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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Cannabis Control Policy

 Cannabis Control Policy: A Discussion Paper

 Health Protection Branch

Department of National Health and Welfare

January 1979

Part 3 – The Empirical Bases of Cannabis Control Policy

A meaningful discussion of cannabis policy must be founded on reliable information as to the effects of the drug, the epidemiology of its use, and the institutional characteristics and socio-legal consequences of our present control regime. These matters are addressed in the following subsections: Chapter 1 surveys the available evidence regarding the correlates of cannabis use, while Chapter 2 summarizes the data pertaining to our current legislative response.

1. empirical Evidence Regarding Cannabis Use

Cannabis sativa is an herbaceous annual plant which grows as a weed or is cultivated throughout the tropical and temperate areas of the globe; it is commonly referred to as "Indian Hemp." Marijuana consists of the crushed leaves and often small twigs or flower tops and is usually smoked, either by itself or mixed with tobacco. Hashish, which is generally more potent, is the resin of the plant which has been squeezed or scraped from the leaves or flowering tops. It is sometimes eaten, but usually smoked in a pipe or sprinkled on tobacco and rolled into a cigarette. Hash oil, an extract of the resin, is mixed with tobacco or low-grade marijuana to be smoked, or smeared on cigarette papers to be used in the manufacture of "joints." The pharmacological effects of cannabis are due primarily to 1-D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and certain related metabolites.

In the following section we canvass the major findings of our background studies and literature reviews of the use of cannabis. This survey includes discussions of: (a) health concerns; (b) safety concerns; (c) the cannabis market; (d) extent of use; and (e) patterns of use.

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