Should marijuana be legalized? What are its effects? How does it work? Here is the latest scientific evidence of the dangers of "pot"!
CLAIMS ARE continually heard that marijuana is harmless and should be legalized. On the other hand, charges are made that marijuana is not nearly so innocent as its advocates believe. The scientific consensus, the past few years, has been that we should continue research on marijuana, and hold final judgment in abeyance. Research has been under way with about 40 study projects in the United States under government auspices and another 200 privately sponsored programs in the U. S. and other nations. Definite results have begun to come in. What does the actual evidence show? How do scientists and medical authorities size up marijuana now?
Dr. Wesley Hall, president-elect of the American Medical Association, recently declared that a continuing study of marijuana leaves "very little doubt" that marijuana smoking CAUSES birth defects and dulls the sex drive. Asserted Dr. Hall: "We know that 10 percent of the children born to mothers who use marijuana will be mentally defective." That is a horrible price for any would-be parents to have to pay! Further, he added: "With increased use there is a lack of sex drive. It results in a man who may be 35, chronologically, being age 65 or 70 in respect to his sex drive. "Women also are affected in that they do not desire sex as much as they would under normal circumstances, and there is enough evidence now to substantiate it," he concluded. The study is being conducted by the AMA's Committee on Alcohol and Drug Dependence. Findings from the study strongly support Dr. Hall's statements, although it will take three, five or even ten years to gather enough information on the exact effects. Said Hall: "Much of the information we need is available only through the conduct of an autopsy, particularly in the case of brain damage. However, we are able to make some judgments by observing a patient's behavior at this time. These judgments leave very little doubt that marijuana is not only dangerous to health but also that its effect is cumulative" (UPI, March 4, 1971). Another effect of marijuana smoking, said Dr. Hall, is the loss of self-confidence, fears of impotence, leading to despondency which could develop into a depressive psychosis, "a serious mental condition that often associates itself with the desire to commit suicide" (ibid.).
Evidence is also coming to light that marijuana does cause brain injury in some cases. Dr. Sidney Cohen, former director of narcotic studies at the U. S. National Institutes of Mental Health, recently reported that "black-outs" or memory lapses become more frequent among marijuana users and tend to last longer. Scientists agree that signs of psychological addiction are common among marijuana smokers. Recent studies also show that heavy pot smokers do worse in classes at school and are more prone to drop out of school than non-users. Extensive tests also are showing that marijuana users are dangerous automobile drivers, especially at night. Marijuana intensifies and prolongs the effects of glare in the eyes, causing the user to become quickly and more completely blinded by oncoming headlights. Drivers under the influence of marijuana react as erratically as drunken drivers. They exhibit poor judgment and slow reaction time. What about the long-term or hereditary effects of marijuana? Studies of Arabs in North Africa are providing some answers. In North Africa, large numbers of smokers appear to drop out of society altogether. They develop many of the mental and physical debilities that one sees in chronic "skid row" alcoholics. What about going on to stronger drugs? There is evidence that those who come to lean on marijuana psychologically are likely to go on to stronger drugs. Another major finding is that many marijuana smokers are swinging to the abuse of alcohol.
Biochemistry of Marijuana
Precisely why marijuana affects the human mind the way it does is not yet known. The chemistry of marijuana is still being researched. Among the leading researchers in this field is an Israeli team headed by Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, of the Hebrew University Pharmacy School, in Jerusalem, Israel. He and his colleagues were the first to isolate in pure form the active constituent in marijuana. Experiments on monkeys have indicated that Delta-I-tetrahydrocannabinol (which amounts to only 3-5 percent of the inhaled or ingested drug) is the ingredient that causes the physiological and psychological effects of marijuana on the user. Professor Mechoulam points out that although the effects of marijuana last for hours, the active ingredient (THC) largely disappears from the nervous system within 15-30 minutes. He therefore suggests that it is not THC itself which affects the marijuana user's body and mind, but a product which the body metabolizes from the THC, called hydroxy-THC. And the body can apparently generate progressively more of this metabolite (as the necessary enzyme is "awakened") — creating progressively deeper and more dangerous "trances" from supposedly "safe" levels of intoxication. As to the mental effects of the drug? Prof. Mechoulam unequivocally states that marijuana shakes the mental balance of the user. He has recommended strict international control of the chemicals which could be used by criminals to synthesize artificial THC (Science, Vol. 168, p. 1162, 1970). Since scientists have isolated the active compound in marijuana and have learned how to reproduce it in the laboratory, research is rapidly continuing. Many more revealing findings can be expected. But already enough factual evidence has come to light proving that marijuana is harmful and dangerous and should NOT be legalized! Those who continue to "play around" with marijuana are jeopardizing their future. As increasing evidence, including doctors' reports from Vietnam shows, pot smoking can cause mental illness, trigger psychosis, and lead to murder. A 2nd Marine Division communications N.C.O. recently told Plain Truth editors that in a year of Vietnam duty he saw several corpses who had been killed by marijuana-crazed individuals. But in that year he saw none killed by Communist attack. But even as the scientific evidence against marijuana continues to mount, the popularity of the drug among college students has soared. A recent Gallup poll shows that 42 percent of college students admit they have tried marijuana, compared to 22 percent in the spring of 1969, and only 5 percent in the spring of 1967. If you would like more timely information on this vital, controversial subject, then be sure to read our full color booklet entitled New Facts About Marijuana. It explains the real, hidden dangers in pot smoking. Totally objective, factual and well documented, this booklet "tells it like it is." If you have been tempted to smoke pot — or have actually done so — then read this booklet NOW, and get the facts. Don't be careless with your life! This booklet is free, of course, distributed as a service in the public interest.