Sunday, February 21, 2010

Answers to Trivia Quiz

Answers to Trivia Quiz

Here are the answers to the Trivia Quiz I posted earlier. Each question is reposted so that you don’t have to click back and forth, and it is followed by a short answer, and usually, a brief annotation.

Some of you posted your answers as comments or sent them to me privately. Everyone did very well, all of you individually outscoring the class of graduate students answering as a group. But no one was perfect. Relax: grades will NOT be posted!

So here are the answers. I hope we learned a little bit. But mainly I hope we had some fun. Enjoy.

Questions and Answers

1. In his first term, President George Washington led federal troops against rebels in western Pennsylvania. Which psychoactive drug was at the root of the controversy?


The new government placed an excise tax on distilled spirits to pay off Revolutionary War debts. Western farmers grew corn, but had no roads to get it to market. They converted it to whiskey, which could be transported in barrels slung on horseback. They were afraid the tax would put them out of business, and grabbed their guns in rebellion.

2. In the period 1790 – 1805 the U.S. fought a war against the Barbary Pirates in North Africa. Why were American ships in the Mediterranean at this time?

Turkish opium was one of the most valuable cargoes brought to America before the Civil War.

Before the Civil War almost everyone needed opium for toothaches or water-borne intestinal diseases. Then, by about 1820, Yankee traders were buying opium in Turkey, selling it in China in competition with the British, and then selling Chinese silks, porcelain, and tea in New England. Many of the old Boston maritime fortunes were based on opium.

3. During the Civil War, where did the Confederate Army get its medical opium?

They grew it themselves.

Opium is easy to grow and grows almost anywhere. Jefferson probably grew some on his plantation. By 1872, the Massachusetts Board of health was complaining that Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticutt growers were flooding Boston with hundreds of pounds and that commercial growers in Florida and Louisiana were also shipping in large amounts. They said that California and Arizona Territory were the center of the trade and that a farmer with 10 acres in Arizona could produce 1200 pounds a year.

4. When and where was the first U.S. law against marijuana passed?

El Paso, Texas, 1915

El Paso may win by a technicality, being the first to use the term “marihuana” in their ordinance. I have found one source suggesting that California had banned “Indian hemp” a couple of years earlier, but I haven’t been able to track it down. Does someone with better access to California records have more information?

5. How many doctors testified to Congress concerning the proposed Marihuana Tax Act of 1937? Were they for or against the Act?

Only one doctor testified. The representative of the AMA said that the law was unnecessary and that it would block needed medical research.

The government’s only scientific evidence came from a pharmacologist who testified that all of his research was on dogs because, with a Ph.D. and not an M.D., he could not experiment on humans. The government later fired him when, testifying as an expert for the defense in a criminal case, he testified that he had taken the “active ingredient” in marijuana, turned into a bat, flew around his lab, and dived into an ink bottle.

6. How many people had used marijuana in 1937 according to the Government’s testimony to Congress?


This was Anslinger’s figure. He said the users were composed of Black jazz musicians, Puerto Ricans, and Mexican farm laborers.

7. What were the Government’s estimates of the number of people using marijuana in 2008?

Over 44% of adult American residents (over 100 Million people) had used marijuana at least once:

Over 15 Million used marijuana at least once a month

These figures come from voluntary questionnaires, and at least since the days of Kinsey, pollsters have known that surveys about illegal or disreputable activities under-report those activities.

8. Switzerland began providing free heroin to addicts in the mid-1990s. How many people in Switzerland have died of opioid overdose in Switzerland since then?

Zero [see comment]

Opioids are actually very safe drugs. Even overdoses develop slowly, allowing ample time for medical intervention. In the U.S., many of the so-called overdose deaths are law-related. They are caused by adulterated drugs, drugs of unknown potency, substitution of unknown drugs for the one the user expected, or reluctance to seek medical assistance.

9. How many people were arrested for simple marijuana possession in the U.S. last year?

Over 800,000

10. California adopted state medical marijuana by referendum in 1996. How many states now have medical marijuana laws?


1 comment:

  1. comment to answer 8:
    I should have said that there have been no deaths in the program furnishing heroin to addicts. Switzerland has had some opioid-related deaths to people outside of the program.