Archive for the ‘Read’ Category

More Than a Pothead by Anonymous

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Dear Dr. Grinspoon, first and foremost I would like to thank you for your work and contributions to the field of marijuana and progressing the movement of a better world. I am 18 years old and live in Northern Virginia with my parents. I am writing to you today in hopes to gain some insight from such a prestigious individual as yourself. Now, I’m aware at the age of 18 and writing to you in regards to marijuana may come off as I am just, as my parents like to put it, a “pothead.”

After attending high school and graduating in the top 5% of my class, I now am attending Northern Virginia Community College. This is not because of poor academics since I graduated with a 4.2 GPA and could’ve attending any college in my state. Due to financial reasons, I was forced to attend community college. Despite the impression a marijuana smoker who attends community college may give off, my ambitions far exceed that of the students around me. I plan to major in Engineering and my college GPA is far beyond what is required. I am a successful, smart young white male who, despite the greatest efforts of my family, have the world at my fingertips. I smoke marijuana only on the weekends as a form of not only escaping my problems, but appreciating the world around me.

My mother has smoked marijuana on very few occasions and my step-father has not at all. After finding a bong in my car, they have threatened to kick me out of their house for engaging in what Virginia claims to be an illegal act. All my parents care about is that what I am doing is illegal, despite the many millions around the world who do so as well. Despite any arguments I have made in favor of marijuana, my family insists on trying to remove me from their household.

I have watched The Culture High and The Union Documentary and read several of your articles in hopes to better my knowledge in defending the medicinal herb that my parents cannot grasp the benefits of. Many smokers at my age smoke to enjoy the pleasure of being ‘high’ and like you call it, to ‘socialize.’ This is not the case for myself because I consider marijuana and the feelings it emits to be an art. I suffer from both general anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder along with occasional depression and suicidal ideations (all diagnosed and have been to the hospital for all disorders).

Marijuana is not only the only drug alive that can completely rid me of my anxiety, but it is the only thing on planet Earth that has given me a peace of mind that nothing has even come close to matching. My mother insists on my consistent consumption of prescription drugs and therapy, which undoubtably have helped me. The problem lies with the fact that I know marijuana is the best and only complete cure. The prescription drugs I have taken have had side-effects and can only do so much for my disorders. Marijuana is the best thing for me and my mere once or twice a week smoke is enough to give me a peace of mind.

My parents have recently drug-tested me and it was shown positive and told me to pack my bags and leave. I packed my bags and shortly thereafter realized I had nowhere to go. I had to hand over my weed and promise not to smoke while I live with them. My problem is I want to live a happy and healthy life and my parents inhibit this from happening. I do not smoke in the house nor do I bring marijuana into my car or house out of respect for my parents, but they insist on me not smoking at all despite it having no effect on them at all.

I am lost and feeling hopeless since I am not in control of how I live my own life. I know I am only 18, but I am certain I know what is best for me now at this age and no matter what happens, I will in the future continue to smoke marijuana and reach my goals and live a happy life.

I am writing to you today in hopes that you can provide some help on the matter to aid my current living situation, whether that be what it is I should do or something I can tell my parents to help them see things for what they really are.

I respect you, Dr. Grinspoon, more than anyone else on the matter of marijuana as the utmost authority on scientific knowledge on the benefits of marijuana and I hope you can help in some way. I apologize for taking up too much of your time, but I would not be writing to you today unless it was a complete necessary. I have very low income since I only tutor due to my busy school schedule. Any help or insight would be very greatly appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon and thank you again for all your work.

The Truth About Using Marijuana for Better Sex by Travis Davis

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

It really is not a secret that smoking marijuana can put you in an euphoric state that appeals to a global audience. Not only can smoking weed relax you after a hard day at work, it has the potential to even heal some common medical ailments.

That all being said, you might be pleasantly surprised to find out that you can also use marijuana to enhance your sexual experiences too. That’s right, smoke a bowl of your favorite herb, climb into bed, and have a sexual experience like you never had before.

Women enjoy smoking marijuana before sex just as much as men; it might surprise guys, however, that the reason is because it enhances their sexual experience. Taking a hit from a joint before sex not only makes the overall experience more enjoyable, but for many, they are finally able to have an orgasm.

The highlight for any male is being able to climax after sex. As great as this feeling is, marijuana has the potential to increase those feelings and make those ejaculations even more powerful.

Studies have shown that one of the most challenging aspects of having sex for guys is performance anxiety. Having performance anxiety goes by many names like being impotent, not being able to get it up, or sexual anxiety. They all mean that the guy is so focused on not being able to perform, that he actually fulfills that premonition and he under performs .Luckily for guys, weed is often the answer; marijuana can not only help to relieve tension, it can calm you down and allow your mind to focus on the pleasing sensations of sex rather than having to step up to the plate and hit that home run.

Weed does have the power to increase sexual desire, and if both partners are smoking before or during sex, they can take their lovemaking sessions to new and thrilling heights. When people are high, they will be more sensitive to sexual urges and feelings. The benefits to smoking weed and enhancing sexual experience are numerous, from eliminating performance anxiety, increasing the intensity of the orgasm, to allowing women the ability to more easily reach an orgasm or multiple orgasms.

My Cannabis Odyssey:  To Vaporize or Not To Vaporize Dr. Grinspoon by Sebastián

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Sebastián Marincolo, Ph.D (philosophy) (*1969) is a former student of the renowned philosophers William G. Lycan and Simon Blackburn. His research focuses on the philosophy of mind, neurocognition, and on the positive mind-altering potential of the cannabis high. He has published numerous articles and three books on the subject. His most recent book is the essay collection “What Hashish Did To Walter Benjamin” (Khargala Press 2015). Marincolo currently lives in Stuttgart, Germany, and works as a writer, researcher, and photographer. His cannabis essays and his art photography can be found at his blog

A few years ago, Lester asked me in one of our many Skype conversations about the cannabis high if I ever had the chance to try the cannabis strain Dr. Grinspoon, which the Dutch seed bank Barney’s Farm had created and named after him. I was surprised and a bit sad to hear that he had never used it himself. Obviously, he was curious to know more about its psychoactive and medical potential.

Since then, I have been to Amsterdam several times and tried to buy either some seeds or some Dr. Grinspoon marijuana to try it myself and to vaporize it – but it was always out of stock, not even available at the original Barney’s Farm store. I had heard from various users and professionals in the cannabis business that the strain would generate a magnificent high. However, they also said that the strain would not bring much yield, would be hard to grow, and it would be almost impossible to get because the demand was so high. I tried to order the seeds over the internet, with no success. My mails to Barney’s Farm did not get answered. When I called, they said it was temporarily out of stock. For a while, then, I gave up.

During my last trip to Amsterdam a few weeks ago I decided to make a last effort and went on another mission to get some Dr. Grinspoon seeds – what followed was a two hour long Odyssey through various stores selling seeds from Barney’s Farm, again with no success. I finally went back to the original Barney’s Farm store only to hear that they would not sell those seeds anymore. A very friendly employee behind the counter confessed to me he would have some seeds at home for himself, but that he would not give them away for anything in the world. ”It’s that good, hm?” I asked him and he gave me a bright, knowing smile, nodding his head. He told me, though, somewhat apologetically, that I could now get some Dr. Grinspoon marijuana at their coffee shop Amnesia a few blocks away.

When I arrived there, I was relieved to hear they actually had some Dr. Grinspoon and bought a tiny amount of the expensive marijuana, which allegedly has a 100% Sativa heritage.

I was extremely curious, but I didn’t want to try it right there. I wanted to sit down in a more relaxed and peaceful environment with C., a good friend of mine and a true cannaficionado. He loves to smoke marijuana in a joint with tobacco, but this time, I told him, we need to vaporize – I didn’t want to waste that precious green gold after this long hunt by burning it in a joint. I have researched the difference between a high resulting from burning versus vaporizing marijuana for quite a while and came to the conclusion that vaporizers generate a high which leaves you much more functional, cognitively speaking. Especially at lower temperatures, a vaporizer generates less CBN (cannabinol, an oxidative breakdown product of THC) compared to any process that burns marijuana. CBN brings some interesting medical effects, but you should avoid it if you want a clear, mind-enhancing high, because it tends to have a sedative, confusing, and disorienting effect. So, we vaporized Dr. Grinspoon with a precision vaporizer at a lower temperature (around 320-340F). For experiential reports, I believe that it really matters to be precise and let others know at which temperature you vaporize a certain strain with its distinctive chemotype. Cannabis contains around 100 cannabinoids and 200 terpenes/terpenoids and some flavonoids, which all have different medical and psychoactive effects. Each of these chemical compounds boil and vaporize at different temperatures and different strains contain different proportions of these compounds. So, by setting your vaporizer to a certain temperature, you extract a distinctive chemical profile from a strain, and each strain contains a unique chemical mix.

Before we inhaled, we wanted to analyze the scent of Dr. Grinspoon to find out more about its terpene profile – the compounds that give cannabis strains their unique scent and which also have distinctive psychoactive and medical effects (cannabinoids have no scent or aroma).

We found that, surprisingly, the small pearl-sized buds had a dominant pine tree scent, which could point to a higher level of the terpene alpha-Pinene. It also smelled like hay, not very sweet and we could not perceive much of a citrus note (which is officially described as one of the defining scents), it was more herbal, and a bit earthy. A very unusual, fine scent.

C. started to vaporize first. We talked about the manuscript of my new book about the marijuana high for a few minutes, knowing that a vaporizer high usually needs a while to take effect. After a few minutes, C. suddenly looked at me with a happy, surprised, and shining smile and said: “I can’t feel the cognitive effects of the high, yet, but I feel a remarkable change in mood; it makes me happy, a very gentle feeling of euphoria.”

A few minutes later I felt exactly what he had described. Not the euphoric rush accompanied by laughter or giggling which so often comes with the quick onset of a strong high along with other changes in cognition. There was only this wonderful change in mood completely separated from any other effects on the mind. No confusion, no silly mishaps that would make you laugh, just happiness. I was beginning to feel very calm, happy, and mentally relaxed. There it was, this profound feeling of euphoria, a state of pure bliss, warm and energetic. What a Sativa queen! The high had not even begun to kick in and it was already obvious that this would be special, majestic.

And then, the high came, slowly, subtle, very gentle, and crystal clear. I never experienced anything like that before. We both felt incredibly focused. In my books on the marijuana high, I often wrote about this “hyperfocus” effect of attention, but this hyperfocusing-effect was truly special. It did not feel so much as perceptually in a “tunnel” of attention, where you focus strongly on something selectively and forget about everything else. It made both of us feel aware of everything around us, calm, clear, highly functional, mentally very sharp and focused, yet open, and thoughtful. Perfect for an ADHD person like me, I guess, and I am sure this mental focus could help a lot of others, too.

There were no disruptions of short-term memory, not even once during that whole evening. Neither C. nor I lost the thread while talking or listening to the other.

The enhanced flow in thinking was amazing. Not too much speed, no mind-racing. I didn’t fall off from the back end of a speeding train of thought. Also, remarkably, there was practically no effect on the body. We felt energetic, yet neither agitated nor physically relaxed, and definitely not physically “stoned”.

When C. left for the kitchen to prepare some food, I felt an amazing stillness and clarity. I felt confident, strong, sharp, happy, very much myself, nobly elevated, and my intellectual abilities enhanced. This strain is like a rare champagne, a whole new experience.

C. came back and we talked for hours, generated great ideas, we had such an amazing evening! Later, walking home, I came up with some more great ideas for my new book.

After describing the effects of Dr. Grinspoon on my mind I was curious to read about whether the terpene alpha-Pinene which seemed to C. and me to be one of the dominant scents in Dr. Grinspoon. The cannabis information resource Leafly says that alpha-Pinene “helps counter short-term memory loss associated with THC and promotes alertness.”  That makes perfect sense to me, but I could not find out so far whether the strain really contains high levels of alpha-Pinene.

In the last years, when I felt I need more clarity and get that elevated and euphoric feeling of insight, I often called Lester Grinspoon on skype to talk to him about the marijuana high. So, now, if he’s not available because he is busily giving interviews or consulting cannabis activists I can just go and vaporize Dr. Grinspoon. From now on I have the Grinspoon twins to talk to.

What a blessing.

My Description of a Dr. Grinspoon High by Sebastián

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Dear Dr. Grinspoon,

I just came back from Amsterdam, where I went for negotiations with Sensi Seeds. On my last day there I went on a mission to obtain some Dr. Grinspoon seeds – what followed was a three hour long Odyssey with partial success. I asked in several stores and couldn’t get anything, then went to the original store of Barney’s Farm only to hear that they do not sell those seeds anymore – it seems that they had problems to keep the strain stable or something like that. An employee said I should try to write to Derry himself, he would surely have something left and could maybe send me something. I wrote him, no reply so far, but I am still hoping. But, also, the employee send me to Barney’s coffee shop „Amnesia“ in Amsterdam, where I was able to buy some Dr. Grinspoon grass (official price 18EUR/gram, maybe the most expensive strain of them all).

My friend Michael I vaporized a little sample of „Dr. Grinspoon“ at a low temperature in a Storz & Bickel Plenty vaporizer. Let me tell you, the high is supreme. Unbelievable. I gave you a report on smoking this strain a while ago, but I now believe that this was not the real Dr. Grinspoon (even though it was great). I know it was the real deal yesterday because I got it from Barney’s and the little buds looked exactly like on the photo of the plant. The smell: pine tree (dominant), hay, not sweet, very herbal, no citrus notes, maybe a bit earthy. Very unusual, fine. So, probably, given the smell, it contains a lot of the terpene alpha-pinene.

Michael first experienced a significant change in mood: it made him happy, but calmly so. I felt the same mood swing a few minutes later. We were still completely clear, cognitively speaking, when the mood effect kicked in. A very interesting type of euphoria, a state of pure bliss, warm and energetic. What a Sativa queen! No “laughies” (that’s how I call the phase where you laugh a lot during a high), no confusion, no silly mishaps, just happiness. Then, the high came, slowly, gently, crystal clear. We both felt strongly focused – not focused as “in a tunnel,” perception wise, just very sharp, calm, on top of things, aware, functional. No disruptions of short-term memory. Our episodic and semantic memory worked great – it gives you an amazing flow in thinking. Not too much speed. You don’t fall off from the back end of a speeding train of thought (I am pretty sure you know what I mean here). Almost no effect on the body. When I was alone for a few minutes, I felt an amazing stillness. Majestic. Like champaign, a whole new level!

Lester, I’m not exaggerating … greetings from Michael, too, he confirms: this was one of our best highs ever, if not the best. We talked for hours, generated great ideas, we had such an amazing evening! Later when walking home I came up with some more great ideas for my new book.

This grass is well worth bearing your name!

Best wishes,

The Sleeper Has Awakened by Space Cowboy

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

I was quite tense when I smoked my first joint; I was seventeen years old back then. I initially felt the same until it suddenly kicked me smoothly, and I started feeling my hands and feet becoming lighter than usual. I was flabbergasted. Then, what occurred to me next was the unbelievable magic of this plant, a tranquil sense of sight, hearing, taste and well-being. Experiencing this new state of consciousness quickly eradicated the prejudices that I formerly carried with me back on those slumbering days. A part of the matrix eventually unfolded in front of my eyes, and for the first time, I told myself that my eyes are now finally open to the naked truth. This plant is one of the sacred gifts of God.

If we will enumerate some of the plant’s benefit to mankind, I would say one is its ability in redefining music. If you are a music lover, I say you should definitely smoke marijuana. During those earlier days of my experimentation, I explored few of the many genres of music under the influence, and the results are purely astonishing. For the first time in my life, I could hear every instrumentation and vocalization with utter vividness. Ranging from alternative rock to reggae, pop, jazz, soul, electronic and trance, each passing day filled my soul with amazement. Music was never the same again.

Meanwhile, as the days passed by, visions and ideas suddenly emanated within me. I felt myself evolving with this plant. I started to speak my mind with my family and friends regarding the vast complexity and surprises of life itself. I started to question the veracity of acquiring a religion by the day a child is born; as well the media’s actual relevance to people. I consciously detached myself away from the imposed dogmas and entertained calmly varied ideas as a free-thinker. Certain roads in my life that were once blemished with trivial inhibitions were traversed curiously while at the same time being aware of its consequence and the essential needs of my mind and soul was fed satisfyingly with the present clarity that now engulfed me.

The cosmic love that sleeps within me was triggered by this plant, I suddenly became aware that deeper from our flesh and bones lies our very existence that was undoubtedly created by love itself. Love, which is usually being misunderstood at certain stages in our lives, embraces my heart and soul whenever I smoke marijuana. And as I grow older, I now bravely welcome life’s uncertainties, as long as I always follow the utmost desires of my heart.

What Would I Do Without Weed? by Anonymous

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Written by a 65-year-old retired schoolteacher from Northern California…

I don’t drink coffee.  I love the taste and I like the energy.  But I don’t like the edge.  When I got older, it gave me heart palpitations, made me nervous.  So I quit.

I don’t smoke cigarettes.  My dad did.  My parents both died of cancer.  Today, I worry about the residual effects of second-hand smoke.  No, I never started smoking.

I don’t drink alcohol.  I drank it in college.  It made me say and do stupid things. The hangover ruined my weekends. And, I’ve seen alcohol ruin lives and families, firsthand.  So, I stopped after college.

I don’t do prescription pain meds unless it’s absolutely necessary.  I did pain pills after two operations because pain hurts.  But quitting is a nightmare.  Messes up my mind.  Showed me true depression, even desperation.  Hard drugs?  Never.

But, fresh, organic, pulverized, marijuana bud is a great addition to a ginger-molasses cookie.  It puts me in a good mood.  Helps me forget my cares.  Makes me concentrate on the task at hand.  It can get me out there gardening and landscaping, or help me enjoy exercise.  It moves me to clean house while listening to music or a book.  It helps me to enjoy my life.

Rheumatoid arthritis slowly cripples my joints.  What would I do without weed?

Retired Teacher, 65, Northern California

A Letter to Dr. Grinspoon by Jim Geesman

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Dr. Grinspoon,

Thank you sir, for your efforts at righting our society’s current wrong. You and I know a benign plant that provides humans with relief in whatever form they find it, should not be demonized, nor illegal.

I’m a 58 year old white male, born and raised in southern California , married father of two college grads, living in the hills above the Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz County . In January of 06 I had my second grand mal seizure, discovery and resection of my Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumor, and a prognosis for a median life expectancy of 16 months. A clinical trial “IL-13”, standard care chemo and radiation, and here I am.

I was 15 yrs. old when a friend presented me with my first opportunity to smoke pot. He and I are still friends, 43 years later, despite living more than 200 miles apart. I attended his 30th wedding anniversary party last year, and have played golf with both he and his sons a couple of times in the last three years. I ‘m mentioning this because I want people to understand that lifelong cannabis users are also well adjusted, responsible, loved, loving, happy people.

I wasn’t a lifelong user until I developed a medical use, and strangely enough, there are times I’m grateful for my brain tumor, without which I wouldn’t be enjoying my daily ritual of getting high. That’s right. I am surviving brain cancer. It wasn’t until about 30 months after my tumor surgery that I had my first post-diagnosis seizure. I was prescribed Keppra as an anti-seizure medication, with its known side effect of irritability and nickname of Kepprage. I made those discoveries within a couple of weeks of starting the drug. About this same time I learned that cannabis was being used to treat seizures. I’ve been a daily user ever since, grateful for the compassion existing in enough people to make it legal through Prop.215. I thought it was legal. What do you think? No wonder a side effect of using the plant, for some people some of the time, is self doubt.

With the brain tumor and treatment, etc., I’m now disabled. What a beautiful country. I’d created a comfortable life for myself and family, but clearly am beyond my working life. That kind of mental energy doesn’t exist for me anymore. So my life has become that of a gardener/golfer. My gardening provides my medicine, my country provides my financial needs, and my golf provides my exercise, both physical and mental. I shot a 9 over par 80 ten days ago and can still hit the ball pretty well. Being an athletic 6’4” and 240 toned lbs., people don’t recognize my disability at first glance. I was very lucky with the brain I was issued at birth. Granted, it did develop a nasty tumor, but for what it’s been through, I’m extremely grateful for what I have and can do. I use it to celebrate life, finding the energy it provides me with allows me to get up and out and involved with my surroundings

I use cannabis to “get back to normal”. It makes me feel “right”. I’ve mentioned to some of my older golfing friends that it’s the closest thing there is to the Fountain of Youth. It really does make me feel younger and stronger, and I use it when I have a task to perform, or just want to get a good stretching session in. I truly pity those people that have been victimized by the fear mongering “drug war” rhetoric. They are missing out on something the planet provides for our brains. I now consider cannabis, with it’s chemical parallel also being produced by the human brain, a healthy choice.

I wake and bake every day. I walk 18 holes of golf several days a week. I announce the action at basketball games for my local high school, the only place where I don’t proudly advocate for ending Prohibition. I think it’s time we start using the capital P, and get a bit more offense minded. Those of us with the intelligence and experience to know should be fighting harder to end this Prohibition. It is criminal. Only ignorant, not necessarily stupid, people are against the people who’ve expanded their horizons and learned through personal experience that a little mind altering can be a good thing. Feeling better than you did before you took your medicine is certainly a good thing.

A very important consideration for those of us that know the plant well, is to recognize that some people don’t have the kind of brain that can relax and enjoy the effects. Something in these poor people’s brains causes them an anxiety that grows until they believe in their cores that there’s something wrong with feeling good. Paranoia happens when you believe that others surely must know that you’re high, and being high is illegal, and you’re going to wind up in a van down by the river. Those of us that have control over our brains don’t have such problems. Is it envy that causes people to prefer Prohibition?

I hope this meets with your expectations for a written contribution. Once again, I’m thanking you for lending your voice, face, name and efforts toward ending Prohibition. We’re on the right side.

Best regards,
Jim Geesman

We All Want to Change the World: Drugs, Politics, and Spirituality; From A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles by Mark Hertsgaard

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Chapter 16 from Mark Hertsgaard’s A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles; “We All Want to Change the World: Drugs, Politics, and Spirituality.”

Copyright © 1995 by Mark Hertsgaard, ISBN: 0-385-31517-1 

(p191)  Although their music was always the basis of the Beatles’ mass appeal, what made them larger-than- life figures – what made them matter so much to so many people – went well beyond beautiful lyric and melody. Calling them “an abstraction, like Christmas,” Derek Taylor once observed that the Beatles “represented hope, optimism, wit, lack of pretension, [the idea] that anyone can do it, provided they have the will to do it. They just seemed unstoppable.” By virtue of their own example, the Beatles gave people faith in their ability to change themselves and the world around them: you could do it, because they had done it. After starting out as four seemingly average lads from a backwater town in Northern England, they had become a worldwide sensation, but along the way they had also made themselves into more creative, empathic, and interesting individuals. Their dizzying rise to fame and fortune may have been difficult for the average person to identify with, but their search for truth and personal growth was not. As Lennon sang in 1967, “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.”

When the Beatles first burst upon the global stage in 1964, they did not appear much interested in the larger world or deeper questions of life, but they soon became very interested. Asked during a press conference at the height of Beatlemania to define success, for example, all four (192) replied in unison, “Money.” The threat of nuclear war, on the other hand, provoked only such self-absorbed banalities as Lennon’s remark that “now that we’ve made it, it would be a pity to get bombed.” Within a few years, however, the Beatles had evolved into leading figures of the 1960s counterculture, extolling a philosophy of love, peace, spiritual exploration, and social change. “For a while we thought we were having some influence,” recalled George Harrison, “and the idea was to show that we, by being rich and famous and having all these experiences, had realized that there was a greater thing to be got out of life – and what’s the point of having that on your own? You want all your friends and everybody else to do it, too.”

The crucial catalyst for the Beatles’ transformation from lovable moptops to high-minded rebels was their involvement with consciousness- raising drugs, specifically marijuana and LSD. No one liked fun more than the Beatles, but for them drugs were not simply about having a good time. Marijuana and LSD were also and more profoundly tools of knowledge, a means of gaining access to higher truths about themselves and the world. Indeed, it was above all the “desire to find out,” as Harrison later put it, that lay beneath their involvement not only with mind-expanding drugs but with Eastern philosophy as well. In their own ways, each of the Beatles had resisted received wisdom ever since their days as defiant young rock ‘n’ rollers back in Liverpool; the wonder is that their rise to superstardom did not extinguish their natural curiosity and independence of thought. They remained seekers, and their quest for enlightenment, despite moments of stumbling and naiveté, spurred countless others to stretch the limits of their own horizons.

It was marijuana that came first and triggered “the U-turn,” as McCartney put it, in the Beatles’ attitude toward life. Of course, as far as “drugs” in general were concerned, the Beatles had been heavy consumers for years, beginning with their swilling of beer and popping of pills in Hamburg. But after Bob Dylan introduced them to the green goddess of marijuana in August 1964, “we dropped drink, simple as that,” said Lennon.

The magic moment took place in the privacy of a New York hotel room during the Beatles’ first tour of the United States. It was the first (193) time the Beatles and Dylan had met one another, and it turned out to be a very amusing and enjoyable evening. Like many novice pot smokers, the Beatles simply couldn’t stop giggling. For his part, Dylan was surprised to learn that the Fab Four had never smoked pot before. After all, he’d heard them sing about it, hadn’t he? What about those lines in “I Want to Hold Your Hand” about “I get high, I get high, I get high”? Dylan’s error was understandable; the Beatles’ voicing of “I can’t hide” did sound a lot like “I get high.” In any case, once Dylan turned them on, the Beatles started getting high every chance they got. “We’ve got a lot to thank him for,” Lennon later acknowledged.

By the spring of 1965, when they were shooting the movie Help!, the Beatles were smoking marijuana on a daily basis. It offered them welcome relief from the all-engulfing pressures of Beatlemania – they were “in our own world” when smoking grass, John recalled – and it made them laugh even more than usual with one another; indeed, “Let’s have a laugh” reportedly became their code phrase for stealing away for a quick smoke. But the larger significance of their embrace of marijuana was that it further stimulated their already prodigious creativity, and it made them think, really think, for the first time in their lives. With their physical senses heightened and their mental faculties unlocked, they experienced reality in a fuller, more vivid way, which in turn yielded fresh realizations about what kinds of art were possible and what kind of life was desirable. “It was a move away from accepted values and you thought it out for yourself rather than just accept it,” said McCartney.

If marijuana left the Beatles feeling, in Derek Taylor’s phrase, “taller and broader of mind,” psychedelic drugs took that taller, broader mind to places it would never forget. “It was like opening the door, really, and before you didn’t even know there was a door there. It just opened up this whole other consciousness,” George Harrison explained, adding, “I had such an overwhelming feeling of well-being, that there was a God, and I could see him in every blade of grass. It was like gaining hundreds of years of experience within twelve hours. It changed me, and there was no way back to what I was before.”

Harrison cited 1966 as the year LSD came into the Beatles’ lives, but in fact all four Beatles except Paul had taken acid at least once by (194) the time they started recording Rubber Soul in October 1965. John and George had the first experience, though not of their own volition. They and their wives were having dinner one night with their dentist when the dentist secretly drugged the coffee. Not knowing what to expect from LSD, the four guests naturally felt frightened when its effects began to kick in. They fled to a London discotheque, screaming, laughing, hallucinating, and eventually drove back to George’s house, which looked to Lennon like a giant submarine. “It was just terrifying, but it was fantastic,” John said afterward.

Sometime later (the date of the dentist encounter has never been fixed), John and George took LSD again, but under far more hospitable circumstances, and this time joined by Ringo. It was August 1965 and the Beatles were renting a house in the posh Los Angeles neighborhood of Benedict Canyon during a few days off from their second American tour. The acid was supplied by actor Peter Fonda, and although Fonda’s comments about death (recounted in “She Said, She Said“) unsettled Lennon, John later recalled the scene in idyllic terms: “The sun was shining and the girls were dancing and the whole thing was beautiful and Sixties.” Paul, however, stayed straight that day, despite heavy pressure from his bandmates to join in.

Indeed, another twenty months would pass before the cautious McCartney investigated LSD firsthand, on March 21, 1967. By this time the Beatles had completed their first acid-soaked album, Revolver, and had nearly finished Sgt Pepper. Although they frequently smoked marijuana in the studio, the Beatles never dropped acid while working, except on this one occasion, when John took some by mistake. After announcing that he felt ill, John was taken up to the open, railingless roof of Abbey Road Studios by George Martin to get some air. When Paul and George Harrison, who knew why John felt odd, learned where he was, they dashed up to retrieve him and Paul drove him home. In the car, Paul asked if John had any more LSD, and soon the two partners were tripping together.

Years later, Paul said he took acid that night mainly to keep John company, but in the immediate aftermath of the event he spoke far more exuberantly about what he had experienced. He and John had taken “this fantastic thing,” he told Derek Taylor, after which they sat (195) staring “into each other’s eyes . . . and then saying, ‘I know, man,’ and then laughing.” Publicly, Paul declared that LSD had “opened my eyes. It made me a better, more honest, more tolerant member of society.” Pete Shotton, who, like McCartney, had long resisted Lennon’s urgings of LSD, nevertheless offered a similar view of the drug’s effect on John. LSD “brought enthusiasm back into his life,” wrote Shotton. “. . . It also served to smooth away some of the rough edges of his personality, virtually curing him of his arrogance and paranoia.” It was because of reactions like these that Derek Taylor later said, “We felt liberated by the experience of taking LSD, and that’s why it’s hard to see it lumped together with addictive drugs and other things. I think if you were doing it all the time it would be a madhouse. You couldn’t raise children or hold a job. . . . [But for exposing one to] other verities, other structures than the usual, I think it was very helpful.”

For four individuals as creatively inclined as the Beatles, it was only natural that the personal growth sparked by marijuana and LSD would affect their art. “It started to find its way into everything we did, really,” Paul said of the Beatles’ experiences with drugs. “It colored our perceptions. I think we started to realize there wasn’t as many frontiers we’d thought there were. And we realized we could break barriers. The Beatles’ first musical reference to marijuana came a mere six weeks after their hotel room encounter with Dylan, when John and Paul inserted the line “turns me on” into the song “She’s A Woman,” recorded on October 8, 1964. It was another year before the next hints – John’s imitation of a pot smoker on the background vocals of “Girl” on Rubber Soul and his song about a “Day Tripper.” But to take only the direct mentions of drugs in the Beatles’ music misses the point, and not simply because outsiders often surmised drug allusions when the Beatles didn’t intend them. The Beatles had too light an artistic touch to reduce their songs to any one gimmick, be it a drug, a new musical instrument, or a clever studio trick; the influence of LSD and marijuana on their art was more subtle than that.

The drugs “didn’t write the music,” Lennon once said. I write the music in the circumstances in which I’m in, whether it’s on acid or in the water.” What marijuana and LSD did was to change the sensibility that the Beatles brought to their music. “We found out very early (196) that if you play it stoned or derelict in any way it was really shitty music, so we would have the experiences and then bring that into the music later,” explained Ringo. The first stirrings of an alternate awareness were evident on the Help! Album, where songs like the title track and John’s “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” foreshadowed the gr eater depth and meaning that would characterize the Beatles’ work in years to come. On Rubber Soul, probably the single most marijuana- flavored album, the songs became more consistently sophisticated and the Beatles began to articulate the cheerful, humanistic sensibility that became a central element of the 1960s zeitgeist. “The Word” in particular on Rubber Soul was later identified as a product of the “marijuana period” by John, who said it was “about – gettin’ smart . . . the love and peace thing.” Revolver, of course, was the first psychedelically inclined album, as much in its sounds as its subject matter. And then came Sgt Pepper; the biggest barrier-breaker of them all.

Despite the ever more obvious indications that the Beatles, like generations of artists before them, were lubricating their natural creativity with mind-altering substances, the world at large remained blissfully ignorant of their transformation until Sgt Pepper. Indeed, George Martin himself, though he knew the Beatles smoked pot, “had no idea they were also into LSD.” The first whiff of controversy came on May 19, 1967, thirteen days before Pepper was released, when the BBC banned its classic song, “A Day in the Life,” from the public airwaves on the grounds that it might promote drug-taking. But the fact that the Beatles themselves took drugs remained largely unknown for another month, until Paul disclosed, in reply to a reporter’s question, that yes, he had taken LSD and was not ashamed of it. The uproar was immediate, and it only intensified when John, George, and Brian Epstein, in reply to further press inquiries, said that they, too, had taken acid to positive effect. (Indeed, John and at least one other Beatle were tripping – or “flying,” as John put it – during the photo session for the Sgt Pepper album cover.)

It was difficult to make a convincing argument that drugs had ruined the Beatles’ lives, for they had just issued an album of breathtaking genius, widely recognized as the most impressive achievement in popular (197) music for many years. Indeed, the period of the Beatles’ heaviest drug use coincided with the three albums that may well be their finest: Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt Pepper. Nevertheless, the sense of shock and betrayal felt by the Establishment that had previously celebrated the Beatles was palpable, and the ensuing counterattack extended from news media vilification to police harassment. In separate incidents, both John and George were arrested months later for possessing illegal drugs. Each protested that the drugs supposedly found in his house did not belong to him, and there is reason to believe their claims; the arresting officer, London police sergeant Norman Pilcher, was later sentenced to six years in prison for planting evidence on suspects in other cases. Amidst all the criticism, the Beatles nevertheless stood by their beliefs. When leading figures from the British arts and entertainment world placed a full-page advertisement in the Times of London on July 24, 1967, calling the laws against marijuana “immoral in principle and unworkable in practice,” the Beatles both signed the petition and guaranteed its costs.

Yet, exactly one month later, the Beatles shocked the world anew by announcing that they were now giving up drugs. Their image remained under a cloud, however, for their announcement came in the context of a newfound enthusiasm for the spiritual teachings of an Indian guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; in the eyes of many, the Beatles had merely replaced one set of weird beliefs for another. The following February, the Beatles made a much publicized journey to the Maharishi’s meditation center in India and came away doubting that he was as holy as they first thought. But while they distanced themselves from the messenger, they did not discard the message. In their view, mind-expanding drugs and spiritual practice were simply different paths to the same goal of higher consciousness; neither was an answer in itself. Drugs and meditation could “open a few doors,” said McCartney, but it was up to you to walk through them: “You get the answers yourself.” Distinguishing themselves from the passive, socially unengaged stance of some sixties hippies, Lennon and Harrison, previously the two heaviest drug-users in the Beatles, argued that “worshiping” a drug was wrong, just as withdrawing from society was selfish and irresponsible. “It’s not drop out, it’s drop in and change it,” (198) said John. George added, “It’s drop out of the old established way ofth ought . . . [and] drop in with this changed concept of life and try to influence . . . people.”

“In a way we’d turned out to be a “Trojan Horse,” John later said of the Beatles. “The Fab Four moved right to the top and then sang about drugs and sex and then I got more and more into the heavy stuff and that’s when they started dropping us.” The first “heavy stuff” to cause trouble had been John’s remark that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” First mentioned in a long profile article in the London Evening Standard on March 4, 1966, the remark occasioned no particular comment until it was quoted out of context in an American teen magazine some five months later. On factual grounds, Lennon’s observation was quite possibly true, but the outrage it provoked among Christian fundamentalists led to boycotts and public burnings of Beatles records in some parts of the American southern Bible Belt, as well as death threats against the Beatles themselves. At a press conference in Chicago on August 11, on the eve of the Beatles’ third American tour, as hostile reporters insisted that he apologize, John tried to explain that he had been misinterpreted. He pointed out that he had not said that the Beatles were “greater or better” than Jesus, only more popular. “I believe that what people call a God is something in all of us,” he said. “I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.” The reporters deafly continued to demand an apology. Finally Lennon said, “If that will make you happy, then okay, I’m sorry.” Yet minutes later, Lennon delved into more “heavy stuff” by coming out against the Vietnam War, the hot-button issue of the 1960s.

Close friends Derek Taylor and Pete Shotton later cited 1966 as the year that the Beatles, and John most of all, took a sudden new interest in political issues – another consequence, it seems, of the growth in awareness stimulated by their use of marijuana and LSD – and this new awareness was followed by a desire to change their behavior accordingly. According to John, the Beatles had opposed the Vietnam War privately for some time, but manager Epstein had dissuaded them from speaking out on such a controversial issue. However, John and George in particular had grown impatient with silence – “The continual awareness of what (199) was going on made me feel ashamed I wasn’t saying anything,” said John – and they duly warned Epstein prior to the 1966 tour that, in John’s words, “When they ask next time, we’re going to say that we don’t like that war and we think they should get right out.” This the group did, and not just once. Moreover, they went beyond condemnation of the war to a critique of the larger social and economic structures that lay behind it. In April 1968, when Lennon blasted the Vietnam War as “another piece of the insane scene,” his interviewer asked what he thought should be done about “the Establishment.” “Change it,” John replied, “and not replace it with another set of Harris tweed suits. Change it completely.” He was honest enough to add, “But how do you do that, we don’t know.”

Of course, the most powerful weapon at the Beatles’ disposal was their music. George later explained, “We felt obviously that Vietnam was wrong – I think any war is wrong, for that matter – and in some of our lyrics we expressed those feelings and tried to be the counterculture, to try and wake up as many people as we could to the fact that you don’t have to fight. You can call a halt to war and you can have a laugh and dress up silly, and that’s what that period was all about. . . . It was all part of our retaliation against the evil that was taking place and still is taking place.” With the exception of Lennon’s song “Revolution,” the Beatles were never as outspokenly topical as, say, Dylan in his early years.

Nevertheless, their music was by no means without political implications and effect. Precisely because the messages of their songs were stated less explicitly, the Beatles were able to reach people who would not have responded to more overt forms of address. They did not sing about racism, war, and injustice directly, but there was no doubt how they felt about such issues; the sensibility that permeated their music rejected such barbarisms. The outstanding example was Sgt Pepper, an album praised by the American radical activist Abbie Hoffman as ”Beethoven coming to the supermarket! . . . It summed up so much of what we were saying politically, culturally, artistically, expressing our inner feelings and our view of the world in a way that was so revolutionary.”

“They had, and conveyed, a realization that the world and human consciousness had to change,” poet Allen Ginsberg said of the Beatles. But that was only part of their significance. The essence of the Beatles’ (200) message was not simply that the world had to change, but, more importantly, that it could change. There is nothing particularly original about thinking that things should be different; as John pointed out in “Revolution,” “We all want to change the world.” The truly radical first step is believing it can actually happen. In their public statements and their music, usually subtly and implicitly, the Beatles proclaimed that it was indeed possible to break the old patterns and forge a kinder, more peaceful reality, that it was important to care not just about the war in Vietnam but about other manifestations of evil, and that it was important to try to do something. It was up to you – which is to say, all of us – to make changes, and you could do it. That message resonated deeply and powerfully in the mass psyche, for it put people in closer touch with their higher selves and made them feel part of a larger project of human renewal. The Beatles, in short, brought out the best in people, which is a large part of why so many people cared, and still care, so passionately about them.

The Beatles’ evolution into cultural radicals – their use of drugs, their adoption of long hair and colorful clothing, their dissent from the official policies of the day, their promotion of an alternative worldview – made them heroes to some and outlaws to others, but above all it made them socially relevant in a way few artists ever manage to be. The individual Beatles would later deny having been the architects of a vast sea change in social attitudes that occurred during the 1960s, claiming they were simply swept along by a larger momentum. “Maybe the Beatles were in the crow’s nest shouting ‘Land Ho!’ or something like that, but we were all in the same damn boat,” exclaimed Lennon. But part of their genius as artists was to be in touch with the spirit of their age, to give voice to the underlying, inchoate human yearnings of their time and place.

The Beatles, Yoko Ono once said, “were like mediums. They weren’t conscious of all they were saying but it was coming through them.” Or, as George Martin put it, “The great thing about the Beatles is that they were of their time. Their timing was right. They didn’t choose it, someone else chose it for them, but their timing was right and they left their mark in history because of that. I think they expressed the mood of the people and their own generation.”


Page 191: Derek Taylor’s “an abstraction like Christmas” quote comes from a video interview he gave years after the Beatles disbanded, contained on a reel of privately collected footage that was viewed by the author. The Beatles’ press conference remarks about success and nuclear war are reported on page 58 of Miles’s Beatles: In Their Own Words.

Page 192: George Harrison’s “For a while we thought we were having some influence” quote is found on page 136 of Derek Taylor’s It Was Twenty Years Ago Today. His the “desire to find out” quote is from an interview in the October 22, 1987, issue of Rolling Stone.

Page 192: McCartney’s “U-turn” remark is found on page 50 of his 1989-90 World Tour program, where he also describes how pot led the Beatles to abandon drink and pills. Lennon’s comment about drink is found on page 82 of Lennon Remembers by Jann Wenner. Dylan’s confusion about the actual lyrics of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is noted by McCartney in his World Your Program. His recollection is reinforced by Ray Coleman’s Lennon: The Definitive  Biography, page 343, where Coleman recalls a 1964 interview he did with Dylan in which Dylan expressed  astonishment that “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was not a drug song and the Beatles not marijuana smokers. The story of the meeting during which Dylan got the Beatles high for the first time is told most expansively in Brown and Gaines The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles, pages 143-44, though it must be noted that neither of the authors claims to have been present that night, nor do they cite specific sources for the detailed descriptions and specific dialogue they present in the book. However, central elements of their story are supported by Lennon’s remarks on page 52 of Rolling Stone’s book The Ballad of John and Yoko, which also contains his “We’ve got a lot to thank him for” quote.

Page 193: The daily smoking habits of the Beatles during Help!, and the reshooting this sometimes made necessary, are recounted by Lennon on page 149 of the Playboy Interviews, which also contains his “in our own world” quote. The “Let’s have a laugh” code phrase is qualified in the text with the word “reportedly” because it is not based on a direct statement by one of the Beatles but on the account in The Love You Make. McCartney’s “It was a move away from accepted values” quote is from page 50 of the World Tour Program and is supported from a quote from George Harrison, found in the October 22, 1987, issue of Rolling Stone, saying that before acid and marijuana, the Beatles were always rushing around too much to have time to think about what was happening to them. Derek Taylor’s “taller and broader of mind” quote is found on page 88 of his book It was Twenty Years Ago Today. Harrison’s “It was like opening the door” quote is from the November 5, 1987, issue of Rolling Stone, which also includes his citation of 1966 as the year of LSD for the Beatles.

Page 194: Lennon has offered the fullest description of the night with the LSD-dispensing dentist, found on pages 73-75 of Lennon Remembers, and the fact that the acid was given to them without their knowledge is supported by Harrison on page 120 of Miles’s The Beatles: In Their Own Words. The description of the second LSD trip, in Los Angeles, is based on the Lennon recollection just cited, as well as Peter Fonda’s comments on pages 217-18 of The Ballad of John and Yoko and Lennon’s 1980 comments in the Playboy Interviews. The fact that McCartney declined to take LSD that day is supported both by the Lennon recollections and by an interview of McCartney in the September 11, 1986, Rolling Stone. That McCartney took his first acid trip with Lennon after took it by mistake one night in the studio is based on the McCartney interview just cited. The actual date and the other details reported are found in a variety of sources, including that interview, Lennon’s comments on page 76 of Lennon Remembers, George Martin’s memories, as reported on pages 206-07 of his book All You Need is Ears, Hunter Davies’s eyewitness account on pages 270-71 of his The Beatles, and page 104 of Mark Lewisohn’s Recording Sessions.

Page 194: McCartney’s “this fantastic thing” quote is found on page 21 of Taylor’s It Was Twenty Years Ago Today. His “opened my eyes” quote is reported on page 136 of Shotton’s book John Lennon In My Life, page 118 of which contains Shotton’s “brought enthusiasm back” quote. Extremist that he was, Lennon later went too far with LSD, taking it so often that its benefits were lost on him and the battering of his ego became intolerable. He therefore stopped taking acid sometime in the summer of 1967, only to return to it one weekend the following spring under the guidance of Derek Taylor, who assured Lennon of the many reasons he had to believe in himself. The story is told on pages 77-78 of Lennon Remembers and on pages 322-23 of Coleman’s Lennon. Lennon, as quoted on pages 116-19 of Beatles: In Their Own Words, later credited Taylor for helping him shed the depression that had been haunting him and recover the confidence he had lost in himself, a process reinforced, he said, by the arrival of Yoko Ono in his life. The spring 1968 date is based on deduction on Lennon’s reference to Ono, with whom he became lovers sometime in May 1968 (probably on May 19, reports Lewisohn on page 283 of his The Complete Beatles Chronicle), and on Taylor’s own recollections, as found on pages 62-63 of his book As Time Goes By. Taylor’s “We felt liberated” quote is found on the video documentary The Compleat Beatles.

Page 195: McCartney’s “It started to find its way” quote is from page 88 of Taylor’s It Was Twenty Years Ago Today. That “She’s A Woman” contained the Beatles’ first direct musical reference to drugs is based on Lennon’s comment on page 147 of the Lennon Interviews and the lack of any such supporting information regarding any previous Beatles song. Subsequent references to drugs are, in this book, cited in the order of their appearance. Lennon’s “didn’t write the music” quote is found on page 78 of Lennon Remembers. Page 195: Ringo’s “we found out very early” quote is from page 110 of George Martin’s book The Summer of Love. Lennon’s “gettin’ smart . . . the love-and-peace-thing” quote is found on page 173 of the Playboy Interviews. George Martin’s “had no idea they were also into LSD” quote is found on page 207 of his book (with Jeremy Hornsby) All You Need Is Ears.

Page 196: The BBC banning order and McCartney’s LSD admission are noted on page 255-56 of Lewisohn’s Chronicle. McCartney’s lack of shame is supported by his quote that acid “opened my eyes,” as reported on page 136 of Shotton’s book John Lennon In My Life. Before long, however, in the face of the onslaught of media and political criticism, McCartney spoke differently. He never disavowed LSD, but he blamed the media for making too much of his statement.  HYPERLINK “”In a testy exchange with an English television reporter, recounted on page 116 of Taylor’s It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, McCartney denied trying to spread the word about LSD, saying it was the media itself that was doing so. Asked if he didn’t have a responsibility as a public figure for what he said, Paul replied, “I mean that you are spreading this now at this moment. This is going into all the homes in Britain, and I’d rather it didn’t. You’re asking me the question, you want me to be honest, I’ll be honest. But it’s you who have got the responsibility not to spread this now.” (Taylor’s account is also the source regarding the subsequent admissions by John, George, and Brian Epstein). That two of the Beatles were “flying” during the Sgt Pepper photo session was revealed by John during an interview contained in unreleased video footage from the early 1970’s which was viewed by the author. With a smirk at the camera, John divulged that two of the Beatles were flying and two weren’t during the session. Although the second flying Beatle might have been Paul or Ringo, it seems most likely that it was George, since George was the one who did the most LSD during this period and Paul in particular would have been unlikely to take LSD during such an important photo session. The stories of John’s and George’s drug arrests are told on pages 288-91 and 308-10 of Peter Brown’s The Love You Make, and, in John’s case, pages 458-59 of Coleman’s Lennon, and in George’s, pages 62-65 of Geoffrey Giuliano’s Dark Horse. The latter source provides the information about Sergeant Pilcher.

Page 197: The ad in the Times of London is described on pages 78-79 of ibid., as well as page 117 of It Was Twenty Years Ago Today. The Beatles’ renunciation of drugs is described in their own words on pages 32 and 36 of Beatles: In Their Own Words and cited as well on page 243 of The Love You Make, which also described their relationship with the Maharishi on pages 239-44, and on page 703 of Coleman’s Lennon. McCartney’s “open a few doors” quote, and the remarks by John and George in the same paragraph, are found on page 115 and page 37, respectively, of Beatles: In Their Own Words.

Page 198: Lennon’s “Trojan Horse” quote is on page 123 of ibid. The story of Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” remark is based on pages 404-09 of Coleman’s Lennon, pages 212-13 of Lewisohn’s Chronicle, pages 191-94 of Brown’s The Love You Make, and pages 28 and 32 of Beatles: In Their Own Words. Coleman and Brown also report on John’s subsequent Vietnam remarks.

Page 198: The observations about the Beatles becoming newly interested in social and political issues in 1966 are found on page 164 of Taylor’s It Was Twenty Years Ago Today and page 117 of Shotton’s John Lennon In My Life. Lennon’s explanation of the Beatles speaking out on Vietnam is found on page 123 of Beatles: In Their Own Words. Among many other statements by the Beatles against the war were those made on August 23, 1966, by all four, as documented on page 17 of Jon Wiener’s Come Together; in January 1967 by Paul, as noted on page 164 of Taylor’s book; and in April 1968 by John, as noted on pages 73-74 of Wiener’s book, the latter of which contains his statement about the Establishment.

Page 199: Harrison’s “We felt obviously that Vietnam was wrong” quote is found on page 150 of Taylor’s book, page 165 of which reports Abbie Hoffman’s “Beethoven coming to the supermarket!” quote, and page 24 of which notes Ginsberg’s “They had, and conveyed” quote.

Page 200: Lennon’s “Maybe the Beatles were in the crow’s nest” quote is from page 78 of the Playboy Interviews, as is Ono’s “mediums” quote. Supporting Lennon’s remark are statements Harrison made in his interview in the November 5, 1987, Rolling Stone. Martin’s “The great thing about the Beatles” quote is from the video documentary The Compleat Beatles.

Questioning the Void: A Pre-dawn Cannabis Trance by Chris

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

The author just completed a degree, majoring in philosophy and creative writing, in which he learned many good and bad things about the world of higher education.   He is also a musician and songwriter and hopes to “use his music and writing to help bring at least a small part of the world out of its unholy slumber.  Not a call to arms, just a reminder: YOU DO HAVE TWO.”

This account was written a number of years ago, when I was around twenty or twenty-one years old.  To this day it is one of the few times marijuana has carried me into a distinctly introspective, meditative state in which I feel as though I am my thoughts, floating about on a mental plane and completely oblivious to my physical presence.  Since then, I have experienced and learned a lot more, but I have decided to keep this account un-embellished, simply because it depicts the reflections that affected me so deeply at those moments in time.  To elaborate further, to add newer thoughts and ideas to the reflections, would, I think, take away from the feel and integrity of the account.

At around one o’clock this morning I smoked half a straight-green joint and then sat by my computer, listening to music (mainly Elliott Smith) and thinking relatively normal thoughts. After some time, in which I mostly just stared at the computer screen, listened to the music, and fiddled with things (not unusual, judging from my previous experiences of being stoned), I found myself sinking into a trance-like state of introspection and philosophical reflection. Without realizing it, my blinks grew longer and longer, until my eyes remained completely closed; this did not bring about sleep, however, but rather served to block out direct visual stimuli, allowing my mind, brain, mental faculty (whichever you choose to call it) to fall deeper into this euphoric, deeply-thoughtful state, unimpeded. Once or twice I snapped out of this state and found myself again staring blankly at the computer screen, wondering what it was that had left me feeling so deeply affected. My short-term memory was extremely inhibited, hence why I could not recall much of what I was thinking about when my eyes had been closed. However, when I did snap out of this state, I was immediately enticed back into it by the profound feelings of existential insight which had remained in my memory as residue. These feelings were so intense and inflicted such an impact on me that, despite their vagueness and the fear they aroused, I was inexorably drawn back to them.

I cannot recall how long I was in this state for, although I can recall—albeit with a high degree of ambiguity—the content of my thoughts. The magnitude of the ideas I was enquiring into, combined with the near-complete loss of short-term memory function, created an inner chaos which makes the thoughts themselves difficult to recollect.

What I did salvage was this:

I imagined myself, eyes closed, sitting on a chair in front of my computer. I then zoomed out of this picture, imagining the house around me.  After this, I imagined the city, the earth, and so forth. Eventually, I arrived at complete incomprehension; for there was no answer to space in the picture I had created. I thought of one thing next to another, next to another, until there was no more room for things.  But this could not suffice, for it failed to answer the question of space and the extent of space. If the world is energy, I thought, then all things are in flux within…within what? I thought. Within what?

One of the occasions in which I snapped out of this reflective trance, I noticed the amazing apprehension I felt when I considered returning to the introspective state. It was, in fact, more than apprehension; it was a kind of existential anxiety. To attempt to comprehend all things was not only fruitless, but had created the feeling of dread described extensively throughout philosophical/existential literature. What am I?  If there is a world out there which cannot be comprehended or explained—which, at the time, seemed the only answer—then how can one deal with existing in it? Then came the question of existence.

Why do I exist? Why does anything exist? As I sat, almost catatonic, thinking so deeply about these existential issues that I was barely aware of being at all, I asked these questions. In a way, they can be re-directed; it can simply be asked, why does existence exist? What exactly is it to be something?; for aren’t we simply a number of intricate processes, all happening at once and hence all working together to form what people call an “I”? But each little process is nothing; I had created a schema in my mind which stated this. I could look at my arm and know blood was pumping through the veins within it—but how could this have anything to do with me? The notion of awareness threw me into consternation.

Any teleological explanation to life ceased to exist for me at this time. The word “purpose” meant nothing at all, for there was no such notion that seemed plausible. Again, I thought of every thing in existence, even contemplating those which humans are not aware of, of those things beyond space which are yet to be found, and they all contributed to the despair I felt at being a living thing, let alone one as complicated as a human being.

The idea of a divine architect crossed my mind at one point. But, I thought, if there were a divine architect, then what have they made, and how could they possibly have made all things? The idea of there being both “all things” as well as a “divine architect” could not logically coalesce in my reasoning. For how can “all things” be created, when at no point in time do “all things” exist? Furthermore, how could a creator create something with no bounds (which, at this time in my thought, seemed to be the case). If the realm of existence in its entirety is not boundless, then what is beyond its bounds? The answer was a question, and the question made no sense.

I became aware that the only way to attempt to explain such things was through contradictory statements. Yet my thoughts wandered on, visiting the confronting realms of death, of everyday life, of love and loss. The extent to which my mind was able to roam free cannot be adequately conveyed through writing. It is to be noted, also, that this was one of the few times I have been able to confront such disturbing concepts without falling into an anxious state, or a state of outright fear preventing me from addressing the matters at all. Usually, my being would have it that I react with fright and pain—ultimately, with mental immobility, as if to ward off the incomprehensible demons of intellect. But this time I faced them with respectful awe, still feeling the horror and absolute fear but able to see past them to the ideas at hand. To accept the situation.

Part of the success of this introspection and deep thought, I believe, is to be attributed to the lack of awareness I felt. When one is so immersed in ontological and metaphysical thought, when the eyes are closed and the body unmoving, it is easier to reflect on one’s existential state without distraction. I could see myself, in that chair, with the glow of the screen on my face; but more than this, I could envision all of the things around me, extending far off into the celestial sphere and beyond. These things were, of course, ever-changing and never could I see an holistic, stable picture of existence; the earth was a mere bubble of life within a system of things that I could only touch upon, which awed me to the point of heartache.

Obviously, the substance I had taken probably contributed to my state; but attributing the experience to it and it alone is insufficient, and to bring it into question is to create another train of thought which can be and has been discussed extensively elsewhere. The underlying theme of the state I experienced was one of human reflection, and reflection on human reflection. Why, as a species, we are able to do this is an everlasting enquiry; it leads to the same pinnacle of mystery that all other paths lead to. One cannot see this peak, however, as it is veiled by clouds. Deep reflection upon this reveals the true magnitude of the human situation.

Dear Dr. Grinspoon by Edwin Arthur

Monday, June 20th, 2011

The following letter was written to Lester Grinspoon by Edwin Arthur…

Dear Dr. Grinspoon,

I would very much like to thank you for your contribution to the ongoing success of my wife’s breast cancer treatments. I will spare you all the details but, suffice it to say, she has been fighting a battle with stage IV, metastatic, breast cancer since 1995. She is currently under the care of the good folks at Dana-Farber and is participating in a phase I clinical trial.

For the last two years she has been constantly nauseous as a side effect of the clinical trial and after seeing an interview you participated in on television, along with the encouragement of the staff at Dana-Farber and my constant peer pressure, she has found your insight to be true. Cannabia has helped her to be able to feel less nauseous, have more appetite and seems to help somewhat with the neuropathy she experiences from past treatments. It works within minutes!

Having been a federal law enforcement officer in my youth I know first hand the Government’s opinion of the drug. I now find myself campaigning to get the State of New Hampshire to come to more reasonable terms with the issue.

With that having been said, I would like to contribute to your quest for more information about the plant’s use.

I am male, in my fifties, live in New Hampshire and am a licensed professional.

I have had an ongoing affinity for marijuana since high school and can give you the following information based on my experiences:

Just to give you some background, I have tried other illicit drugs in the past. My first drug was alcohol. Tobacco was a close second. When I was still in my teens, I had to have a serious operation and, it being before the days of the morphine pump, I ended up with an addiction that gave me some insight to the pitfalls of narcotics. As a result, I follow(ed) the mantra “everything in moderation”. I experimented with other drugs as well. I shied away from opiates but was somewhat enlightened with LSD. Barbiturates put me to sleep and amphetamines would help when I needed to stay awake. I realized that they all had limited and specific uses and gave them up some thirty years ago accept when guided by my physician (I’ll admit, she doesn’t prescribe LSD very often though :¬). Psilocybin mushrooms were of the same class as LSD and I outgrew their use as well. Cocaine was popular but I was aware of its addictive properties early on and keep it at a safe distance.

I prefer marijuana to alcohol. It helps me relax and I use it in the same manner that I would alcohol with less “intoxicating” effect. The combination of the two drugs has some kind of synergy and I try to avoid using the two together when I do use them. I would likely reduce my use of alcohol to almost nothing more than a glass of wine with supper if marijuana was more readily accepted.

My consumption level has gone down over the years. I would attribute this to the higher quality of the herb that is available today. I would hazard a guess that an ounce of it will last me some six to eight months. I can enjoy it at any time of the day so long as it does not coincide with my work, political interaction or complicated tasks. I find it makes me more gregarious. It makes me more responsive to humor. I discovered that it helps me to meditate. Several years ago I began to use this therapy and as a result I have been able to reduce my dependence on high blood pressure medication. My high blood pressure has always been a direct result of stress. It also helps to relieve the effects of anxiety, pain and depression. (I just wish it worked for gout!)

Complex math problems and detail oriented tasks are more likely to take longer and as a result I shy away from its use when I expect to have to concentrate on them. On the other hand, when working on tedious or creative tasks I find it to be more appropriate. It allows me to think freely yet remain on task.

Contrary to popular belief, I find it allows me to concentrate when driving long distances and I find that I am a more defensive and careful driver as a result. That, I expect, will be a difficult concept for some people to accept. Also contrary to popular belief, I find it inspiring or motivating. I am less likely to be found sitting on the couch and will tackle those menial tasks or do some personal research while using the herb.

I can’t concentrate when reading a long book while using it. My thoughts tend to wander and I sub-vocalize when doing so but, I find I can concentrate better on projects that require multi tasking. Go figure! I can often be found on the weekends working on a hobby, watching TV (with the sound turned off) and listening to classical music all at the same time.

In the seventies, I was nonplussed by the misinformation of both the authorities and my parents about the ill effects of drug use. When I discovered, by trying pot, that they were wrong I was left with the impression that they were purposely lying to me and as a result I continued experimenting with the other drugs I mentioned.

I feel that we need to take a careful look at how we teach our children about the use of all drugs in our culture. To this day I mistrust the authorities who decry the use of marijuana for legitimate purposes and will continue to vote accordingly. If they are so uninformed about a simple plant how can they be on track with other issues?

I am now committed to help get the issue resolved and hope to see marijuana legalized, if not in general, at least for those individuals who can benefit from it medically.

Thank you for affording me the opportunity to impart my feelings about marijuana.


Ed Arthur