Leslie A McCullough & Ambassador College Research Department
The youth of our nations are going to "pot" — literally! Marijuana, or "pot," has become the STUDENTS' CHOICE in top-ranking campuses throughout the United States. What's behind this drug craze? What are the effects of marijuana? WHY do young people turn to drugs?
"BUT Mom," cried one young girl, "everybody smokes pot. What difference does it make?" If you were Mom, how would you answer?
Tons of pot cross the U.S.-Mexican border illegally each year, coming from Tijuana, the "pot capital" of the world! An estimated 13 million "joints" — marijuana cigarettes — are puffed away every weekend in the U.S. Dr. Dana Farnsworth, director of the Harvard University health services, has estimated that up to 35 percent of students at major universities on both coasts have tried marijuana at least once. About half repeat the experiment. Most of the Americans turning on with pot are under 21 years of age, but an amazing number of adults are also using "sticks," "joints," or "grass," as it is called. Former Commissioner James L. Goddard of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimated that perhaps 20 million Americans have used marijuana. Figures for those smoking it regularly, as a habit, are hazy — some say 400,000. Others claim the true figure is nearer 3,000,000.
Kids Go "Grass-happy"
What really frightens officials is the wild trend toward "grass" among teenagers. Juvenile drug arrests in California in 1967 were 800 percent higher than the 1960 figures. More shocking, however, is the fact that juvenile arrests on marijuana charges have jumped by 3,433 percent in California in the past eight years. And more frightening, is the fact that "as California goes, so goes the nation." A Los Angeles police official, A.W. Trembly, former commander of the narcotics division, told a City Council committee that seizures of heroin, marijuana and dangerous drugs have leaped as much as 5,876 percent in Los Angeles in the past ten years — heroin, up 600 percent; marijuana, up 1,587 percent; and other dangerous drugs, up 5,876 percent. In some Chicago and suburban communities, as many as one out of ten regularly use marijuana or LSD. The illicit drug problem has reached "alarming proportions" with the greatest increase being in the WEALTHIER suburbs! Said Dr. Martin Schwartz, a consultant in charge of child psychiatry at County Hospital, "The situation is apparently getting out of hand in some of our best suburbs." The trend is already established. Drug usage is not just a fad soon to fade away. An adolescent told one listener, "Man, when I'm up on weed I'm really livin'. I float up and up and up until I'm miles above the earth. Then, Baby, I begin to come apart. My fingers leave my hands, my hands leave my wrists, my arms and legs leave my body and I just floooooooat all over the universe." Students, doctors and psychiatrists at Harvard say at least 25 to 30 percent of the freshman class has smoked pot; at Princeton 15 percent of the 3,200 undergraduates have tried marijuana; at Yale estimates range from 20-35 percent. The Dean of Columbia College said he wouldn't be surprised if the number of pot users was ONE THIRD of the student body! Adding to the "pot peril," and its many ramifications and corollary dangers is the deafening silence from the world's educated. The consensus among spokesmen for the educational, scientific and religious community seems to be that smoking pot may be against the law, but that does NOT necessarily make it harmful or a sin. Many say smoking pot is a matter of one's own desire, one's own personal conscience. Some new religious and pseudo-religious cults actually include smoking pot and taking LSD as part of their religious sacraments! The use of drugs in the ritual of one U.S. religious cult has been made legal! Many claim drugs help them lead more spiritual lives, help them find something "meaningful in life." They are searching for answers, and think "Pot is the answer." Some look forward to that "last great high up in the sky," when they die. Few really understand the shocking dangers of drugs, including marijuana. Most ignore — or perhaps haven't even heard — the FACTS! With all the contradictory statements, conflicting reports, what is a young person to believe? Deluded into the belief that life is supposed to be "one big bowl of pot," our youngsters are trying anything for a thrill. Pep pills, barbiturates, glue, alcohol, LSD and marijuana are all part of the all-encompassing obsession to escape life and reality.
Marijuana, its use and its possession ARE ILLEGAL! In spite of this illegality, "pot" Is SECOND ONLY TO ALCOHOL IN POPULARITY AS AN INTOXICANT (Wakefield, The Addict, p. 18). It's no longer the escape route of the downtrodden only. Socially, marijuana (Cannabis saliva) has risen from the grime-encrusted slums to acceptance and popularity in the ivy-covered universities of our land. The "pothead" is no longer disdainfully looked upon as a pariah to society. He is benignly considered to be a person searching for identification in a complex and troubled world. Marijuana enjoys wide acceptance among the so-called intellectuals, suburbanites, college students and — most worrisome of all — even among the sub-teens. Just try to picture, if you will, little boys and girls — not yet in their teens — smoking marijuana for kicks and thrills. They're much too sophisticated to be thrilled by bicycles and dolls. That's kid stuff. Imagine — IF YOU CAN — what they will be doing for excitement when they are twenty! This isn't the prejudicial view of a few hard-headed law enforcement officers determined to keep young people from enjoying life. These are the heart-wrenching FACTS of a sick society. The sweet smell of marijuana hangs in the air of teenage clubs and wafts down the street in San Francisco, New York, Seattle and dozens of other U.S. cities. It is becoming fashionable in some groups to wear buttons proclaiming to the world, "Let's smoke pot." In many cities, psychedelic stores openly peddle the materials needed for smoking marijuana such as marijuana pipes and cigarette papers. There are even newspapers which advise the neophyte how to get by the drug laws.
What is wrong with using marijuana? According to its devotees, marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. "Marijuana doesn't lead to the use of hard narcotics and has no physically harmful effects," claim "potheads." Users juggle statistics to paint a pretty picture. On the other hand, enforcement officers present a completely different story about marijuana leading to the use of hard narcotics. Medical authorities strongly recommend against the drug because of harmful effects. The public is confused. What are the facts? Dr. Herbert Blumer, professor of sociology at Berkeley, headed a study entitled The World of Youthful Drug Use. It is published by the School of Criminology at the University of California. The study deals with the fruitless efforts of university investigators to dissuade young drug users from their practices. They and all other investigators or counselors failed in their attempts, according to Dr. Blumer, because they couldn't refute the youngsters' arguments in favor of taking the drugs. Of course, you can never prove something to another person unless the person is willing to listen and learn. What's the truth about claims that marijuana is non-addicting? Is it or isn't it? The "pothead" will say, "I've been smoking pot for ten years — I can quit any time!" Medically speaking, marijuana is not addicting. That is, it doesn't form a dependence which ends in withdrawal symptoms when the drug is no longer ingested. BUT THAT'S NOT THE WHOLE STORY! Marijuana devotees, it seems, never discuss the FACT that marijuana is mentally and psychologically HABIT FORMING. There may even be some physiological need developed, but not yet recognized by medical tests.
The Hidden "Hook"
Some few smoke marijuana the way others use alcohol. After a time, they may quit and never smoke it again. For others, it's not that simple. "... Dr. Edward Bloomquist of the University of Southern California School of Medicine... described the chronic marijuana user as NO LONGER IN CONTROL OF HIS USE OF THE DRUG because the psychological factors which drew him to the drug precipitate a pattern of chronic compulsive abuse. At this point the user Is JUST AS HOOKED AS ARE THOSE WE USED TO CALL ADDICTS. The absence of physical dependence is immaterial." (Shearer, The Mystique of Marijuana, p. 8) These users are hooked on escape! They — like the addict — are running from life and all it holds. They don't want to face reality, facts, life or whatever responsibilities may be theirs. They turn to "pot," hoping to be secure in their own little world. Dr. James H. Wall of New York Hospital warns about such an approach to life: "I don't look with any favor on a society where everybody just floats around in his own tub of butter. A certain amount of tension and alertness is essential to keep things straight in life. "This reaction is quite understandable. It is obviously possible to tranquilize a man to the point at which he loses not only his anxieties but also his ambitions, ideals, creative urges, everything, in short, that distinguishes him from a contented cow. That this is undesirable goes without saying". (DeRopp, Drugs and the Mind, p. 285) Users don't become addicted to marijuana — they become addicted to the idea of a life of ease, pleasure and lack of responsibility. Marijuana merely makes this exodus from reality possible. Kids who get "high" continually don't want to do anything else. Their world is one which seemingly has no problems, and they want no part with any other kind of world.
Marijuana Dulls Senses
Marijuana causes a person to lose his coordination. Paradoxically, it instills a feeling of omnipotence. A person high on marijuana is inherently more dangerous than a narcotics addict. The reason? His judgment is impaired but his desire for physical activity often remains at a high level. His poor perspective, lack of judgment and desire for activity combine to make him extremely dangerous. Those nations with a larger incidence of use have found the marijuana user a great danger on the highway. In a statement before the United Nations Commission of Narcotic Drugs in 1963, the French delegation expressed its concern over the high rate of road accidents attributable to drug abuse, especially the abuse of marijuana or cannabis (United Nations Document E / cn. 7/L. 268, Statement by the French Delegation, May 14, 1963). Meanwhile, there is alarming new evidence that marijuana might be VERY DAMAGING physically. The unscientific statement of marijuana buffs that; "A little pot never hurt anybody" isn't exactly true. Jess Steam, in his recent book, The Seekers, catalogued some of the frightening new evidence. As to the potheads' cry that marijuana is no more dangerous physically than alcohol — some medical authorities disagreed. Alcohol, unless excessively used, breaks down into natural compounds and leaves the system. Marijuana lodges toxically in the liver. Further, Jess Steam commented on the researches of Constandinos Miras, a highly respected Greek biochemist. "Miras, experimenting with chronic users, had reported in 1967 that marijuana was another form of hashish, weaker, to be certain, but with a similar propensity for damaging brain, liver, eyes, and the respiratory tract." (Jess Steam, The Seekers, page 61) But more HORRIFYING than this — some researchers "were now beginning to introduce evidence of lasting damage to some marijuana users, genetic damage that might be PASSED from one generation to another" (ibid. page 175). Dr. Luis Souza of St. Dismas Hospital in New Jersey "reported that after the FIRST FEW EXPERIENCES WITH MARIJUANA, there was a complete destruction of the DNA component of the genes" (page 176). A report of the American Medical Association pointed out that after prolonged usage physical problems became obvious — bronchitis, asthma, problems with sleep, upset coordination. "The AMA report was based on evidence accumulating all over the country that marijuana was definitely a medical problem" (ibid. page 177). Why has such knowledge not been known sooner? The answer is very simple. The activating element in marijuana was not even IDENTIFIED until 1964! And not until 1967 was THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — precisely synthesized. Laboratory work previous to this time was virtually impossible. Jess Steam, who analyzed the whole marijuana scene for his 1969 book made this penetrating analysis: "In my own research, more pragmatic than scientific, I had discovered a telltale LACK OF AMBITION among constant pot-smokers accompanied by a bristling resentment of any suggestion that their lethargy was induced by their habit" (The Seekers, page 180). In an analysis of a personal case, he mused, "it had taken only three months with pot to reduce a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed youngster, to a blob of inertia" (ibid. page 185). Probably the damage is physiological as well as psychological. Of course, proponents of pot will claim, "Don't confuse me with the facts." Those who insist on going to pot — will go IN SPITE of what is said. But those others who have wise ears to hear sage advice will stay away from pot — no matter how deceptively glamorous it may appear. That is why, after serious study, the American Medical Association reached the conclusion: "Cannabis (marijuana) is a DANGEROUS DRUG and as such is a public health concern." The AMA also declared, "Legalization of marijuana would create a serious abuse problem in the United States." Warned Police Chief Thomas Reddin of Los Angeles, "Society is presently witnessing a phenomenal growth in the use of marijuana." Legalization would make it far WORSE!
A Dangerous Drug
What are the effects of marijuana? They usually last from 3 to 5 hours. There is a lack of muscular coordination, hallucinations, sometimes delirium and nausea. A person's motor control, perception, judgment are decreased, altered. Marijuana releases inhibitions which normally regulate behavior. A person "high" on the drug becomes giddy, irresponsible, and very open to suggestion. Marijuana also provides a person with a false sense of bravado or courage, to the point he is likely to do dangerous things. His behavior becomes impulsive. He has increased self-confidence while his perception and judgment are hindered. There is less self-criticism. As an example of marijuana's potent power, in the 11th century it influenced a Shi'a Ismailite sect in northern Persia. Members of this sect, high on hashish, obtained courage and confidence from the weed to murder, pillage, kill, and assassinate officials and government leaders. Their most notable leader was Hasan Sabah. His hashish-taking followers were known as hashshashin, from which comes the English word "assassin" Other effects of marijuana include inertia, lethargy, self-neglect. It can and has precipitated psychotic episodes. Since it relaxes inhibitions, it has led to VIOLENCE, feelings of aggression, and dropping of moral barriers. One of the worst features of marijuana is that influences surrounding it may easily lead to experimentation with other drugs even more dangerous, such as LSD. The most dangerous aspect of its use is that it often leads to experimentation with HEROIN. In many surveys, it has been shown that a very large percentage of heroin addicts — in some cases approaching 100 percent — began on marijuana. Said Dr. Edward R. Bloomquist, "Kids who get high repeatedly don't want to come down. They find a WORLD in which they believe that they have no problems, and they become social bums. They turn the whole experience into a protest tool, which they use to mock the middle-class culture that they disdain. Used in this way, marijuana leads persons into a DRUG-CULTURE SHADOWED WORLD which is disturbing to society."
What about Crime?
Marijuana use is directly connected with anti-social, criminal behavior. The numbers of marijuana users among major criminals is very high. In countries where higher grades of marijuana are available there is an alarming incidence of use among the criminally INSANE. From a group of 379 hashish-using criminals (hashish is a form of marijuana), 117 of them became criminally inclined only AFTER becoming addicted or dependent on the drug. The relationship of crime to marijuana is one of the most hotly contested aspects of the question in the United States. Proponents of its use claim there is no connection between the two. Law enforcement agencies disagree. (Donald E. Miller, Chief Counsel, U.S. Bureau of Narcotics, Narcotic Drug and Marijuana Controls. Paper presented at National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Drug Education Conference, Washington, D.C., November 7-8, 1966, p. 8) There is, further, the direct connection between the increasingly high use of marijuana by teenagers and the fantastic rise in teenage crime! Other far-reaching truths about drugs will be examined in the next issue.