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Carl Sagan’S Long Lost Deep Thoughts On The War On Drugs

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Carl Sagan’s Long Lost Deep Thoughts On The War on Drugs
By Tom Angell on October 8, 2014 Features, Marijuana History, People

New Library of Congress exhibit reveals “Cosmos” creator’s personal writings on marijuana that have never been seen by the public. Until now.

I’ve been a Carl Sagan fan ever since the film “Contact,” based on his novel of the same name, blew my 15-year-old mind in 1997 with notions of alien civilizations and deep-space travel.

But the film premiered after Sagan had already died — too soon, from pneumonia following a battle with bone marrow cancer — and left this Pale Blue Dot. Nerds of my generation never got the chance to hear Sagan’s thoughts about later scientific discoveries like the accelerated expansion of the universe, the Higgs boson or the confirmed existence of thousands of exo-planets beyond our solar system.

And Sagan, who used marijuana to enhance his creativity and generate bold new ideas, never got to see the day when Americans could go to a store, buy marijuana and use it in the privacy of their own homes without fear of criminal prosecution.

But thanks to a huge collection of Sagan’s papers recently made available to the public for the first time at the Library of Congress, we’ve now been given greater insight into his deep thoughts on the drug war and related topics.

The documents confirm that Sagan, whose 1985 “Contact” novel includes a scene where a store in fictionalized future 1999 France is selling marijuana imported from California and Oregon, would’ve been thrilled to see the legalization era we’re entering now, even if we’ve taken a bit more time getting here than he once predicted (back during the height of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” crusade, no less).

He passed away just a few months after California voters made their state the first to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Since then, 22 other states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing for medical use, and Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana outright for all adults over 21.

In my own work as a marijuana legalization strategist seeking to make the case to legislators that reform is a mainstream issue, I’ve often cited Sagan’s quotes about the compassion of allowing medical marijuana and the way he personally used the drug as an aid in attaining new scientific and philosophical insights. If respectable scientific brains like Carl Sagan — along with the majority of voters — think it’s time to change marijuana laws, surely more politicians should stop being afraid of embracing reform efforts.

So I was excited to recently spend a few days poring through some of the 600,000 Sagan papers made available at the Library of Congress with generous funding from TV and film impresario Seth MacFarlane in partnership with Sagan’s widow and longtime professional collaborator Ann Druyan. The collection, which includes four boxes strictly focused on drug policy alone, includes a plethora of previously unpublished and unknown Saganisms.

Marijuana is a topic Sagan is now well associated with, but he actually wasn’t especially publicly vocal about the legalization debate during his life, remaining more focused not only on his career exploring and explaining the universe but also on other political causes like environmental conservation, animal rights and stopping the use of nuclear weapons.

He did publicly endorse medical marijuana, and Druyan, his partner in life and in science communication, has long been active with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), including serving as a board member while Sagan was still alive. In an interview with Marijuana.com, Druyan explained that “one of the reasons that I became such an activist in this area was I was doing it for both of us. He was an employee of NASA and there’s no question that he wouldn’t have been able to do his work exploring the solar system and searching for life elsewhere if he made as public a stand as I did.”

Druyan says Sagan “encouraged me in every way” to work on marijuana reform and “was doing as much as he could in the very narrow constraints of being a NASA employee.”

Although Sagan never lied about his marijuana use (even admitting it when asked by a caller on Larry King’s radio show) he didn’t exactly go out of his way to advertise it, and it wasn’t widely known just how much of a marijuana enthusiast Sagan really was until much later.

... read more: http://marijuana.com/news/2014/10/carl-sagans-long-lost-deep-thoughts-on-the-war-on-drugs/

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