DNA holds a desire for new state of consciousness | Wally’s World

During the next few days, legal pot stores will start popping up all over King and Pierce counties. However, our cautious, duly-elected, local  officials have, diplomatically and politically, decided to slap a moratorium on legal pot within the Enumclaw city limits. Of course, that’s only temporary, until they figure out how they want to handle the issue. In the meantime, to get your buzz on you’ll have to drive to retail weed stores in Buckley or Auburn or Covington – or just about any other wide spot in the road.

I knew this would happen sooner or later, but it’s still a bit boggling to realize the hour has finally arrived.   Yet, upon the eve of this auspicious occasion, there are still many people who can’t get their heads around the idea. The other afternoon, a rather casual acquaintance and I were sharing coffee in the Lee, when he turned to me and said: “I just don’t understand why a fella wants to try that crap. Can you explain that to me?”

Well, yeah, I probably can. (And it isn’t very often I can explain much of anything.) There actually seems to be an innate, genetic reason for our desire to use not only pot, but a host of other stimulants and depressants and psychedelics, running the gamut from caffeine to heroin.

Yes, you read that correctly. Inherent in our very DNA, there appears to be a desire – a biological need – to experience and seek new and original states of consciousness. Social-psychological experiments have fooled around with this idea for at least 50 years and, in the last 30, the “hard” sciences have uncovered additional supporting evidence. A lot of it. While using CAT scans to map and define specific areas of the brain, scientists have isolated a particular region in our frontal lobes that quests and explores new experiences and new states of awareness.

Through the years, scholars have hung various labels on this region and each label suggests a slightly different interpretation of what’s going on there. Thus, it’s been called the “curiosity center” and it accounts for our desire to experience new stuff in general. Christian groups have sighted this area as a “spiritual center,” thereby claiming we have an inherent need for religion; that is, our brains are wired to seek “spiritual dimensions.” Hoping to be more objective about the whole thing, most scientists generally agree it’s a part of the brain that simply craves new states of consciousness.

So, we consume caffeine because we want to wake up an be more alert. We smoke nicotine to get the same effect. We often use alcohol to relax, to attain a more mellow and sociable state of mind.   Therefore, to answer the casual acquaintance I mentioned earlier, we try pot because we’re curious about the effects. Some people also try heroin.

The intensity of our inherent desire for new experiences varies from one individual to another, just as I.Q. or physical agility or sexual energy varies. Then too, outside social conditioning and situations can suppress or stimulate our natural, genetic legacy. Consequently, some people anxiously and willingly and recklessly try any damn fool drug that comes down the pike, while others think twice before having a second cup of coffee.

But – and this is my main point after all this scholastic babble – we all inherit, with varying degrees of intensity, a desire to seek and experience new states of consciousness.

More about this next week.