First I want to say that I gave up smoking marijuana years ago and do not regard it as positive for my spiritual development but as a detriment. But it is a fact, a sad fact but a fact nonetheless, that if I had not experimented with marijuana some 20 years ago, I would never have had an open mind to appreciate the path of bhakti. And I don't mean to diminish the accomplishments of Srila Prabhupada but the Hare Krishna explosion of the 1960's and 70's was largely centered around a culture that was heavily invested in dissociative drugs like marijuana and lsd. Again, I do not mean to diminish or reduce Prabhupada's accomplishments by saying these things. My motivation is to try to figure out acceptable methods for facilitating radical paradigm shifts in the mind. Even when you listen to the stories of the original devotees so many of them say that they were using drugs, especially dissociative.
I have heard many devotees speak out very aggressively against smoking marijuana. Obviously once one comes to the path of bhakti they should adhere to a zero tolerance policy. But it is unfortunately the case for many people that the necessary paradigm shift in the mind would never have taken place without the dissociative influence of marijuana that broke the mind free from its previous conditionings. Of course marijuana is just substituting one bad set of conditionings for another but it can facilitate change and awakening.
Obviously this is a sensitive issue and you cannot risk jeopardizing necessary boundaries that protect one on the path of bhakti. But an honest inventory of the history of ISKCON has ample evidence that a large percentage of devotees underwent a radical identity change that was facilitated by the use of dissociative drugs. I just hear so much negativity about marijuana use and I understand it does have many negatives, lots of baggage and degrading of consciousness. But we cannot deny the fact that the human mind is very stubborn and will generally strongly resists change. Maybe ISKCON should reevaluate its stance on marijuana use. Washington and Colorado are both now legal zones for smoking marijuana. Many people in Colorado are turning to Buddhism and other paths in the pursuit of expanding their consciousness. There are many minds that are fertile for the planting of the seed of Krishna-consciousness to take place. They are in search mode, a kind of buffering mode that dissociative drugs tend to produce. Are the devotees taking advantage of this opportunity as Srila Prabhupada did as he welcomed such people with open arms and love? Or has ISKCON forgotten where it came from? I hope these words do not offend. I only say these things because I do not hear anyone else saying them. I would just love to see another explosion.