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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

Motivation and Behavioral Change

Another controversial form of social-mental deterioration allegedly related to very long-term very heavy cannabis use is the "amotivational syndrome." It supposedly affects the very heavy using population and is described world-wide as a, loss of interest in virtually all activities other than cannabis use, with resultant lethargy, amorality, instability and social and personal deterioration. The reasons for the occurrence of this syndrome are varied and hypothetical; drug use is only one of many components in the socioeconomic and psychocultural backgrounds of the individuals.

Intensive studies of the Greek and Jamaican populations of heavy long-term cannabis users appear to dispute the sole causality of cannabis in this syndrome. The heavy ganja and hashish using individuals were from lower socioeconomic groups, and possessed average intelligence but had little education and small chance of vocational advancement. Most were married and maintained families and households. They were all employed, most often as laborers or small businessmen, at a level which corresponded with their education and opportunity.

In general, their life styles were dictated by socioeconomic factors and did not appear to deteriorate as a result of cannabis use. The Jamaicans were working strenuously and regularly at generally uninteresting jobs. In their culture, cannabis serves as a work adjunct. The users believe the drug provides energy for laborious work and helps them to endure their routine tasks.

In contrast, others have described Asian and African populations where heavy to very heavy hashish or charas smoking for a very long time is associated with clear-cut behavioral changes. In these societies, the smokers are mostly jobless, illiterate persons of the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds. They generally begin to use the drug in their early teens and continue its use up to their 60's.

The users prefer to smoke in groups of two to 20, generally in a quiet place out of the reach of non-smokers. Weakness, malnutrition and sexual difficulties, usually impotence, a-re common. Some of them report sleep disturbances.

Most users who have used the drug for 20 to 30 years are lazy and less practical in most of their daily acts and reluctant to make decisions. However, their ability to perform non-complicated tasks is as good as non-smokers.

Although the smokers think they become faster in their daily work, a general slowness in all their activities is noticed by others. This user population is typically uncreative. They make little if any significant contribution to the social, medical or economic improvement of their community.


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