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Marijuana

DRUG WAR FACTS
compiled by Kendra E. Wright and Paul M. Lewin
for Common Sense for Drug Policy, http://www.csdp.org/
Updated: March, 1999
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Factbook : Marijuana
About 140 million people--nearly 2.5% of the world's population--smoke
marijuana.
 Source:  Associated Press, "U.N. Estimates Drug Business Equal to 8
 Percent of World Trade," (1997, June 26)
Marijuana was first federally prohibited in 1937.  Today, nearly 70
million Americans admit to having tried it.
 Sources:  Marihuana Tax Act of 1937; Substance Abuse and Mental Health
 Services Administration, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse:
 Population Estimates 1996, Rockville, MD:  Substance Abuse and Mental
 Health Services Administration (1997), p. 23, Table 3A.
Commissioned by President Nixon in 1972, the National Commission on
Marihuana and Drug Abuse concluded that "Marihuana's relative potential for
harm to the vast majority of individual users and its actual impact on
society does not justify a social policy designed to seek out and firmly
punish those who use it. This judgment is based on prevalent use patterns,
on behavior exhibited by the vast majority of users and on our
interpretations of existing medical and scientific data. This position also
is consistent with the estimate by law enforcement personnel that the
elimination of use is unattainable."
 Source:  Shafer, Raymond P., et al, Marihuana: A Signal of
 Misunderstanding, Ch. V, Washington D.C.:  National Commission on Marihuana
 and Drug Abuse, (1972).
When examining the relationship between marijuana use and violent crime,
the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse concluded, "Rather than
inducing violent or aggressive behavior through its purported effects of
lowering inhibitions, weakening impulse control and heightening aggressive
tendencies, marihuana was usually found to inhibit the expression of
aggressive impulses by pacifying the user, interfering with muscular
coordination, reducing psychomotor activities and generally producing
states of drowsiness lethargy, timidity and passivity."
 Source:  Shafer, Raymond P., et al, Marihuana: A Signal of
 Misunderstanding, Ch. III, Washington D.C.:  National Commission on
 Marihuana and Drug Abuse, (1972).
When examining the medical affects of marijuana use, the National
Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse concluded, "A careful search of the
literature and testimony of the nation's health officials has not revealed
a single human fatality in the United States proven to have resulted solely
from ingestion of marihuana. Experiments with the drug in monkeys
demonstrated that the dose required for overdose death was enormous and for
all practical purposes unachievable by humans smoking marihuana. This is in
marked contrast to other substances in common use, most notably alcohol and
barbiturate sleeping pills. The WHO reached the same conclusion in 1995.
 Source: Shafer, Raymond P., et al, Marihuana: A Signal of
 Misunderstanding, Ch. III, Washington D.C.: National Commission on
 Marihuana and Drug Abuse, (1972).Hall, W., Room, R. & Bondy, S., WHO
 Project on Health Implications of Cannabis Use: A Comparative Appraisal of
 the Health and Psychological Consequences of Alcohol, Cannabis, Nicotine
 and Opiate Use, August 28, 1995, Geneva, Switzerland: World Health
 Organization (1998, March).
In 1996, 641,642 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses; that's
approximately one arrest every 49 seconds. About 85% of those were for
simple possession--not manufacture or distribution.
 Source:  Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports for
 the United States 1996, Washington D.C.:  U.S. Government Printing Office
 (1997).
The World Health Organization released a study in March 1998 that states:
"there are good reasons for saying that [the risks from cannabis] would be
unlikely to seriously [compare to] the public health risks of alcohol and
tobacco even if as many people used cannabis as now drink alcohol or smoke
tobacco."
 Source:  Hall, W., Room, R. & Bondy, S., WHO Project on Health Implications
 of Cannabis Use:  A Comparative Appraisal of the Health and Psychological
 Consequences of Alcohol, Cannabis, Nicotine and Opiate Use, August 28,
 1995, (contained in original version, but deleted from official version)
 Geneva, Switzerland:  World Health Organization (1998, March).
The authors of a 1998 WHO report comparing marijuana, alcohol, nicotine and
opiates quote the Institute of Medicine's 1982 report stating that there is
no evidence that smoking marijuana "exerts a permanently deleterious effect
on the normal cardiovascular system."
 Source:  Hall, W., Room, R. & Bondy, S., WHO Project on Health Implications
 of Cannabis Use:  A Comparative Appraisal of the Health and Psychological
 Consequences of Alcohol, Cannabis, Nicotine and Opiate Use, August 28, 1995,
 Geneva, Switzerland:  World Health Organization (1998, March).
Some claim that cannabis use leads to "adult amotivation." The WHO report
addresses the issue and states, "it is doubtful that cannabis use produces
a well defined amotivational syndrome." The report also notes that the
value of studies which support the "adult amotivation" theory are "limited
by their small sample sizes" and lack of representative social/cultural
groups.
 Source:  Hall, W., Room, R. & Bondy, S., WHO Project on Health Implications
 of Cannabis Use:  A Comparative Appraisal of the Health and Psychological
 Consequences of Alcohol, Cannabis, Nicotine and Opiate Use, August 28, 1995,
 Geneva, Switzerland:  World Health Organization (1998, March).
Since 1969, government-appointed commissions in the United States, Canada,
England, Australia, and the Netherlands concluded, after reviewing the
scientific evidence, that marijuana's dangers had previously been greatly
exaggerated, and urged lawmakers to drastically reduce or eliminate
penalties for marijuana possession.
 Source: Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence, Cannabis, London, England:
 Her Majesty's Stationery Office (1969); Canadian Government Commission of
 Inquiry, The Non-Medical Use of Drugs, Ottawa, Canada:  Information Canada
 (1970); The National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, Marihuana: A
 Signal of Misunderstanding, (Nixon-Shafer Report) (1972); Werkgroep
 Verdovende Middelen, Background and Risks of Drug Use, The Hague, The
 Netherlands: Staatsuigeverij (1972); Senate Standing Committee on Social
 Welfare, Drug Problems in Australia--An Intoxicated Society, Canberra,
 Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service (1977).
In May of 1998, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, National Working
Group on Addictions Policy released a discussion document which
recommended, "The severity of punishment for a cannabis possession charge
should be reduced. Specifically, cannabis possession should be converted to
a civil violation under the Contraventions Act." The paper further noted
that, "The available evidence indicates that removal of jail as a
sentencing option would lead to considerable cost savings without leading
to increases in rates of cannabis use."
 Source: Single, Eric, Cannabis Control in Canada: Options Regarding
 Possession,Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (1998
 May).
"There is no reason to believe that today's marijuana is stronger or
more dangerous than the marijuana smoked during the 1960s and 1970s."
 Source: Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D. and John P. Morgan, M.D., Marijuana Myths,
 Marijuana Facts, New York: The Lindesmith Center  (1997), p. 140.
EDS. NOTE: Readers are encouraged to review chapter 19 of Zimmer and
Morgan's book where this multifaceted issue is dealt with in detail.
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Available online at: http://www.csdp.org/factbook/
Questions, comments or suggestions for additions and modifications
may be addressed to the Paul Lewin at: [email protected]
To stay informed, we recommend the DrugSense Weekly Newsletter;
http://www.drugsense.org/nl/


See also:
See also: Drug war facts
See also: Hemp library.


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