Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana Use and Its Effects - Motivation and Behavioral Change

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 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana - A Signal of Misunderstanding.

Chapter II

marihuana use and its effects

Motivation and Behavioral Change

Another controversial form of social-mental deterioration allegedly related to very long-term very heavy cannabis use is the "amotivational syndrome." It supposedly affects the very heavy using population and is described world-wide as a, loss of interest in virtually all activities other than cannabis use, with resultant lethargy, amorality, instability and social and personal deterioration. The reasons for the occurrence of this syndrome are varied and hypothetical; drug use is only one of many components in the socioeconomic and psychocultural backgrounds of the individuals.

Intensive studies of the Greek and Jamaican populations of heavy long-term cannabis users appear to dispute the sole causality of cannabis in this syndrome. The heavy ganja and hashish using individuals were from lower socioeconomic groups, and possessed average intelligence but had little education and small chance of vocational advancement. Most were married and maintained families and households. They were all employed, most often as laborers or small businessmen, at a level which corresponded with their education and opportunity.

In general, their life styles were dictated by socioeconomic factors and did not appear to deteriorate as a result of cannabis use. The Jamaicans were working strenuously and regularly at generally uninteresting jobs. In their culture, cannabis serves as a work adjunct. The users believe the drug provides energy for laborious work and helps them to endure their routine tasks.

In contrast, others have described Asian and African populations where heavy to very heavy hashish or charas smoking for a very long time is associated with clear-cut behavioral changes. In these societies, the smokers are mostly jobless, illiterate persons of the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds. They generally begin to use the drug in their early teens and continue its use up to their 60's.

The users prefer to smoke in groups of two to 20, generally in a quiet place out of the reach of non-smokers. Weakness, malnutrition and sexual difficulties, usually impotence, a-re common. Some of them report sleep disturbances.

Most users who have used the drug for 20 to 30 years are lazy and less practical in most of their daily acts and reluctant to make decisions. However, their ability to perform non-complicated tasks is as good as non-smokers.

Although the smokers think they become faster in their daily work, a general slowness in all their activities is noticed by others. This user population is typically uncreative. They make little if any significant contribution to the social, medical or economic improvement of their community.


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