Carl Sagan talking about dagga. Good article.


Carl Sagan Also Smoked Pot Decades Ago. Here’s What He Had To Say About It.

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 01/03/2014 4:33 pm EST  |  Updated: 01/03/2014 4:47 pm EST


With all the buzz about David Brooks of the New York Times and Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post reflecting on their marijuana use decades ago — and coming to the shared conclusion that the substance should remain illegal — it’s worth remembering that pundits for large daily newspapers make up a very tiny percentage of those that have opinions on pot. Here’s what Carl Sagan had to say about smoking weed.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in May 2013.

Carl Sagan, a titan of scientific study and communication, died in 1996, leaving behind an expansive legacy of research and education. He assumed a diverse set of roles throughout his life, including as a longtime casual user of and advocate for marijuana.

Sagan’s involvement with pot began as a secret, when he penned an essay in 1969, at the age of 35, under the pseudonym “Mr. X.” The piece, in which Sagan described the benefits he felt from using marijuana, later appeared in Dr. Lester Grinspoon’s 1971 book, “Marihuana Reconsidered.” Sagan’s identity as the author wasn’t publicly disclosed until 1999, when Keay Davidson published “Carl Sagan: A Life,” which documented Sagan’s writings as his alter-ego, “Mr. X.”

Writing that he’d begun smoking intermittently around 10 years before, Sagan noted that marijuana “amplifies torpid sensibilities and produces what to me are even more interesting effects.”

“The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never much appreciated before,” he wrote. “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.”

Sagan went on to explain in intricate detail how his experiences listening to music, eating food and even having sex were all heightened while high.

His essay also included some classic Saganesque poetry:

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.

Sagan ultimately concluded that it was easy to use marijuana in moderation. For that reason he wrote that “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.”

(Read Sagan’s entire essay here.)

Years later, Sagan became more outspoken about his advocacy, arguing that medical marijuana should be legal for cancer and AIDS patients.

“Is it rational to forbid patients who are dying from taking marijuana as a palliative to permit them to gain body weight and to get some food down,” Sagan asked in an interview. “It seems madness to say, ‘We’re worried that they’re going to become addicted to marijuana’ — there’s no evidence whatever that it’s an addictive drug, but even if it were, these people are dying, what are we saving them from?”

Listen to his entire interview below:


4 thoughts on “Carl Sagan talking about dagga. Good article.

  1. Good to know you guys won’t split on me if I bake dagga cookies in my kitchen! I’ve never heard of anyone getting locked up in KZN for enjoying a spliff – the Zulus would murder every single ANC councillor and law enforcement officer if that law came to pass.


  2. Pastor takes geloofsprong into atheism, faces ostracism, loses jobs, atheists help out

    By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

    (CNN) – In the past, at times like these, when his life foundered and frayed around the edges, Ryan Bell often prayed for help. But this year, at least, the pastor has resolved not to.

    For the next 12 months, Bell says he will live as if there is no God.

    He will not pray, go to church, read the Bible for inspiration, trust in divine providence or hope in things unseen. He’s taking the opposite of a leap of faith: a free fall into the depths of religious doubt.

    Bell’s “intellectual experiment,” which began January 1, has already borne dramatic consequences.

    In less than a week, he lost two jobs teaching at Christian schools near his home in Los Angeles. He’s 42 and has been a pastor or in seminary for most of his adult life. Now he faces the prospect of poverty and taking odd jobs to feed his two daughters, 10 and 13.

    “There have been times, usually late at night and early in the morning, when I think: What have I done? It really undermines the whole structure of your life, your career, your family,” Bell said.

    But just as the man of God began to despair, he found help from an unlikely source: atheists.

    ‘Suspending belief ‘

    The seeds of Bell’s journey were planted last March, when he was asked to resign as pastor of a Seventh-day Adventist congregation in Hollywood.

    He had advocated for the church to allow gay and lesbian leaders, campaigned against California’s same-sex marriage ban and disputed deeply held church doctrines about the End Times.

    Eventually, his theological and political liberalism became more than leaders in the denomination could bear, and he lost his career of 19 years. His faith was shaken, and for a while Bell became a “religious nomad.”

    On the positive side, losing his church job gave him the freedom to question the foundations of his religious belief without fear of troubling his congregation.

    “I could finally pursue those questions that had been bouncing around my head,” he said, while earning money from teaching, speaking and consulting jobs.

    Then, after lunch with a friend last year, he thought: What if he tried out atheism, and lived with no religion at all for a year?

    “It’s like when you go to a movie and you suspend disbelief for three hours to get inside the story,” Bell said. “I’m suspending my belief in God to see what atheism is all about.”

    Bell, who still holds ministerial credentials in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, thought it would be a neat little intellectual experiment.

    He would interview atheists, attend gatherings of nonbelievers and read through the canon of skeptics: Friedrich Nietzsche, Baruch Spinoza, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, among others.

    When friends got sick, instead of praying, as was once his immediate response, Bell said, he would “do something tangible and practical and supportive for them.”

    He would start a blog, “Year Without God,” and write about his faithless journey. Bell thought maybe a few people would read his posts, follow along and offer advice or criticism.

    “I didn’t realize, even four days ago, how difficult it would be for some people to embrace me while I was embracing this journey of open inquiry into the question of God’s existence,” Bell wrote on Saturday.

    ‘We need to talk’

    The first signs of trouble came around the turn of the new year, just days after Bell announced his experiment online.

    Texts and e-mails arrived from friends, family and colleagues with the ominous phrase, “We need to talk.”

    Kurt Fredrickson, a friend of Bell’s and associate dean of ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, sent one of those messages.

    Bell, a graduate of Fuller, had taught in the school’s doctorate development program for the past year. But Fredrickson told his friend that his sabbatical from faith meant a sabbatical from the seminary as well.

    “From an academic standpoint, and even as a personal journey, I’m really excited about what Ryan is doing,” Fredrickson said.

    “There is no honest person of faith who doesn’t have doubts, and Ryan is being courageous enough to take a step back and assess his life. This is bold stuff.”

    But Bell’s job at Fuller was to help students through their doctoral dissertations, a particularly stressful time, Fredrickson said, when seminarians need to lean on a person with strong faith.

    “They are flying solo for the first time, and we want to not only teach, but to nurture souls as well,” Fredrickson said. “Ryan saying he’s going to be an atheist for a year is a little contradictory to that.”

    Fuller would be happy to talk to Bell when his experiment is over, the dean added.

    Azusa Pacific University, where Bell had taught intercultural communication since 2011, also declined to renew his contract.

    Rachel White, a spokeswoman for the school, wouldn’t comment, saying it was an internal personnel matter. But she said all school and faculty are expected to sign a statement of faith outlining their belief in Christianity.

    Also this year, Bell lost a consulting job with a Seventh-day Adventist Church in Glendale, California.

    Bell said he bears no ill will toward the church or the schools that let him go, though he wishes they would tolerate, if not support, his atheism experiment. The loss of income has led to some family stress, he said.

    “I have kids to support and utilities to pay and the rent is due,” Bell said. “At this point I’m willing to do almost anything.”

    Bell said he and his wife are divorcing, though not because of his atheist experiment.

    Meanwhile, the phone calls, e-mails and texts from friends and family worried about the fate of his soul continue to pour in.

    ‘A beautiful gesture’

    “He learned what it’s like to be an atheist real fast,” said Hemant Mehta, a prominent atheist blogger and schoolteacher in Illinois.

    Mehta said he knows many atheists who fear that “coming out of the closet” will jeopardize their jobs and relationships, just as in Bell’s experience.

    “This guy is getting punished for publicly saying he’s going to try atheism,” Mehta said.

    Mehta said he doesn’t exactly agree with the premise of Bell’s experiment. How does someone pretend to be an atheist? It’s not like a hat you wear to see if it fits. Faith taps into deeply held beliefs and emotions. Even during this experiment with atheism, won’t there still be a nagging suspicion in the back of Bell’s mind that God exists?

    (For the record, Bell describes his current theological beliefs as agnostic – somewhere between belief and atheism.)

    Still, Mehta said he admired Bell’s pluck and sympathized with his plight. Though he had never spoken with the pastor, Mehta set up an online fundraiser for Bell on Tuesday. In just one day, nearly 900 people donated more than $19,000 to help “the pastor giving atheism a try.”

    “I think more than anything else, people appreciate that this guy is giving atheism a shot,” Mehta said. “I mean, he lost three jobs in the span of a week just for saying he was exploring it.”

    Bell said he knows Christians and agnostics who have contributed to his fundraiser as well, so it’s not an all-atheist effort.

    Still, he’s impressed that nonbelievers have flocked to help fund his experiment

    “It really validates that the (atheist) community is really all about the search for truth,” Bell said. “They know that I might not even end up as an atheist at the end of my search, but it doesn’t matter to them. It’s such a beautiful gesture.”

    Will the support tip Bell toward atheism? The pastor is agnostic about that, too – for now.


    My Dearest in Christ,
    My name is Mrs. MARIA BONGI NTULI, currently The Deputy Minister Of Social
    Development of South Africa. I Have Served In Many Capacities Towards
    Nation Building. You can view my profile at .click on
    government contact information’s, click on deputy ministries and locate
    Social development and read about me. I am married to late Mr. Zuma Ntuli
    and the marriage lasted for 25years with only a child. My husband died of
    an illness that lasted for only 6weeks. I Know my mail may come to you as a
    surprise, reason for we have not seen or meet before. I am soliciting for
    your help, as I am divinely directed.

    Before my husband’s death, we were pure born again Christians. When my
    husband was alive, we deposited the sum of 30.5million US dollar in a
    financial institution here in my country, and the fund emanated as a result
    of an over invoiced contract he did with my former ministry. Though I
    assisted him in securing the contract, but I never knew he over inflated the
    contract. The government we are under Comrade Jacob Zuma came up
    with a policy to review contracts awarded years ago, and he is poised to
    confiscating funds with irregular tender, hence my contacting you.

    Recently, my doctor told me that I will not last up to 6months, because of
    my diagnosis of cancer .my most pressing problem is the stroke, which I
    am managing before this new medical case. Having known my condition I
    decided to donate this fund to a church or better still, a Christian Individual
    that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct here in. I want a
    person or Church that will use this fund to churches, orphanages, research
    centres and widows propagating the word of God and to ensure that the
    house of God is maintained. The Bible made us to understand that blessed
    is the hand that gives. I took this decision because I have a child that will
    inherit this money but my son can not carryout this work only because I
    and my late husband decide to use some of the money to work for God and
    leave some for our son to have a better live. Our son is just 15years old now,
    and is growing up in Africa; he has low maturity hence the reason for
    taking this bold decision. I am not afraid of death hence I know that I am
    going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord
    will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.

    I will like you to understand that my contact to you is a divine direction
    from God; As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the
    Finance/bank .I will also issue you a letter of authority that will empower
    you as the new beneficiary of this fund.
    My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Any delay in your
    reply will give me room in sourcing for a church or Christian individual for
    this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I
    stated here and please I will like you to contact me immediately you receive
    this mail so that I will instruct the Finance/bank to! Transfer this fund into
    your account.
    Correspondence must be by my private e-mail addresses.
    Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.


  4. Duuuh! I finally understand why my neighbours have been encouraging me, as well as any other lone wolf independent female, to move out of their “Christian” neighbourhood. They’re in and out of each other’s properties without privacy walls, which they loathe, and in and out of each other’s houses across the road with the gates left invitingly open. Silly me not to have guessed it long ago. I should have realised when the wife came over and started giving me a lecture about submissive wives and I recoiled in horror as if Satan himself was standing in front of me. A very unappealing Satan, I might add. They’re all in their fifties and early sixties, fundamentalist Christians, Angus Buchan groupies, husbands with crotch tickler moustaches and drooping beer bellies, dreary ultra-submissive wives.

    My neighbours found each other by happy-clappy happenstance. Small wonder that they only hold “services” in their private homes and not in any church!

    Seems to be all the rage among fundies. But not all of them have such conveniently situated neighbours.

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