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Comparative rates of marijuana use in the Netherlands and the United States. There is no evidence that lessening penalties for marijuana offenses increases use. There is much evidence to the contrary, as the experience of the Netherlands shows. The British Medical Journal said it most authoritatively in this editorial titled, "Prohibition isn't working - some legalisation will help": "the 1976 changes in the Netherlands seem to have been followed by a fall in use of cannabis: from 13% of those aged 17-18 in 1976 to 6% in 1985. Monthly prevalence of cannabis use among Dutch high school students is around 5.4% compared with 29% in the United States. Forbidden fruit may, indeed, be sweetest." -- Volume 311, 23-30 December 1995. A 1998 update is here. See also the Netherlands Alcohol and Drug Report published by the Netherlands Institute for Alcohol and Drugs (NIAD). A lighter read might be a 1996 article in Forbes magazine. For more details follow the three links below to the NORML article, "US Government: No Link Between Marijuana Decrim and Increased Pot Use"; DrugText; and the University of Amsterdam. With regard to dependency rates, the Dutch Cannabis Policy Update, published by the Trimbos-instituut in Utrecht, has determined that "Between 2 and 5 per thousand cannabis users get into trouble."
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Drug War Facts, an ongong project of Common Sense for Drug Policy organizes and documents the most telling failures of the war on some drug users. Information is organized conveniently, within dozens of topics that keep coming up in the news, such as "Adolescents," "Drug Testing" and "Gateway Theory." Every "fact" includes complete and authoritative references. "The goal is to introduce facts cited by authoritative sources to a debate which is often characterized by myths, erroneous information and emotion." Don't get in a debate or write a letter without checking here.
Exposing Marijuana Myths: A Review of the Scientific Evidence, by Lynn Zimmer, Associate Professor of Sociology, Queens College; and John P. Morgan, Professor of Pharmacology, City University of New York Medical School. Together with DrugSense's Drug War Facts, just previous, this is probably the best or next-best FAQ here, and also easy to use.
Hemp Facts, by Alan D. Bryan, the largest compendium yet.
History of Alcohol Prohibition, Part 3 ("Legal Aspects"), section 1 ("Control of Marihuana, Alcohol and Tobacco") in the March 1972 study commissioned by President Richard M. Nixon, "Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse - Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding," also known as the Shafer Commission Report. Contrary to common knowledge and the verdict of history, the DEA and other publicly funded drug warrior propagandists regularly extol the successes of alcohol Prohibition to support their contention that pot prohibition can also succeed. In fact, "In discussing the relative successes and failures of Prohibition, most observers conclude that the undertaking failed." That's what the government's most recent major study of drug policy determined, and you can read the whole chapter right now. Usage rates decreased at first, then exceeded pre-Prohibition rates within a decade. Deaths from alcohol and alcohol psychoses decreased at first, then exceeded pre-Prohibition rates within a decade. Minors' use of alcohol and arrests of minors for alcohol decreased at first, then exceeded pre-Prohibition rates within a decade. "Drinking at an earlier age was also noted, particularly during the first few years of Prohibition." "...women happily took to drink during the experimental decade, and, what is more, did so in public." Why won't the DEA and other publicly funded agencies quit lying about the government's own findings?
The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States, by Charles Whitebread. A fascinating lecture presented at the California Judges Association's 1995 annual conference. This account shows that drug prohibition originated not from concern for public health or safety but entirely from racial prejudice, ignorance and religious intolerance. A law professor at the University of Southern California, Whitebread previously taught at the University of Virginia from 1968 to 1981. In that time period, the first major piece he wrote was "The Forbidden Fruit and the Tree of Knowledge - The Legal History of Marihuana in the United States." His co-author was Professor Richard Bonnie, still of the faculty of the University of Virginia. It was published - all 450 pages - in the Virginia Law Review in October of 1970. It got a ton of national attention because no one had ever done the legal history of marijuana before. As a result, Professor Bonnie was named the Deputy Director of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse and Whitebread became a consultant to the commission.
The major studies of drug policy examined many of the issues surrounding drug use and abuse. Those that made policy recommendations all endorsed a non-criminal approach. The common fears and misconceptions about "drugs" are refuted every time a group of reasonable people sits down and reads the evidence. Prohibitionists who refuse even to discuss the issues only pretend the evidence is on their side. In fact, few of them have ever read any of the major studies of drug policy. Learn about these studies so you can expose your opponents' ignorance.
Marijuana and health According to The Lancet, Britain's most widely respected, peer-reviewed medical journal, in this editorial titled, "Deglamorising Cannabis," "The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health" . . . "Sooner or later politicians will have to stop running scared and address the evidence: cannabis per se is not a hazard to society but driving it further underground may well be." Volume 346, Number 8985, November 11, 1995 There was a time in America when the great scourge of youth was considered to be onanism. Countless young people were persecuted and hounded over the dire harm they might be doing themselves. More than a few were institutionalized for their "problem" and some were even lobotomized. Of course, even if marijuana were significantly harmful, like alcohol or tobacco, that would only make it more important for the sake of public health and safety that someone other than criminals should regulate its production and distribution. For more information about the myriad and complex aspects of marijuana and health, see the other FAQs here, especially "Exposing Marijuana Myths"; this site's "Articles" page; and search through the Portland NORML news archives.
Marijuana Myths, by Paul Hager, Chair, Indiana Civil Liberties Union Drug Task Force.
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 Includes the text of the law, Congressional testimony and other background documentation about one of the sorriest chapters in the history of lawmaking.
Oregon Medical Association
The Myth of Marijuana's Gateway Effect, by John P. Morgan, M.D. and Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D.
NORML Online Drug Testing Information.
On Being Stoned: A Psychological Study of Marijuana Intoxication, Chapter 15 of Charles Tart's book examines the effect of cannabis on cognitive functions.
Oregon's Marijuana Laws. Not mentioned - the financial penalty for "manufacturing" the seed-bearing herb increases 50 percent, to $300,000, when the "offense" is committed within 1,000 feet of a school. Also not mentioned - trafficking-related offenses entail forfeiture of any property involved. Plus state officials will take away your children and/or revoke your probation or parole if your urine doesn't please them. (The largest single category of Oregon state prisoners involves parole violators. Most such violators go back to prison simply for failing unscientific urine tests for THC metabolites.) Of course, federal laws are even more Kafkaesque; for example, cultivating or distributing 60,000 plants or 60,000 kilograms currently warrants the death penalty.
Shafer Commission Report. The Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse - Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding, commissioned by President Nixon, March, 1972.
The Truth About DARE, DRCNet's compendium shows the research is conclusive - DARE is counterproductive.
U.S. incarceration rates. Actually, one of the helpful charts here compares U.S. rates to those in other countries. A separate document charting marijuana arrests since 1965 is here. For official government statistics go to Portland NORML's government links section.
Legalize Reefer? You Must Be Mad!
What About the Children? Well, since Prohibition has killed more Kids than Pot, yeah, for their sakes.
Marinol: The Little Synthetic That Couldn't -
Junk in the Joint: The Real Dope on the Prison Drug Scene
Fed Dope Bureau Censors Drug Info -
Depression And Other Mood Disorders -
Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine
Where you can sign up for the NORML Weekly e-Zine.