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Science Speaks to Young Men on Liquor, Tobacco, Narcotics, and Marijuana


Short Cuts to Insanity

The quickest and surest road to the insane asylum is addiction to marijuana, morphine, heroin, or cocaine.

THERE is nothing a person can take into his body which will more surely destroy his mentality, his processes of thought, reason, and volition, than the narcotic drugs. Marijuana, cocaine, and opium with its chief derivatives - morphine and heroin--all attack the brain. Under the continued use of these drugs the central nervous system-brain and spinal cord-actually undergoes degeneration. The great majority of confirmed addicts end in the insane asylum unless the penitentiary gets them first, or unless some disease attacks them.

Rarely do youth of school age take up with such drugs as morphine, heroin, and cocaine. With the rapid spread of the marijuana habit, however, the situation is quite different, because, as you saw in the preceding chapter, marijuana peddlers, make a specialty of selling this drug to cigarette-smoking youth. Today marijuana is a real threat to the youth of this land. Reports of its use come from hundreds of places from Maine to California.

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) came originally from India, where it was known as Indian hemp (Cannabis indica). Indian hemp is used in the textile industry in the production of rope, twine, mats, bags, and other things. The fiber of this particular plant has more tensile strength when wet than has jute fiber, and it does not rot so easily. The seed of the plant is used in the paint industry for its oil, and is also a constituent part of most birdseed packets.

The narcotic properties of Indian hemp have been known for many centuries. From India its use spread into western Asia, and nearly a millennium ago we find a Persian chief supplying his army with it so that they might develop more bloodthirstiness in their imminent clash with the Crusaders. They did a first class job of annihilating the Crusaders when under the influence of this narcotic, which they called "hashish," so the chief dubbed

[ Picture] Caption reads: Three poppy pods slashed and the drops of juice showing. From this juice opium and its derivatives come. In the circle is a leaf of the marijuana plant.

his soldiers the "hashshashin," whence our word "assassin" is derived.

From western Asia the hashish habit spread westward along the shores of the Mediterranean to South and Central America, then into Mexico, and thence of recent years across the border into the United States by way of California, Arizona, and Texas. At the present moment in some parts of the United States marijuana addiction is by far the most prevalent form of the drug habit.

The word "marijuana" is Mexican, and also appears as "marihuana." The marijuana plant can be, and is, grown in every state in our nation. The weed is an annual, having a straight stalk, and elongated highly dentated leaves with a narcotic odor. The leaves occur in bunches of three, five, or seven, while the flower turns into seed on maturity. There are two varieties of the plant, one bearing clusters of male flowers, and the other bearing female flowers, the latter producing the seeds. The female plant grows from six to fifteen feet in height; the male plant is much shorter. Marijuana used for smoking consists of the broken leaves and flowering tops of the plants, which have been dried slowly in the air.

We are indebted to F. J. A. O'Ferrall, inspector in charge, Division of Narcotic Enforcement, State of California, for the facts contained in the next few paragraphs. Inasmuch as marijuana addiction in California is as bad as, or worse than in any other part of the country , and because Inspector O'Ferrall has been one of the outstanding leaders in the fight against the weed, he is eminently qualified to discuss the subject. Mr. O'Ferrall tells us that marijuana cigarettes, also known as "reefers, muggles, griffo, weeds, sticks, haystacks, etc., are usually hand rolled, though occasionally they appear on the market as though rolled by the home type of cigarette roller. The paper used in the cigarettes is usually of the common brown, or wheat straw, variety; sometimes a double wrapper is used, due to the fact that twigs pierce the paper. The cigarettes are smoked like ordinary tobacco cigarettes but usually with deeper inhalations, and more prolonged. The weed may be mixed with pipe, or other kinds of tobacco. ...

"The effects of marijuana upon the human system differ, according to the character and personality of the individual. However, the action centers on the brain in all instances. . .

"There appear to be three stages through which the user passes-the first, a highly nervous condition, where he feels happy, carefree, with a feeling of greatness, of strength, and a desire to show it off. He may take several smokes before he meets a friend to impress him with his great strength, or to settle an imaginary grudge with someone-who may be a total stranger.

"The second stage shows upon the user in the form of hallucinations, which affect the eyesight as well as the hearing. He appears to have become taller, to be of great size, - distance is increased, and time lengthens. He may imagine himself as a great actor, or aviator, or race driver, and very vividly portray the person whom he believes himself to be, or what he is supposed to be doing. One can readily see the possible damage that may be caused while a person is in this state. He may be driving along the highway and think he is driving only fifteen or twenty miles per hour, while in reality he is going sixty or seventy miles per hour. Suddenly, an occasion arises calling for instant use of the brake, but the time taken to co-ordinate his thoughts and transfer that impulse to his feet is so long that a serious accident may occur, and oftentimes does.

"The third stage is the most progressed and dangerous: He really becomes a fiend with savage and tigerish tendencies; his sex desires are aroused, and some of the most horrible crimes result; he hears light and sees sound; to get away from it, he suddenly becomes violent and may kill. In fact, he has gone completely mad and may never recover. No crime known may escape him,-and while he is running amuck, he may kill his loved ones, his dearest friends, or total strangers."

Mr. H. J. Anslinger, United States Commissioner of Narcotics, in a report on narcotics issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, declares that "marijuana is a more dangerous drug than heroin or cocaine. ...The drug is adhering to its old-world traditions of murder, assault, rape, physical demoralization, and mental breakdown. It is closely associated with insanity and crime."

The effects of marijuana, according to an authority quoted by Mr. Anslinger, are these: I. A feeling of unaccountable hilarity. 2. An excitation and a disassociation of ideas; the weakening of power to direct thoughts. 3. Errors in time and space. The illusions are those of sight, hearing, and sense. The mind loses all idea of space and extent, and tends to exaggeration in all things; the slightest impulse or suggestion carries it away. 4. Intensification of auditory sensibilities, causing profound dejection or mad gaiety. 5. Fixed ideas; delirious conviction. This is a type of intellectual injury very frequent in mental alienation. The user imagines the most unbelievable things, giving way to monstrous extravagances. 6. Emotional disturbance during which the user is powerless to direct his thoughts, loses the power to resist emotions, and may commit violence that knows no bounds when disorders of the intellect have reached a point of incoherence. Evil instincts are brought to the surface, and cause a fury to rage within the user. 7. Irresistible impulses, which may result in suicide.

A marijuana addict is more easily cured in the early stages than is a morphine, heroin, or cocaine addict. However, as a general rule; more of this drug is used by the addict, and there is great danger that his brain will sooner or later suffer a complete breakdown and that he will have to spend the rest of his life in an insane asylum. Its use often eventuates in mania and dementia. In the complete distortion and demoralization of the brain, due to the rapidity of its inroads, marijuana is even more harmful than morphine.

Youth should be exceedingly wary of anyone who offers "a cigarette with more of a kick." To be sure, if you are not a cigarette smoker at all, you run little risk of being approached by a marijuana peddler, for the drug is generally sold in the form of cigarettes to cigarette smokers.

Marijuana is becoming a major problem in America because of the fact that the weed can be grown almost anywhere in vacant lots, garden plots, orchards, along hedgerows, etc. Both Federal and state governments are fast awakening to the menace, and are waging aggressive :warfare against it.

Another narcotic drug that holds tens of thousands of persons in our country in abject slavery is cocaine. This drug comes from the leaf of the coca shrub (Erythroxylon coca); a native of Peru and Bolivia. Cocaine is known itm9ng drug addicts as "snow," because it is generally used in the form of white flakes resembling snow, which are snuffed up the nose.

Cocaine at one time was widely used as a local anesthetic. However, because of its potent habit-forming powers, it has been supplanted by a synthesized compound known as novocain, which is not habit forming.

Cocaine was originally used by the natives of Peru and Bolivia to give them strength in carrying burdens across the high plateaus and mountain ranges of their countries. It gives a feeling of great strength; hence makes the user brave in the face of danger or emergency. This is the reason it is the favorite drug used among criminals to bolster them up when they are going out to rob a bank or "bump" someone off. More than 50 per cent of the: crimes of violence committed in our country are done when the criminal is under the influence of a narcotic drug, often cocaine. The drug bolsters up a false courage, and through its action on the sensory nerves it makes the user capable of brutality, even of murder itself.

A third class of narcotic drugs doing untold havoc in our nation at the present time is that derived from opium-morphine and heroin.

Opium is the oldest of the narcotic drugs. It comes from the slashed, unripe seed capsules of the sleep poppy (Papaver somniferum). Although grown in greatest quantities in India and China, the original home of the opium poppy was Mesopotamia, where "the flower of sleep" is referred to in some very early annals. An early Assyrian papyrus tells how the narcotic juice was gathered in Assyrian fields. Later Vergil mentions the poppy in The Aeneid, and Homer refers to it in his Iliad. Thus, many long centuries before the Christian Era we find men drowning their sorrows and embroidering their dreams with the crude product of the narcotic juices of the poppy.

The smoking of opium Is largely confined to the Orient today, although a few 'users are found in the Oriental quarters of some of our large cities. However, morphine, the most abundant of the opium alkaloids (a white, crystalline odorless solid with a bitter taste), is widely used as a narcotic drug. It is one of the six most useful drugs used by the medical profession, and is the physician's main dependence as a painkiller in cases such as the advanced stages of cancer. The average dose of morphine given by physicians is from one-eighth to one-fourth grain. In exceptional cases as much as one-half grain may be prescribed. Illicit addicts, however, will work up a tolerance for the drug so that they will take as much as sixty to seventy grains a day in single dosages of from ten to fourteen grains. .

Almost all morphine addicts acquire the habit by taking the drug by mouth. As the tolerance for the drug becomes higher, the cost usually is prohibitive, so the addict then begins to inject the drug either subcutaneously (below the skin) or intramuscularly (within the muscles). Later he often takes up the practice of injecting it directly into the veins of the arm (commonly called the "main line"). Continued injection into the veins causes them to collapse, so the injection is moved from one vein to another, until in time all the visible veins in the body are "shot out" - arms, thighs, calves of the legs, insteps of the - feet, backs of the hands, and finally the large veins between the fingers.

The morphine habit makes the addict nervous, weak in character, lacking in energy, and wholly unfit for work. The will and self-control appear paralyzed. The addict has an insatiable craving for his drug and will do almost anything to obtain it. He loses all sense of honor and truthfulness. He will stoop to any crime or vice to get money for the purchase of morphine. Mental stability gives way, and the addict slips gradually to the lowest levels of shame and degradation. It is estimated that in the United States 100,000 persons are morphine addicts.

Heroin (diacetyl morphine) is another narcotic drug doing incalculable damage in our country today. It is an alkaloid produced synthetically from morphine by heating pure morphine with acetyl chloride. Wherever heroin can be obtained, it is generally used in the form of snuff. It is more dangerous and poisonous in its effects upon the human body than is morphine. Indeed, its dangers are so great that our Federal Government has declared its possession and use always illegal. It was at one time used in the treatment of pulmonary diseases as a cough sedative and respiratory stimulant; but, owing to its terrific habit-forming qualities, heroin was ruled out of medical practice in 1924. Since that time it has had no legal standing whatsoever.

Heroin addicts are more criminally inclined than are the users of any other form of narcotics. Heroin leads to insanity more quickly than does morphine.

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