Watanuga Lahele is radiating. His glassy eyes peep out under a large, conical straw hat, his movements slightly erratic. He has been chewing on a dark-greenish kalangi root and the drug tetralin it contains now clearly shows its euphoric and mind-altering effects. Lahele sits at a huge wooden table, as he does every in May, at the kalangi root festival in Bomaki, the capital of the Republic of West Africa. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have come here again to get collectively intoxicated at the festival. Lahele does not quite manage to get up from the table, he stumbles and falls sideways onto some other visitors. Soon, several people get in a brawl. The kalangi root is not only highly addictive, but also makes many of its consumers more aggressive. In the Republic of West Africa tetralin is completely legal, despite its mind-altering effects and various dangerous side effects.
They really make me nervous sometimes. And they seem to be everywhere. Frantically, they move around in circles, slaves to implemented passions – addicts, manipulated, betrayed, and in self-denial. At six in the morning, the first type of addicts run to get their daily fixes: the classic workaholics. They swarm out of their houses to go and work like maniacs. Some are craving for more power, suppressing the persistent feeling of having slowly turned into corporate marionettes. Others work excessively to satisfy their shopping addiction and buy whatever they have been told makes them better, more happy, or more valuable people.
Countless users of marijuana have claimed that marijuana can act as a catalyst to obtain real insights. Are these reports just exaggerations of users justifying their smoking habit? Or is it true that a marijuana high can lead to profound insights?
In his legendary essay “Mr. X” published in Lester Grinspoon’s study “Marijuana Reconsidered (1971),” an anonymous author stated:
“There is a myth about such highs: the user has an illusion of great insight, but it 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.” 37
With the permission of the author, Harvard psychiatry professor Lester Grinspoon would reveal the identity only posthumously.
Is Marijuana really good for sex? Recent debates around this question have mostly taken place in internet portals or in psychological e-journals like “Psychology Today”, with hundreds of users telling about their experiences. Generally, commentaries fall into two groups: while one group argues that marijuana can actually at as an enhancer for sexual pleasure, many others insist that marijuana does not really help or has actually negatively affected their sex life.
“Once again the powers of the herb open up the mind. Seek deep inside. Tell me what you find.“
Cypress Hill, Temples of Boom III
As we mature, we have experiences and gain knowledge about a wide variety of situations and facts. Accumulating knowledge about the world lets us grow into students, teachers, professors, mothers or fathers, skilled professionals or masters of some kind. Clearly, however, there is a special form of knowledge that shapes us the most as we grow: self-knowledge. Our self-knowledge plays a central role in who we are and how we lead our lives. You may remain more or less the same person as you learn new facts about the moon landing, the behavior of red ants or about Fibonacci numbers, but once you learn that your inability to lead a happy marriage is caused by a trauma in your childhood, this one piece of knowledge may change the course of your life forever.
Charles Baudelaire and the Club des Hashashins
The „Club des Hashashins“ was founded in 1844 in Paris, only four decades after the Napoleon’s troops had retreated from their catastrophically failed occupation of Egypt, bringing hashish as their new discovery with them. Napoleon’s troops had first encountered the use of hashish through local muslim dealers, and kept consuming it during the occupation despite the harsh prohibitionist orders imposed by the French government. In a few decades, the use of hashish for recreational as well as medicinal purposes had found its way deep into the societies of France and other European countries.
Imagine yourself in the early nineteen sixties visiting Hawaii for the first time. Walking over the beach you meet a funky guy who shows you an oddly shaped wooden board and tells you to go out and ride the waves. You have heard stories about that thing called “surfing” before. This might actually be fun! Five minutes later, a 9 foot high wave throws you on the shore. You try again, but after you have been thrown back on the beach for the third time you look at your skin rashes and begin to wonder what this is all about.
Marijuana, Taboos, and Logic
When I became interested in the marijuana high almost 15 years ago I knew I was dealing with a taboo subject. I was not aware, however, of the full negative force of this cultural taboo for so many people when it comes to simple reasoning. Obviously, even liberal, intelligent, and highly educated people stop thinking logically when it comes to the discussion of the topic of marijuana – especially when it comes to the aspect of its positive mind-altering potential.