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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

The Need for Perspective

This Commission has the task of exploring the marihuana controversy from as many vantage points as possible in its attempt to make sound, realistic and workable policy recommendations. Because we are dealing essentially with a complex social concern rather than a simple pharmacologic phenomenon, any social policy decision must discuss the realities of marihuana as a drug, marihuana use as a form of behavior, and marihuana as a symbol.

Particularly important is the determination of the longevity of the behavior. Are we dealing with a behavior that is becoming rooted in our culture or are we experiencing an aberration, a fad that will in time, of its own accord, pass away?

The vortex of the marihuana controversy is the present, but the prudent policy planner must not be blinded by the deluge of recent statistics. It is important that we scan the past for clues about the meaning of certain behavior and the promise offered by various social policy responses. We are convinced that a wider historical understanding will also go a long way toward deflating marihuana as a problem.

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