HIGH...in a down world The drug culture is one I didn't just visit. I was a heavy user of cannabis products for 50 years and from the experience, I know that the attitudes, laws and proscriptions concerning what people ingest, inhale or inject produce the most misguided social reactions of any of the subjects under discussion. I was introduced to marijuana in 1946 in Chicago. The first couple of experiences were unremarkable: I had to learn to get high. On my third try I was alone, listening to a familiar bit of music - which was no longer familiar; in fact it was as if I heard it correctly for the first time. As a child I had been indoctrinated with the "weed from hell" delusion and was only persuaded to try smoking "tea" because the people who offered it to me were quite obviously living proof that the anti- marijuana propaganda was false. Perhaps the residual fears helped account for the lack of affect. I have seen the marijuana pendulum swing from "Weed with Roots in Hell" propaganda to "vegetable of Inspiration" and back more than once. My attitude has moved from fear to advocacy to a sort of indifference but my experiences in the culture are among the most moving of my several "lives." I once had a full-blown opium habit when a friend gave me a substantial quantity of that "queen of drugs" and the withdrawal was a bit painful but not as important as it often is to people who have trouble kicking habits. I used cocaine as a stimulant to enable me to play marathon sessions of poker, sometimes going four or more days without sleep. I never thought of it as "recreational." I stopped using any of these things about six years ago and have felt neither ill effects nor any desire to reestablish the practice. There must be a place in the mind that knows the how to get high. There are instances in double blind tests (the name comes from the procedure in which neither experimenter nor subject knows whether he has been given the drug under test, or a placebo) during which some of the subjects report hallucinations from the sugar pill and some report no effect from taking an ordinarily effective dose of LSD. This placebo effect might account for the problems we have with each others' different reactions to apparently identical events. An assassin who was spoken to by God and a book burner are convinced they serve truth. We who imprison, execute, or defy their intent are equally convinced that their behavior is sociopathic and our repression of them is for the greater good.