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

The National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana - A Signal of Misunderstanding.

Chapter II

marihuana use and its effects

The Marihuana User

Cannabis has been used widely for many centuries in nonindustrialized countries of Asia and Africa. Today, as in earlier years, use of drug is concentrated primarily among lower socioeconomic groups. in these countries, the practice is estimated to be confined to a tenth of the lower socioeconomic, male population. Although such use of the drug is well-established, it offers little direct comparison with the American experience.

Although the commercial, industrial and therapeutic value of the hemp plant was widely recognized and exploited in the United States from the earliest days of its history, knowledge and use of its intoxicating and psychoactive properties remained largely unknown until about 1900.

At that time, the custom of smoking marihuana was generally limited to groups of Mexican itinerant workers in the border states of the Southwest. By 1910, marihuana use began to emerge in other southern states and cities, particularly New Orleans, and in the port cities along the Mississippi River. In time, these cities became distribution centers for enterprising sailors. From there, marihuana use spread cross-country to other urban centers, mining camps, railroad construction sites, farm labor camps, "bohemian" communities of artists and jazz musicians, and various other groups outside the mainstream of American society.

Recently, of course, use of the drug has spread to young, white, middle class groups and especially to high school and college populations.


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