Brain Damage and Dead Monkeys

In 1974, California Governor Ronald Reagan was asked about decriminalizing marijuana.

After producing the Heath/Tulane University study, the so-called "Great Communicator" proclaimed, "The most reliable scientific sources say permanent brain damage is one of the inevitable results of the use of marijuana." (L.A. Times)

The report from Dr. Heath had concluded that Rhesus monkeys, smoking the equivalent of only 30 joints a day, began to atrophy and die after 90 days.

And ever since, dead brain cells found in monkeys who were forced to smoke marijuana has been given maximum scare play in federal booklets and government sponsored propaganda literature against pot.

Senator Eastland of Mississippi used it throughout the mid-1970s to horrify and stop national legislators from supporting NORML's decriminalization bills in Congress, mostly sponsored by the late Senator Jacob Javitts of New York.

Reports of the study have also been distributed by the hierarchy of drug rehabilitation professionals as part of their rationalization for wanting to get kids off pot, based on supposed scientific studies. It is used to terrorize parent groups, church organizations, etc., who redistribute it still further.

Heath killed the half-dead monkeys, opened their brains, counted the dead brain cells, and then took control monkeys, who hadn't smoked marijuana, killed them too, and counted their brain cells. The pot smoking monkeys had enormous amounts of dead brain cells as compared to the "straight" monkeys.

Ronald Reagan's pronouncement was probably based on the fact that marijuana smoking was the only difference in the two sets of monkeys. Perhaps Reagan trusted the federal research to be real and correct. Perhaps he had other motives.

Whatever their reasons, this is what the government ballyhooed to press and PTA, who trusted the government completely.

In 1980, Playboy and NORML finally received for the first time after six years of requests and suing the government an accurate accounting of the research procedures used in the infamous report:

When NORML/Playboy hired researchers to examine the reported results against the actual methodology, they laughed.

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