About a year ago, New York Times writer Walter Carlson did a feature on marijuana ... The article had been spurred by a series of incidents on college campuses—namely: University of Toledo, New York University, University of Massachusetts, University of Colorado, Columbia, Brandeis, Cornell, and the University of Wisconsin—in which students had been discovered scoring, dealing, holding, or puffing on various varieties of green, brown, and gold weed.
Carlson reported that the students smoked pot to obtain 'a feeling of well being and an easing of pressures', and that they almost universally 'thought there was no problem, except the one they felt society had created in making marijuana illegal.'
The Brandeis Dean of Students was reported as predicting experimentation with marijuana would 'grow', especially since it had attained an 'aura of respectability' as a result of Harvard's consciousness-expanding (LSD) controversy and the increasing popularity of writers such as Aldous Huxley whose books related their own experiences with consciousness-expanding agents.
Carlson quoted Dr Graham B. Blaine, Jr., a Harvard and Radcliffe Health Service psychiatrist, as saying 'the students involved are, for the most part, bright students. They are usually the ones who do not feel challenged and are looking for something that has more grab and bite to it. They are apathetic, usually non-committed, those who are contemptuous of the organization man.'
Carlson noted that nearly everyone agreed that marijuana experimenters 'were definitely not the goldfish swallowers, nor the telephone booth stuffers' but instead resembled 'the type that might have experimented with communism in the i930's.',
'The risk, the psychiatrists questioned agreed, was not primarily the risk of addiction', Carlson reported while concluding his Times report, 'the biggest danger is that some already unstable person might suffer lasting mental damage.' (emphasis ours.)
Less than a year later Martin Arnold, another New York Times writer, commenced his frontpage marijuana-narcotics feature story on a completely contradictory note.
'NARCOTICS A GROWING PROBLEM OF AFFLUENT YOUTH' the Times heading declared. 'Beginning With Marijuana, Many GO ON TO Heroin', read the sub-caption. In the shabby script that followed, Martin Arnold, and with him The New York Times, abandoned all pretences of objectivity and journalistic integrity. Harmless, benevolent, defenseless Mary Jane had rarely seen a darker hour. She was labeled simply and plainly an ugly, immoral, sick 'kick'.
The police were quoted as unofficially estimating that 35% of all marijuana users went on to become heroin addicts—a figure that would mean that there should be at least fifty times as many addicts as there actually are.
The other 65%, or those pot smokers who didn't become heroin addicts, Mr. Arnold reported would either 'seek, and be helped by, psychotherapy' or would 'pull out of it on their own and dismiss it as a youthful phase.'
And those who didn't? Why, they would 'settle into a rootless, goalless existence in which marijuana will be a vague but basic element, like changing partners, lodgings, and jobs.' To support his thesis, Mr. Arnold conjured up a stereotyped 'beat' chick—a free-floating, sexually promiscuous girl who smoked boo all day and socialized with junkies when she wasn't busy banging away in bed with her latest stray male pick-up. She was, it was explicitly stated, a 'typical' pot-head!
Mr. Arnold, dirty old man of letters that he be, did begrudgingly mention New York's Lemak (legalize marijuana movement) but only to use it as proof of just 'how smart' and how 'in' pot-smoking had currently become.
This writer is a pot-smoker and has been for some years. And he has seen the ugly tragedy of heroin addiction at close range—both as a layman and as a special correspondent writing on narcotics addiction for the New York Herald Tribune.
Therefore it is especially painful to sit by quietly and watch even papers of reputation—such as The New York Times—consistently treat both marijuana smoking and, to a lesser degree, heroin addiction superficially and biasedly.
... I would like to present some quotes from an addict—a dope peddler, to be precise—on the subject of marijuana smoking. The following comes from an interview, 'Big Head: Obituary For A Junkie', which was taped by myself and broadcast over WBAI-FM last summer , and which will be rebroadcast. It explains the qualitative difference between marijuana smoking and narcotics addiction.
'Well, it's an entirely different thing,' Big Head explained. 'Smoking marijuana produces an introspective state, a state of heightened awareness regarding what is occurring around you. It slows down your time sense, so that minutes will sometimes seem like hours. A heroin addict is looking for exactly the opposite effect... For instance, if you're nervous, if you're a junkie and you're nervous and up tight and take a shot of stuff, it will calm you. But if you smoke marijuana, you will become more nervous and up tight. Marijuana doesn't change the nature of your sensations, it merely heightens them. But when you use heroin, all of your bodily processes are depressed, including physical perception.'
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