Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Social Impact of Marihuana Use - MARIHUANA AND 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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National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Chapter III

Social Impact of marihuana use


Over the years, there have been several hypotheses about the relationship between marihuana and antisocial conduct. The earliest view was that marihuana causes or leads to the commission of aggressive and violent criminal acts such as murder, rape and assault. These acts are committed, it has been argued, because marihuana allegedly produces a relaxation of ordinary inhibitions, a weakening of impulse control and a concomitant increase in aggressive tendencies while the user is under its influence.

Marihuana's alleged criminogenic role is not always limited to violent or aggressive behavior. Some commentators also postulate that marihuana leads to or causes non-violent forms of criminal or delinquent conduct, ranging from sexual promiscuity to grand larceny. Underlying this second causal hypothesis are the assumptions that marihuana frequently impairs judgment, distorts reality and diminishes, at least temporarily, the user's sense of personal and social responsibility. Regular or heavy use over an extended period of time is felt to interfere, perhaps irreversibly, with the orderly development of psychosocial and moral maturity.

As indicated above, however, a growing uncertainty prevails about ,the existence of a causal link between marihuana use and antisocial conduct. In fact, recent surveys, including several sponsored by the Commission, suggest that large segments of the professional public, particularly the law enforcement and criminal justice communities, are no longer willing to assert a, cause-effect relationship but observe, instead, the existence of a statistical association.


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