Marijuana, Sleep, and Dreams

Via Psychology Today
Published on June 22, 2009 by Jann Gumbiner, Ph.D. in The Teenage Mind

Does Marijuana Affect REM Sleep?

Marijuana affects dreams. Stoners say they don’t have dreams but if they stop smoking for a few days, they are flooded with dreams. Is there any psychological reserach supporting this?

Sleep and wakefulness are both parts of a normal daily rhythm. Fish, cats, humans, and many other living things have daily cycles of activity and rest. This daily cycle is called a circadian rhythm. “Circadian” comes from the Latin root “circa dies” and means about a day. Both external and internal events can influence circadian rhythms. Morning light and alarm clocks trigger wakefulness. When isolated from normal time cues, the daily human cycle is about 24 hours, hence “circa dies.”

The study of sleep is fascinating! Sleep has been extensively studied in research laboratories, like the University of Chicago, by measuring brain waves and eye movements while research subjects sleep. Gentle electrodes are placed on volunteers’ scalps and near their eyes. While sleeping, the electroencephalogram (EEG) provides evidence of brain activity. Though sleep seems like a passive state to us, the brain is still very active. In fact, the EEG of a person falling asleep shows five stages of sleep: Stages 1-4 and a stage called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Each stage is progressively deeper and the complete cycle is repeated several times during the night. When awakened during REM sleep, subjects report dreaming. So if dreams take place during REM sleep, the question for us is, does smoking marijuana interrupt REM sleep?

To address this question, Feinberg, et al. (1975) compared the sleep patterns of experienced marijuana users on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and a placebo. Feinberg, et al. (1975) reported reduced eye movement activity and less REM sleep in the THC condition. They also reported a REM rebound effect, that is more REM activity, on withdrawal from THC. So,there exists some scientific evidence that marijuana interfers with REM sleep.

If sleep is fascinating, dreaming is even more so! No one knows for sure the meaning or function of night time dreams but there is plenty of speculation. Freud believed dreams represented the royal road to the unconcsious. They told us our secret desires and fears. In his book Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, Jung describes some fascinating dreams of his own. In particular, he describes one dream that haunted him for a very long time. When he was about three years old, he dreamed he was in a large meadow. In this meadow, there was a big dark hole. Slowly and cautiously, he descended this dark hole. At the bottom, he found a richly decorated king’s throne and on the throne was a huge fleshy object. This thing was about 10 to 15 feet high and came to head but had no face. At the very top was a large eye gazing upward. During the dream, he heard his mother’s voice saying this was a man eater. The 3 year old Jung, awoke terrified and dripping in sweat. This dream preoccupied him for years. Many years later he came to understand the dream as a symbol of a giant phallus and the beginning of his theory of archetypes.

I must confess I have never been visited by a giant phallus during the night but I have had some pretty cool dreams. During a period of intense anxiety, I was obsessed with death. One night I dreamed I was sitting in a movie theater impatiently waiting for the movie to begin. My father and my brother were next to me and I was facing the big white screen, waiting and waiting. Finally, the picture began and I was flooded with profound white light and overwhelming love. Death had come for me but death was not scary, but extremly benevolent, loving and blissful. How about you? Any night time dreams you’d like to share? Any thoughts on marijuana and dreams?

Feinberg, I., Jones, R, Walker JM, Cavness, C, March, J. (1975). Effects of high dosage delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on sleep patterns in man. Clin Parmacol Ther. 1975; 17(4):458-66.


Bonging with the Bard: Shakespeare Smoked Marijuana?

Via Harvard Magazine

Perhaps the second-most-cultivated plant in Elizabethan England, after wheat, was hemp—Cannabis sativa, also known as marijuana. The sovereign herself encouraged its growth. Hemp fibers were fashioned into rope, paper, garments, and sails. “Queen Elizabeth’s navy ran on that stuff,” says Clay professor of scientific archaeology Nikolaas J. van der Merwe, who recently helped focus high technology on fragments unearthed from a literary dig to suggest that the Elizabethans may also have smoked marijuana for its mind-altering effects. One smoker may even have been William Shakespeare.

With colleagues Francis Thackeray and Tommie van der Merwe (not a relation), van der Merwe analyzed scrapings from the bowls and stems of 24 pipes dug from sites in and about Stratford-on-Avon. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust provided fragments of kaolin (white clay) pipes, some unearthed from the garden at Shakespeare’s residence and all dating from the 1600s. “There’s an archaeological dating system for pipes, based on shape and the diameters of the bowl, stem, and stem bore,” van der Merwe explains. “I scraped things out of them—mostly soil—but you could see little black flecks on the inside of the bowls.”

When subjected to a chemical assay using gas chromatography and a mass spectrometer—as summarized in the South African Journal of Science—these flecks proved most interesting. Though cannabis itself degrades fairly quickly, cannabidiol and cannabinol are stable combustion products produced when it burns. (Van der Merwe has detected these substances in 600-year-old Ethiopian pipes.) Eight of the 24 pipe fragments showed evidence suggestive of such marijuana-related compounds.

Unexpectedly, cocaine also appeared on two specimens, including one from the Stratford home of John Harvard’s mother. Cocaine was introduced from South America to Europe during the sixteenth century, the authors explain, “initially through Spanish conquistadors who in turn were raided by English explorers such as Sir Francis Drake, a contemporary of Shakespeare.” Other pipes showed nicotine, implying the smoking of another New World plant, tobacco.

While no one knows whether Shakespeare himself smoked any of the pipes in question, the data of course provide fodder for speculation. The researchers muse on the phrase “noted weed” in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 76, which also mentions “compounds strange.” They ask if the “Tenth Muse” of Sonnet 38 might refer to chemical inspiration.

Scholars like Cogan University Professor Stephen Greenblatt, an authority on Shakespeare and general editor of the Norton Shakespeare, are amused but not persuaded. “I suppose it’s remotely possible that Shakespeare and his family were getting a buzz from what they were smoking, but I very much doubt that it played any meaningful role in his life,” Greenblatt says. “Shakespeare never mentions pipes, tobacco, or smoking anywhere in his poems or plays, in contrast with Edmund Spenser and other writers of the period. Alcohol is a much more likely stimulant for Shakespeare’s imagination, and even that is probably unimportant. The seventeenth-century gossip John Aubrey described Shakespeare as not much of a partygoer—when he was invited to a debauch, he’d beg off, saying he was in pain. More likely, he was working on another play.”

~Craig Lambert

Pot Hot Chocolate (From Pot

It’s still blizzard weather, and with white-out conditions outside, it’s always a good idea to stay inside and whip up some warm, comforting treats. This recipe for Canna-Hot-Chocolate takes only 20 minutes to make, and on top of satisfying your sweet tooth, it will give you a relaxed, mild high.

By AsianPotHead Prep Time: 20 minutes Time for the high to start: Approximately 30 minutes Effectiveness: A relaxing, mild high 


  • A large mug
  • 1 packet of hot chocolate mix
  • 2 teaspoons of butter
  • 3 teaspoons of cream or whole milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • A grinder
  • A strainer
  • A large bowl
  • 0.5 grams of weed
  • Saran wrap


1. Heat water until boiling 2. Grind the 0.5 grams of weed 3. Grab your mug and add in the hot chocolate mix, 2 teaspoons of butter, 3 teaspoons of milk or cream, 0.5 grams of weed, and the hot water 4. Once the hot water is added, carefully wrap the mug with Saran wrap to prevent any air from escaping 5. Wait exactly 12 minutes 6. Remove the Saran wrap and stir 7. Place a strainer over the large bowl 8. Strain your hot chocolate and squeeze out the rest of the liquid from the weed in the strainer (this weed can then be disposed of) 9. Pour the hot chocolate from your bowl to the large mug and ENJOY! PHOTO CREDITS: Photo {Hot Chocolate} courtesy of Creative Commons copyright – Jo Anslow photostream –

Why Intelligent People Use More Drugs

Via Psychology Today
Article by Satoshi Kanazawa

The human consumption of psychoactive drugs, such as marijuanacocaine, and heroin, is of even more recent historical origin than the human consumption of alcohol or tobacco, so the Hypothesis would predict that more intelligent people use more drugs more frequently than less intelligent individuals.

The use of opium dates back to about 5,000 years ago, and the earliest reference to the pharmacological use of cannabis is in a book written in 2737 BC by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung.  Opium and cannabis are the only “natural” (agricultural) psychoactive drugs.  Other psychoactive drugs are “chemical” (pharmacological); they require modern chemistry to manufacture, and are therefore of much more recent origin.  Morphine was isolated from opium in 1806, cocaine was first manufactured in 1860, and heroin was discovered in 1874. 


Given their extremely recent origin and thus evolutionary novelty, the Hypothesis would predict that more intelligent individuals are more likely to consume all types of psychoactive drugs than less intelligent individuals.  Once again, as with alcohol consumption, the fact that the consumption of psychoactive drugs has largely negative health consequences and few (if any) benefits of any kind is immaterial to the Hypothesis.  It does not predict that more intelligent individuals are more likely to engage in healthy and beneficial behavior, only that they are more likely to engage in evolutionarily novel behavior.  As I point out in an earlier post, more intelligent people are often more likely to do stupid things.

Consistent with the prediction of the Hypothesis, the analysis of the National Child Development Study shows that more intelligent children in the United Kingdom are more likely to grow up to consume psychoactive drugs than less intelligent children.  Net of sexreligion, religiosity, marital status, number of children, education, earnings, depression, satisfaction with life, social class at birth, mother’s education, and father’s education, British children who are more intelligent before the age of 16 are more likely to consume psychoactive drugs at age 42 than less intelligent children.

The following graph shows the association between childhood general intelligence and the latent factor for the consumption of psychoactive drugs, constructed from indicators for the consumption of 13 different types of psychoactive drugs (cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines, LSD, amyl nitrate, magic mushrooms, cocaine, temazepan, semeron, ketamine, crack, heroin, and methadone).  As you can see, there is a clear monotonic association between childhood general intelligence and adult consumption of psychoactive drugs.  “Very bright” individuals (with IQs above 125) are roughly three-tenths of a standard deviation more likely to consume psychoactive drugs than “very dull” individuals (with IQs below 75).

The following graph shows a similar association between childhood intelligence and the latent factor for the consumption of psychoactive drugs among Americans.  The data come from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.  The childhood intelligence is measured in junior high and high school, and the adult drug consumption is measured seven years later, and constructed from indicators for the consumption of 5 different types of psychoactive drugs (marijuana, cocaine, LSD, crystal meth, and heroin).  The association is not monotonic, but nevertheless, “normal” (90 < IQ < 110), “bright” (110 < IQ < 125), and “very bright” individuals consume more psychoactive substances than “very dull” or “dull” (75 < IQ < 90) individuals.  Once the social and demographic variables are controlled, however, the positive association between childhood intelligence and adult drug consumption is not statistically significant in the American Add Health sample.

People – scientists and civilians alike – often associate intelligence with positive life outcomes.  The fact that more intelligent individuals are more likely to consume alcohol, tobacco, and psychoactive drugs tampers this universally positive view of intelligence and intelligent individuals.  Intelligent people don’t always do the right thing, only the evolutionarily novel thing.

The World’s Oldest Stash: Scientists Find 2,700-Year-Old Pot

Scientists have discovered two pounds of a dried plant that turned out to be the oldest marijuana in the world. Inside one of the Yanghai Tombs excavated in the Gobi Desert, a team of researchers found the cannabis packed into a wooden bowl resting inside a 2,700-year-old grave. It was placed near the head of a blue-eyed, 45-year-old shaman among other objects like bridles and a harp to be used in afterlife.

At first, the researchers thought the dried weed was coriander. Then they spent 10 months getting the cannabis from the tomb in China to a secret lab in England. Finally, the team put the stash through “microscopic botanical analysis” including carbon dating and genetic analysis, and discovered the stash was really pot.

The fact that the weed had a chemical known for psychoactive properties called tetrahydrocannabinolic acid synthase, or THC, led scientists to believe the man and his community probably used it for medicinal and recreational purposes. According to professor Ethan Russo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Botany, someone had picked out all the parts of the plant that are less psychoactive before placing it in the grave, therefore the dead man probably didn’t grow his hemp merely to make clothes.

If marijuana aged like wine, pot users might now be in heaven. But the weed had decomposed over the years, so no one would feel any effects if they smoked the artifact today.

*taken from here.