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|On Being Stoned, by Charles Tart|
On Being Stoned
Charles T. Tart, Ph. D.
Chapter 8. Touch, Temperature, Taste, and Smell
TOUCH AND TEMPERATURE
MAJOR EFFECTSA very characteristic effect of marijuana intoxication is "My sense of touch is more exciting, more sensual, when stoned" (4%, 9%, 21%, 31%, 34%), which occurs at the lower-middle levels of intoxication (9%, 35%, 37%, 9%, 3%). Meditators experience this at a lower level (p <.01, overall).
A variant of this effect, also characteristic, is "Touch sensations take on new qualities that they don't have when straight" (5%, 9%, 30%, 30%, 25%), with the minimal necessary level of intoxication again being primarily in the Fairly and Strongly range (9%, 37%, 30%, 13%, 4%). Meditators show a lower and more variable level of intoxication for this (p <.05, overall).
Two linked common phenomena help to specify these new touch qualities: "Some surfaces feel much smoother, silkier than when straight" (11%, 10%, 39%, 25%, 13%), and "Some surfaces feel much rougher, more irregular than when straight; the roughness or graininess forms interesting patterns" (14%, 13%, 37%, 25%, 11%), which are reported with essentially the same frequency. The minimal level of intoxication for both is the Fairly-Strongly range (5%, 36%, 31%, 9%, 3% and 5%, 29%, 31%, 13%, 3%, respectively). The College-educated experience increased roughness more frequently than the Professionals (p <.01), and the College-educated need to be somewhat more intoxicated to experience either smoothness (p <.05) or roughness (p <.01).
Tactual ImageryAn enhancement of tactual imagery is common: "I can experience vivid tactual imagery, imagine what things feel like and feel their texture very vividly in my mind" (19%, 20%, 27%, 24%, 9%). Heavy Total users experience this most often, Moderate Total users next most often, and Light Total users least (p <.05, overall). This effect occurs at Strong levels of intoxication (3%, 19%, 31%, 17%, 7%).
TemperatureA sense ordinarily included with touch is temperature. A common effect is "The temperature of things, their warmth or coldness, takes on new qualities." (19%, 12%, 32%, 25%, 12%), which occurs in the middle ranges of intoxication (3%, 21%, 35%, 16%, 3%). This is reported more frequently by the College-educated than by Professionals (p <.01).
WeightAnother common effect closely related to touch is the kinesthetic sense of the weight of objects: "Objects seem heavier, more massive, when I lift them when stoned" (21%, 21%, 29%, 15%, 11%). The opposite effect, "Objects seem lighter, less massive, when I lift them" (31%, 30%, 24%, 5%, 3%) is infrequent, as shown in Figure 8-1 (p <.001). The modal levels of minimal intoxication for both effects are Fairly to Strongly, and do not differ from one another (7%, 26%, 25%, 15%, 1% and 5%, 17%, 22%, 12%, 3%, respectively), although many (41 percent) users did not rate the level on objects seeming lighter.
Women and Non-users of Psychedelics experience increased massiveness of objects somewhat more frequently than men and Users (p <.05 for each comparison). The Professionals need to be somewhat more intoxicated than the College-educated to experience this increased heaviness (p <.05).
ADDITIONAL EFFECTS"Touch becomes more erotic with friends than usual" (Sometimes, Strongly).
"Sensation increases with amount and then becomes less pleasurable and more physically objectionable" (Usually, Just).
"When I am starting to get stoned, I feel a tingling at the end of my fingertips" (Usually, Strongly).
"Touching of objects and areas (walls, etc.) with eyes closed brings many enjoyable and fantastic experiences to my mind" (Usually, Strongly).
"When being touched, I feel that figures are being described in space rather than 'on' my skin" (Sometimes, Fairly).
"My skin feels exceptionally sensitive" (Usually, Fairly).
"Much prefer hot weather to cold, since cold is especially uncomfortable when stoned" (Very Often, Strongly).
LEVELS OF INTOXICATION FOR TOUCH PHENOMENAAll the effects of marijuana intoxication on touch may occur in the Fairly to Strongly range, with no significant differences between the two adjacent levels, so they are not plotted.
MODULATING FACTORSThe relatively linear effects of several background factors are summarized in Table 8-1.
MAJOR EFFECTSThe second most characteristic quality of marijuana intoxication is "Taste sensations take on new qualities that they don't have when straight" (3%, 3%, 15%, 29%, 49%). This occurs at Low levels of intoxication (17%, 49%, 22%, 5%, 1%). Not too surprisingly, then, an extremely characteristic effect of marijuana is "I enjoy eating very much and eat a lot" (1%, 5%, 18%, 31%, 44%), which also occurs at low intoxication levels (22%, 44%, 26%, 4%, 1%). Users of Psychedelics report this as occurring less frequently than Non-users (p <.05).
Taste ImageryAs with other senses, sensory imagery is a common experience (15%, 15%, 37%, 17%, 16%): "If I try to imagine what something tastes like, I can do so very vividly" occurs at Moderate minimal levels of intoxication (11%, 31%, 29%, 11%, 1%), with Meditators reporting this less frequently than Ordinary Users or the Therapy and Growth group (p <.05, overall). Users of Psychedelics and Meditators do not have to be as intoxicated for this experience (p <.05 in each case).
SweetsThe data confirm a popular belief that marijuana smokers like sweets: "I crave sweet things to eat, things like chocolate, more than other foods" is a common effect (16%, 26%, 25%, 15%, 17%), which occurs at Low levels of intoxication (11%, 41%, 23%, 5%, 0%). The Light and Heavy Total users peak sharply at Fairly/Strongly on level of intoxication here, while the Moderate Total users are more variable (p <.05).
Components of TasteA fairly frequent effect is "Tastes become divided into several components, instead of an overall taste. E.g., a bite of bread may taste salty on one part of your tongue and sour on another part at the same time" (43%, 15%, 25%, 11%, 5%). Although many (47 percent) users did not rate this for level, it is an effect occurring at fairly strong levels (3%, 12%, 20%, 15%, 3%). It is interesting to raise the question whether this is an actual perception of the several discrete tasting organs in the mouth functioning separately instead of their usual blending together, or whether it is imagery added to taste sensations.
Miscellaneous Taste PhenomenaAn infrequent phenomenon is "There is an exceptionally long time delay between starting to chew food and the time the taste actually reaches my consciousness" (49%, 18%, 15%, 10%, 3%), which occurs at Strong levels of intoxication (1%, 11%, 19%, 13%, 3%, noting that 55 percent did not rate this). This delay is more frequent among Non-users of Psychedelics (p <.01). We may be dealing more with a time phenomenon than a taste one here, perhaps a differential delay between "outside" sensory input (taste) and internal feedback of what the body is doing (chewing).
Because it has frequently been noted that marijuana produces dryness of the mouth, the item "I salivate quite a lot when stoned" was included in the questionnaire as a Validity Scale item. As it may be that some users do indeed salivate a lot, however, the data on it are presented here for what they are worth to future investigators. This effect is infrequent (44%, 30%, 13%, 5%, 5%) and rated at Moderate levels (10%, 17%, 17%, 3%, 2%, with 51 percent not rating). Light and Moderate Total users have Never as their modal frequency of occurrence, with Heavy Total users having Rarely/Sometimes as the mode (p <.01, overall). A question to consider, then, is: Does long, heavy marijuana use alter the dryness usually considered an invariable physiological effect?
The final phenomenon of taste investigated is also infrequent: "If I belch, I retaste the food in my stomach, and it tastes very good" (51%, 17%, 15%, 6%, 3%). It also occurs at Moderate levels of intoxication (8%, 15%, 11%, 3%, 1%). It occurs more often with Heavy Total users (p <.05, overall) and with Meditators (p <.01, overall).
ADDITIONAL EFFECTS"When eating, the texture and temperature are important" (Texture: Very Often, Strongly; Temperature: Very Often, Fairly).
"Throat dry and special taste that lingers (I don't think it's the taste of grass, but rather the sense of taste when stoned: most foods taste the same, anyway, when stoned)" (Usually, Fairly).
"Want to have cigarette (tobacco), but don't enjoy it" (Usually, Strongly).
LEVELS OF INTOXICATION FOR TASTE PHENOMENAFigure 8-2 shows various taste phenomena by level of intoxication. Overall differences are highly significant (p << .0005). Starting at the Fairly intoxicated level, there is an enhancement of taste and increase in appetite. Somewhat higher, taste imagery may be enhanced. Above that there may be a time delay between chewing and tasting, and at the level midway between Strongly and Very Strongly tastes may break into components.
MODULATING FACTORSThe background factors having relatively linear effects are summarized in Table 8-2, namely, Drug Experience and Meditation. Both those with more drug experience and Meditators would seem to be more involved with tasting and eating generally.
A craving for sweet things in preference to other foods is common but affected by total marijuana use in a non-linear fashion; Light and Heavy Total users both indicate Fairly/Strongly as a modal level of intoxication for this, but the Moderate use group, while also having a mode at Fairly/Strongly, also frequently indicates Just and Maximum as minimal levels for experiencing this.
SUMMARY OF TASTE EFFECTSIn general, we may say that the main perceived effect of marijuana on taste is enhancement of taste qualities and (a consequent?) increase in appetite. As one informant put it, "On pot every man becomes a gourmet; good food tastes remarkably good, crappy food is awful!" This effect might be put to practical medical use where a patient is seriously underweight.
MAJOR EFFECTSAlthough smell is a relatively neglected sense in modern man, some alterations in smell sensations are reported by marijuana users.
A common experience is "Smells become much richer and more unique when stoned" (13%, 17%, 35%, 23%, 12%), which occurs at Moderate levels of intoxication (5%, 30%, 33%, 14%, 3%). This occurs more frequently among Heavy Total users of marijuana and Users of Psychedelics than among Light or Moderate Total users (p <.05, overall) or Non-users of Psychedelics (p <.05).
An almost synonymous common experience is "Smell sensations take on new qualities that they don't have when straight" (15%, 13%, 45%, 15%, 11%), which also occurs at Moderate levels (3%, 31%, 33%, 17% 1%). This also occurs more frequently among Heavy Total users of marijuana (p <.05, overall).
Smell ImagerySmell imagery enhancement is fairly frequent: "If I try to imagine what something smells like, I can do so much more vividly than when straight" (31%, 24%, 29%, 7%, 5%), which occurs at Strong levels of intoxication (3%, 18%, 25%, 13%, 3%).
Smell ComponentsA rare effect is "When I smell something, different components of the smell seem to register at different physical locations in my nose" (61%, 23%, 9%, 1%, 1%), which occurs at higher levels of intoxication (1%, 7%, 8%, 11%, 3%, with 69 percent not rating). It is interesting to compare this with the experience of taste being broken down into different locations in the mouth (see page 83); this is done in Figure 8-3. This effect occurs more frequently with taste than smell (p <.001), but levels of intoxication do not differ significantly.
LEVELS OF INTOXICATION FOR SMELL PHENOMENAIntoxication levels for olfactory phenomena all run from midway between Fairly/Strongly to midway between Strongly/Very Strongly, with the differences in levels not significant.
The two qualities of smell alteration affected by background factors are smells' becoming more unique and richer, and smells' taking on new qualities, both of which occur more frequently among users with more drug experience.
SUMMARY OF SMELL EFFECTSIn general, the main perceived effect of marijuana intoxication on the sense of smell is an experiential enhancement, making smells richer and more unique.
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