Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana and the Problem of Marihuana

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

I -- marihuana and the problem of marihuana

"There are no whole truths; all truths are half -truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil."

Alfred North Whitehead (1953)

We are a nation of problem-solvers. We are restless and impatient with perceived gaps between the way things are and the way we think ought to be. Understandably, such an impulse toward self-correction never leaves us wanting for social problems to solve. Although it is a prerequisite to social progress, this problem-solving orientation misdirects our attention. In order to maximize public awareness we are apt to characterize situations as being far worse than they really are. Because any activity is commonly regarded as a move toward a solution, rhetoric and stopgap legislation sometimes substitute for rational reflection. We become so impressed with social engineering that we overlook inherent human limitations.

Since the mid-sixties, American society has been increasingly agitated by what has been defined as a marihuana problem. The typical sequences of "a national problem" have resulted: exaggeration, polarization and the inevitable demand for a. solution. The appointment of this Commission and the publication of this Report reflect the escalation of marihuana use into the realm of social problem. Since the beginning of our official life, we have grappled with the threshold question: Why has the use of marihuana reached problem status in the public mind?

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