Cannabis Can Be Valuable

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Every age has its peculiar folly and if Charles Mackay, the author of the 19th century classic, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds were alive today he would surely see "cannabinophobia" as a popular delusion along with the "tulipmania" and "witch hunts" of earlier ages. I believe that we are now at the cusp of this particular popular delusion which to date has been responsible for the arrest of over twelve million US citizens. I also believe that future historians will look at this epoch and recognize it as another instance of the " madness of crowds." Many readers of this web site have already arrived at this understanding, but for some of us enlightenment came later than we would have wished. Consistent with the goal of my Uses of Marijuana Project of encouraging users to write about their involvement with cannabis, I thought I would share something of my cannabis enlightenment, a story that now spans a third of a century.

In every life there occur seminal events that modify the seemingly established trajectory of one's personal history. For me, three of the four big ones were, in chronological order, the decision to go to medical school, the extraordinary good fortune of meeting the woman I married, and the gift of children. The fourth was my improbable encounter with cannabis, an event that divided my life into two eras; the before cannabis era, and the cannabis era (my son David refers to these phases of my life as BC and AD for before cannabis and after dope). My cannabis era began to unfold in 1967. As the senior author of a book on schizophrenia, I found myself with what I estimated would be two to three relatively free months before my co-authors would finish their chapters. Because I had become concerned that so many young people were using the terribly dangerous drug marijuana, I decided to use the time to review the medical literature so that I could write a reasonably objective and scientifically sound paper on the harmfulness of this substance. Young people were ignoring the warnings of the government, but perhaps some would seriously consider a well-documented review of the available data. So I began my systematic review of the medical and scientific literature bearing on the toxicity -- mental and physical -- of marijuana. It never occurred to me then that there were other dimensions of this drug that warranted exploration.
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