I’ve Got Soul but I’m Not a Soldier

I was listening to the radio on my way to work this morning and, as so often happens these days, I became incensed. Incensed, I say! On the “Adam Corolla Show” there was a guest who was discussing the many apparent merits of drug use. He likened the “war on drugs” (which I have my own issues with. I mean, isn’t our country in enough wars that we don’t need to add a war on drugs to the list? I mean really, war in Iraq, war on terror, war on drugs…) to declaring war on bugs. He said you wouldn’t want cockroaches in your house but you can’t kill bees because they’re needed to pollinate the plants. He used this logic to defend the legalization of drugs such as marijuana because marijuana is harmless.

Now, to a certain extent I have to admit that the scientific evidence pointing to the relative innocuousness of marijuana is rather substantive. I will never smoke it because a) I hate the smell of the smoke and b) it deposits THC in the synapses between the neurons in your brain and really, I don’t need any help in forgetting things. Also, it’s true that marijuana doesn’t cause people to become violent, just lazy and hungry. It’s not dangerous, per se. You could argue that it could impair your driving or working ability but even nicotine can do that (seriously, half a cigarette and I’m dizzy and can hardly see straight).

In quite a few words, it wasn’t the marijuana discussion that irritated me so much. It was the guest’s explication of the many merits of hallucinogenic drug use to attain enlightenment. His argument was that psilocybin and various other hallucinogens released the same neurotransmitter in the center of the brain that gets released during REM sleep or when the body knows it’s about to die (life flashing before your eyes…). His argument was that it was perfectly fine to use these hallucinogens because it’s the same chemical that’s in your brain anyway.

This is so irresponsible it made me so mad I…well…I just held onto my steering wheel really hard! He presented himself like an educated man on this subject and I’m terrified that impressionable people will take him seriously. If his argument makes sense then technically Ecstasy does you no harm because all it does is release a metric ton of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that is already in there) into your brain (Ecstasy is not harmless. Everyone’s brain is different but after enough E your brain really does resemble Swiss cheese. The excess serotonin literally EATS your BRAIN).

There is a serious flaw in that logic, however. The flaw lies in the idea of adding more neurotransmitters into a part of the body where the slightest fluctuation in neurotransmitters results in noticeable changes in mood, sleeping patterns, respiration, memory, and movement. The brain, and all its wondrous synapses and neurons, is delicate and functions miraculously on its own. If we can barely even build an electric toothbrush that doesn’t fail after a mere 3 months, what makes us so arrogant to believe that we can mess with our neurotransmitters and escape unscathed?

I also take issue with the idea that drug-induced psychosis can be equated with enlightenment. If that’s true then enlightenment isn’t enlightenment at all, it’s just a rapid influx of chemicals into your cortex.

All in all, he had some interesting ideas about culture, the inundation of information that we all face every day, and the resultant need to tune out information in order to function. I particularly liked his notion that our modern culture gives us so many conflicting ideas each day that it’s driven many people into a kind of perpetual escapism. I would actually like to examine that idea closely someday.

I hear so often that weed improves the creative process, helps you become funnier and deeper and makes you a more awesome person all around. I’ve never met anyone who was funnier, more productive (creative or otherwise), or more intellectually deep while they were high, though. That’s the funny thing to me and may even be one of the conflicting messages that our culture feeds us. I have many friends who have dabbled in drug use and I love and respect them all but I still have yet to see evidenced the miraculous merits that drug use purportedly produces.

2 thoughts on “I’ve Got Soul but I’m Not a Soldier

  1. Some people take amazing pride in defending what is simply a stupid and useless logic. I guess the speaker was one of them. I would love to ask him if he would offer esctasy to his child and say go boy have this all it will do is change a few things here and there in your brain, but no harm….well written blog- siddhika

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