Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana and the Problem of Marihuana - Formulating Marihuana Policy

US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Table of Contents
I. Marihuana and the Problem of Marihuana
Origins of the Marihuana Problem
The Need for Perspective
Formulating Marihuana Policy
The Report
II. Marihuana Use and Its Effects
The Marihuana User
Profiles of Users
Becoming a Marihuana User
Becoming a Multidrug User
Effects of Marihuana on the User
Effects Related to Pattern Use
Immediate Drug Effects
ShortTerm Effects
Long Term Effects
Very Long Term Effects
III. Social Impact of Marihuana Use
IV. Social Response to Marihuana Use
V. Marihuana and Social Policy
Drugs in a Free Society
A Social Control Policy for Marihuana
Implementing the Discouragement Policy
A Final Comment
Ancillary Recommendations
Legal and Law Enforcement Recommendations
Medical Recommendations
Other Recommendations
Letter of Transmittal
Members and Staff
History of Marihuana Use: Medical and Intoxicant
II. Biological Effects of Marihuana
Botanical and Chemical Considerations
Factors Influencing Psychopharmacological Effect
Acute Effects of Marihuana (Delta 9 THC)
Effects of Short-Term or Subacute Use
Effects of Long-Term Cannabis Use
Investigations of Very Heavy Very Long-Term Cannabis Users
III. Marihuana and Public Safety
Marihuana and Crime
Marihuana and Driving
Marihuana - Public Health and Welfare
Assessment of Perceived Risks
Preventive Public Health Concerns
Marihuana and the Dominant Social Order
The World of Youth
Why Society Feels Threatened
The Changing Social Scene
Problems in Assessing the Effects of Marihuana
Marihuana and Violence
Marihuana and (Non-Violent) Crime
Summary and Conclusions: Marihuana and Crime
Marihuana and Driving
History of Marihuana Legislation
History of Alcohol Prohibition
History of Tobacco Regulation
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The National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

I -- marihuana and the problem of marihuana

Formulating Marihuana Policy

Present symbolism, past implications, and future apprehensions all combine to give marihuana many meanings. These diverse notions of what marihuana means constitute the marihuana problem. In this atmosphere, the policy-maker's position is precarious insofar as no assumption is beyond dispute. Accordingly, the Commission has taken particular care to define the process by which a social policy decision should be reached.

In studying the arguments of past and present observers to justify a particular kind of marihuana policy, we conclude that a major impediment to rational decision-making in this area is oversimplification. As suggested earlier, many ingredients are included in the marihuana mix-medical, legal, social, philosophical, and moral. Many observers have tended to isolate one element, highlight it and then extrapolate social policy from that one premise. In an area where law, science and morality are so intertwined, we must beware of the tendency toward such selectivity.

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