Author, explorer and humanitarian, Carl Sagan was one of the most brilliant scientists of his time. He worked tirelessly, advocating exploration of space, human knowledge and peace on Earth. Until recently, many remained unaware that Carl Sagan was also an advocate of the psychoactive properties found in cannabis.
Much like today’s time, Sagan chose to write this paper under the pen name “Mr. X,” due to the penalties associated with coming out as a marijuana user. Throughout the piece, Sagan explores the many benefits and uses of herb and provides theories of how it might affect the human brain. Little did he know, years later, many of his ideas would be proven correct. Read the full “Mr. X” here.
Begin at the beginning
Carl Sagan starts this epic essay with a recount of his first experiences with cannabis, and the strong visuals he had during each “trip”. After the all-too-familiar let down of not getting high the first time, Sagan said it took him five or six sessions before finally realizing he was experiencing the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
“Initially, I was unwilling to partake. But the apparent euphoria that cannabis produced and the fact that there was no physiological addiction to the plant eventually persuaded me to try.” – Sagan explains the cause behind his first experiences.
Even in 1971, when this piece was written, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century knew cannabis had no addictive properties and was relatively harmless. It is mind blowing, nearly 50 years later, we are still arguing the validity and legality of marijuana.
Aside from the physical, feel-good properties of cannabis, which he mentions enhanced sexual experiences as well, Sagan believed it improved his mind in many different areas. His appreciation for music and art was heightened, explaining how he could feel himself become immersed in a painting or getting lost in euphoria as each part of a three-part harmony became incredibly distinguishable.
Even after decreeing that he is not a religious man, Sagan goes on to elaborate how, with some highs, “there is a religious aspect.” He believed the use of cannabis allowed him to gain a deeper understanding of issues in his life and problems halting the world from reaching peace.
With the use of marijuana, Sagan also achieved insight into his unconscious mind. He recounts childhood memories, only able to be remembered after using cannabis; tastes, smells, and visions were all part of Sagan’s perceived hallucinations under the influence of herb. However, once “morning came” Sagan was unable to recount any details of the visions unless he’d written them down.
“Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds.”
Much of the essay is self-reflection by Sagan, voicing his findings while exploring the psychoactive properties of cannabis. He explained properties of THC that had yet to be discovered or studied, and because of his powerful intelligence, was able to interpret the effects quite accurately to how they are perceived today.
Have you read Sagan’s essay? What are your thoughts? What effects does herb have on your mind? Let us know on social media or in the comments below.