Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana Use and Its Effects - Situational Factors and Behavioral Correlates

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

Situational Factors and Behavioral Correlates

All studies of the ever user, including the Commission-sponsored National Survey, have established that marihuana smoking is significantly correlated with a number of demographic variables. Males, college students, and residents of metropolitan areas, especially in the Northeast and West, are generally overrepresented in proportion to their percentage of the total population.

Among the behaviors statistically correlated with marihuana, use are radical politics, visits to psychiatrists, sexual freedom, and separate residences from parents. The most significant behavior seems to be use of legal drugs, especially alcohol and tobacco. Young people who choose to experiment with marihuana are fundamentally the same people, socially and psychologically, as those who use alcohol and tobacco. For example, in a study of high school youngsters, only 3% of all the nonsmokers in the sample had ever tried marihuana, compared with 50% of all the current cigarette smokers. Similarly, for alcohol drinking outside the family setting, only 2% of all the nondrinkers had tried marihuana, as compared to 27% of the drinkers. The National Survey tends to confirm the close association between marihuana use and cigarette smoking and alcohol use. Among all the adults sampled in the Survey, 71% had smoked cigarettes and 39% are current smokers. Similarly, of adult non-marihuana users, 70% have smoked cigarettes and 38% are current smokers. These percentages increase somewhat for marihuana users: 87 have smoked cigarettes and 54% are current cigarette smokers.

In regard to alcohol consumption, 40% of all the adults sampled indicated that they had not consumed beer or bard liquor in the 30 days prior to the survey. Marihuana users tended to have consumed alcohol more often than non-marihuana users (Table, 2).


1-4 5-10 11 or No

0 days days days more answer


Percent of nonmarihuana users. . 45 19 6 7 21

Percent of marihuana users...... 26 30 12 8 24

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