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various drugs vary tremendously from culture to culture, and this prevailing cultural climate may have a
strong effect on the user. Classical Islamic culture, for instance, prohibits the use of alcohol but
sanctions marijuana use. Our American culture as a whole believes marijuana produces undesirable and
dangerous effects, and this knowledge may very well influence an individual user at times, in spite of
subcultural support of marijuana smoking. In our culture, feelings of paranoia (e.g., fear that there may
be a policeman watching) are frequent and normal, although experienced users generally treat them
rather objectively rather than getting concerned about them in a maladaptive fashion.
Personality affects marijuana reactions.
Users commonly believe, for example, that authoritarian
people, who are not open to new ways of perceiving and thinking, either get no effects at all from
smoking marijuana or have very unpleasant effects. They try to maintain their ordinary way of
perceiving and thinking against the drug effects. There is a large psychological literature on the way in
which personality factors affect reactions to a wide variety of psychoactive drugs other than marijuana.
Overall physiological functioning shows very similar patterns in healthy individuals; i.e., their bodily
reactions to a given drug are similar enough to not be important. For some drugs and/or for some
individuals, however, unique physiological factors might cause special reactions.
I know of no solid
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On Being Stoned - Chapter 2
information on this for marijuana, but it should be kept in mind as a potential source of variability.
Learned drug skills are particularly important in marijuana intoxication.
A neophyte commonly must
use marijuana several times before becoming aware of its effects; he must learn to recognize certain
subtle effects that indicate he is intoxicated (see, e.g., Becker, 1953).
With increasing experience and
contact with other marijuana users, the neophyte learns of other effects that he may try to experience
himself and of techniques for controlling his intoxication experience (see Chapter 17). He may learn to
reproduce many of the usual effects of intoxication without actually using marijuana, as in "contact
highs" (feeling intoxicated just by being with intoxicated companions) or "conditioned highs" (feeling
intoxicated to some extent by the action of preparing to use marijuana).
Immediate user factors include
Mail Conodmail.Com Loc:Fr several factors that assume particular values for hours to days before
using a drug, such as mood, expectations as to what will happen, and desires for particular happenings.
Mood is particularly important with a drug like marijuana, as many users report the intoxicated state
amplifies whatever mood they were in before taking the drug (see Chapter 16). If they were happy, they
may become very happy; if they were sad, they may become particularly gloomy. An experimental stu
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