Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana and (Non-Violent) Crime

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

Marihuana and (Non-Violent) Crime

Much that has been said with respect to aggressive behavior and violent crime also applies to the more general proposition that marihuana causes or leads to (non-violent) crime and delinquency. The popular and professional literature abounds with claims and counter-claims. Public and professional opinion surveys demonstrate a widespread belief in the existence of a marihuana-crime relationship but also reveal considerable uncertainty about the existence of such a relationship.

The empirical evidence is somewhat more consistent. Laboratory studies provide no evidence that marihuana produces effects which can be interpreted as criminogenic. Although some studies of offender populations purport to demonstrate a causal relationship between marihuana and crime, they reveal, at the most, a significant statistical association. Closer examination of these data or more sophisticated analysis, however, generally shows the purported relationship to be spurious. The original relationship is usually found to derive not from the chemical effects of the drug but from the operation of social and cultural variables unrelated to either the drug or its use.

In the following pages the available evidence bearing on the relationship between marihuana. and crime will be reviewed in an effort to determine whether marihuana itself or the use of the drug plays a significant precipitating or contributory role in the commission of criminal or delinquent acts.

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