A good friend reflects on blowing trees with the legendary astronomer

Carl Sagan

Q: What was Carl Sagan like when high?

A: He was the same wonderful person, only definitely more relaxed. He had a great sense of humor, which really came out. He loved to smoke a joint before we went out to dinner, to stimulate his appetite. And he was always eloquent—could speak spontaneously like no other person I’ve ever known. We always had fun when we got stoned, and we had such wonderful discussions. It was exciting to smoke with Carl.

• • •

Earlier this week, Motherboard sat down with revered psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon, a good friend of Carl Sagan’s. The basic thrust of the interview: a rememberance of his late friend, and their shared fondness for burning it down. In the conversation, Dr. Grinspoon remembers his initial bias against cannabis, and how Carl helped him to reconsider his stance. Within a year, Grinspoon had authored Marihuana Reconsidered, an objective, scientifically-backed debunking of the government-propagated myths surrounding weed, complete with sections pseudonymously authored by “Mr. X”. Years later, Mr. X was revealed as Mr. Sagan, and today, we all benefit from his eloquent descriptions of being stoned. Read an excerpt from Carl, writing as Mr. X, below, and peep the interview here.

Carl Sagan, from Marihuana Reconsidered:

“I do not consider myself a religious person in the usual sense, but there is a religious aspect to some highs. The heightened sensitivity in all areas gives me a feeling of communion with my surroundings, both animate and inanimate. Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrises and posturing of myself and my fellow men. And at other times, there is a different sense of the absurd, a playful and whimsical awareness. Both of these senses of the absurd can be communicated, and some of the most rewarding highs I’ve had have been in sharing talk and perceptions and humor. Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds.”