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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 Current Response

In addition to an objective appraisal of the effects of marihuana use, this Commission was directed to evaluate the efficacy of existing law. The marihuana laws were and still are the focus of much public debate. We have recognized from the outset that a meaningful evaluation of the law is dependent upon an understanding of objectives and the social context in which the law operates. Particularly important in this connection are the attitudes and practices of society's non-legal institutions and the general direction of public opinion.

In order to comprehend the entire range of contemporary social response, the Commission launched a threefold inquiry. First, we designed a series of projects designed to ascertain opinion and behavior within the criminal justice system. Included were an analysis of all marihuana arrests during the last six months of 1970 in six metropolitan jurisdictions, a similar study of all federal marihuana arrests during 1970, an opinion survey of all local prosecuting attorneys, and a similar survey of attitudes among a representative sample of Judges, probation officers, and court clinicians.

We next focused on the practice and opinion of the medical, clerical, educational, and business communities. To this end, we solicited written responses from representative groups, invited various spokesmen to testify before us, made numerous field visits to secondary schools, colleges and universities and surveyed opinion in free clinics and university health services. We also launched a study of drug use and abuse in industry which will be covered in our second Report on drug abuse.

Finally, we commissioned the National Survey of public opinion about marihuana to which we have previously referred.


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