Thursday, September 29, 2016

Carl Sagan: Astronomer, Scientist, Cannabis Advocate

Carl Sagan showed us the universe like we had never seen it before. He was a scientist, a NASA employed astrophysicist, a legendary author and communicator. His series on the universe, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, was the most watched American public television series of all time.

Most people don't know that Sagan was also a marijuana user and advocate, even as a NASA employee during a time when he could have spent years in jail just for enjoying the effects from a special plant.

To others who indulge in marijuana (cannabis, herb, weed, pot) it's not as surprising to hear that a great thinker like Sagan would also enjoy it. Cannabis has always been associated with spiritual and creative thinking. Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Associate Professor Emeritus at Harvard Medical School and close friend of Sagan, was introduced to marijuana by Sagan. Here are some quotes from Carl Sagan found in Grinspoon's book, Marihuana Reconsidered.

Spirituality
"I do not consider myself a religious person in the usual sense, but 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. Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrisies and posturing of myself and my fellow men. And at other times, there is a different sense of the absurd, a playful and whimsical awareness. Both of these senses of the absurd can be communicated, and some of the most rewarding highs I’ve had have been in sharing talk and perceptions and humor. Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds."

Social Consciousness
"I find that most of the insights I achieve when high are into social issues, an area of creative scholarship very different from the one I am generally known for. I can remember one occasion, taking a shower with my wife while high, in which I had an idea on the origins and invalidities of racism in terms of gaussian distribution curves. It was a point obvious in a way, but rarely talked about. I drew the curves in soap on the shower wall, and went to write the idea down. One idea led to another, and at the end of about an hour of extremely hard work I found I had written eleven short essays on a wide range of social, political, philosophical, and human biological topics. Because of problems of space, I can’t go into the details of these essays, but from all external signs, such as public reactions and expert commentary, they seem to contain valid insights. I have used them in university commencement addresses, public lectures, and in my books."

Superior to Alcohol
"My high is always reflective, peaceable, intellectually exciting, and sociable, unlike most alcohol highs, and there is never a hangover. Through the years I find that slightly smaller amounts of cannabis suffice to produce the same degree of high, and in one movie theater recently I found I could get high just by inhaling the cannabis smoke which permeated the theater."

Time Frame for Legalization
"I hope that time isn’t too distant; the illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world."

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