Frequently the question will come up of “Who were some of the smartest people who smoked marijuana?” The question feeds on the incorrect notion that somehow smoking marijuana makes you stupid. This is blatantly not true. Many of the world’s leading scientists, politicians, judges, and religious figures have and still use marijuana. Barack Obama (I inhaled frequently, that was the point” Ted Turner (who smoked daily as he built CNN) and my personal favorite. Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan has probably taught more people about Science than any other person on the planet. His television series cosmos still runs yearly on public television and has been translated into a ridiculous amount of languages. On the streets of Amsterdam you can still see it for sale amongst the latest comedies. For some reason the way Sagan spoke continues to connect to loads of people. He also wrote the Science Fiction book Contact which went on to become a film starring Jodi Foster. It’s little known that Carl Sagan was also a frequent marijuana smoker, he wrote a series of essays under the name Mr. X and was a lifelong member of NORML. Below is Sagan’s essay describing how he enjoyed smoking marijuana and the benefits that he believed it held.
I can remember the night that I suddenly realized what it was like to be crazy, or nights when my feelings and perceptions were of a religious nature. I had a very accurate sense that these feelings and perceptions, written down casually, would not stand the usual critical scrutiny that is my stock in trade as a scientist. If I find in the morning a message from myself the night before informing me that there is a world around us which we barely sense, or that we can become one with the universe, or even that certain politicians are desperately frightened men, I may tend to disbelieve; but when I’m high I know about this disbelief. And so I have a tape in which I exhort myself to take such remarks seriously. I say ‘Listen closely, you sonofabitch of the morning! This stuff is real!’ I try to show that my mind is working clearly; I recall the name of a high school acquaintance I have not thought of in thirty years; I describe the color, typography, and format of a book in another room and these memories do pass critical scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that there are genuine and valid levels of perception available with cannabis (and probably with other drugs) which are, through the defects of our society and our educational system, unavailable to us without such drugs.