The uses of intoxicants

An evidently stupefied Aldous Huxley in early 1938

An evidently LSD-stupefied Aldous Huxley in early 1938

Admirably level-headed on this as on so many other matters, Dalrymple writes that it seems cannabis

can relieve nausea (one of the most unpleasant of all symptoms when it is persistent) and some kinds of pain. Its side effects in this context are unlikely to be serious or severe.

This is undeniable. However, we should not go further than this. The claims that are sometimes made, by for example Aldous Huxley, that such intoxicants (Huxley’s own favourite was LSD) can transport us to higher regions of consciousness and deepen our awareness are just a little foolish. To smoke marihuana in moderation is nothing more than a civilised pleasure, as is consuming the better beers or decent gin. It will not cause us to levitate, attain enlightenment or touch God.

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