Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana Use and Its Effects - Very Heavy Users

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

Very Heavy Users

The Commission's analysis of frequency, quantity and duration of marihuana use suggest that the United States is at the present time in a fortunate position. All of the studies available to the Commission have indicated that only a minute number of Americans can be designated as very heavy marihuana users. These studies uniformly indicate that chronic, constant intoxication with very potent cannabis preparations is exceedingly rare in this country.

The Commission believes that important distinctions must be made between the daily (moderate and heavy) American marihuana user and the very heavy hashish or charas user in other parts of the world where cannabis is widely cultivated and its use deeply ingrained. Many of the North African and Asian users do not employ the drug only as an intoxicant in the western sense. Instead, it is frequently used in "folk medical practice," in religious rites and as a work adjunct particularly in those occupations which are physically demanding, monotonous, unintellectual, and offer little possibility of advancement.

In these countries, very heavy use is typically associated with young males from a lower socioeconomic background. Nonetheless, use is more widespread among all ages and elderly chronic users are not uncommon.

Generally, these very heavy users consume high amounts of very potent preparations continually throughout the day so that they are rarely drug-free. These individuals evidence strong psychological dependence on the drug, requiring compulsive drug-taking. Clear-cut behavioral changes occur in these extreme cases. The very heavy User tends to lose interest in all activities other than drug use. A common element of the behavioral pattern is lethargy and social deterioration. Not surprisingly, these users have been held in low esteem and very heavy use has been subject to societal disapproval in almost all countries.

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