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Throwback: “Dissident ‘Doc’ Humes Railroaded For Pot”

“Humes believes Harvard was prodded into pressing charges, possibly by the CIA.”


With the internet falling apart and whole sites full of critical cultural information disappearing, we’re hoping to spend more time moving forward looking at the pre-legalization culture that made contemporary cannabis possible. A big part of that is aggregating and republishing articles from outlets that no longer exist.

Thumbing through an old copy of Yipster Times, an iconic counterculture rag published from 1972 to 1989, we found a story out of Massachusetts, which has a particularly hideous history of crushing plant advocates. Pulled from the August 1978 issue, the excerpt below by Grateful Dead historian Oliver Trager details the persecution of Harvard grad-turned novelist Doc Humes by the hands of Harvard and Bay State authorities, among others … 

An American Solzhenitsyn

Even Yippies might be surprised to find out that the United States of America has a jailed dissident scholar of its very own, out on bail, in a case so unwieldy and bizarre that it almost defies adequate description. 

Harold L. “Doc” Humes, a founder of the Paris Review literary magazine, acclaimed novelist of the late 1950’s, physicist, healer, political firebrand, and a long time advocate of the medicinal applications of marijuana, had been incarcerated in Massachusetts since December 5th, 1977. 

He is now walking the streets of Cambridge, Mass. on his own personal recognisance pending a hearing in the Federal courts to block extradition to New Jersey, where he is wanted on five-year-old charges of possession of marijuana, assault and battery on a police officer, and resisting arrest.

Mr. Humes’ list of credentials is a long and impressive one, making the treatment he has received in recent years seem quite unwarranted, considering the valuable contributions he has made to our society. In Paris during 1948, five years before founding the Paris Review, he was a Methods Expert for the Marshall Plan.

In 1957 Hume’s first novel was published. The Underground City is an inside look at the French Resistance Movement during World War II. Men Die, his second novel, published in 1959, treats the psychology of nuclear warfare.

Mr. Humes calls himself a Stevensonian Democrat. He played a critical role in the 1960 Kennedy campaign, and in November of that year became one of the founding members of the legendary Citizens Emergency Committee in New York City, a political organization that claims 200 members. He founded his own research and development corporation, Parametrics, in 1961, and holds several patents.

After the 1963 Kennedy assassination, Humes began to run up against the more lunatic fringes of the intelligence community, like many other pro-Kennedy people, in the form of harassments and threats. He left the United States for England in 1965 where he published an introduction to Cosmology, Reflections on the Epitaph of Daniel Bernoulli. But that same year he says he “collided with British intelligence” and was run through what he calls a “brain laundry,” at the Banstead Hospital in Sussex, England where he believes he was conditioned so that he can no longer write with intent to publish without becoming ill.

Since the middle sixties, Mr. Humes has been researching what he terms the “no man’s lands between medicine and politics.” In particular, he claims to have developed and practiced procedures for the painless detoxification of heroin and amphetamine addicts, using a combination of Shiatsu (or acupressure) massage and medical grade hashish. The results have proved highly successful. None of the classical symptoms seem to accompany this form of treatment. He says “It really does do a clean detox, and the addict is not afflicted with the yen to go back on the drug afterwards, because what you’re doing is treating the anxiety tension which leads to the addiction in the first place.”

During the course of a year in Rome (1967), Mr. Humes detoxified approximately 125 addicts. Most were using heroin, some were using amphetamines, and a few were addicted to both. The detox clinic operated with the tacit approval of the police department in Rome, and was recognized in several European countries for its results. Late in 1967, at the instigation of persons later identified by Italian officials as CIA agents, Italian Police swept into the clinic and arrested the patients, after luring Mr. Humes out of Rome on an invitation to a bogus medical conference. Tipped off by a friend that an attempt was being made to frame him as a ‘narcotics smuggler,’ Mr. Humes borrowed a car and left the country never to return.

The reason for the raid was understood to be connected to the fact that of 125 suc- cessful detoxifications, about forty of those individuals were in employ of the intelligence community. “Apparently the practice then was to recruit some of the high-risk operatives from the addicted population and use the drug as a kind of choke-hold on the operative,” says Humes. In the words of one former patient, a British intelligence agent, Mr. Humes had been “cutting the strings on their puppets.”

In the years following that episode, Mr. Humes has continued his research in the area of heroin addiction and the medical applications of cannabis and massage, and inevitably has discovered that a network of political interests permeates the field of medicine. The use of addicted personnel in intelligence activities and clandestine warfare continues to be widespread. Hard drugs continue to flood the streets to provide a recruiting pool of new addicts for such activities, among other reasons. Thus, the controlling interests have an investment in suppressing the fact that there is a painless, effective way to detoxify addicts.

Since the raid on the clinic in Rome, Humes’ research has not gone unimpeded. Fabricated charges, numerous arrests, an organized effort to keep him off university campuses despite his credibility as a scholar, stolen research materials, and assassination attempts have all been in the repertoire of the campaign to discredit him as a serious researcher and suppress his efforts to communicate his knowledge and experience.

The applications of cannabis and massage go beyond the detoxification of addicts. Variations of these techniques are useful in relief of all conditions related to anxiety and tension. The medical profession believes that 80% of all illnesses fall into this category.

Hume’s chief contention is that marijuana should be reinstated in the official Pharmacopoeia (a list of drugs sanctioned for medical use), from which it was removed by Congress in 1937 with the implementation of the Marijuana Tax Act, against the wishes of the American Medical Association. Humes says this was done “probably to make the heroin game go.”

“I’m arguing that cannabis (marijuana) used with care and skill can be an enormously helpful remedy for chronic narcotic intoxication; as a tension reliever; for menstrual cramps; for childbirth pain, all sorts of things.”

Most recently, Mr. Humes has demonstrated the use of massage and cannabis to achieve the painless delivery of his son, born on July 4th of 1977. Witnesses and participants were amazed at the ease of the delivery. The revalidation of this known technique is a signal accomplishment that has the potential of revolutionizing modern birth practices. The usefulness of cannabis in childbirth stems from its unique effect of relaxing the striated muscles without interfering with the functioning of the smooth muscles.

Mr. Humes was arrested this past December 4th by Cambridge and Harvard University police at Passim’s Coffeehouse in Harvard Square, shortly before Allen Ginsberg, a friend and another expert in the field of heroin, was to begin a poetry reading.

The next morning at Middlesex County Courthouse, Humes was charged with failing to appear for two counts of trespassing on Harvard property in 1975. Subsequently, he was also charged with being a fugitive from justice in New Jersey in connection with charges dating back to 1973. 

Harvard University officials could not be reached to tell us why the University is now pressing charges against Humes, who graduated from Harvard in 1954, and taught creative writing there for a semester in 1958. The charges stem from an incident on June 6th, 1975, when Humes was seeking to get tickets to commencement ceremonies, and an incident the following day when Humes returned to the campus. Humes believes Harvard was prodded into pressing charges, possibly by the CIA. The most important legal battle facing Humes in the next few months, however, is with the state of New Jersey, which seeks to extradite him. Humes maintains that the assault and battery charge is “a complete fabrication.”

Of the marijuana charge, Humes says that in the early ’70s there was an influx into Mercer County of contaminated marijuana with toxic chemicals intended to harm the lungs and throats of smokers. This was a full half-decade before the paraquat story broke. He says that he systematically collected a number of samples of the treated grass, so that he could submit them to the State Police Laboratory for analysis. “I figured that, given to them in the process of an official arrest, the evidence would not get lost. Unfortunately it did get lost. The matter was never brought to trial.”