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Against Pot

873 words / 5:39

bunnies_eating_marijuanaTranslations: PolishSpanish

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Put your bongs down people and listen to me for a few minutes. I want to explain why I think marijuana is one of the most insidious substances known to man from the point of view of long-term self-actualization. 

I fell in with some stoners my first year of college. Naturally, they tried to share their vice. But it did nothing for me, and I hated smoking of any kind, so I never got into it.

Years later, though, after I had my Ph.D. and a teaching job, a friend came to visit me and asked where he could get some pot. I said, “There’s a sign down by the record store that says ‘Drug Free Zone.’ I bet you can buy some there.” So we walked to the store. I went inside and bought a Marianne Faithfull CD, and by the time I came out, he had scored some pot. We walked back to my place, and I decided to try it.

Obviously marijuana had become increasingly potent and hallucinogenic over the years, because this time it had a profound effect. We were watching an episode of Alias, and during a commercial, I had an extraordinary experience. I felt that the commercial had expanded into a whole world in which an utterly compelling drama was unfolding. I completely sympathized with our heroine’s struggle to get a whiter than white wash. Her pain was my pain. A 30-second commercial had just moved me as much as an epic drama. “I’ve got to try this again,” I thought.

I had symphony tickets the next day, so my friend and I partook some more, then had dinner at my favorite restaurant. It was the tastiest meal I’d ever had. Then we heard Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), Richard Strauss’s musical autobiography, with sections on his art, his romance and marriage, his battles with the critics, and his peaceful retirement from the world. It was the most profound musical experience I had ever had. I was completely inside the music. I lived, felt, and understood the meaning of every theme. I particularly got into the romance section, with its musical flirtation, bickering, and lovemaking. I wanted to do a whole Ring cycle on drugs.

On the way home, though, I had the same profound musical experience listening to an utterly insipid pop song on the radio. And before we got home, I wanted to get a snack, so we stopped at a convenience store, and I got a box of crusty, day-old donuts. They were every bit as delicious as the meal we had earlier.

At that point, it dawned on me why the potheads I knew seemed perfectly content to sit around in their pajamas eating Captain Crunch and watching daytime television. If Britney Spears is as profound a musical experience as Richard Strauss, why go through the trouble of appreciating Strauss? If TV commercials can be as dramatically profound as Sophocles and Shakespeare, why strain your brain? If day-old donuts and cold cereal are just as delicious as a skillful chef’s creation, why bother with cooking? If masturbation can be just as enjoyable as sex, then who needs other people? If being a slacker is just as pleasurable as accomplishing something in one’s life, why even get out of bed?

I realized that marijuana had the power to totally destroy my ability to create and grow as a human being. It has the power to turn men into sensuous, swinish philistines. It also robbed me of sleep by inducing fevered, racing thoughts at bedtime. It had completely lost its charms.

Now, I am willing to grant that your mileage may vary. I know a couple of highly accomplished people who regularly smoke pot. But these are outliers. I have known far more unambitious slugs. I have also known two people who have destroyed businesses and friendships and their own dignity as human beings through pot-induced paranoia.

I also know there are legitimate medical uses of marijuana, although I would wager that 95% of medical marijuana users are just malingering stoners gaming the system.

Why are so many adults today seemingly frozen at juvenile levels of maturity and taste? The main reason is the dominance of selfish, hedonistic individualism. At the age of 14 or 16 or 18, some people decide that henceforth they are going to satisfy rather than transcend themselves. Thus they seek out only those social relations that affirm rather than challenge their initial preferences. And as long as you can pay, some capitalist will cater to you in your comfort zone. (Bad credit? No credit? No problem!) Hedonistic individualism and capitalism thus make it possible for more and more people to reach 40 or 50 or 60 with their teenage selves still intact.

Marijuana is just hedonistic individualism in herbal form. Self-actualization requires pain and struggle. Virtue is hard, not easy. But why worry about that, when marijuana can make you perfectly content with whatever level of ignorance, immaturity, and bad taste that you happen to be at when you take your first hit?



  1. Posted April 20, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Thank you Greg for this essay. As a resident of one of the “legal states” we seldom hear an argument against MJ, and a very “White” one at that! Perfectly timed.

  2. Vehmgericht
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    It is not the Herb of the Arab, as Aleister Crowley called cannabis, that is the greatest problem.

    For as Greg Johnston eloquently reports, pot merely stunts and stultifies: it rarely kills.

    The Poppy, which we entrusted only to our Physicians, is being used its modern formulation of Oxycodone to soothe our people on their road to racial oblivion.

    Who is promoting and peddling this so-called ‘White Death’ ?

    • Matthias
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      “Who is promoting and peddling this so-called ‘White Death’ ?”

      The eternal enemy, the well-poisener, the root-gnawer, the febrile fermenter and dissolver of all that is good.

    • Dov
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      The doctors who deliberately overprescribe narcotics are extremely few and far between. There’s no great medical/pharmaceutical conspiracy to enslave people to oxycodone or other narcotics.

  3. Yapius
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I wonder if anyone has ever read Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance? After reading this, I now recognize the first part of that story as satire of pot heads. These sloth like aliens wear glasses (the Eyes) that make their world which is basically a refuse pile seem exalted. It’s hilarious even if you don’t “get” the satire but this imbues it with social significance. Thx

    • Ted
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      If you’ve read my blog, I’m a big Jack Vance fan. Cugel is hilarious. Sadlark also. The Dying Earth short stories are great. Also read Planet of Adventure. The Demon Princes was pretty good too.

      And yes you are correct, “Underherd’s” prisms are the equivalent of pot.

      • Yapius
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        Vance is a genius. No I didn’t know you had a bloG. I read all the dying earth stuff last castle, But much is wonderfully in my future.if you’ve ever seen that Korgoth of Barbaria animation, it’s online, that has allusions to eyes of the Overworld all in it.

        • Ted
          Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:57 am | Permalink

          I’ll check out that animation.

          See this:

          Also, if you like Jack Vance, check out Gene Wolfe (if you have not already done so), particularly his Book of the New Sun series.

          Both Vance and Wolfe, from my perspective, are somewhat “rightist” in themes.

          • Yapius
            Posted April 21, 2017 at 5:31 am | Permalink

            Yeah, I know about all thosr people. is that your blog? One I really like, that you should read is the Worm Ouroboros by Eddison. It’s the best fantasy other than Tolkien in my opinion. See if you can figure out the symbolism behind lord Gro. I’m surprise Greg(another genius)hasn’t reviewed this one at some point.

  4. Dr ExCathedra
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    My contacts with herb-smokers is rare, thank God. I have never met one, though, whose cannabis made them either A. more intelligent or B. more interesting. Quite the contrary.

  5. ReinDeDio
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    for me weed was a giant gateway to another world, but this other world is not Paradise… who knows if I never used it I might have skipped out on a triage of other shit, today I might have been making 6 figures a year, and probably would have voted Hillary!

  6. Justin
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    “I completely sympathized with our heroine’s struggle to get a whiter than white wash. Her pain was my pain.”

    Lol… premonition of your self-actualization?

  7. Frank
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I would agree that the potential for abuse is great, and that first experiences with it can have exactly the effect you describe. However, my own long term experience was nothing like this. And frankly, alcohol is considerably more destructive, overall. I do not agree with those who say it lessens intelligence. My experience has been that stupid, lazy people are sufficiently satisfied with staying high all the time and don’t make an effort in life. Addictive personalities can crash and burn on a variety of chemical refreshments, as can those hiding from unhappy life circumstances. Creative and motivated people can get positive experiences.

    My best advice to anyone who wants to experiment with it would be to use it sparingly, infrequently, and take time to reflect on the thoughts and ideas you had while using it. It can let you think in ways you normally wouldn’t, which can be valuable in staying out of mental ruts. You just have make sure any ideas you get will actually pass muster in the physical world.

  8. Martin
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    VERY well said, and I must say I agree perfectly. Unfortunately it took me much too long to come to this same conclusion. I began poisoning myself with this unassuming herb when I was still fairly young ( still only a teenager). Like many young people, I was taken in by the ‘counter-culture’ element of it, imagining myself something of a rebel. It did not help that my so called friends at the time ( who were really nothing but good for nothing hoodlums ) were all doing it as well. I spent over ten years wasting my human potential in the same vacuous abyss of cap’n crunch and masturbation that you described. Eventually, I realized I was wasting my life and it dawned on me this little plant was aiding and abetting that ultimate end. So I decided to give it up, as well as several other vices perhaps more or less pervasive. I’m now reading daily; exercising, going out in nature and finally beginning to grow as a human being. I’m sad that I spent so long under this foggy haze, but it’s better late than never as they say.

  9. Benjamin
    Posted January 5, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    A Counter-Currents yearly tradition.

    Look forward to seeing it posted again this April 20th 2020.

    With marijuana being de-facto or de-jure legalized across the USA, its perhaps more relevant than ever

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