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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



Realizing the importance of social change in understanding the issues surrounding the use of marihuana and other drugs, the Commission decided early that an objective appraisal of cultural trends was vital for the, development of policy recommendations. Since neither the increase in marihuana use nor its attendant controversy is an isolated phenomenon, we sought a wider cultural perspective. To this end, the Commission sponsored a wide-ranging seminar on "Central Influences on American Life." With the cooperation of the Council for Biology in Human Affairs of the Salk Institute, we elicited a three-day conversation among 13 exceptionally thoughtful and perceptive observers of American life.*

*The participants included Jacques Barzun, as moderator, Mary Bingham, Claude T. Bissell, Kenneth Boulding, Robert R. Bowie, Theodore Caplow, Jay W. Forrester, T. George Harris. Rollo May, Jay Saunders Redding, Jonas Salk, Ernest van den Haag, and Leroy S. Wehrle.

It is well beyond both our mandate and our competence to attempt a definitive presentation of the status of the American ethical system However, we shall try to suggest some of the more salient influence in our changing society, recognizing that only against the backdrop of society's fears, aspirations and values can a rational response to marihuana be formulated. Although we are not prepared to identify specific causal connections between these social trends and marihuana use, we do believe that some of the major points raised in the discussion of cultural change provide essential background in understanding the marihuana problem.

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