Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Acute Effects of Marijuana (Delta 9 THC) - The Intoxicated Mental State

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

Acute Effects of Marihuana

(Delta 9 THC)


Several investigators have suggested that shortterm memory is the mental function most significantly affected by marihuana and contributes to the subtle alterations of mental functioning noted. Generally an impairment of recent or short term memory is demonstrated (Abel, 1970,1971; Dornbush et al., 1971; Menges, 1970-71; Tinklenberg, 1970; Clark et al., 1970; Weil et al., 1968). Thus, mental tasks requiring immediate information acquisition (Abel, 1971) and/or retrieval (Weil et al., 1968) are effected.

Abel (1971) recently showed that marihuana blocks the acquisition process involved in the storage of new interferes with the retrieval of already stored information. Decrements are produced in decisions requiring recent memory or sustained alertness (Clark et al., 1970) ; conversation (Well et al., 1968) ; calculations, or reading which requires retention, coordinating and indexing sequential information termed temporal disintegration (Melges et al., 1970, 1971).

Melges eta]. (1970, 1971) theorizes that episodic impairment of immediate memory produces voids which are filled with perceptions and thoughts extraneous to the organized mental processes. He suggests that this leads to temporal disintegration producing a fragmented and disorganized temporal experience in which past and future time frames are blurred and the present is experienced as prolonged or boundless. Thus, depersonalization occurs as the individual experiences himself temporally in a strange and unreal manner during marihuana intoxication.

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