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|On Being Stoned, by Charles Tart|
On Being Stoned
Charles T. Tart, Ph. D.
Chapter 4. One Hundred and Fifty Experienced Marijuana Users
APPROXlMATELY 750 QUESTIONNAIRES were sent out. Of those returned
by the cutoff date several months later, three were rejected because
of high scores on the validity scale, as explained earlier, and
several others were rejected because the respondent indicated
that he had been intoxicated with marijuana while he was
filling out the questionnaire. A number of partially completed
questionnaires were also returned with notes that they were just
too long for the user to complete. Verbal comments by students
around campus also indicated that the primary reason they had
not completed the questionnaire was its length. One hundred and
fifty usable questionnaires were left. Thus the 150 respondent
users are a verbal lot, sufficiently motivated to help science
that they would fill out a lengthy questionnaire.
IMPORTANT BACKGROUND VARIABLESArea of Residence
The residential area of the users was determined by inspection of the postmark on the returned questionnaire. The users were from California for the most part (67 percent), some from the East Coast of the United States (11 percent), and the remainder from various miscellaneous or undetermined locations.
AgeAge was distributed as shown in Table 4-1. The vast majority of the users were in the 19-30 age range.
OccupationOccupation was classified into six categories, shown in Table 4-2. The majority (67 percent) of the users were students, with academics and mental health professionals being the next largest classifications.
exactly 100% due to rounding errors and/or some
users' skipping the question.
Sex, Marriage, OffspringIt was possible to identify 49 percent of the respondents as men and 27 percent as women. However, on a number of questionnaires in the first distributions, the blank for sex of the respondent had been inadvertently left off, so 23 percent of the users could not be classified. Of the whole group, 71 percent were single, 19 percent were married or living with a semi-permanent mate, 8 percent were divorced, and I percent were widowed. Most (81 percent) had no children.
Educational LevelTable 4-3 shows the educational level of the users. This is a highly educated group, the vast majority having at least some college training and 21 percent having some graduate education.
Political AffiliationsTable 4-4 presents the political affiliations of the users. Most indicated no affiliation or Democrat.
Religious AffiliationReligious affiliation is presented in Table 4-5. Most users did not give any affiliation. Of those who did, the psychedelic churches (i.e., those advocating the use of psychedelic drugs as part of their sacraments) such as Timothy Leary's League for Spiritual Discovery, and various Oriental religions, such as Subud, were almost as frequent as traditional affiliations.
ArrestsOne question asked whether the users had ever been arrested and, if so, for what and whether they were convicted. Twenty-five users (17 percent) indicated they had been arrested, and the various offenses are summarized in Table 4-6.
Five of the users had been arrested for possession of marijuana, and one for selling marijuana.
All in all, the users are a generally law-abiding lot except for their use of marijuana.
Personal GrowthThe users were asked, "Do you regularly practice any sort of meditation or other non-drug discipline for spiritual or personal growth? If so, what?" The responses are tabulated in Table 4-7. Irregular or non-disciplined practices labeled "meditation" or "contemplation" by the users were put in the "informal meditation" category here.
exactly 100% due to rounding errors and/or some
users' skipping the question.
Marijuana UseA number of questions dealt with the overall use of marijuana by the group. Responses to "How long have you been smoking pot or hash?" are presented in the first column of Table 4-8. Most of the users have smoked marijuana from one to two years, but some have used it for more than eleven years. If we take the midpoint of each category (assume fifteen years for the eleven-plus category), this group of users represents a total of 421 years of marijuana use.
The users were asked their average frequency of use in all the time they had used marijuana. Users with less than six months' experience were Instructed to skip this question. Monthly or Weekly use are the modal patterns in this group, as shown in Table 4-9. By an approximation, described fully in Chapter 5, these figures may be combined with length-of-use figures to give an estimate that this group of 150 users has used marijuana approximately 37,000 times altogether.
Asked for their frequency of use in the preceding six months (the time base over which effects were to be rated), the users replied as shown in the second column of Table 4-9, with Monthly and Weekly use still being the modal responses. The Total and Last Six Month frequencies of use do not differ significantly from each other. The respondents use marijuana about as often now as they ever did.
due to rounding errors and/or some users' skipping the question(s).
(b) </= means less than or equal to.
exactly 100% due to rounding errors and/or some users' skipping the question(s).
Other DrugsThe users were asked how often they had used various major psychedelic drugs before starting to use marijuana, after starting to use marijuana, and during the last six months. Table 4-10 presents this data. The category "psychedelics" was presented on the questionnaire as including LSD, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, DMT (dimethyltryptamine), and DET (diethyltryptamine). Other drugs are listed separately.
to rounding errors and/or some users' skipping the question(s).
With chi-square analyses of the distributions, the respondents have used major psychedelic drugs and oral amphetamines more frequently since starting to use marijuana (p < .001 for each comparison). Contrary to popular myth, use of hard narcotics is quite low and does not show a statistically significant increase from before to after marijuana use.
Psychedelic Drugs and MarijuanaThe users were asked, "Do you think your experiences (if any) with any of these other psychedelic drugs have affected or changed the quality of your experiences with pot? If yes, how?" Twenty-eight percent of the users replied that there had been no change in their marijuana experiences as a result of taking other drugs, 26 percent that normal marijuana phenomena were more vivid or could be experienced more easily, 12 percent that new experiences were possible on marijuana that were not available before, and 3 percent that their marijuana experiences were not as satisfactory or enjoyable any longer. Differences in marijuana effects between users and non-users of psychedelic drugs will be investigated in detail in later chapters.
Marijuana and AlcoholThe 150 users were asked, for comparison purposes, "How long have you been drinking alcoholic beverages in sufficient quantity to change your consciousness (i.e., drinking to get 'tipsy' or drunk rather than just having a little wine or beer with meals for the taste)?" The second column of Table 4-8 presents their replies. The respondents have clearly been using alcohol to alter their state of consciousness much longer than marijuana (p < .001), a difference that may represent desirability, but more likely represents the easier availability of alcohol to young people at the time the respondents were growing up.
The users were also asked about their frequency of use of alcohol for changing their state of consciousness, and this data is presented in the third and fourth columns of Table 4-9. For both total use and usage in the last six months, marijuana has been used more frequently (p < .001 in each case).
To further investigate feelings of preference for marijuana and alcohol for altering consciousness, the users were asked, "If pot were as available legally as alcohol, about what percentage of the time would you choose alcohol to alter your state of consciousness rather than pot?" Table 4-11 shows that the users generally would choose marijuana in a free-choice situation. Supporting this is a suggestive tendency (p < .10) for the respondents to be using alcohol less frequently in the last six months than in their total alcohol-drinking career.
100% due to rounding errors and/or some users' skipping the question.
SUMMARYIn general, we may describe our 150 users as a predominantly young, highly educated group of California college students, with a high interest in self-improvement (meditation or therapy), considerable experience
with other psychedelic drugs, and little experience with narcotics. Most of them used marijuana once a week or more during the six-month period covered by this study.
Footnotes1. It is my personal impression from informal and teaching contact with many students that the sample, while rather avant garde for 1968, would be fairly typical now. A Gallup poll taken as this book went to press reported that 42 percent of college students polled said they had used marijuana, compared with only 5 percent when the same question was asked in 1967 (see Newsweek, January 25, 1971, p. 52). (back)
2. In retrospect, asking about oral amphetamines was poorly done, as the question does not distinguish the typical college student who uses low doses to help himself study from the high-dose user who wishes to radically alter his state of consciousness. (back)