Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Social Response to Marihuana Use - The Current Response

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 Current Response

In addition to an objective appraisal of the effects of marihuana use, this Commission was directed to evaluate the efficacy of existing law. The marihuana laws were and still are the focus of much public debate. We have recognized from the outset that a meaningful evaluation of the law is dependent upon an understanding of objectives and the social context in which the law operates. Particularly important in this connection are the attitudes and practices of society's non-legal institutions and the general direction of public opinion.

In order to comprehend the entire range of contemporary social response, the Commission launched a threefold inquiry. First, we designed a series of projects designed to ascertain opinion and behavior within the criminal justice system. Included were an analysis of all marihuana arrests during the last six months of 1970 in six metropolitan jurisdictions, a similar study of all federal marihuana arrests during 1970, an opinion survey of all local prosecuting attorneys, and a similar survey of attitudes among a representative sample of Judges, probation officers, and court clinicians.

We next focused on the practice and opinion of the medical, clerical, educational, and business communities. To this end, we solicited written responses from representative groups, invited various spokesmen to testify before us, made numerous field visits to secondary schools, colleges and universities and surveyed opinion in free clinics and university health services. We also launched a study of drug use and abuse in industry which will be covered in our second Report on drug abuse.

Finally, we commissioned the National Survey of public opinion about marihuana to which we have previously referred.

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