A trip through the Marijuana way-back machine

Popular Science has made its archives searchable, and this has led to finding gems such as this article, from May of 1968

This was 42 years ago, an era when the science of marijuana was incomplete, yet they oddly seemed to know more than “we” do today. It was a time before science had been turned to proving an agenda, back when it was about learning the truth about stuff.

Let’s take a look at some of Popular Science’s conclusions about marijuana…

Though medical men agree that marijuana is not physically addictive (unlike cigarettes and alcohol), many classify it as “psychologically addictive” — a term that Dr. Malleson considers “extremely imprecise, misleading, and unuseful… In practice it means nothing more than the statement, ‘I want.'”

Clearly before the treatment folks turned curing “I want” into a massive industry.

Most experts also agree that marijuana does not in itself lead to more potent drugs. But because it is illegal, the criminal underground may be aiding in its distribution — the same underground that distributes heroin. So in that sense, some experts call marijuana “criminogenic,” a word that is applied, explains Dr. Fort, “to certain laws which through the nature of the law generate crime as a direct consequence of that law.”

Criminogenic. Now there’s a word we don’t hear much today. That entire concept has been erased from public discourse. Interestingly, the word today seems to have a range of meanings, none as specific as Dr. Fort implied in 1968. But certainly the concept of a law that generates crime as a direct consequence of that law is sound today, and perfectly describes the drug war.

Marijuana is not a narcotic; it is neither physically addictive (no withrawal symptoms), nor does one work up to a tolerance to it so that more and more is needed for the same effect. Psychiatrist Fort says, “The marijuana smoker is able to assess the degree of desired effect as he continues to smoke, so that after reaching whatever he is seeking… he ordinarily stops any further inhalation.”

Yep. And before someone jumps in and says that there are indeed withdrawal symptoms, I believe that the threshold necessary to be considered withdrawal symptoms was much higher in 1968 than today where “I want” becomes a withdrawal symptom.

One California medical study complete last year concluded that the “rowdy” type prefers alcohol, the “non-aggressive” prefers pot. Marijuana users “are not troublemakers and they try to stay away from trouble,” the report stated. “They do not engage in delinquent behavior – other than in their use of marijuana.”

A massive 1947 study of marijuana users in India – where the drug is smoked or drunk in “taverns” much like our local bars – concluded that because marijuana tends to make a man timid rather than aggressive, its use in India led not to more crime, but less. In today’s hippie communities, in fact, where a perpetual haze of burning hemp hangs overhead, the crime rate is amazingly low.

True. Also interesting. I was not aware that India had that policy then. I learned today that the policy changed in 1985.

[Thanks, Tom]
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16 Responses to A trip through the Marijuana way-back machine

  1. DamianN says:

    Golden nuggets of logic, sense and unbiased information. For a year that blood ran on balconies, in hotel kitchens and streets around the world Popular Science kept it real.

  2. jhelion says:

    fantastic find – thanks for this. Perusing the ads was fun – I think the cannabis article should be re-published today in MSM.

  3. strayan says:

    Amazing find.

    Same year this was published (thanks DdC):

    “For over fifty years the United States has been committed to a policy of suppressing the “abuse” of narcotic and other “dangerous” drugs. The primary instrument in carrying out this policy has been the criminal sanction. The results of this reliance on the criminal sanction have included the following:
    (1) Several hundred thousand people, the overwhelming majority of whom have been primarily users rather than traffickers, have been subjected to severe criminal punishment.
    (2) An immensely profitable illegal traffic in narcotic and other forbidden drugs has developed.
    (3) This illegal traffic has contributed significantly to the growth and
    prosperity of organized criminal groups.
    (4) A substantial number of all acquisitive crimes – burglary, robbery, auto theft, other forms of larceny – have been committed by drug
    users in order to get the wherewithal to pay the artificially high prices charged for drugs on the illegal market.
    (5) Billions of dollars and a significant proportion of total law enforcement resources have been expended in all stages of the criminal process.
    (6) A disturbingly large number of undesirable police practices – unconstitutional searches and seizures, entrapment, electronic surveillance have become habitual because of the great difficulty that attends the detection of narcotics offenses.
    (7) The burden of enforcement has fallen primarily on the urban poor, especially Negroes and Mexican-Americans.
    (8) Research on the causes, effects, and cures of drug use has been stultified.
    (9) The medical profession has been intimidated into neglecting its accustomed role of relieving this form of human misery.
    (10) A large and well-entrenched enforcement bureaucracy has developed a vested interest in the status quo, and has effectively thwarted all but the most marginal reforms.
    (11) Legislative invocations of the criminal sanction have automatically and unthinkingly been extended from narcotics to marijuana to the flood of new mind-altering drugs that have appeared in recent years, thereby compounding the preexisting problem.
    A clearer case of misapplication of the criminal sanction would be difficult to imagine.”

    – “The Limits of the Criminal Sanction,” by Herbert Packer, 1968

  4. claygooding says:

    India has more users per capita than any other country.
    I was playing poker at a web site with a nurse practitioner from there over a year ago and asked her what the cancer rates were in India. I explained that in America,statistics showed that we have a 1 chance in 3 of contracting some form of cancer. She informed me that according to their statistics a person in India has a 1 in 10 chance of contracting cancer. When I asked a doctor in the VA,that was from India,he said that the cancer rate was much lower in India
    but he was not sure why,maybe diet or some other difference in our two societies could be the cause.
    As I have said before,what will America think of the prohibition in the future if after legalization our chances of contracting cancer drops from 1 in 3 too
    1 in 6 or 1 in 8?
    The statistical study done in Spain last year showed that regular marijuana users were 60% less likely to contract cancer. And numerous studies,some paid for by NIDA,have stated the possibility of marijuana blocking
    or treating marijuana.
    And our government is aware of the links and after the DEA shut down the cancer research at the University of
    Virginia,that was showing success at treating some forms of cancer,we enacted laws that allows only pharmaceutical companies to investigate marijuana as a cancer treatment. I believe Carter was prez when that was done.
    The scary part is that the pharmaceutical companies don’t want a cure for cancer and they especially don’t want a cancer blocking medicine,that you can grow in your yard. They are making billions treating cancer.
    The neat part of this is that us stupid potheads are possibly blocking cancer,as much as we can,while supposedly.the drug cops and prohibitionists aren’t.

  5. Wonderful post, Pete! Criminogenic – I’ll start using it 🙂

    Regarding withdrawal symptoms I got a funny anecdote. On this Danish school they decided to do an experiment and totally prohibit sugar on the school premises. Something with hyper-active kids, dunno. Anyway, this one girl grabbed everyone’s attention when she got SO upset that she broke down and cried, tears ‘n all 🙂


    “America,statistics showed that we have a 1 chance in 3 of contracting some form of cancer. She informed me that according to their statistics a person in India has a 1 in 10 chance of contracting cancer.”

    Numbers like that cannot stand alone – population studies (epidemiological) are tricky as heck. In fact, if I take one popylation and cure MOST heart disease they will likely be grabbed by cancer because cancer is associated with old age, whereas you die earlier from heart disease. I would want to live in a place where cancer is high, if you get my drift.

    “The statistical study done in Spain last year showed that regular marijuana users were 60% less likely to contract cancer.”

    I really want pot to cure cancer, but a short note on relative percentages: all in all the likelihood of contracting cancer is pretty low for an individual, that means even the smallest changes can balloon into big numbers like 60%. I don’t know absolute cancer rate, but take schizophrenia. As far as I know it’s approx. 0,05% in absolute numbers. If you recall the Stanley Zammitt et al. study from 2007 it appeared that pot users – for whatever reason – came out with a probability of 0,007. Or in drugwar parlance: a 40% increase in the risk of contracting schizophrenia.

    Add to this another statistical advice on epidemiological studies: that if the prevalence of the thing studied is low and the difference is less than a factor of 2, such numbers must be interpreted with the utmost caution.

    I’m sorry to be such a party-killer, but I really think we should be careful not to over-extend our arguments by ignoring the science of statistics and so on.

  6. Correction: schizophrenia prevalence is 0,5% (a propability of 0,05), same goes for the 0,7% (0,07) figure.

    LOL – statistics are nasty and hard to wrap head around.

  7. worldwide incidence rates for schizophrenia are about 1 percent of the general population — and have remained at that level for as long as anyone has measured it (early 20th century)

  8. chris says:

    I think it would be more accurate to say that some cannabis products were legal in some Indian states.

    Charas (hash) was illegal everywhere; ganja (marijuana) was available in government-licensed shops in some states (eg. Uttar Pradesh), although the quality was rarely better than OK; bhang (schwag) was widely available in various culinary confections and sometimes surprisingly potent.

    I don’t have evidence for the above other than personal experience; I spent about 6 months in India 75/76 and another 2 months 80/81.

  9. DdC says:

    Censoring school books and the media from Ganja information has given us a race of educated ignorant. Gossip and Worry are their tools. Re-discovering reality can be a good thing if it isn’t just buried again. Lot of money riding on prohibition, and truth gets in the way. India sects have used Ganja forever, named after the Ganges River. When England invaded they tried to persecute the users. Stigmatizing them as “untouchables”. Pretty much the same as Drug Thugs do today. As far as schizophrenics using Ganja for relief, not the reverse. Same with higher potency today compared to the schwag the drug thugs got in the 70’s. Same as our ancestors Gateway to what hasn’t been invented. Same as tits on boys and over sexed girls. Or craving something misnomered as addiction. Its all a part of the package to sell the Ganjawar. Jefferson had Kynd bud smuggled from the Emperor of China. To add to his poppies and contemplate the Universe from his octagonal retreat.

    American High Society

    FIBRE PLANTS — Hemp, The Children’s Encyclopedia, 1909

    Popular Mechanics-February, 1938

    Politics of Pot

    The Counterculture Colonel

  10. Criminogenic says:

    Interesting to note that criminogenic has been deleted from the English Wictionary by the administrator.


  11. Just me says:

    Censorship in America? Oh you are just paranoid . Wheres my tin foil hat.

  12. @Brians: OK, thanks for the correction. I think my general concerns still are valid, and I’ll remember the right number for the future.

  13. DdC says:

    Who was the first person to tell a US President to legalize?

    “… he came to use marijuana on a daily basis, until the end of his life. He did not apologize for it. He told John Hammond, “It makes you feel good, man. It relaxes you, makes you feel wanted, and when you’re with another tea smoker it makes you feel a special kinship.” Later on he wrote President Dwight Eisenhower, saying that marijuana ought to be legalized. It was, he felt, certainly less harmful than alcohol.”
    – Louis Armstrong – An American Genius, James Lincoln Collier, Oxford University Press, 1983 p. 221

    Tight Like That Gage By Louis Armstrong

    Interesting quote by Satchmo to Ike…
    Though I’d wager the first protester was Moses Baca…
    Although “History” credits it with Mr. Caldwell…

  14. DdC says:

    Forest Whitaker Not Snubbing Louis Armstrong’s Marijuana Love in Bio-pic
    Forest Whitaker is sure to shock fans of jazz crooner Louis Armstrong by focusing on “Satchmo”‘s love of marijuana in his next movie.

    “I’ve been smoking marijuana for over fifty years
    so I know it’s not habit forming.”

    ~ Louis Armstrong

    The History of music and marijuana
    The story of 20th century music is intertwined with the story of cannabis.

    Malcolm X and Marijuana
    Like many African-American men, freedom-fighter Malcolm X suffered police harassment while peddling pot as a youth in Harlem to make ends meet.

  15. DdC says:

    Jean Simmons, A Classy Lady, Departs
    CANNABIS CULTURE – British Actress Jean Simmons, who passed away earlier this year, was a marijuana supporter who opposed harsh cannabis laws in England.

  16. Servetus says:

    The latest cigarette package ploy depicting diseases initiated by tobacco use might work to bring greater public awareness to the drug war.

    What’s missing in the Southern U.S. drug war dialogue are graphic photos of the carnage in Mexico juxtaposed with depictions of happy young gringos passing a spliff while sitting on a couch.

    If people can get upset over child labor camps and foreign sweat shops, why can’t people get disturbed when America’s criminogenic drug policies slaughter the poor of other nations?

    It doesn’t have to be that way. Legalization heals all drug wounds.

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