Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana Use and Its Effects - BOTANY AND CHEMISTRY

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


Marihuana refers to a preparation derived from a plant, cannabis sativa L. The preparation contains varying quantities of the flowers and their resinous secretions, leaves, small stems and seeds. These plant parts contain many chemical substances. The chemical substance which produces the major drug effects is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). According to current information, the amount of THC present determines the potency of the preparation. Hereinafter, any reference to drug content or drug effect of marihuana will, for all practical purposes, mean that of tetrahydrocannabinol.

The drug content of the plant parts is variable, generally decreasing in the following sequence: resin, flowers, leaves. Practically no drug is found in the stems, roots or seeds. The potency and resulting drug effect of marihuana fluctuates, depending on the relative proportions of these plant parts in the marihuana mixture.

Most marihuana available in this country comes from Mexico and has a THC content of less than 1%. Marihuana of American origin often contains less than two-tenths of 1% THC. Marihuana originating in Jamaica and Southeast Asia often has a 2% to 4% THC content.

Marihuana is the least potent preparation of the plant. Jamaican ganja, containing primarily the flower tops and the small leaves or bracts, has a THC content of about 4% to 8% depending on the mixture. Indian ganja is less potent. The most potent preparation is hashish (charas) which is composed of only the drug-rich resinous secretions of the flowers. Generally, the THC content of hashish is 5 % to 12 %.

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