Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding -- Preface

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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Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

The Technical Papers of the First Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
March, 1972




Congress created the Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse to separate fact from fiction, reality from myth, and to achieve a balanced judgment on the marihuana issue. The first report of the Commission is an attempt to clarify the essential issues and concerns of our society regarding marihuana and to extrapolate our findings and conclusions into a reasonable societal response.

In an effort to present these complex issues with a maximum of clarity, comprehension, and readability, the Commission Report does not include references. This Appendix, however, fully documents the methodological and substantive, issues presented in the Report. In addition to the technical data, the Appendix also contains the historical and philosophical matrix of the Report.

The papers of the Appendix are divided into six major parts. Part One deals with the biosocial aspects which relate to marihuana's effect on individuals as well as to the larger society.

It includes an historical survey of two types of marihuana use, medicinal and intoxicant, which constitutes a review of marihuana use in many parts of the world. An analysis of the accepted sociocultural parameters helps to put the American marihuana, user into perspective.

Part One also presents detailed and current reviews of the botanical, psychopharmacologic, physiologic, and behavioral effects of marihuana on man.

Part Two, the social aspects of marihuana use, discusses patterns of the individual user as well as the relationship of marihuana use to violent and non-violent crime.

One of the most controversial issues in the study of marihuana is its relationship to other drugs. The second chapter of Part Two deals specifically with this issue and explores, in depth and with careful consideration, the hypothesis that marihuana use leads to other drugs, especially heroin.

Part Three is concerned with the legal aspects of the marihuana controversy. In order to place marihuana, a psychoactive drug, in proper perspective, a history of the control of marihuana, alcohol and tobacco is presented.

This section of the Appendix also reviews the current marihuana laws at the international, federal and state levels including statutes that require physicians to report drug addiction. The section concludes with a description of trafficking and distribution patterns of the drug.

Part Four, the response of the criminal justice system, analyzes law enforcement behavior with respect to marihuana use. The relationship between the opinions held by officials in the criminal justice system and their behavior toward marihuana offenders is also discussed.

Part Five presents the findings of the Commission-sponsored National Survey of public attitudes and behavior toward marihuana, other drug use and related social issues.

Part Six discusses the marihuana issue with respect to sociolegal policy practices and decisions. Included in the section is a discussion of the constitutional dimensions which form the basis for alternative models for the control of marihuana. A nationwide study of marihuana education presents policies and programs on a state-by-state basis and includes descriptions of ongoing marihuana education programs.

The Appendix concludes with a presentation of future research recommendations as suggested guidelines for various agencies, institutions and individuals engaged in research on marihuana.

Each of the papers contained herein represents the composite effort of the Commission members and staff, consultants, contractors and youth consultants.

Of necessity, space limitations precluded the publication in full of many excellent papers; many works are presented either in abridged form or integrated into the Commission's own presentation.

A list of all papers submitted to the Commission is presented at the conclusion of the Appendix. Should any reader wish to obtain a copy of a particular work, the request should be sent directly to the author and not to the Commission.

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