which are far from theoretical in nature: brain zaps, dizziness, foggy thinking, etc. And yet anti-depressants remain the go-to drug for depression and other mood disorders, and those who fail to respond to them, we’re told, just have to find the right brand name. In other words, the drugs themselves are supposedly beyond reproach. The problems, if any arise, are blamed on the user’s finicky response to them.

The whole system reeks of politicization, big money, and double standards.

And now scientists like Dr. Robert Glatter are holding laughing gas to the same absurd standard, a standard that is never applied to Big Pharma drugs.

Instead of telling the millions of depressed how to use laughing gas safely, the FDA assumes that the only stakeholders in the approval process are juvenile delinquents who cannot be educated, and so they slam on the brakes of legalization, ignoring the many invisible stakeholders who must pay the price for their purblind analysis: folks like myself, who have spent their entire life without godsend psychoactive medicines, all because the FDA has a hypocritical and money-driven approach to approving drugs. And so laughing gas, a drug whose use inspired the ontology of William James, is placed off-limits, not just for the depressed but for the philosopher and truth seeker as well.

Thank you for your time. As you continue your work with drugs like MDMA, I urge you to speak up on behalf of folks like myself, one of the millions of forgotten stakeholders in America’s corrupt and biased drug-approval process. For I fear that many who watch your interviews get the impression that the FDA is moving slowly but wisely toward legalizing drugs like MDMA — whereas the FDA’s drug-approval decisions are clearly based on politics and a variety of false assumptions inspired by the drug-war ideology of substance demonization.



Brian Quass

Founder of, whose life purpose is to expose the philosophical absurdity of America's unprecedented war on substances