Just like millions of other people, my drug-taking journey began with marijuana. I immediately loved it because it allowed me to experience the magic of non-ordinary states of consciousness. Marijuana changed my life and there is no doubt in my mind that it has been responsible for a major shift in Western consciousness. But marijuana also contributed to the development of severe paranoia and lethargy in me which ultimately drove me to hard drugs and speed addiction.
Marijuana is a paradoxical drug. In Traditional Chinese medicine marijuana would be considered a Yin drug but its action can be either Yin or Yang. Therefore you can’t predict its outcome in absolute terms as you could with drugs such as speed or heroin. The effects of marijuana are dependant on other factors such as the time, place and condition of consumption but more importantly the personality type and constitution of the user. This is one of the key factors in whether its effects lead to magic or madness.
As I have mentioned before, in TCM each drug has a target organ which activates the intent of the drug. The target organ for marijuana is the Liver and the ‘intent’ of marijuana is not sedation or stimulation but rather magnification. So marijuana will highlight your energetic nature as well as the function, attributes and emotions associated with the Liver. The latter are happiness, anger and frustration. Accordingly, the outcome of taking marijuana will be always associated with either happiness or frustration. This is another element contributing to the magic or madness aspect of the drug.
The definition of magic is: ‘a quality that seems somehow removed from normal life, especially in a way that gives delight’, or ‘the power of influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces’. I am sure every dope- smoker can relate to this. Smoking marijuana does influence the course of events, it does make us feel we are removed from normal life and it definitely gives us delight. According to TCM this is all via the action of our organs.
For me the true magic of marijuana is that as it operates via the Liver, it activates the spiritual resource of the Liver – the Hun. This is the mechanism that facilitates the sleep or dream state. This is why marijuana will give you a conscious experience of being in a dream. This was what captured me right away, the fact that I could now feel like I was in a dream while fully awake. In a dream you are not restricted by laws of physical reality, you have an effortless flow of ideas and you experience no restriction. When you are asleep and dreaming you have no concept of time. When you are stoned the same applies. Ideas and visions flow through your mind and you can’t tell whether one hour has passed or five minutes.
The Liver is the organ associated with creativity which is why marijuana can enhance creativity and inspire grand plans. Not only can marijuana stimulate ideas and creativity, but because it provides a conscious experience of the dream state, it can stimulate ideas beyond the normallimits of physical reality while you are in physical reality. On marijuana you can imagine a whole song already written and recorded, you can imagine a completed picture on a blank canvas, a fantastic building or, on a more domestic level, see your home fully renovated. You can imagine yourself as who you want to be. Visions seem tangible.
The Liver is associated with the Wood element which represents growth and expansion so marijuana is also associated with growth and expansion. If you have a restricted life it can magically expand the boundaries. You can expand with your dreams, desires and the universe. As a teenager I felt my world was restricted by a narrow-minded society, family and authority figures. Marijuana showed me where I could go. It opened the doors to the rest of the universe, doors that society had shut. It activated the spiritual resource of the Liver, brought my dreams to the conscious mind and set me free. It did seem truly magical.
So, whats the problem? The problem is that life in physical form requires union of body and mind. Like LSD, marijuana is an hallucinogenic drug but a mild one (or it was at least before hydro dope). Like other hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs marijuana interferes with the body- mind union, its sets the mind free of the body. It allows the expansion of the mind but the body gets left behind. Part of the experience of being stoned for many people is lying around on comfy couches and letting the mind create. However, I believe that marijuana can only be beneficial if you can apply what has been perceived. Because it allows a conscious experience of the subconscious it can reveal elements of your true nature. If it shows you who you truly are you are then obliged to following up on that, to make your dreams reality, but most of us don’t. I can’t count how many patients sit in front of me telling me what they wish they could be in life but not following up on it. This is a major source of unhappiness and pain.
If the initial gain of freeing the mind is not matched by expansion of the body you can’t implement all your great ideas. Bonging-on all day without acting upon any ideas, visions or even feelings is like constantly uploading new software onto your computer but without having the operating system capable of running it. Having great ideas and working immediately towards applying them means chi flows smoothly – translating as happiness. But if you have ideas and you can’t apply them chi can’t flow smoothly and, going back to the other emotions of the Liver, we start to see the frustration, anger and bitterness rise.
In my day, marijuana used to be considered a mild or soft drug but now it seems to be getting a lot of bad press linked to psychosis and madness. In my experience this is due to a number of reasons. It has increased in potency in recent times, particularly in regards to hydro dope, so it is more powerful than ever before. This means you need an even more developed body to balance its effects. What I am seeing now is case after case of hydro dope psychosis particularly in young people. They can roam the universe with their minds but not connect it to the body. This creates an accelerated separation of mind and body and leads to more intense pathologies. Also with hydro dope, because it is grown in water there is none of the grounding provided by the Earth Element. The Spleen, the organ associated with the Earth Element, can’t digest and process what has been perceived, the mind is ahead of the body and without the nurture and structure of the Mother (which the Earth Element is also referred to as in TCM), fear, paranoia and confusion arise. On top of this, as the mind is activated by the dope (Wood / Fire Element relationship), it is flooded with visions and ideas. It is restless and in an attempt to make order out of chaos it lashes out at everything that is perceived as threatening. The frustration, anger and bitterness reaches critical point resulting in behaviour patterns which Western medicine commonly refers to as psychosis.
I would say the dope is providing too much magic and the user is not equipped to deal with it. On top of that most users have a lifestyle that depletes the body. The recreational drug scene doesn’t focus on the discipline of building the body so there is already a drifting apart of body and mind. The hydro speeds up the mind, the lifestyle takes the body in the opposite direction. The organs are unable to process what has been perceived through the body, so massive malfunctions occur. If communication between the body and mind is ineffective it leads to conflict, either in the user or in the people affiliated with them. Biologically we are intended to live in balance andpsychotic behaviour is an action initiated by the affected user to establish some sense of inner harmony again. Instead of magic, you have madness.
If we keep with the computer analogy, the answer is upgrade the operating system. Get the body in line with the mind so that you can follow through on visions and live your dreams. I haven’t had marijuana or hash for over two decades but despite the fact it launched a long period of addiction and pain, after I stopped, it forced me to accept the consequences of going through that door. I had to integrate the changes that occurred during and after the consumption of marijuana and the other drugs I took. I had to decide to live my dreams and recapture the magic or I would have missed that element for the rest of my life. The only way to do this is the path of self- realisation. This leads to expansion, creativity, vision, happiness and conscious dreaming, everything I sought in marijuana.