Science and drugs go hand-in-hand. While not a subject that the nation’s educational system has had the guts to teach, we now know that many brilliant minds consumed mind-altering substances during their quest to change the world.
It is a hard pill to for some die-hard patriots to swallow, the thought that they would not have a light bulb had it not been for Thomas Edison’s lust for speed, or that they may not have had Smartphone technology if Steve Jobs wouldn’t have opened the doors to perception through the use of LSD.
But what about marijuana? It too has had a significant influence on scientific advancements. Here are five scientists that made pot a large part of their research.
The hallucinogenic effects of marijuana fascinated neurologist Oliver Sacks. The author of several books, including the 1973 Awakenings that was adapted to film, told NPR “I think I sometimes just wanted pleasure. I wanted to see a visually and perhaps musically enhanced world. I wanted to know what it was like … . I would often keep notes when I got stoned.”
Molecular biologist Francis Crick, who is considered the godfather of modern genetics, credited some of his major discoveries surrounding DNA to the effects of hallucigenic drugs and marijuana. Crick, a Nobel Prize winner, was a huge fan of Aldous Huxley. He was inspired by the author’s drug-induced explorations of the mind.
Stephen J. Gould
Scientist Stephen J. Gould, who died in 2002 from lung cancer, once testified that medical marijuana was the only medicine that helped calm his severe nausea. He said, “It is beyond my comprehension that any humane person would withhold such a beneficial substance from people in such great need simply because others use it for different purposes.”
Although Dr. Lester Grinspoon once believed that marijuana “was a very harmful drug that was unfortunately being used by more and ore foolish young people,” he later changed his tune. Grinspoon published a book in 1971 entitled Marijuana Reconsidered in which he details the effects of marijuana and lays down a plan for legalization.
Carl Sagan, who is best known for his work in astrology and the search for intelligent life on other planets, is the scientist who turned Lester Grinspoon on to marijuana. In fact, Sagan wrote an essay for Grinspoon’s book Marijuana Reconsidered. In it, he said “there is a myth” that “great insight … does not survive scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that this is an error, and that the devastating insights achieved when high are real insights; the main problem is putting these insights in a form acceptable to the quite different self that we are when we’re down the next day.”