The cannabis high can teach a person a lot about themselves that they didn’t already know. It brings up a range of different emotions, and some of those emotions provide the sort of challenges that lead to healthy personal growth. This article discusses the idea that cannabis ought to be legal for its benefits as a tool for personal growth.
Personal growth can occur in a number of areas. For those who have suffered previous life trauma, it’s common that personal and emotional development stalls at the stage where the trauma occurred. Heavy physical, sexual or emotional abuse can lead to impulsive, neglectful, destructive behaviour, and getting past such conditioned behaviours is not easy.
The main use of cannabis for psychotherapy might lie in its ability to induce a state of relaxation and fearlessness. In that state, it’s possible to revisit earlier traumas and to reinterpret them. Traumatic events tend to leave the impression that they were more important than they really were, which can lead to them making a change to behaviour that outweighs any learning value the experience may have had.
A person may have become conditioned to react angrily or violently when confronted with a certain emotion or stimulus, when they really shouldn’t. In order to correct this, psychotherapy seeks to revisit the traumatic event and recondition the patient to not react with anxiety when they recall it. This has the effect of settling the psychological tension that had existed ever since the trauma.
Cannabis is useful for its deconditioning effects – although this is also one of the reasons behind why it has been illegal. One man’s psychological damage is another man’s asset, and the brutal learned helplessness that people come to suffer as a result of early schooling tends to make them more amenable to instruction from their overlords in the workplace. Those overlords, therefore, do not want people to decondition themselves, especially if it also makes them free.
Probably the most effective use of cannabis, however, lies in its ability to cause the user to have original thoughts that could not have been generated by any other method. Cannabis has long been associated with creative industries and endeavours, especially music and writing. It does this by preventing repetitive thoughts from occurring, leaving mental space for ideas inspired by the environment.
There are several people whose minds are limited on account of the low range of stimuli they have encountered over the course of their lives. Many of these people, particularly, have been dumped in front of a screen by a parent early in their lives and know little of the outside world or of other people. They have essentially been programmed to accept Disneyland as their reality.
People like this can bring themselves a new lease on life by using cannabis, and allowing themselves to explore vistas of the mind that were previously shut off. As users will attest, entire realms of new thought can open up when one is under the influence of cannabis: all sorts of strange, wonderful and unsettling ideas seem to arise as if from a parallel dimension that one could not perceive until just now.
Related to this, and as mentioned in a previous section, cannabis is a religious and spiritual sacrament. This entails that many people have used it as a tool for spiritual growth.
There is a reason why hippies are associated with terrifying insights into the nature of death, consciousness and reality as well as cannabis – they have seen beyond. Cannabis use can lead to spiritual growth in the same way that meditation does. By way of breaking one’s usual patterns of paying mental attention to petty things, one frees up mental space for new and original thoughts to arise, perhaps from long-suppressed places.
On a darker level, the unpleasant and paranoid aspects of the cannabis experience can lead to personal growth in a grim, meathook sense. Many people have avoided ever really thinking about the fact that they’re going to die, thanks to all the conditioned patterns that come with living an everyday life. So when a person does, perhaps for the first time ever, it’s common for them to feel extremely challenged by it.
Cannabis law reform ought to happen so that cannabis can be used as a tool for personal growth. There are both therapeutic, recreational and spiritual benefits that cannot be explored under prohibition.
This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.