There are no truths, only stories.
-Simon Ortiz, Acoma Pueblo poet
You and I are among the more than 70 million Americans who have used cannabis — and 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 of 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 “recreational”, 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 — not 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. Some colleagues and I hope to promote this kind of learning by assembling an anthology of accounts of cannabis enhancement experiences. It is our hope that these stories will ultimately provide the basis for a book. Toward that end, we seek to identify contributors who are willing to share their knowledge of the uses of cannabis.
Accounts judged to be useful will be posted on this web site as they are received. The longer ones will be presented as Essays and the shorter ones as Brief Accounts. There is also now an opportunity to post to our recently-launched blog. Interesting comments received on any of these contributions to the web site will also be presented (at the end of the essay, brief account, or blog entry). Some contributors may wish to share their e-mail address. If and when the collection is of a quality and quantity which would justify publication as an anthology, a book proposal will be written.
A little about me. I am on the faculty (emeritus) 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, coauthored 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 as the first essay on the web site “A Cannabis Odyssey”, an essay 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, for those who are in doubt, I suggest you read a few of the essays to get a sense of some of the ways these ideas can be presented. I hope you will be interested in submitting a contribution.