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Friday, March 7, 2014

Cuttings from Cannabis Classics by Chuck Ream

     Dr. Grinspoon is near the top of the heap of cannabis superheroes. He was a professor of psychiatry in the medical school at Harvard University when life's most horrible tragedy taught him the usefulness of cannabis. 
This book is dedicated "in memory of Danny", the young son that Grinspoon lost to cancer. He vividly experienced how cannabis vastly improved Danny's quality of life during chemotherapy. He knows that "Children are the greatest high of all".

     This big, brilliantly researched, and elegantly written book came out exactly at the beginning of Nixonís Drug War, crisply demolishing every negative myth about cannabis and providing fascinating facts. Grinspoon says "There is something peculiar about illicit drugs: if they don't always make the drug user behave irrationally, they certainly cause many nonusers to behave that way".

Fun facts:

     The American Medical Association protested mightily *against* the Marijuana Tax act of 1937, writing that "There is positively no evidence to indicate the abuse of cannabis as a medicinal agent or to show that its medicinal use is leading to the development of cannabis addiction". By the time this book was published the AMA had totally knuckled under to American "pharmacological McCarthyism".      
     They said "brief hospitalization is usually recommended" to establish the necessary "complete cessation of the use of the drug". "Circumstances may require" families or courts to force "patients" into involuntary treatment. (This concept represents raw fascist mind control to the author, a patriotic, productive, daily cannabis consumer for 47 years.)
     The 1960's saw a change in who used pot. It was not just blacks, musicians, and lower class whites anymore, it was "intellectual, introspective, hardworking, and better than average" college students from upper middle class backgrounds. Pot provided increased "self awareness", and enriched the pleasure of everything from food to music to sex. These young people were ìremarkably sensitive to the war in Southeast Asia, the draft, the facts of the arms race, overpopulation, racial injustice, and pollutionÖî Cannabis and the psychedelics were a major catalyst of the emergence of environmental consciousness.
     Grinspoon discusses in detail the literary, clinical, and anecdotal history of the cannabis "high". My favorite description was by a Dr. S. Cholst, who smoked hashish and wrote this poem:

Hashish I think... 
Makes you younger by far 
Than ever you are
So it makes you a child again 
 In mind or emotions or soul 
Or unboring restless behavior. 
     Euphoria is the "most consistent" effect of cannabis, along with a slowing of time, enhanced acuity of all 5 senses, lots of laughter, and eventual "lassitude".  Some lucky states of "acute intoxication" may include "satori, the ultimate religious experience; the feeling of total identification with the All". Most of us, however, just want to relax and feel grand. 
     A few honest researchers deflated reefer madness, but were ignored.  R.J. Bouquet refers to 'a state of exhilaration, well-being, and bliss', W. H. McGlothlin states that 'the experienced user is able to achieve consistently a state of self confidence, satisfaction, and relaxation.' According to S. Cohen, 'What most users seek is a feeling of relaxation with dissolution of the tensions and frustrations of the day'. Many responses from one experimental group "suggest that some sort of psychic pain is relieved by marijuana". Pot use does not have to be pathological; in fact it can be "sociogenic" - building bonds between people.  
     Scientist Carl Sagan notes that "in the cannabis experience there is a part of your mind that remains a dispassionate observer, who is able to take you down in a hurry if need be" (like in heavy traffic, or if your child calls).
      More recently, Dr. Grinspoon is best known for two brilliant concepts: First, that medical marijuana can never reach its full potential until cannabis is *fully legal*. Without legalization there is still enough fear and hassle to prevent the full use of cannabis medicine for all the problems that it can help with.
     Second, that there are potential benefits of cannabis use "which cannot be described as medical", "enhancing effects" like "deepened perceptions", "heightened sensitivity", "creativity", making new connections in thought, "serenity", "insight" , sensual and artistic appreciation, and "fellowship". Scientist Sagan used cannabis to solve many complex mental questions. He says "The unconscious has answers locked away; marijuana may be seen as the key to that attic".
"Saint" Lester Grinspoon even has an Australian rock band named after him, and maintains a website called 'Uses of Marijuana' where cannabis lovers can describe the "enhancing" effects of our herb. Cannabis is a miracle healer of body, mind, and soul, and can bring out the best in human nature.


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