Jobs and LSD

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald points out that last week’s flood of Steve Jobs hagiographies mostly tiptoed around one inconvenient facet of the Great Man: he took LSD. He not only took it, he regarded having taken it as one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. Greenwald:

Unlike many people who have enjoyed success, Jobs is not saying that he was able to succeed despite his illegal drug use; he’s saying his success is in part — in substantial part — because of those illegal drugs (he added that Bill Gates would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once”).

An excellent Time magazine piece by Maia Szalavitz delves into the connection between Jobs’s use of psychedelics and his creative genius:

As attested by the nearly spiritual devotion so many consumers have to Jobs’ creations, the former Apple chief (and indeed many other top technology pioneers) appeared to have found enduring inspiration in LSD. Research shows that the psychedelic experience is, in fact, long lasting: a new study published last week found that people who took magic mushrooms (psilocybin) had long-term personality changes, becoming more open, more curious, more intellectually engaged and more creative. These personality shifts persisted more than a year after taking the drugs….

Greenwald connects the ironic dots:

America’s harsh prohibitionist drug policies are grounded in the premise that the prohibited substances have little or no redeeming value and cannot be used without life-destroying consequences.  Yet the evidence of its falsity is undeniable. Here is one of the most admired men in America, its greatest contemporary industrialist, hailing one of the most scorned of these substances as integral to his success and intellectual and personal growth.

Under Stephen Harper, Canada is falling into step behind America’s punitive approach to drug use: mandatory prison sentences for smaller and smaller amounts of the least harmful substances, and relentless campaigns against harm-reduction strategies like safe injection sites. The Conservatives are quick to condemn the nanny state whenever environmental or consumer regulation is proposed, but eager to bring the full force of state power down on anyone whose personal choices happen to offend their arbitrary moral standards. Even personal choices one of their business heros regards as one of the most important and beneficial he ever made.