Thursday, June 05, 2008

A very brief recounting of…uh…oh! yeah! Competing marijuana stories…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 12:42 PM Permalink

From the comes the results of a recent study:
…Murat Yucel at the University of Melbourne in Australia and his colleagues did brain scans on 15 men who were big-time pot heads, meaning they smoked at least five joints a day for more than a decade. The researchers compared them to 16 similar men who did not smoke pot.

The scans revealed some striking differences in the brains of the pot smokers, according to a paper in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. A part of their brains known as the hippocampus, which regulates emotion and memory, was about 12 percent smaller on average. Their amygdalas, which is involved in fear and aggression, was about 7 percent more miniscule.

When the researchers tested the subjects' thinking and emotions, they found the pot smokers had more trouble remembering words. In fact, even though they were only pushing 40 on average, their verbal memories were more like men in their 50s and 60s. And about half of the cannabis-users reported experiencing some form of paranoia and social withdrawal, compared to only one of the non-users. The more pot the subjects smoked the more likely they were to show these signs.

The study involved men who smoked a lot of pot, and the findings may not hold true for moderate or occasional users.
Now, for contrast and your amusement is a study of American Chief of Pot, Richard Nixon.
What got Richard Nixon along so well, and what helped him maintain his stamina through year after year of public life, was his policy of never smoking marijuana more than once a day. It was, as Nixon once related in his memoirs, a policy of prudence. "You will always be chasing that initial high," he was once quoted as saying. "Yet for all the subsequent times in a day when you may reload your pipe, you will never again reach that lofty feeling of elation. No, you will only succeed in compounding your fatigue." There is much truth in what Nixon wrote, and it bears up to historical scrutiny.

Nixon's veteran "pothead" status is unassailable. But more importantly, the logic of his regimen becomes apparent when one studies the 30-odd years in which he held elected office. "I'm not the kind of fellow who wakes up in the morning and reaches for the pipe," Nixon said in a 1982 interview. "I've got too much to do and too little time." It seemed prudent to him, he liked to say, to get through his day, get his work done, and only then, when he was safely ensconced in the privacy of his own home, smoke "a few puffs" from his pipe. It was a routine that any hard-working California boy worth his salt would follow.

Not enough has been made of Nixon's California roots, or of his "West Coast White House" in San Clemente, California that kept him close to the fragrant sensimilla he so cherished in his private life. In a section from his completed memoirs (later deleted at his publisher's insistence), he wrote: "There was no day so dark for me, so unflinchingly forged in the black hell of permanent midnight as August 9, 1974 [the day he resigned the Presidency]. But there could be no mistaking the serenity to be offered when Air Force One would finally touch down in California and I would be home. Ahh, sweet home it would be, and finally a blissful, stoned escape from every prying eye, and every hounding accusitor."[…]

In 1971, while still in his first term of office, Nixon met with singer Elvis Presley during a brief Oval Office ceremony. The occasion was Nixon's presenting Presley with an honorary U.S. Marshall's badge, something the aging rock 'n roll legend was strangely eager to obtain. The two sat down for a closed-door Oval Office meeting that White House aide Robert Haldeman recalls as "friendly and cordial." Though Nixon was neither a Presley fan nor a great enthusiast for rock 'n roll (which he often termed "one long clanging noise"), he could not resist the chance to study such a popular celebrity up close.

But it was Presley's own, blatant drug use that seems to have disarmed the President. Accounts of the meeting all make uniform mention of Presley consuming prescription tranquilizers within minutes of taking a seat in the Oval Office. Nixon reportedly said nothing as Presley first asked for a glass of water and then, when handed a small tumbler of ice water, proceeded to swallow two Mandrax tablets with a single gulp of water. Nixon continued speaking and then Presley, apparently emboldened by the apathetic reception of his pill-taking, produced a small bag of "grass" from a jacket pocket.

It was a moment that may have caused some discomfort for those present, but Nixon simply glanced at the bag and asked Presley if he had seen evidence of the "growing unrest among young people today." Presley's response has not been preserved in the minutes of the meeting, but it is known that he then proceeded to roll a marijuana cigarette, which he shared with the President. No mention of the incident was made at the time, and it was deemed a "bogus rumor" until Press Secretary Ziegler recently confirmed it during the taping of a PBS documentary interview. But tangible proof of the Oval Office smoking session remains, forever preserved in the black-and-white photograph snapped to commemorate the occasion.

A glassy-eyed Presley is seen accepting a framed certificate from a smiling, exuberant Richard Nixon, one of the few times that the troubled President would be seen so clearly enjoying the trappings of public office.
Is it better to have a pothead president running the country or not?

Granted Nixon brought much grief to the country with Watergate, but he had a lot of accomplices giving him much very bad advice. And I, for one, will never believe they would have planned such evil deeds if they had been stoned.

But wow! Imagine gettin' down and partying with Elvis in the Oval Office! Way cool, although somehow I can't picture any of the current rethugs gettin' down on anything but men met anonymously in airport men' rooms.

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