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Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - Table of Contents

National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Chapter III

Social Impact of marihuana use

Immediate Effects

The intoxicant effects of marihuana on the mental function of the user does have potential health significance both for the individual and others with whom he may come in contact. Because marihuana is a psychoactive drug, it is important to examine the acute toxic effects which may occur in certain predisposed individuals and which increase with the potency of the preparation.

The Commission has reviewed numerous clinical studies describing acute panic reactions and transient psychotic-like episodes which occur as acute effects of the drug intoxication. In addition, a predisposed individual might experience aggravation of a latent psychotic state or other underlying instability. Although severe abnormal psychological states are rare when compared to the total number of marihuana users, lesser problems are not rare, and they may endanger both the individual and those around him at the time of their occurrence. The individual contemplating use is not capable of predicting whether he is predisposed by his particular circumstances to an undesirable mental reaction. The undesirable consequences occurring while an individual is involved in complex tasks such as driving or operating machinery or tasks requiring fine psychomotor precision and judgment are all too imaginable.

From a public health point of view, the immediate effects of marihuana intoxication on the individual's organs or bodily functions are of little significance. By and large these effects, which have been carefully outlined in Chapter 11 of the Report, are transient and have little or no permanent effect upon the individual.


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