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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - Table of Contents

The Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Commissioned by President Richard M. Nixon, March, 1972

addendum

III. International

RECOMMENDATION: IF THE UNITED STATES SHOULD BECOME A SIGNATORY OF THE PROPOSED PSYCHOTROPIC CONVENTION, WE RECOMMEND THAT CANNABIS BE REMOVED FROM THE EXISTING SINGLE CONVENTION AND CONSIDERATION BE GIVEN TO LISTING IT IN THE PSYCHOTROPIC CONVENTION AMONG DRUGS WHICH HAVE SIMILAR EFFECTS.

Under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, of which the United States became a signatory in 1967, cannabis, with the exception of its leaves and stems, is included with narcotic drugs and cocaine. While that categorization had some justification in 1961 when knowledge about marihuana was more, limited, this justification no longer exists. More importantly, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, is not included in the Single Convention and is proposed for inclusion in the Psychotropic Convention.

The Commission sees little sense in having the potent psychoactive ingredient in cannabis covered in one Convention and the natural supplying data from its major foreign studies of chronic cannabis users in Jamaica and Greece. For medical research purposes, an analysis of data derived from populations in other countries with 10, 20 or 30 years of experience with heavy marihuana use will provide useful information about probable consequences if the, incidence of marihuana use in the United States were to continue and increase, and if more people engaged in heavy, long term use.

IV. Therapeutic Uses

RECOMMENDATION: INCREASED SUPPORT OF STUDIES WHICH EVALUATE THE EFFICACY OF MARIHIUANA TN THE TREATMENT OF PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENTS AND DISEASE IS RECOMMENDED.

Historical references have been noted throughout the literature referring to the use of cannabis products as therapeutically useful agents. Of particular significance for current research with controlled quality, quantity and therapeutic settings, would be investigations into the treatment of glaucoma, migraine, alcoholism and terminal cancer. The NIMII-FDA Psychotomimetic Advisory Committee's authorization of studies designed to explore the therapeutic uses of marihuana is commended.

V. Community-Based Treatment

RECOMMENDATION: COMMUNITY-BASED TREATMENT FACILITIES SHOULD BE PROMOTED IN CARlNG FOR PROBLEM DRUG USERS UTILIZING EXISTING HEALTH CENTERS WHEN POSSIBLE AND APPROPRIATE.

In studying marihuana, the Commission has obtained information about a number of treatment centers and services. The wide range of agencies and the variety of goals and techniques present a confusing array of services available to drug users, varying widely in their effectiveness. Uniform criteria for evaluating the "success" of these programs is urgently needed.

The medical members of the Commission believe that some of the techniques being used may pose as much potential harm as good. Many young people who are experiencing profound difficulties resulting from the use of drugs may suppose they are being treated and helped, when in reality they are not. In some cases, the short-term benefit may be disruptive to the long-term welfare of the individual. In the rush to provide treatment facilities, many programs have been given impressive credentials without meeting minimal medical standards. It is essential that treatment facilities have, as their primary orientation, the well-being of the individual under treatment.

VI. Training Programs

RECOMMENDATION: PUBLIC HEALTH COURSES ON THE SOCIAL ASPECTS OF DRUG USE SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE CURRICULA OF THE SCHOOLS OF THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS.

The Commission recommends that schools of the health professions include in their curricula courses on the social, public health and therapeutic aspects of drug use as appropriate to the educational purpose of the individual school. The National Survey indicated that the public views the family physician as an important source of information about drugs. Next to school personnel, physicians were mentioned most often in this connection. Persons involved in the health professions must be provided with information about nonmedical as well as the medical aspects of drug use.

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