Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Social Impact of Marihuana Use - The Adult Marihuana User

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

The Adult Marihuana User

Despite the fact that substantial numbers of adults use marihuana, society does not appear to feel greatly threatened by this group, probably because included in the group are a considerable number of middle class individuals who are regularly employed and whose occupational and social status appear to be similar to those of peers and colleagues who do not use marihuana.

In the course of its fact-finding effort, the Commission has met with several groups of socially and economically "successful" marihuana users in the professions of law, medicine, banking, education and business. In most cases, these persons, in their external appearances, seemed to be mature and responsible adults whose social attitudes and behavior did not mark them as radical ideologues or essentially irresponsible individuals.

For the most part, use of marihuana by adults has been found to be more directly related to the facilitation of social interaction (much like the adult use of alcohol in social gatherings) than to any other factor. Although their marihuana smoking behavior is illegal, most adult users are not ordinarily considered by their peers to be criminal nor is their use generally likely to result in arrest.

Because the adult user generally maintains low visibility, is primarily a recreational user, is not usually involved in radical political activity and maintains a life style largely indistinguishable from his non-using neighbors, he is not ordinarily viewed as a threat to the dominant social order. In short, aside from his use of marihuana, the adult recreational user is not generally viewed as a significant social problem.


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