Part of Sagan’s amazing talent is the fact that he was such an excellent communicator of his discoveries and of science topics in general, and what their importance to the world is. He made science interesting and relevant to the average person – an accomplishment that doesn’t come naturally to many scientists. He wrote many books (including many bestsellers), including Cosmos and The Dragons of Eden: Speculations of the Evolution of Human Intelligence (for which he won a Pulitzer Prize). In short, his works and awards are almost too many to count.
What Sagan wasn’t recognized for during his life, however, was his use of and appreciation for Cannabis. He wrote many an essay on the merits of Cannabis, although his writings were usually published under a pseudonym (“Mr. X”). It didn’t come out that Carl Sagan was actually the “Mr. X” from the book until three years or so after his death.
Sagan began smoking marijuana in his late 30s when his friend Dr. Lester Grinspoon provided him and his wife with some excellent quality marijuana. Impressed with its effects, he even requested to have the last remaining joint for himself because he had lots of work to do.
He became a secret contributor to Dr. Lester Grinspoon’s book, Marihuana Reconsidered, which was published in 1969. He described the effects of marijuana as altogether pleasant, giving him a new appreciation for the arts (visual and musical). He explained that the enjoyment of food was heightened, as are the other senses. Read more about his thoughts on cannabis.
One of his famous essay lines regarding Cannabis, include: “the illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”
He even credited marijuana with the increased rate of new ideas and better productivity, sometimes explaining that marijuana actually helped him come up with a new way of solving certain problems or questions within his field.
Sagan also described being high as giving him more interest and motivation in solving social issues. Whether it was racism, politics, sociology, philosophy, or human biology, he wrote a number of short essays on social issues while he was high. He then proceeded to use these essays in a number of his books, public lectures, university commencement addresses, and so on. In short, he did some quality work after using marijuana.
As Sagan grew older, he became outspoken about his stance on marijuana – especially medical marijuana. He questioned the fear that marijuana users could become addicted, saying “there’s no evidence whatever that it’s an addictive drug,” and that it was incredibly easy to use marijuana in moderation. He also pointed out the flaw in conventional thinking about marijuana when it came to AIDS patients or cancer patients. In an interview he said, “We’re worried they’re going to become addicted to marijuana…these people are dying, what are we saving them from?”