Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding

Marihuana Use and Its Effects - Definition of Dependence

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

Definition of Dependence

Before describing the effect of marihuana, on the user, two additional definitions are required. They concern the concept of dependence which has so clouded public and professional consideration of psychoactive drugs. Throughout the remainder of this report, we refer Separately to psychological and physical dependence, defined as follows:

Psychological dependence is the repeated use of psychoactive drugs leading to a conditioned pattern of drug-seeking behavior. The intensity of dependence varies with the nature of the drug, the method, frequency, and duration of administration, the mental and physical attributes of the individual, and the characteristics of the physical and social environment. Its intensity is at its peak when drug-seeking becomes a compulsive and undeviating pattern of behavior.

Physical dependence is the state of latent hyper-excitability which develops in the central nervous system of higher mammals following frequent and prolonged administration of the morphine-like analgesics, alcohol, barbiturates, and other depressants. Such dependence is not manifest subjectively or objectively during drug administration. Specific symptoms and signs, the abstinence syndrome, occur upon abrupt termination of drug administration; or with morphinelike agonists by administering the specific antagonists.


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