Besides the socio-economic and political implications of new attitudes and policies towards cannabis, there are some other strange ways getting high could alter civilization.
This list starts off swinging wild with a bit of observational humor, but eventually finds it’s way into corners of human culture that could change human civilization as we know it.
Fish & Tank Sales Surge
This is not only the most cheeky entry in this list of predictions, it is the one most based only on subjective observations, and therefore, most unlikely. It is all also based purely on my own experiences, and I have not polled others to test my hunch, yet I have a feeling that it is probably generally true to some degree nonetheless.
Growing up under a generation of weed smokers pretty much normalized marijuana for me right from the start, and made it sort of passe – boring stuff that adults do. Yet there were some things that I came to appreciate about it, namely that the people my adults bought their grass from were usually pretty awesome people with very interesting homes. And even though we moved around a lot, a common thread between them seemed to be that almost all of them owned fish tanks. Generally they also had large carnivorous fish, and I was often able to leverage a feeding so I could watch them devour smaller feeder fish whole. Exciting stuff for a kid. This, I thought, was akin to banks having candy for their customers children.
This trend has continued throughout my life. I strongly associate cannabis use with fish tanks because, in my experience, there is a strong correlation between the two. My intuition tells me that the connection contains some truth. Care and maintenance of fish and a tank is a lot of hard work. One has to be pretty motivated to put that sort of effort into something whose only purpose is to be be stared at. And stoners tend to do a lot of staring as their minds wander in wonder of life, the universe and everything, while the gentle sound of running water adds to the weeds calming effects.
So while I cannot verify it, I would guess that a lot of people who own aquariums also own bongs. And if that is a correct assumption, then we can infer that as more people smoke marijuana, more aquatic home entertainment equipment will be sold. Not just tanks and supplies, but also the fish that go in them. Which will be the first time in Earth’s natural evolution that hundreds of species experienced massive population increases because another single species liked to get high af and stare at them. And speaking of staring at stuff…
Netflix Becomes Radically Altered
As of March 2016 the number of titles available to watch on the Netflix streaming service was about six and a half thousand. Only a tiny percentage of those titles show up on their ‘front page’ recommendations, while the vast majority hide in obscurity waiting for some knowledgeable cinema enthusiast to access them by direct search. As such, the titles that get the most visibility, and thus most views, are those that get good viewer ratings. A consequence is that mainstream cinema overshadows independent features, b-movies and cult films, and the homogeneous Hollywood cookie cutter film factories continue to be encouraged to push out predictable drivel that is safe for the status quo.
Stoners like strange cinema. That is not saying they do not appreciate or watch blockbusters, but they generally tend to be open to a wider range of themes, and will often judge films on eclectic subjective qualities, and not solely on objective qualities like budget, cast and realism. ‘Bad’ film can be a good experience, and often people who ingest cannabis are more open to viewing films with this in mind, though not exclusively.
Given that more viewers are getting high, the Netflix ratings for weird movies will likely increase. This will give the overlooked programs more visibility to a larger audience, which could create a trend in which the streaming cinema giant responds to the demand by adding more and more correspondingly eccentric programming. This trend will likely transcend Netflix and become a cultural force driving cinema into strange new realms. And a further consequence of an invasion of odd movies and television shows is that it will eventually inform and transform other areas of human culture, such as…
Religions Will Evolve For the Better
Modern religion has become overly endowed by fundamentalist tendencies that have a penchant for literal translations of cherry picked texts; the effect of which has been to drive centuries and millennia of spiritual knowledge into oversimplified Sunday school versions of their former selves. And even more disturbing is how this trend has distorted messages of peace and love into justifications for violence and hate.
Marijuana is a gateway to deeper mysteries. It is also a messenger of love and peace. The influence that cannabis will have on how people view creation, what happens after death and the entirety of reality will be huge. This is not to say that I think getting high will destroy religions, but rather change them at the most basic levels of belief.
Given just a few generations of the faithful getting high, these new depths of religious experience will begin to creep into the institutions of the churches themselves. Imagine what any given religious service would look like if the spiritual leaders attending them smoked weed, without any guilt or shame for doing so.
Cannabis could put the peace and love back in those religions that have been co-opted by hate and control. They could restore humility, humor and reshape the popular image of God as a heavy handed disciplinarian into one of a transcendent phenomena greater than ourselves with whom we can commune only through acts of love and creativity. Such a reshaping of religious narratives would make them a tool not of control and tradition, but of freedom and progress. And that could all happen through the use of a plant that can miraculously raise our spiritual consciousness. Coincidence?
Science Will Flourish & Expand
Religion is not alone in having accumulated literalist dogma. Science began as the study of the nature of reality, but has evolved over time into a worldview that nature is reality. This is not a scientific outlook, it is a metaphysical one, yet it is often treated as though it were an empirical truth. This ideology is called materialism, among other things. And while materialism has been an immensely useful belief system for inspiring technological innovation, it has also become a hindrance to progress in understanding our own existence.
Once again, cannabis use challenges this kind of thinking. Being high on weed reveals layers of complexity in reality that cannot be accounted for by a narrative that sees existence as a coincidence or mere set of interacting objects. Altering ones consciousness reveals that consciousness itself may be the primary substance of our very existence.
A post-materialist science would be free to ask questions and explore avenues of inquiry currently discouraged through the dominant ideologies of the scientific establishment. Already scientists like Carl Sagan have famously used marijuana to think in unconventional ways. When weed becomes a more common part of peoples lives, including scientists, the old ideologies and establishments will reflect a greater openness to seeing our universe in new ways.
The current ways in which we view reality place it in a rigid framework. And so the products of science must work within that framework, or not at all. Yet perhaps we will discover that reality is more flexible and interacts with our beliefs about what reality is to create it. If this is the case then we could use science to open up doorways to things that now seem impossible to us.
Human Beings Gain ‘Super Powers’
When the rigid framework crumbles and we come to better understand how reality is generated, we may be able to influence the creation of new realities which allow us to do things that are only currently possible in our dreams. If gravity turns out to be negotiable, then we might one day develop the ability to fly. If space and time turn out to just be reference points in consciousness, we may develop mental links that allow us to alter or traverse space and time using only our minds. It may be that the only things that are truly impossible are the things we believe to be truly impossible. And if we view these new abilities as technologies rather than magic, then the transition into a currently unthinkable world would appear gradually and be viewed as normal.
As technological beings we are highly adaptive. Our technologies are the products of imagination. With imagination driving adaptation there is no logical reason to conclude any set of limits for humanity. So long as we can imagine it, we can likely one day experience it. The only boundaries are those of our imagination. So long as humans alter their consciousness to see beyond their own narrow windows of reality, they will always be able to imagine further. Cannabis is like gift from the universe labeled with a card that says, “Reality is what you can get away with. Have fun and try to be cool.”