1975: There was a public hoo-ha when details of Dr. Harris Rubin's planned "marijuana sex study" leaked to the press. As described in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Dec 7, 1975):
Harris Rubin, a university psychologist, has proposed a $121,000, two-year, federally financed investigation. He plans to pay adult male volunteers $20 a session to smoke Government-supplied marijuana and watch erotic films while an electronic device attached to their genitals monitors physical reactions. Rubin hopes to learn whether the drug enhances or inhibits sexual activity.
The New Scientist noted that, despite the moral outrage, the purpose of the study was actually to generate anti-marijuana propaganda by demonstrating that marijuana inhibits sexual response. At least, that was the anticipated result. But the experiment was never conducted.
Dr. Harris Rubin of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine at Carbondale
Both the subject and the methodology of Rubin's study were catnip to the media. Rubin and his colleagues planned to encircle the penis of each volunteer with a strain gauge transducer and then show him erotic pictures; any resultant engorgement of the member would be accurately measured and recorded. By conducting the experiment with two groups, one given either alcohol or marijuana and the other nothing, Rubin would be able to determine whether either drug increased or decreased sexual arousal, and to what extent.
On July 18, the Bloomington, Illinois, Daily Pantagraph, which had somehow become aware of the study, ran an article about it, and from then on Rubin's project was in trouble. Newspapers in Illinois, St. Louis, Washington, Chicago, and many other cities ran stories about what quickly became known as the "sex-pot study" or "pot-sex study," a topic so interesting that they ran follow-up stories about it for many months. Displaying suitable outrage, the Christian Citizens Lobby, Illinois governor Daniel Walker, a federal prosecutor, and various Illinois state officials all denounced the study, calling it "disgusing," "pornography," "obscene," and "garbage," and threatening to take action against Rubin.
This was mere growling and snapping, but Congress had the teeth wherewith to bite. Senators William Proxmire and Thomas Eagleton, Democrats but sexual conservatives, attacked it, as did Representative Robert Michel, the ranking Republican member of the House Appropriations subcommittee. Although the secretary of HEW and the president's National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse defended and supported the project, Michel sought to prevent NIDA from funding the Rubin study by tucking an amendment to that effect in the $12.7 billion-dollar 1976 Supplemental Appropriations Bill for HEW, and Senators Proxmire and Warren Magnuson inserted a similar provision into the Senate's version of the bill. The funding of HEW was so crucial to the national well-being that both houses passed the bill with the anti-Rubin provision intact. President Ford signed it into law on May 31, 1976, keeping the vast Social Security system, NIH, and other essential endeavors going—and cutting off Rubin's minuscule funding and putting an end to his research. Rubin had already gathered the alcohol data and he eventually published his results, but the marijuana study died a-borning.
Back in the late 1970s, Dr. Lowell Somers, chief of staff at Redbud Community Hospital, made headlines by claiming to have discovered that cocaine could cure arthritis. Somers explained that he discovered this by observing his identical twin cousins, Chuck and Rick. Chuck had arthritis, but Rick didn't. And Rick was a cocaine user, while Chuck wasn't.
Somers said he had successfully treated a dozen rheumatoid patients with cocaine. His procedure:
Somers' patients take the powder by sniffing it through a straw or chewing it on a piece of cotton. They take about four doses of 100 milligrams each day, but the frequency is later reduced.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Apr 13, 1979
It didn't take long for authorities to shut him down, which they did by charging that he was addicted to demerol and cocaine, and revoking his medical license. I guess he was taking the cure himself. Some info from The Oklahoman:
The California licensing board told The Oklahoman... that Somers was placed on probation in 1980 for addiction to demerol and cocaine; that he later was paroled but was placed on probation again in 1984 for 10 years for violating terms of that probation. A complaint signed by the California agency chairman states that Somers was examined by psychiatrists and found to be suffering from a psychosis; that he treated patients with a mixture of cocaine and hydrochloride and that he "manifested a sincere belief in the value of his treatments with cocaine."
This sidestepped the issue of whether he may actually have been right about the medical benefit of cocaine for people with arthritis. It doesn't seem entirely implausible to me.
On the other hand, there's quite a bit of literature about the potential medical benefits of coca leaves, which people have been consuming in South America for thousands of years. Although coca leaves are a far cry from the pure cocaine Somers was using.
Released in 1977, the album Pythagoron consisted of electronic sounds that supposedly stimulated certain brain waves, thereby allowing the listener to get high, without the use of drugs. The Hum blog offers more details:
While obscure, Pythagoron’s sole LP – a distillation of fine art, drug culture, high New Age thinking, and musical Minimalism, is a near perfect image of the outer reaches of its era. Privately issued in 1977 – sold via advertisements in High Times, the album’s origins are mysterious – thought to be a product of USCO (The Company Of Us), one of the earliest multimedia art collectives based in New York – pioneers in the field of immersive sound and light environments...
The album is intended to get the listener high – the aural mirror to Brion Gysin’s Dream Machines, and the step beyond La Monte Young. Capitalizing on the the tonal precision allowed by synthesizers – it attempts to harness the resonant interaction of sound and brainwave patterns to induce states of euphoria – the precursor of more recent efforts in binaural beats and neural oscillation.
1938: Dr. James Clyde Munch described to his students at Temple University what happened when he smoked "a handful of reefers" as an experiment.
He crawled into a bottle of ink, stayed there 200 years, took a peep over the bottle's neck, ducked back and wrote a book about what he saw. When the book was done, he popped out of the inkwell, shook his wings, flew around the world seven times.
I'm thinking there may have been something more than just marijuana in those cigarettes.
Time - Apr 11, 1938
Munch liked his story about the disorienting effects of marijuana so much that he repeated it at several criminal trials.
1983: Reports of a bizarre new way of getting high surfaced in the small town of Grants, New Mexico.
addicts who can't afford more conventional narcotics are getting high by sniffing gilded infants painted gold or silver, police believe... [Police chief] Thurber said that during recent drug raids his men got word "on the street" of the practice of painting babies and passing the glistening infants around to be sniffed to get high.
Miami Herald - Feb 11, 1983
Six years later, the Weeky World News reported that this strange practice had spread to France. But since the WWN is the only source I can find about this later outbreak, I'd take it with a grain of salt.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.