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Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1993 22:13:02 -0600 (CST)
From: Steven VanderStaay 
Subject: return of the herb
Sender: Drug Abuse Education Information and Research 
Message-id: <01H6FZ9DA7R691W1RB@YMIR.Claremont.Edu>

        The NEW YORKER (11/22) featured an interesting sketch of Ansley Hamid,
who teaches anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Hamid, who
studies drug use in Harlem, has recently noted an increase in marijuana use--an
increase he is pleased with. The piece caught my eye as the teenage
crack-dealers I'm now studying smoke marijuana as an alternative to cocaine--an
alternative that pleases me ("Coke makes you trigger happy," they tell me, "The
weed eases your mind." They've been doing this for years, but the piece about
Hamid made me wonder if the trend is a larger one and if, in fact, it does bode
well for our inner cities. If bringing more marijuana into such areas could, as
Hamid argues, reduce crack usage and provide a soothing effect on the
community, a new twist could be added to the legalization argument.

excerpts from the sketch:

        Ansley Hamid, a gray-haired, forty-nine-yar old professor, is something
of a celebrity in Harlem. On the crowded corenr of 132nd and frederick Douglass
, and in any number of the gutted tenements that line Adam Clayton Powell
bouldevard, he is welcomed with backslaps and expressive hellos...
        Since the early eighties, Professor Hamid has appeared in the area at
irregular yet not unpredictable intervals: with the emergence of each new
innercity trend in drug consumption comes the Professor, notebook in hand, to
monitor the drug's arrival, its flourishing, and its fading away. In 1984, for
instance,he was one of the first to note and document the growing use of the
cocaine derivative crack...
        Visiting his old haunts...early last summer, Professor H began sniffing
that acrid smell which said to him that the smoking of marijuana, long a Harlem
fixture, was on the rise. And this fall he has discovered twelve undergound,
over-the-counter pot stores in West Harlem...
        P. Hamid is not at all worried about the development [marijuana]...he
spoke of marijuana's offering a third way between crack and sobriety..."Crack
takes all your chances away, he said. "That drug makes you think only of that
drug. But marijuana--it reminds you of everything, and it can give the whole
world back."
        Later, as he headed downtown, toward home, he returned to the topic of
marijuana, and how happy he was to have it back. "In the sixties, black men
went off and got stoned and came back wanting to open crafts stores--a threat
neither to themselves nor to others," he said. "It was a time of progress."

Steven VanderStaay
Millsaps College
Jackson, Mississippi