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Apr 20, 2024

“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.” This is a quote attributed to the late astronomer, planetary scientist, and cannabis enthusiast, Carl Sagan. And if you’ve ever watched the original Cosmos series which he created and hosted, you won’t be surprised that he appreciated pot. His decades-old insights and wisdom about marijuana and its individual and societal benefits carry forth the energy that we’re bringing to this special 4/20 episode of Upstream which is a celebration of this incredible plant—its history, its myths, legends, culture, and much more. And we’ve brought on the perfect guest to discuss this with us.

David Bienenstock is the author of the book How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High, and host of the podcast Great Moments in Weed History. In this episode we explore the history and culture of cannabis from prehistoric times, through to the ancient biblical times of Jesus, and up to the present. We recount the real story of how 4/20 became a celebrated holiday, we hear some of David’s favorite weed stories, and get serious too as we discuss the impacts of criminalization, the commodification of cannabis in the legalization process, the need for racial justice to repair communities of color disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, and the possibility of a general strike on 4/20.

So lean back, grab your joint or your pipe or your bong or your vape or if you don’t partake, just imagine you’re in the remote blunt rotation and you’re skipping your puff and politely passing the joint—and this is important—to the left-hand side, as you join Robert and David in conversation about all things cannabis.

Further resources:

Intermission music by The Olivia Tremor Control. 
Episode artwork by Berwyn Mure.

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