I used to work with a sugar-lipped, chiffon-haired, almond-eyed receptionist named Lara who declared that pot smoking was healthy and should be legalized, because pot “is a natural product”. Well, I thought that over for awhile, seizing upon a rare chance to use all of those college Chemistry courses that have lain dormant in my brain for so many years, and came up with these contrary examples:
Opium: Well, Lara, guess what? Opium is a purely natural, organic product too. The primary source of Morphine, Heroin and Codeine, Opium is extracted from the sap of unripe Papaver Somniferum poppies, by cutting a gash in the green bulb, and allowing the sticky resin to ooze out and harden. The sap is scraped off as raw Opium, or is further refined into narcotic analgesics (pain killers). The astonishing thing about Opium and its narcotic derivatives, is how they work on the human brain. The opiate molecules have the same basic shape as Endorphin, a naturally occurring opiate that is present in all of our brains. Endorphins are released when we are injured physically, to dull pain, or when we undergo extreme emotional trauma. Endorphins fit nicely into opiate “receptors” that are present in the limbic system of the brain, and in the spinal column.
Heroin and Morphine “hijack” the Endorphin receptor system of the brain, instigating Dopamine (a pleasure chemical) to fire like mad, fooling the brain into thinking it is getting mauled by a bear while simultaneously getting eaten by sharks, pain-wise, and then screaming for more when it metabolizes. All 100 percent natural, 100 percent addictive.
Kurari: A paralytic plant extract obtained from the bark of the South American tree species, Strychnos, Kurari is a toxic alkaloid and acts as a powerful relaxant on striated muscles. It was first used by South American Indians as an arrow poison. Kurari acts by blocking cholinergic transmission at the myoneural junction. A small dose can temporarily slow the nervous system, while a larger dose is deadly.
Peach pits: An odd conundrum, the flesh of the common Peach, Prunus Persica, is edible and choice, but the pit is poisonous, containing the Cyanide compound, Cyanogenic glycoside. Eating a Peach is healthy, but eating a moderate quantity of the pits alone can kill you, symptoms include: Gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure and death. Indeed, the pits of Peaches were ground up for use as poisons in the past.
LSD: LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, occurs naturally as well. LSD is produced by the rye fungus Ergot. Under specific conditions of temperature and humidity, Ergot produces LSD, and historical accounts of entire towns getting zonked out on the equivalent of 100’s of hits of LSD per person is well demonstrated in John G. Fuller’s book The Day of St. Anthony’s Fire (1968), a true account of Ergot produced, LSD infected flour reaching a bakery in post World War 2 France. Although LSD is synthesized today, it’s production by the Ergot fungus occurs entirely naturally.
The purpose of this article is not to slaughter anyones relatively harmless pot habit, but only to illustrate that just because some chemical agent occurs naturally, doesn’t mean it does a body good. If anything, it suggests how intricately life is tied together on the planet Earth. Since the sap of a Papaver Somniferum poppie can intertwine so effectively with the human neurological system, it does at least seem to reinforce the notion that all life on Earth evolved from a simple, single cell organism, and everything and anything living, at some traceable level, is genetically related. A remarkable natural high, indeed.