The Marijuana Metaverse – A Closer Look at Cannabis and Virtual Reality
We’re reaching a point in human history where full immersion technology is inching closer. With things like Elon Musk’s Neurolink, you might not need external hardware to access a myriad of virtual realities. In the meanwhile we’re still bound to our primitive approach to virtual reality by wearing haptic feedback suits, goggles, gloves and so forth. I say “primitive” because at some point in the future all of that will be irrelevant with tech like the neurolink.
Nonetheless, there have been some amazing breakthroughs in V.R these days and with these breakthroughs come new possibilities. Virtual Reality in itself is a kind of a drug where you are magically transported into an alternate reality where you can interact with strange entities not of this world. It’s the ultimate escapism of your mundane reality. This is something that prohibitionists have said about marijuana, “It’s a mean of escaping your reality” however that is not true. When you smoke cannabis you’re not “out of your mind” that you don’t know what’s going on here in the “here and now”.
Rather, cannabis ads (or removes) a layer of conscious perception. Our shifted perspective alters the shadows of our reality and we get to appreciate what we experience in the real world with a slight alteration. This alteration is neither “good” or “bad”, it’s simply a different perspective. Conversely, virtual reality is a full immersion experience where you are transported out of your reality and into a fantastical space where typical forces of nature don’t apply. While there are things like haptic suits in development that will allow you to experience a more “full body” immersion into these worlds, the human mind still “knows” that it’s in a virtual reality world.
However, perhaps, cannabis could enhance the experience and allow your brain to accept the virtual world with less hesitation. Of course, if you’re using controllers to move around in virtual space and not using your body, there will most certainly be a disconnect between the projected experience and the internalization of the experience. However, weed can help you suspend disbelief, or at the very least hyper focus your attention into the world itself. Surely there are many gamers that have tried this in the past to different degrees of success.
Some V.R users, like Peter Rubin, a contributing editor at Wired who writes on AR/VR believes that cannabis should be kept as a separate experience. In his views; “Could you chomp an edible and head into a trippy celestial adventure? Go for it. For me, doing so would reduce VR to a spectacle, when in truth it’s more of a substrate—for exploration both internal and external. No need to overwhelm your senses when you’re redefining them altogether.” – SOURCE: Wired
For Rubin, it seems that these two experiences are best enjoyed when you focus your attention on either but not on both together. VR in this context is sort of a drug and some people are purists in that when they consume something they remain true to the substance of choice. Others however likes to overwhelm the system. In occult magick, there are spells where you have to get drunk or high on particular drugs to perform a ritual. Psychonauts also mix different uppers and downers to influence their trip throughout a session. Therefore while Rubin prefers to keep V.R separate from cannabis, there will be many who will use it to allow them to immerse themselves even deeper into the experience. Gaming and cannabis have been fond relatives since the birth of modern video game consoles.
Up until this point, I’ve been talking about V.R from an entertainment or exploratory perspective, but is there a functional aspect for V.R in the world of cannabis? Some people are looking at the Metaverse as a potential point of sale with virtual dispensaries.
In these dispensaries, users would be able to walk around and select the strains, look at information and then buy it all in the virtual world. The goods would then be delivered to your home. While this immersive experience might seem “good” at first, the novelty would quickly fade and perhaps a quick menu would suffice. This is especially true with seasoned cannabis smokers who know what they want. I ask you – the reader – would you rather spend more time exploring Mars or trying to buy weed in a virtual dispensary?
The main appealing aspect of dispensaries is being able to buy weed like any other commodity. Thus, the in-person experience will always trump the virtual one in that aspect. However, things like Cannabis Cup, Concerts, Conferences, etc all have a space within the world of cannabis and V.R, which will most definitely gain traction over the coming years. Of course, unless we reach a point where we can replicate the smell of cannabis, the V.R experience will be cool – but not as cool as in person.
The bottom line
We’re entering into a new chapter in the human experience. The lines between reality and alternative reality is being blurred at an exponential rate. While some people prefer to keep the AR/VR experience separate from cannabis, we know that with the whole world legalizing weed – VR and cannabis will be a match made in heaven. I can also foresee how this will become a problem for those who have a problem with gaming addiction in the future. The dopamine feedback loop of VR will be like crack for those individuals.
I also think that cannabis will allow you to stay in VR for longer, which is another reason why I think people will use it – especially when they start experiencing ocular fatigue and migraines as a result from too much immersion into the metaverse. These side effects will only truly be remedied with technology like neurolink, but until that day comes – what’s your favorite activity to do while in virtual reality?
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