Friday, July 03, 2009

Back When Republican Mayor LaGuardia Thought New York Should Go to Pot

Mayor’s Committee on Marihuana. The Marihuana Problem in the City of New York: Sociological, Medical, Psychological, and Pharmacological Studies. Lancaster,Pa.: The Jacque Cattell Press, 1944.

The forward by Mayor F. H. LaGuardia tells how he asked a review of the marijuana problem by the New York Academy of Medicine. When he was a member of Congress, he recalled a study of soldiers in the Panama Canal Zone that indicated that marijuana use was harmless and it caused little, if any, delinquency and crime. When, as Mayor, he heard about problems about marijuana use in New York City, he wanted to know how much marijuana use contributed to the city’s difficulties. He notes that the study concludes that marijuana is useful for overcoming drug addiction.

The introduction by Dr. E.H..I. Corwin notes that a Special Subcommittee of the New York Academy of Medicine conducted a review of marijuana and whether it needed to be controlled. His committee was unable to make a conclusion on how marijuana may affect one’s psychological or physiological functions.

Dr. Dudley D. Shoenfeld noted in his sociological study of marijuana use that it has been used for pharmaceutical reasons for over 2,000 years when it was used in China for anesthesia. He expressed surprise that marijuana has only been considered a problem only within the past 20 years (i.e. the 1920s). He also notes that marijuana grown in the U.S., known as sass-fras, has a low potency. Marijuana from Africa, known as gungeon, is the most potent as is used mostly by the wealthy. Panatela from Central and South America is in between the two in potency. The city found marijuana was primarily sold then in New York City in Harlem, where there are 500 known “tea pads” where customers go to purchase and smoke it, and in the Broadway district from 42nd Street to 59th Street.

According to Dr. Schoenfeld, city investigators reported the most common reaction among smokers was they detected no physical or mental ill effects from smoking other than receiving a “high” effect. Users stated that could voluntarily stop using marijuana when desired and that there were no cravings for it upon stopping. This was in sharp contrast with morphine, cocaine, and heroin users who were seen developing compulsive desires for the continued use of those substances. The investigators also noted that marijuana users did not use marijuana beyond the point of when they had obtained the desired high effect. Many users reported increased appetite as a result of using marijuana.

Dr. Schoenfeld wrote how surveys of Federal, state, and local police found that most stated they saw no correlation between marijuana use increasing criminal activity. A review of cases concerning 1,500 offenders conducted by Dr. Walter Bromberg found there were very few cases where a major crime occurred after using marijuana. Nor did he find an association between marijuana and juvenile delinquency. He further found that marijuana did not appear to be addictive “in the medical sense of the word”.

Medical tests on the effects of marijuana were conducted on five volunteers. One person had an abnormal reaction during a psychotic episode. The others exhibited “no evidence of abnormal mental content at any stage of the drug action” with behavioral changes observed in reduced mental concentration.

The use of marijuana was found to decrease the speed and accuracy of intellectual reasoning. The duration of this increased as the amount of marijuana intake was increased. There was no mental deterioration found to result afterwards.

A study of 56 morphine addicts of either morphine or heroin who were inmates at Riker’s Island Penitentiary shows the marijuana intake reduced negative drug withdrawal symptoms. The study felt more research was needed before concluding that marijuana was effective in treating drug addiction withdrawal, although it did appear it could be a useful aid.


Post a Comment

<< Home