Ira PilgrimIRA'S CORNERFilename:N-program

April 24, 2003 (Ira Pilgrim)


Oh yeah. You can tell when you've oversmoked --when you try and brush something off your shoulder and it's the floor.

Chris Rush

For a while in the 1960s, I lived alone in a small housing development, mostly inhabited by hippies. Marijuana smoking was routine and, while I didn't use the stuff, I sometimes was mildly affected by it by being in a room full of pot smoke. I was not interested in doing anything illegal.

A few years later Dr. Lincoln Clark, a psychiatrist at the University of Utah Medical School. asked for volunteers to take part in a study on the effects of marijuana. I was curious about its effects, so I volunteered. One of the conditions was that I was not to operate a motor vehicle for 48 hours after the experiment.

I was run through a battery of psychological tests, the purposes of which I did not understand at the time. I was then given a shot glass containing a brown liquid. I was told that it was an extract of marijuana and the reason for doing it that way was so that the dose could be controlled, which was not possible with smoking. After a suitable interval, during which I became progressively drunker (Stoned is the proper word, but it felt about the same to me as when I imbibed a lot of alcohol), I was run through the same battery of tests that I had been given before and asked some questions. I enjoyed the experience in much the same way as I enjoyed being drunk on alcohol. It didn't seem very different to me. I recall one test that was very different. I looked through a stereopticon viewer at a scale that was numbered from 1 to 10 and had a pointer that appeared to be fixed in one place on a horizontal scale. I was asked where the pointer was and I replied that it was at 6.2, or something to that effect. Under the influence of the marijuana, I just laughed when I looked at the scale, because the pointer, which I knew was fixed, just wouldn't stand still. The pointer seemed to move at random all over the scale. I found out later that my sense of time was also severely distorted so that what actually took a short while, seemed much longer (or shorter; I don't remember which).

My wife picked me up and drove me home. I felt very potted and enjoyed the feeling. I was very glad that my wife was driving because I was flying pretty high. I did not enjoy the next day, when I had the great granddaddy of all hangovers. This is not supposed to happen with pot. So much for one marijuana myth that states that, in contrast to alcohol, there is no hangover with marijuana. I was told later that I had been given the dose that it usually takes to get someone stoned. It was not, as I had thought, an extra large dose. I guess that I am more susceptible to the effects of the drug than most people.

Another marijuana myth is that it is safe to drive under the influence of marijuana. That myth that it is safe to drive while under the influence of marijuana might also lead some marijuana smokers, as well as non-smokers, to a premature death.

There are a lot of things that can make a driver unsafe besides booze and pot. Many prescription drugs affect perception. A major cause of automobile accidents is the driver being tired or distracted by a number of things, including business, marriage, or something being said on the radio.

If you hope to live to a ripe old age and don't want to kill anyone, the only rational thing to do is not to drive unless you are in complete control of your faculties and your vehicle.

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