"Drug abusers risk their present and future mental functions," Dr. Dana L. Farnsworth, director of University Health Services, said last night in a speech entitled "Drugs: Do They Open or Close Minds."
Speaking at the Ford Hall Forum in Jordan Hall, Dr. Farnsworth said that illegal, non-medical drugs contract minds rather than expanding them. "The heavy drug user often has a closed mind toward other, non-drug experiences," he said. "He denies other people's perceptions and withdraws from the values of the non-drug set."
But Dr. Farnsworth said that the current laws classifying marijuana with hard narcotics were "unreasonable, harsh, unrealistic, and damaging to the fight against drug abuse."
"The law makes the user, rather than the purveyor, the criminal," he said. "In many cases, the user is a victim of the dealer."
He said. however, that he would be "very distressed if marijuana were legalized." Drugs reduce an individual's feeling of responsibility which directs him toward goals, he said, and "society has the right to protect itself from the lack of productivity of its members."
Dr. Farnsworth characterized the behavior of a typical heavy marijuana user as being unmotivated and non-communicative. "After they're set in the pattern," he said, "they often can't cope with reality. Responsible, achievement-oriented students change, their minds begin to drift."
"Our pill-oriented, medicated society" is partially responsible for the increase in drug abuse, Dr. Farnsworth said. "It is not unusual for people to take as many as six mind altering drugs in one day," he said. "They begin with caffeine, go through nicotine, dict pills, tranquilizers, alcohol, and finish with sleeping pills."
The problem starts, he said, with the current social acceptance of drugs. "The increase in drug abuse is not a negation of society's values," he said. "It is the affirmation of early propaganda, that drugs can cure anything."
The high rate of drug use among young people results from social pressure, adolescent rebellion, and the desire to experiment, he said.
Responding to a question from the audience, Dr. Farnsworth estimated that two-thirds of the Harvard undergraduates had tried pot, but only ten per cent of that two-thirds (approximately seven per cent) were regular users. "The number of LSD users fluctuates," he said, "but it's not very high."