To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
It is hard to argue Dean Monro's statement about the University's position on drug use. What else could a dean's office say about an activity that is illegal under both state and federal law? There is some objection to his use of the word 'stupid,' but he may be more right in using it than he knows. If anyone manages to get himself caught smoking marijuana by Harvard officials, he can just as easily get himself caught by the police, and they are particularly unpleasant about this sort of offense -- it makes headlines. For a federal conviction there is a five-year mandatory minimum sentence -- no probation, no parole. In the past, the feds have tended to go after larger marijuana dealers, but, an informant of mine tells me, a recent confidential order said they were to stick with pounds and up except in cases involving college students; in those cases, one joint can earn you five years. And in some areas they have already started setting up informer systems among students.
But the statement of Drs. Farnsworth and Prout on marijuana (I'll leave the LSD part to someone who knows more about that drug) is a mixture of some fact, considerable nonsense, and a great deal more exaggeration and innuendo. It reads like a handout from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (ghostwritten maybe?) and is an inexcusable document for a medical unit that is supposedly well staffed, particularly one that has access to a decent medical library. Some points:
1) Hashish is not, as the writers say, another name for marijuana. Marijuana is the tops of the female cannabis sativa, hashish the resinous exudate of certain specially selected plants. The difference is like beer and gin. They say marijuna may be sniffed; that's creative at best.
2) "In a few instances marijuana has produced psychoses, as does LSD." This, I presume, is to suggest some similarity in such transient or toxic psychoses. I've seen no evidence for such. I know of two psychotic episodes following administration of marijuana, one excessive, taken orally, both lasting under 20 minutes, neither with any after effects. Such cases are so rare as to be almost negligible.
3) "...the drug is frequently a cause of automobile accidents." Where? I've heard some reports about intoxicated driving in central Africa, but nothing from this country. This summer, while I worked on the drug study done for the President's Crime Commission, I looked for such data, but turned up none. It is true that marijuana is bad for drivers, probably almost half as bad as a couple of drinks, but for some reason there isn't much evidence around to show it is a cause of motor vehicle accidents in this country.
4) "Marijuana does not produce physical addiction, but it does produce significant dependence, to a serious degree." Wow. Even if the prose weren't so bad this would be an objectionable sentence. For one thing, it's untrue. Marijuana no more "produces" dependence that driving fast does; people may get hung up or stung on either, but the chemical or car can hardly be blamed, certainly not in the sense that heroin or alcohol can. Marijuana simply does not produce that kind of dependency.
5) "The social influences surrounding the use of marijuana also encourage experimentation with other drugs, notably L.S.D., and, of course, may lead into addiction to narcotics." The part about access to LSD may be true, but the part about the narcotics (notice the "of course," immediately hedged by a "may") is bunk, first order. This is an old warhorse, one first heaved up in the great pot hysteria of the thirties; it has never been demonstrated scientifically, there is considerable evidence against it. If you talk to many junkies (I have) you find that many have used marijuana, true, but they've also used alcohol, and that they have found both wanting and have finally settled on the thing that worked. To talk about the progression from pot to H is to regress about 30 years.
The whole section of the report that deals with marijuana is loaded: "Ideas are rapid, disconnected, and uncontrollable ... At other times there may be a 'down' with moodiness, fear of death, and panic .... Space may seem expanded, the head may feel swollen and extremities..." That sounds to me more like one martini to many.
One of the reasons so many youngsters are taking drugs, I think, is that they have discovered that this is one of those areas about which the older generation has made it a point to lie consistently. It is like the war in Vietnam: the bandwagon just doesn't sell. Statements like those of Farnsworth and Prout do nothing but stroke the sentiments of the elderly and further alienate the young. There are some very good reasons why college students should avoid the drug scenes that so seductively beckon, but the authors of this report haven't managed to touch on one of them. A remarkable achievement. Bruce Jackson Junior Fellow