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Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - Table of Contents

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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