Senator Rand Paul is a fun politician to write about it. He’s got some kind of weird double personality that allows him to predominantly spout right-wing hackery nonsense, but also every now and again say something you can almost agree with. On the one hand, he’ll rightfully condemn the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, and on the other he’ll go and say something stupid like “I think people who use marijuana all the time lose IQ points, I think they lose their drive to show up for work” and lose all credibility as an intellectual. This dichotomy of ideology makes Rand quite a character to observe.
The baffling thing is that Paul is against the war on drugs, including imprisoning people for minor drug offenses. On the surface, that would make someone like me want to embrace Rand. He’s even leading a charge with his fellow Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell to try to get hemp legalized in this country again. Adding to his confounding inconsistency issue is that while Rand will say all the right things about why we need to decriminalize it, he’ll also go and say something stupid like “marijuana makes you dumb.” Honestly, Rand? Marijuana will make you dumb?
How do you explain Carl Sagan then, Senator Paul? To my knowledge, Sagan was a pretty bright guy. He almost singlehandedly brought astronomy to the masses, educating millions of people with his “Cosmos” television series. He is widely regarded as having been one of the greatest minds of our species’ existence. He also smoked a f**k-ton of pot. In fact, he even wrote essays about his experiences while smoking pot. Here now is an excerpt from one of his essays:
“I can remember one occasion, taking a shower with my wife while high, in which I had an idea on the origins and invalidities of racism in terms of Gaussian distribution curves… I drew the curves in soap on the shower wall, and went to write the idea down. One idea led to another, and at the end of about an hour of extremely hard work I found I had written eleven short essays on a wide range of social, political, philosophical, and human biological topics. …from all external signs, such as public reactions and expert commentary, they seem to contain valid insights. I have used them in university commencement addresses, public lectures, and in my books.”
In case you don’t like reading long excerpts from brilliant minds, let me summarize: Carl Sagan got high and took a shower with his wife, got inspired, and then wrote eleven essays, which he read at places where you have to be really smart to be invited to speak. That fact is like a giant, uproarious belly laugh directed at Rand Paul from some distant star in our universe. Of course it’s a massive crock of crap that pot makes you dumb. That’s 1980’s Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” BS if I ever heard it.
Maybe, though, brilliant astrophysicists aren’t your speed. Maybe you need further evidence to suggest that marijuana use doesn’t make you stupid or lazy. So how about we talk about Steve Jobs then? No one can deny the impact that Jobs has had on our world. He broke barriers in technology and then used that technology to create entertainment (Pixar, iTunes) and devices that revolutionized the human experience (Mac, iPhone, iPad). Jobs was a brilliant thinker and innovator, and he also used a lot of acid and smoked a lot of pot.
You could accuse Jobs of many things, including of shipping jobs overseas and stashing millions upon millions of dollars in offshore havens to protect it from the tax man. You cannot however, accuse Jobs of being lazy. The man was fired from the computer company he started and still didn’t give up. He wound up not only saving the company, but through his truly tireless work, he established Apple as one of the largest and most important corporations in the world today. Tell me again, Senator Paul, how pot makes you stupid and lazy?
I suppose that perhaps scientists and innovative designers and thinkers aren’t enough to convince Rand to drop the idiotic propaganda from his support of ending the drug war. Maybe instead we should just simply point out one small fact and let Senator Paul chew on it for a bit. This fact I believe should probably shut up every single person still clinging to the notion that pot makes you a dopey, slack-jawed moron who can’t do anything productive in life.
The last three presidents this country has elected have all admitted to at least experimenting with marijuana. The last two most definitely used it more than once, and our current, sitting president was an admitted pot-head. There are of course massive faults with all three of those men, and none of them had what you’d call spotless records in office, but yet all three still made it to what has to be considered the highest pinnacle of any career path; there aren’t very many jobs you can apply for that’d give you the title of “Commander In Chief” or “President of the United States of America.” So if marijuana is innocuous enough for Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama with varying degrees of frequency and still make it to the highest office in the world, let alone the country…
…maybe we can stop talking about pot like it’s the Antichrist. Maybe. I won’t hold my breath.
I will inhale though.
Watch Carl Sagan’s astounding and brilliant “Pale Blue Dot”: