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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Marihuana Reconsidered.

Grinspoon, Lester. (1971).
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

ISBN: 674-54835-3

Description: First edition, 443 pages.

Contents: Preface, acknowledgments, introduction, 13 chapters, abbreviations, selected bibliography, index.

Note: Good bibliography and chapter notes.

Excerpt(s): Cannabis has a long history of ceremonial use in religion in some primitive tribes of Africa and South America, as well as in India, where legal restrictions do not necessitate concealment and where cannabis is still used to a considerable degree as an indigenous medicine. ... In North America there is no recognized religious practice that makes ceremonial use of cannabis. The primary psychoactive drug widely used as an integral part of religious expression in the United States is alcohol. (pages 173-174)

One surprising piece of evidence for this theory comes from the Dutch Biblical scholar C. Creighton, who argues that cannabis, although never mentioned directly, is implicitly referred to in a number of passages of the Old Testament. This hypothesis was suggested to him by the guess that the "grass" which Nebuchadnezzar ate was in fact hashish, or at least some form of cannabis, and because the Arabian word for "grass" was the same as the word for "cannabis": "hashish." Creighton suggests that Saul's madness, Jonathan's and Samson's strength, and especially the first chapter of Ezekiel, which does sound like a description of an intense cannabis intoxication-an almost psychedelic experience-are all to be explained by the use of cannabis. (page 297)

Given the fact that large segments of any population will use psychoactive drugs and given the psychoactive drugs presently available, marihuana is among the least dangerous. A fortiori, we must consider the enormous harm, both obvious and subtle, short-range and long-term, inflicted on the people, particularly the young, who constitute or will constitute the formative and critical members of our society by the present punitive, repressive approach to the use of marihuana. And we must consider the damage inflicted on legal and other institutions when young people react to what they see as a confirmation of their view that those institutions are hypocritical and inequitable. Indeed, the greatest potential for social harm lies in the scarring of so many young people and the reactive, institutional damages that are direct products of present marihuana laws. If we are to avoid having this harm reach the proportions of a real national disaster within the next decade, we must move to make the social use of marihuana legal. (page 371, last page)

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