Disclaimer: The views expressed in articles on this site do not necessarily reflect those of the Acronym. The Acronym does not advocate the use of marijuana or any other illegal drug.
Carl Sagan, a groundbreaking astronomer, astrophysicist, and science communicator, has rightly earned himself the respect of the general population as a liaison between the Nebulas and Man. He brought science into the forefront of our collective societal consciousness, and his work cast an aura of wonder and joy on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In a world where it has become cool to be stupid and hard work is grossly undervalued, Sagan is a beacon of intelligence, promise, and competency. Also, he smoked a large amount of pot.
In 1969, Sagan wrote a deeply poignant and mind-bending account of his experience with marijuana for publication in “Marihuana [sic] Reconsidered” (1971). According to his writings, during these highs, a new world of aesthetic experiences opened up to him: “The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I never had much appreciated before. The understanding of the intent of the artist which I can achieve when high sometimes carries over to when I’m down… For the first time I have been able to hear the separate parts of a three-part harmony and the richness of the counterpoint… The enjoyment of food is amplified; tastes and aromas emerge that for some reason we ordinarily seem to be too busy to notice. I am able to give my full attention to the sensation. A potato will have a texture, a body, and taste like that of other potatoes, but much more so.”
On another level, Sagan also wrote, “there is a religious aspect to some highs. The heightened sensitivity in all areas gives me a feeling of communion with my surroundings, both animate and inanimate…. Many but not all my cannabis trips have somewhere in them a symbolism significant to me which I won’t attempt to describe here, a kind of mandala embossed on the high. Free-associating to this mandala, both visually and as plays on words, has produced a very rich array of insights.” Clearly, experimentation with marijuana allowed Sagan to confer with the deepest recesses of his mind; he was able to explore the vastness and power of his subconscious on his own terms. Marijuana, instead of “dumbing” him down like we are consistently warned, actually opened his mind and broadened his horizons.
I don’t bring up Sagan’s experiences to argue for the legalization of marijuana- I couldn’t care less about the physical practicality of the drug. I’m also not here to argue against D.A.R.E or D.A.R.T. programs- I do believe in the importance of fully understanding the heavy implications of drug use. What I would like, though, is to add another voice and viewpoint to the conversation. From before we even knew what drugs were, we were told that they’re bad because bad people use them, and they will make us do bad things. That’s a perfectly acceptable thing to tell children and young teenagers perched on the brink between groupthink and individual personality; however, at some point, we need to grow up and understand that nothing is in black and white. There is a complex, ineffable, beautiful, and almost completely inaccessible world behind our eyes that we cannot connect to without the transcendent power of mind-altering paraphernalia, like marijuana. At the same time, there is a layered, transient, and breathtaking world before our eyes that we can never truly know until we learn to ignore the eyes we see with in favor a vision derived purely from senses and feelings. Not to mention, being high is considered a pleasant, enjoyable break from the grind and toil of everyday existence. The drug gives us the chance to weave ourselves into the fourth dimension of existence, release our minds from the prison of our bodies, release our bodies from the order of our minds, travel vertically around the world backwards, and come back fully intact a couple of hours later. Before writing it off as just another vice of weaker minds, take a deeper look at the potentiality of your own existences and what fundamental experiences you may be missing.