Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana Use and Its Effects - Mental Functioning

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

Mental Functioning

The incidence of psychiatric hospitalizations for acute psychoses and of use of drugs other than alcohol is not significantly higher than among the non-using population. The existence of a specific longlasting, cannabis-related psychosis is poorly defined. If heavy cannabis use produces a, specific psychosis, it must be quite rare or else exceedingly difficult to distinguish from other acute or chronic psychoses.

Recent studies suggest that the occurrence of any form of psychosis in heavy cannabis users is no higher than in the general population. Although such use is often quite, prevalent in hospitalized mental patients, the drug could only be considered a. causal factor in a, few cases. Most of these were, short-term reactions or toxic overdoses. In addition, a concurrent use of alcohol often played a role in the, episode causing hospitalization.

These findings are somewhat surprising in view of the widespread belief that cannabis attracts the mentally unstable, vulnerable individual. Experience in the United States has not involved a level of heavy marihuana, use comparable to these foreign countries. Consequently, such long-lasting psychic disturbances possibly caused by heavy cannabis use have not been observed in this country.


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