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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

Excerpts From

MARIJUANA USE AND CRIME*

PREFACE

*Prepared by Professor Erich Goode for the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, January 15, 1972. The data on which this report is based were obtained from a survey conducted by the Institute of Survey Research of Temple University. All tables referred to in Professor Goode's text are found at the end of these excerpts. 'The interview schedule was developed and executed and the data processed for the Commission by Temple University's Institute for Survey Research, in Philadelphia.

The data analyzed in this report were gathered in August 1971 by the Institute for Survey Research of Temple University In Philadelphia; the author of this report did not have a hand in any phase of the data gathering, including constructing the interview schedule, although he is solely responsible for the data analysis. The sample consists in toto of males age 15 through 34 living in households located in a section of West Philadelphia. Each respondent was interviewed; a total sample size of 559 was collected. (The refusal rate was 10%, which is typical for house-to-house surveys of this type.) The area in which the sample was drawn is composed mainly of two heterogeneous populations: lower-middle and working-class, high school educated blacks, and college-associated whites-students and professionals associated with [Drexel University and] the University of Pennsylvania. About four respondents in ten in this survey are black, and just over half are white. (The number of Orientals and Puerto Ricans or Mexicans is too small to permit a meaningful statistical analysis, so that when race is discussed in this report, only the black-white comparison will be made.) The racial composition is roughly equivalent to the census figures for the sample area although no attempt was made, through a weighting of cases, to "correct" any discrepancies which might have prevailed in population composition. More detailed information is available from the Institute for Survey Research.

A quarter of the sample (23%) had never smoked marijuana; in 17 cases (3%), no information on marijuana use was given by the respondent. Of the marijuana users the question asked about frequency of use during the respondent's most recent year of use-about 1 in 10 smoked marijuana daily or more, about 1 in 5 smoked approximately once or twice a week, 1 in 4 smoked once or twice per month, on the average, and about 4 in 10 smoked marijuana several times a year. (The study also asked how often the respondent smoked marijuana in his first year of use a variable which I have not made use of in this report.) Questions were also asked concerning the respondent's use of other drugs-"stimulants or uppers, such as bennies, speed, or dex," "sedatives or downers, such as sleeping pills, amytal or blues, or nembutal, or yellow jackets," "hallucinatory drugs, such as LSD, mescaline, or STP," and "hard drugs, such as heroin, morphine, demerol, cocaine, or codeine." In addition, questions on one's friends' drug use-both marijuana and these other drugs--were asked.

The commission of various offenses formed another segnient of the questionnaire. There were 16 of them, and ranged from those which would not be considered crimes in most instances-such as "disturbing people"-to those which would be considered felonies, drawing long prison sentences such :as rape, armed robbery, and assault. As would be expected], the serious offenses were committed (or admitted to) by very, very few respondents-and thus, any comparison between users and non-users has to be made mainly on the basis of committing trivial offenses....



 

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