IT/143Page9 JHORT1 WHY DID THE AMERICAN WOMEN'S LIB Movement go moribund for a period in mid 1970?The answer may lie in the varied career of T. Grace Atkinson, prominent in the movement back in the Cavern days, but later ostracised through personality difficulties. Out in the politi- cal wilderness T. Grace decided to make her own way. She found the means to it when she met an elderly Italian night- cleaner who had been unjustly sacked from her job. Rightly surmising where the power is in New York T.Grace went to see Joe Columbo, the then head of the Mafia. Columbo was moved by the night- cleaner's plight, and got her her job back within 24 hours. Joe was also moved by T.G.A. and the rough tough mafia hood and the intense fiery women's rights champion found a strange fascination ¦with each other. The scene moves on to Central Park New York, in the summer of 1970. While speaking to a crowd of 50,000, Columbo was gunned down with near fatal head wounds. Elsewhere in New York, representatives of various nation- wide women's groups were discussing the role of violence in their movement, and how it could be used:' The door crashed open. T. Grace Atkinson stood there, dressed in black, with a rolled up poster under her arm. Amid dead silence she marched to the front of the room. "What do you bitches know about violence," she screamed, and flung down the poster, "this is my lover, with his head in pieces." She dropped the gory picture and burst into sobs. Numbly, the delegates broke up and went their separate ways. THE BRITISH ARMY has traditionally relied on the bottom end of society to recruit its cannon fodder. Historically they used the dole queue as the most useful ground. This means that lately the army has been recruiting blacks. These soldiers, though they are prized as front line material, don't find such a happy reception, when they apply for promotion, certainly not into the officer class. So recently even the army had to admit that there had been what it called a 'race riot' at the huge army camp at Tidworth, in Wiltshire. Many of the casualties in Ulster have been black, used by our masters to fight their oppressed brothers and sisters. Blacks in the US army and navy have increasingly been challenging their allotted role. The situa- tion here, incidentally, is not helped by the attitude of the editor of West Indian World, who thinks West Indians should join up "to learn a bit of discipline". The growth of paramilitary bodies controlled by local authority bodies and private firms continue. Now Sheffield Corporation are recruiting 'a private security force' who will patrol working class areas in uniforms, armed with clubs and in pairs. HAS NIXON FLIPPED at the thought of four more years, his, all his? Apparently his sinister hangers-on are worried that this might be. There are recent reports from his holiday pad, Camp David, that he has been wandering alone in the woods, wearing purple flared trousers and smoking a pipe. NEEDLE, excellent health service info mag, no. 12 is now out. Compiled by NHS workers it delineates the stamping out by administrative efficiency of what was, even in 1948 only a half baked measure towards a universal free health service. From 27 Pearman St., London SE1. THE CHICAGO SEVEN have had their convictions by Judge Julius Hoffman ' (remember him?) reversed by the appeal court. That court said that the conduct of the court during their trial would have ensured their acquittal even if nothing else had. All fine and dandy, except that they are now liable to stand trial in New York on a similar set of charges. "Prior to smoking marijuana he was a stable and sensible man. He was later to tout a self-styled pseudosocialism and develop an interest in macrobiotics." Ivor Gaber (Assis- tant Editor of 'Drugs & Society', 4 Little Essex St., WC2) examines the current field of research into the weed. In an area such as this, public knowledge is very much domi- nated by the treatment given to new information by the mass media. Research that provides ammunition for the anti-cannabis lobby is avidly consumed, while contrary research is usually ignored. Recently, for example, 'Drugs and Society' published some research on student drug-taking that demonstrated that marijuana smokers were more likely to enter stable sexual relationships ... to play an active part in the social life of the college and were highly unlikely to graduate to heroin. The national press, when they used the story, made no mention of the above but instead concentrated on the possi- bility that most college smokers had begun at school. One paper managed to extrapolate from the fact that smokers had very little contact with the church, that religion was the solution to the drug problem at college. Conversely, a piece of research conducted by a group in Bristol that claimed to prove that cannabis use led to cerbral atrophy (a wasting away of the brain cells), received extensive media coverage both here and in the States. It was only in the columns of 'The Lancet', 'Drugs and Society', and 'IT' that these findings were challenged. They were challenged on three grounds; first because the small sample (10) had no adequate control group, second because all the patients had come to the hospital complaining of headaches, dizziness, etc (and were therefore self-selecting), and finally because all ten had used LSD, additionally eight had used ampheta- mines and five had used barbiturates. Why select cannabis as the cause of the brain damage? The cannabis debate is not dissimilar to that concerning the relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer. As early as 1950 research workers were demonstrating a strong causal link between smoking and lung cancer but because public opinion was not receptive to the idea it was given very little publici- ty. Twenty years later, with public opinion generally accepting the link, every new piece of corroborative evidence is greeted as a major breakthrough. Former US Attorney-General John Mitchell explaining why Nixon had established a cannabis commission said, 'It (cannabis) can be a dangerous and damaging drug ... I think we'll find physical and chemical evidence of that.' In other words you start with your conclusions and work backwards finding supportive evidence as you go. A recent piece of research published in the highly respectable but ultra- conservative Journal of the American Medical Association would appear to be a classic in the 'manipulate your evidence and impose your ideology1 tradition. The researchers, Kolansky and Moore, postulate that short-term intensive cannabis use can cause 'biochemical reaction or structural change in cerebral cells'—in other words that cannabis is a toxic drug. To support their hypothesis they give 13 case studies of very straight stable people who degener- ate into raving dope fiends after using capnabis; but finally (as in all good fairy stories) there is a happy ending, most of the subjects return to their former virtuous lines. The research piece is rich in quotes and it is extremely difficult to know where to begin and what to leave out. Aficionados of drug literature should look for themselves (JAMA Oct 2 1972). The particular speciality of this piece of propaganda is the obvious political statements ill-concealed behind an abundance of supposedly objective scientific verbiage. For example, Moor and Kolansky describe the case of a 32 year old tree surgeon. Prior to smoking he was, they say, 'ambitious and consider- ed to be a stable and sensible man. He was happily married and a devoted father to his three children.' After partaking of the dreaded weed his life style and general attitudes change, this brings him into conflict with his wife. Kolansky and Moore take up the story. 'He castigated her for being "materialistic" and rationalised his lack of industry and decreased ability to provide for the family as the fault of "society" for requiring that a man "overproduce in order to keep the captains of industry wealthy." He touted a self-styled pseudosocialism, then went through a rapid transition from an interest in health foods to macrobiotics.' Almost every word of the above contains some sort of value judgement. The use of quotation marks around certain words and phrases seems to imply that the subject did not under- stand what he was talking about. They describe his rejection of bourgeois society as a 'rationalisation', as if his motivation was something other than political. They use words like 'tout' and 'self- styled' that have obvious derogatory connotations. They presume to judge the credibility of his socialism, probably knowing as much about the subject as Spiro Agnew. And finally they labour under the illusion that to switch from an interest ir> health foods to an interest in macrobiotics involves a 'rapid transition.' This particular story has a rather nice ending. 'When he refused the recommen- dation for psychotherapy1, relate the authors somewhat sadly, 'we thought it likely that he might return to cannabis use at some future time.' No doubt he considered cannabis to be a more effective, a more enjoyable and an infinitely less expensive form of psychotherapy. On a less serious plain there are two more goodies from the Kolansky and Moore research that I cannot resist quoting. In one case they describe a patient as suffering from 'consistent demonstrations of poor social judgement' If that's an ailment it sure would be fun to diagnose. The other goody is a quote from what they term 'general symptamology1: 'if anyone posed a threat to his supply of cannabis, the peaceful facade quickly gave way to irritability or outbursts of irrational anger frequently accompanied by vitupera- tive verbal attack or sullen petulance.' In a more prosaic form they are suggesting that the smokers became rather upset when someone deprived them of their dope. And here my own prejudices come out, for I can sympathise with the smokers' in that situation, I can kind of see their point of view. The assumptions behind research such as this, however flippantly we might treat them, do unfortunately represent the way the majority of people both here and in the States feel about dope. When for example over 80% of the people in Britain believe (as they do according to NOP) that cannabis leads to heroin, the possibilities for rational debate are almost non-existent. But as I said before, I do not think the issue will be settled on the basis of the findings of diligent research commissions. Look for example at what happened in the States. President Nixon set up a commiss- ion to investigate the legal status of cannabis. Chairing the commiss- ion was the Governor of Pennsylvani; Raymond Shaffer, a man who had spoken publicly against legalisation (as had 11 of the 14 commissioners). After a year's investigation, in what must rank as one of the greatest volte-faces of all time, the commiss- ion recommended the abolition of all criminal penalties for the possession and private use of marijuana. Nixon reacted to the findings by declaring that they would be enacted 'over my dead body'. Despite the fact that that could have been arranged the propo- sals now lie almost totally forgotten. In this country it has been reliably estimated that the number of smokers is somewhere between one and two million. In the face of this number of - people deliberately breaking the law it seems to me that the eventual legalisa- tion of cannabis is inevitable. As with homosexuality, abortion and divorce, social law follows rather than leads social practice. I am not advocating the unlimited consumption of dope—as in .nost things, if taken to excess I believe it probably could be damaging. But even if it is proven that smoking cannabis leads to physical or psychological damage I doubt if it would dissuade many smokers. After all, we know that tobacco, alcohol and barbiturates are all extremely toxic substances, yet that does not stop the majority of the people in this country from committing mass hari kari. So why should they be frightened by any possible damage from cannabis. This being the case, the debate as to whether legalisation is a good or bad thing beeome's irrelevant. It is going to happen and the sooner we make sensible prepara- tions for it the better.