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Carl Sagan on Pot

This account was written in 1969 for publication in "Marihuana Reconsidered (1971)". Sagan was in his mid-thirties at that time. He continued to use cannabis for the rest of his life.

The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never 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. This is one of many human frontiers which cannabis has helped me traverse. There also have been some art-related insights - I don't know whether they are true or false, but they were fun to formulate. For example, I have spent some time high looking at the work of the Belgian surrealist Yves Tanguey. Some years later, I emerged from a long swim in the Caribbean and sank exhausted onto a beach formed from the erosion of a nearby coral reef. In idly examining the arcuate pastel-colored coral fragments which made up the beach, I saw before me a vast Tanguey painting. Perhaps Tanguey visited such a beach in his childhood.

A very similar improvement in my appreciation of music has occurred with cannabis. For the first time I have been able to hear the separate parts of a three-part harmony and the richness of the counterpoint. I have since discovered that professional musicians can quite easily keep many separate parts going simultaneously in their heads, but this was the first time for me. Again, the learning experience when high has at least to some extent carried over when I'm down. 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. Cannabis also enhances the enjoyment of sex - on the one hand it gives an exquisite sensitivity, but on the other hand it postpones orgasm: in part by distracting me with the profusion of image passing before my eyes. The actual duration of orgasm seems to lengthen greatly, but this may be the usual experience of time expansion which comes with cannabis smoking.

Thanks Josh!

Posted By jamesk at 2009-10-06 14:50:55 permalink | comments
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Seymour Buds. : 2011-08-24 15:38:13
Have fun licking my shoes when I trounce you in the corporate ladder. 10 years of smoking reefer and I've still never touched anything else (except for hallucinogenic mushrooms, one time, when I couldn't smoke because work was drug testing me).

Anyway Carl Sagan will always be my hero, I identify closely with his experience with marijuana. My introduction to pot was during my sophomore year in highschool. I immediately began getting stoned and going to AP Calculus (1st period). I ended up taking two separate AP Calc classes that year (AB & BC for those in the know) and scored top marks (5/5) on both final exams. Since then, the story has remained the same:
1. Get baked
2. Go to work
3. Outperform the muggles (non-potheads)
4. Laugh all damn day

stephan. : 2011-08-07 20:29:36
Im all for legalization. I am a highly motivated person. Therefore the less motivated the rest of the country is, the more I will continue to dominate. However, it is a gateway drug. If you smoke pot, you will end up hanging out with people that do other stuff, that's just the way it is.
nay nay bauer. : 2011-07-24 00:57:58
carl sagan was such a great mind. in his lecture on 4th dimension it's clear to see that he understood much more about the mystery of perception than other physicists will admit. psychedelic drugs that effect the mind to broaden or change perception for a time seem to be the next leap into exploration. the universe is too big and it's such a silly thing to want to inhabit every part of it. if most people can't even accept that plant life is communicating with us in it's own way, than what chance do we have with extraterrestrials? to think they will be 3 dimensional humanoids is as naive as modern creationism. i love cannabis, it's been around 2 weeks since i've had any and i smoked daily for years before that, yet i've had no withdrawal symptoms. with no negative side effects at all, other than the fact that i succumb to the munchies easily, i kind of want to start again.
Tracy. : 2011-06-08 10:46:10
I love these debates! There is so much angst towards cannabis and the people who use it.
I am 17 years old and believe it or not quite wise and have seen both sides of the arguement and believe that no matter how many labels are put on cannabis, all the so called "studies" that have proven cannabis to be bad for our memory/paranoia, etc... All of these studies aren't medically proven, they have no solid evidence. There has been thousands of studies to prove that x number of hours of sleep is good/bad for us, but none are conclusive (Just an example I think is somewhat relevant to cannabis).
Think of the pros and cons of alcohol.
Pros - More social, small doses 'may' be healthy for our bodies.. I can't think of many upsides and I'm a teenager who drinks.
cons - Cancer of the liver, mouth, stomach.. so on, memory loss, lose of inhibtions, loss of morals, increased rate of criminal activity.. You get the picture.
I'm sympathetic to those who completely disregard what I'm saying but the truth is alcohol keeps us dumb. If it was newly found it would be immediately illegalised due to the horrific side-effects it has if overdone/long term usage.

Throughout the ages there has been more pro cannabis arguments that are, lets face it, more honest. Nearly everyone who has been 'baked' has said somewhat the same results, you don't hear about people committing crimes (not possesion related) or all the jazz you hear from alcohol related situations.

Cannabis has been proven again and again that it is a natural painkiller, I've met 30 plus year olds who are actually high up in my towns government who admit to smoking pot.. Even Obama smoked and he's president!

Stop your war on cannabis. It saves lives and helps chemotherapy patients get through the slaving nausea.. You may think I'm blathering on but nearly 1 in 3 people are effected by cancer, in all honesty I'd rather not believe anyone would want there loved ones to suffer more than they need to.

Rant over!

andrew. : 2011-05-30 13:05:48
FascismFashion - you're slightly wrong.

Get educated, bro.


FascismFashion. : 2011-04-28 23:34:53
Isn't it peculiar that the cannabis plant contians tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a chemical unique to marijuana specifally, and our bodies, our genetic have cannabinoid receptors (i.e. the C_1 & C_2, the two subcatagories of receptors that react simultaneously when THC enters our bloodstream). Weird, almost it's almost like we were meant to use this plant! And futhermore, @ anyone who had condescending remarks directed weed and/or 'stoners', you should consider doing one of two things; Actually try inhaling before you degrade others for using, and/or know what you're talking about. There's been numerous electroencephalographical studies conducted on long-time 'abusers' (brains, obviously), and not a single one of these experiments have yielded any results contributing any loss of long term psychological/cognitive memory and/or comprehension to smoking, yes that's right, the ganja! Smoke weed everyday
P.S. I'm an enormous fan of Sagan and his work.
Someone. : 2011-04-04 12:02:55
I once read a report of Goethe, who had decided to give a try to "that mysterious weed" which his studiosi were so fond of. He was joined by a fellow teacher (and Friend) by the name of Friedrich Schiller. So there we have Goethe and Schiller hitting the pipe together(or whatever they used) and then they even wrote some stuff together. Which Goethe finally dismissed as nonsense and threw away. God knows what these papers held!

Oh, got off topic, I wonder how THAT happened. Carl Sagan ftw. :)

Lol. : 2011-03-25 16:48:15
Pot isn't cool anymore. It's for middle school burnout dirties. Do cocaine like a real man and hit your wife. Have a lot of children, do more cocaine, and take out your passive aggression on your family, damaging their souls forever. c
David. : 2011-02-15 10:33:00
Nice post. BTW, for those pretentious lung-damage tossers, I'll say that I use a vaporizer and it is less harmful than walking next to a busy street on my lungs. Also, Carl is right, many of the insights you gain on weed *do* remain. Dumb people smoking will have dumb insights, of course. But I know the haters are wrong from my own experience and watching them squirm when their brainwashing is attacked brings me endless joy.
Tristán. : 2011-02-07 09:32:03
I am also in my mid-thirties and the father of two beautiful girls, one is 4 years old and the other 7 months. My contribution to spreading the word is called Cannabis4Education or Cannabis por la Educación, because I'm from Puerto Rico and spanish is my first language. Google it and Say No to (the war on) Drugs.
Grant. : 2011-01-08 05:55:56
I used marijuana for six years and found it very easy to stop using. I noticed when i increase my alchohol consumption it is somewhat more difficult to decrease it therefore pot is less addicting. I am no expert on the physical effects of either drug but i do know that more deaths and other violent acts are caused by alchohol. When i think alchohol i picture fist fights, rapes and alchohol poisoning. When i think of pot i picture daydreaming, cottonmouth and seeing things in a different way.
authorities. : 2010-12-29 13:19:45
ah, how i love watching the druggies crawl out of the woodwork in support of artificial enlightenment trips. remember healthy pink lungs? here's to billions and billions of tokes to weed out the "enlightened". smoke up, johnny
yousafool. : 2010-12-14 21:41:05
the fact that you even mention god on a page concerning Carl Sagan is absurdity.
weed. : 2010-09-14 08:02:35
god made weed and i shall smoke it
humans. : 2010-06-03 16:34:38
animals like to get high too, case in point: Lemurs.
we as humans learned to wield fire by burning everything in sight including each other,
i'll safely assume that cannabis curbed our obsession with fire so we wouldn't pyrolyze our kin.
Cannabis saved the human race and was the catalyst to our evolution.
If we legalized cannabis, the government might lose control of their livestock/the working class
the medical companies would lose a shitload of customers
their whole system would fall apart because there would be an influx of lazy, philanthropic, anti-war HIPPIES!
War is a fucking BUSINESS ie: G.W. Bush
Peace is marketable
but experiencing peace is as unrealistic as freedom
unless you're referring to death
than sure
you're just going to have to pay for that funeral or leave that debt to your spouse and children
Anthony Pittarelli. : 2010-05-14 10:10:01
"Pot can make some people smarter and some people more dumb."

It would appear it has adverse effects on your grammar as well

Anonymous. : 2010-05-04 12:33:32
"Pot can make some people smarter and some people more dumb."

I've also found that it can adversely affect some people's sense of irony and sarcasm. Strange, but true!

V. : 2010-05-04 10:03:27
Do some reasearch people. :)
V. : 2010-05-04 10:02:44
did you know that pot is NATURAL? And that it is the least dangerous? Pot didn't make any of you kill someone or rape them, thats all on you. Its a lot more safe to smoke a joint than drink a beer. I don't smoke at all but i think its dumb for you all to judge him based on his choices. Pot can make some people smarter and some people more dumb. Maybe thats why this man was so damn smart. :) Go Carl Sagan.
Anonymous. : 2010-05-04 08:11:41
I once destroyed an entire planet, just from [i]looking[/i] at a cannabis plant.
David Davidson. : 2010-05-03 14:04:39
Chuck is right. I raped my own mother after smoking pot for the first time. It should forever remain illegal unless you like raping your own mother.
Colin. : 2010-05-03 12:10:10
I think Carl Sagan is just awesome. If pot made him feel better, ya know, it's his choice. Though, it probably had something to do with his death of Pneumonia at age 62. :/
gill. : 2010-05-03 12:07:46
I'm stoned cold sober and I can feel life better than all you dopes!
Dave. : 2010-05-03 02:17:33
This is awesome! I love Carl, which is why I could have gone without hearing him talk about his orgasm.
budskies. : 2010-05-02 22:27:35
Chuck, im sorry to inform you but your just fucking crazy, im stoned out of my mind right now and the LAST thing i would do right now would be to kill anyone. happy highs =]
Abdulla . : 2010-05-02 21:20:25
carl sagan is almost perfect i love him ... and pot RULES ... and for the last post ,,dude are u serious !!!! if he is the antichrist then we are his minions :P ... hail imaginary character(Satan) lol
chuck farrity. : 2010-05-02 19:29:39
pot made me kill three people. it is an evil drug that rots the mind and soul. carl sagan was the antichrist. don't trust him you dumb stoners
Sputnik. : 2010-05-02 18:39:52
Watch out now. Marijana is a Gateway drug.

A gateway to beinga Brilliant Scientist , Or President of the United States.

guest : 2010-05-02 16:59:48 231,115 and growing daily

join with us to abolish the Drug War among other unconstitutional actions of the government on over 170 campuses so far

vladdytrout. : 2010-05-02 11:02:29
Remember, he was a genius scientist and wore groovy turtle neck sweaters therefore it's okay...legalize the stuff already!
Brennan. : 2010-05-02 09:41:15
i smoked pot with johnny hopkins. it was johnny hopkins and sloane kettering...they were blazing that shit up everyday.
there is no spoon. : 2010-05-02 07:05:34
knowing carl s. smoked pot make me like him that much more.
Boz. : 2010-04-30 16:35:18
Hippies Rule!!
1stelite : 2010-04-10 16:02:57
Very interesting. Carl Sagan was cool.
SaganDude. : 2010-04-10 15:33:23
A brilliant, honest, balanced man who we could all learn alot from. No jokes people, you have one life and if you look at how he used his you will feel like living yours to the fullest. Unless your a wanker.
Really just me. : 2010-04-10 14:40:56
My friend used to deliver pizzas 4 years ago and didn't smoke pot. He still delivers pizzas and still doesn't smoke pot.
ofraggy. : 2010-04-10 13:11:51
Dude! Carl-Fucking-Sagan approves.
I think his opinion alone outweighs the majority.
u_all_smelly_hippies. : 2010-04-10 12:43:44
my friend used to deliver pizzas 4 years ago and smoke pot. he still delivers pizzas and smokes pot.
Erica. : 2010-04-10 12:39:15
I love Carl Sagan forever!
joel. : 2010-04-10 11:13:37
that sounds awwwwesommme!
jakski. : 2010-04-10 11:00:58
Carl was cool......
Arklenao2. : 2010-04-10 09:50:45
I smoke Arklenao2 Pot, Good Stuff.
GeeMan. : 2010-04-10 01:06:44
My friend used to deliver pizza in Ithaca where Carl Sagan taught (at Cornell) and he said Sagan was always high when he ordered pizza! A genius with the munchies!
PrincessAlana. : 2010-04-10 00:43:33
to gunrmonkey--be paranoid if your on a DoD machine typing it
Robbo. : 2010-04-09 23:12:04
I have always enjoyed and appreciated the wisdom of Sagan - just as I have enjoyed the billions and billions of joints I have smoked.

I agree with him totally and --- oh, look - cheetos.

As with all thing...moderation. : 2010-04-09 22:33:03
I use to smoke so much of the good herb. Sometimes the best high would be just to smoke a bit and enjoy life. Go outside...listen to the wind. Most of the times we are indoors and go right to sleep. Smoke and then go somewhere, do something. Carl Sagan is the man. If I could still smoke, I would.
Dede WOods. : 2010-04-09 22:18:42
Wow, that makes a lot of sense dude.


TheEdge. : 2010-04-07 22:40:49
I just smoke the stuff.
guest : 2010-03-29 11:00:17
"now it seems too strong.",

I've been told that you can smoke less, if needs be. Something about "titrating one's dose...."


boomer. : 2010-03-28 23:26:50
i don't know. i remember giggling, sex, and munchies. music sounded better, and the overall mood was groovy. now it seems too strong.
rococo. : 2010-03-24 15:34:22
I agree with everything he's saying.
yubb. : 2010-03-07 23:42:25
LOL i love carl sagan. im gonna do weed becuz he did it!
yomik. : 2010-02-17 09:21:00 Bush said...'its a scourge' ...not
Sarah. : 2010-02-05 09:03:09
Cannabis increased my appreciation of South Park radically.
gunrmonkey. : 2010-02-03 17:51:22
shit im so paranoid from working for the governent, im worried their watching me type this right now, u assholes, maybe for this... we will never really be truly free. again.. Ron Paul knows this, maybe he smokes this "EVIL" cannabis also!
Uncle Davy. : 2010-01-28 11:41:24
According to my nephew, pot's become lame because every old fart uses it. I think kids his age use E for pretty much the same reasons as Carl used pot. Of course, because it's used by the young, it's cool. Meanwhile I've got a roach dangling from my lip as I write this....
tamba. : 2010-01-27 00:29:44
I'm going home to smoke one for Carl and that's a good reason!
herbs. : 2010-01-26 22:03:59
man i love getting ---/---
Dunlap. : 2010-01-26 19:55:05
Chuck - like TV? Movies? Books? I couldn't agree more. But really what reason is there not to escape a reality where you can't appreciate art & music?
hump hump hump. : 2010-01-26 07:49:23
Chuckyjer - I completely disagree to your knee-jerk response. If you actually read the article, Carl explains how he has found a much clearer perception and appreciation for reality. I don't see how that could qualify as an escape or stupid.

Worthruss - I don't see why it would matter to any of us if the world ended in even 100 million years -let alone 1 billion. If we havn't figured out how to leave this solar system by then... well, I'd find that surprising. Also, we've got a technological singularity gaining momentum exponentially. We've already started to augment ourselves. In 100 years I think it'll be tough to find anyone you could still call human (at least by today's standards). My point is, I find it hard to get all hot and bothered by something that isn't going to happen in my great-grand children's (however many generations) lifetimes. As for refining the "good stuff" - what do you mean? Marijuana? If so, we've had that down to a science for quite a while now -take a look at some pics of White Widow.

worthruss. : 2010-01-24 18:52:59
Recent research into the healing effects of endocannabinoids on Alzhiemer's disease has absolved all who've learned that not all vitamins are absorbed through the stomach. Carl suffered from the same extremely painful bone marrow disease as the oldest federal cannabis patient, and still he was a light to us all, be thou not of the world! The U.S. Navy's new rail gun may be a whole new way to beam stuff, at Mach 7. Your public school teachers probably told you that the sun would last for another 6 Billion years. But she forgot to mention that the Andromeda Galaxy is going to splatter into the Milky Way in just 2 Billion years. There probably won't be any water left on Earth in only 1 more Billion years, so go ahead and put your Alzheimer's head in the sand, it's there already. And pick up a six pack to assure your self that your public school teachers were telling you everything, or you already know everything. I've got my prescription. Look up [link] and [link] the State of New Jersey has just become the 14th to allow medical cannabis, look out the bio-mafia is about to figure out to refine the good stuff for us and sell it to us for a huge profit. At least they've finished passing the MMJ in D.C. after 10 years nof delusions of superiority.
me. : 2010-01-24 05:54:35
who the hell carl sagan is
Lee Stevens. : 2010-01-22 18:18:31
There soon hopefully will be a legalize marijuana bill winding its way threw the California legislature, please go out of your way to support it.In addition the father of our Country George Washington grew it,drank its tea and smoked it.He recommended it to others.The laws that were made against it were motivated by not wanting hemp to compete with paper and as a tool to be used to jail Mexicans.
People who abuse Marijuana by violating some basic rules will have to be dealt with.As vices go and it does have some positive benefits the negatives are far less than either alcohol or tobacco.If you truly believe in liberty you should help overturn arcane and bad law.
guest : 2010-01-21 16:10:19
just further proof of how awesome Carl Sagan was
Bill. : 2010-01-21 13:52:22
chucky, is everything u don't understand stupid? Probably so. Carl Sagan rocks, period. Too bad he's not around anymore.
chuckyjer. : 2010-01-21 11:54:46
What the hell! Anything stupid to escape reality.
stardustnotdirtdust. : 2010-01-16 13:09:15
thats great! I have a picture in my head of sagan being that geeky high guy who over examines everything!
ajitha. : 2009-10-29 01:01:13
carl sagan you speculative pothead.

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