Part of what I find interesting about this question comes from the fact that I work in a creative field and many artists identify pot smoking as a source of inspiration because it can relax their restless minds and help them to focus in creative ways. I grew up following a lot of famous guitarists that were heavy users and something about their music made that obvious. It’s probably not the same thing, but something that I imagine a lot of us can relate to is that limbo between being asleep and being awake. If you’re like me, you might find that you get a lot of creative inspiration when you’re in that state of stillness and relaxation.
In my own life I’ve contemplated that a lot in the hopes of being able to reproduce it when I need to be creative and I’ve actually found strategies to get myself into that state of mind where I’m not restless and seeking distraction, but able to focus on my ideas and allow creative inspiration to strike. Now, I don’t know if being high actually produces this effect and whether or not it does is somewhat irrelevant to the point which is that people use it because it produces an effect on their mind that they want. But, what if you can produce a similar effect without a chemical stimulus? Because if we can all agree that certain effects, like stillness, lucidity, and creativity, are desirable or even virtuous and we can identify two ways of achieving those effects, does it really matter which one we choose? I would say yes, it does matter, and I’ll start by highlighting an example that comes to mind. If you want to build muscle and create physical strength in your body, does it matter whether you take steroids or spend extra hours at the gym creating a disciplined work ethic that produces those desired effects? I think most people would say that one of those is a good, healthy, and virtuous approach, and one is not. What interests me is the question of why. In the scenario in which you go to the gym consistently, you’re developing a habit and a discipline. You’re learning things about yourself and about reality conditioned by those experiences. You’re learning that certain good objectives have a certain cost to them and that cost, itself, can instill all kinds of good things in your mind, body, and soul.
The result should be a kind of wisdom and maturity that conditions you to be a steward of the good or even power that you now possess as a result of going through that process. People who have had to work really hard for some good end tend to be more mature about the end that they’re achieved. If you take the chemical approach, you miss out on all of that and you end up with an outcome that you probably won’t have much appreciation for. It’s the old with great power comes great responsibility adage. That responsibility will not have been learned because the process that produces a responsible mindset was skipped. Money is another good example. People who just inherit money don’t tend to employ it responsibly. They tend to act like spoiled brats. People who have had to work hard and save for the day they could lead a more comfortable life, tend to be a lot more mature about it. So in the case of pot, you could find methods that help you make your mind work for you; essentially that makes you the master of your own mind. Or, you could introduce a chemical reaction that produces the same effect, but with none of the maturity or self mastery. If you rely on a drug to do life’s heavy lifting for you, then you will never grow strong in the ways that reality is encouraging you to be. If nothing else, you’ll actually grow weaker and lazier because you’re avoiding the work that others are embracing to better themselves. And not only will you miss out on the opportunity for maturity, but you might find yourself getting reliant on those good effects which, in turn, makes you reliant on the drug. This is one thing I’ve read about it specifically for those who use it to relax because the rebound tends to produce more anxiety than would have been otherwise and so people then use the drug to treat the anxiety from the rebound until you get caught in this feedback loop of dependency. So all of that goes without pointing out the countless studies that identify the bad effects that weed has on your health, especially your mental health.