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20/04/2008 00:00:00

10 Things You Didn't Know About Marijuana



USA -- Sunday is April 20, known to marijuana users as “4/20,” a counterculture holiday recognizing America’s most commonly used illegal drug. The number “420” is code for marijuana, and was most likely invented in the 1970s at San Rafael High School in Marin County, Calif., where a group of students known as the Waldos met at 4:20 p.m. to light up.

A dime bag’s worth of other marijuana facts:

1. In 19th century Nepal, the marijuana harvest was performed by men who ran naked through fields of flowering plants and then had the sticky resin scraped off their bodies and formed into bricks of hashish.

2. Marijuana is known for its mellowing effect, but it has fueled many warriors in history. The word “assassin” is believed to come from the hashish taken a millennium ago by Arab killers (called “hashshashin” or “hashish eaters”), though some historians doubt they were under the influence while on their missions.

3. Louisa May Alcott, author of “Little Women,” w short story called “Perilous Play” about marijuana. In it, a character declares, “If someone does not propose a new and interesting amusement, I shall die of ennui!” Another character produces a box of hashish-laced bonbons, and hedonism ensues.

4. Around 1900, the U.S. government briefly grew marijuana along a stretch of the Potomac River to study the plant’s medicinal value. Today, a more potent plant has risen on that site: the Pentagon.

5. A white Chicago jazz musician named Milton “Mezz” Mezzrow moved to Harlem in 1929, declared himself a “voluntary Negro,” and began selling marijuana. Known as “The Man Who Hipped the World” and “The Link Between the Races,” Mezzrow sold fat joints called mezzrolls. Soon a new piece of Harlem slang emerged: Something genuine was described as “mezz.”

6. Marijuana interferes with short-term memory so that users forget what they just said or did. Not only that, marijuana interferes with short-term memory so that users forget what they just said or did.

7. Before Congress voted to ban marijuana in 1937, the birdseed industry got the bill amended to exempt marijuana seeds (known as hemp seeds) as long as they were sterilized and could not be used to grow plants. An industry spokesman denied that the seeds made birds high, but an ardent marijuana foe, Dr. Victor Robinson, had previously written that the seeds had caused birds to “dream of a happy birdland where there are no gilded cages, and where the men are gunless and the women hatless.”

8. Billy Carter, the late brother of former President Jimmy Carter, believed the illegality of marijuana was part of its attraction. “Marijuana is like Coors beer,” he said. “If you could buy the damn stuff at a Georgia filling station, you’d decide you wouldn’t want it.”

9. One of the least typical supporters of the decriminalization of marijuana was conservative icon William F. Buckley, who died in February. Buckley once sailed his yacht into international so that he could smoke pot without breaking U.S. laws.

10. Bill Clinton said famously that he smoked marijuana but “didn’t inhale.” President Bush has never admitted taking the drug, but his drug use was strongly suggested in recorded conversations between him and a friend — the interestingly named Doug Wead. Only one of the three 2008 contenders is an admitted ex-doper.

Barack Obama has said, “When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point.”

Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Author: Mark Jacob, Chicago Tribune
Published: April 20, 2008
Copyright: 2008 Chicago Tribune Company



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