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s have failed. Techniques have been innumerable:
religious ceremonies, meditation, hypnosis, self-hypnosis, asceticism, fasting, dancing, yoga exercises,
and drugs, to name a few. Some of the men who have succeeded in altering their state of consciousness,
such as the Buddha, are revered by hundreds of millions of people. Others have been outcasts of society
or considered insane because their views were too different from those of their contemporaries. Still
others have gone truly insane in the course of their search.
Our scientific understanding of altered states of consciousness is minuscule in comparison with what
we do not know and the importance of these states. (For a survey of the scientific literature on them, see
Drugs have been an important means of inducing altered states of consciousness throughout history.
Cultures have embraced or rejected this means. Proponents have touted it as the shortcut to
enlightenment, while critics, both ordinary men and those considered spiritual giants, have called it an
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On Being Stoned - Chapter 1
escape, a pseudo-enlightenment.
Our culture today is one of the most drug-oriented cultures in history; we go by the millions to our
doctor (or our dealer) for pills to pep us up, calm us down, wake us up, put us to sleep, relax our
tensions, make us forget, or enlighten us. As a whole our cultural attitudes toward drugs are irrational to
the point of absurdity. We mightily praise some drugs whose detrimental effects are enormous and well
known, such as alcohol, and condemn other drugs about which we know very little. Scientific
knowledge about drugs has generally been of little consequence in affecting social attitudes and usage.
This book is an attempt to broaden our knowledge about one of the most widely used and poorly
understood drugs in our culture today, marijuana.
Marijuana is the term given to preparations of the flowering tops, leaves, seeds, and/or stems of the
Indian hemp plant, Cannabis sativa L. The preparation, for eating or smoking, is commonly called
marijuana, marihuana, Mary Jane, hemp, pot, grass, shit, and dope, with usage depending on fashions
Cannabis sativa grows wild all over the world and is a very hardy plant. It is extensively cultivated in
many areas, and research of optimal techniques of cultivation has been extensive (Drake, 1970). The
plant is desired for its fibers, which are used for rope, as well as for its drug value. Attempts to increase
fiber content and decrease drug content of the plant by mutation have succeeded only in increasing the
drug content (Warmke & Davidson, 1941-43, 1942-43, 1943-44).
The drug potency of the plant depends on the particular strain of plant, cultivation techniques, soil,
and climate. Different parts of the plant have different concentrations of the drug. Much of the marijuana
generally available in the United States today is what is called in
Cannabis Cabansis Cannabis
ty. 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
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 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 Questionnaire
The 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
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On Being Stoned - Chapter 3
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 i
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