Drug-Users at Harvard Explain their Views About Pot and LSD

Though I know the evening's empire has returned into sand

Vanished from my hand

Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping...

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirling ship

My senses have been stripped

My hands can't feel to grip

My toes too numb to step

Wait only for my boot heels to be following...

Take me disappearing down the smoke rings of my mind

Down the foggy ruins of time...

Let me forget about today until tomorrow... Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man

Harvard has long been a prime target of reactionary politically it has been called a haven for egg-heads, pinkos and idealists. Socially it has become, in some circles, a symbol of the libertine and the degenerate, boasting both sex orgies and drug rings. For this reason it is particularly important to preface any discussion of drugs with specific limitations in order to avoid exaggeration.

Forty-five students interviewed for this study are sophomores and juniors between the ages of 18 and 20. On the street you could not distinguish them from other students, and they have little in common except that they have all taken marijuana or LSD during their last two years at Harvard. I chose to single out pot and LSD because they seem to define the extremes of the spectrum of drug experiences at Harvard--from dabbler to hed.

Harvard are no longer reserved for the beatniks or the alienated, but are used, in varying degrees, by a wide variety and unknown number of students. They approach drugs on different levels of maturity, for a myriad of reasons. "You ask me why I smoke pot," queried one boy. "It's like asking people why they make love or suck another boy simply commented, "It makes me feel good. I laugh a lot when I'm high and have good other students it's of sense of missing something by leading a routine college life that prompts them to take drugs. "With drugs you can go into your own mind, explore it, and find things you'd never have dreamed were true about yourself." Still other students use pot as an alcoholic escape or stimulant such as the boy who said he "blew grass" occasionally because it made him less inhibited to relax and enjoy himself.

During the interviews I was struck by the high degree of intelligence and lucidity with which most students answered my questions. It reflected a tendency among most of them to think and talk a great deal about taking drugs, and unconsciously construct arguments to defend their habit against the legal and social bans imposed by society. Obtaining drugs is a positive act which goes against the inertia of legal constraints--to ignore the restrictions requires some internal debate. Having decided that drugs were worth it, the students interviewed took particular pains to describe drug-induced sensations which defy verbal cliches. To the majority, pot manifests itself through dizzy spells and then painful awakenings; it made all of them thirsty and many nauseous. In addition there is an intense distortion of the sense of time which can be seen by extrordinary gaps in "high" convesations. The time lag does not, however, interrupt the continuity of thought.