Titan's picture
Submitted by Titan on Mon, 2005-12-05 23:17

I'm not certain what Objectivism's stance is on drug use. My question is; does one violate any particular objectivist principles by enjoying the relaxation that drugs can give, in moderation?

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Leonid's picture

"does one violate any particular objectivist principles by enjoying the relaxation that drugs can give, in moderation?"

Obviously not . For example drinking glass of wine (alcohol is drug too). Dangerous habit forming narcotics is different matter.

'Greg Simpson,' enlightenemnt, matte & punk chew eh shun

William Scott Scherk's picture

Hey, 'Greg,' nice to see you joining SOLO as the second Scientology whackaloon. Hope you enjoy yourself and your time here, especially the spelling and punctuation lessons you will endure. Please try to use commas in future shills. They are so helpful in removing the impression that Scientology hucksters are illiterate dumfucks.

We are aware that Narconon is a Scientology front organization; that doesn't mean you are automatically a dope for plugging the program.

Oh, wait, yes it does. Dope.

The safety - or lack of it - of Narconon's programme has been a serious cause of concern for nearly 30 years. As discussed in "Hubbard's Junk Science", the Narconon detoxification programme is based on unproven (and disproved) theories. Unfortunately for Narconon's clients, some of those theories and practices have significant risks and have attracted strong criticism from the medical profession as a result. In this context, it is worth noting that Narconon requires its clients to sign a "Release of Liability, Indemnity Agreement and Contract".
[from http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Nar... ]



gregsimpson76's picture

So many people have said that they use drugs for enlightenemnt or for spiritual purposes. I think that no matter what you are using drugs for the fact of the matte is that you are using drugs period and are finding justifications for why it is either ok or right. Whatever it is that one is hoping to gain by taking these drugs then maybe we should look a little deeper at what other things in our lives could help us acheive the same things.

Narconon VistaBay


I'm surprised people don't know:

Ptgymatic's picture

Rand herself, talking about writing her novels, said one shouldn't be afraid of using stimulants. I don't think she meant caffeine, either. Unfortunately, I don't know the source of this off the top of my head...will find it and post it.


Of course everybody can do

galin's picture


You have a very interesting

gordman's picture

You have a very interesting point here, and yes, many people fall into drugs trap. A happier life based on drugs is just an illusion. Most people who realize that, also realize that is too late to change something about their addiction. I think it's never too late...
California drug rehab

Scott, does Alec Baldwin

Ross Elliot's picture

Scott, does Alec Baldwin know you've stolen his picture?

Caffeine Has No Effect on Clarity of Mind, of Course. . .

jriggenbach's picture

I wonder how Logical Lass learned that trying "anything other than caffeine and second-hand smoke" would adversely affect the "clarity" of her "mind." Faith, perhaps?


The assumption in all the

Logical Lass's picture

The assumption in all the studies here quoted is that high productivity always correlates with a rational, happy life. Knowing that smokers, extreme coffee drinkers, pot smokers or whatever drug you choose results in average higher productivity means nothing to me. Do these people have a higher quality of life? That is the more important question.

Also, I had heard of the Japanese thing and googled it to find out more. I learned that meth was used by Nazis and Japanese in WWII to improve function of soldiers. I learned that the artificially produced euphoria that is caused by inhalation of the stuff can allow you to stay awake for days. That would definitely increase your productivity. Of course, meth is a more extreme example than the other drugs mentioned, but while it is of course true that a rationally passionate person who is happy is probably also very productive, the opposite is not necessarily true and the productivity level of users of a certain drug should not be used to judge the value of that drug.

I have personally never experimented with anything other than caffeine and second-hand smoke, but that is only because I value the clarity of my mind more than the doctrine of "you should try everything once."

Atlascott makes a valid

Joe Idoni's picture

Atlascott makes a valid point. Your choice is your choice. But then again, I don't know if that says more about morality of using or it's legality.

Personal history aside, different people function on different drugs in different ways. Some people can function fully and productively whilst smoking marijuana and some cannot.

In response to the original thread: If you know that you are affected in a way that is negative - and this requires an objective opinion that might not be attainable while you are under the influence - then you shouldn't do it. Also one should bear in mind that marijuana may have a cumulative effect on the body and therefore should be kept in mind that continued use may have effects over time that would not be readily apparent at first.

To address the legal aspect: I do not think that the government has any right to prevent someone from any behavior that does not damage another. Also, my tax dollars should not go towards fighting a political war that cannot be won.


pot slows the mind?

atlascott's picture

Cite all the studies you want, I am hesitant to abandon my first-hand observations.  A little pot here and there, fine.  Massive pot smoking over years and years, yes, I have observed it can set one on the road to being a dullard.<p>

This does not pass on how much pot can inexpensively and harmlessly help people (esp the high-strung) relax.  Or any other issue.<p>

It strikes me that saying that 30 years of daily pot smoking has no effect on the human body is the same as saying eating healthy food versus fried junk is equivalent.  It ignores that smoking tobacco can caquse lung cancer.  It ignores biology and chemistry.<p>

The social analysis is this:  there is none.  It is no one else's business if an individual decides to use drugs.<p>

The private analysis is this:  does it add more than it takes away, in your estimation, and in your heirarchy of values?  If the answer is yes, it is moral.  Period.

coffee et al

Robert Malcom's picture

Oh ho - 5 cups? oh my!! then you don't want to know how many POTS of coffee I drink per day...Eye But - as for the rest, again - context is the calling card... suspect that, all things in all, the use, while indeed may lessen the cognitive ability, also lessens the stress factoring inhibiting use of cognitivity - thus a net gain in mindful use... up to a point, of course... Myself, do not nor care to smoke, and while have toked years ago as social 'politeness', not care for it as it does fuzz my brain... alcohol is a rareness, and usually done with food alongside, as part of the pleasuring aspect of eating, a means on its own, beyond the means of survival - hedonistic? no more than ANY fine eating experience, else we all would be on brown rice, beans, and fish as a diet...

Coming to you at the speed of light ...

milesian's picture

Ed sed: "A little caffeine can be good for you. Coffee (1-5 cups a day) has been linked with reduced risk for some cancers."

Five cups of coffee a day is not a "little" caffeine.

Also, in response to Jeff Riggenbach's litany, I point out that cigarette smokers have been shown to be more productive than non-smokers. And, during World War II, production workers in Japan were issued amphetamine. As Von Mises pointed out, no one disagrees with the facts; what we argue about is the theoretical framework that explains them.

Finally, I wish to point to the Freudian slip in Jeff's reply. I took "uninformed" to mean "uniformed."

"I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

Cannabis in context

AdamReed's picture

Context matters. If you lived where cannabis is legal, and there was adequate objective knowledge of its effects, and you evaluated those effects and found that smoking Cannabis was objectively in your interest, then sure, it would be rational to use it. But...

If you smoke Cannabis where it is not legal, you make yourself vulnerable to political intimidation by inviting selective enforcement of Cannabis posession laws. Not a problem if you keep your political opinions to yourself, because no governement today can actually enforce those laws against the average non-political guy. But if you dare to speak out, and you smoke Cannabis anyway, then you will be made an example of.

Take your choice.

Peter. . .

jriggenbach's picture

"I will refrain from obvious rejoinders including the word 'retard' out of politeness, but I would question why you are here, and what you hope to gain from it."

Your politeness overwhelms me, Peter. Thank you.

My being here is an end in itself, not a means to an end.



Peter Cresswell's picture

Jeff, you seem to be responding mostly to a straw man of your own making, and not for the first time.

'Twas I who said talked about "self-destructive pleasure seeking" in answer to someone who asked specifically about that. Marijuana was not mentioned.

Michael M. wrote that "Anything that diminishes your mind, diminishes your life" -- different to what you quoted, and unexceptional for all that.

The comment on 'retards,' which again you misquote, was asking specifically about the case if you ~did~ decide to turn yourself into one, which question I answered. Once again, marijuana was not mentioned.

So what's your point apart from paranoia?

I will refrain from obvious rejoinders including the word 'retard' out of politeness, but I would question why you are here, and what you hope to gain from it.

Smart drugs are fun

Ed's picture

There are a few drugs out there that -- while altering perception and emotion -- seem okay. An example is caffeine. A little caffeine can be good for you. Coffee (1-5 cups a day) has been linked with reduced risk for some cancers. Centrophenoxine (a drug used for ADD) might actually be fun to use, with little or no ill effect. Some of the "smart drugs" out there, might even INCREASE your life span. One example is Deprenyl (selegiline hydrochloried), which makes rats live 20% longer.

Not all drugs are bad. The ones that I think would be immoral, from an Objectivist perspective, are the ones that conclusively alter future functioning -- I'm talking angel dust, LSD, and Ecstacy. These 3 seem to be immoral, little else does.


Contrary to the hysterical

jriggenbach's picture

Contrary to the hysterical claims of certain profoundly uninformed individuals above who desperately need to get a life, marijuana does not "diminish your mind"; "people on marijuana" do not "just sit there"; they do not, by smoking marijuana "turn themselves into retards"; and they do not, by smoking marijuana, engage in "self-destructive pleasure seeking."

I wonder how these ignoramuses would respond to the news (news to them, that is) that drug users -- particularly cannabis users -- typically are more productive and enjoy higher pay than non-drug users. Jonathan Marshall reported nearly ten years ago in the San Francisco Chronicle on "one 1991 study" that "found that drug users earned twenty percent more than nonusers in the 1980s."

Marshall continued:

"A 1995 study sheds further light on this mystery by looking at men of two different age groups (18 to 29 and 30 to 45) and at two different levels of drug use, moderate and abusive, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Thomas Buchmueller, an economist at the University of California at Irvine, and Samuel Zuvekas at the University of Wisconsin analyzed a survey by the National Institute of Mental Health of 18,571 adults in New Haven, Connecticut; St. Louis; Baltimore; Durham, North Carolina; and Los Angeles.”

According to Marshall, Buchmueller and Zuvekas found that “for young men, neither moderate drug use nor abuse seem to make any substantial difference. For workers aged 30 to 45…moderate drug use…makes no statistically significant difference….”

Nearly five years later, on November 5, 1999, Chronicle reporter Sam McManis noted that “in September [1999], the American Civil Liberties Union issued a report based on studies by the National Science Foundation and the AMA [American Medical Association] showing that testing has been ineffective in reducing drug use and has no noticeable impact on reducing either absenteeism or productivity.”

McManis reported also that a 1999 National Academy of Sciences study had found “that illegal drugs contribute little to workplace accidents and that off-duty drug use has about the same small effect on worker accidents as off-duty drinking.”

McManis focused also on a report in Working USA magazine for January 1999, in which “two researchers with the LeMoyne College Institute of Industrial Relations surveyed 63 Silicon Valley companies and found that productivity was 29 percent lower in firms with pre-employment and random testing.”

McManis interviewed “Dan Abrahamson, a San Francisco attorney for the Lindesmith Center, a national drug policy institute that opposes drug testing." Abrahamson told McManis "he receives at least one e-mail a week from high-tech workers who smoke marijuana away from the job and are concerned about drug testing at work. ‘There are a lot of smart, creative people who work in Silicon Valley in programming and they feel it helps them intellectually to use marijuana,’ Abrahamson said. ‘So testing might actually hurt their work.’”

Finally, in April of this year, a study conducted by Health Canada and the Canadian Executive Council on Addictions was released. The study showed that lifetime cannabis users were most likely to be single, well educated, and earning an above average salary. The conclusions were based on a recent survey of 13,900 Canadians.


I didn't think pot smoking

Jody Gomez's picture

I didn't think pot smoking led to doing anything fast. Eye

Forget About It

Ashley's picture

No one will ever think of a smart-assed comment as fast as me.

Damn it!

Jody Gomez's picture

"and I would say that 90% of my contribution to SOLO has been written under the influence. Some of you might be saying "Ah, that explains it," but I hope not."

Do you have to beat us to the punch line?

I Feel Fine

Ashley's picture


I smoke probably three nights a week. Actually I smoke pretty much every day, and probably three nights a week I take "huge bong rips" but I really don't consider myself a "typical druggie burn out." In fact, I usually work every night in that state, and I would say that 90% of my contribution to SOLO has been written under the influence. Some of you might be saying "Ah, that explains it," but I hope not.

I think using drugs and/or alcohol is a matter of personal choice, and I think each person is responsible for their behavior when they do it. I don't think using automatically turns anyone into a raving lunatic. There's a rule in this house, which is "drunk is no excuse." No excuse to act like an idiot, no excuse to be hurtful, dishonest, or annoying. And I think we do a good job honoring it, unless something extraordinary is on, like a visit from Andrew Bates.

(Maybe this goes on SOLO Sports, but wasn't there a previous conversation about how a little alcohol actually improves performance on bar games like darts and pool? And, I think shooting a gun. I was actually looking for that thread on the archives the other day after having a conversation about it.)

You're mistaken

Peter Cresswell's picture

Branden, you seem to have confused Objectivism for hedonism, and also perhaps libertarian politics for Objectivist ethics. You certainly have the right to destroy yourself, but Objectivism won't support your choice to do that.

Self-destructive pleasure seeking may well make you happy -- in the short-term -- but Objectivism would in no way call that moral. Indeed, if you followed that path by turning yourself into a retard, it would call you a moron, and to the extent that it was self-destructive, it would call you immoral.

AR: "Man must choose his actions, values and goals by the standards of that which proper to man - in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life."

What you do is your own glory.

Brandon Miller's picture

Pursuing your own happiness is moral. It's not self-destructive if it makes you happy. Even if you turn yourself into a retard by doing it, if you're happy, then you're still pursuing your own self-interest.

Drugs — An Alternate Reality

Sam Erica's picture

I speak from inexperience with any kind of mind-altering drugs — but mind-altering drugs, by definition, alter the mind. An objectivist considers perception to be the window to reality and mind-altering drugs alter perception. So, yes, you are violating objectivist principles to the extent of your usage.

On the other hand you should have the legal right to put anything in your body that you wish, no matter if it is marijuana, a penis, whisky or cyanide, as long as you're not a minor and are legally sane.

Your life is your primary

milesian's picture

Your life is your primary value and your mind is your only tool for achieving that. Anything that diminishes your mind, diminishes your life. Therefore, drugs (including alcohol) are anti-mind and anti-life.

If you live in the USA, you live under a zero-tolerance law. You might be willing to be shot or put in a concentratation camp over your right to own property and disbelieve in God. Are you willing to go to a federal prison for ten years for your natural, inalienable right to destroy your own mind?

If you ask, then you know the answer. That is a general rule. People do not ask these kinds of questions -- "I'm not certain what Objectivism's stance is on drug use." -- unless they know the anwswer and want to be told something that they would prefer to believe rather than what they know the truth is.

Compare and contrast coffee and tea (which are mild central nervous system stimulants) with marijuana and alcohol. Read about the social consequences of coffee and tea: the Enlightenment; clearing houses for banks; the stock market; insurance companies. Please supply similar examples for pot and booze, if you can.

People on alcohol say and do stupid things. One of the reasons that DWI and DUI are so common is that judgment is the first capacity to be diminished. Unfortunately, speech lasts longer. People on marijuana do not commit so many stupid acts -- because they commit so few acts of any kind: they just sit there.

I believe it was The James Gang who asserted, "The smoker you drink, the player you get." Paul Simon said that he "stepped outside and had a jay / and came back in and blew that room away." However, no one has demonstrated that drug-inspired music is superior to music created by rational mentating. Specifically, neither Joe Walsh nor Paul Simon has outdone Mozart or Wagner. In fact, the entire array of Pop 40 musicians since 1966 has not outdone the comparable arrays from the Classical or Romantic eras.

There are mind drugs, but they are not marijuana and alcohol. Try equal doses of inositol and choline. Gingko biloba is popular. There are others.

"I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

I don't see a problem with this.

stormyeyes's picture

I know that Ayn Rand didn't approve much of drug use, but I doubt that smoking a joint on a Friday night after working all week is really an evasion of reality. I myself don't smoke, but I don't disapprove of you responsibly indulging from time to time.

After all, I've got my own vices. *checks the release date for Final Fantasy XII*


jriggenbach's picture

"I geuss my question is; am I ethically violating any objectivist principles by enjoying the relaxation that drugs can give me in moderation?"

I geuss my answer is: no.


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