- Primo Conte
MOOD MAKER Put some cannabis in your heart-shaped box.
Want to boost your romantic life this Valentine's Day? Try eating dark chocolate, and ingest some locally grown cannabis. The cannabis might briefly increase your heart rate and lower your blood pressure, but that's not necessarily a bad thing on Valentine's Day. If you're worried, ask your primary-care physician, or better yet, an informed dispensary salesperson.
A woman at my local pot shop said, "Hippies weren't as dumb as they sometimes looked and sometimes acted. Beneath the long hair, there was real smarts, though it didn't take rocket science to recognize that marijuana made for better sex." Indeed, trial and error proved that a joint boosted one's libido and made for fewer inhibitions. I remember, I was there: Getting stoned helped uptight folks relax.
Famed astronomer Carl Sagan, who smoked pot, came to the same conclusion as the hippies and recorded his findings in an article he wrote in 1969 and published anonymously in 1971. After his death in 1996, the year medical marijuana finally became legal in California, his friend Lester Grinspoon—a medical doctor and Harvard professor—gave Sagan the credit he didn't receive in his lifetime. In his article, Sagan reported that with marijuana, sex was more enjoyable than without it, and that it improved his appreciation of art and music. His conclusion: marijuana was desperately needed in an "increasingly mad and dangerous world." Imagine how he'd feel today!
Jeff Hergenrather, the Sebastopol doctor with an international reputation as a cannabis expert, argues that people vulnerable to schizophrenia and addiction should say "No" to marijuana. But he insists that, on the whole, cannabis is not harmful to the heart.
"Anytime someone says that they were able to get eight hours of peaceful sleep because they used a little bit of marijuana, their cardiovascular health will likely be better off with the use of marijuana," Hergenrather wrote in an email to me.
He added that smoking cannabis "seldom results in chest tightness, coronary insufficiency, and wheezing." He urges pot smokers not to accept claims that a joint will make your heart race dangerously fast and lead to life-threatening palpitations.
"Cannabis smoke contains the same compounds that are found in cigarette smoke and that are associated with heart disease and cancer, but there is no evidence that cannabis smoke has the same effect," Hergenrather told me. He doesn't sell marijuana. He just tells it like it is. Everyone ought to hear his message this Valentine's Day.
Jonah Raskin is the author of "Dark Day, Dark Night, A Marijuana Murder Mystery."