The Uses of Marijuana by Lester Grinspoon

Mike Steindel (
Mon, 7 Jun 1999 04:10:57 -0700 (PDT)

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The Uses Of Marijuana
I invite you to contribute to an anthology that will illuminate the many
reasons people use marijuana
You and I are among the more than 70 million Americans who have used
cannabis=97and possibly among the more than ten million who use it
regularly. We know that people smoke marijuana not because they are
driven by uncontrollable "Reefer Madness" craving, as some propaganda
would lead us to believe, but because they have learned its value from
experience. Yet almost all the research, writing, political activity,
and legislation devoted to marijuana has been concerned only with the
question of whether it is harmful and how much harm it does. The only
exception is the growing medical marijuana movement, but as encouraging
as that movement is, it represents only one category of marijuana use. 

The rest are sometimes grouped under the general heading of
"recreation", but that is hardly an adequate description of, say,
marijuana's capacity to catalyze ideas and insights, heighten the
appreciation of music and art, or deepen emotional and sexual intimacy. 

These kinds of marijuana experiences, which I like to call
"enhancement", are often misunderstood and under-appreciated=97not only
by non-users, but even by some users, especially young people who are
interested mainly in promoting sociability and fun. Most of marijuana's
powers of enhancement are not as immediately available as its capacity
to lift mood or improve appetite and the taste of food. 

Some learning may be required, and one way to learn is through other
people's experience. Along with the writer William Novak, I had hoped to
promote this kind of learning by assembling an anthology of accounts of
cannabis enhancement experiences. We hoped these stories would
ultimately provide the basis for a book. Toward that end, we sought to
identify contributors who would be willing to share their knowledge of
the uses of cannabis. We have now been advertising in a wide variety of
publications for about a year. Although we have some excellent accounts,
there is not enough good material for an anthology. Needless to say, we
are most disappointed, and William Novak has decided to drop out of the

Nevertheless, I continue to believe that this is an important
undertaking. Therefore I have decided that I will continue to collect
stories while modifying the original plan in two ways. First, accounts
judged to be useful will be posted on this website
( as they are received. If and when the
collection achieves a quality and quantity which would justify
publication as an anthology, a book proposal will be written; a Canadian
publisher, unsolicited, has already expressed considerable interest.
Second, while I will continue to place advertisements, I will do so less
often. (Of the more than a dozen publications in which I have placed
advertisements, so far only Harper's and the New York Review of Books
have been productive. 

I would appreciate suggestions for other advertising vehicles.)
Ultimately, word of mouth may be the best way to attract useful
accounts. I hope you will help to spread the word.

A little about me. I am on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School in
the Department of Psychiatry. I have been studying cannabis since 1967
and have published two books on the subject. In 1971 Marihuana
Reconsidered was published by Harvard University Press. Marihuana, the
Forbidden Medicine, co-authored with James B. Bakalar, was published in
1993 by Yale University Press; the revised and expanded edition appeared
in 1997. 

Other books include The Speed Culture: The Use and Abuse of Amphetamines
in America, Cocaine: A Drug and its Social Evolution, Psychedelic Drugs
Reconsidered, and Psychedelic Reflections. I have posted on the website
some introductory remarks about my personal involvement with this issue.
I identify myself as a cannabis user, but contributors who wish to
remain anonymous can; some may want to use a pseudonym.

Most contributors will know what they want to write and how to go about
it. However, the website includes some suggestions for those who are in
I hope you will be interested in submitting a contribution.
Lester Grinspoon, M.D.

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