13 The Question of Legalization

The history of punitive-repressive measures to discourage the use of drugs is one which offers little support to those who believe that the best approach to the "problem" of the widespread use of marihuana is Draconian legislation. The spread of tobacco smoking during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was the most dramatic "epidemic" of drug use in recorded history. The "foule weed" was adopted by cultures so different -- literate and non- literate, for example -- that cultural and social determinants must have played a trivial role, if any at all, in its spread. In almost all instances of tobacco use, prohibitions against it failed, whether they were justified on grounds of impairment to health, religion, good taste, or by the threat of inducement to criminal activity. The history of the use of tobacco would seem to indicate that social controls are impotent when a society is confronted by an attractive psychoactive substance, "even if that substance serves no primary physiological need or traditional interpersonal function."1 In their initial response to the introduction of tobacco into most societies during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the authorities were in fact much more intolerant in their attempts to curb its use than are modern authorities. This is especially surprising when one considers that it is modern evidence which has demonstrated clearly the health dangers arising from tobacco use. Another very similar example is provided by the seventeenth-century spread of coffee drinking in the Arab Near East, in spite of the most extreme penalties, including death.2

The impotence of lawmaking in suppressing the use of psychoactive substances is illustrated again by fairly recent North African history. When from 1956-1960 the cultivation of Cannabis sativa was prohibited in Tunisia and Algeria, vineyards replaced

-344-

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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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