4 The Acute Intoxication: Literary and Other Reports

Perhaps the most meaningful way of conveying an appreciation of the nature of the acute cannabis intoxication is through the accounts of some of those who have recorded their own experiences. Among the most articulate of these descriptions are those of some of the nineteenth-century literary figures who experimented with the drug. Their accounts are important not only because they were so successful in putting into words some of the more subtle aspects of the experience, but because they have enormously influenced the general impression of the nature of the acute cannabis intoxication. The effusive descriptions of such writers as Gautier, Taylor, Baudelaire, and Ludlow are, however, often excessive and distorted and frequently have little to do with the moderate use of cannabis (e.g., the smoking of marihuana), for they were written about and under the influence of large amounts of ingested hashish, sometimes admixed with other drugs. Nonetheless, these writings, so influential in creating the Western impression of cannabis, deserve considerable study, just because they do illuminate some of the quantitative and qualitative differences between the intoxication produced by large amounts of ingested hashish and that of moderate doses of smoked marihuana.

It is helpful to regard the French reports of hashish intoxication as offshoots of a literary revolution. Viewed in such a light, many excesses and exaggerations concerning the effects of hashish be- come less puzzling; in many cases it was not the hashish alone, but the excitement engendered by a new approach to literature, com- bined with the intoxication of the writers' already exceptional powers of imagination and narration, that caused the fantastic

-55-

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Marihuana Reconsidered
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The History of Marihuana in the United States 10
  • 2 - From Plant to Intoxicant 30
  • 3 - Chemistry and Pharmacology 42
  • 4 - The Acute Intoxication: Literary and Other Reports 55
  • 5 - The Acute Intoxication: Its Properties 117
  • 6 - Motivation of the User 173
  • 7 - Turning On 185
  • 8 - The Place of Cannabis in Medicine 218
  • 10 - Psychoses, Adverse Reactions, and Personality Deterioration 253
  • 11 - Crime and Sexual Excess 291
  • 12 - The Campaign Against Marihuana 323
  • 13 - The Question of Legalization 344
  • Abbreviations Selected Bibliography Notes Index 373
  • Abbreviations 375
  • Selected Bibliography 379
  • Notes 391
  • Index 433
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