Carl Sagan, advocate and scientist of marijuana
Carl Sagan, titan of scientific studies and communication, died in 1996. He leaves behind a vast legacy of research and education. Passionate about planetology and fervent defender of life in the Universe. He contributed to the dissemination of astronomy to a wide audience with his Cosmos television series. He has taken on a diverse set of roles throughout his life. Including as a long-time casual user and advocate for marijuana.
Sagan's involvement with weed started as a secret when he wrote an essay in 1969 at the age of 35 under the pseudonym "Mr. X." In it, Sagan describes the benefits he experienced from marijuana. Her writings then later appeared in Dr. Lester Grinspoon's 1971 book, “Marihuana Reconsidered. "
Writing that he had started smoking intermittently about 10 years ago, Sagan noted on marijuana:
“The cannabis experience greatly enhanced my appreciation for art, a subject that I had never enjoyed much before,” he wrote. “The understanding of the artist's intention that I can achieve when up high sometimes transpires when I am down. This is one of the many human borders that cannabis has helped me cross. "
Sagan went on to explain in detail how his experiences listening to music were. But also eating food and even having sex have all been enhanced all enhanced by cannabis ...
“We often refer to marijuana for the stimulation it produces on our appreciation. As well as our abilities in music, dance, art, recognition of shapes and signs and our sensitivity to non-verbal communication. To my knowledge, no one has ever reported an improvement in our ability to read and understand Ludwig Wittgenstein or Immanuel Kant. Nor to calculate the stresses of bridges or a Laplace transformation. (…) I wonder if, rather than stimulating anything, the cannabinoids don't just annihilate the left hemisphere thus allowing the stars to appear. This could also be the goal of the meditative states practiced in many Eastern religions. »Carl Sagan
Sagan ultimately concluded that it was easy to use marijuana in moderation. For this reason, he wrote that:
“The illegality of cannabis is scandalous. It is a barrier to full use of a drug that helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and companionship so desperately needed in this increasingly insane and dangerous world. "
Years later, Sagan has become more outspoken in his advocacy, arguing that medical marijuana should be legal for cancer and for patients with AIDS.
"Is it rational to prohibit dying patients from taking marijuana as a stopgap to allow them to gain weight and eat some food?" "-" We are worried that they will become addicted to marijuana "-" there is no evidence that it is an addictive drug, but even if it was, these people are dying, so we are. save from? "
Sagan's enthusiasm for the cognitive stimulations he knew under the influence of marijuana was such that he consumed it extensively to stimulate his reflection on his own work.
According to his biographer Keay Davidson, Grinspoon, who had received marijuana of exceptional quality in a mail from an admirer, had shared it with Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan. After which, Sagan said:
“Lester, I know you only have one joint left, but can I have it? I have serious work to do tomorrow and it could be of great use to me. ”
Sagan was famous - or infamous according to many university colleagues. So to speak to produce brilliant, but daring speculation. Not only in the field of astronomy, but also in other scientific fields.
As his biographer Keay Davidson points out, Sagan mistakenly predicted the existence of complex organic molecules on the moon; but, Davidson adds:
"(As) it was later proved, complex organic molecules invade most of the far reaches of the solar system and beyond"
The thought of the right hemisphere
Let us distinguish two aspects of Sagan's hypothesis:
First, there is the observation that the euphoric state of marijuana generates a style of cognition that cognitive scientists consider to be primarily based in the right hemisphere. Second, Sagan hypothesizes that the state of euphoria under the influence of marijuana could destroy the functions of the left hemisphere. And, therefore, to come up with what we might call “right hemisphere thinking”.
Sagan's hypothesis was based on his knowledge of the human brain. And so different styles of cognition in the left and right hemispheres of the brain. As well as on his own experiences with marijuana.
"An increased perception of real people, a markedly heightened sensitivity to facial expressions, intonations and a choice of words that are sometimes so close that it seems that two people can read each other's minds." "
A Dragon in Eden
Sagan already knew that all the cognitive stimuli that he described in a state of euphoria concerned functions that cognitive science of the time mainly located in the right hemisphere. He described the research involving patients with mental dissociation. And even more in the pages which precede his hypothesis in "The Dragons of Eden".
Sagan was familiar with this area of research and had his own knowledge about cognitive improvements during a state of euphoria. But Sagan sadly passed away in 1996, too early to witness the revolutionary discovery of the endocannabinoid system. However, the fact remains that this tracker of the absolute, will remain a "Cannabis's Hero". One of the most popular of the XNUMXth century.