2006.11.02: November 2, 2006: Headlines: COS - Micronesia: Marijuana: Drugs: Oceania: Jamon Halvaksz and David Lipset write: Marijuana first reached Micronesia with American Peace Corps volunteers in the late 1960s

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Micronesia: Peace Corps Micronesia : Peace Corps Micronesia: Newest Stories: 2006.11.02: November 2, 2006: Headlines: COS - Micronesia: Marijuana: Drugs: Oceania: Jamon Halvaksz and David Lipset write: Marijuana first reached Micronesia with American Peace Corps volunteers in the late 1960s

By Admin1 (admin) (adsl-70-240-139-254.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 - 8:23 am: Edit Post

Jamon Halvaksz and David Lipset write: Marijuana first reached Micronesia with American Peace Corps volunteers in the late 1960s

Jamon Halvaksz  and David Lipset write: Marijuana first reached Micronesia with American Peace Corps volunteers in the late 1960s

The drug first reached Micronesia with American Peace Corps volunteers in the late 1960s. However, evidence suggests that widespread local use began somewhat later. Oneisom (1991) identified the 1970s as the beginning of local use in Chuuk, with importation coming from Palau, Yap and Saipan.

Jamon Halvaksz and David Lipset write: Marijuana first reached Micronesia with American Peace Corps volunteers in the late 1960s

Another Kind of Gold: an Introduction to Marijuana in Papua New Guinea

Nov 1, 2006



Widespread as marijuana has become in Papua New Guinea (PNG), little ethnographic investigation has been done on problems raised by its cultivation, consumption and traffic there. In this essay, we survey the legal contexts of its production and circulation both in PNG and throughout the Pacific. We assess how the drug has been depicted in the regional literature. While our primary focus is on PNG, our point in offering these broader perspectives is to begin to outline political and comparative issues suggested by the arrival of this substance on Pacific shores. Our overall goal is to encourage rigorous and comprehensive discussion of the ambiguous relationship among society, the state and global capitalism that the drug constitutes, in addition to the many other, rather smaller-scale problems raised in each of our four essays about the ongoing construction of and debate about its meaning at the local-level.

Cannabis sativa, or marijuana, has circulated throughout the world for several thousand years (Abel 1980). Today, the drug is widely transacted in the insular Pacific, where it began to enter local consumption and circulation in the early 1980s.1 In turn, it has been fed back into the global economy through the informal economy and, to a limited extent, through international trafficking. Pacific states, while supporting the World System, condemn and sanction marijuana and are supported in this stance by international treaties. However, marijuana remains a morally ambiguous and especially problematic presence in the region.


Indeed, local-level discourse about marijuana in the Pacific is scant at best. There has been a little work done on Guam, Fiji, New Zealand, Hawaiians, Australians and Samoans living in California.6 Some of the earliest, and still most interesting, research on the subject was done on Chuuk in the mid 1980s (Larson 1987).7 The drug first reached Micronesia with American Peace Corps volunteers in the late 1960s. However, evidence suggests that widespread local use began somewhat later. Oneisom (1991) identified the 1970s as the beginning of local use in Chuuk, with importation coming from Palau, Yap and Saipan.

In addition, college students who had studied abroad returned and were eager to share it with friends. American movies were also influential. Even though the Chuuk state adopted the FSM criminal code in 1980, which made possession and traffic illegal, marijuana remained relatively new to Chuuk people who were then calling it a 'different cigarette,' or else maru, maruwo or marwana (Oneisom 1991). By the mid 1980s, cultivation had become widespread (Larson 1987). At that time, marijuana was available for purchase in Moen stores, either on a per cigarette basis or in bulk. It was smoked by groups of young men in a secluded place such as a men's house or after dark.
Less commonly, groups of young women smoked it.

On the one hand, smoking was seen as a means to enhance collective solidarity and increase trust among people, smokers usually being close kin and intimate friends. Pot, in such contexts, was shared to sustain and create relationships. The Chuukese viewed being high as a state of tranquility and frivolity. Older youth would relax while high. Younger kids would yell loudly and practice karate kicks. But many reasons were cited for smoking: to combat asthma, defeat loneliness, lose weight, out of frustration for being unemployed, to enjoy sex more and face stress. Larson also reported that marijuana had also been assimilated into Pacific patterns of consumption.

For young men who had not smoked outside Chuuk, the goal of smoking was to feel the effect of the drug as much as possible in the present moment without saving anything for the future. "The purpose of eating...is to feel full. The purpose of drinking intoxicants is to get drunk. With marijuana, the more one smokes the higher one can get. Hence, the goal is to smoke as many joints as possible at one time' (1987:221-222). What is more, marijuana had also become a context for competitive display by Chuukese growers, who would each give a joint to a group of smokers who would then judge its relative potency, the winning grower received the most endorsements.

But, as we argue, the drug was also understood dialogically. It was suspected as foreign. No Chuuk term described being high. And, unlike being drunk, its effects were not viewed as predictable. Marijuana, a 'custom from elsewhere,' was 'disdained' by nearly every established authority on Chuuk: elders, chiefs, and church and government leaders all of whom viewed it as the second biggest problem affecting society, next to alcohol (Larson 1987:224). It was seen as causing craziness, forgetfulness, overeating, irritability and laziness. A mental health worker reported that 75% of mental problems in Chuuk were caused by heavy marijuana use.8 Recent history has shown that drug traffic and consumption has served to maintain and aggrandize state legitimacy and power (Marez 2004:5).

In the new states of the Pacific, however, another story is emerging. Society may not only oppose the state (Clastres 1989), but both society and state may be found to elaborate opposing drug narratives, unfinalized, no legitimacy, no power, no last word.



1. Marshall (1987) has argued that marijuana was introduced into PNG by Australians shortly after WW , as a result of which it began to grow wild throughout the country. In Hawaii, marijuana is older, and likely arrived in the 1920s. In Australia, it likely arrived even earlier in the form of hemp. Its arrival elsewhere in the Pacific in the 1960s and '70s was at the behest of the most benign representatives of global capitalism, Peace Corp volunteers and returning college students.

Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: November, 2006; Peace Corps Micronesia; Directory of Micronesia RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Micronesia RPCVs; Drugs

When this story was posted in April 2007, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Subscribe to Peace Corps News Date: March 3 2007 No: 1071 Subscribe to Peace Corps News
Don't miss our new web site, Peace Corps News, for the latest news about the Returned Volunteer community and what is going on with the Peace Corps around the world. Subscribe to our news feed to get Peace Corps news delivered to your desk as it happens. Then visit the Peace Corps Library, History of the Peace Corps, the worldwide RPCV Directory or leave a message for the RPCV community on the RPCV Bulletin Board.

Peace Corps News Peace Corps Library Peace corps History RPCV Directory Sign Up

March 14, 2007: This Month's Top Stories Date: March 14 2007 No: 1074 March 14, 2007: This Month's Top Stories
Evacuated PCVs attend Festival on the Niger in Mali 23 Feb
Tom Bissell tells the story of how Vietnam came home 13 Mar
Mike Honda cites Japan's Sex Slavery 8 Mar
Donna Shalala co-chairs presidential commission 7 Mar
Sixth Anniversary of Disappearance of PCV Walter Poirier 6 Mar
Sam Farr was de-selected during Peace Corps Training 6 Mar
Elaine Jones would be good fit for NAACP President 6 Mar
Pat Waak re-elected chairwoman of Colorado Dems 5 Mar
Astronaut Mae Jemison was PC Medical Officer 4 Mar
Guy Consolmagno blends faith and science 3 Mar
Doyle Turns Down Federal Abstinence Money 3 Mar
Owen Cylke writes: Taxi in the Rain 2 Mar
Jody Olsen receives "Founderís Day" Award 2 Mar
Chris Dodd introduces PCV Empowerment Act 1 Mar
Michael O'Hanlon writes: Iraq Deserves One More Chance 1 Mar
An Excerpt from Jan Worth's Night Blind 28 Feb
David Harde sentenced for Medical Marijuana 28 Feb
Oscar winner Helen Mirren congratulated by RPCV husband 26 Feb
RPCVs distribute mosquito nets 25 Feb
Peter McPherson new Chairman of Dow Jones 21 Feb
Arabic speakers under-utilized in Homeland Security 9 Feb
Dr. J. Michael Taylor co- founded Konbit Sante 4 Feb

February 23, 2007: This Month's Top Stories Date: February 24 2007 No: 1070 February 23, 2007: This Month's Top Stories
Hill announces Draft Accord in North Korea Nuclear Talks 12 Feb
Dodd builds connections in New Hampshire 19 Feb
PCVs accused of counterinsurgency activities 19 Feb
Harris Wofford declares support for Obama 18 Feb
Tschetter becomes the first Director to visit Malawi 16 Feb
New Fellows Program at Yale University 15 Feb
Sidney Slover helps start donut production in Honduras 16 Feb
Kevin O'Donnell's Daughter and Granddaughter are PCVs 14 Feb
Joe Krueger helps restore Liberia's timber industry 14 Feb
Peace Corps Hippies 13 Feb
Maryland RPCVs to screen "American Idealist" on March 3 9 Feb
Aaron Kase writes: Moon over Africa 8 Feb
Margaret Krome writes: 'Rogue nations' aren't only threat 8 Feb
Shays says he would Support McCain 8 Feb
A Mistrial for Lieut. Watada 8 Feb
Chris Matthews drops the F-bomb 8 Feb
RPCVs - Believe it or not 07 Feb
White House requests $334 Million for Peace Corps 5 Feb
Carol Bellamy writes: We need an Earth Corps 3 Feb
First Group of PCVs arrive in Cambodia 2 Feb
Mae Jemison wears red for charity 2 Feb
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts 30 Jan

The Peace Corps Library Date: July 11 2006 No: 923 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory or leave a message on our Bulletin Board. New: Sign up to receive our free Monthly Magazine by email, research the History of the Peace Corps, or sign up for a daily news summary of Peace Corps stories. FAQ: Visit our FAQ for more information about PCOL.

Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps Date: September 23 2006 No: 996 Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps
Senator Chris Dodd (RPCV Dominican Republic) spoke at the ceremony for this year's Shriver Award and elaborated on issues he raised at Ron Tschetter's hearings. Dodd plans to introduce legislation that may include: setting aside a portion of Peace Corps' budget as seed money for demonstration projects and third goal activities (after adjusting the annual budget upward to accommodate the added expense), more volunteer input into Peace Corps operations, removing medical, healthcare and tax impediments that discourage older volunteers, providing more transparency in the medical screening and appeals process, a more comprehensive health safety net for recently-returned volunteers, and authorizing volunteers to accept, under certain circumstances, private donations to support their development projects. He plans to circulate draft legislation for review to members of the Peace Corps community and welcomes RPCV comments.

He served with honor Date: September 12 2006 No: 983 He served with honor
One year ago, Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul (RPCV Kenya) carried on an ongoing dialog on this website on the military and the peace corps and his role as a member of a Civil Affairs Team in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have just received a report that Sargeant Paul has been killed by a car bomb in Kabul. Words cannot express our feeling of loss for this tremendous injury to the entire RPCV community. Most of us didn't know him personally but we knew him from his words. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He was one of ours and he served with honor.

Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director Date: September 6 2006 No: 978 Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director
Read our story about Ron Tschetter's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was carried on C-Span. It was very different from the Vasquez hearings in 2001, very cut and dried with low attendance by the public. Among the highlights, Tschetter intends to make recruitment of baby boomers a priority, there are 20 countries under consideration for future programs, Senator Dodd intends to re-introduce his third goal Peace Corps legislation this session, Tschetter is a great admirer of Senator Coleman's quest for accountability, Dodd thinks management at PC may not put volunteers first, Dodd wants Tschetter to look into problems in medical selection, and Tschetter is not a blogger and knows little about the internet or guidelines for volunteer blogs. Read our recap of the hearings as well as Senator Coleman's statement and Tschetter's statement.

Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance Date: August 19 2006 No: 964 Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance
The purpose of Peace Corps' screening and medical clearance process is to ensure safe accommodation for applicants and minimize undue risk exposure for volunteers to allow PCVS to complete their service without compromising their entry health status. To further these goals, PCOL has obtained a copy of the Peace Corps Screening Guidelines Manual through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and has posted it in the "Peace Corps Library." Applicants and Medical Professionals (especially those who have already served as volunteers) are urged to review the guidelines and leave their comments and suggestions. Then read the story of one RPCV's journey through medical screening and his suggestions for changes to the process.

The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again Date: July 31 2006 No: 947 The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again
The LA Times says that "the Peace Corps is booming again and "It's hard to know exactly what's behind the resurgence." PCOL Comment: Since the founding of the Peace Corps 45 years ago, Americans have answered Kennedy's call: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." Over 182,000 have served. Another 200,000 have applied and been unable to serve because of lack of Congressional funding. The Peace Corps has never gone out of fashion. It's Congress that hasn't been keeping pace.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Oceania

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Micronesia; Marijuana; Drugs


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.