Starting this evening and continuing on Monday’s for the next several weeks, the National Geographic Channel is rebroadcasting Carl Sagan’s brilliant, humbling, and seminal video series, Cosmos. The series itself is as illuminating and enlightening as the man himself. This version is repackaged with updated commentary by Neil deGrasse Tyson and lists Seth MacFarlane (of Family Guy fame) as a producer.

What many people, science aficionados or not, may not realize is that Sagan was a big cannabis advocate and wrote about his experiences several times. His first essay was written in 1969 under a pseudonym, Mr X. In it, he describes how the plant greatly improved his appreciation of art and music, and helped him to achieve an understanding of the artists' intent that previously escaped him. It also helped him to think about science, philosophy, and social issues in a whole new way—a broadening of mental horizons that stayed with him far beyond the “high.”

…the illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.
— Carl Sagan

As he aged, Sagan became more and more passionate about the application of marijuana in the medicinal context—specifically in aid to those with cancer and AIDS. In a interview, he marveled at the fact that certain patients are give huge doses of chemotherapy, which as a side effect, poisons and weakens them severely, diminishing their appetite. Cannabis could justifiably be used to lessen their pain and increase their appetite--if only they had access.

Is it rational to forbid patients who are dying from taking marijuana as a palliative to permit them to gain body weight and to get some food down? … It seems madness to say, ‘We’re worried that they’re going to become addicted to marijuana’ — there’s no evidence whatever that it’s an addictive drug, but even if it were, these people are dying, what are we saving them from?
— Carl Sagan

Watch Cosmos on the National Geographic channel tonight and on Mondays going forward. Those without cable should check Netflix—the entire series used to be on streaming.

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