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Reports - The Problem of Cannabis

As explained in detail, with many examples on an earlier occasion,(50)the writer has no doubt that such a relation exists in many countries. Further affirmative views, based on facts, have been expressed by Fraser, Giulia, Rosies Orozco and Martinez, Gomez ,as well as by Warnock, as mentioned in the last chapter.

Recently, M. J. Pescor of the United States Public Health Service, recognized for his investigations on drug addiction, referred in a short review to the "consideral controversy about the effects of marihuana". Whereas, in general, investigators in the United States of America regard marihuana smoking an a relatively innocuous vice, he adds that "it releases inhibitions which may account fofr the commission of crimes or the development of mental disturbahces in certain pre—disposed Individuals". This statement, which in the opinion of the writer is correct, seems to contradict seriously those who "are inclined to minimize the importance of smoking marihuana".

Pescor adds, however, that many law enforcement officers (also in the USA, the writer believes) and scientific investigators, principally from countries other than the USA, "are fully convinced that the use of marihuana is an evil practice dangerous to the individual as well as society. At least it deprives the individual of good judgment, leading him to commit various antisocial acts. At the worst it drives him to orgiastic sexuality, brutal assault, murder, and eventual insanity".

Pescor also indicates the following factors which perhaps may account for the differences of opinion: cannabis in the States is generally not as potent as that .obtained in other parts of the world; addicts in the USA smoke it diluted with a considerable amount of air, which would mean a very small dosage compared to that when it is eaten or drunk (infusions); experimental studies in the USA have been made in a controlled institutional environment where the subjects are not exposed to the same type of stimuli as in their natural environment. This viewpoint thus confirme that expressed previously.(55). He adds further that in the USA the prolonged use of marihua among addicts is exceptional; in the majority of instances, in some parts of the country, it serves as the introductory step to heroin or morphine addict particularly in the case of juveniles. Pescor concludes that there is every reason for not condoning its use, if on no other grounds than its tendency to lure its victims into more serious types of addiction.

Other authors from different countries and continents confirm the above viewpoint.

Gardikas, Head of the Greek Criminal Services, made a thorough study of the relations between hashish and crime Which he communicated to the International Congress of CriMinology, Paris, 1950. He insists that crimes can be committed whether hashish ia taken only once, or habitually.    The smoker thinks he is capable of anything and everything, no task would be too great, no problem too difficult", and there is also a propensity to create imaginary ideas of persecution (paranedac)u. He refers, for instance, to a case judged at Piraeus where five persons werewounded.    They believe that pedestrians in the street laugh at them or are seeking to harm them. Thus the state of intoxication by hashish leads to acts of violence, but also the chronic abuse of hashish leads to the committing of crimes, transforming the personality of an individual and making him lazy, unstable (with consequent vagrancy and theft)) contentious, excitable, suspicious cowardly and fearful. As a result of this cowardice, a fear of being attacked is created; leading to illegal carrying of arms, and assault. The hashish habit leads to crime by another route also, since chronic Ouse of the drug not-only alters the character but also results in serious psychoses of a special nature, viz., incidental states of mental confusion, chronic and prolonged psychosis due to hashish, showing various perplexing psychopathologic symptoms."

The Greek Criminal Service examined from 1919 to 1950, 379 individuals either sentenced or arrested in flurante delicto, for using hashish publicly, namely accidental or habitual hashish takers.. These 379 hashish smokert were divided into, three categories, viz.,

Category A 117 individuals who had neither been sentenced nor arrested for criminal activities prior to their sentence or their arrest for the use of hashish and wino, after they became hashish smokers were repeatedly sentenced for committing crimes, probably mainly due to the use of hashish. 38 of them (32.5%) totalled 322 sentences including - apart from 142 convictions for the use or possession of hashish - 25 for wounds, 38 for illegal assault or attack with firearms, 9 for murder or manslaughter, actual or attempted, etc.    Anothar group of 46,(39.3%) became habitual hashish smokers and habitual criminals, with a strong tendency towards violent crime, particularly assault, but also theft; fraud, etc. A third group of 33 (28.2%) had a propensity for crimes of dishonesty, particularly theft and fraud. About half of the persons belonging to Category L. were characterized as dangerous vagrants.    The 117 individuals of this category received in all 1191 sentences.

Category B 53 indiViduals who had neither been sentenced nor arrested for criminal activities, prior to their conviction for using hashish and who, after they had acquired the habit, were either repeatedly sentenced or arrested for using the drug, for hashish smuggling, or for vagrancy, but not for crimes of any other type, in all 173 sentences.

Category C 209 individuals who were already criminals prior to starting to use hashish, i.e. who had been either sentenced or arrested for various crimes and who war. sentenced or arrested later on for intoxication through hashish.    In 75 of those cases their former criminality was intensified three or four-fold after the acquisition of the hashish habit, narticularly as regards violence and vagrancy as well as the illegal carrying of arms.    These 75 persons, before using hashish, totalled 294 convictions (dishonesty, theft,,etc,„ violence, illegal carrying of arms, vagrancy); after they had made use of hashish they received 1180 sentences.    Of these, 401 were for crimes of dishonesty, 154 for violence, 53 for illegal carrying of arms, 139 for vagrancy, 340 for the use or possession of narcotics.    In 22 of this group, the original strong tendency towards criminality undoulptedly underwent a deviation towards violence and vagrancy.    No particular relation to sex offences was observed: Although in the above study it is not easy to decide to what exter4 thew criminal tendencies were due to constitutional mental inferiority, which even without the use of hashish may lead to crime, it is an important contribution which again. show backed by relatively extensive statistics, the criminogenic influence of the cannabis resin.

In the South African enquiry(43)it is stated that mapy witnesses omphasized dag--a-smoking as a cause of crime, because it breaks down normal inhibitions, and thal it was actually used by criminals before embarking on crime in order to stimulate courage; Also that it excited animal passion. Nhen the individual constitutions . shows anti-social tendencies or aggressiveness, these qualities are accentuated by th drug and may result in crimes, generally crimes of violence."

Washington Llorens, government chemist at San Juan (Puerto Rico), stated that cannabis apparently brings to the surface of the subconscious, vices and tendencies which have been submerged by education and environment, or, in other words, "it unleashes the wild beast which is in all of us'.   

On another occasion (quoted by Jardines Carrirm) he said that the marihuana vice is not restricted to the lower social groups and to people connected with depravity and crime, but extends to All social classes; he insists that with its extension "increase also assaults, crimes, robbery, violent acts without evident causes". "For the police of the island the problem has two aspects of great importance: its close relation with crime, and likewise its close connexion with the violation of street traffic rules and accidents."

In 1951, Esquivel Medina and GonAlez (of Yucatgn, Mexico) repeated their statement of 1938: The action of marihuana in considerably strenthening the particular inclinations of the individual, explains criminal acts, such as the horrifying murders committed by them. The visual hallucinations which it produces lead marihuana smokers to defend themselves against imaginary enemies and therefore to become aggressive.

As a result of information gathered from more than a hundred prisoners, Parreiras is convinced that maconha is a frequent factor in the genesis and development of crime in Brazil, particularly in the north—eastern r egions. "Maconha is, in fact, a criminogenic factor." Because it destroys self—control, man shows his true nature, which is an aggressive one. Under the influence of cannabis, the danger of committinF unpremeditated murder is very great; it can happen in cold blood, without any reason or motive, unexpectedly, without any preceding quarrel; often the murderer does not even know the victim, and kills simply for pleasure.

Parreiras refers to a case in Sergipe, of a man who, under the effect of cannabis, killed his companion and went to his funeral as if nothing had happened.

Eleyson Cardoso mentions the case of a soldier in the State of Part (Brazil) whose conduct had been good but who, after smoking maconha for the first time, entered the house of his captain, in a state of furious delirium, armed with a knife, and tried to kill him, wounding another person in the process.

Clippings from newsnapers from aouth emerican countries which suffer particularly from the consequences of marihuana abuse, and which the writer has been collecting far years, relate time and again the most violent crimes committed under the influence of the drug. Even admitting the somewhat sensational character of some of these reporte their repetition, as well as police statements, show that there must be much truth in them.    It would be easy to draw up long lists of abominable crimes carried out under the influence of cannabis.

Four youths, the youngest 16 years old, robbed and murdered a filling station attendant. The defence admitted that they were so strongly under the influence of marihuana that they did not know what they were doing. The jury refused to accept this as a defence and found them all guilty of murder in the first degree.(46)

A. series of atrocious cases is Aentioned in the impertant book recently published by H. J. Anslinger and W. F. Tompkins, "a few of many cases ... which illustrate the homicidal tendencies and the generally debasing effects arising from the use of marihuana"; for instance, a bellboy shot a federal guard, who was unknown to him, working in another building, not rememtering later what he did; the officers of a merchant vessel were under continuous danger of being attacked by members of the crew using marihuana; murder of a man of 74 years, unknown to the murderer; a cotton-picker of 25 years of age drank, then smoked a "reefer", picked up a 17 months old baby girl which had been left in the family car, violated and suffocated her; "the real criminel in this case is marihuana", said the murderer's awn counsel.

In their very careful study Maurer and Vogel also come to the conclusion that "crimes committed by opiate addicts are likely to be non-violent crimes against property committed by addicts in need of their drug; crimes committed by marihuana users are likely to be committed while under the intoxicating influence of the drue. And further, "marihuana is a potent dis inhibitor which may, by breaking down inhibitions, release the psychopathic personality for criminel Acts; its position as a dix cause of crime is not as yet Dilly evaluated, but it can be dangerous". Dr Vogel was for many years the Medical Officer in charge of the US Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington (Kentucky) for the treatment of drug addicts.

In the above book the present writer is referred to as being "most emphatic" in stating that cannabis can provoke extremely dangerous outbursts of violence. He certainly agrees that this is his opinion end would be glad to know what other proof is demanded by those authors who do not yet believe in this classification of cannabis.

In North Africa and the Middle East, however, the situation seems to be different. Bouquet (Tunis) who has a special knowledge of the conditions in North Africa, stated in his review of the effects, that there were certainly a largo number of petty and also more serious offenders among cannabis addicts, "but very rarely persons guilty of more serious crimes, such as attempted murder".(5) The reason for this difference may be attributed to constituticnel and racial factors,- as explained elsewhere in this study.

Although not connected with violence, the following case illustrates well the psychological effect and danger of marihuana cigarettes used in order to commit a robbery. According to J. Ortiz Velâzquez, Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Antioquia (Colombia)(36)(58)somebody gave a cigarette to the owner of a combine cafe and provision shop. After having smoked the cigarette containing cannabis (a fact he did not know), the shop—owner, under the influence of the drug and in a "state of fantasy or semi—consciousness"„ sold the contents of his shop' in the presence of witnesses for 800 pesos, i.e., for next to nothing, to the person who had given him the cigarette. All the merchandise was immediately removed from the shop which was left completely empty. The next day, the grocer accused the buyer" of swindling him.

Another example: In Pernambuco (Brazil), a woman, a great maconha smoker, explained to Parreiras how this plant is used for robbery. When ships arrive, the sailors are enticed to a certain 'ear where their usual "aromatic" pipe tobacco is a dire replaced by maconha. --When they have smoked a little and had some drink, they return on board, with hallucinations and in a delirious state, after having been robbed beforehand of their wallets and other possessions.