Chapter

The Therapeutic Potential Of Marihuana

pp 255-269

Subjective Benefits and Drawbacks of Marihuana and Alcohol

  • Walton T. RothAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of MedicineVeterans Administration Hospital
  • , Jared R. TinklenbergAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of MedicineVeterans Administration Hospital
  • , Bert S. KopellAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of MedicineVeterans Administration Hospital

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Abstract

How can the broader spectrum of drug action be assessed in a way to determine the valence of effects of these agents from the standpoint of the user? We report here findings from a questionnaire that enumerated some of the reputed benefits and drawbacks of marihuana and alcohol and asked users which of these they agreed with, based on their own experience. This method is extremely naive in a sense, since behaviorists and psychoanalysts alike agree that it is futile to ask people why they do things. One reason is that what they say in different situations is often inconsistent. For example, there is evidence that people report their moods as more positive when they know the experimenter is trying to evaluate the effects of marihuana cigarettes smoked half an hour before (Mendelson, Rossi and Meyer, 1974), as compared to mood reports when the subject is unaware of the experimenter’s purpose. Even if people could give an accurate account of why they like things while unintoxicated, both marihuana (Darley, Tinklenberg, Roth, Hollister and Atkinson, 1973) and alcohol (Overton, 1972) distort the memory of what happened during intoxication. For example, alcoholics persist in saying that they expect alcohol to relieve feelings of anxiety and depression, while both of these moods are actually increased during experimental intoxication of alcoholics (Mello, 1972).