The Botany of Desire

by Michael Pollan
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According to The Botany of Desire, did the war on drugs have a positive effect?

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According to Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire, the war on drugs was largely a war on marijuana, and it was largely a failure, but it did have a couple of positive effects.

For one thing, Pollan argues that the war on drugs made the cannabis plant stronger,...

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According to Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire, the war on drugs was largely a war on marijuana, and it was largely a failure, but it did have a couple of positive effects.

For one thing, Pollan argues that the war on drugs made the cannabis plant stronger, heartier, and more potent, for growers had to bring it inside and care for it in different ways (to hide it, generally). So, they created “grow rooms” that ended up “perfecting cannabis.” The “homegrown” cannabis of the 1970s became “the most prized and expensive flower in the world,” the author explains. What’s more, the plant expanded throughout North America, stretching farther than ever before, as people “would take extraordinary risks to cultivate it.” Therefore, the war on drugs actually proved to be a boon for cannabis.

Further, the author argues that the war on drugs ironically helped scientists learn more about how the human mind works. Scientists wanted to study the effects of marijuana on the mind, often with the goal of showing how bad the drug is. But they actually ended up learning a lot about human consciousness in the process and about the chemical balances in the brain. Again, the attempt to combat drugs ended up having a positive effect, this time of expanding knowledge.

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