Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana Use and Its Effects - Profiles and Dynamics

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

Profiles and Dynamics

The personality profile of the heavy marihuana user discussed earlier includes elements propelling him toward heavy involvement in the multiple-drug-using-subculture. Heavy drug use by these individuals may reflect and aggravate a total alienation and disaffiliation from American society and its institutions. This group hopes to find in drug use more than simple, fun or relief from boredom. The heavy use of drugs represents a shift into the drug subculture and an adoption of a totally new life style. Some observers feel that this shift provides a new identity which allows the individual to counteract his apathy and search for meaning in a society he views as unloving, lonely, and meaningless. He seeks to become involved with what he describes as the exciting, relevant, "real" experience of life. Additionally, he believes drug use provides new feelings and awareness needed to overcome barriers between himself, others, and the natural world.

The drug culture as a community also helps to meet the needs of the individual. It provides a ready supply of drugs, unites common experiences and secrets that enhance the drug experience, and protects the individual against undesired experiences and against "the outside world." Most important, the culture instills self-confidence by reassuring the individual that he has been wise in choosing this new identity.

Frequently, these are individuals who express feelings of loneliness, isolation and over-protection from their home and family. One frequent pattern involves an intimate, dominating mother and a distant, unemotional father. In some cases, the drug-use ritual and the, sense of community closeness offered by the drug subculture appear to satisfy certain personal needs. Additionally, joining the subculture provides a release from sheltered life, a test of competence, an opportunity to participate, and a chance to express anger. When the anger is turned inward instead of directed at society and family, drug use becomes a form of passive, self-destructiveness.

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