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Monday, September 8, 2014

WHAT HAPPENS TO LIFELONG DAILY POTHEADS? - by Chuck Ream


Well, after 47 years, maybe they write articles.
     Huge numbers of Americans began smoking pot in the late 1960’s. Despite plenty of reputable previous evidence to the contrary, the US government was still certain there was something bad about marijuana. They were eager to fund long term (longitudinal) research on very heavy users.

     In Jamaica there was a population of long term high volume “ganja” smokers who fit the bill.  During the early 70’s the National Institute of Mental Health commissioned the “Jamaica Study” to compare mostly Rastafarian (religious) puffers with non-potheads. 


     Cannabis was vindicated – (so the study was ignored). In Jamaica, half of the men in many communities (and many of the women) smoke “ganja” regularly. Even though the cannabis is smoked over longer periods, in far greater quantities, and (at that time) greater potency than in the U.S., it is nonetheless “without deleterious social or psychological consequences”. In fact, it helps Jamaicans work harder. “For energy, ganja is taken in the morning, during breaks in the work routine, or immediately before particularly onerous work... concentration on the work task itself increases markedly after smoking”. 

     Pot makes one feel cooler, as it “lowers blood pressure, dilates the arteries and reduces body temperature an average of one half degree.”   A tiny constriction of the pupil in the eye makes it easier to deal with bright sun. Many people feel more happy and content when they are “high” and labor doesn’t seem as much like “work”. 

     In his forward to “Ganja in Jamaica” Governor Raymond Shafer wrote that cannabis serves as a “benevolent alternative to the heavy consumption of alcohol found in much of the Caribbean”.

     An exhaustive range of medical and psychological tests could find no significant differences between Jamaican smokers and non-smokers. Test subjects had often had smoked large “spliffs” for most of the day for up to forty years. Few Americans smoke like this. Nonetheless, researchers reported “No impairment of physiological, sensory, and perceptual motor performance, ‘concept formation’, abstracting ability and cognitive style and tests of memory”. 

     The U.S. government tried twice more to prove that life-long cannabis use causes harm. Then it stopped funding longitudinal studies.

     The “Costa Rican Study” was begun in in 1971, funded by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. Smokers and “controls” were thoroughly examined medically and psychologically. Chronic cannabis smokers suffered no significant health consequences and “ganja smokers generally enjoyed longer lasting relationships with their mates”. “The heaviest Marijuana users in Costa Rica had higher status, higher wage jobs than moderate users or non users”. The N.I.M.H. initially refused to publish the study. 

     In 1975 the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse sponsored the “Greek Study”, (Stefanis and Issodorides) showing that lifelong hashish smokers were just fine physically and mentally. This work was “distinguished” by huge initial publicity about photos of sperm cell mutations - which were later shown to have been altered. 

A small 1981 longitudinal effort called “the Coptic Study” showed that the I.Q. of “Zion Coptics” (in Florida) actually increased after they began to use ganja. An American “pothead” may consume an ounce of pot every month (two to four ounces at the most - but this is rare). The “Coptic” folks in this study often consumed an ounce each day “over 16 hours a day for periods of up to 50 years”.  After a “complete intensive neurological examination on 31 members’ of the church, the ‘most impressive thing... is the true paucity of neurological abnormalities.’” 

New studies continue to give pot a “clean bill of health”.

     Smoking marijuana regularly and heavily does not lead to lung cancer.

     The new findings “were against our expectations,” said Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years.
“We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use,” he said. “What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect”

     A 2013 study showed that people who had used marijuana in the past month had smaller waists and were less likely to get diabetes. (Beth Israel Medical Center, Boston)

     The evidence on cannabis is conclusive. Pot contains no real harm and many possible benefits. Lifelong ganja use has been scientifically proven to cause no significant problems. Thus it must be a private matter when a citizen chooses to enjoy cannabis! Opposition to legal pot comes from “control freaks” who can’t emotionally handle the idea of other people, especially people they don’t like, having voluntary control over euphoric consciousness.”Control freaks” might see herbal happiness as false or evil, because sacrifice, suffering, or repentance should be “paid” for any joy that we experience.

     There is little to fear from cannabis - “Fear of cannabis seemed more to reflect society’s fear of the unfettered human mind.”

Sources: Robinson, Herer, Rubin & Comitas, 
Stefanis & Issadorides, Conrad

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