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July 14, 2005

A fifteen year old paper

A fifteen year old paper

By Dr. Tom O'Connell
As stated earlier, it's precisely because the information gathered by systematically interviewing cannabis applicants in California enables conclusions that clearly explain the historical evolution of pot's illegal market, are so internally consistent, and, at the same time, so contrary to the improbable assertions of our failing, destructive national policy that I consider it a duty to report them in their in their present incomplete form. I didn't hold that opinion as recently as a year ago; for one thing, I didn't have enough data to come to the necessary conclusions; for another, it was the obvious denial of reality by many "reformers" which finally convinced me.

"Publish your results in a peer-reviewed journal," they tell me; until then (follows the damning unspoken corollary): "we don't even want to hear about them- let alone consider their implications." That "logic" in the face of an organized state-wide campaign to restrict dispensaries because of the "able bodied young men" seen "hanging around" them suggested to me that "organized reform" (as classic an oxymoron as "military intelligence") had gone seriously astray in its defense of a belief about pot use which- although less limiting than that of the federal government- is just as lacking in supporting evidence.

There are other reasons:
1) I have now done enough reading of the relevant literature to understand how thoroughly it has been compromised by current drug policy. Ditto, the psychiatric literature by DSM nosology (system of nomenclature).

2) While what I have learned (and am still learning) about the chronic use of cannabis in contemporary America is important; perhaps the most important lesson to be gleaned from my study is the degree to which our scientific institutions have already been insidiously compromised by the war on drugs.

Nevertheless, I was very excited by a fifteen year old paper just discovered yesterday (by pure serendipity) on Cliff Schaffer's web Site:


May 1990 * American Psychologist * 612

Adolescent Drug Use and Psychological Health

A Longitudinal Inquiry

Jonathan Shedler and Jack Block
University of California Berkeley
ABSTRACT: The relation between psychological characteristics and drug use was investigated in subjects studied longitudinally, from preschool through age 18. Adolescents who had engaged in some drug experimentation (primarily with marijuana) were the best-adjusted in the sample. Adolescents who used drugs frequently were maladjusted, showing a distinct personality syndrome marked by interpersonal alienation, poor impulse control, and manifest emotional distress. Adolescents who, by age 18, had never experimented with any drug were relatively anxious, emotionally constricted, and lacking in social skills.

Psychological differences between frequent drug users, experimenters, and abstainers could be traced to the earliest years of childhood and related to the quality of parenting received. The findings indicate that (a) problem drug use is a symptom, not a cause, of personal and social maladjustment, and (b) the meaning of drug use can be understood only in the context of an individual's personality structure and developmental history. It is suggested that current efforts at drug prevention are misguided to the extent that they focus on symptoms, rather than on the psychological syndrome underlying drug abuse.

My next post will explain- to those who still require it- how this amazing study foreshadowed what I would be learning from chronic pot smokers over ten years later.

Dr. Tom

Posted by tjeffo at July 14, 2005 04:20 AM