Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana Use and Its Effects - BECOMING A MARIHUANA USER

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.

Chapter II

marihuana use and its effects


Our attempt to classify marihuana users is primarily for descriptive purposes. It does not imply that all individuals who resemble any of the categories are necessarily marihuana users. Nor is it implied that all marihuana users fit neatly or precisely into these slots. There is no "typical" marihuana user, just as their is no typical American. The most notable statement that can be made about the vast majority of marihuana users-experimenters and intermittent users-is that they are essentially indistinguishable from their non-marihuana using peers by any fundamental criterion other than their marihuana use.

But if most users and non-users of marihuana essentially are indistinguishable, why have some people chosen to use the drug and others not, and why have some people continued to use it and others not? An important part of the explanation is that use of marihuana, like all human behavior, occurs within specific social and cultural settings. The individual's biological characteristics and personality probably play an important role in determining the pattern his use will take. However, the cultural and social setting play a larger role in determining whether be will use it at all.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that the young person who chooses to use marihuana differs in some important sociological respects from his peer who does not choose to do so. These differences relate to his willingness to experiment with a drug, especially a forbidden one. in short, the process of becoming a marihuana user is not a " seduction of the, innocent" as is often portrayed. Based on interrelated familial, social and cultural factors, persons, especially young persons, who may choose to use marihuana can be predicted statistically.

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