On Being Stoned
A Psychological Study of Marijuana Intoxication
Charles T. Tart, Ph. D.
Foreword by Walter N. Pahnke
A Note to the Non-Scientist Reader
Part I: Studying Marijuana Intoxication
2. The Nature of Drug-Induced
States of Consciousness
3. Method of Study
4. One Hundred and Fifty
Experienced Marijuana Users
5. Methods of Analysis
Part II: Phenomenology of Marijuana
8. Touch, Temperature, Taste, and Smell
9. Space and Time
10. Ostensible Paranormal Phenomena (ESP)
11. The Body
12. Social Interaction
14. Cognitive Processes: Memory
15. Cognitive Processes: Thought
19. Spiritual Experiences
20. Sleep and Dreams
21. "Desirable" and "Undesirable" Effects
23. Miscellaneous Effects
Part III: Relationships
24. Levels of Intoxication
25. Experience in Using Drugs
26. Meditation and Growth
27. Age, Sex, and Educational Level
28. Alcohol and Marijuana
29. More Powerful Psychdelics (LSD) and Marijuana
30. Factor Analysis: Dimensions of Intoxication
Appendix A: Effects of More Powerful Psychedelic Drugs
Appendix B: Questionnaire Used in This Study
On Being Stoned ©1971 by Science and Behavior Books
Published by Science and Behavior Books, Palo Alto, California
On Being Stoned appears in The Psychedelic Library by permission of the Author
THE RESEARCH reported in this book is both innovative and relevant. At a time in our culture when there is a growing concern about drug abuse among the young, and the use of marijuana is increasing more than it ever has in our country's history, it is fortunate that someone has seriously attempted to investigate the psychological and subjective effects of marijuana. This book should prove valuable for the interested layman who is curious about such effects and also for the scientist who may be stimulated to carry the results of this research further.
It is important for anyone to note before reading this book that the content is a careful study of the personal experience encountered when marijuana is used. This important fact sets this book apart from those primarily dealing with the pharmacology, medical implications, social desirability/undesirability, or the legal problems of marijuana, and is the very reason that Dr. Tart's approach breaks new ground in this controversial area. His method has been quite simple and straightforward, yet it is one which has too long been ignored in modern behavioristic psychology in a misguided attempt to be "scientific" by avoiding subjective experience. Dr. Tart has asked persons who themselves have used marijuana what different kinds of experiences they have had. His instrument has been a carefully constructed questionnaire that has proved to be extremely useful in gathering a very large amount of data from the persons who should know best what the experience is like—those who have actually taken the drug. The personal account of the subject cannot be ignored despite some imprecision in measurement. Each individual person may use his own standards for interpreting the experience or measuring the intensity, but there is no substitute for a report by the person who has been there. Indeed, this experiential aspect of the effect, especially with psychedelic drugs, may in the long run prove to be the most valuable. Far more important than laboratory conditions far removed from the actual social usage of marijuana is what happens to the person in his own consciousness, how he interprets this, and how it influences his actual life.
Another reason this book is a valuable contribution to our knowledge about marijuana is that it helps to answer a very important question often not even asked by many who are the most concerned about marijuana usage. This question is: Why do so many otherwise law-abiding people risk their freedom and reputation to use this illegal drug? The data in this book show consistent agreement that most of the subjective experiences reported by users—for example, sensory intensification of musical appreciation, gustatory enjoyment, and sexual activity—are extremely pleasurable. Dr. Tart has attempted to establish a subjective scale to help quantify such effects. Because pleasure is the reason most people use the drug, it should certainly be studied and not ignored in research on the effects of marijuana.
From a strictly scientific point of view, this research has great value by opening up new questions that are researchable. Once it has been established that certain types of subjective experience do in fact occur consistently, psychophysiological correlates can be measured, such as various EEG brain waves, pulse, blood pressure, and skin potential. Some of the positive effects reported might have practical clinical application, such as stimulation of appetite, decrease in depression, enhancement of refreshing sleep, and certain types of problem solving. Hopefully, Dr. Tart's work will stimulate future research to test these hypotheses.
Dr. Tart's pioneering effort points the way toward the future in other ways as well. This book is a creative step forward in better understanding the range of human consciousness. The method of studying actual subjective experience is an indispensable tool for future research into altered states of consciousness. There are important implications not only for the effects of marijuana, but also for research in hypnosis, sensory isolation, EEG feedback, and the major psychedelic drugs such as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin. In the next twenty years there will certainly be a growing interest in altered states of consciousness triggered by all these approaches. It is important to remember that the experience, and not the technique, is what will motivate this interest. Better understanding of the effects of marijuana may lead to other methods, perhaps safer and less objectionable from a legal standpoint, for achieving similar effects.
This book should make an important contribution to man's seemingly irresistible urge to explore his own consciousness. Twenty years from now its value can be assessed from the perspective of the research that will follow. I would guess that Dr. Tart's work will be judged to have had considerable influence.
Walter N. Pahnke, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of Clinical Sciences
Maryland Psychiatric Research Center
ONCE UPON A TIME, not so very long ago, there was a rich and powerful Kingdom called Middle America. It was progressive and beautiful, and its people were a contented lot.
The Kingdom was surrounded on three sides by (almost) impassable mountains, and on the fourth by a broad river perpetually shrouded with dense fog. There were legends that some citizens, called Travelers, had gone to places "outside" the Kingdom, but the solid citizens considered these as tall tales or crazy things; all that one needed was in the Kingdom, so why would anyone want to go "outside," even if such a thing were possible and safe?
The King and his Government took a more serious view, and long ago made Traveling unlawful because it was Dangerous. Special Constables policed the boundaries of the Kingdom.
For many years some of the impoverished citizens and outcasts had talked of Traveling to a land called Muggles, which they claimed was on the other side of the Foggy River; but these poor citizens were simply thrown in prison by the Constables, and nobody cared very much about them.
Then as time went on, more and more citizens talked about the joys of Traveling to the land of Muggles, and these citizens were Merchants, Princes, Solicitors, Tradesmen, and, especially, the Young. More Constables were hired, and the Ministers of the government warned the populace of the menace of Traveling; but still more and more citizens traveled.
Great outcries arose from the good citizens for something to be done. Some cried out that Traveling to Muggles was a menace that was sapping the strength of the Kingdom. Others cried out that those who traveled were sick in their minds and should be helped, whether they wanted help or not. Some, who claimed to be Travelers, raised their voices and said it was a good thing to travel to the land of Muggles. Some said it was not the King's business whether a citizen traveled to Muggles or not.
In the midst of the Confusion and Outcry, some thoughtful citizens asked, "What say our Scholars? What can we make of this Traveling? How can we understand those who say it is Good and those who say it is Bad? How can we wisely spend the Kingdom's gold to Do Something when we are confused as to what is happening?"
The Scholars looked at their books and their papers, and quarreled among themselves. Some books said that Traveling to Muggles was Bad, and the Doctors wrote of sick people they had treated who had been to Muggles at one time or another. Some books said that it was Good, Ineffable, Beautiful, and the Ultimate Truth. Some books about Traveling to Muggles, written by citizens who had been there once or twice, were clearly Confused. Other books were clearly written by crazy people. Artists wrote of the paintings of Muggles. Philosophers wrote of the sublime philosophy of Muggles, but did not mention the paintings. Religious people wrote of the teachings of Muggles, but did not mention the paintings. What could one make of this? Perhaps the Crazies were mainly writing about craziness, the Philosophers mainly about philosophy, the Religious about teachings, and no one was saying much about Muggles at all?
As the outcry of the citizens rose higher, the King's Ministers dispensed gold to the Scholars, and commanded them to find out the Real Truth about Traveling to Muggles.
Now as any man knows, there are Scholars and Scholars. Some did one thing with their gold, others did other things.
The school of Scholars most in power at that time was known as the Externalist School. They knew that men may lie, and so reasoned that what a man says is of little importance, but what he does is Hard Data The means of Traveling to Muggles was to immerse oneself in the Foggy River. As "swimming" was unknown in the Kingdom, this seemed an insane act that might lead to drowning; but the Scholars of the Externalist School set out to study it in their Laboratories. Skilled Craftsmen constructed large tanks, which were filled with water from the Foggy River. Ordinary citizens (those who claimed to have traveled to Muggles were considered too biased to use) were held under the water for various times and their behavior observed. Short immersions had little effect, but longer immersions caused Wild Movements, Increased Respiration, and Strange Sounds. Thus the Externalist Scholars produced the Hard Data on what Traveling to Muggles did to people.
Some said, "This is certainly true, but why do citizens risk the wrath of the constables for this? Perhaps there is more Truth to be found elsewhere?"
A few Scholars of other schools used experienced Travelers in their tanks of water and found very different results, but theirs is a minor tale, as there were so few of them.
This book is the work of a Scholar of Another School who believed that while men could lie, many men would also try to tell the Truth as best they could. He read the books of the Scholars and talked with many experienced Travelers, and asked himself " What could we find out if many experienced Travelers to the land of Muggles were all asked the same questions, instead of letting each talk only of the things he loves?" So he tested many experienced Travelers, and, after eliminating those few who readily told bizarre stories, he found there was Meaningfulness in what they said Now this Scholar has made a Map of the whole land of Muggles, so perhaps new Royal Expeditions and Studies can find their way to the Important Places in Muggles and bring back Knowledge and, perhaps, Riches.
I have long been impressed with the need so many people seem to have of occasionally altering their state of consciousness, of radically changing the way in which their minds function. Alcohol, prayer, meditation, sacred dances, fasting, revivals, hypnosis, drugs—these and many other techniques have all been used by people in various cultures for pleasure and insight, worship and diversion, work and healing. Yet practically all of our science and philosophy is based on what seems sensible to our ordinary state of mind, and the existence of these other states is largely ignored by being relegated to the realms of the abnormal and the illogical. It is only in the last few years that psychologists and other scientists have begun to pay serious attention to altered states of consciousness and to ask questions about what they are like, how they affect behavior, what function they have for the individual and his culture, and how they might supplement traditional methods of gaining knowledge.
In spite of the attention now starting to be focused on altered states of consciousness, we know very, very little about most of them.
When I began focusing my researches on altered states of consciousness some years ago, I found myself in a similar position to the scholar of the fable, who wanted to know about the land of Muggles.* It was clear that the mind could indeed function in non-ordinary ways, but beyond that fact things were not so clear. Some "travelers" told consistent stories about some of the states of consciousness they had experienced, and I could feel certain enough about them to plan "expeditions," research projects to investigate some aspect of that state in detail. For other states, the tales were wild and improbable, inconsistent, and clearly reflecting whatever ax the particular traveler had to grind.
The literature on marijuana was especially confusing. Even when it purported to be medical or scientific literature, much of it was full of propaganda, pro or con. Lurid individual tales of marijuana intoxication contradicted the laboratory studies of its effects. For reasons detailed in Chapter 2, the individual anecdotes were often hopelessly confused by the personalities of the writers, and the conditions of the laboratory studies were so unusual as to have no applicability to the ordinary use of marijuana. How could I profitably explore particular features of this strange country of marijuana intoxication when the overall map of the landscape was so confused and useless? I might expend great effort on what was truly a trivial feature.
The study described in this book is an attempt to get an overall look at marijuana intoxication as it occurs in the ordinary world (insofar as California and America represent the ordinary world!). What happens to the minds of experienced users when they smoke marijuana? What do they experience? What are the frequent and infrequent, important and unimportant experiences? How do they relate to how "high" or "stoned" the user is? Are they affected by his overall drug experience his educational background, etc.? Knowing these general effects—the overall lay of the land—then we can concentrate our research efforts on the important aspects of marijuana intoxication.
The study that gathered this information is, as far as I know, unique in its approach. Staying with our analogy, I treated experienced marijuana users as explorers of the marijuana state and then systematically collected, compared, and analyzed their reports. Since it is an initial attempt at this sort of thing, it can be done in an even better fashion a second time around, and, ordinarily, I would like to have repeated the study with improvements before publishing this report.
But the times are not ordinary, and so I am publishing this without waiting for the replication that would make the figures a little more precise and eliminate an occasional mistake in the effects of some background factors. A certain amount of justifiable technical criticism will result and, hopefully, will help myself or others to carry out an improved version of this study. Because the times are not ordinary, however, I suspect a great deal of a-rational criticism of this book will also occur. Marijuana is not a subject being discussed in intellectual isolation, emotions about its use are heated, both pro and con, to put it mildly. Pressures to change existing laws are very high, and legislators ask for scientific studies of the effects of marijuana to base such changes on, so every study on this subject receives a great deal of partisan criticism or acclamation in addition to the usual scientific scrutiny. To those with a fixed position that marijuana use is harmful and marijuana users are deviates or mentally ill escapists of some sort, this book will be unwelcome. I have not argued for or against the legalization of marijuana, but the effects that experienced users describe are generally very interesting and pleasant. Thus some critics will see the tone of the book as "pro-pot," even though I have attempted to be neutral and simply describe results.
I am presenting this study, then, because the subject of marijuana intoxication is so important today and because the information contained herein will answer many questions about what it is like to be high on marijuana (and, therefore, why people use it) in a way that no other current studies will. Too, my knowledge of what most of the studies being funded by various agencies are like indicates that there are no studies going on now which will provide better answers to these questions. I regret to say that most of the new studies going on are subject to many of the same criticisms that make the older ones irrelevant to the real world, as discussed in Chapter 2.
Because of the importance of the subject and the uniqueness of this approach, I think this book will be useful or informative to three different audiences. First, researchers may use these findings as a guide to profitable research. Second, people who are curious about what being stoned on marijuana is like but who do not use it themselves—parents, educators, physicians, legislators—will be able to get a good picture of what it is like and why people use marijuana in spite of the legal penalties. Third, marijuana users themselves will be able to compare their personal experience with that of users in general, with the result, according to many of the users who contributed to this study, that they will be able to experience more effects and acquire more control over their state.**
Again I stress that this is basically a scientific book; I have attempted to present objectively descriptions of what experienced users feel about marijuana intoxication, without arguing for or against marijuana use or letting my own feelings about marijuana distort the writing. I have feelings, of course. My own survey of the scientific and other literature puts me in agreement with Kaplan (1970) that the known dangers of marijuana use are very small, while the known social cost of the present legal structure—branding millions of Americans criminals, clogging the courts with victimless crimes, creating disrespect for the law among the young, and enforcing the laws at huge expense—is tremendously high. Thus I see some form of legalization-under-control of marijuana as socially desirable. I have, however, attempted to keep these personal feelings completely out of the book.
A tremendous amount of data is contained in this book. Although I have checked the manuscript against the computer data printouts in several ways to eliminate error and inconsistency, the sheer size of the undertaking makes it inevitable that an occasional error or inconsistency may be apparent to the diligent reader. I would appreciate his writing me about any such inconsistencies, so they may be corrected in a subsequent printing.
This study could not have been carried out except for the assistance of a number of people in the data collection, analysis, and write-up stages, all of whom I wish to thank; namely, Joan Crawford, Lois Dick, Dee Kindelt, Carl Klein, Arthur Hastings, Wanda Meyer, Mary Moore, Donna Sedgwick, Marlene Shinazy, Penny Smail, and my wife Judy. This research was supported by the United States Public Health Service grant MH16-810. All opinions expressed in this book are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the above people or the Public Health Service.
Footnotes*"Muggles" was one of the slang terms for marijuana when it was first introduced into this country in the 1930s.
**Because readers of these last two types are sometimes put off by numbers and statistics, I have disposed of all these complexities in a page of explanation following this section.
A Note to the Non-Scientist Reader
In order to conveniently present exact findings to the researchers who read this book, there are lots of parentheses filled with numbers and simple statistics.
If you aren't interested in the exact findings, or if numbers and statistics turn you off, there's a simple way to avoid any problem: ignore them. Everything has been written in plain English, and the numbers confined to parentheses for just this reason!
If, on the other hand, you haven't a formal background in statistics but would like to know what the probability figures in the parentheses (such as "p < .05") mean, it all boils down to this: how do you know when a difference in the way two groups of people answer a question is a meaningful, significant difference, and how do you know when it results only from the random variation you get whenever you deal with people's responses?
You never know for certain which is which, but a statistical test is an objective way of being reasonably sure, one way or the other. Statistical tests use the known mathematical properties of numbers to let you decide when a difference is probably due to chance, and when a difference is so large that chance seems unlikely. The exact mathematics aren't of interest to the general reader, but only the outcome, the probability figure. If the outcome of a particular test could have happened by chance only five or fewer times in a hundred trials (conventionally expressed in this book as p<.05, probability equal to or less than 5/100),* we begin to doubt that this is chance variation. It probably represents a real difference between the groups. If the probability is even smaller that the outcome is due to chance, say less than one in a hundred (p < .01) or less than one in a thousand (p < .001), we can feel quite certain that we are dealing with real, important differences.**
Thus in this book the lower the probability figure in parentheses, the greater the difference between the groups being compared.
Footnotes*More exactly, the sign should be [less than or equal to] rather than simply <, but this simplification will be used throughout the text.
**Statistical tables available to me only go up to the .0005 level. When I use the notation p << .0005, the difference is even more significant; when I use p <<< .0005, it issupersignificant. For the technically minded, I use p << .0005 when chi square is greater than or equal to 50, and p <<< .0005 when chi square is greater than or equal to 100, with four degrees of freedom in each case.
Chapter 3. Method of the Study
THE PRESENT STUDY had a variety of origins, all centered around my long term interest in altered states of consciousness. For several years I had read many anecdotal accounts of what it was like to be intoxicated on marijuana, talked with many students and acquaintances (hereafter referred to as pilot subjects and informants) about what being intoxicated was like, and tried to do some theorizing that would make some sense and order out of the many phenomena reported. What little sense I have been able to make out of things in terms of theorizing has been presented in Chapter 2. This theorizing also made it clear that a systematic look at the overall phenomenology of altered states of consciousness was vital. The present study is an initial systematic look for one state of consciousness, marijuana intoxication.
For several years I took systematic notes on various phenomena reported for marijuana intoxication, and, based on these, a large questionnaire was made up. The questionnaire used the current language of marijuana users ("heads") as much as possible. It was distributed with a covering letter that was intended to be friendly and to induce cooperation among users both in filling out the questionnaire and in passing questionnaires along to other users. The text of the letter is given below.
To: ANYONE WHO HAS SMOKED MARIJUANA
MORE THAN A DOZEN TIMES
I usually start a letter with "Dear So-and-so," but somehow greetings like "Dear Marijuana Smoker," "Dear Head," "To whom it may concern," or anything else like that sound pretty bad, so I'm skipping the greeting and getting right down to the point.
One of my main research interests as a psychologist is the area of altered states of consciousness. I am particularly interested in investigating the psychological effects of marijuana, both for their intrinsic interest and for comparison with other altered states of consciousness. Reading the (scant) scientific literature on marijuana is disappointing, for most everything is on the order of, "Gee whiz, I smoked (or ate) grass, and I saw all sorts of pretty pictures which can't be described, and gee whiz, etc., etc., etc." That's very nice for a start, but not very specific!
From preliminary talks with people who smoke marijuana, it is obvious that there are many and varied effects, and that it would be of great psychological interest to know what they are. Scientists, as a whole, know practically nothing about the experience of smoking marijuana. You do. The ideal way to expand our knowledge about these effects would be to have people smoke it under a variety of conditions, with known amounts and qualities of grass, and then report on it. Even a rudimentary knowledge of the legal situation, though, tells you genuine laboratory research on marijuana is virtually impossible.
So I'd like to enlist your help as an expert; you've been there and, I hope, you would like to see us really know something about marijuana experiences on a scientific level, instead of just an anecdotal level. Enclosed is a questionnaire. It has a few basic questions about how much you've used marijuana, other drug experiences, and so on, to get a little background. Then the main part consists of over two hundred statements about possible experiences during the marijuana high that have been selected from preliminary surveys. I would like you to fill out the questionnaire and rate each of the described experiences in terms of how frequently it happens to you and how stoned you have to be to experience it. This is explained more fully in the questionnaire.
If you will help by carefully filling in this questionnaire and by passing more of these questionnaires on to other heads, what will you accomplish? The following kinds of questions can be answered from analyzing this data. What sorts of experiences occur when stoned, with what frequency? How are they related to how stoned you are? What kinds of differences are there between individuals? Are there several different patterns of going up, or does everybody go up the same way? How is the marijuana experience related to experience with other drugs? How is it related to how long people have been smoking? Are there certain more basic factors that account for a lot of the specific experiences? And many other things.
O.K., I'm going to learn a lot, and so will the scientific community when the results are published. What will you learn? The same thing. I don't like the kind of research (of which there is too much today) where the all-knowing scientist manipulates his stupid subjects. You're acting as the expert, the explorer, and you should be able to learn a lot for your trouble in helping me. Now, I can't get your name and mail you anything (that would run the paranoia level too high!), but it is common practice in science to send reprints of research results to anyone who requests them. If you will drop me a card in about a year (it takes that long to analyze everything and get it published), I will send you a copy of the results. No need to be paranoid on that, as I will get lots of reprint requests from people who have nothing to do with this study.
While we're on the subject of paranoia: you are able to help in this study on the basis of your past experience. I am not advocating that anyone smoke marijuana or do anything illegal in order to be able to fill out this questionnaire, but naturally you don't want to put your name on it! Note also that it is not illegal to fill out a questionnaire. The questionnaire comes with a stamped, return envelope so you can return it to me anonymously. The data from the questionnaires will be punched on IBM cards, and the original questionnaires destroyed as soon as possible.
The way these questionnaires are being distributed also insures your anonymity. I don't know any marijuana smokers by name, so I am simply putting these questionnaires out in places where marijuana smokers may have a chance to pick them up, and just handing them to people who might or might not know smokers, until this finally reaches you, with me having no idea of the route. In turn, please take as many questionnaires from whatever source you get this as you think you can pass on to other marijuana smokers. The more returns I can get, the more revealing this research will be.
I'm asking for about an hour or two of your time. In return, you will eventually know a lot more about the psychological effects of marijuana, and the scientific community will learn even more (considering the starting level); hopefully this knowledge will eventually result in more rational attitudes toward marijuana use.
If you can't fill this out, through lack of time or experience, please pass this material and any other sets of it you have along to someone who can.
CHARLES T. TART, PH.D.
Because most users experience a variety of intoxication phenomena by the third or fourth time they use marijuana, I selected the cutoff of a dozen uses to define an "experienced" user. As noted in Chapter 4, all the users who returned the questionnaire were far above this minimal cutoff.
THE QUESTIONNAIREThe questionnaire consisted of three parts: (1) instructions; (2) background information questions (reported on in Chapters 4 and 5) covering such things as age, sex, occupation, education, history of drug use, and so forth; and (3) 220 descriptions of effects the users might have experienced. (The questionnaire is reproduced in full in Appendix B.)
Instructions for Filling Out the QuestionnaireThe following instructions were attached to each questionnaire:
Do not put your name on this questionnaire or otherwise identify yourself.
The first two pages of the questionnaire are self-explanatory questions about your background, how much you've used pot, and your experiences with other drugs.
The rest of the questionnaire consists of statements describing a wide variety of experiences people have reported having while stoned. These descriptive statements have been taken from a wide variety of different people's accounts and it is unlikely that any single person has experienced all of the things described.
The statements are grouped into categories, such as Vision Effects, Hearing Effects, changes in Space-Time Perception, and so on. Some descriptive statements are relevant to more than one such category, but they are only listed under one, in order to keep this questionnaire as short as possible.
Each statement describes a particular kind of experience, for example, "I can see more subtle shades of color." The sense of each statement is that whatever effect is described, it is considerably stronger or somehow different when stoned than if you were experiencing it straight. That is, some of the things described can be experienced to some degree when straight but are reported to be much more intense or different when stoned. Even if the statement does not include the phrase "than when straight," this comparison is implicit in all the statements.
For each descriptive statement, you are to make two ratings.
The first is how frequently you have experienced that particular effect when stoned, judging against all the times you have been stoned in the last six months.Circle the answer category that most closely describes how often you experience that effect. The categories, reproduced under each description, are:
Never = you have never experienced this effect.
Rarely = you've experienced it at least once, but it's not at all frequent.
Sometimes = you experience it between about 10 percent and 40 percent of the time.
Very Often = you experience it more than about 40 percent of the time.
Usually = if you experience it practically every time you get stoned.
These rating categories are approximate, so while you should use your best Judgment you need not try to count over all your experiences!
The second rating to make for each descriptive statement is one of how stoned you have to be to experience it (if you have experienced it at all; if you haven't, don't rate this for that statement). That is, there is an assumption that some sorts of things can be experienced if you're just a little stoned, while other things can't be experienced unless you're very stoned. There is a minimal degree of "stonedness" that you have to be at to experience a particular effect. The "How Stoned?" scale under each descriptive statement runs from Just, which is the smallest degree to which you could be stoned and know that you were stoned, to Maximum, which is the most stoned you've ever been after smoking a lot of high quality pot.
It is possible to think about the "How Stoned" rating as relating to the amount of pot you smoke (or eat), but this is only a rough parallel because of the variations in the quality of pot. Thus this rating scale is defined in terms of your own perception of how stoned you have to be to experience the described effect, and you are asked to make five discriminations of your degree of stonedness, with Just and Maximum at the low and high ends of the scale, and Fairly, Strongly, and Very Strongly as intermediate points.
To take an example, the first descriptive statement is, "I can see new colors or more subtle shades of color than when I'm straight." You might have this happen to you about half the times you get stoned (ignoring for the moment how stoned you are over all these times in the last six months), so you would circle the Very Often category. Then, thinking about how stoned you have to be to experience it, you might feel that it doesn't happen to you unless you're very stoned, so you'd circle the Very Strongly category. Thus you would be saying that you can't experience (or haven't experienced) this when you've been just stoned, or fairly stoned, or even when strongly stoned; but when you're very strongly stoned or maximally stoned you can experience the change in color perception.
It may be that you've experienced a particular effect at several degrees of "stonedness," but what you're rating here is the minimal level of stonedness you must be to experience it.
There is one other category on the "How Stoned" scale, marked LSD. You are to circle this category only if you have experienced that effect after having taken one of the very powerful psychedelic drugs like LSD, DMT, DET, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, or STP. Thus there will probably be a number of things described that you've never experienced with pot but have with one of the more powerful psychedelics (if you've had any of the more powerful psychedelics).
There are a few questions where the two scales "Frequency" and "How Stoned" don't apply, and space is left for a descriptive answer.
There are a number of experiences that occur when stoned for which the opposite also occurs frequently; e.g., sometimes colors may be more intense and sometimes they may be duller. A bracket has been put in the left-hand margin whenever two questions are linked this way. Thus, you might find colors get brighter sometimes at a minimal degree of Very Stoned, and also that colors get duller frequently at a minimal degree of Just.
Finally, space has been left at the end for you to describe any effects you get from being stoned that haven't been mentioned in this questionnaire. In making up this questionnaire it was attempted to mention everything that people may have written about as happening while stoned, but some things have undoubtedly been missed, so this is your chance to complete the list!
Please rate the statements as accurately as you can. Whenever you feel that the way the statement is phrased doesn't quite fit your experiences, feel free to write in an explanation. If a statement makes no sense at all to you, put a ? beside it and skip it. It is understood that many of the experiences of being stoned are difficult to express in words!
Answer this questionnaire while straight, and when it is complete, seal it in the attached return envelope (do not put a return address on it!) and mail.
The envelope is already addressed and stamped.
It is so commonplace and trite on psychological questionnaires to say "Thank you" that I hesitate to say it, but l really do appreciate your filling this out!
Possible Effect DescriptionsFigure 3-1 shows part of the first page of the actual questionnaire. Each possible effect statement (referred to simply as "question" or "item" from now on) was presented in this way, with a few exceptions, described later.
|1. I can see new colors or more subtle shades of color than when I'm straight.|
|How Stoned?||Just||Fairly||Strongly||Vy Strongly||Maximum||LSD|
|2. Colors get duller, not as vivid.|
|How Stoned?||Just||Fairly||Strongly||Vy Strongly||Maximum||LSD|
|3. There is a sensual quality to vision, as if I were somehow "touching" the|
objects or people I am looking at.
|How Stoned?||Just||Fairly||Strongly||Vy Strongly||Maximum||LSD|
|4. When I look at pictures they may acquire an element of visual depth, a third|
dimensional aspect that they don't have when straight.
|How Stoned?||Just||Fairly||Strongly||Vy Strongly||Maximum||LSD|
|5. The world looks flat; it lacks the third dimension of depth.|
|How Stoned?||Just||Fairly||Strongly||Vy Strongly||Maximum||LSD|
|6. I see fringes of colored light around people (not objects), what people|
have called the "aura."
|How Stoned?||Just||Fairly||Strongly||Vy Strongly||Maximum||LSD|
|7. I see fringes of colored light around objects (not people), what people|
have called the "aura."
|How Stoned?||Just||Fairly||Strongly||Vy Strongly||Maximum||LSD|
VALIDITY PROBLEMSFor the present study to produce valid, accurate information about the nature of marijuana intoxication, we must feel reasonably certain that the possible effect descriptions mean what they seem to mean and that the respondents answered without bias or error, i.e., that they were careful in giving their answers and did not deliberately distort their answers in any fashion.
In wording the possible effect descriptions, I compromised between using standard English and drug-culture argot. I used the latter only when it was clear, as "stoned" or "high" for intoxicated. I avoided other argot terms like "far out," which have come to be used so ambiguously as to be worthless for communication. Thus the possible effect descriptions generally seem clear as to what they mean. For those few which may be unfamiliar to non-drug users, I have included brief explanations and/or references at appropriate places in the text.
A second language difficulty is that there are a variety of effects that users insist cannot be put into words, even approximately. These have necessarily been left out of the present study.
What about careless answering, or deliberate bias in answering designed to create an overly favorable picture of intoxication?
Three steps were taken to reduce this problem. First, the sympathetic tone of the covering letter and instructions hopefully reduced the need for the users' justifying themselves. Second, my promise to get results back to them made accurate reporting favor the users' self-interest. Third, a validity scale, described in the next section, was used to eliminate overly careless or bizarre questionnaires from the analysis.
While eventual replication of the present results by others is the final test of validity, the above steps, plus my knowledge of marijuana intoxication acquired from pilot subjects and informants, gives me confidence that the present results are reasonably accurate.
Validity ScaleFourteen of the 220 items constituted a validity scale. These were descriptions, scattered randomly through the questionnaire, of "possible effects" which I had never heard of or had heard of only extremely rarely, which seemed extremely unlikely to occur, and (one) which had been used in studies of hypnosis as a validity item (Orne, 1959).
No single improbable answer can necessarily disqualify a questionnaire, because the respondent may actually have experienced an improbable effect. The a priori decision was made to disqualify any questionnaire with six or more positive responses on the validity scale, as this would be an extremely improbable occurrence, warranting suspicion.
The 14 items of the validity scale, together with the percentages of the 150 final respondents rating each frequency category, are shown in Table 3-1. The a priori rules for counting an answer as a point on the validity scale are indicated by the boxes around certain response categories for each item. For example, if a user answered item 26 by circling Very Often, it would count a point on the validity scale, but not if he circled Never, Rarely, or Sometimes.
For the 150 questionnaires used for analysis, the mean validity scale score was only 1.5, so the final group of users did not show a bizarre patterning of answers on this scale, and we may presume they were careful in filling out their questionnaires.
DISTRIBUTION OF QUESTIONNAIRESBecause of the severe legal penalties attached to the possession, use, or sale of marijuana it was important to assure the users' anonymity in order to get any returned questionnaires. The distribution technique consisted of my handing large stacks of questionnaires to students and acquaintances whom I thought might be marijuana smokers and/or who might have friends who were marijuana smokers, and asking them to keep passing them on to other users. This worked very well. Many times students walked into my office and asked for more to pass out. In this way I had no names of anyone and could not even tell if the people I thought were smokers actually filled out a questionnaire. Users who completed the questionnaire simply put it in the attached, stamped return envelope and mailed it to me.
Data ReductionAll properly filled out and acceptable questionnaires returned by a cut-off date several months after distribution were coded onto IBM cards and magnetic tape for later processing at the computer centers of the University of California at Davis and at Berkeley.
SUMMARYA large questionnaire was constructed on the basis of readings and informal interviews with marijuana users. It was distributed, along with a sympathetic covering letter, in a fashion that ensured anonymity of the respondents. Only experienced marijuana users were asked to fill out and return the questionnaire.
For each of more than two hundred possible intoxication effects, the user was asked to rate how frequently he had experienced that effect in the last six months of use and the minimal degree of intoxication necessary to experience it.
|PERCENTAGE OF USERS ANSWERING: (a)|
|26||I have difficulty hearing things clearly, sounds are blurry and indistinct.||61%||23%||13%||1%||1%|
|42||I salivate quite a lot when stoned.||44%||30%||13%||5%||5%|
|54||Objects seem to tilt toward the left.||80%||10%||3%||1%||1%|
|57||The force of gravity seems to alternate between pushing me up and pushing me down.||56%||14%||17%||5%||5%|
|72||When there is any trembling in my body, the upper half of my body trembles much more than the lower half.||69%||7%||10%||5%||3%|
|87||My scalp itches a lot if I have smoked too much grass.||80%||13%||6%||1%||1%|
|97||My non-dominant hand (left if you're right-handed and vice versa) becomes partially paralyzed, unusable.||86%||9%||2%||1%||0%|
|102||I tremble a lot in my hands for a while after having been stoned.||71%||20%||7%||0%||1%|
|104||Smoking grass makes me cough hard while inhaling and holding my breath.||14%||42%||32%||9%||2%|
|132||My mind goes completely blank for long periods (15 minutes or more) even though I'm not asleep...||56%||27%||13%||2%||0%|
|166||I almost invariably feel bad when I turn on, regardless of how I felt before I turned on.||47%||36%||9%||1%||1%|
|180||I have lost control and been "taken over" by an outside force or will, which is hostile or evil in intent, for a while.||79%||14%||4%||0%||0%|
|181||I have lost control and been "taken over" by an outside force or will, which is good or divine, for a while.||63%||16%||9%||5%||1%|
|187||When stoned I lose most of my sense of ego identity and usually take on the identity of my like-sexed parent (father for males, mother for females).||79%||10%||7%||0%||1%|
skipping that item and/or rounding errors. The scored direction
for counting on the validity scale is given in bold-face responses.
1. Well-written anecdotal accounts may be found in Andrews and Vinkenoog (1967), Anonymous (1969), Bloomquist (1968), de Ropp (1967), Ebin (1961), Goode (1969), Hollander (1967), Rosevear (1967), Simmons (1967), and Solomon (1966).
2. The experience of the last six months is used rather than all your experience to cut down inaccuracies due to memories' fading. It may be that there are changes in how frequently you experience various things as you get more experience in being stoned, but this can be analyzed for in comparing the responses of new heads and old heads. If, however, you haven't been stoned very much in the past six months, use all your experiences for estimating frequencies.
3. In retrospect, I believe I should have used a 7- or 10-point scale for frequency and intoxication levels, as I had forgotten the tendency of people to avoid extreme categories on any scale.
4. A number of returned questionnaires were rejected because of high validity scale scores or other reasons, as discussed in Chapter 4. Validity score data on rejected users are not included in Table 3-1.
Chapter 4. One Hundred and Fifty Experienced Marijuana Users
APPROXlMATELY 750 QUESTIONNAIRES were sent out. Of those returned by the cutoff date several months later, three were rejected because of high scores on the validity scale, as explained earlier, and several others were rejected because the respondent indicated that he had been intoxicated with marijuana while he was filling out the questionnaire. A number of partially completed questionnaires were also returned with notes that they were just too long for the user to complete. Verbal comments by students around campus also indicated that the primary reason they had not completed the questionnaire was its length. One hundred and fifty usable questionnaires were left. Thus the 150 respondent users are a verbal lot, sufficiently motivated to help science that they would fill out a lengthy questionnaire.
As the data below will indicate, this is primarily a young, student population. How representative it is of any other specific population is unknown. As the primary purpose of the present study was to discover the major experiential effects of marijuana intoxication, to study the effects of some important background variables, and to specify the range of phenomena, rather than produce exact figures for a specified population, this lack of knowledge about the generality of the present sample is not a serious drawback. Again, however, the reader should be cautioned against overgeneralizing the exact figures presented later.
Some further comments should be made about generalization of the effects in this study to other populations. In terms of the model for drug intoxication effects presented earlier, it is clear that the intellectual level, social learnings and expectations, and values of a given population may strongly affect what they will experience during marijuana intoxication. The present sample is highly educated (in college or already graduated) and intelligent, is coping successfully with modern American culture (by virtue of most being in college or holding down a Job), and thus may be fairly representative of what Americans who have made a fair adaptation to the Establishment may experience when intoxicated with marijuana. It probably is poorly representative of what happens when slum dwellers, depressed minority groups, or people in different cultures use marijuana, or what happens when the mentally ill use marijuana. Remember, too, this is an experienced group, so the effects reported are not applicable to those who are just beginning to use marijuana.
IMPORTANT BACKGROUND VARIABLESArea of Residence
The residential area of the users was determined by inspection of the postmark on the returned questionnaire. The users were from California for the most part (67 percent), some from the East Coast of the United States (11 percent), and the remainder from various miscellaneous or undetermined locations.
AgeAge was distributed as shown in Table 4-1. The vast majority of the users were in the 19-30 age range.
|16 or younger||1%|
|51 and older||1%|
OccupationOccupation was classified into six categories, shown in Table 4-2. The majority (67 percent) of the users were students, with academics and mental health professionals being the next largest classifications.
|Academics, Teachers||7 %|
|Mental Health Professionals||6%|
|Professionals, other||5 %|
exactly 100% due to rounding errors and/or some
users' skipping the question.
Sex, Marriage, OffspringIt was possible to identify 49 percent of the respondents as men and 27 percent as women. However, on a number of questionnaires in the first distributions, the blank for sex of the respondent had been inadvertently left off, so 23 percent of the users could not be classified. Of the whole group, 71 percent were single, 19 percent were married or living with a semi-permanent mate, 8 percent were divorced, and I percent were widowed. Most (81 percent) had no children.
Educational LevelTable 4-3 shows the educational level of the users. This is a highly educated group, the vast majority having at least some college training and 21 percent having some graduate education.
Political AffiliationsTable 4-4 presents the political affiliations of the users. Most indicated no affiliation or Democrat.
|College, 2 years or less||35%|
|College, 4 years or less||37%|
|MA degree or some graduate training||13 %|
| PhD, EdD, or MD degree or graduate training|
beyond the MA level
|No political affiliation indicated||43%|
Religious AffiliationReligious affiliation is presented in Table 4-5. Most users did not give any affiliation. Of those who did, the psychedelic churches (i.e., those advocating the use of psychedelic drugs as part of their sacraments) such as Timothy Leary's League for Spiritual Discovery, and various Oriental religions, such as Subud, were almost as frequent as traditional affiliations.
|Psychedelic churches||7 %|
ArrestsOne question asked whether the users had ever been arrested and, if so, for what and whether they were convicted. Twenty-five users (17 percent) indicated they had been arrested, and the various offenses are summarized in Table 4-6.
|NUMBER OF USERS|
|TYPE OF OFFENSE||ARRESTED||CONVICTED|
|Political and Nuisance Offenses||6||3|
|Traffic Violations & Parking Tickets||5||4|
|Drunkenness or Illegal Possession of Alcohol||3||3|
|Possession of Marijuana||5||2|
Five of the users had been arrested for possession of marijuana, and one for selling marijuana.
All in all, the users are a generally law-abiding lot except for their use of marijuana.
Personal GrowthThe users were asked, "Do you regularly practice any sort of meditation or other non-drug discipline for spiritual or personal growth? If so, what?" The responses are tabulated in Table 4-7. Irregular or non-disciplined practices labeled "meditation" or "contemplation" by the users were put in the "informal meditation" category here.
|Formal meditation, oriental form||13%|
|Formal meditation, occidental form||3%|
|New therapies (encounter, Gestalt, etc.)||5%|
exactly 100% due to rounding errors and/or some
users' skipping the question.
Marijuana UseA number of questions dealt with the overall use of marijuana by the group. Responses to "How long have you been smoking pot or hash?" are presented in the first column of Table 4-8. Most of the users have smoked marijuana from one to two years, but some have used it for more than eleven years. If we take the midpoint of each category (assume fifteen years for the eleven-plus category), this group of users represents a total of 421 years of marijuana use.
The users were asked their average frequency of use in all the time they had used marijuana. Users with less than six months' experience were Instructed to skip this question. Monthly or Weekly use are the modal patterns in this group, as shown in Table 4-9. By an approximation, described fully in Chapter 5, these figures may be combined with length-of-use figures to give an estimate that this group of 150 users has used marijuana approximately 37,000 times altogether.
Asked for their frequency of use in the preceding six months (the time base over which effects were to be rated), the users replied as shown in the second column of Table 4-9, with Monthly and Weekly use still being the modal responses. The Total and Last Six Month frequencies of use do not differ significantly from each other. The respondents use marijuana about as often now as they ever did.
|LENGTH OF USE||MARIJUANA|
PERCENTAGE OF USERS
PERCENTAGE OF USERS(a)
|6 to 10 years||5%||17%|
|11 years or longer||6%||21%|
|Never used alcohol||13%|
due to rounding errors and/or some users' skipping the question(s).
(b) </= means less than or equal to.
|FREQUENCY OF USE||TOTAL|
|LAST 6 MOS.|
|LAST 6 MOS.|
|Once/month or more||35%||28%||34%||26%|
|Once/week or more||40%||42%||21%||12%|
|Almost every day or more||16%||19%||2%||7%|
exactly 100% due to rounding errors and/or some users' skipping the question(s).
Other DrugsThe users were asked how often they had used various major psychedelic drugs before starting to use marijuana, after starting to use marijuana, and during the last six months. Table 4-10 presents this data. The category "psychedelics" was presented on the questionnaire as including LSD, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, DMT (dimethyltryptamine), and DET (diethyltryptamine). Other drugs are listed separately.
|IN LAST SIX|
|TIMES USED||TIMES USED||TIMES USED|
|Amphetamines or Methedrine|
to rounding errors and/or some users' skipping the question(s).
With chi-square analyses of the distributions, the respondents have used major psychedelic drugs and oral amphetamines more frequently since starting to use marijuana (p < .001 for each comparison). Contrary to popular myth, use of hard narcotics is quite low and does not show a statistically significant increase from before to after marijuana use.
Psychedelic Drugs and MarijuanaThe users were asked, "Do you think your experiences (if any) with any of these other psychedelic drugs have affected or changed the quality of your experiences with pot? If yes, how?" Twenty-eight percent of the users replied that there had been no change in their marijuana experiences as a result of taking other drugs, 26 percent that normal marijuana phenomena were more vivid or could be experienced more easily, 12 percent that new experiences were possible on marijuana that were not available before, and 3 percent that their marijuana experiences were not as satisfactory or enjoyable any longer. Differences in marijuana effects between users and non-users of psychedelic drugs will be investigated in detail in later chapters.
Marijuana and AlcoholThe 150 users were asked, for comparison purposes, "How long have you been drinking alcoholic beverages in sufficient quantity to change your consciousness (i.e., drinking to get 'tipsy' or drunk rather than just having a little wine or beer with meals for the taste)?" The second column of Table 4-8 presents their replies. The respondents have clearly been using alcohol to alter their state of consciousness much longer than marijuana (p < .001), a difference that may represent desirability, but more likely represents the easier availability of alcohol to young people at the time the respondents were growing up.
The users were also asked about their frequency of use of alcohol for changing their state of consciousness, and this data is presented in the third and fourth columns of Table 4-9. For both total use and usage in the last six months, marijuana has been used more frequently (p < .001 in each case).
To further investigate feelings of preference for marijuana and alcohol for altering consciousness, the users were asked, "If pot were as available legally as alcohol, about what percentage of the time would you choose alcohol to alter your state of consciousness rather than pot?" Table 4-11 shows that the users generally would choose marijuana in a free-choice situation. Supporting this is a suggestive tendency (p < .10) for the respondents to be using alcohol less frequently in the last six months than in their total alcohol-drinking career.
|PERCENT OF TIMES ALCOHOL WOULD BE|
CHOSEN RATHER THAN MARIJUANA
|PERCENTAGE OF USERS|
100% due to rounding errors and/or some users' skipping the question.
SUMMARYIn general, we may describe our 150 users as a predominantly young, highly educated group of California college students, with a high interest in self-improvement (meditation or therapy), considerable experience
with other psychedelic drugs, and little experience with narcotics. Most of them used marijuana once a week or more during the six-month period covered by this study.
Footnotes1. It is my personal impression from informal and teaching contact with many students that the sample, while rather avant garde for 1968, would be fairly typical now. A Gallup poll taken as this book went to press reported that 42 percent of college students polled said they had used marijuana, compared with only 5 percent when the same question was asked in 1967 (see Newsweek, January 25, 1971, p. 52).
2. In retrospect, asking about oral amphetamines was poorly done, as the question does not distinguish the typical college student who uses low doses to help himself study from the high-dose user who wishes to radically alter his state of consciousness.
Chapter 5. Methods of Analysis
ALL OF THE CHAPTERS in Part II, Phenomenology of Marijuana Intoxication, are organized along the same general plan, for the convenience of the reader. I shall outline the basic plan, give definitions of terms, and present descriptions of methods here.
Each chapter consists of the results of potential effect descriptions (questions, items) dealing with a single area, such as vision, thought processes, etc. Within each chapter are subgroupings of related questions.
For each question I have given: (1) the actual wording used in the questionnaire; (2) the percentage of users responding in each of the frequency of occurrence and minimal level of intoxication categories; and (3) differences in the effect related to the background variables when such differences were statistically significant.
When the wording of a question does not completely explain the nature of the effect, I have added explanatory comments, based on my interviews with pilot subjects and informants. Many effects deal with areas of knowledge that are not generally well known even among scientists, such as those concerning meditation or ostensible paranormal phenomena, so I have given literature references to guide the reader seeking more understanding. I have tried to avoid speculation and interpretation as much as possible and to stick to the basic findings.
Each chapter also contains a section on additional effects, a ranking of effects according to increasing minimal levels of intoxication, a summary of background factors modulating the effects, and a general summary.
TerminologyIt is impossible to write about these phenomena in a readable style without using descriptive adjectives. To avoid the ambiguity usually inherent in quantity adjectives, I have used a standard set of them, which are defined in Table 5-1. Whenever other adjectives than those defined are used, I am speaking generally rather than describing the exact form of the data.
To illustrate: if an intoxication effect is described as "very characteristic" and "primarily beginning to occur at Moderate levels," this indicates that more than 50 percent of the users rated this effect as occurring Very Often or Usually when they have been intoxicated in the last six months, and my judgment of the distribution of responses on minimal levels of intoxication is that the Moderate ("Fairly Stoned") level is the most representative level indicated.
|Frequency of Occurrence Terms|
|"Rare"||>/=75% indicate Never, Rarely|
|"Infrequent"||>/=50% indicate Never, Rarely|
|"Fairly Frequent"||</=50% indicate Sometimes, Very Often, Usually[a]|
|"Common"||>/=50% indicate Sometimes, Very Often, Usually|
|"Very Common"||>/=75% indicate Sometimes, Very Often, Usually|
|"Characteristic"||50% indicate Very Often, Usually|
|"Characteristic"||Bottom third of distribution|
|"More Characteristic"||Middle third of distribution|
|"Most Characteristic"||Top third of distribution|
|Levels of Intoxication Terms|
|"Low"||Questionnaire term Just|
|"Moderate"||Questionnaire term Fairly|
|"Strong"||Questionnaire term Strongly|
|"Very Strong" ("Very High")||Questionnaire term Very Strongly|
|"Maximum" ("Very High")||Questionnaire term Maximum|
because of variable numbers of users skipping particular questions.
LinkingMany pairs or sets of question called for statistical comparison because of obvious similarity or because they described converse effects. This was always done by a chi-square test of the distributions. I have usually presented graphical results when they would be illustrative, as well as the probability figures.
Many other links exist that I have not analyzed in the text. The reader interested in particular comparisons may perform such analyses himself from the percentage data presented for each item. Only slight errors will result from using percentages rather than the raw data I worked from.
Background VariablesThe background information on the first page of the questionnaire was used to divide the users into a number of groups, and every question was subjected to a chi-square analysis for differences in the distributions among the groups. Only significant (p < .05) differences are presented in the text.
The groups compared were as follows:
Males versus females. Forty-nine percent of the users were men, 27 percent women. The remainder were not used in male-female comparisons because this question was inadvertently left off some of the questionnaires.
Older and younger users were defined as those 25 years of age or older versus those from 16 to 24.
Educational Level was compared for the College-educated (at least some college up to and including bachelor's degree or equivalent) versus the Professionals (graduate training or master's or doctor's degrees). The users with only a high school education were too few (6 percent) to constitute a group for valid analysis and so were omitted from the educational level comparison.
Frequency of use of marijuana in the last six months was broken into three groups: the Occasional user ("occasional" or "less than once/month" on the questionnaire), the Weeklyuser ("once/week or more"), and the Daily user ("almost every day or more"). With a three-way classification, it was found that some of the frequency and intoxication level categories had to be combined to avoid having too many cells with low expected frequencies for the chi-square tests, so all analyses with three-way classifications were done against frequencies of Never, Rarely/Sometimes, and Very Often/Usually. Similarly, levels were uniformly condensed into Just, Fairly/Strongly, and Very Strongly/Maximum.
Because a given degree of marijuana use in the last six months might mean different things for one user who had followed that pattern for ten years and for another who had used it for just one year, a three-way analysis was also made for total marijuana use. Categories were Heavy Total users, Moderate Total users, and Light Total users. These categories were obtained in the following way. Using the number of uses per month as a basic unit, the self-rated frequency of use over the user's whole use-history was assigned the value of 20/month ("almost every day or more"), 8/month ("once/week or more") or 2/month ("once/month or more" plus "occasionally"). Total length of time in years that the users had used marijuana was weighted as I for one year or less, 2.25 for three years or less, and 6 for more than three years.
The combinations of these weightings are shown in Table 5-2. They fell into three natural groupings, which were designated the Heavy (21 percent of the users), Moderate (44 percent), and Light (32 percent) Total users. A few users did not provide enough information to be classified.
Users and Non-users of Psychedelics were classified on the basis of whether they had ever used LSD, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), diethyltryptamine (DET), STP (2, 5dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine), MDA (3, 4-methylene dioxy-amphetamine) or PEACE (a street drug supposed to contain phencyclidines, such as we legitimately market under the trade name Ketamine or Sernyl). Seventy-two percent of the users had tried at least one of these powerful psychedelic drugs at least once.
|FREQUENCY OF USING|
MARIJUANA IN TOTAL
|LENGTH OF TIME MARIJUANA HAS BEEN USED|
|FOUR OR MORE|
|Almost every day||20||45||120|
|Once a week or more||8||18||48|
| Once a month or more|
Heavy Total Use: figures in boldface
The final background analysis, dealing with commitment to personal growth, divided the users into Meditators, the Therapy and Growth Group, and Ordinary Users. Meditators were so classified if they indicated that they regularly practiced some form of meditation. They comprised 16 percent of the users. The Therapy and Growth group were those who indicated they had been in regular psychotherapy (2 percent) or the new growth-oriented therapies (5 percent), such as Gestalt therapy (Perls, Hefferline, & Goodman, 1951) or encounter groups (Schutz, 1967). Ordinary users may have tried meditation exercises or the like occasionally, but did not indicate any regular, systematic approach to personal growth as the other two groups did.
Additional EffectsThis section includes any further phenomena, volunteered by the users at the end of the questionnaire, that were not already covered in one of the regular questions. These have not been included in any tabulations or analyses, and are added in each chapter to further indicate the range of effects.
Levels of IntoxicationExcept when there are too few effects of a given type to warrant it, each chapter has all the effects discussed ordered by the representative minimal level of intoxication. Categories are the five divisions of level of the questionnaire (Just, Fairly, Strongly, Very Strongly, Maximum) and levels halfway between these. Relevant effects from other chapters also appear in the graphs.
Within each level, effects are ordered in terms of the arithmetic mean of the intoxication levels reported, from lowest at the bottom to highest at the top. Within a level, chi-square tests of the distributions practically never reach significance. Overall differences in levels for the phenomena of a particular chapter were tested by a chi-square test using the lowest level (by arithmetic mean) effect within each level category as the entry for that level. They were usually extremely significant.
Variations in type style are also used in these graphs to indicate the frequency of occurrence of an effect. Characteristic phenomena are in bold capital letters, common are in bold lower case, infrequent (fairly frequent is combined with infrequent here) in small capitals, and rare phenomena are set in capitals with lower case letters. Thus if one wants to know what is very likely to happen at various levels for a given category of phenomena, one can look only at the characteristic or common effects (in boldface). If one wants to flesh this out with what may also happen if psychological factors assume the correct values, all the phenomena may be looked at.
I have occasionally inserted question marks after particular phenomena on the graphs, indicating that comments of informants raise some doubts as to its fitting into the minimal level model, i.e., it may cease to be available after some higher level.
Modulating FactorsEach chapter contains a table summarizing the effects of all significant background factors. I have combined the categories of frequency of use of marijuana in the last six months, total marijuana use, and psychedelic drug use into a single category of more drug experience for convenience here. The reader who needs these separated can go back to the original item descriptions in the text.
Almost all background variables had relatively linear effects. Where they did not, the text in this section mentions the fact, and they are not included in the table.
Statistical NotesIn addition to the various statistical considerations mentioned above, it should be realized that about 5 percent of the significant differences reported herein are due only to chance, i.e., are not really reflecting a genuine effect. In the many thousands of comparisons made in this large mass of data, 5 percent will come out at the .05 level of probability by chance alone. I debated on whether to try to eliminate these false positives, but the only way would be by the criterion of whether the differences "made sense" to me. Rather than impose my judgment on the data, I have let it stand. As the main purpose of this study is to stimulate research rather than provide final answers on the nature of marijuana intoxication, these occasional false positives will be weeded out by lack of confirmation in future studies.
Footnotes1. I have generally used percentages rather than actual numbers for clarity of presentation, All statistical tests, however, were performed on the raw data to avoid the slight rounding errors involved in using percentages.
2. While it would have been possible to assign the intoxication levels the values 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 and use the arithmetic mean as the average value, I did not want to make the questionable assumption of equal intervals between categories. Also, many of the distributions were highly skewed, so I would judge the most representative intoxication level as half-way between two of the defined levels. In practice, a correlation between my judgments and arithmetic means would be extremely high.
3. The technical question of how many cells in a chi-square table can have expected frequencies below a certain value is still hotly debated in the psychological literature. Rather than arbitrarily combine the data on every question in ways to eliminate low expected values, I have used the uniform rules above, plus the rule, used only rarely, that in any chi-square table with more than four cells having expected frequencies of less than five I would combine whichever end category eliminated the largest number of low cells with the adjacent category, i.e., Never or Just with Rarely or Fairly, etc. If this was not sufficient, the analysis was thrown out. Allowing as many as four cells to have low expected values is a fairly liberal position, but seemed appropriate in an initial exploration of an important area.
Chapter 6. Vision
MAN IS PRIMARILY a visual animal, both in terms of vision's being his primary and generally most efficient way of perceiving his environment, and in terms of visual styles' influencing his thinking, imagining, and conceptualizing. Changes in visual experience while intoxicated on marijuana are thus of particular interest. We shall first consider phenomena related to visual perception of the external world, then those related to visual imagery and hallucinations.
PERCEIVING THE EXTERNAL WORLD
Form and OrganizationA very characteristic effect of marijuana intoxication is increased perceptual organization ("meaningfulness"): "I can see patterns, forms, figures, meaningful designs in visual material that does not have any particular form when I'm straight, that is just a meaningless series of shapes or lines when I 'm straight" (6%, 6%, 29%, 37%, 19%). The modal minimal level of intoxication for this is Strongly (3%, 25%, 37%, 17%, 5%). The College-educated experience this more frequently than the Professionals (p <.05).
|Figure 6-1. PERCEIVED FOCUS OF THE VISUAL FIELD|
Note.—In interpreting the "How Stoned" graphs, note that the percentage of users plotted at each level is the percentage indicating that level as their minimal level of intoxication for experiencing that particular effect. Thus. a drop in the curve with increasing minimal level of intoxication does not mean that fewer users experience that effect at higher levels. but that fewer give a higher level as their minimal level for experiencing that effect.
A common effect that also reflects this increased perceptual organization of the visual field is "Things seen are seen more sharply in that their edges, contours stand out more sharply against the background" (13%, 13%, 31%, 30%, 11%). The contrary effect, "My vision tends to be somewhat blurry; if I try to examine something visually, I can't focus as sharply as when straight" (32%, 29%, 25%, 9%, 3%) occurs much less frequently (p <.001), as shown in Figure 6-1. Blurriness of vision is associated with higher levels of intoxication (1%, 13%, 18%, 21%, 11%) than sharpening (6%, 41%, 24%, 10%, 2%), as shown in the figure (p <.001).
Visual blurriness is reported somewhat more frequently by women than by men (p <.05), and is reported as occurring at lower minimal levels of intoxication by Occasional users in comparison to Weekly or Daily users (p <.05, overall).
A fairly frequent effect that also illustrates reorganization of the visual field is "The face of another person will change even as I watch it, so he keeps changing from one different person to another" (36%, 21%, 23%, 11%, 6%). This is a high-level effect (2%, 3%, 11%, 19%, 17%), although many (47 percent) users did not rate level. Users of Psychedelics experience it more frequently than Non-users (p <.01). Meditators experience it more frequently than Ordinary Users (p < .05), with neither group significantly differing from the Therapy and Growth group.
|Figure 6-2. PERCEIVED COLORS WHEN STONED|
ColorLike form, color is an important aspect of visual organization, and perceptual changes here are common: "I see new colors or more subtle shades of color than when I'm straight" (10%, 18%, 30%, 19%, 21%). The contrary effect, "Colors get duller, not as vivid," is rare (62%, 23%, 8%, 3%, 1%), as shown in Figure 6-2 (p <.001). Color perception is enhanced at low levels of intoxication (17%, 31%, 27%, 7%, 4%). Most users (67 percent) could not rate the minimal level for color dulling (6%, 13%, 6%, 5%, 3%), and this distribution of levels does not differ significantly from that reported for color enhancement.
The Therapy and Growth group tends not to see new colors as frequently as the Meditators and Ordinary Users (p <.05, overall). The Professionals have to be more intoxicated than the College-educated for colors to get duller (p <.05).
DepthAn important element of visual organization is the dimension of perceived depth. Four items deal with changes in perceived depth. We shall describe each separately before considering their interrelationships. A common effect is "When I look at pictures they may acquire an element of visual depth, a third-dimensional aspect that they don't have when straight" (13%, 12%, 34%, 23%, 15%), which begins in the low-middle range of intoxication (4%, 26%, 32%, 12%, 7%). One of my informants, known for his excellent phenomenological description of marijuana intoxication (Anonymous, 1969), describes how dramatic this can be: if, while intoxicated, you look at a color photograph or picture postcard of a scene with natural depth in it, and look with one eye through a pin-hole close enough to the picture so that its borders cannot be seen, the two-dimensional representation will suddenly turn into three dimensions, as if you were looking at the actual scene.
A converse and rare depth effect is "The world looks flat: it lacks the third dimension of depth" (55%, 27%, 9%, 5%, 1%). Most users (61 percent) did not rate the intoxication level for this (4%, 8%, 15%, 7%, 5%).
A fairly frequent depth effect is "Visual depth perception changes, so that near objects seem much nearer and far objects seem much further away" (32%, 19%, 29%, 11%, 5%), what might be called a magnification of visual depth. This is reported as occurring in the higher intoxication levels (1%, 14%, 25%, 17%, 6%).
The visual depth magnification effect seems to be a long-term effect, persisting steadily over time, compared to an infrequent effect that might be termed a visual depth jiggle: "Objects or people may seem to get visually nearer or further as I look at them without their actually moving at all" (39%, 23%, 21%, 10%, 5%). Many users (46 percent) did not rate the intoxication level for this (2%, 9%, 17%, 19%, 7%), although it is generally perceived at higher levels. Experience with using marijuana modulates this effect, whether factored in terms of total use or frequency of use in the last six months. Both Moderate Total users and Weekly users need to be more intoxicated for this experience than Light or Heavy Total users in the one case (p <.05) or Occasional or Daily users in the other case (p <.01).
|Figure 6-3. DEPTH PERCEPTION|
Note.—For guide to interpreting the "How Stoned" graph,
see note on Figure 6-1.
All four of these intoxication effects on visual depth perception are compared in Figure 6-3. The illusion of depth in flat pictures and the general magnification of depth both occur more frequently than the world's appearing flat or the depth's changing even as the user looks (jiggling) (p < < <.001), and the jiggling of perceived depth requires a higher intoxication level (p <.02).
CentralityTwo common phenomena represent an increased centrality of vision, enhancement of the focused object at the expense of peripheral objects: "Things outside the center of my visual field, things in the periphery of my vision look different when I'm not looking directly at them than when I look directly at them. E.g., I might see a door as open when I'm not looking directly at it, but when I look directly at it, it is closed" (19%, 21%, 32%, 19%, 7%) and "My visual perception of the space around me is changed, so that what I'm looking at is very real and clear, but everything else I'm not focusing on visually seems further away or otherwise less real or clear" (23%, 15%, 27%, 19%, 13%). Both have a modal level of intoxication of Strongly (3%, 23%, 29%, 17%, 5% and 4%, 17%, 25%, 17%, 6%, respectively). Neither the frequency of occurrence nor level of intoxication distributions differ for these effects.
Several background factors affect whether things in the periphery change. Younger users and Non-users of Psychedelics report this phenomenon as occurring more frequently (p<.05, p <.01, respectively) compared to Older users and Users of Psychedelics. Further, Users of Psychedelics are more variable in their ratings for this than Non-users (p <.05) and generally require higher levels of intoxication.
With respect to increased centrality of vision, Daily and Weekly users must be more intoxicated than Occasional users (p <.05, overall).
Sensuality, AlivenessAnother common phenomenon is "There is a sensual quality to vision, as if I were 'touching' the objects or people I am looking at" (22%, 16%, 31%, 19%, 9%), which occurs at higher levels of intoxication (5%, 14%, 23%, 25%, 5%). This is reported more frequently among the College-educated than among the Professionals (p <.05). This effect is also reported most frequently among the Heavy Total users (modal frequency category is Very Often/Usually), next most frequently by the Moderate Total users, and least frequently by the Light Total users (p <.01 for the Heavy-Moderate, p <.01 for the Heavy-Light comparison, Moderate-Light not differing significantly). Further, the Moderate and Light Total use groups report higher minimal levels of intoxication for this than the Heavy group (p <.05, overall).
The final infrequent effect on perceiving the external world is "Everything I look at seems to vibrate or pulse, as if it had a life of its own" (23%, 31%, 29%, 8%, 7%), which occurs at the higher intoxication levels (1%, 5%, 15%, 23%, 19%). Users of Psychedelics report a higher level of intoxication (mode at Maximum) for this than Non-users (p <.05).
VISUAL IMAGERY AND HALLUCINATION
ImageryA very characteristic phenomenon is enhanced visual imagery: "If I try to visualize something, form a visual image, I see it in my mind's eye more intensely, more sharply than when straight" (12%, 3%, 22%, 25%, 35%). This begins occurring in the low-middle ranges of intoxication (13%, 33%, 24%, 11%, 3%).
A specific illustration of this is the common effect, "I have more imagery than usual while reading; images of the scenes I'm reading about just pop up vividly" (15%, 11%, 24%, 27%, 15%), which also occurs at the lower levels of intoxication (13%, 33%, 22%, 4%, 2%). The Weekly users have to be somewhat more intoxicated to experience this than the Occasional users (p <.05), with a suggestion that the Daily users do not have to be as intoxicated as the Weekly users (p < .10). While the general enhancement of visual imagery occurs more frequently than visual imagery accompanying reading (p <.01), the distribution of levels of intoxication does not differ significantly.
A related phenomenon, described fully in Chapter 15, "When thinking about things while stoned, there are visual images that just automatically go along with thinking," a very common effect, which occurs at Moderate levels of intoxication.
AurasTwo frequent phenomena stand midway between perceptual alteration of real phenomena and hallucination: "I see fringes of colored light around objects (not people), what people have called the 'aura'" (46%, 21%, 20%, 8%, 1%), and "I see fringes of colored light around people (not objects), what people have called the 'aura"' (50%, 23%, 19%, 5%, 1%). Many users (57 percent, 59 percent, respectively) did not rate the level of intoxication for this, but for those who did, it was generally rated in the highest ranges (1%, 4%, 15%, 10%, 13%, and 3%, 2%, 9%, 12%, 15%, respectively).
Seeing an aura around objects is somewhat more common in the Younger group than in the Older group (p <.05); more common in Heavy Total users of marijuana than in Moderate (p <.05) and Light Total users (p <.05); more common in Users of Psychedelics than in Non-users (p <.05). Seeing auras around people is also more frequent in Users than in Non-users of Psychedelics (p <.001).
HallucinationPure visual hallucination is an infrequent phenomenon: "With my eyes open, I can see things that aren't there, i.e., for which there is no real visual basis. E.g., if you look at stains on a wall and see a design, that's an illusion; you are altering something there. This question deals with seeing something when there's nothing there, such as seeing a pattern or object on a perfectly blank wall" (33%, 23%, 27%, 7%, 9%). Although many (45 percent) users did not rate intoxication level, when it does occur this is a high-level phenomenon (1%, 6%, 10%, 20%, 18%). It is reported more frequently in the Younger Group (p <.01), and more frequently in the Heavy and Moderate Total use groups compared to the Light Total use group (p < .05 overall).
ADDITIONAL EFFECTSA number of users wrote in additional visual effects in the final part of the questionnaire.
Three users mentioned stroboscopic effects on vision: (1) "Old-time movie effect, where people move in phases as in a movie running too slow" (Sometimes, Strongly); (2) "I see in frames like a movie, only slowed down" (Rarely, Strongly); and (3) "Vision distorted as if seeing world with big strobe light flickering overhead" (Sometimes, Maximum).
"I see movement in things that I focus on, a matchbook cover with a geometrical design shifted like a light show movie; the more stoned, the bigger they are of movement" (Sometimes, Fairly).
"I find a continuum which starts with things' being two-dimensional and progressing to deep three-dimensional. I find I can stop anywhere on it" (Usually, Maximum).
"I can see the texture of the air in little swirling dots" (Usually, Just).
"Things inanimate, like a pile of clothes, seem to come to life;" (Sometimes, Strongly).
"Much more fun to watch color TV or newscasts" (Sometimes, Fairly).
"Am able to see mythical, angel-like creatures, which seem to be personal spirits" (Rarely, Maximum).
"Figure-ground shifts become more frequent and easier to control when stoned" (Sometimes, Strongly).
"I get more, and more pronounced, afterimages" (Rarely, Strongly).
"Aesthetic perception augmented re Cezzane [sic]: see interview with Allen Ginsberg, Paris Review #37" (no specification of frequency or levels).
LEVELS OF INTOXICATION FOR VISUAL PHENOMENAThe grouping of visual phenomena by intoxication levels is presented in Figure 6-4 and is highly significant (p <<< .0005). At the lowest levels, vision may sharpen up, patterns may appear, and colors may be affected. Further up, visual imagery is enhanced, and vision may become more central with depth magnified. Between Strongly and Very Strongly intoxicated, a sensual quality is frequently added to vision, and the external visual world may become unstable, with blurring and jiggling in depth. As one goes higher, vision may pulse, faces may change, auras may appear around objects, and at the highest level the maximal alteration of the visual world may occur with hallucinations and auras aroundpeople.
|AURAS AROUND PEOPLE|
|PULSING OF VISION|
|AURAS AROUND OBJECTS|
|JIGGLING OF DEPTH|
|SENSUAL QUALITY TO VISION|
|MORE CENTRALITY OF VISION|
|Flat quality to the world|
|PERIPHERAL VISION CHANGES|
|PATTERNS, MEANING IN AMBIGUOUS MATERIAL|
|THIRD DIMENSION ADDED TO PICTURES|
|VISUAL IMAGES AUTOMATICALLY ACCOMPANY THOUGHT|
|VISUAL IMAGERY MORE VIVID|
|NEW SHADES OF COLOR|
|VIVID IMAGERY WHILE READING|
|colors get duller|
|CONTOURS GET SHARPER|
MODULATING FACTORSTable 6-1 summarizes the effects of background factors that have relatively linear effects. Imagery automatically accompanying reading and visual jiggle appear to have a curvilinear relationship to drug experience, occurring more frequently and at lower levels of intoxication with moderate experience than with little or much experience.
In general, more drug experience goes with sensuality and unusual visual experiences, and with more intoxication required for the possibly undesirable effects of blurriness and pulsing of vision.
|More Drug Experience||More frequent:|
Sensuality of vision
More intoxicated for:
Pulsing of vision
Peripheral vision changes
More centrality of vision
Peripheral vision changes
Less intoxicated for:
Sensuality of vision
Peripheral vision changes
|More educated|| |
More intoxicated for:
Patterns in ambiguity
Sensuality of vision
|Therapy & Growth||Less frequent:|
SUMMARYIn general, the specific changes in visual perception brought about by marijuana intoxication may be seen as particular manifestations of a general change in what we might call the visual pattern-making process. It is common to assume that we passively "see" what is out there, that the qualities of the visual world are inherent in the physical properties of objects and space. Modern psychological investigations have made it clear that seeing is a very active and complex process in which we construct the visual world from the flux of visual sensations reaching us. That is, patterns, forms, objects, recognizable people, etc. exist in our minds as a construction from visual data. We are so used to doing this automatically that it seems as if the visual world were given. This active nature of visual perception is true of all sensory modalities.
The patterns that are formed from visual data are organized into a degree of complexity and familiarity that is optimal for surviving in the world around us. Detecting a potential predator concealed in some bushes has survival value; seeing a potential predator in every ambiguous visual input is not conducive to survival of the organism. Thus we may conceive of some optimal level (actually a dynamic range) of patternmaking activity, of organization of ambiguous (and not so ambiguous) visual data into meaningful percepts. Raise this level too high and we have illusion or hallucination. Lower this level too much and we have stupidity.
Marijuana intoxication seems to raise the level a fair amount, more so with increasing levels of intoxication. Thus patterns form from ambiguous material, contours are sharpened, central visual phenomena are enhanced at the expense of peripheral phenomena, depth is magnified and more subtle shades of color are perceived. With eyes closed, visual imagery is enhanced.
Such a raising of level of the patterning mechanism is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it may genuinely result in perceiving useful patterns and meanings that would have been overlooked. On the other hand, meaning may be falsely attributed to phenomena that have no such meaning. Many users seem to be aware of this combined advantage-disadvantage of marijuana intoxication and to compensate for it by requiring more data than usual before making a judgment or carrying out a consequent action. Others naively accept everything seen while intoxicated as true. This same dual aspect of raising the level of patternmaking activity applies, of course, to all sense modalities and cognitive processes.
Whether the proportion of naiveté and sophistication is any different from that of ordinary people in everyday life is a moot question.
Footnotes1. For all items, frequency of occurrence data is always presented in the order Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Very Often, Usually, and intoxication level data in the order Just, Fairly, Strongly, Very Strongly, Maximum. These will not always add up to 100 percent because of variable numbers of respondents' skipping various questions and/or rounding errors.
2. Readers interested in this rather exotic effect may see Ellison (1962) and Kilner (1965). Most of the writing on this subject is mystical, but the above references do attempt some objective treatment of the phenomenon. (back)
3. In general, intoxication effects that are two levels or more apart in this type Of graphical plot will be different enough to reach statistical significance.
4. The "optimal" level is quite situation-specific; depth jiggle, for example, may be quite amusing and enjoyable during a relaxed evening at home (safe conditions) but might be a pronounced disadvantage while working at some crucial task that required very accurate depth perception.