Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Social Impact of Marihuana Use - Immediate Effects

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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National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Chapter III

Social Impact of marihuana use

Immediate Effects

The intoxicant effects of marihuana on the mental function of the user does have potential health significance both for the individual and others with whom he may come in contact. Because marihuana is a psychoactive drug, it is important to examine the acute toxic effects which may occur in certain predisposed individuals and which increase with the potency of the preparation.

The Commission has reviewed numerous clinical studies describing acute panic reactions and transient psychotic-like episodes which occur as acute effects of the drug intoxication. In addition, a predisposed individual might experience aggravation of a latent psychotic state or other underlying instability. Although severe abnormal psychological states are rare when compared to the total number of marihuana users, lesser problems are not rare, and they may endanger both the individual and those around him at the time of their occurrence. The individual contemplating use is not capable of predicting whether he is predisposed by his particular circumstances to an undesirable mental reaction. The undesirable consequences occurring while an individual is involved in complex tasks such as driving or operating machinery or tasks requiring fine psychomotor precision and judgment are all too imaginable.

From a public health point of view, the immediate effects of marihuana intoxication on the individual's organs or bodily functions are of little significance. By and large these effects, which have been carefully outlined in Chapter 11 of the Report, are transient and have little or no permanent effect upon the individual.


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