Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana and the Problem of Marihuana - The Need For Perspective

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

The Need for Perspective

This Commission has the task of exploring the marihuana controversy from as many vantage points as possible in its attempt to make sound, realistic and workable policy recommendations. Because we are dealing essentially with a complex social concern rather than a simple pharmacologic phenomenon, any social policy decision must discuss the realities of marihuana as a drug, marihuana use as a form of behavior, and marihuana as a symbol.

Particularly important is the determination of the longevity of the behavior. Are we dealing with a behavior that is becoming rooted in our culture or are we experiencing an aberration, a fad that will in time, of its own accord, pass away?

The vortex of the marihuana controversy is the present, but the prudent policy planner must not be blinded by the deluge of recent statistics. It is important that we scan the past for clues about the meaning of certain behavior and the promise offered by various social policy responses. We are convinced that a wider historical understanding will also go a long way toward deflating marihuana as a problem.

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