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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

Chapter IV

social response to marihuana use

The Churches

The nation's churches play a major role in the process by which society's norms and values are transmitted to the young. Moral education, through individual and family counseling by church personnel, is influential in the process of social control, particularly for adolescents. Consequently, the Commission sought to learn the attitudes, responses and recommendations of the clergy.

The larger societal uncertainty about the social and moral implications of marihuana use is also reflected in the attitudes of religious institutions. For example, Dr. Thomas E. Price, speaking for the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. before the Commission, referred to marihuana as a "tightly drawn moral knot." This uncertainty has led many religious groups to minimize a punitive and repressive response to marihuana use in their official statements and formal programs. Instead, they have concentrated on educational and rehabilitative programs.

Many church spokesmen have urged a reconsideration of social and legal policy. The range of their suggestions for change reflects, once again, widespread uncertainty. Some ask for some form of "adequate" punishment or supervision so as to discourage marihuana use. Others say "reform or elimination" of penalties for possession would be appropriate. And there are those who suggest legalization with some government regulation. Some church spokesmen have defended existing policy, recommending only that the law be more strictly and uniformly enforced.


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