I am glad that my article has spawned so much interesting debate. I did not directly cite research in my original article, as it was a general condensation of studies that are readily available with a little research. There are literally thousands of scholarly studies available describing marijuana’s negative effects. Since there has been such an outcry, I have posted some of these below, including my own research on THC as a hypnotic.
I was initially interested in researching the potential benefits of marijuana use in cases of insomnia. Despite a promising hypothesis that marijuana could be beneficial in certain circumstances, it was my responsibility as a medical professional and spiritual teacher to exercise due diligence on the subject. I was initially resistant to the evidence, as I felt it to be culturally biased, but eventually I could no longer deny the science that marijuana is simply unsafe. The overwhelming evidence proves that marijuana is destructive to physical, mental, and social health. There is always some controversy in scientific studies, but we have to look at the sum of the data, conducted by thousands of different researchers from diverse backgrounds. If we consider the risk/benefit analysis, evidence is clearly heavy on “risk” in the case of marijuana use.
My blog post was originally intended for a more general discussion of the topic; however, given the nature of the comments received, I feel obliged to present my underlying spiritual and scientific perspective on the matter.
As my research clearly indicates, marijuana helps people fall asleep. Clinical experience has convinced me that this occurs both physically and spiritually. Marijuana does, in fact, open the door to apparently deeper experiences of consciousness. However, these experiences are ultimately superficial. Marijuana and other drugs give one some limited access to the astral plane, including the domain of entities. Cannabis may open the mind to a direct perception of these subconscious levels of reality.
But while marijuana may open the mind to these apparently deeper levels of the soul, it may also provide the mind with experiences beyond what it can safely handle, at cost to the physical body and the brain. This, of course, varies from person to person, but in the long run, everyone is shortchanged. They are left with sensorial experiences and superficial insights at the expense of damage to the physical body and subtle vessels. These subtle vessels are the instruments that allow us eventually to transcend both the physical plane and the astral plane, and enter into the creative world, the archetypal world, and beyond. The energies on these higher planes are so powerful that they cannot be processed through a vehicle damaged by the effects of long-term drug use, including marijuana.
In short, marijuana presents consciousness with a “spiritual cul de sac”, and ultimately serves as a distraction on the journey to God-merging.
A student of mine recently described to me his experiences with an intense psychedelic drug. He described experiencing what seemed to be Samadhi. He claimed that it only happened once using this “medicine”, and that since then he has not returned to this elevated state, through either substance or meditation. I replied to him, that I enter into this state every single day, at will, without the use of any substance. I am able to accomplish this because I have properly prepared the vessels to hold this energy through my intense sadhana in India, through the influence of my teachers, through living the Six Foundations and the Sevenfold peace, and ultimately by grace.
In the yogic and kabbalistic systems there is no drug use, and I don’t personally know of anyone who has used drugs to become enlightened. In the Torah, the foundation of the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is explicit that drug use is not conducive to spiritual growth. These traditions are not merely upholding cultural norms. They are expressing the deep spiritual truth that one cannot come before God in an inebriated state. Although some on the shamanic path do use drugs, this is not universal. My own Native American lineage, which can be traced back to Sitting Bull’s medicine man, is a drug-free tradition. Shamanic traditions that do use drugs are typically preoccupied with astral plane experiences, with which drug use may be helpful. They are not, however, a tool for the liberation path.
May we all be blessed with the wisdom to make the long-term investment in a sattvic lifestyle of proper nutrition, prana-building exercise, service and charity, spiritual instruction, holy silence, and shaktipat, so that we may build the vessels and the character necessary to transcend all the lower worlds and enter into the direct apperception of the Divine.