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Extracts from "Psychiatric Aspects of Marihuana Intoxication"

by Samuel Allentuck, MD and Karl Bowman, MD

published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 99 (September 1942), pages 248 to 251


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The observations to be presented here are based on research conducted in New York City under the auspices of the Mayor's [Mayor LaGuardia's] Committee on Marihuana. Studies were made of the effect of marihuana on a series of 77 subjects, including some who had previously used marihuana for varying periods of time.


Marihuana differs from the opium derivatives in that it does not give rise to a biological or physiological dependence. Discontinuance of the drug after its prolonged use does not result in withdrawal symptoms. The psychic habituation to marihuana is not as strong as to tobacco or alcohol.


Marihuana, by virtue of its property of lowering inhibitions, accentuates all traits of personality, both those harmful and those beneficial. It does not impel its user to take spontaneous action, but may make his response to stimuli more emphatic than it normally would be. Increasingly larger doses of marihuana are not necessary in order that the long-term user may capture the original degree of pleasure.

Marihuana, like alcohol, does not alter the basic personality, but by relaxing inhibitions may permit antisocial tendencies formerely suppressed to come to the fore. Marihuana does not of itself give rise to antisocial behavior.

There is no evidence to suggest that the continued use of marihuana is a stepping-stone to the use of opiates. Prolonged use of the drug does not lead to physical, mental, or moral degeneration, nor have we observed any permanent deleterious effects from its continued use. Quite the contrary, marihuana and its derivatives and allied synthetics have potentially valuable therapeutic applications which merit further investigation.


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