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have done so in a manner that specifically calls forth the efforts of physicians to verify our
It follows that marijuana use will be viewed as a medical matter. And that it is a matter
for physicians' attention. It might be presumed that physicians' word is sought on
marijuana use because it is a medical matter. The sociologist looks at the issue differently.
That marijuana use is a medical matter is an imputation, not a fact. It is because society
has already adopted the pathology or "disease" model on marijuana use that it seems
reasonable to infer that marijuana use, therefore, is a medical matter. But the prior
imputation was necessary to see it that way in the first place.
The central point of this book, explained in detail in the chapter on "the politics of
reality," is that we all view reality selectively. We notice that which verifies our own point
of view, and ignore that which does not. We accept a "world taken for granted," and an
exposure to contrary worlds does little to shake our faith in our own. Moreover, when our
version of what is real and true is threatened, we marshall pseudoevidence to support this
version. Facts used in arguments are rhetorical rather than experimental. Societies whose
values do or would oppose a given activity face a tactical problem: how to make a
condemnation of that activity seem reasonable and rational? A rationale must be provided,
and a personnel whose word is respected must provide that rationale. Thus, by generating
statements from physicians, society is utilizing a valuable ideological resource. The
antimarijuana lobby will therefore court and win the sympathies of doctors whose word on
cannabis is largely negative. Society is searching for verification of an already held
ideological position, not for some abstract notion which idealistic philosophers once
called "truth." (We all assume that we have truth on our side.) So that the pathology
position will be crystallized out of the magma of society's needs and expectations, out of
the social and cultural position of physicians, their self-conception —partly growing out
of society's conception of them—as preservers of society's psychic and bodily
equilibrium, and as experts on anything having to do with what is defined as a health
(4 of 25)4/15/2004 1:04:59 AM
The Marijuana Smokers - Chapter 5
matter. It is these pressures that generate the concern of physicians regarding marijuana,
and not any particular expertise they might have.4
In lieu of actually doing a survey, it is necessary to examine the writings of physicians
on marijuana. However, to use these written statements to characterize the dominant
medical view on cannabis use it would be necessary to resolve at least one difficulty first.
There is the question of the typicality of published and widely disseminated statements, as
opposed to the actual sentiments and actions of the vast bulk of doctors who do not write
on marijuana. Thos
e laws is exceptionally complex, and some will be changed shortly. By far
the best review of existing laws and their social consequences has been made by Kaplan in his recent
book, Marijuana, the New Prohibition (1970). Smith's (1970) book also contains excellent discussions
of the social issues revolving around marijuana use.
EXTENT OF USE
(5 of 7)4/15/2004 7:02:27 AM
On Being Stoned - Chapter 1
In spite of the severe penalties attached to possession and sale of marijuana, use today is very
widespread. Given the sorts of pleasurable effects reported later in this book, it seems likely that use will
continue to increase.
No definite survey of incidence of use can be made because there is always a (realistic) tendency of
wary users to deny their use. Nevertheless, a large number of surveys of drug use on college campuses
have been made (Kaplan, 1970; Pearlman, 1968). It is now a rare college campus that does not have a
significant number of marijuana users and on many campuses users themselves estimate over 50 percent
of the students use marijuana occasionally, primarily at social events. An unpublished study that I
carried out in collaboration with one of my graduate students, Carl Klein, found that from 1967 to 1968
the percentage of students who used marijuana at a conservative West Coast university doubled, and
various formal and informal estimates of that population since have confirmed that a majority of the
students have tried marijuana. (Further details of this study are presented in Chapter 28.) This seems
typical. Drug-education programs sponsored by schools and government agencies are viewed with scorn
and amusement by users since their own and friends' experiences with marijuana convince them that the
instructors are ignorant or lying. This is an unfortunate effect, as the attitude may be generalized to
warnings about drugs that really are dangerous, such as hard narcotics and amphetamines.
Marijuana use is by no means confined to college campuses. In a survey of young adults (eighteen
and over) in San Francisco, Manheimer, Mellinger, and Balter (1969) reported that 13 percent had used
marijuana at least once. Conservative estimates in the press usually figure that several million
Americans have tried marijuana, although it is not clear how many use it with any regularity.
Difficult political, moral, and religious problems arise when an act generally condemned and illegal
spreads at such a rapid rate. This book is not the place to go into them, but the interested reader will find
some good discussions in Aaronson and Osmond (1970), Krippner (1968), and Kaplan (1970).
Leaving aside considerations of social and political problems, what sort of reliable, scientific
knowledge do we have about the effects of marijuana? What do users experience that makes the risk of
The following chapter discusses the nature of marijuana intoxication and explains why previous
scientific work has gained v
| of the government warned the populace of the menace of
Traveling; but still more and more citizens traveled.
Great outcries arose from the good citizens for something to be done. Some cried out that Traveling to
Muggles was a menace that was sapping the strength of the Kingdom. Others cried out that those who
traveled were sick in their minds and should be helped, whether they wanted help or not. Some, who
claimed to be Travelers, raised their voices and said it was a good thing to travel to the land of Muggles.
(1 of 3)4/15/2004 7:01:07 AM
On Being Stoned - A Fable
Some said it was not the King's business whether a citizen traveled to Muggles or not.
In the midst of the Confusion and Outcry, some thoughtful citizens asked, "What say our Scholars?
What can we make of this Traveling? How can we understand those who say it is Good and those who
say it is Bad? How can we wisely spend the Kingdom's gold to Do Something when we are confused as
to what is happening?"
The Scholars looked at their books and their papers, and quarreled among themselves. Some books
said that Traveling to Muggles was Bad, and the Doctors wrote of sick people they had treated who had
been to Muggles at one time or another. Some books said that it was Good, Ineffable, Beautiful, and the
Ultimate Truth. Some books about Traveling to Muggles, written by citizens who had been there once or
twice, were clearly Confused. Other books were clearly written by crazy people. Artists wrote of the
paintings of Muggles. Philosophers wrote of the sublime philosophy of Muggles, but did not mention the
paintings. Religious people wrote of the teachings of Muggles, but did not mention the paintings. What
could one make of this? Perhaps the Crazies were mainly writing about craziness, the Philosophers
mainly about philosophy, the Religious about teachings, and no one was saying much about Muggles at
As the outcry of the citizens rose higher, the King's Ministers dispensed gold to the Scholars, and
commanded them to find out the Real Truth about Traveling to Muggles.
Now as any man knows, there are Scholars and Scholars. Some did one thing with their gold, others
did other things.
The school of Scholars most in power at that time was known as the Externalist School. They knew
that men may lie, and so reasoned that what a man says is of little importance, but what he does is Hard
Data The means of Traveling to Muggles was to immerse oneself in the Foggy River. As "swimming"
was unknown in the Kingdom, this seemed an insane act that might lead to drowning; but the Scholars
of the Externalist School set out to study it in their Laboratories. Skilled Craftsmen constructed large
tanks, which were filled with water from the Foggy River. Ordinary citizens (those who claimed to have
traveled to Muggles were considered too biased to use) were held under the water for various times and
their behavior observed. Short immersions had little effect, but longer immersioCultivation Feminized Marijuana Seeds">
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A recent survey149 suggests a high incidence of marijuana use among young