Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana and Driving - The Current State of Knowledge

US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Table of Contents
I. Marihuana and the Problem of Marihuana
Origins of the Marihuana Problem
The Need for Perspective
Formulating Marihuana Policy
The Report
II. Marihuana Use and Its Effects
The Marihuana User
Profiles of Users
Becoming a Marihuana User
Becoming a Multidrug User
Effects of Marihuana on the User
Effects Related to Pattern Use
Immediate Drug Effects
ShortTerm Effects
Long Term Effects
Very Long Term Effects
III. Social Impact of Marihuana Use
IV. Social Response to Marihuana Use
V. Marihuana and Social Policy
Drugs in a Free Society
A Social Control Policy for Marihuana
Implementing the Discouragement Policy
A Final Comment
Ancillary Recommendations
Legal and Law Enforcement Recommendations
Medical Recommendations
Other Recommendations
Letter of Transmittal
Members and Staff
History of Marihuana Use: Medical and Intoxicant
II. Biological Effects of Marihuana
Botanical and Chemical Considerations
Factors Influencing Psychopharmacological Effect
Acute Effects of Marihuana (Delta 9 THC)
Effects of Short-Term or Subacute Use
Effects of Long-Term Cannabis Use
Investigations of Very Heavy Very Long-Term Cannabis Users
III. Marihuana and Public Safety
Marihuana and Crime
Marihuana and Driving
Marihuana - Public Health and Welfare
Assessment of Perceived Risks
Preventive Public Health Concerns
Marihuana and the Dominant Social Order
The World of Youth
Why Society Feels Threatened
The Changing Social Scene
Problems in Assessing the Effects of Marihuana
Marihuana and Violence
Marihuana and (Non-Violent) Crime
Summary and Conclusions: Marihuana and Crime
Marihuana and Driving
History of Marihuana Legislation
History of Alcohol Prohibition
History of Tobacco Regulation
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The Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana and Driving



The literature on drugs and driving contains several references to the role of drugs, including marihuana, in traffic violations, accidents and fatalities. They differ considerably, however, in the nature and extent to which they influence or affect driving behavior (Waller, 1965; Chetta, 1967, Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 1968; Third Triannual Congress on Traffic Accidents, 1969; Waller, 1970; Klein, Davis and Blackbourne, 1971 National Institute of Mental Health, 1972).

The studies examine the relationship between marihuana and driving and tend to be either statistical and enumerative with regard to traffic accidents or experimental with respect to the physiological and psychological effects of marihuana use deemed to be related to driving skill and performance. All of them suffer to one degree or another from an overabundance or dearth of extraneous variables and have, therefore, precluded generalization of the results and the production of conclusive, and valid findings.

The difficulty in interpreting the data gathered from statistical or enumerative studies of traffic accidents derives primarily from the inability to isolate precise cause. There are no tissue, urine or blood analysis methods currently and systematically in use outside the laboratory, similar to those available for alcohol, for determining the presence of marihuana in the bodily fluids of drivers.

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