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Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - Table of Contents

The Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana and (Non-Violent) Crime

Much that has been said with respect to aggressive behavior and violent crime also applies to the more general proposition that marihuana causes or leads to (non-violent) crime and delinquency. The popular and professional literature abounds with claims and counter-claims. Public and professional opinion surveys demonstrate a widespread belief in the existence of a marihuana-crime relationship but also reveal considerable uncertainty about the existence of such a relationship.

The empirical evidence is somewhat more consistent. Laboratory studies provide no evidence that marihuana produces effects which can be interpreted as criminogenic. Although some studies of offender populations purport to demonstrate a causal relationship between marihuana and crime, they reveal, at the most, a significant statistical association. Closer examination of these data or more sophisticated analysis, however, generally shows the purported relationship to be spurious. The original relationship is usually found to derive not from the chemical effects of the drug but from the operation of social and cultural variables unrelated to either the drug or its use.

In the following pages the available evidence bearing on the relationship between marihuana. and crime will be reviewed in an effort to determine whether marihuana itself or the use of the drug plays a significant precipitating or contributory role in the commission of criminal or delinquent acts.


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