Howard Marks
Recreational drugs are substances consumed for purposes other than medical treatment or sustenance. Recreational drugs are capable of changing the way we feel, think, percieve and behave. They change one's state of mind. One's state of mind may also be changed physically by making oneself dizzy, bungee jumping, parachuting, hang-gliding, climbing mountains, racing cars and horses, walking tight-ropes and fasting for several days. One's state of mind may be changed spiritually. There are those who get high on Jesus, confess to priests, talk to gurus, undergo purification rituals such as baptism or puja and go on pilgrimages. Ones state of mind may be changed psychologically. Psychiatrists practising hypnotism, psychoanalysis and time regression remove neuroses and phobias.
It seems that the activity of changing states of minds generally, is permitted, if not approved and encouraged, by the powers that be. Authorities have no problem with my getting high from jumping off a cliff, or getting a buzz from being zapped by a witch doctor, or being mesmerised by a hypnotist.
And one could be forgiven, perhaps for inferring that authorities might be equally approving of changing one's state of mind by taking recreational drugs. And authorities were so approving. A hundred years ago, any respectable person could walk into a chemist in Britain and choose from a range of cannabis tinctures, hashish pastes, cocaine lozenges and opium extracts. He could immediately purchase morphine, heroin and a hypodermic syringe.
Recreational drugs exist, and some people want to take them. Authorities have attempted both to persuade people not to take recreational drugs and to rid the planet of them. The persuasion has been ineffectual and it appears that God or Nature or some equally significant entity has done a good job of furnishing the Earth with all manner of recreational drugs.
"That humanity at large will ever be able to dispense with artificial paradises seems very unlikely. Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited, that the urge to escape...is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul." - Aldous Huxley
There is no society anywhere in the world, nor at any time in history, that has not used an intoxicant.

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