Pubdate: Sat, 21 Aug 1999
Source: Associated Press
Copyright: 1999 Associated Press
Author: Scott Andrews

Biographer: Sagan Smoked Marijuana

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The late astronomer and author Carl Sagan was a secret
but avid marijuana smoker, crediting it with inspiring essays and
scientific insight, according to Sagan's biographer.

Using the pseudonym "Mr. X'', Sagan wrote about his pot smoking in an essay
published in the 1971 book "Reconsidering Marijuana.'' The book's editor,
Lester Grinspoon, recently disclosed the secret to Sagan's biographer, Keay

Davidson, a writer for the San Francisco Examiner, revealed the marijuana
use in an article published in the newspaper's magazine Sunday. "Carl
Sagan: A Life'' is due out in October.

"I find that today a single joint is enough to get me high ... in one movie
theater recently I found I could get high just by inhaling the cannabis
smoke which permeated the theater,'' wrote Sagan, who authored popular
science books such as "Cosmos,'' "Contact,'' and "The Dragons of Eden.''

In the essay, Sagan said marijuana inspired some of his intellectual work.

"I can remember one occasion, taking a shower with my wife while high, in
which I had an idea on the origins and invalidities of racism in terms of
gaussian distribution curves,'' wrote the former Cornell University
professor. "I wrote the curves in soap on the shower wall, and went to
write the idea down.

Sagan also wrote that pot enhanced his experience of food, particularly
potatoes, music and sex.

Grinspoon, Sagan's closest friend for 30 years, said Sagan's marijuana use
is evidence against the notion that marijuana makes people less ambitious.

"He was certainly highly motivated to work, to contribute,'' said
Grinspoon, a psychiatry professor at Harvard University.

Grinspoon is an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana.

Ann Druyan, Sagan's former wife, is a director of the National Organization
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The nonprofit group promotes legalization
of marijuana.

Sagan died of pneumonia in 1996. He was 62.

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