Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

History of Tobacco Regulation*

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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National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

History of Tobacco Regulation*

*This section is based in part on a paper prepared for the Commission by Jane Lang McGrew, an attorney from Washington, D.C.

Since 1613, when John Rolfe introduced a successful experiment in tobacco cultivation in Virginia (Morison, 1965 : 52) the leaf has assumed major social, industrial, economic and medical implications. Consequently, persons concerned with tobacco on a commercial or personal basis have been subject to a variety of different regulations over the past 360 years.

Tobacco has been attacked by social observers and medical authorities for the damage it has allegedly done, to the social and physical condition of man. Yet it has also provided a substantial source of revenue to the state and Federal governments of the United States.

As is now the case with alcohol, tobacco has long been subject to regulatory controls over the quantity and quality of production. On the other hand, sumptuary laws affecting tobacco have been far fewer-and weaker-than those aimed at alcohol. In fact, there has never been a time when tobacco was prohibited throughout the United States although consumption under certain circumstances has been forbidden at various times in different jurisdictions.

Tobacco-associated today with smoking of cigarettes, and to a lesser extent, of pipes and cigars-has been popular at times for both snuffing and chewing. Indeed, until about 1870 cigarettes were relatively rare in the United States, and almost all tobacco consumed domestically was chewed during the mid-19th century (Gottsegen, 1940: 9-10).

What ever the preferred mode of consumption, however, the, commodity has always been the subject of debate respecting the appropriate governmental attitude. On the one hand, proponents of the leaf stress its social benefits and its economic and industrial significance. Some enthusiasts even endorse its alleged medical and psychological benefits. Opposed are those who cite the health hazards of smoking and others who are convinced of its immorality.

The motivation for regulation has come from both sides of the controversy. Most sumptuary restrictions were fostered by the latter group in an effort to suppress the habit. Those who seek to institutionalize and foster use of the drug focus on the regulation of the quantity and quality of production.

This section does not attempt to weigh the merits of the various regulatory schemes. Rather, it will trace from John Rolfe's day the three threads of regulation which have circumscribed both the producer and consumer of tobacco in the United States.

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