The definition of the situation of marijuana intoxication : An exploration

Date

1975

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Abstract

Marijuana use among members of the middle class is a phenomenon of growing social consequence. There is, however, very little in the literature on marijuana beyond anecdotal accounts that deal with the subjective effects or the experiential aspect of marijuana intoxication. To experience the constellation of subjective effects, that is, the reorganization of mental functioning and the accompanying changes in experience and behavior, is the impetus for using the drug. Thus, the focus of this study is to tap systematically the inter-subjective definition of the situation of marijuana intoxication held and used by experienced marijuana users, for it is assumed that there is great transpersonal commonality in the experience of this state of consciousness. Differences in the experience are examined as well on the basis of three classes of variables: (1) demographic variables; (2) self perception; (3) drug utilization. Because the effects of marijuana are primarily potential effects, effects which depend on a wide range of non-drug factors for their manifestation, and not simple physiological effects of the chemical itself, a state-specific approach in the natural setting was chosen to carry out the investigation of the user's definition of his state of consciousness when intoxicated. It was hoped that this would optimize the potential effects and thus afford a more valid picture of the marijuana state. Thirty-three experienced marijuana users (19 males and 14 females) between the ages of 21 and 30 residing in the Houston area served as subjects in this research. Length of use of marijuana varied from 2 to 10 years, and frequency of use was from occassional to daily. All but two were either in college at the time or were college educated, and most planned professional or semi-professional careers. These individuals, then, are not "drop outs" but participators in mainstream middle class society. The definition of the state of marijuana intoxication, as related by these users, unfolds in stages or levels of intoxication. At low levels certain characteristic effects are recognized by the user signaling him that he is beginning to get "high." This is followed by a state of general enhancement of sensory perception, interaction, thought, emotions and the ego. The user then experiences feelings of openness and lowered inhibitions followed by more profound alterations in perception, interaction and thought processes as higher levels are reached. At the highest levels of intoxication, the user turns inward and may enter a receptive, non-manipulative state of unitary consciousness.

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Drug use

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