Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Social Response to Marihuana Use - The Churches

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

Chapter IV

social response to marihuana use

The Churches

The nation's churches play a major role in the process by which society's norms and values are transmitted to the young. Moral education, through individual and family counseling by church personnel, is influential in the process of social control, particularly for adolescents. Consequently, the Commission sought to learn the attitudes, responses and recommendations of the clergy.

The larger societal uncertainty about the social and moral implications of marihuana use is also reflected in the attitudes of religious institutions. For example, Dr. Thomas E. Price, speaking for the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. before the Commission, referred to marihuana as a "tightly drawn moral knot." This uncertainty has led many religious groups to minimize a punitive and repressive response to marihuana use in their official statements and formal programs. Instead, they have concentrated on educational and rehabilitative programs.

Many church spokesmen have urged a reconsideration of social and legal policy. The range of their suggestions for change reflects, once again, widespread uncertainty. Some ask for some form of "adequate" punishment or supervision so as to discourage marihuana use. Others say "reform or elimination" of penalties for possession would be appropriate. And there are those who suggest legalization with some government regulation. Some church spokesmen have defended existing policy, recommending only that the law be more strictly and uniformly enforced.

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