Pollan, M. (2001). The botany of desire : a plant’s eye view of the world. New York : Random House, c2001. Pg 131-196 (e-book)
I loved this chapter on cannabis by Pollan, again he seeks knowledge from professionals; growers in Amsterdam, researchers and experts on marijuana. He starts off this chapter, “Bust most remarkable of all, there are plants in the garden that manufacture molecules with the power to change the subjective experience of reality we call consciousness.” (Pg 134) What a beautiful way of saying some plants get you stoned. He goes on to talk about how we possibly learned of the psychoactive properties of plants by watching animals, as he witnessed his cat Frank frequenting the garden for a “happy hour nip” of catnip.
I agree with Pollan when he talks about gardeners; “Deep down I suspect that many gardeners regard themselves as small-time alchemists, transforming the dross of compost (and water and sunlight) into substances of rare value and beauty and power.” (Pg 141) I relate to this since I often will take sprouted onions or potatoes and think ‘I could grow this’ and proceed to add to the collection of pots around my tiny apartment. I laughed when Pollan talked about his DIY cannabis growing fiasco, what a great story to be able to tell.
Pollen discusses how marijuana has been perfected over the years, “To succeed in North America, cannabis had to do two things: it had to prove it could gratify a human desire so brilliantly that people would take extraordinary risks to cultivate it, and it had to find the right combination of genes to adapt to a most peculiar and thoroughly artificial new environment.” (Pg 149) Cannabis has definitely succeeded in both of these, increased THC content and it’s wondrous effects on our consciousness, and hybrids making them able to grow in almost any climate; have led them to be rich from a plant’s view. I like how Pollan also talks about other drugs and entheogens such as peyote and opium, and the importance of these (especially opium) for famous poets, writers and philanthropists. Pollan also discusses some of the science behind THC, the human cannabinoid (anandamide), and the possible reasons cannabis plants produce THC.
When exploring the short term memory loss that comes with cannabis use, “For it is only by forgetting that we ever really drop the thread of time and approach the experience of living in the present moment, so elusive in ordinary hours.” (Pg 181) I thought this was a lovely way of describing the beauty of forgetting everything but the present moment and truly appreciating it; this is why, in my opinion, cannabis is excellent for stress and PTSD relief. However there are still existing taboos surrounding cannabis that originated from the Christian church fearful of “pagans, Africans and hippies” and their use of cannabis. Luckily things are changing, “What a re-enchantment of the world that would be, to look around and see that the plants and the trees of knowledge grow in the garden still.” (Pg 196) I love how he ended off the chapter with this statement, and maybe with changes occurring in Canada this will be a reality.